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AMD Ryzen 5 review

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AMD Ryzen 5
  • AMD Ryzen 5
  • AMD Ryzen 5
  • AMD Ryzen 5
  • AMD Ryzen 5
  • AMD Ryzen 5
  • AMD Ryzen
  • AMD Ryzen
  • AMD Ryzen
  • Ryzen 5
  • Ryzen 5
  • Ryzen 5
  • Ryzen 5
  • AMD Ryzen 5
  • AMD Ryzen 5
  • AMD Ryzen 5
  • AMD Ryzen 5
  • AMD Ryzen 5
  • AMD Ryzen 5
  • AMD Ryzen 5
  • AMD Ryzen 5
  • AMD Ryzen 5

Summary

Our Score:

9

Pros

  • Excellent value
  • Best in class for multi-thread workloads
  • 1500X beats i5-7400 in single-thread and multi-thread
  • 1600X is the only six-core chip near this price

Cons

  • Clock speeds still can't match Intel
  • Can't overclock as far as Intel K-processors

Key Features

  • AMD Zen architecture
  • DDR4 memory support
  • AM4 platform
  • Quad-core and six-core processors
  • Simultaneous Multithreading
  • Manufacturer: AMD
  • Review Price: £250.00

What is AMD Ryzen 5?

AMD's Ryzen 5 processors are the second tier in the company's Ryzen CPU lineup. The Ryzen 7 processors rule the roost with their eight cores each while Ryzen 5 comes in either four or six-core configurations. Later this year we also expect to see dual and quad-core Ryzen 3 processors too.

With AMD's new processors offering performance-per-GHz that's on par with Intel, and it offering more cores than has ever been avaiable at this price, these Ryzen 5 processors should be ideal for those seeking massive multi-tasking power without breaking the bank.

Related: Best Graphics cards for all budgets

AMD Ryzen 5 – Features and Specifications

What’s striking about the entire Ryzen range so far is that they all have essentially identical features, apart from the number of cores and their clock speeds. All are multiplier unlocked for easy overclocking, all include simultaneous multithreading (SMT), all include Precision Boost and all fit in the same motherboards.

Manufacturer Product Line Model Cores / Threads Base Clock (GHz) Boost Clock (GHz) TDP MSRP in USD
AMD Ryzen 5 1600X 6 / 12 3.6 4.0 65W $249
AMD Ryzen 5 1600 6 / 12 3.2 3.6 65W $219
AMD Ryzen 5 1500X 4 / 8 3.5 3.7 65W $189
AMD Ryzen 5 1400 4 / 8 3.2 3.4 65W $169

The only other differentiator is the X on the end of the model numbers which tells us whether the chip has extended frequency range (XFR). This allows the processor to boost the clock speed of one of its cores just a tiny bit further than non ‘X’ chips – up to 50MHz more, to be precise.

This is all in contrast to the way Intel has compartmentalised its CPU range where different chips will or won’t have Hyperthreading (Intel’s equivalent of SMT), only a few processors are multiplier unlocked for easy overclocking, some don't include Turbo Boost (Intel's equivalent of Precision Boost) and you need to invest in completely different platforms if you want to move from a quad-core CPU to a six- or eight-core CPU.

AMD Ryzen 5

Intel doesn’t have any six-core processors at this price (regardless of platform) and the only quad-core chips it offers don’t include Hyperthreading. This means the Ryzen 5 1600X should be a shoe-in for that middle ground between the eight-core Ryzens and cheaper quad-core processors.

Related: The best CPUs for gaming, tested

It’s priced to compete with the quad-core Intel Core i5-7600K and while Intel’s chip has a clock speed advantage that will make it faster in single-thread applications, it’s only quad-core without hyperthreading. This means the 1600X should have a handy advantage when it comes to multi-threaded workloads, such as rendering video footage.

Meanwhile, the 1500X comes up against two Intel processors: the Intel Core i5-7400 and the Core i3-7350K. The former is quad-core but again it lacks hyperthreading and is actually clocked slower than the 1500X, so AMD’s chip should compete on single-thread then run away with the victory in multi-thread.

Manufacturer Product Line Model Cores / Threads Base Clock (GHz) Boost Clock (GHz) TDP MSRP in USD
AMD Ryzen 5 1600X 6 / 12 3.6 4.0 65W $249
AMD Ryzen 5 1600 6 / 12 3.2 3.6 65W $219
AMD Ryzen 5 1500X 4 / 8 3.5 3.7 65W $189
AMD Ryzen 5 1400 4 / 8 3.2 3.4 65W $169
Intel Core i5 7600K 4 / 4 3.8 4.2 91W $242
Intel Core i5 7400 4 / 4 3.0 3.5 65W $182
Intel Core i3 7350K 2 / 4 4.2 4.2 60W $168

The i3-7350K is a different story. It’s clocked at the same base clock speed as the i7-7700K and can be overclocked to 5GHz, giving it a massive clock speed advantage that will make it quicker in many day to day single-threaded applications and games. However, it’s only dual-core (though with hyperthreading) and doesn't have Turbo Boost Technology so its single-thread advantage isn't as high as it could be and heavy multi-taskers and those that need multi-thread processing power will find it lacking.

