If you’re looking to build a PC, you’ve probably heard or thought about an AMD Ryzen CPU at least once; and all Ryzen CPUs currently use the AM4 socket. You’ve probably also wondered “how long will AM4 last?”, since buying a Ryzen CPU also means investing in an AM4 motherboard. The quick answer is:
AMD has openly stated that AM4 will be supported “through 2020” and “through Zen 3.”
With current Zen 3 chips still on AM4, and Zen 4 not expected until 2022, it’s a reasonable deduction to say that AM4 will last at least until the end of 2021.
Though that’s not to say your CPU or motherboard will instantly become obsolete once a new socket and CPU architecture is released. Below, we’ll discuss the AM4 socket in detail, and what you can expect from buying into the AM4 platform.
AMD’s Vision, and the AM4 Socket
AM4, along with Ryzen, was first released in 2017 with the 1000-series CPUs. Ryzen bought higher core-counts and lower prices to the mainstream CPU market. AMD initially offered up to 8 cores and 16 threads to a market that, before this, topped out at 4 cores and 8 threads.
With Zen 2 (3000-series) being released in 2019, AMD bumped the core count offering up to an astounding 16 cores and 32 threads. This pushed the mainstream desktop CPU space towards a new era where CPU processing power was, and is, much more affordable than it used to be.
AMD’s vision for the AM4 socket was a promised 4 years of support and multiple generations of CPUs, all supported on the same socket, with backward compatibility for even the earliest motherboards with a BIOS update. This, along with large generational leaps in performance, positioned AM4 to be a very competitive platform.
AM4 in 2021
Looking at AM4 and what it offers now, towards the end of that promised 4 years of support, AMD has mostly delivered on their vision and promises. The main promise of CPU compatibility across the entire line holds true, with select first-generation 300-series motherboards getting Ryzen 5000 series CPU support in or around January 2021.
AMD’s Ryzen CPUs have grown at an astounding pace throughout the years, thanks to AMD’s intelligent design and clever engineering. They have positioned themselves as the cutting edge of the market with Zen 3/Ryzen 5000 series of CPUs.
Ryzen is currently the best offering at the moment in terms of raw performance and efficiency, offers the best technologies and features on the market, and their previous generation CPUs still offer excellent price/performance ratio for those on a budget.
Is The AM4 Socket Futureproof?
Future-proofing is always a hard subject to tackle. There’s no concrete way to tell what direction the market will go at any extended distance into the future. Compound that with the fact that AM4 is only supposed to be supported “through 2020”, and it makes that question even more difficult to answer.
However, AMD hasn’t announced a new socket yet. And all of their CPU roadmap slides suggest that Zen 4, the next generation of CPU architecture, will not be released until sometime in 2022.
While there’s no official answer, most hints point toward the idea that AM4 should be sticking around until the end of 2021. Whether or not we’ll get new CPUs past Zen, however, is a mystery.
Now, for the question; “Is the AM4 socket futureproof?”
Yes, and No
Yes, in a way, because of the fact that AM4 is currently the best option on the mainstream desktop platform, offers the best performance and efficiency, and the latest technologies.
This performance will still be relevant even if a new socket and CPU architecture comes out a year or two down the line, especially if you choose a higher core-count CPU.
Unless you need the latest performance, most CPUs will give you good performance for up to 3-5 years before you might need to upgrade them.
If you buy a lower core-count CPU or are using a previous Zen 2 or Zen/Zen+ CPU, there is still an upgrade path for you. Going forward in the future, used CPUs will offer a relatively cheap way to gain more performance from your AM4 platform without having to upgrade completely.
No, because future CPU support is up in the air at the moment. If you’re looking to buy with the idea of upgrading to a newer CPU architecture down the road, then you may be out of luck.
AMD’s competitor doesn’t exactly offer anything better as they’ve been having some, uh, problems progressing from their aging CPU architecture, as well as lacking overall features. The most important of which, arguably, is PCI-e 4.0.
DDR5 is also supposed to be released sometime in 2021 and 2022 for mainstream use, and newer platforms may or may not utilize this new technology.
Should I Buy into AM4 Now, or Wait for a Newer Socket?
As I said before, future-proofing is a hard subject to tackle. But if you’re building from scratch, you should generally go for the best hardware available to you right now. If you’re always waiting for a newer, better CPU, you could be stuck waiting forever.
Unless a new hardware release has been announced and is coming in the immediate next month or two, you’re better off buying the best hardware that’s available to you now. Right now, that’s Ryzen and AM4.
If you already have a good or acceptable PC and don’t mind waiting for a year or two, then you might want to wait before you upgrade.
While no one knows for certain what will be available in the future, not needing to upgrade means you can wait things out until the time is right for you and you can get the best for your money.
Despite being towards the end of its anticipated lifespan, AM4 is still a solid socket and platform for those seeking the best performance and features on the market today.
While future CPU support is unknown, we still think AM4 will still be supported for at least another year until a new socket is released.
James Cosgrove has been the lead writer at GizmoFusion since 2019. He has a huge passion for the latest technology and gadgets. He loves to talk and write about this interest. He hopes that visitors to the website will find his reports informative and helpful when it comes to making the best choices for their needs.