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AMD's second-generation Ryzen CPUs revealed

A sneak peek at refined Ryzen

The leaks have been flying hard and fast for weeks, but this morning, AMD is officially taking the wraps off its second-generation Ryzen CPUs. Four new chips have been waiting in the wings, and they'll be available for pre-order around the world starting today. General availability for those chips will begin April 19.

TDP Stock
Ryzen 7 2700X 8/16 3.7 4.3 20 MB 105 W Wraith Prism (LED) $329
Ryzen 7 2700 3.2 4.1 65 W Wraith Spire (LED) $299
Ryzen 5 2600X 6/12 3.6 4.2 19 MB 95 W Wraith Spire $229
Ryzen 5 2600 3.4 3.9 65 W Wraith Stealth $199

I'm itching to share lots more information about these CPUs, but the tidbits in the table above are all we can talk about today. Even so, we have a lot to discuss.

  Cores Threads Base clock Boost clock XFR TDP Suggested
Ryzen 7 1800X 8 16 3.6 GHz 4.0 GHz 100 MHz 95 W $499
Ryzen 7 1700X 3.4 GHz 3.8 GHz 100 MHz 95 W $399
Ryzen 7 1700 3.0 GHz 3.7 GHz 50 MHz 65 W $329
Ryzen 5 1600X 6 12 3.6 GHz 4.0 GHz 100 MHz 95 W $249
Ryzen 5 1600 3.2 GHz 3.6 GHz 50 MHz 65 W $219

The first thing you'll note regarding these second-generation Ryzen parts is that clocks are way up compared to their first-generation counterparts. The $329 Ryzen 7 2700X (also at Amazon) blasts out of the gate with a 4.3 GHz boost speed. That's up 200 MHz over its predecessor if you take XFR behavior into account. You'll also notice that the top-end chip now sports a 105-W TDP, up from 95 W on the Ryzen 7 1800X. Finally, it's absorbed both the Ryzen 7 1700X and Ryzen 7 1800X's roles in the first-generation Ryzen lineup. There are good reasons for all of this, but you'll have to sit tight until April 19 to learn more.

The $299 Ryzen 7 2700 (also at Amazon) enjoys a whopping 400-MHz peak clock speed boost over the Ryzen 7 1700's 3.7 GHz pre-XFR boost speed (or 350 MHz if you take XFR into account). Base speeds are also up on this 65-W part, to 3.2 GHz (from 3.0 GHz pre-XFR).

Meanwhile, the $229 Ryzen 5 2600X (also at Amazon) takes over the top spot for AMD's six-core, 12-thread CPUs. It gets a 100-MHz peak clock speed boost over the Ryzen 5 1600X. Base clock speeds remain the same between generations. Finally, the $199 Ryzen 5 2600 (also at Amazon) gets a 300-MHz peak clock speed boost over its predecessor, and its base clock rises 200 MHz. These are all welcome improvements, to be certain.

The second thing you'll notice about these chips is that prices are down compared to where the first-generation Ryzen family landed at launch. Even with AMD's intervening price cuts, second-generation Ryzen CPUs are priced quite aggressively. The Ryzen 7 2700X lands for $20 less than the Ryzen 7 1800X's current suggested price, and the Ryzen 7 2700 carries the same $299 suggested price tag that the Ryzen 7 1700 does right now. AMD's new six-core parts take a $20 haircut over their predecessors' launch stickers.

On top of lower suggested prices, AMD is making another major value push with this new family of CPUs. Unlike past Ryzen X-series CPUs, all second-generation Ryzen chips will now include CPU coolers in the box. The Ryzen 7 2700X gets AMD's fanciest boxed cooler yet: the Wraith Prism. This RGB LED-bedecked cooler now has four direct-contact copper heat pipes running across its base, plus an addressable RGB LED ring and translucent fan with even more blinkenlights inside. The Ryzen 7 2700 will keep its predecessor's RGB LED-illuminated Wraith Spire. The Ryzen 5 2600X will get a non-illuminated Wraith Spire, while the Ryzen 5 2600 will now come with the entry-level Wraith Stealth.

We can't talk about performance numbers for second-gen Ryzen CPUs yet, but their prices alone seem poised to make sparks fly. Intel's superb Core i7-8700K is $349 at e-tail right now. Even with its excellent performance in mind, the i7-8700K doesn't include any form of stock heatsink, and enthusiasts have long griped about the difficulty of cooling the top-end Coffee Lake part thanks to Intel's use of thermal paste under its heat spreader. The high-quality stock cooler and soldered heat spreader on the Ryzen 7 2700X might tip many enthusiasts in that chip's favor.

In fact, all second-generation Ryzen CPUs will have the fully-unlocked multipliers and soldered heat spreaders that have become Ryzen hallmarks, and that's serious red meat for enthusiasts. At $300, the Ryzen 7 2700 will face off against the locked, six-core, 12-thread Core i7-8700, whose boxed heatsink is a low-profile, all-aluminum unit that's likely nowhere near as quiet or capable as the Wraith Spire. Down the line, the locked, six-core, six-thread Core i5-8600 will face off against the Ryzen 5 2600X at $229, while the locked, six-core, six-thread Core i5-8500 will contend with the Ryzen 5 2600 around $200.

On the whole, the higher thread counts, unlocked multipliers, soldered heat spreaders, and high-quality coolers boxed with second-generation Ryzen parts seem poised to continue delivering vigorous competion in today's CPU market. We will doubtless see a couple situations where the wider SIMD units of Intel's chips give them advantages in certain workloads, but the broad picture for AMD's competitive position already seems quite favorable on a dollar-for-dollar basis.