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

AMD Ryzen 5 Box

Date: April 24, 2017
Author(s): Rob Williams

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!



Introduction & AMD Ryzen 5 Overview

The launch of AMD’s Ryzen processors last month was, for many reasons, overdue. While it’s hard to say that many things are “worth the wait” after nearly a decade, AMD managed to pull off its promise of delivering a truly competitive product. One that can even beat out its well-established competition in some cases.

As found in our in-depth look at Ryzen 7, AMD fails to catch Intel in some regards (namely, IPC/single-threaded performance), but in others, it can smoke the equal-priced (and sometimes even higher-priced) competition. All this while delivering dramatically improved power-efficiency versus AMD’s previous generation CPUs.

Some have said that with Ryzen, AMD has put some fun back into processors, and I have to agree. But the reason I personally feel excited is because of the value proposition. Content creators stand to gain the most, because if the choice comes down to an eight- or sixteen-thread processor for about the same price, the latter option is going to deliver considerably more value.

AMD's Ryzen 5 1500X and GIGABYTE's AB350-GAMING 3
AMD’s Ryzen 5 1500X and GIGABYTE’s AB350-GAMING 3

It’s hard to call an eight-core chip like the Ryzen 1700 “expensive”, as $329 for what you get is a downright good value. But, at the same time, not everyone actually “needs” 16 threads. Some just want to have a competent CPU for gaming, general purpose computing, and the occasional multi-media task (encoding, image manipulation, et cetera).

Enter: Ryzen 5. This processor series is squarely targeted at those who want the best bang-for-the-buck possible – not low-end, but not high-end, either. Affordable, and as mentioned above, “competent” for the majority of users out there. AMD puts it similarly: “AMD Ryzen 5 Processors are a well-rounded solution that provide affordable, competitive, and feature-rich gaming performance to mainstream customers.”

Complementing Ryzen 5 is the AMD B350 chipset, which can be found on motherboards ranging in price between $80 and $200, delivering the best of current technologies, including NVMe x4, USB 3.1 gen 2, and of course, DDR4 memory.

Here’s a quick look at AMD’s current Ryzen 5 and 7 chips:

CoresClockTurboTDPPrice
AMD Ryzen 7 Processors
R7 1800X8C (16T)3.6 GHz4.0 GHz95W$499
R7 1700X8C (16T)3.4 GHz3.8 GHz95W$399
R7 17008C (16T)3.0 GHz3.7 GHz65W$329
AMD Ryzen 5 Processors
R5 1600X6C (12T)3.6 GHz4.0 GHz95W$249
R5 16006C (12T)3.2 GHz3.6 GHz65W$219
R5 1500X4C (8T)3.5 GHz3.7 GHz65W$189
R5 14004C (8T)3.2 GHz3.4 GHz65W$169

In the Ryzen 5 reviewer’s guide provided for this launch, AMD puts most of the focus on the 1600X, which might not be a surprise given it’s the highest-end model in the set. For its $249 price, it does offer a compelling featureset, including its 12 threads clocked at up to 4GHz. Across the Ryzen 5 line, AMD believes that 3.9GHz / 4.0GHz overclocks will be common (and that’s on all cores, to be clear).

AMD talked quite a bit about gaming with its Ryzen 7 series, but the company has ramped up that message with regards to Ryzen 5. It’s no surprise, given the specs of all of the chips, and their pricing. Even the quad-core R5 1400 should deliver great gaming performance despite its $169 price tag.

I’d be remiss to not encourage anyone who takes gaming seriously to opt for at least one of the 1600s, though, as the extra cores / threads will prove useful to some future game titles. It feels like we’re close to the point when game developers will begin releasing titles that take better advantage of our many core CPUs (possibly fueled by AMD making 4+ core CPUs mainstream), which is a great thing, and a long time coming. I especially recommend the six-core if you’re planning to stream to Twitch or similar services.

This review builds on a new suite that was established with the launch of Ryzen 7, so for all the details about how we do things, and also a look at our testbeds, check out the next page. Otherwise, head on over to page 3 to jump right into the benchmarks.

Test Systems & Methodologies

Benchmarking a CPU might sound like a simple enough task, but in order to deliver accurate, repeatable results, and not to mention results that don’t favor one vendor over another, strict guidelines need to be adhered to. That in turn makes for rigorous, time-consuming testing, but we feel that the effort is worth it.

