Final results…finally! As I’ve mentioned in the other posts in this series, Ryzen™ can be tricky – unless you’re willing to spend more money on the build, and don’t mind being limited on MoBo size until manufacturers catch up (mainly ATX boards right now, but you get better price options). There are only a few APU’s (Ryzen’s with graphics) and most of the Ryzen processors require a “Discrete Graphics Card” which adds a bigger price for a decent one. It was actually cheaper for me to buy a micro-ATX MoBo that required a BIOS upgrade for all Ryzen processors, but to do that upgrade required me also buying the $40 AMD A6-9500 APU (“APU” is the term AMD gives their processors w/ graphics now). Had ordered that A6-9500 on Friday, Nov 22, 2019 at 12:04 PM EST, and the eBay seller didn’t even create the Shipping Label until November 27, 2019, 9:56 PM EST – Thanksgiving Eve, here in America. It finally arrived on Monday Dec 2 by USPD.
Since Linux Distro testing is no longer a main focus of this blog, as mentioned on the Progressions of the Linux Newbie Blog page, I have slowly been moving towards producing more posts meant as a small ‘Buffer’ between potential new Linux users (mainly focusing on Windows 7 users) and the many ‘Snake Oil’ Linux ‘salespersons‘. Have also been adding more hardware orientated posts, which was one of the reasons I wanted to add a Ryzen™ computer to my growing list of computers…this new test build will end up being named ‘Ryzen,’ and it will probably replace the ‘Rose’ computer.
Without a doubt, Ubuntu is the only Linux Distro that is fully committed to the Desktop, and at the same time fully committed to IoT, Containers, Cloud and Server areas. Ubuntu is more interested in providing a fully functional Desktop OS than providing ‘Barbie and Ken Doll’s Clothing’ for the few other Linux Distro users. I don’t include the ‘Specialty’ Linux Distros in that statement, i.e. Distros like Puppy Linux, Kodachi, Kali Linux, EasyOS, Emmabuntüs, SparkyLinux and many other useful Distros focused on specialized areas of interest. There are only a couple other fully supported Distros like Ubuntu, that don’t focus on the ‘Toy OS’ users … RedHat/Fedora and SUSE/openSUSE come to mind, but even they don’t match Ubuntu for Desktop duty.
The $40 AMD A6-9500 booted right in to the UEFI BIOS, and I had the updated BIOS ready for ASUS EZ Flash 3 utility. The A6-9500 came with a much smaller fan/sink than the Ryzen had, and needed a different fastener…I just set it on the processor and pushed a little to help smear the grease around. It worked, so there was no need to change fan supports. Rebooted and I saw the new BIOS installed, so shutoff and removed the A6-9500. Reinstalled the Ryzen 5 3400G and then screwed the Wraith Spire fan/sink firmly into place. Started back up, and this time the display showed the ASUS boot options, so BIOS upgrade worked perfectly for the Ryzen – pain in the ‘Arse’ to do, but worked perfectly.
Have a fully installed Ubuntu 18.04.3 on a 64GB USB that I use on my Intel computers, so plugged that in for my next test – will Ubuntu boot on AMD Ryzen after its USB installation and usage on 3 Intel computers. Yep, as usual, Ubuntu 18.04.3 booted and immediately knew there was a Ryzen 5 3400G running the show this time. Ubuntu 19 is still being prepped by Ubuntu, so it isn’t close to be as reliable as LTS Ubuntu (18.04.3), and I rarely bother testing it.
