Desktop computers featuring AMD CPUs aren’t uncommon, exactly, but they’re like the Pepsi of the computing world, surrounded by a universe of Coke products. Everyone assumes Intel-based PCs are the default, so you need to go out of your way to find AMD-powered computers. But the best AMD Ryzen-based desktops — and Ryzen 9 desktops in particular — can hold their own against almost anything Intel can muster, and generally at a better price.
That means there are a few different reasons to be shopping for AMD Ryzen-based computers, but they all basically boil down to a simple recipe of “more power for less money than comparable Intel Core CPUs.” The Ryzen 9 family is the latest, third-generation, of AMD processors and its large cache and large number of cores, it’s especially well suited to best or equal Intel’s Core i9 CPU.
Despite the Ryzen’s advantages, you won’t find a lot of flagship desktop systems running a Ryzen 9 CPU. We’ve rounded up the best models available, though. Virtually any of the systems here should serve you well, but read on for details. Some are designed for gaming; others are intended for professional workstation applications and will disappoint you for day-to-day enthusiast applications (unless you replace the video card, at least). But any of them will be more than up to the task of graphics and photo editing, making them great creative workstations for downloading and editing images from your digital camera.
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1. CPU Solutions CEV-7274Pros:
- Ryzen 9 3900X running at 4.6 GHz
- Two hard drives
- Good value for the price
- Quadro P2200 is a bit of a compromise
- A little pricey
- No USB-C ports
Processor Ryzen 9 3900X | RAM 64GB DDR4 | GPU Quadro P2200 | Hard drive 1TB SSD, 4TB HDD | USB 6 x USB 3.2, 3 x USB 2.0, 1 x USB 3 | Wi-Fi 802.11ac
CPU Solutions is a custom “boutique” PC builder that happens to also offer some systems for sale on Amazon. One of those, the CPU Solutions CEG-7274 Video Editing PC, is a solid gaming or media editing rig by virtue of its high-end components — primarily its Ryzen 9 3900X, AMD’s 12-core, 24-thread CPU. This system is clocked to 4.6 GHz, and comes with a liquid cooling system to keep the CPU from melting through to the center of the earth, China Syndrone-style. You also get a NVIDIA Quadro P2200 with 5GB RAM — a solid GPU that balances performance against features and price. Nonetheless, it includes a DisplayPort and three HDMI connectors. You can attach as many as four displays to this PC at once.
You also get a massive 64GB RAM with this system, superb for multi-tasking demanding apps like Photoshop, along with a pair of hard drives. The system drive is a generous 1TB SSD and your data gets stored on a 4TB hard drive. Note that the second drive is a traditional hard drive, not an SSD, but you get a lot of storage video editing and other applications that require enormous amounts of storage space.
The system has a total of 10 USB ports (seven USB 3 and three USB 2) with one of each on the top front of the case for easy access. There’s also Ethernet, Wi-Fi, and front-access headphones and mic ports. The case itself looks sharp with a glass window that takes up most of the left side panel and an unexpected white finish that makes it look unique compared to most other desktops.
2. Adamant Custom WorkstationPros:
- AMD Ryzen 9 3900X CPU
- 64GB RAM and 5TB hard drive
- DVD-RW optical drive
- Low-powered graphics card
- Workstation styling
Processor Ryzen 9 3900X | RAM 64GB DDR4 | GPU PNY Quadro P620 | Hard drive 1TB SSD, 5TB HDD | USB 5 x USB 3.2, 4 x USB 2.0, 4 x USB 3, 2 x USB-C | Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac/ax
Adamant’s Custom Workstation is a powerful but pricey tower that delivers a lot of raw performance and features. Unfortunately, the large tower manages to look very utilitarian and dated despite having a glass left panel to let you see what’s under the covers. The front is all grille, though, and the top angles slightly, presenting four USB ports, a power button, and inputs for headphones and mic. It’s all black, with large handles that make it easy to carry around if needed.
Thankfully, there the insides make up for any lack of aesthetics. It’s engineered around an AMD Ryzen 9 3900X processor running at 3.8 GHz and has an incredible 64GB RAM. That’s workstation caliber memory, and compliments the 1TB SSD system drive and 5TB hard drive for data storage. Ordinarily, one might prefer an SSD in both the system and data drive roles, but we can forgive Adamant in this case; 5TB is a monstrous amount of storage. Even the power supply is on steroids — it’s a 750-watt unit, enough to handle virtually any load.