This page exists so that we can be open about how we test, and give those who care about testing procedures an opportunity to review our methodology before flaming us in the comments. Here, you can see a breakdown of all of our test machines, specifics about the tests themselves, and other general information that might prove useful.

We’ll start with a look at our test platforms, for AMD’s AM4, and Intel’s LGA 1151.

Techgage’s CPU Testing Platforms

AMD AM4 Test Platform
ProcessorsAMD Ryzen 7 1800X (3.6GHz, 8C/16T)
AMD Ryzen 7 1700X (3.4GHz, 8C/16T)
AMD Ryzen 7 1700 (3.0GHz, 8C/16T)
AMD Ryzen 7 1600X (3.6GHz, 6C/12T)
AMD Ryzen 7 1500X (3.5GHz, 4C/8T)
MotherboardASUS CROSSHAIR VI HERO
All CPUs tested with BIOS 1002 (Mar 29, 2017)
MemoryCorsair VENGEANCE LPX (CMK16GX4M2B3000C15) 8GB x 2
Operates at DDR4-2933 16-16-16-39 (1.35V)
GraphicsNVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 (8GB; GeForce 378.66)
StorageCrucial MX300 525GB (SATA 6Gbps)
Power SupplyCorsair Professional Series Gold AX1200 (1200W)
ChassisCorsair Obsidian 800D
CoolingNoctua NH-U12S SE-AM4 (1x 120mm Fan)
Et ceteraWindows 10 Pro (Build 14393)
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti - SLI Configuration NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti - SLI Configuration
As tested configuration: AMD Ryzen 7 1800X (Summit Ridge)
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti - SLI Configuration
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As tested configuration: AMD Ryzen 7 1800X (Summit Ridge)
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NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti - SLI Configuration NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti - SLI Configuration
As tested configuration: AMD Ryzen 7 1700X (Summit Ridge)
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti - SLI Configuration
CyberPowerPC AMD VR Gaming PC - Keyboard Switches CyberPowerPC AMD VR Gaming PC - Keyboard Switches
As tested configuration: AMD Ryzen 7 1700X (Summit Ridge)
CyberPowerPC AMD VR Gaming PC - Keyboard Switches
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti - SLI Configuration NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti - SLI Configuration
As tested configuration: AMD Ryzen 7 1700 (Summit Ridge)
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti - SLI Configuration
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti - SLI Configuration NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti - SLI Configuration
As tested configuration: AMD Ryzen 7 1700 (Summit Ridge)
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti - SLI Configuration
AMD Ryzen 7 1600X (CPU-Z & GPU-Z) AMD Ryzen 7 1600X (CPU-Z & GPU-Z)
As tested configuration: AMD Ryzen 7 1600X (Summit Ridge)
AMD Ryzen 7 1600X (CPU-Z & GPU-Z)
AMD Ryzen 7 1600X - As Tested EFI Overview AMD Ryzen 7 1600X - As Tested EFI Overview
As tested configuration: AMD Ryzen 7 1600X (Summit Ridge)
AMD Ryzen 7 1600X - As Tested EFI Overview
AMD Ryzen 7 1500X (CPU-Z & GPU-Z) AMD Ryzen 7 1500X (CPU-Z & GPU-Z)
As tested configuration: AMD Ryzen 7 1500X (Summit Ridge)
AMD Ryzen 7 1500X (CPU-Z & GPU-Z)
AMD Ryzen 7 1500X - As Tested EFI Overview AMD Ryzen 7 1500X - As Tested EFI Overview
As tested configuration: AMD Ryzen 7 1500X (Summit Ridge)
AMD Ryzen 7 1500X - As Tested EFI Overview

ASUS’ CROSSHAIR VI HERO makes it easy to attain a proper “stock” setup, even when increasing the default DRAM speed to 2933MHz. That’s a bit of a relief, as some ASUS boards automatically overclock the processor after changing absolutely anything performance-related – something that would have caused an issue here.

While DDR4-2800 was used across both Intel platforms, the same frequency couldn’t be used on the AM4 platform without skewing the CPU clock. Rather than back the speed down to DDR4-2666MHz, 2933MHz seemed like the better bet. That means the AM4 platform inherently gains a bandwidth boost, but it comes at the expense of the latencies, as the 14-14-14 timings used on both Intel platforms could not be used with either of the two DRAM kits AMD sent us for our Ryzen testing.

