Ryzen For The Masses: A Look At AMD’s Ryzen 5 1600X & 1500X Processors

AMD Ryzen 5 Box
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by Rob Williams on April 24, 2017 in Processors

With our Ryzen 7 review, we found that AMD had released three powerhouse CPUs, chips able to do proper battle against the competition – and in many cases, win. Now, we have Ryzen 5. Will we see the same kind of bang-for-the-buck with these chips as we did with Ryzen 7? Obviously, there’s only one way to find out!

Power Consumption & Final Thoughts

To generate power-draw results for our collection of CPUs, we plug the test PC into a Kill-a-Watt for real-time monitoring, and stress the CPU with the help of our HandBrake x264 test (which can peak 100% of cores in our tests). Idle power consumption is measured about 5 minutes after boot, once Windows decides to calm down and the wattage reading keeps stable.

Because AMD and Intel measure temperatures very differently, and there’s never a guarantee that software applications are reporting accurate temperatures, we forgo that testing. The only reliable method for capturing CPU temperatures is to go the hardware route, which is both very time-consuming, and expensive.

AMD Ryzen 7 1600X & 1500X Performance - Power Consumption

Considering just how power-hungry some of AMD’s last-gen parts were (namely, the top-end FX-9XXX series), it’s downright amazing to see just how power-efficient all of the Ryzen chips are, at least based on the performance delivered. Intel still reigns supreme with the overall power draw, but AMD’s higher power draw has equated to improved performance on the previous pages.

Final Thoughts

I wrapped up our look at Ryzen 7 with this: “Ultimately, the Zen architecture may not best Intel in IPC and gaming, but it more than makes up for that shortcoming with its multi-threaded prowess.” This sentence applies just the same to Ryzen 5. In general, Intel is going to win the battle of equal-core parts, but Ryzen dominates in most cases when more cores are introduced.

In all but a few tests, the Ryzen 5 1600X beat Intel’s Core i7-7700K. The biggest exceptions are with gaming, and certain multi-media scenarios (eg: Adobe Lightroom). The 1600X proved faster encoding a 4K video with Premiere Pro than the 7700K, and bested it with a HandBrake x264 encode, as well. That’s not bad for a chip that carries a price tag that puts it closer to Intel’s Core i5 lineup than i7 (the top-end i5 is the i5-7600K at ~$229; the 1600X is ~$249.

AMD Ryzen 5 - Workstation Use
Not just for gamers: AMD’s Ryzen 5 also targets budget workstations

If you’re in the market for a new desktop PC, and you don’t need it to be “high-end” but still demand ample enough performance for the occasional workstation or media workload, Ryzen 5 delivers an incredible bang-for-the-buck against its competition that has dominated the market for nearly the past decade.

As I mention on occasion, if your PC is used to earn you money, then it’s imperative that you understand your workload. While an AMD Ryzen 5 chip might not be best in all cases, it’s best in many cases, as the results on these pages can attest.

Pros

  • Ryzen 5 1600X delivers an awesome bang-for-the-buck against the competition.
  • Ryzen 5 1500X costs $20 more than the i3-7350K, but is much faster for most uses.
  • All Ryzen chips are overclockable. AMD expects 3.9/4.0GHz to be typical on Ryzen 5 1600X.
  • Performance-per-watt on both the 1500X and 1600X is excellent.

Cons

  • Gaming performance doesn’t match Intel’s Core series, but the real-world detriment is minor.
  • CPU cooler support (especially AIO) remains limited, but is improving.