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AMD Ryzen 5 1600X & 1500X Performance Review

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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There I was last Monday, about four weeks after AMD’s successful Ryzen 7 launch and not that long after the first true details of Ryzen 5 were allowed to filter through and a package arrived from AMD. Inside was a pair of processors, the 1600X and 1500X. I was even more excited to review this dynamic duo than any of the other CPUs which have passed through these labs in the last four or so years.

Now make no mistake about it; Ryzen 7 had me giddy with anticipation since it represented a return to competitiveness for the company which originally produced the CPU in my first DIY system. But Ryzen 5 and the processors under its umbrella are something else entirely. Whereas even something like the competitive Ryzen 7 1700X will be unobtanium for many, the more affordable chips in the 5-series lineup will be what the rest of us can afford.


Even though I already covered the Ryzen 5 processors’ relative positioning against their Intel competitors, let’s reiterate for a moment since some of you may not have read our initial preview. Starting at the very bottom of the lineup is the $170 Ryzen 5 1400. Equipped with a quartet of physical cores and eight threads, it will be running straight up against the unlocked dual core, quad thread i3-7350K. In previous generations AMD’s intent was to fight Intel’s clock speed or IPC domination by offering more processing threads and nothing has changed with Ryzen.

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Move a bit further down-market and we come to the Ryzen 5 1500X, one of the highlights in this particular review. At $189 it slides into the very narrow space between the i5-7400 and i5-7500 while offering something neither Intel processor does: an unlocked multiplier and eight threads.

The $250 Ryzen 5 1600X and $220 1600 are pretty unique processors. Even though they cost about as much as the i5-7600K and i5-7600 respectively, both offer six cores, twelve threads and some very appealing performance metrics. AMD isn’t quite expecting these to compete against the i7-7700 series (and that says a lot about Ryzen 5’s positioning) but they nonetheless represent a significant monetary savings over even the lowest-tier Ryzen 7.


Looking beyond pricing towards the raw specifications shows some interesting elements of these new Ryzen 5 products. First and foremost the 1600X may “only” have 6 cores but its internal clocks match those of a $499 1800X. While the extra threads on the higher end Ryzen CPU may help it win some heavily multithreaded benchmarks, frequencies alone may allow its more affordable stablemate to compete in games. One thing to note about the 1600X is that its single thread XFR rate goes to a maximum of 4.1GHz, much like the 1800X.

The 1600 is more of an outlier than anything else and we are sure to see it become a darling in the system integrator space due to its TDP of just 65W. Due to substantially lower speeds, it will likely be less appealing for DIYers who want a drop-in solution that will maximize performance per dollar.

The Ryzen 5 1500X represents the transition point with AMD’s lineup to a quad core layout. There was a lot of care put into its frequencies to insure higher end Ryzen offerings didn’t have their toes stepped on but base / boost rates of 3.5GHz and 3.7GHz respectively aren’t anything to turn your nose up at either. The 1500X also happens to be the only processor in the AMD lineup thus far that has an additional 200MHz of XFR headroom. Those numbers are actually very close to the 3.4GHz / 3.8GHz i5-7500 as well.

Rounding out the Ryzen 5 lineup is the lowly 1400, a chip that will surely be destined for emerging markets. Even though it is just $20 less expensive than its sibling, both frequencies and cache allocation has been cut quite drastically.


AMD has taken a pretty interesting approach when it comes to designing their lower-end processors. If you have already read our deep dive, you will know the Zen architecture’s foundational building block is the highly modularized CCX or Core Complex. Each CCX houses a quartet of physical cores, 64K L1 I-cache, 64K L1 D-cache, 512KB dedicated L2 cache per core, and 8MB L3 cache shared across all cores. That means in order to create an 8-core part like Ryzen 7, AMD added a pair of CCX’s to a common die and allows them to communicate with one another via a high level on-chip network called the Infinity Fabric.