Keep in mind that for all its power and capabilities, this is not an enthusiast system and isn’t designed for games. It’s a workstation and comes with a PNY Quadro P620 GPU, part of Nvidia’s professional line. It’s also modestly equipped, at that. Nonetheless, it features a 24X DVD +/- RW optical drive, Wi-Fi and Ethernet, Bluetooth 5, and a veritable forest of USB ports including a pair of USB-C. And unlike most systems that come with no more than one year of protection, this one is backed with a three-year warranty.
3. SkyTech Chronos Gaming Computer DesktopPros:
- Features a Ryzen 9 3900X CPU
- Uses Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080
- Gorgeous mostly glass case
- No expansion bays up front
- Water cooling not an option
- Tower case is a bit bulky
Processor Ryzen 9 3900X | RAM 16GB Trident Z Neo 3600MHz | GPU GeForce RTX 3080 | Hard drive 1TB SSD | USB 2 x USB 3.2, 2 x USB 2.0, 5 x USB 3, 1 x USB-C | Wi-Fi 802.11 AC
Here’s a configuration that might rankle some AMD purists, but bear with me. The SkyTech Chronos Gaming Computer Desktop is built around a Ryzen 9 3900X CPU, packed with 12 cores and with a max clock rate of 3.6 GHz — pretty much the top of AMD’s enthusiast processor food chain. But rather than pairing it with an AMD Radeon GPU, this PC is running an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080. That means that unlike most AMD-based gaming systems, this one has the ability to display real-time ray-traced graphics. Admittedly, there aren’t a ton of titles that take advantage of this right now, but if you want to play games like Battlefield V, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, or Shadow of the Tomb Raider in all their full ray-traced glory, this is the system for you. More importantly, this is the cream of the Nvidia crop — the newest and fastest GPU you can buy. More to the point, it’s a GPU you canm’t buy, because it has been essentially sold out since its release. Here’s a way to get one right now.
Under the hood you’ll also find 16GB RAM and a 1TB SSD. For connectivity, the case has a pair of USB 2 and one USB 3 ports up front. In back, there’s a forest of ports: six USB 3, two USB 2. and a USB-C port as well. Of course, it also has Ethernet and Wi-Fi, plus HDMI and DisplayPort.
Visually, SkyTech delivers as well. At first glance, the case appears to be almost entirely made of glass; the left side panel is all glass, as is the front. Of course, that means it’s impossible to add an internal optical drive — there are no bays up front — but it’s worth the trade-off. Three large RGB LED-covered fans sit up front, and the side panel exposes more lighting, including a rear fan. It’s gorgeous. Unlike many tower cases, this one has a button right up front to toggle the lighting on and off, so you don’t have to use desktop software (though you can). And to complete the visual aesthetic, the system includes an RGB mouse and keyboard.
4. Lenovo ThinkCentre M75s SFF Business DesktopPros:
- Includes AMD Ryzen 9 PRO 3900 CPU
- 64GB RAM
- DVD-RW optical drive
- Underpowered graphics card
- Small form-factor case
- Second drive is only 2TB
Processor Ryzen 9 PRO 3900 | RAM 64GB DDR4 | GPU AMD Radeon 520 | Hard drive 1TB SSD, 2TB HDD | Wi-Fi 802.11ac
Lenovo is one of the few mainstream PC manufacturers with a lineup of Ryzen-based desktop computers. The Lenovo ThinkCentre M75s SFF Business Desktop is driven by an AMD Ryzen 9 PRO 3900 CPU that can run as fast as 4.3 GHz. Accompanying the CPU is a massive workstation-caliber 64GB RAM and an AMD Radeon 520 GPU. That’s a modestly performing graphics card, so you won’t have a lot of success using it for very demanding graphics (like gaming).
On the storage front, though, this is one of the best-equipped systems we’ve run across, and excellent for roles in which you need to install both large applications and need to keep large data files locally. The system includes both a 1TB SSD for system files and a second 2TB hard drive for data. It also includes Wi-Fi, Ethernet, Bluetooth 5, and a generous array of USB ports — but no USB-C, unfortunately.
Because this system is business-focused, though, it has something you won’t see in other desktops in this roundup: integrated encryption. There’s a TPM 2.0 chip that encrypts critical data and enables hardware authentication. The system also features smart USB protection that you can use to restrict port access, and AMD’s proprietary GuardMI technology is on hand to counter online threats.
And while the system includes an optical drive — it’s rare to find DVD-RW drives in modern PCs — the case itself is a small form factor, so it isn;’t especially upgradeable. Keep that in mind if you plan to do anything other than put it in an office cubicle or mount it in a rack.
