Revisiting the value proposition of AMD's Ryzen 5 2400G


The mornings before tight deadlines in the world of PC hardware reviews often follow a week or less of nonstop testing, retesting, and more testing. Sleep and nutrition tend to fall by the wayside in the days leading up to an article in favor of just one more test or looking at just one more hardware combination. None of these conditions are ideal for producing the best thinking possible, and as a human under stress, I sometimes err in the minutes before a big review needs to go live after running that gauntlet.

So it went when I considered the bang-for-the-buck of the Ryzen 5 2400G, where my thinking fell victim to the availability heuristic. I had just finished the productivity value scatter chart and overall 99th-percentile frame time chart on the last page of the review before putting together my conclusion, and having those charts at the top of my mind blinded me to the need for the simple gut check of, y'know, actually putting together a parts list using some of the CPUs we tested. Had I done that, I would have come away with a significantly different view of the 2400G's value proposition.

While the $170 Ryzen 5 2400G would seem to trade blows with the $190 Core i5-8400 on a dollar-for-dollar basis for a productivity system, even that forgiving bar favors the Ryzen 5 once we start putting together parts lists. Intel doesn't offer H- or B-series motherboards compatible with Coffee Lake CPUs yet, so even budget builders have to select a Z370 motherboard to host those CPUs. That alone adds $30 or more to the Ryzen 5 2400G's value bank.

The Multi-Tool    
CPU AMD Ryzen 5 2400G $169.99    
CPU cooler AMD Wraith Spire --    
Memory G.Skill Ripjaws V 8 GB (2x 4 GB)
DDR4-3200 CL16
$103.99    
Motherboard ASRock AB350 Pro4 $69.99 (MIR)    
Graphics card Radeon Vega 11 IGP --    
Storage WD Blue 1TB $49.00    
Power Corsair VS400 $34.99    
Case Cooler Master MB600L $46.99    
Total $474.95    

To demonstrate as much, here's a sample Ryzen 5 2400G build using what I would consider a balance between budget- and enthusiast-friendliness. One could select a cheaper A320 motherboard to save a few more bucks, but I don't think the typical gamer will want to lose the ability to overclock the CPU and graphics processor of a budget system. The ASRock AB350 Pro4 has a fully-heatsinked VRM and a solid-enough feature set to serve our needs, and the rest of the components in this build come from reputable companies. Spend less, and you might not be able to say as much.

The Caffeinator    
CPU Intel Core i5-8400 $189.99    
CPU cooler Intel boxed heatsink --    
Memory G.Skill Ripjaws V 8 GB (2x 4 GB)
DDR4-2666 CL15
$103.99    
Motherboard Gigabyte Z370 HD3 $99.99 (MIR)    
Graphics card Intel UHD Graphics 630 --    
Storage WD Blue 1TB $49.00    
Power Corsair VS400 $34.99    
Case Cooler Master MB600L $46.99    
Total $524.95    
Price difference versus Ryzen 5 2400G PC $50.00    

For our Core i5-8400 productivity build, the $20 extra for the CPU might not seem like a big deal, but it's quickly compounded by the $30 extra one will pay for the Z370 motherboard we selected—and that's after one chances a mail-in rebate to get that price. Intel desperately needs to get B- and H-series motherboards for Coffee Lake CPUs into the marketplace if it wants non-gamers to have a chance of building competitive or better-than-competitive systems with AMD's latest.

The Core i5-8400 can still outpace the Ryzen 5 2400G in many of our productivity tasks, though, and on the whole, the $50 extra one will pay for this system is still more than worth it for folks who don't game. If time is money for your heavier computing workloads, the i5-8400 could quickly pay for the difference itself. Ryzen 5 2400G builders can probably make up some of the performance difference through overclocking, but we don't recommend OCing for productivity-focused builds that need 100% stability.

The Instant Coffee    
CPU Intel Core i3-8100 $119.99    
CPU cooler Intel boxed heatsink --    
Memory G.Skill Ripjaws V 8 GB (2x 4 GB)
DDR4-2400 CL16
$103.99    
Motherboard Gigabyte Z370 HD3 $99.99 (MIR)    
Graphics card Asus GT 1030 $89.99    
Storage WD Blue 1TB $49.00    
Power Corsair VS400 $34.99    
Case Cooler Master MB600L $46.99    
Total $544.94    
Price difference versus Ryzen 5 2400G PC $69.98    

Those building entry-level PCs might not have the luxury of choosing between productivity chops and gaming power, though. To make a gaming build with capabilities similar to those of the Ryzen 5 2400G, building a system around the Core i5-8400 quickly leads to a bottom line that's too expensive to really be considered budget-friendly. That's thanks to the need for an Nvidia GT 1030 like the one we employed with our test system. Those cards were $70 or $80 until just recently, but a mysterious shortage of them at e-tail has suddenly led to a jump in price.

Regardless, back-ordering one of those cards will run you $90 at Amazon right now, and even though we're rolling with that figure for the sake of argument, $90 is honestly too much to pay for a discrete card with the GT 1030's performance. If you had to buy one, we'd wait for prices to drop once stock levels return to normal.

To restore our system to something approaching budget-friendliness, we have to tap a Core i3-8100 for our Coffee Lake gaming system instead of the Core i5-8400, and that suddenly puts the CPU performance of our build behind that of the Ryzen 5 2400G in most applications. Oof.

AMD Ryzen 5 2400G
February 2018

With new information gleaned from retesting the GeForce GT 1030 in Hitman, the Ryzen 5 2400G no longer beats out that card in our final reckoning. On the whole, though, it clears the 30-FPS threshold for 99th-percentile frame rates that we want to see from an entry-level gaming system. Before this week, that's not something we could say of any integrated graphics processor on any CPU this affordable. As part of a complete PC, it does so for $70 less than our GT 1030 build. Gamers don't have to tolerate 1280x720 and low settings on the 2400G, either; we used resolutions of 1600x900 and 1920x1080 with medium settings for the most part.

So there you have it: the Ryzen 5 2400G is a spectacularly balanced value for folks who want an entry-level system without compromising much on CPU or graphics performance, just like its Ryzen 3 sibling is at $100. Both CPUs were equally deserving of a TR Editor's Choice award for their blends of value and performance, and I'll be updating our review post-haste to reflect AMD's dominance in that department. Sorry for the goof, and I'll make a better effort to look before I leap in the future.

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