The Ryzen 5 processors –even the quad core parts like the 1500X- all use the exact same 8-core layout as Ryzen 7 but cut down the physical cores equally across CCX’s. For example, the 1600X uses a 3+3 layout while the 1500X and 1400 have a 2+2 implementation. Since each core has an associative L2 Cache block, that section of the chip scales in a linear fashion as well, whereas the shared L3 cache remains a constant 16MB throughout the lineup. The only exception to this is the Ryzen 5 1400 which also gets a portion of its shared cache chopped off.


Adding a bit more value to this equation is the inclusion of a Wraith Spire cooler with the 1600 and 1500X. Remember, this is a non-RGB version of the cooler so if you are expecting some sexy lighting effects you’ll be let down. Meanwhile the 1400 will receive a more basic but still quite capable Wraith stealth heatsink.

While the Ryzen launches haven’t been without their fair share of controversy and missteps, AMD has understandably high hopes for the Ryzen 5 lineup. Whereas Ryzen 7 will act as a type of halo product with plenty of appeal for professionals and prossumers alike, these new more affordable processors are meant to be their volume movers. Not only will that put them in direct contention against Intel’s newer Kaby Lake microarchitecture but AMD needs competitive mid and lower-tier offerings if they have any hope of long-term success. With that in mind, a lot is riding on this launch.

 
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SKYMTL

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AMD’s B350 Chipset, A Perfect Fit for Ryzen 5?

AMD’s B350 Chipset, A Perfect Fit for Ryzen 5?


Back when I looked at the Ryzen 7 processors I ended up taking a good amount of time to explain AMD’s new platform and the motherboards it would bring to the table. At the time I focused primarily on the higher end X370 boards since they seemed to be a good fit for the 8-core CPUs but with Ryzen 5, its time to give B350 its time in the limelight.


In many ways the B350 platform is a more affordable and cut-down version of the X370 but unlike Intel’s H-series, it retains the overclocking features of its big brother. The actually differences between the X370 and B350 primarily revolve around the latter’s lack of higher bandwidth dual GPU support but there are several other more nuanced changes as well.

Actually, let’s talk about B350 and Crossfire / SLI compatibility for a second since there seem to be some misconceptions about it. In order to distinguish these motherboards from X370 AMD doesn’t allow for the Ryzen processor’s 16 PCI-E 3.0 lanes to be split into two x8 pathways when two graphics cards are installed. Instead, Ryzen motherboards will have a primary x16 slot and chipset-supported secondary x16 mechanical slot that operates at PCI-E 2.0 x4 speeds.

Since SLI requires a minimum of a x8 lane allocation for functionality, that’s immediately off the table. However, motherboard vendors can still claim “Crossfire” support since its minimal spec requires just a quartet of PCI-E lanes. However, with that secondary slot being fed by the chipset and operating at just 2.0 x4 speeds, you certainly wouldn’t want to use it for a second graphics card.


Back when I first looked at Ryzen, I mentioned the ASUS X370 Crosshair motherboard was one of those “everything but the kitchen sink” type of products that had a wide scattershot of features, many of which people would never actually use. As you might expect B350 motherboards are being targeted towards folks who are looking for the basics but still want a good amount of future-proofing in their systems. If you’ll actually need eight or more SATA ports or you know a dual GPU setup may be a possibility sometime down the road then stop reading here and grab an X370.

Let’s take this $110 MSI B350 Tomahawk for example since it would perfectly fit what 90% of the market needs right now. It still has the looks of a higher end motherboard and the feature set backs that up with add-ons like an RGB header for MSI Mystic Light support, a convenient auto-overclocking app and high level integrated audio.


Due to Ryzen’s native support of NVMe storage at PCI-E 3.0 x4 speeds, MSI has also included an M.2 slot that’s rated for operation at 32Gbps. This is actually a key focus for AMD’s Ryzen architecture since it will allow all motherboards to implement high bandwidth storage without eating into the chipset’s limited PCI-E lane allocation.

On this particular board, the primary PCI-E setup hasn’t changed from what I described above but MSI has provided a few more details about it s functionality. The top x16 slot –which is protected with MSI’s so-called Steel Armor- remains locked at those speeds regardless of what else is plugged in while the same goes for the quartet of 3.0 lanes directed to the M.2 slot.

