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AMD's Ryzen 5 CPUs reviewed, part two

Getting down to business

When AMD's Ryzen 5 CPUs first burst onto the scene, I was happy to find that those chips hung right with Intel's latest-and-greatest midrange parts for smooth gaming performance. I wasn't able to complete our productivity testing before that NDA lift, though, and the intervening couple of months or so has been a bit rough for yours truly outside of the TR labs. Those clouds are behind me, though, and I'm happy to be able to share the second half of our Ryzen 5 results now.

In the intervening time, AMD kindly completed my Ryzen 5 collection with the six-core, 12-thread Ryzen 5 1600 and the four-core, eight-thread Ryzen 5 1400. With these chips, I can give a complete picture of the Ryzen 5 family's performance in 9-to-5 work. The TR labs were blessed with an Intel Core i5-7500 as part of Intel's Optane Memory test rig, as well, and I've dutifully added it to our midrange CPU test suite. So equipped, we can get a great view of how Ryzen 5 CPUs stack up to Intel's bread-and-butter quad-cores.

Model Cores Threads Base clock Boost clock Max XFR
L3 cache TDP Price
Ryzen 5 1600X 6 12 3.6 GHz 4.0 GHz 100 MHz 16MB 95W $249
Ryzen 5 1600 3.2 GHz 3.6 GHz 50 MHz 65W $219
Ryzen 5 1500X 4 8 3.5 GHz 3.7 GHz 200 MHz $189
Ryzen 5 1400 3.2 GHz 3.4 GHz 50 MHz 8MB $169

For a quick refresher, the Ryzen 5 1500X offers four cores and eight threads for $189, while the Ryzen 5 1600X offers six cores and 12 threads for $249. AMD also offers lower-priced variants of each of these CPUs with lower clocks and less XFR headroom. The Ryzen 5 1600 takes a 400-MHz haircut across the board, and AMD slices $30 off the price tag of the 1600X for the trouble. The Ryzen 5 1400 loses 300 MHz of clock speed compared to the 1500X and costs $20 less. It also loses half of the full Ryzen die's 16MB of L3 cache.

As far as the general state of Ryzen goes, not much has changed since our initial Ryzen 5 review. AMD has promised an update to the AGESA base firmware that will unlock more memory overclocking options on AM4 motherboards, but that update isn't set to arrive before the end of this month. We got a good look at the many-core Ryzen Threadripper hardware over the course of Computex, too, but shipping Threadripper products aren't supposed to arrive until later this summer. Given these tranquil climes, it's a fine time to talk about Ryzen 5 productivity performance. Let's get to it.

Our testing methods
As always, we did our best to collect clean test numbers. We ran each of our benchmarks at least three times, and we've reported the median result. Our test systems were configured like so:

Processor Ryzen 7 1800X Ryzen 5 1500X AMD Ryzen 5 1600 Ryzen 5 1600X Ryzen 5
Motherboard Gigabyte Aorus AX370-Gaming 5 Gigabyte AB350-Gaming 3
Chipset AMD X370 AMD B350
Memory size 16 GB (2 DIMMs)
Memory type G.Skill Trident Z DDR4-3866 (rated) SDRAM
Memory speed 3200 MT/s (actual) 2933 MT/s (actual)
Memory timings 15-15-15-35 1T
System drive Intel 750 Series 400GB NVMe SSD


Processor Intel Core i5-2500K Intel Core i5-3570K
Motherboard Asus P8Z77-V Pro
Chipset Z77 Express
Memory size 16 GB (2 DIMMs)
Memory type Corsair Vengeance Pro Series DDR3 SDRAM
Memory speed 1866 MT/s
Memory timings 9-10-9-27 1T
System drive Corsair Neutron XT 480GB SATA SSD


Processor Core i5-4690K Intel Core i5-7500 Intel Core i5-6600K Intel Core i5-7600K Intel Core i7-7700K
Motherboard Asus Z97-A/USB 3.1 Asus Prime B250-Plus Gigabyte Aorus GA-Z270X-Gaming 8
Chipset Z97 Express B250 Z270
Memory size 16 GB (2 DIMMs)
Memory type Corsair Vengeance Pro Series
Kingston ValueRAM
G.Skill Trident Z DDR4-3866 (rated) SDRAM
Memory speed 1866 MT/s
2400 MT/s
3200 MT/s (actual)
Memory timings 9-10-9-27 1T
15-15-15-35 2T
System drive Corsair Neutron XT 480GB SATA SSD Samsung 960 EVO 500GB NVMe SSD


Processor Intel "Core i7-6800K" (Core i7-6950X with four cores disabled)
Motherboard Gigabyte GA-X99-Designare EX
Chipset X99
Memory size 64GB (4 DIMMs)
Memory type G.Skill Trident Z
Memory speed 3200 MT/s
Memory timings 16-18-18-38 1T
System drive Samsung 960 EVO 500GB NVMe SSD

They all shared the following common elements:

Storage 2x Corsair Neutron XT 480GB SSD
Discrete graphics Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1080 Xtreme Gaming
Graphics driver version GeForce 378.92
OS Windows 10 Pro with Creators Update
Power supply Corsair RM850x

Thanks to Corsair, Kingston, Asus, Gigabyte, Cooler Master, Intel, G.Skill, and AMD for helping us to outfit our test rigs with some of the finest hardware available. As a reward for making it past the dense tables above, you can gaze on some of our test hardware, first for the Ryzen 5 CPUs:

And our Ryzen 7 test platform:

And our Z270 test platform:

Some further notes on our testing methods:

  • The test systems' Windows desktops were set at a resolution of 3840x2160 in 32-bit color. Vertical refresh sync (vsync) was disabled in the graphics driver control panel.

  • For our Ryzen systems, we used the AMD Ryzen Balanced power plan included with the company's most recent chipset drivers. We left our Intel systems on Windows' default Balanced power plan.
  • The Ryzen 5 1400 wasn't stable with DDR4-3200 speeds, so we had to dial it back a bit to DDR4-2933. That slight drop in speed explains the entry-level Ryzen 5's slight performance deficit in some of our synthetic tests compared to its more expensive siblings. 

In response to popular demand, we're re-benching AMD's Ryzen 7 1800X and Intel's Core i7-7700K with identical DDR4 speeds: DDR4-3200 at 15-15-15-35 timings.

The tests and methods we employ are usually publicly available and reproducible. If you have questions about our methods, hit our forums to talk with us about them.