Sffpc build recommendation for light to medium rendering jobs

Thehack

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Would a rendering machine really use up a lot of RAM? My original plan was to go with a 2x8GB 3600MHz CAS16 as I've read that this is the sweet spot for Ryzen 3000 CPU's but I'm not sure when it comes to 32GB kits.

Do you think it's best to invest on a 3700X instead of the 3600?

For big scenes yes you need more ram. But it doesn't sound like you're a pro so stick with 16gb.

Depends on how fast you need your scenes to be rendered. 8 cores should be 30% faster than 6. A 6 minute scene into a 4 isn't that fast, but 30 to 20 minutes may prove useful for the life of the cpu.
 

kevindd992002

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Sep 19, 2018
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Well, I have zero knowledge in rendering. Like I said in the OP, it's my Sister who'll be using this system but she's nowhere near pero level. She's just starting her career and she's using these software:

Sketchup, Autocad, 3dsmax, Adobe suite

I think I'm good with 16GB 3600MHz CAS16, to be honest.
 

CountNoctua

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Jul 11, 2019
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I would lean towards 32GB if you can reasonably fit it in the budget without sacrificing in other key areas. You can get by with 16GB, but it depends on the complexity/layers/resolution of the projects, and how much multitasking she's doing. It's better to have the headroom and a bit of a hedge against future software demands (futureproofing), in my opinion, even if it ends up being more than she needs.

I'm not a pro, but I do use a lot of the apps in the Creative suite, and also looking to learn 3D modeling programs and opted to go for 32GB for my in-progress Ryzen 3000 (still waiting for backordered 3700X to ship) build. I'm not sure how finicky the RAM will be, though, because 16GB modules won't necessarily run at the rated (technically overclocked) speed. But I'm willing to potentially sacrifice a little clock speed and loosening the timings for the increase.

16GB has been sufficient for me for gaming, VR, Premiere, Photoshop, etc in the past, but I've had to eye my memory usage on occasion, especially when multitasking. I've wanted to be at 32GB or more since I also use VMs/containers (Docker) on occasion, but the pricing when doing a new build or my budget didn't allow me to do so. I think memory prices now are semi-reasonable, so I feel better about getting potentially more RAM than I need than saying "I can upgrade later if I need to", which with only two slots - both going to be occupied - really means buying a new set of RAM. It's about peace of mind more than anything.

The general consensus I've seen as far as RAM for pro usage has always been "get as much RAM as you can afford", and that more cores/threads you have the more memory you'll want to have (not a hard and fast rule by any means, and applies more to server and HEDT threadcounts where you are "feeding" a lot of threads).

Also, a NVMe SSD should mitigate the slowdown somewhat if the system does run out of memory during rendering and is forced to use the swap disk/page file. Those new PCIe 4.0 drives might be interesting choice given nearly 5,000 MB/s write speeds, though other NVMe drives are still plenty fast, and you should definitely opt for NVMe regardless (m.2 form factor also saves on space and cabling vs SATA in an ITX build).

These are my specs, about 2-3 weeks away from completion as I'm waiting on parts to arrive. May be able to test open-air or on a test bench, though, within a week (I'll do some testing and may post relevant benchmarks if it helps). Picked parts based on mixed workstation use, but also chosen to be good for gaming; I would choose a different monitor for pure rendering work. I, too, ruled out the Shift early on because it has too many potential problems (though the new mesh panels means its on my radar for future build).

Chose some brands over others based on reliability (admittedly somewhat anecdotal), but overall tried to optimize for performance while accounting for thermals and price: I wanted to throw in a 2080Ti in, for instance, and toyed with going for the 3900X, but ultimately decided to be more conservative given the potential for more noise and heat with the beastlier parts. I also chose not to use liquid cooling because while the major AIOs are reliable enough now, they can still be problematic in the rare instance of a pump failure or leaks. When a liquid cooler fails, it can kill other parts; when a air cooler fails, it just turns into a potentially-insufficient-but-harmless heatsink. I had a Enermax Liqtech 360 on my 1950X that thankfully never failed in over a year of usage, but a lot of people had problems with it, and since then my preference has gone back to air wherever possible, and since the best air coolers rival low and mid range AIOs, that's not too hard to do most of the time.