Also, I should point out that unlike the Intel systems, this AM4 one uses an air cooler. This is because a bracket wasn’t available for any cooler we have on hand. Thus, the decision was made for us to use the air cooler that AMD provided. We’ll be retesting all of Ryzen over in the near-future once we can liquid cool it.


Intel LGA1151 Test Platform
ProcessorsIntel Core i7-7700K (4.2GHz, 4C/8T)
Intel Core i3-7350K (4.2GHz, 2C/4T)
Intel Core i7-6700K (4.0GHz, 4C/8T)
MotherboardASUS ROG STRIX Z270E Gaming
All CPUs tested with BIOS 0801 (Feb 09, 2017)
MemoryG.SKILL TridentZ (F4-3200C14-8GTZ) 8GB x 4
Operates at DDR4-2800 14-14-14-34 (1.35V)
GraphicsNVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 (8GB; GeForce 378.66)
StorageCrucial MX300 525GB (SATA 6Gbps)
Power SupplyCorsair Professional Series Gold AX1200 (1200W)
ChassisCorsair Obsidian 800D
CoolingCorsair Hydro H100i v2 (2x 120mm Fan)
Et ceteraWindows 10 Pro (Build 14393)
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As tested configuration: Intel Core i7-7700K (Kaby Lake)
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As tested configuration: Intel Core i7-7700K (Kaby Lake)
Sony Ps4 Pro Angled View
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As tested configuration: Intel Core i3-7350K (Kaby Lake)
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CyberPowerPC AMD VR Gaming PC - Keyboard Switches CyberPowerPC AMD VR Gaming PC - Keyboard Switches
As tested configuration: Intel Core i3-7350K (Kaby Lake)
CyberPowerPC AMD VR Gaming PC - Keyboard Switches
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As tested configuration: Intel Core i7-6700K (Skylake)
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Intel Core i7-6700K (CPU-Z & GPU-Z) Intel Core i7-6700K (CPU-Z & GPU-Z)
As tested configuration: Intel Core i7-6700K (Skylake)
Intel Core i7-6700K (CPU-Z & GPU-Z)

ASUS’ ROG STRIX 270E Gaming is a fantastic motherboard with a long name, but it complicates out-of-the-box testing by defaulting its Ai Overclock Tuner setting to “Sync All Cores”, which ultimately runs the CPU faster than actual stock, giving the 7700K a 30 cb boost in Cinebench (+3%).

To get around this, after the DRAM speed and timings are configured, the Ai Overclock Tuner setting is switched to Auto, negating that out-of-the-box performance boost.

Windows Benchmarks

For the bulk of our testing, we use Windows 10 build 14393 with full updates as the base. After installation, LAN, audio, and chipset drivers are installed even if they are not explicitly needed (because Windows can use generic driver versions). Our basic guidelines beyond that are:

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Adobe Lightroom CC 2015: RAW to JPEG Export
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Autodesk 3ds Max 2015: (SPECapc 3ds Max 2015)
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Autodesk 3ds Max 2017: Naomi Render (Model by Nikola Bechev)
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Adobe Premiere Pro CC 2017: 4K RED Encode
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Adobe Premiere Pro CC 2017: Blu-ray Concert Encode
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Blender: Pavillon Render
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Cinebench R15.038
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dBpoweramp - Convert FLAC to MP3
dBpoweramp R15.1
dBpoweramp - Convert FLAC to MP3
Intel Core i7-6700K (CPU-Z & GPU-Z) Intel Core i7-6700K (CPU-Z & GPU-Z)
SiSoftware Sandra 2016 SP3
Intel Core i7-6700K (CPU-Z & GPU-Z)

All of the tests shown above are used in their stock configurations, outside of CUDA encoding being disabled on the Premiere Pro projects. If you’re a Blender user and wish to compare your system’s performance to ours, you can download the project files for free here.

Gaming Benchmarks

Because the biggest bottleneck in a game is the graphics card, the workload needs to be put on the CPU as much as possible in order to better understand the raw performance scaling. As such, all of the games tested here were run at 1080p and 1440p, with moderate detail levels. A single 4K benchmark in the form of 3DMark is included as well, which will highlight the differences when the GPU is the bottleneck.