As for the 1600 and 1400, they offer a nice little extra cost saving over the X models without losing out too much in terms of clock speed or features. This makes them potentially ideal for those that are heavy multi-taskers or who regularly require multi-core processing power but aren't fussed about high clock speeds day to day (i.e. for regular gaming).

The only caveat is that the 1400 has a reduced L3 cache (8MB compared to 16MB for the rest of the Ryzen 5 and 7 range) and can only boost to 3.4GHz without overclocking. As a result it's single-threaded performance will be noticeably behind much of the competition. However, you're still getting a quad-core chip with SMT for just £160 - a bonefide bargain.

Elsewhere, it is a little disappointing AMD couldn’t squeeze a little more clock speed out of the 1500X. As the flagship quad-core part it would be nice to see it reaching the same speeds as the 1800X and 1600X, in the same way that the Intel Core i3-7350K matches the i7-7700K.

AMD Ryzen 5 – What’s inside?

All the Ryzen 5 processors are built on the same foundation, which also powers the Ryzen 7 chips. The Zen micro-architecture was built from the ground up to address the power consumption and performance-per-clock issues of previous AMD processors.

AMD employed a host of techniques to achieve this, which we won’t cover in depth here – you can read more about Zen in our 1800X review – but we’ll highlight a few of the key points.

Related: Best gaming monitors

AMD Ryzen

The new design has boosted instructions per clock by 52%. A move that has brought AMD near enough to parity with Intel after years of trailing far behind. As a result, if the two companies released a processor each with an identical number of cores and clock speed they should produce near-identical performance. However, as it is right now Intel still has a maximum clock speed advantage so AMD is throwing cores at the problem.

Another key addition with Ryzen is simultaneous multithreading. This is AMD’s answer to Intel’s Hyperthreading technology that allows each core of the processor to juggle two threads at a time, so it can deal more efficiently with its workload. This makes the processor appear to software like it has double the number of cores and results in a performance increase of between 10% and 30%.

AMD Ryzen

The third key aspect to Zen is that power consumption has greatly improved. AMD’s previous performance champ, the eight-core FX-8 9590, had a thermal design power (TDP) of 219W. The 1800X has a TDP of just 95W, while the Ryzen 5 range are all just 65W. Again, this essentially puts AMD’s processors on a level with Intel.

Another feature of Ryzen is Precision Boost. This is internal overclocking akin to Intel's Turbo Boost technology where you have a base clock frequency and then all the cores of the processor can overclock to a second higher frequency when needed and depending on the CPU temperature. Meanwhile XFR is a final little push that can be given to one core of the chip when it's under heavy load.

AMD Ryzen 5 – The platform

The whole AMD Ryzen range can be installed in the new AMD AM4 socket, which is supported by five AMD chipsets: X370, B350, A320, X300 and A300. All will support the range of Ryzen processors but only the X370, X300 and B350 will support overclocking; and only the X370 and X300 will support SLI/Crossfire. There are currently only X370 and B350 boards available and they range in price from £80-100 for a B350 board to £150-£300 for X370 boards.

You’ll most likely have to buy a new CPU cooler to fit the AM4 socket, though unlike Ryzen 7, some of the Ryzen 5 range can be purchased with included coolers.

icallurbs

April 11, 2017, 5:38 pm

The 1600 is a better deal than the 1600X. $30 cheaper, and you get a Wraith Spire included. Whereas the 1600X doesn't come with a cooler at all.

R5 1600 is what I will be buying. Best VFM processor since my i5-2500K. No question.

Ed

April 11, 2017, 9:39 pm

Good point regards the cooler. Hadn't factored that in. The Wraith is worse than even fairly cheap aftermarket coolers but still saves you $20. Of course you're still gambling on how well it will overclock if you want the single-core speed but you should be able to get 200-400MHz more out of it. Although, ironically, overclocking with the Wraith probably won't get you great results.

Antiliberalism

April 20, 2017, 9:31 pm

Certainly a better budget CPU, no doubt. However, if you want more performance out of the box, without overclocking (which potentially exposes the CPU to higher than recommended long-term voltages), $30 is a small price to pay. And since you have to buy an after-market cooler with it, you will likely have a cooler that can better handle the heat if you do decide to OC.

Longevity of these CPUs has yet to be determined. Longevity at higher voltages is an even bigger question mark.

dave b

June 3, 2017, 12:06 pm

"and only the X370 and X300 will support SLI/Crossfire."

Wrong, the X370 and B350 support xfire the X300 does not.

saswat nayak

June 11, 2017, 1:12 am

get the 1600x & buy a Liquid cooling if ya have some money

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