AMD has announced that it will add a feature enthusiasts have long-requested. After a future AGESA UEFI update, AMD Ryzen 5000 CPUs will be supported in 300-series motherboards. This will substantially extend the longevity of original AM4 motherboards, provided motherboard manufacturers actually issue the updates.
In order to take advantage of this feature, users will need to track down a UEFI update that implements support for the AGESA 188.8.131.52 standard. Assuming that your board vendor issues such an update, the 300-series motherboards — X370, B350, and A320 — will be able to support all Zen 3 CPUs, including chips like the Ryzen 9 5950X and the Ryzen 7 5800X3D.
AMD didn’t initially plan to extend support for 300-series chipsets to Zen 3 and sources we’ve spoken to at the company have suggested it wasn’t an easy engineering lift to get there. These motherboards were not designed with Ryzen 5000 in mind and designs must be carefully validated to ensure compatibility. Which motherboards receive updates will also be up to the vendor, but check your UEFI update page to determine whether or not you’ll get support.
With this update, AMD has taken AM4’s overall level of compatibility to a completely different level. Over the last 20 years, AMD has regularly offered more backwards / forwards compatibility and a longer upgrade path than Intel has. There have been long-lived AMD platforms in the past, but nothing like AM4.
An AMD customer who purchased a top-end system in early summer 2017 would have bought an eight-core CPU with a 3.6GHz base clock and a 4GHz boost. Today, the Ryzen 9 5950X tops out at 16 cores with a 3.4GHz base clock and 4.9GHz boost.
Even allowing for sustained clocks well below the boost maximum, we’d project the Ryzen 7 1800X to hang out around 3.7-3.8GHz, while the Ryzen 9 5950X tends to sit around 4.3 – 4.4GHz. Obviously these are only approximates, but over five years AMD has delivered a 2x core count improvement, a 1.35x – 1.7x IPC improvement at the same clock speed depending on workload mixture, and a 1.1x – 1.2x improvement in sustained clock speeds over the same period of time. In theory, an AMD customer who opts for a Ryzen 7 5800X3D could extend that lead even farther in some gaming-specific titles, but we’ll wait to see what the chip delivers before making assumptions.
Assuming all of this comes off without a hitch, our hat is off to AMD. After five years, AM4 offers more performance uplift in a single socket than any other socket from AMD or Intel of which we are aware. AMD has had excellent compatibility in previous platforms, but it didn’t grow its CPU performance nearly as quickly during the heyday of AM2 and AM3.
AM5 and DDR5 support will be available later this year, but gamers and enthusiasts who sank a lot of money into AMD’s DDR4 platform don’t have to worry about being obsolete just yet. Anyone still gaming or using an older first-generation Ryzen CPU should benefit a great deal from an upgrade to the Zen 3 / Ryzen 5000 family, in virtually any workload.