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Ashes of the Singularity: Game Settings
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Ashes of the Singularity: Benchmark Screenshot
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Battlefield 1: Game Settings
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Battlefield 1: Game Settings
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Battlefield 1: Benchmark Screenshot
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Futuremark 3DMark
Futuremark 3DMark
CyberPowerPC AMD VR Gaming PC - Keyboard Switches CyberPowerPC AMD VR Gaming PC - Keyboard Switches
Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Wildlands: Game Settings
CyberPowerPC AMD VR Gaming PC - Keyboard Switches
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Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Wildlands: Game Settings
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Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Wildlands: Benchmark Screenshot
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Intel Core i7-6700K (CPU-Z & GPU-Z) Intel Core i7-6700K (CPU-Z & GPU-Z)
Rise of the Tomb Raider: Game Settings
Intel Core i7-6700K (CPU-Z & GPU-Z)
Intel Core i7-6700K (CPU-Z & GPU-Z) Intel Core i7-6700K (CPU-Z & GPU-Z)
Rise of the Tomb Raider: Benchmark Screenshot
Intel Core i7-6700K (CPU-Z & GPU-Z)
Intel Core i7-6700K (CPU-Z & GPU-Z) Intel Core i7-6700K (CPU-Z & GPU-Z)
Total War ATTILA: Game Settings
Intel Core i7-6700K (CPU-Z & GPU-Z)
Intel Core i7-6700K (CPU-Z & GPU-Z) Intel Core i7-6700K (CPU-Z & GPU-Z)
Total War ATTILA: Benchmark Screenshot
Intel Core i7-6700K (CPU-Z & GPU-Z)
Intel Core i7-6700K (CPU-Z & GPU-Z) Intel Core i7-6700K (CPU-Z & GPU-Z)
Watch Dogs 2: Game Settings
Intel Core i7-6700K (CPU-Z & GPU-Z)
Intel Core i7-6700K (CPU-Z & GPU-Z) Intel Core i7-6700K (CPU-Z & GPU-Z)
Watch Dogs 2: Game Settings
Intel Core i7-6700K (CPU-Z & GPU-Z)
Intel Core i7-6700K (CPU-Z & GPU-Z) Intel Core i7-6700K (CPU-Z & GPU-Z)
Watch Dogs 2: Benchmark Screenshot
Intel Core i7-6700K (CPU-Z & GPU-Z)

Because Ashes offers the explicit ability to act only as a CPU benchmark, we opted to use that over the GPU version. The rest of the games aside from ATTILA are standard gaming benchmarks. While ATTILA can be used as a graphics benchmark, too, it’s incredibly CPU-bound, as the results will attest.

Linux Benchmarks

Ubuntu 17.04 is the OS of choice for our test bed, as it’s both simple to setup, and so de facto that everyone reading the results should feel at home. The OS is left as stock as possible, with the screen timeout disabled and open source Nouveau graphics driver used over the proprietary NVIDIA one.

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Blender: Pavillon Render
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Phoronix Test Suite 7.0
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Both the Blender and HandBrake tests are shared with the Windows testing. Examples of the performance differences between two OS versions can be seen on the results page. Phoronix Test Suite is used for the bulk of our Linux testing, as it supplies the tests we need, and makes them easy to use.


If you think there’s some information lacking on this page, or you simply want clarification on anything in particular, don’t hesitate to leave a comment.

Rendering: (3ds Max 2015 & 2017), Blender, Cinebench, POV-Ray

(All of our tests are explained in detail on page 2.)

Design and rendering is one of the greatest areas of computing to benchmark to highlight the benefits of faster hardware, whether it be a CPU, GPU, memory, and even storage. On a low-end system, a production render might take hours, for example, whereas on a high-end system, that render could be shaved down to the tens of minutes.

With these results, it’s up to you to gauge where the best value can be found. In some cases, it might be beneficial to go with more modest hardware if the time-to-render isn’t of a great concern; in other cases, spending more on faster hardware might actually save you money in the long-run.

For our rendering tests, we use Autodesk’s 3ds Max (2015, for SPECapc, and 2017, for our real-world model render), the popular open source design suite Blender, as well as Cinebench and POV-Ray for some quick-and-dirty results.

All of the tests here are hugely scalable, and will remain so for the forseeable future. If AMD or Intel want to bring 16-core chips to the desktop, then the results could wind up being downright jaw-dropping.

Autodesk 3ds Max 2015 & 2017

AMD Ryzen 7 1600X & 1500X Performance - Autodesk 3ds Max 2017
AMD Ryzen 7 1600X & 1500X Performance - SPECapc 3ds Max 2015

Both of the Ryzen 5 chips included here perform extremely well against their closest competition, offering an excellent bang-for-the-buck. The 1500X in particular is quite impressive, as it costs $20 more than the i3-7350K, but performs much better.