5. CUK Stratos Micro Gamer PCPros:
- Equipped with Ryzen 9 3900X and GeForce RTX 3080
- Gorgeous glass-sided case
- 8 USB ports in total
- No optical drives
- No USB-C
- Case is very large
Processor Ryzen 9 3900X | RAM 64GB DDR4 | GPU Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 | Hard drive 1TB SSD, 2TB HDD | USB 6 x USB 3.1, 2 x USB 2.0 | Wi-Fi 802.11ac
If you’ve spent any time browsing for PCs online, you probably know the Computer Upgrade King brand, a boutique computer maker that specializes in packing a lot of high-end components in desktop PCs. The CUK Stratos Micro Gamer PC is a great example of a system that offers performance akin to a high-end brand like Alienware without the flash — this is a basic, understated case that’s glassed over so you can see the RGB lighting within, but that’s about as far as the glitz goes.
Instead, you pay for what counts: It’s among the few gaming systems to include a third-generation Ryzen 9 3900X 3.8GHz CPU along with the top-of-the-line, hard-to-get Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 graphics card. It packs those high-end components into a generously sized tower case that steals the show with tempered glass front and side panels. That gives you a view under the hood, including the RGB-illuminated fans.
Of course, the CUK’s build is more about the components, though, since it’s built on the Ryzen 9 3900X, which competes roughly with the Intel Core i9-9900K and is one of the best gaming CPUs money can buy. Aside from the CPU and GPU, the system comes with a massive 64GB RAM, a 1TB SSD, a 2TB hard drive for data storage and a large number of ports. There are a pair of USB 3.0 ports as well as mic and headphone inputs at the top front of the case, but there are 6 USB 3.0 and 2 USB 2.0 ports in total, along with Gigabit Ethernet and Wi-Fi. Obviously, this system is VR-ready, more than capable of handling any of the tethered VR headsets for sale today.
Should You Choose a Ryzen 9 Desktop Computer?
AMD has been expanding its line of Ryzen CPUs for several years now, and introduced the Ryzen 9 in 2019. This relatively new processor lets users choose an AMD processor that is roughly comparable to Intel Core i9 CPUs, but overall, an AMD-based desktop should be somewhat less expensive.
Taking a look at the specs, the Ryzen 9 seems to have an advantage over Intel, and in a sense, it actually does. The Ryzen 9 has 12 cores compared to 8 cores in the Intel Core i9 -- simplistically, that means the Ryzen 9 should be able to perform more discrete tasks simultaneously. Both CPUs have multithreading support that lets them execute two instructions at once, which means a Ryzen 9 CPU can handle 24 instruction threads vs just 16 on the Intel Core side.
In reality, comparing CPU performance is a lot more complicated and many factors -- including the way the software is written and optimized -- can influence which CPU works better. But in real-world benchmark testing, the Ryzen 9 can perform about the same as the Intel Core i9 -- better in some benchmarks, worse in others.
And this much is absolutely true: If you run a lot of apps that are optimized to run a lot of threads -- video editing, for example, comes to mind -- then Ryzen 9 has a leg up on Intel Core i9 CPUs, for the very reason cited earlier: more cores and better multithreading.
Other than that, though, it may come down to cost. Both CPUs cost roughly the same amount, but computer makers will end up spending more to put together an Intel-based PC than an AMD system. The motherboard and cooling are generally cheaper for Ryzen CPUs, for example.
The Best Value AMD Ryzen 9 Desktop PC
Even though there aren't as many choices among Ryzen 9 desktop PCs as there are when shopping for an Intel Core-based computer, that doesn't mean you can't find some really compelling deals.
Hands-down, the most compelling choice for a gaming system is the SkyTech Chronos Gaming Computer Desktop, a beautiful tower with a fishbowl design to let you (and others) appreciate the LED light show going on inside. The requisite Ryzen 9 CPU is paired with an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080, which is a really smart choice -- the 3080 the top of the Nvidia class, and it supports ray tracing, something Radeon GPUs do not.
Finally, not everyone is looking for a gaming PC. If you want traditional workstation performance in a Ryzen package -- without the gaming aesthetic or GPU performance -- then you have a few choices. If sheer storage capacity is your main criteria, look no further than the Adamant Custom Workstation. If you prefer a small form factor -- and that will never become a liability for your needs -- then check out the Lenovo ThinkCentre M75s SFF Business Desktop.
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