It’s just been over a week since AMD launched its breakthrough Zen architecture to the world with the Ryzen 7 CPUs, but the next phase of the launch is already under way. The key information on the new mid-range Ryzen 5 CPUs has been detailed, including core counts and pricing.
Ryzen 5 is being squarely aimed at mid-range systems and ‘pure gaming’ builds, rather than mixed workload and gaming plus stream encoding with Ryzen 7. This also means AMD is pairing Ryzen 5 up with the B350 AM4 motherboard platform, rather than the X370. From a feature perspective, the two chipsets are nearly the same, as both support overclocking; the difference lies with the PCIe interconnect, as there is only a single PCIe 3.0 x16 port, rather than the bifurcated link that lets the X370 platform run SLI or Crossfire GPUs.
The Ryzen 5 CPUs are split into two tiers, being the 6-core 1600X and 1600, and the quad-core 1500X and 1400. While AMD is announcing the CPUs today, the details are somewhat murky. However, most of the important information was released, including TDPs and prices.
|AMD Ryzen 7 CPUS|
|Cores||Threads||Base (GHz)||Turbo (GHz)||TDP||Price|
|AMD Ryzen 5 CPUs|
AMD is targeting Intel’s 7600K and below with this launch, with prices being the key factor. The two 6-core chips are what will be the critical edge AMD can push against its competitor. Intel’s i5-7600K can be found for about $240 and it is clocked slightly faster, but is missing those two extra cores. Similar can be said with the 1600 and the i5-7500, lower clocks but those extra cores. Intel’s cheapest 6-core CPU is the x99 based i7-6800K with its massive 140W TDP, although realistically, the two CPUs are different markets (quad channel memory and more PCIe lanes being the main differences).
This is not to say that the two quad-core Ryzen 5 CPUs are uninteresting, since at the targeted price point, AMD has SMT enabled, while Intel has no hyperthreading in its Core i5 range. This is likely where the real battle for gaming CPUs takes place. AMD may be at an IPC disadvantage, but those extra SMT units could help with background tasks, especially if said gamers live stream.
What is slightly surprising is the 95W TDP on the 1600X, when the 1700 with two extra cores is 65W. AMD’s automated overclocking feature, XFR, will behave slightly different on the release of Ryzen 5 as well, or so we’re told. Full details were not given, but a ‘small nugget’ was provided in that the 1500X has an extra 200MHz of headroom with XFR, compared to the 50MHz and 100MHz headroom with the Ryzen chips.
Three of the four new CPUs will come with a Wraith cooler. The 1400 comes with the Wraith Stealth, AMD’s ultra compact cooler, while the 1500X and 1600 come with the Wraith Spire, the taller (but still compact) cooler. If you were hoping for RGB lighting like with the Ryzen 7 models, you’ll be out of luck.
One of the major unanswered questions was the CCX division of the 6-core CPUs. With Ryzen 7 CPUs, the chips are made up of two CCX units, each being a 4-core unit with SMT; with the two CCX units combined you get an 8-core 16-thread CPU. Since this is technically the smallest CCX unit AMD has made so far, the logical theory is that the 6-core CPUs, 1600 and 1600X, are two CCX units with two cores disabled. Whether this is two CCX units with a single core disabled in each, or two cores disabled in one of the CCX units, is unknown. Will we see motherboards unlocking those cores in the future, much like the infamous Tri-core CPUs in the past? Who knows.
The launch date for the Ryzen 5 CPUs is slated for April 11th, which puts it very early in the Q2 estimate that AMD provided not long ago. Nearer that time, we’ll have more information on how the CPUs are constructed. AMD gave passing mention to Ryzen 3, which is expected in the second half of the year. We expect to hear more around the time of Computex.