Blender

AMD Ryzen 7 1600X & 1500X Performance - Blender Renders

With Blender, the 1600X proves to be just about as fast as the i7-7700K, which isn’t too shabby for a chip that costs about ~$80 less. The 1500X is clearly beginning to set a trend, though, performing extremely well against the dual-core i3-7350K – the gains are completely worth the extra $20.

Synthetic Renderers: Cinebench, POV-Ray

AMD Ryzen 7 1600X & 1500X Performance - Cinebench
AMD Ryzen 7 1600X & 1500X Performance - POV-Ray

With the results for both 3ds Max and Blender, we saw the 1600X fall behind the 7700K overall, though not by much. Both Cinebench and POV-Ray have a different story to tell: the 1600X is faster. On paper, that’s to be expected, given we’re talking about a 6-core doing battle against a 4-core. But we didn’t see the same performance with those earlier results.

Given that AMD promoted Cinebench results heavily leading up to the Ryzen launch, it wouldn’t be hard to believe that the application was somehow optimized for that architecture (even though the benchmark hasn’t been updated in eons, outside of a recent minor one that didn’t even deserve patch notes), but POV-Ray – historically a strong Intel test – backs up Cinebench’s results perfectly.

Media: Adobe Premiere Pro, Adobe Lightroom, dBpoweramp & HandBrake

(All of our tests are explained in detail on page 2.)

As seen on the previous page, rendering can take amazing advantage of even the biggest processors, but video encoding is not that far behind – if at all. Even the free conversion tool HandBrake can take advantage of our sixteen-thread processors to significantly decrease encode times. For our video encoding purposes, we use Adobe’s Premiere Pro, as well as HandBrake.

To a lesser degree, music conversion and image manipulation can also see benefits on beefier chips, so Adobe’s Lightroom and dBpoweramp will be used to help us gauge that performance.

Adobe Premiere Pro

AMD Ryzen 7 1600X & 1500X Performance - Adobe Premiere Pro

These results are perfect for highlighting an interesting factoid: that not all encodes will use the CPU the same. The 1080p Blu-ray encode proved quicker on the 7700K over the 1600X thanks to its much faster clock speed, but the 4K encode, which can exercise more than 4 cores, performed much better on the 1600X. This is why it truly pays to understand your workload when seeking out new hardware.

As for the 1500X vs. 7350K matchup? The results really do speak for themselves.

HandBrake

AMD Ryzen 7 1600X & 1500X Performance - HandBrake

HandBrake largely backs up the results from Premiere Pro, putting the 1500X well ahead of the dual-core 7350K, and the 1600X just a head of the 7700K – the exception being that x265 was quicker on Intel, but to a lesser degree than the 1600X being faster with x264.

Adobe Lightroom & dBpoweramp

AMD Ryzen 7 1600X & 1500X Performance - Adobe Lightroom & dBpoweramp

Based on the results seen from our Ryzen 7 review, it isn’t too much of a surprise to see the 1600X perform a bit worse than the 7700K in Adobe Lightroom. The situation changes, though, with dBpoweramp. It doesn’t use special instructions to encode – it simply uses the processing power available. And because it does, the 1600X gains the lead in that particular test.

The 1500X again speaks for itself, and puts a massive damper on the 7350K.

SiSoftware Sandra: Computation, Memory & Cache Tests

(All of our tests are explained in detail on page 2.)

SiSoftware’s Sandra needs no introduction, but I’ll give one anyway. It’s been around for as long as the Internet, and has long provided both diagnostic and benchmark features to its users. SiSoftware keeps on top of architectural updates as they’re revealed, and often, the software supports a specific processor feature or design before consumers can even get their hands on the product.

As a synthetic tool, Sandra can give us the best possible look at the top-end performance from the hardware it can benchmark, which is the reason we use it to test CPUs, memory, motherboards, and even graphics cards (for compute). It also allows us to benchmark very specific tests, such as inter-core bandwidth and latency, financial and scientific scenarios, as well as cache performance.

Arithmetic & Multi-Media

AMD Ryzen 7 1600X & 1500X Performance - SiSoftware Sandra 2016 Arithmetic & Multi-Media

On the last page, I mentioned that Adobe Lightroom performs better on Intel, and this particular Sandra result suggests that generally speaking, media is Intel’s domain. Here, the 7700K performs much better than the 1600X, and the gap between the 1600X and 7350K is tight, despite the Intel chip having half of the threads of the AMD one.