The lower x16 mechanical slot operates at x4 electrical speeds UNLESS there is an add-in card within one of the x1 slots. If one or two of those are installed, that x4 bandwidth gets cut in half to PCI-E 2.0 x2 speeds. That’s yet another reason why you wouldn’t want to install a second graphics card; it would really limit your secondary expansion capabilities.


The backplate I/O area on B350 boards will feature a very limited number of connectors, at least when compared against higher level offerings. The reason for this is pretty simple: this more budget friendly chipset has a limited number of native USB ports and general purpose PCI-E lanes. Also remember neither the Ryzen processors nor their associated chipsets natively support USB 3.1 Gen2 so if a motherboard manufacturer wants to add that functionality, they will need to do so through a third party controller which utilizes the chipset’s PCI-E interface.

MSI has done their best to maximize the Tomahawk’s port selection. This board has an on-school but lag-busting mouse connector, a pair of standard USB 2.0 ports and display outputs consisting of VGA, DVI and HDMI for AMD’s upcoming Zen-based APUs. Unfortunately, there’s no DisplayPort.

Moving on, there’s also a trio of USB 3.1 standard connectors and a lone USB 3.1 Type-C. Unfortunately, MSI has chosen to avoid adding an ASMedia or similar secondary controller for Gen2 functionality so all of these ports remain at the slower Gen1 (or USB 3.0) speed and output power potential.

All in all though the MSI B350 Tomahawk looks like a perfect fit for Ryzen 5 processors. It has exactly the connectivity people would be looking for without any excess “fluff” that you would pay for but never use. It even allows for a decent amount of overclocking. What’s not to like about that?
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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Test Setups & Methodology

Test Setups & Methodology


For this review, we have prepared a number of different test setups, representing many of the popular platforms at the moment. As much as possible, the test setups feature identical components, memory timings, drivers, etc. Aside from manually selecting memory frequencies and timings, every option in the BIOS was at its default setting.


For all of the benchmarks, appropriate lengths are taken to ensure an equal comparison through methodical setup, installation, and testing. The following outlines our testing methodology:

A) Windows is installed using a full format.

B) Chipset drivers and accessory hardware drivers (audio, network, GPU) are installed.

C)To ensure consistent results, a few tweaks are applied to Windows 10 and the NVIDIA control panel:
  • UAC – Disabled
  • Windows HPET – Disabled
  • Indexing – Disabled
  • Superfetch – Disabled
  • System Protection/Restore – Disabled
  • Problem & Error Reporting – Disabled
  • Remote Desktop/Assistance - Disabled
  • Windows Security Center Alerts – Disabled
  • Windows Defender – Disabled
  • Screensaver – Disabled
  • Power Plan – High Performance
  • V-Sync – Off
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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Joined
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Messages
13,410
Location
Montreal
System Benchmarks: AIDA64

AIDA64 Extreme Edition


AIDA64 uses a suite of benchmarks to determine general performance and has quickly become one of the de facto standards among end users for component comparisons. While it may include a great many tests, we used it for general CPU testing (CPU ZLib / CPU Hash) and floating point benchmarks (FPU VP8 / FPU SinJulia).


CPU PhotoWorxx Benchmark

This benchmark performs different common tasks used during digital photo processing. It performs a number of modification tasks on a very large RGB image:

This benchmark stresses the SIMD integer arithmetic execution units of the CPU and also the memory subsystem. CPU PhotoWorxx test uses the appropriate x87, MMX, MMX+, 3DNow!, 3DNow!+, SSE, SSE2, SSSE3, SSE4.1, SSE4A, AVX, AVX2, and XOP instruction set extension and it is NUMA, HyperThreading, multi-processor (SMP) and multi-core (CMP) aware.





CPU ZLib Benchmark

This integer benchmark measures combined CPU and memory subsystem performance through the public ZLib compression library. CPU ZLib test uses only the basic x86 instructions but is nonetheless a good indicator of general system performance.