Case: Sliger SM580
CPU: Ryzen 3700X
Motherboard: GIGABYTE X570 I AORUS PRO
RAM: G.SKILL TridentZ RGB Series 32GB (2 x 16GB) 288-Pin DDR4 SDRAM DDR4 4000*
Cooler: Noctua NH-L9a
GPU: ZOTAC 2070 Mini**
PSU: Seasonic FOCUS SGX-650
SSD: Intel 760p Series M.2 2280 1TB PCIe NVMe 3.1 x4***
Monitor: Alienware 34" 1440p G-sync 100Hz (120Hz overclocked) Curved Monitor AW3418DW
Case Fans: 4x Noctua NF-A14 (140mm)
Thermal Paste: Noctua NT-H2

* unnecessary speed and expense given the capacity and "sweet spot" for Ryzen 3000 being 3600 or 3733MHz - will likely tighten timings and have to drop frequency. Opted for it since I often swap parts between builds, and it may end up in an Intel build or future AMD build that can take advantage of it.
** could have gone with super or other larger card as there is room for it in the case, but I like to have airflow as unimpeded as possible in the case, and for a portable ITX build the smaller and lighter the parts, the better
*** I'm getting a NAS, otherwise I might have went for 2TB or added another drive for extra storage

EDIT: This is a good article with specifications advice, though hasn't been updated for Ryzen 3000 and GTX Super launches.
 
Last edited:

kevindd992002

SFF Lingo Aficionado
Original poster
Sep 19, 2018
122
20
I would lean towards 32GB if you can reasonably fit it in the budget without sacrificing in other key areas. You can get by with 16GB, but it depends on the complexity/layers/resolution of the projects, and how much multitasking she's doing. It's better to have the headroom and a bit of a hedge against future software demands (futureproofing), in my opinion, even if it ends up being more than she needs.

I'm not a pro, but I do use a lot of the apps in the Creative suite, and also looking to learn 3D modeling programs and opted to go for 32GB for my in-progress Ryzen 3000 (still waiting for backordered 3700X to ship) build. I'm not sure how finicky the RAM will be, though, because 16GB modules won't necessarily run at the rated (technically overclocked) speed. But I'm willing to potentially sacrifice a little clock speed and loosening the timings for the increase.

16GB has been sufficient for me for gaming, VR, Premiere, Photoshop, etc in the past, but I've had to eye my memory usage on occasion, especially when multitasking. I've wanted to be at 32GB or more since I also use VMs/containers (Docker) on occasion, but the pricing when doing a new build or my budget didn't allow me to do so. I think memory prices now are semi-reasonable, so I feel better about getting potentially more RAM than I need than saying "I can upgrade later if I need to", which with only two slots - both going to be occupied - really means buying a new set of RAM. It's about peace of mind more than anything.

The general consensus I've seen as far as RAM for pro usage has always been "get as much RAM as you can afford", and that more cores/threads you have the more memory you'll want to have (not a hard and fast rule by any means, and applies more to server and HEDT threadcounts where you are "feeding" a lot of threads).

Also, a NVMe SSD should mitigate the slowdown somewhat if the system does run out of memory during rendering and is forced to use the swap disk/page file. Those new PCIe 4.0 drives might be interesting choice given nearly 5,000 MB/s write speeds, though other NVMe drives are still plenty fast, and you should definitely opt for NVMe regardless (m.2 form factor also saves on space and cabling vs SATA in an ITX build).

These are my specs, about 2-3 weeks away from completion as I'm waiting on parts to arrive. May be able to test open-air or on a test bench, though, within a week (I'll do some testing and may post relevant benchmarks if it helps). Picked parts based on mixed workstation use, but also chosen to be good for gaming; I would choose a different monitor for pure rendering work. I, too, ruled out the Shift early on because it has too many potential problems (though the new mesh panels means its on my radar for future build).