This doesn’t mean that Ryzen is poor for media stuffs; it simply means that it’s worse. The benchmarks on the previous page show that it doesn’t matter too much in the grand scheme, though, because the additional cores can negate optimization shortcomings. Case-in-point: the arithmetic results.

Cryptography

AMD Ryzen 7 1600X & 1500X Performance - SiSoftware Sandra 2016 Cryptography

I’m not sure what it is about Ryzen that makes it so damn good at cryptography, but these results (and others later) show that it doesn’t just match – but beats – Intel. Cue the Unreal Tournament “DOMINATING!” sound clip. In all three tests, the six cores of the 1600X help it beat the four cores of the 7700K with ease.

Financial & Scientific Analysis

AMD Ryzen 7 1600X & 1500X Performance - SiSoftware Sandra 2016 Financial & Scientific Analysis

I mentioned earlier that it “pays to know your workload”, and this is another set of results that proves why. In some cases, AMD’s Ryzen is going to be the better choice, but in others, Intel is. Despite having half the cores, Intel’s 7700K performs better than the 1800X in the scientific test, but then in the financial test, AMD’s results effectively skyrocket.

Memory & Core Bandwidth / Latencies

AMD Ryzen 7 1600X & 1500X Performance - SiSoftware Sandra 2016 Memory Bandwidth

It’s important to highlight the fact that AMD’s platform is running memory at a slightly higher clock speed than the Intel one, so that will account for some of AMD’s gain here. However, I wouldn’t expect a bump from 2800MHz to 2933MHz to result in a 4~5GB boost, so it’s clear that AMD’s memory controller on Ryzen is very effective.

AMD Ryzen 7 1600X & 1500X Performance - SiSoftware Sandra 2016 Memory Latency

If you were to separate the above results from the rest, it wouldn’t paint a pretty picture of Ryzen. However, despite the fact that the latencies are way higher than we’d like to see, the real-world performance detriment isn’t particularly noticeable, as evidenced in most results throughout this review.

AMD Ryzen 7 1600X & 1500X Performance - SiSoftware Sandra 2016 Inter-Core Performance

This is another set of results that are not too complementary towards Ryzen, but again, the real-world performance doesn’t nearly scale like the latencies do in this test.

One thing these results highlight is that improvements to software can be made to better support Ryzen. It’s no secret that a ton of software is optimized for Intel; as time goes on, and Ryzen floods the market, we should see software developers add optimizations for AMD’s latest processors. It’s already begun with Ashes of the Singularity, so hopefully it won’t take too long to see more optimizations roll out industry-wide.

Gaming: 3DMark, Ashes, Battlefield 1, GR: Wildlands, RotTR, TW: ATTILA & Watch Dogs 2

(All of our tests are explained in detail on page 2.)

It’s been easy to highlight the performance differences across our collection of CPUs on the previous pages, since most of the tests used take advantage of every thread we give them. But now, it’s time to move onto testing that’s a different beast entirely: gaming.

In order for a gaming benchmark to be useful in a CPU review, the workload on the GPU needs to be as mild as possible; otherwise, it could become a bottleneck. Since the entire point of a CPU review is to evaluate the performance of the CPU, running high detail and high resolutions in games won’t give us the most useful results.

As such, our game testing revolves around 1080p, and 1440p, with games being equipped with moderate graphics detail (not low-end, but not high-end, either). These settings shouldn’t prove to be much of a burden for the GeForce GTX 1080 GPU. For those interested in the settings used for each game, hit up page 2 (a link is found at the top of this page).

In addition to 3DMark, our gauntlet of tests includes six games: Ashes of the Singularity (CPU only), Battlefield 1 (Fraps), Ghost Recon: Wildlands (built-in benchmark), Rise of the Tomb Raider (built-in benchmark), Total War: ATTILA (built-in benchmark), and Watch Dogs 2 (Fraps).

Futuremark 3DMark

AMD Ryzen 7 1600X & 1500X Performance - Futuremark 3DMark Overall Scores

As mentioned above, it’s going to be hard to see performance differences between CPUs if the GPU is a bottleneck, and these results explain why. At 1080p, there are grand differences between the bottom and top of the stack, but at 4K, where the GPU becomes the biggest bottleneck, there’s effectively no difference at all (except for the dual-core, but even that difference is mild).