CPU AES Benchmark

This benchmark measures CPU performance using AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) data encryption. In cryptography AES is a symmetric-key encryption standard. AES is used in several compression tools today, like 7z, RAR, WinZip, and also in disk encryption solutions like BitLocker, FileVault (Mac OS X), TrueCrypt. CPU AES test uses the appropriate x86, MMX and SSE4.1 instructions, and it's hardware accelerated on Intel AES-NI instruction set extension capable processors. The test is HyperThreading, multi-processor (SMP) and multi-core (CMP) aware.




CPU Hash Benchmark

This benchmark measures CPU performance using the SHA1 hashing algorithm defined in the Federal Information Processing Standards Publication 180-3. The code behind this benchmark method is written in Assembly. More importantly, it uses MMX, MMX+/SSE, SSE2, SSSE3, AVX instruction sets, allowing for increased performance on supporting processors.




FPU VP8 / SinJulia Benchmarks

AIDA’s FPU VP8 benchmark measures video compression performance using the Google VP8 (WebM) video codec Version 0.9.5 and stresses the floating point unit. The test encodes 1280x720 resolution video frames in 1-pass mode at a bitrate of 8192 kbps with best quality settings. The content of the frames are then generated by the FPU Julia fractal module. The code behind this benchmark method utilizes MMX, SSE2 or SSSE3 instruction set extensions.

Meanwhile, SinJulia measures the extended precision (also known as 80-bit) floating-point performance through the computation of a single frame of a modified "Julia" fractal. The code behind this benchmark method is written in Assembly, and utilizes trigonometric and exponential x87 instructions.




The first couple of benchmarks prove that Ryzen 5 aligns exactly where AMD intended it to. The 1600X's 12 threads allow it to effectively remain ahead of Intel's 7700K except in situations where Intel's higher clock speeds win out like in Photoworxx. The same can be said about the 1500X versus 7600K and 7500. It is hard not to be impressive by what AMD has brought to the price / performance table, particularly in AES encryption / decryption.
 
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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,410
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Montreal
System Benchmarks: Cinebench / PCMark 8 / WPrime

CineBench R15 64-bit


The latest benchmark from MAXON, Cinebench R15 makes use of all your system's processing power to render a photorealistic 3D scene using various different algorithms to stress all available processor cores. The test scene contains approximately 2,000 objects containing more than 300,000 total polygons and uses sharp and blurred reflections, area lights and shadows, procedural shaders, antialiasing, and much more. This particular benchmarking can measure systems with up to 64 processor threads. The result is given in points (pts). The higher the number, the faster your processor.



PCMark 8


PCMark 8 is the latest iteration of Futuremark’s system benchmark franchise. It generates an overall score based upon system performance with all components being stressed in one way or another. The result is posted as a generalized score. In this case, we didn’t use the Accelerated benchmark but rather just used the standard Computational results which cut out OpenCL from the equation.





WPrime


wPrime is a leading multithreaded benchmark for x86 processors that tests your processor performance by calculating square roots with a recursive call of Newton's method for estimating functions, with f(x)=x2-k, where k is the number we're squaring, until Sgn(f(x)/f'(x)) does not equal that of the previous iteration, starting with an estimation of k/2. It then uses an iterative calling of the estimation method a set amount of times to increase the accuracy of the results. It then confirms that n(k)2=k to ensure the calculation was correct. It repeats this for all numbers from 1 to the requested maximum. This is a highly multi-threaded workload. Below are the scores for the 1024M benchmark.



Moving past AIDA and onto more basic synthetic results, we see much of the same. However, it needs to be mentioned that Ryzen 5's quad core, eight thread part comes nowhere close to competing against the similarly spec'd but higher clocked 7700K. There's just no contest when comparing Ryzen 5 and Kaby Lake but luckily AMD is able to leverage their lower price and higher core counts to great effect.
 
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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,410
Location
Montreal
Single Thread Performance / Memory Bandwidth

Single Thread Performance


Even though most modern applications have the capability to utilize more than one CPU thread, single threaded performance is still a cornerstone of modern CPU IPC improvements. In this section, we take a number of synthetic applications and run them in single thread mode.