Had held off purchasing a new WIN10 Pro OEM license key from URcdkey until I knew that this Ryzen test build was going to work, and it did, so I purchased another license key; however, this time it cost me $12.48 (after applying discount code) instead of the usual $11.74. Once again, this new license key was activated by Microsoft without any problems, and I have purchased 4 or 5 of them so far…probably should buy a 2-3 more in a couple of months, tho most of my future hardware testing will probably be just upgrading the ‘Ryzen’, ‘Rose’ and ‘InWin’ motherboards’ processors, etc. Still, these WIN10 Pro OEM licenses are just for one motherboard, so having a spare or two could prove to be useful. I do these WIN10 Pro installs w/o internet, partly to avoid having Microsoft try to get me to start a new Microsoft account, and partly to avoid punching in the license key code until after installing (just answer that you have no license key code during installation process). Everything was looking good, so installed the provided DVD’s ASUS drivers and their main AI Suite 3 utility (temps and fans mainly), making sure I avoided their Google apps crap in the process. All was fine, so then installed the Ryzen 5 3400G’s Radeon™ RX Vega 11 Graphics driver – perfect! Did some benchmark tests, and it outperformed the ‘Rose’ Intel i3 8100, which I was expecting. Here are the early Ryzen benchmarks compared to ‘Rose’:
Here are ‘Antec Sr.’ and ‘Antec Jr.’ benchmarks:
‘Antec Sr.’ has the onboard Intel HD Graphics 530 – ‘Jr.’ is the i9 9900 which is just fast all over, but Gaming result was a *LOT* faster with the GeForce 1660 added to the build (jumped from 17% Surfboard to 72% Battleship w/ 1660 added). The Ryzen 5 3400G also performed slightly better than ‘Antec Sr.’ and its Intel i5 6600K, which surprised me. Here is the bench ratings chart:
Will probably temporarily pull the GeForce 1660 GPU from ‘Antec Jr.’ in the future and run some benchmarks with it & the Ryzen 5 3400G…a good GPU usually improves both Gaming & Workstation scores quite a bit. Eventually, will probably use the same ASUS AMD MoBo, but upgrade the Ryzen and add a GPU…when the time and prices are right.
Next tests were Linux ‘Live’ USB Distro tests. Ubuntu had already easily passed, but I wanted to do a ‘Live’ test of it in order to have a better reference point to compare the others with. First up Manjaro Xfce, and it never made it to the DE…boot loader and then attempted to load, but just a blank greenish screen. Next I tried Manjaro Gnome, and it easily booted into the DE. Here’s a pic:
Manjaro Gnome didn’t recognize my Wi-Fi, but looked pretty good elsewhere. Ethernet worked fine, but unable to recognize a simple Wi-Fi connection is a big minus for me.
Next up was MX Linux 19 with the Xfce DE, and it failed to reach the desktop also. MX Linux is usually very slow at adding hardware support, but seems to eventually get around to it. I had problems with MX ‘Live’ 18.3 (I believe?) not working right on new Acer laptop purchased this past June. In a later test using MX Linux 19, the ‘Live’ USB version worked fine, but I had installed Ubuntu on that laptop after MX failed the first time.
Next up was the ‘Live’ USB Ubuntu 18.04.3 test…here is its info pic:
Unlike Manjaro, Ubuntu easily recognized my Wi-Fi connection, so only needed to select it and enter security code. Arch Linux and ‘Archies’ are notorious for their hardware recognition problems – as shown over and over again here. Still, the Ryzen 5 3400G was only recently launched, on 7/7/2019, so Manjaro did well at recognizing it.
Mint Cinnamon was up next, and it easily booted to the desktop. Here’s the info pic:
Something wasn’t right with the Mint graphics tho, and Mint was showing the Display as a laptop display with a resolution of just 1024 X 768 (no other options!?). Driver issue that could probably be fixed, but a sign of failure for Mint, IMHO; however, it also recognized the Wi-Fi connection, unlike Manjaro. If you’re thinking about moving from Windows 7, then Ubuntu 18.04.3 would be your best reliable option. Also, WIN10 Pro OEM license is incredibly cheaply priced at URcdkey (see above info). WIN7 will start to get slower and slower after the support stops.
Overall, the Ryzen 5 3400G works very well on Desktop duty…not an easy build, and far from being the inexpensive processor claimed by AMD in the past. I suspect many inexperienced builders end up with a Ryzen CPU, and then discover they need to buy a GPU…maybe not, but I almost made that mistake with the Ryzen 3600. Motherboards are another problem for going with a Ryzen – e.g. the economical micro ATX boards all needed to have a BIOS upgrade that required a different processor than the Ryzen, and the only one that had the correct BIOS was about $180. Just that one X570 micro ATX at the time, and no mini ITX, but am now seeing that Newegg has some. Expensive, but the X570 has the right BIOS for a Ryzen.
It’s now official … i.e. this new build is named ‘Ryzen‘ even tho it presently sits in a Test Bench…
Rule of Thumb – if you can’t install Ubuntu on it, then you can’t install any Linux Distro on it.