When we separate the physics score, which explicitly uses the CPU, we can see why the overall scores above managed to get their boost:

AMD Ryzen 7 1600X & 1500X Performance - Futuremark 3DMark Physics Scores

As with most of the tests prior to this page, huge differences can be seen when the CPU is specifically singled out in a gaming test. But just how useful is this data? It’s really only useful if you consider it to represent theoretical gaming performance. On this page, the 8-cores place at the top of the chart in the CPU-specific tests, but in actual gaming, the higher-clocked (but lower-core) chips perform better.

So, theoretically, if a game can take advantage of 8+ core chips, the graph above would represent the benefits of many core CPUs. The closest I think we have to hitting the mark comes up next:

Ashes of the Singularity

AMD Ryzen 7 1600X & 1500X Performance - Ashes of the Singularity

It’s important to note that this is the original Ashes, and not the Escalation DLC which includes specific Ryzen optimizations. However, it acts as a good bare-bones CPU test, as the graphics are not involved, just like with 3DMark’s physics test. If a game can take advantage of more than 4 cores, then the bigger chips stand to deliver the best performance. Or, if a game adjusts its AI based on CPU horsepower available, the bigger chips would be ideal.

Battlefield 1

AMD Ryzen 7 1600X & 1500X Performance - Battlefield 1 (1080p)
AMD Ryzen 7 1600X & 1500X Performance - Battlefield 1 (1440p)

BF1 is one of the more recent examples of games that can actually take decent advantage of today’s processors, but as we see here, the overall differences are not that stark. At 1080p, the delta between the top and bottom of the stack is a mere 10 FPS (for the minimum; and we’re talking a 126 FPS peak value), and at 1440p, there’s no effective winner on the minimum side, and for the average, there’s just a 5 FPS difference from the bottom to top.

I should stress the fact that this testing represents offline play, and that online play will likely give you different results. But because of the variable nature of the gameplay, real-world testing is complicated, especially by someone who’s not familiar with the game and would drag an unsuspecting team down. Thus, I stick to offline tests for the sake of sanity.

Ghost Recon: Wildlands

AMD Ryzen 7 1600X & 1500X Performance - Ghost Recon Wildlands (1080p)
AMD Ryzen 7 1600X & 1500X Performance - Ghost Recon Wildlands (1440p)

We’re seeing more of the same here, with very little overall differences being seen between the top and bottom. Interestingly, all of the Ryzen chips managed to deliver a better minimum FPS at 1440p than the 4GHz 6700K and 4.2GHz 7350K (but fall short of the 7700K). Overall, rather minimal differences.

Rise of the Tomb Raider

AMD Ryzen 7 1600X & 1500X Performance - Rise of the Tomb Raider (1080p)
AMD Ryzen 7 1600X & 1500X Performance - Rise of the Tomb Raider (1440p)

Compared to the previous results on this page, Rise of the Tomb Raider‘s are downright sporadic. Based on both the 7350K and 1500K, this game doesn’t like dual-cores, or quad-cores with sub-4GHz clocks. Intel tops the charts here, which based on previous performance suggests the game itself is optimized for the blue team. At 1080p, that leads the 1500X to fall below the 7350K in both resolutions, but at 1440p, the differences for the average FPS is minimal.

Total War: ATTILA

AMD Ryzen 7 1600X & 1500X Performance - Total War ATTILA

ATTILA, like RotTR, doesn’t seem to like non-Intel chips too much. In most cases throughout this review, Ryzen’s extra cores have helped it do proper battle against Intel, but these results highlight that in some cases, that Intel optimizations mean a lot.

Take the 7350K, for example. Despite having half of the number of cores and threads as the 1500X, it beat out even the eight-core 1800X, and likewise, the 1800X couldn’t match a single Intel chip here.

The fact that the results between the 1080p and 1440p results are largely the same proves that ATTILA is a fantastic CPU benchmark, but only for Intel.

Watch Dogs 2

AMD Ryzen 7 1600X & 1500X Performance - Watch Dogs 2 (1080p)
AMD Ryzen 7 1600X & 1500X Performance - Watch Dogs 2 (1440p)

Compared to the rest of the games on this page, Watch Dogs 2 seems to scale the fairest between processors, giving an edge to no one. Because it’s a game that doesn’t need more than a quad-core, the highest-clocked chip that’s at least a quad-core wins.

As seen a few times with other games, 1080p isn’t too kind to Ryzen, but the gap tightens at 1440p.

Linux: GeekBench, Blender, HandBrake & Phoronix Test Suite

(All of our tests are explained in detail on page 2.)

To wrap-up our performance results, we have a slew of Linux test results to pore over, which include two identical tests from the Windows suite (HandBrake and Blender).