Chose some brands over others based on reliability (admittedly somewhat anecdotal), but overall tried to optimize for performance while accounting for thermals and price: I wanted to throw in a 2080Ti in, for instance, and toyed with going for the 3900X, but ultimately decided to be more conservative given the potential for more noise and heat with the beastlier parts. I also chose not to use liquid cooling because while the major AIOs are reliable enough now, they can still be problematic in the rare instance of a pump failure or leaks. When a liquid cooler fails, it can kill other parts; when a air cooler fails, it just turns into a potentially-insufficient-but-harmless heatsink. I had a Enermax Liqtech 360 on my 1950X that thankfully never failed in over a year of usage, but a lot of people had problems with it, and since then my preference has gone back to air wherever possible, and since the best air coolers rival low and mid range AIOs, that's not too hard to do most of the time.

Case: Sliger SM580
CPU: Ryzen 3700X
Motherboard: GIGABYTE X570 I AORUS PRO
RAM: G.SKILL TridentZ RGB Series 32GB (2 x 16GB) 288-Pin DDR4 SDRAM DDR4 4000*
Cooler: Noctua NH-L9i
GPU: ZOTAC 2070 Mini**
PSU: Seasonic FOCUS SGX-650
SSD: Intel 760p Series M.2 2280 1TB PCIe NVMe 3.1 x4***
Monitor: Alienware 34" 1440p G-sync 100Hz (120Hz overclocked) Curved Monitor AW3418DW
Case Fans: 4x Noctua NF-A14 (140mm)
Thermal Paste: Noctua NT-H2

* unnecessary speed and expense given the capacity and "sweet spot" for Ryzen 3000 being 3600 or 3733MHz - will likely tighten timings and have to drop frequency. Opted for it since I often swap parts between builds, and it may end up in an Intel build or future AMD build that can take advantage of it.
** could have gone with super or other larger card as there is room for it in the case, but I like to have airflow as unimpeded as possible in the case, and for a portable ITX build the smaller and lighter the parts, the better
*** I'm getting a NAS, otherwise I might have went for 2TB or added another drive for extra storage

EDIT: This is a good article with specifications advice, though hasn't been updated for Ryzen 3000 and GTX Super launches.

Thanks for this very detailed reply.

1. I think I'm going for the 3700X to future-proof the system.
2. I'll check the prices of RAM (16GB vs 32GB) and see what I can do.
3. I already have a Samsung 970 EVO 500GB nVME m.2 drive so that's going to be the boot drive. I totally agree with nVME drives being a must for ITX builds, just to make everything neater and airflow not too "choked". I'm thinking no mechanical HDD's because we already have a NAS at home but I can always add a 3.5" HDD to the system if really needed.
4. Would a GPU be super necessary/useful for her use case? Would she be golden if she just ops for a 2060 Super? Or would it be better to just invest a little bit more and opt for the 2070 Super? When will the non-blower style RX5700 XT be released anyway? I'd also want to go with a mini card.
5. I'm a custom watercooling guy (pic of build) so I'm not afraid of getting my feet wet, so to speak. So an AIO for the CPU in my Sister's build is an absolute must for me.
6. For the mobo's, I have no idea which one to choose. I read that it's only Gigabyte that released an X570 so far. I'm an ASUS mobo guy but my NAS has an ASRock board. Any particular mobo recommendation in mind?
 
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Valantar

Shrink Ray Wielder
Jan 20, 2018
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You could probably get by with the SF450 but the SF600 is a good PSU, I have one with 8700k and RTX 2070 and works wonders.
Seconded. People are sadly still stuck on the outdated advice of buying overblown PSUs. A 225W GPU + a 65W CPU + various bits and bobs will likely never exceed 300W under any normal usage scenario, and will peak below 400W. If the CPU was a 105W 3900X I'd be a tad more wary, but even for that the 600W would be very, very comfortable powering everything for the lifetime of the PC and beyond.
 

CountNoctua

(no relation)
Jul 11, 2019
214
263
Thanks for this very detailed reply.

