Let us start with the obvious. We did not overclock either Ryzen 3 CPUs using the AMD Stealth stock cooler. Instead we used the Spire. This is because the Spire is simply a more capable cooling solution. Basically, the Stealth is perfectly capable at handling either CPU at stock settings but once you start to push the voltage and frequencies all bets are off. Its lack of a copper core and small mass of aluminum is its weakest link. Conversely the Spire was able to easily handle the increased cooling demands. As such, it really is the better stock cooler of the two. This is something to take into consideration if you plan on purchasing either CPU and wish to overclock them.
The 1300X proved to be the better of the two samples. Much like the Ryzen 5 1500X it is (probably) based off of it only required about 1.43 volts to be perfectly stable at 4.1GHz. This however is still a lot of extra voltage for a rather modest overclock. Good binning or not this is still a first-generation design and that is why hitting above 4Ghz is going to be a roll of the dice for any Ryzen CPU including the Ryzen 3 1300X. It however does add a nice little boost to this rather inexpensive CPUs performance numbers so it really will be up to you to decide if it is worth it or not.
The Ryzen 3 1200 on the other hand cries out for a healthy dose of overclocking. Yes we were only able to turn this 3.1GHz CPU into a 4.0GHz CPU but that is still a hefty 29 percent overclock! This turns a rather modest performing entry level CPU into a decidedly decent one that teeters on the edge mainstream levels of performance. This improvement is so noticeable that we would have little trouble justifying the added expense of an aftermarket cooler, or even the time it takes to overclock it, to darn near any buyer. The differences are that noticeable.
By the same token this CPU was not stable at anything above 4.0Ghz and no sane amount of additional voltage was going to change that. This sample’s ‘wall’ really is in the 4Ghz zone. As such a conservative estimate is any Ryzen 3 1200 should be capable of handling 3.8Ghz or better – as it is always possible we got a better than average sample. In either case, this difference in overclocking potential is the price you pay for purchasing a rather inexpensive CPU… and if you really want to hit 4Ghz or better a Ryzen 3 1300X or even Ryzen 5 series CPU may be worth the additional expense. Of course, the pride and sense of accomplishment you will get with those more expensive CPUs will pale in comparison to doing it with this little bad boy. Only you can decide what your priorities are and which model you will want to take on your next overclocking adventure.