The OS used in testing is Ubuntu 17.04, which is as out-of-the-box as we can make it. That means that the Nouveau driver is used for graphics (not that it should matter for CPU tests), and no unneeded software or services are installed. An exception: for the sake of improved AMD Ryzen support, the kernel has been upgraded to 4.10.1.

Most of our Linux testing is performed with the Phoronix Test Suite, which makes it ridiculously easy to benchmark a huge number of tests in one go, to let us, as Ronco famously said, “set it, and forget it!” Well, “forget it” until the next test needs to be run, anyway.

In addition to PTS, GeekBench is included for an overall performance look, while Blender and HandBrake are used for real-world testing.

GeekBench

AMD Ryzen 7 1600X & 1500X Performance - GeekBench (Linux)

These results are great for showing the single-threaded performance between AMD’s and Intel’s processors, and to some degree the benefits of additional cores. The 1600X scores about 13% better than the 7700K on the multi-thread front, which isn’t surprising given its additional cores, but remains awesome due to a price tag that’s ~$80 lower.

In that 1600X vs. 7700K battle, we can see the gains of the six-core AMD chip over the four-core Intel one, and with the 1500X, the chip simply bleeds “bang-for-the-buck” given its $20 premium over the 7350K.

Blender & HandBrake

AMD Ryzen 7 1600X & 1500X Performance - Blender & HandBrake (Linux)

In both tests, the 1600X performs well against its Core i7 competition, and the same goes for the 1500X, which simply blows the $20 less expensive 7350K out of the water.

How do these Linux versions compare to their Windows counterparts?

Blender (Windows)Blender (Linux)HandBrake (Windows)HandBrake (Linux)
AMD Ryzen 7 1800X991 s991 s333 s344 s
AMD Ryzen 7 1700X1055 s1015 s349 s357 s
AMD Ryzen 7 17001083 s1102 s378 s386 s
AMD Ryzen 7 1600X1250 s1244 s433 s433 s
AMD Ryzen 7 1500X1734 s1703 s660 s643 s
Intel Core i7-7700K1184 s1182 s495 s484 s
Intel Core i7-6700K1356 s1462 s542 s524 s
Intel Core i7-7350K2455 s2959 s1026 s1016 s

That’s a hard question to answer, as we see benefits flip-flop. Overall, though, both the 1600X and 1500X perform very similarly between versions.

Phoronix Test Suite

(Additional results from our PTS testing can be found here.)

AMD Ryzen 7 1600X & 1500X Performance - Compiler Performance (Linux)
AMD Ryzen 7 1600X & 1500X Performance - Ray Tracing (Linux)
AMD Ryzen 7 1600X & 1500X Performance - SciMark (Linux)
AMD Ryzen 7 1600X & 1500X Performance - OpenSSL (Linux)
AMD Ryzen 7 1600X & 1500X Performance - HMMer Search (Linux)
AMD Ryzen 7 1600X & 1500X Performance - 7-Zip (Linux)
AMD Ryzen 7 1600X & 1500X Performance - Stream (Linux)
John The Ripper (Encryption)
BlowfishMD5DES
AMD Ryzen 7 1800X12.8K200K44.6M
AMD Ryzen 7 1700X12.2K190.2K42.1M
AMD Ryzen 7 170011.1K168.6K38.3M
AMD Ryzen 7 1600X9.6K149.5K33.7M
AMD Ryzen 7 1500X6.3K97.1K21.9M
Intel Core i7-7700K9.0K109K22.0M
Intel Core i7-6700K8.2K99.5K20.1M
Intel Core i3-7350K4.3K52K10.4M

Some of the results above make me glad to test with Linux, because we can see stories that are a little bit different from the ones we have with Windows. Check out the C-ray ray tracing benchmark, for example, which was almost twice as fast on the 1600X over the 7700K. The 1500X was more than twice as fast as the 7350K – but that’s at least to be expected given its doubled core count.

In SciMark, AMD’s Ryzen performs exceptionally well, dominating the Sparse Matrix Multiply test and outperforming all three of the Intel chips in Monte Carlo. FFT performance belongs to Intel, with the lowbie 7350K managing to beat out even the top-end Ryzen 7.

All of the other results paint a picture we’ve seen on previous pages: the 1600X is faster than the 7700K in many cases, and the 1500X is faster than the 7350K in all cases except for the Fast Fourier Transform calculations.

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

Cons

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