1. I think I'm going for the 3700X to future-proof the system.
2. I'll check the prices of RAM (16GB vs 32GB) and see what I can do.
3. I already have a Samsung 970 EVO 500GB nVME m.2 drive so that's going to be the boot drive. I totally agree with nVME drives being a must for ITX builds, just to make everything neater and airflow not too "choked". I'm thinking no mechanical HDD's because we already have a NAS at home but I can always add a 3.5" HDD to the system if really needed.
4. Would a GPU be super necessary/useful for her use case? Would she be golden if she just ops for a 2060 Super? Or would it be better to just invest a little bit more and opt for the 2070 Super? When will the non-blower style RX5700 XT be released anyway? I'd also want to go with a mini card.
5. I'm a custom watercooling guy (pic of build) so I'm not afraid of getting my feet wet, so to speak. So an AIO for the CPU in my Sister's build is an absolute must for me.
6. For the mobo's, I have no idea which one to choose. I read that it's only Gigabyte that released an X570 so far. I'm an ASUS mobo guy but my NAS has an ASRock board. Any particular mobo recommendation in mind?

Sounds good so far (and very nice build). :)

You can probably get away with the 2060 Super (or even regular 2060) just fine, though you may want to check the specific apps she's going to be using most; it's a mixed bag as for which programs can use CPU vs GPU acceleration most effectively, but generally speaking you don't need a ton of GPU to get the benefits of accelerated rendering. Puget Systems and a few other sites do specific pro app benchmarks that you can check out for comparisons, as well as officially supported GPUs and recommendations from the software developers themselves. Historically, NVIDIA and CUDA have been better supported, but AMD/OpenGL does have decent performance in a lot of apps... really depends. though. I'm not sure what applications (other than some games) fully take advantage of real-time ray tracing with Nvidia's RTX, but that might come into play for 3D modeling software performance/features in the future.

The 5700 XT is pretty interesting. I definitely wouldn't go for the blower version (blowers suck :D), but if you can wait until next month when the 3rd party cards come out they may prove the best value. I have to see what their performance is like for some of the apps you mentioned, but early streaming/transcoding performance at least looks very promising, and AMD's partners should have no problem making quieter and cooler versions of it. Hopefully there's a good mini version in the works, though I may wait for [higher-end] Navi myself (would love to see a new Nano card).

Seconded. People are sadly still stuck on the outdated advice of buying overblown PSUs. A 225W GPU + a 65W CPU + various bits and bobs will likely never exceed 300W under any normal usage scenario, and will peak below 400W. If the CPU was a 105W 3900X I'd be a tad more wary, but even for that the 600W would be very, very comfortable powering everything for the lifetime of the PC and beyond.

Agreed, though there can actually be a reason to buy overblown PSUs, and that's if you want a quieter system. A PSU running at lower load relative to its max will often either run its fan at lower speed, or shut off the fan entirely ("zero RPM") if it has that feature. Otherwise, yes, it's better to calculate the wattage of your system (e.g. using a power supply calculator or PC Part Picker) and get a PSU with a little more wattage to give you enough headroom for overclocking and/or to add future devices. That Corsair 600W is more than adequate regardless.
 
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kevindd992002

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Sep 19, 2018
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Ok, I'm down to choosing two things (done with the rest): mobo and GPU. There aren't many reviews for the ASRock X570 ITX board yet so I'm not sure if it is better than the Gigabyte.

As for the GPU, would third party 5700 XT's cost higher than the reference card? I'm not sure if it's better to go with the 2060 Super Minis that are currently available or still wait for the 5700 XT Minis. What do you guys think?
 
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Soul_Est

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Ok, I'm down to choosing two things (done with the rest): mobo and GPU. There aren't many reviews for the ASRock X570 ITX board yet so I'm not sure if it is better than the Gigabyte.

As for the GPU, would third party 5700 XT's cost higher than the reference card? I'm not sure if it's better to go with the 2060 Super Minis that are currently available or still wait for the 5700 XT Minis. What do you guys think?
To be honest, you may be better served by a VEGA 56, VEGA 64, Radeon VII, or a Radeon Pro WX card. Reason being that they are better suited to workstation like tasks (the Radeon Pro WX especially). The Vega chips are geared more towards compute vs. the Navi chips.
 

kevindd992002

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Original poster
Sep 19, 2018
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To be honest, you may be better served by a VEGA 56, VEGA 64, Radeon VII, or a Radeon Pro WX card. Reason being that they are better suited to workstation like tasks (the Radeon Pro WX especially). The Vega chips are geared more towards compute vs. the Navi chips.

