AMD's game-boosting Smart Access Memory is coming to Ryzen 3000

You'll need a compatible motherboard and GPU.

Credit: Gordon Mah Ung/IDG

The $479 Radeon RX 6700 XT obviously stole the spotlight at AMD’s “Where Gaming Begins: Ep. 3” event on Wednesday, but before Radeon chief Scott Herkelman showed off his shiny new graphics card, he delivered another very welcome announcement. AMD’s Smart Access Memory feature is coming to Ryzen 3000 processors to make your games run faster.

AMD debuted Smart Access Memory alongside its fantastic Ryzen 5000 processors. Smart Access Memory is built atop the PCIe specification’s optional Resizable BAR feature and allows your CPU to fully access your graphic card’s memory buffer, an upgrade from the usual 256MB chunks. The tweak can provide a performance uplift ranging from negligible to notable, as our Smart Access Memory testing with the Radeon RX 6900 XT revealed. Depending on the game and resolution, we saw frame rates soar by up to 8 percent, and AMD says Smart Access Memory can boost performance by up to 16 percent in best-case scenarios.

6900 xt smart access memory Brad Chacos/IDG

The performance difference Smart Access Memory provides to the flagship Radeon RX 6900 XT across a range of games, based on our testing.

The company didn’t specify when the BIOS revisions necessary to enable Smart Access Memory on Ryzen 3000 processors will hit the streets. You’ll need to upgrade your motherboard’s BIOS to gain access to the feature, and if the retroactive rollout of Resizable BAR on current Intel motherboards is any indication, expect to see Smart Access Memory added to more premium boards first. Budget-tier motherboards may never receive the update as they tend to have fewer software upgrades available, given their low prices.

It’ll be interesting to see if Smart Access Memory lands on older 300- and 400-series motherboards as part of the expansion. To use SAM with the Ryzen 5000 processors, you need a modern X570 or B550 motherboard.

amd smart access memory AMD

Once you’re running a motherboard and CPU with Smart Access Memory support, you’ll also need a compatible graphics card. AMD built its Radeon RX 6000-series GPUs (including the new Radeon RX 6700 XT) with SAM support baked in, and since it’s based on the PCIe Resizable BAR standard, rival graphics cards should work on compatible Ryzen systems as well. The new GeForce RTX 3060 is Nvidia’s first graphics card with Resizable BAR support and it gets those extra frames on Ryzen 5000 rigs, for example. (Stay tuned for an evaluation next week.) Nvidia says other RTX 30-series Founders Edition models will receive a BIOS update to unlock Resizable BAR by the end of March, with BIOS updates for custom cards coming shortly thereafter.

Either way, it’s great to see AMD spreading SAM’s wings. Recent industry chip shortages have prevented many would-be buyers from getting hold of Ryzen 5000 CPUs, limiting the reach of Smart Access Memory. Ryzen 3000 chips sold like gangbusters and you can still, you know, actually buy them—unlike Ryzen 5000 chips. This should help the finally-freed feature get much more use out of gamers today, ahead of Resizable BAR’s march towards seemingly becoming an industry standard in future CPUs, GPUs, and motherboards.

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Brad Chacos

Brad Chacos

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers


This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang


It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries


As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr


The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?