Don't those cost a ton of money? I understand that those are specifically for workstations but this system is for home use and it's just light and medium rendering anyway, nothing super professional. So I thought I can always get away with the consumer cards.
 

Soul_Est

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Feb 12, 2016
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Don't those cost a ton of money? I understand that those are specifically for workstations but this system is for home use and it's just light and medium rendering anyway, nothing super professional. So I thought I can always get away with the consumer cards.
The VEGA 56 and 64 do not cost a lot now as they are consumer cards. You could also go with a Polaris card such as the RX 570 or RX 590.
 

paulesko

Master of Cramming
Jul 31, 2019
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Hi, Im in the same situation as you, I´m an architect and have just built a medium render and cad use sff pc. In my case it´s a gigabyte x570 board with a 3700x and 16 gb of RAM. If you have any questions just ask me, I only have this working since sunday so it´s quite new for me but I´m working my way to make it work properly.

I still haven´t bought a graphics card, so I´m using my olt gtx 960, but normally nvidia works better with the programs I use (lumion, sketchup)

As for RAM I have a couple of 8 gb stiks 1 rank crucial ballistix 3000 cl15 that I´ve made work at 3526 mhz 14-17-14 at 1.5v set at BIOS. it´s not a definitive setting as I´m still investigating. This ram cost me just 90 euros, search for "AES" at the end of the serial number so you get the micron e die chips, in case you are interested.

I can tell you also that Im suprised to say the least as tyo how these ryzen chips use voltage... Working with autocad, the thing was all the time at 1.47v and near 60 degrees with the noctua 12cm slim blowing at a scythe shuriken rev B... when rendering it throttled until 3800 mhz or so... Now I have to settings stable one of them 1.25 and 4.000 mhz and the other 1.35 and 4.150 mhz I like the first one better and temperatures are way cooler this way because it nevers gets to 1.47 v while doing light workloads... although maybe you wont have this problem if you are going to use an AIO... anyway its something to take in mind, and I hope they improve how this works over time.

One last thing, the fan on the gigabyte is not a problem noise wise, I have a noctua 12x15 fan at 940 rpm at idle and with the noise of that one I almost cant hear the tiny board fan... its noise characteristic is a bit more on the "high pitch" side so you can discern the noise of one fan over the other, but it´s not problematic at all.
 

CountNoctua

(no relation)
Jul 11, 2019
214
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Yeah, Ryzen 3000 does appear to use a fair amount of voltage out-of-box, and if you do drop the voltage make sure you check that you aren't dropping too much performance by checking with a CPU-intensive benchmark run (e.g. Cinebench).

It's inherent to the design, though, so if it's auto volting up to ~1.5V it's not a huge issue. The latest chipset drivers from AMD are supposed to address at least how quick the CPU is to ramp up with minor workloads (noticed this with the fan ramping up quickly in response to spike in temp, then spinning back down).

Also concur about the chipset fan. I bought a 40mm Noctua fan just in case, to print out an adapter if I found it too noisy, but it hasn't been noticeable (also have decent air flowing over VRMs, anyway). I think Gigabyte also adjusted the chipset fan curve with later BIOS version, so if people were complaining about it, it was likely with the original BIOS.
 
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kevindd992002

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Sep 19, 2018
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Ok, gotcha. Problem now is that the Gigabyte is ooo in Amazon, sigh. I should've pulled the trigger last week. Any idea when it'll be in stock again?

As for the 5700XT, isn't that good for compute tasks as well?
 

paulesko

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Jul 31, 2019
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yes the 5700 will probably work perfectly, but it´s just a safer shot to go nvidia. check in forums if the programs your sister uses work properly with AMD cards.
 
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Valantar

Shrink Ray Wielder
Jan 20, 2018
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Hi, Im in the same situation as you, I´m an architect and have just built a medium render and cad use sff pc. In my case it´s a gigabyte x570 board with a 3700x and 16 gb of RAM. If you have any questions just ask me, I only have this working since sunday so it´s quite new for me but I´m working my way to make it work properly.

I still haven´t bought a graphics card, so I´m using my olt gtx 960, but normally nvidia works better with the programs I use (lumion, sketchup)

As for RAM I have a couple of 8 gb stiks 1 rank crucial ballistix 3000 cl15 that I´ve made work at 3526 mhz 14-17-14 at 1.5v set at BIOS. it´s not a definitive setting as I´m still investigating. This ram cost me just 90 euros, search for "AES" at the end of the serial number so you get the micron e die chips, in case you are interested.

I can tell you also that Im suprised to say the least as tyo how these ryzen chips use voltage... Working with autocad, the thing was all the time at 1.47v and near 60 degrees with the noctua 12cm slim blowing at a scythe shuriken rev B... when rendering it throttled until 3800 mhz or so... Now I have to settings stable one of them 1.25 and 4.000 mhz and the other 1.35 and 4.150 mhz I like the first one better and temperatures are way cooler this way because it nevers gets to 1.47 v while doing light workloads... although maybe you wont have this problem if you are going to use an AIO... anyway its something to take in mind, and I hope they improve how this works over time.

One last thing, the fan on the gigabyte is not a problem noise wise, I have a noctua 12x15 fan at 940 rpm at idle and with the noise of that one I almost cant hear the tiny board fan... its noise characteristic is a bit more on the "high pitch" side so you can discern the noise of one fan over the other, but it´s not problematic at all.
Thanks for an informative post! Care to expand on your memory OC methodology? I've barely ever tried memory overclocking as it's always seemed excessively time-intensive and annoying (too many d*** timings!), not to mention impossible to grasp what each variable actually means or relates to. Did you use the Ryzen Memory Calculator app? Or did you go fully manual? My reason for asking is that I'm building a new APU-powered HTPC in the near future, and I was originally planning to go the easy route with Corsair LPX 3600C18s (and frankly I'd be reasonably happy if they run above 3200), but your results sound too promising to pass up entirely. I get that your X570+Zen2 setup is quite different in terms of memory compatibility than my planned B450+Zen+ setup, but hopefully some of it can carry over, especially as I have no plans to exceed the IF max clock. Also, is Micron E die known to be a particularly good fit with Ryzen?
 

paulesko

Master of Cramming
Jul 31, 2019
415
322
Thanks for an informative post! Care to expand on your memory OC methodology? I've barely ever tried memory overclocking as it's always seemed excessively time-intensive and annoying (too many d*** timings!), not to mention impossible to grasp what each variable actually means or relates to. Did you use the Ryzen Memory Calculator app? Or did you go fully manual? My reason for asking is that I'm building a new APU-powered HTPC in the near future, and I was originally planning to go the easy route with Corsair LPX 3600C18s (and frankly I'd be reasonably happy if they run above 3200), but your results sound too promising to pass up entirely. I get that your X570+Zen2 setup is quite different in terms of memory compatibility than my planned B450+Zen+ setup, but hopefully some of it can carry over, especially as I have no plans to exceed the IF max clock. Also, is Micron E die known to be a particularly good fit with Ryzen?

Hello! I used Ryzen calculator and I will optimize from there although I found some strange things like not even posting at any speed with the CL 16 timings that the ryzen calculator gave. I don´t know why is that, but anyway, it went very good with those cl 14 timings.

I agree with you that getting to know timings takes time (hahaha) and even more to tune memory properly. Just now I´m only making an approach to it, since I dont overclock anything since 775 platform, and I´ve forgotten all this memory stuff.

Micron E die is the cost per performance sweet spot (at least I see it that way) from what I´ve seen over the internet Samsung B die can do some amazing things, micron is not so good on timings given the speed in mhz, but it´s much cheaper... At first I was going to buy the best micron e die model, 3600 cl 16 I think, but it was 164 euros, and I could find some b die for just below 200... so I thought that it was a better idea to go full blast with a 200 bdie, save as much as I could and put that money into a 3700 x insted a 3600... and thats what I did. Don´t regret it to be honest.

Another thing, I think that memory perfomrance is not dependant on chipset but on the cpu itself with ryzen, so you should get the same or similar results. I could be wrong though, I´m learning along I do how this platforms work, so maybe mistaken in this regard

One last thing, my current config ir at 3466 mhz, since the last one was not completely stable. It crashed sometime at night during a memory stress test... I worked with those timings with no problem for two days, but just in case... I downgrade the speed a little.
 
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