Ryzen 5's single thread performance is actually quite good but the clock speeds relative to Kaby Lake tends to drag things down in a big way. With that being said, there's a great case to be made for the 1600X's and 1500X's performance against AMD's own Ryzen 7 looks pretty good.
 
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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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Productivity Benchmarks: 7-Zip / Adobe Premier Pro

7-Zip


At face value, 7-Zip is a simple compression/decompresion tool like popular applications like WinZip and WinRAR but it also has numerous additional functions that can allow encryption, decryption and other options. For this test, we use the standard built-in benchmark which focuses on raw multi-threaded throughput.




Adobe Premier Pro CC


Adobe Premier Pro CC is one of the most recognizable video editing programs on the market today as it is used by videography professionals and YouTubers alike. In this test we take elements of a 60-second 4K video file and render them out into a cohesive MP4 video via Adobe’s Media Encoder. Note that GPU acceleration is turned on.



While the 1500X trades blows with Intel's i5-7600K and i5-7500 in these first two productivity benchmarks, the real star of the show is the Ryzen 5 1600X. Not only does it perform very well against the much more expensive 7700K but it also runs neck and neck with the Ryzen 7 1700X in Adobe Premier Pro. That's a seriously impressive feat which is most likely due to this chip's higher clock speeds.
 
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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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Messages
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Montreal
Productivity Benchmarks: Blender / 3ds MAX Corona

Blender


Blender is a free-to-use 3D content creation program that also features an extremely robust rendering back-end. It boasts extremely good multi core scaling and even incorporates a good amount of GPU acceleration for various higher level tasks. In this benchmark we take a custom 1440P 3D image and render it out using the built-in tool. The results you see below list how long it took each processor to complete the test.




3ds MAX Corona Renderer


Autodesk’s 3ds MAX is currently one of the most-used 3D modeling, animation and rendering programs on the market, providing a creative platform for architects to industrial designers alike. Unfortunately its rendering algorithms leave much to be desired and third party rendering add-ons are quite popular. One of the newest ones is called Corona.

In this test we take a custom 3D scene of a room with global illumination enabled and render it out in 720P using Corona’s built-in renderer.




As you can see, both Blender and Corona are heavily multi threaded applications which allows AMD's Ryzen 5 to compete quite well against its Intel opposites but once again Kaby Lake's higher frequencies keeps things close.
 
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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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13,410
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Montreal
Productivity Benchmarks: GIMP / Handbrake

GIMP


While it may be open source, GIMP is actually one of the most popular free photo editors available right now. It uses both CPU and GPU acceleration for certain tasks. In this test we use an 8K image and use a script to run eight different filters in succession. This is considered a lightly threaded workload since the memory, CPU and storage drive can all play a role in performance.




Handbrake


Video conversion from one format to another is a stressful task for any processor and speed is paramount. Handbrake is one of the more popular transcoders on the market since it is free, has a long feature list, supports GPU acceleration and has an easy-to-understand interface. In this test we take a 6GB 4K MP4 and convert it to a 1080P MKV file with a H.264 container format. GPU acceleration has been disabled. The results posted indicate how long it took for the conversion to complete.



As we move on to applications that don't absolutely require the most threads possible, the Ryzen 5 processors drop down a few places against Kaby Lake but those GIMP results are quite impressive. In them, both of these new inexpensive chips are able to run neck and neck against Ryzen 7.
 
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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,410
Location
Montreal
Productivity Benchmarks: POV Ray / WinRAR

POV Ray 3.7


POV Ray is a complex yet simple to use freeware ray tracing program which has the ability to efficiently use multiple CPU cores in order to speed up rendering output. For this test, we use its built-in benchmark feature which renders a high definition scene. The rendering time to completion is logged and then listed below.




WinRAR


WinRAR is one of those free tools that everyone seems to use. Its compression and decompression algorithms are fully multi-core aware which allows for a significant speedup when processing files. In this test we compress a 3GB folder of various files and add a 256-bit encryption key. Once again the number listed is the time to completion.



Honestly, the Ryzen 5 1600X and 1500X haven't moved all that much from their respective positions throughout the benchmarks and nothing has changed here either. The 1600X competes quite well against the i7-7700K in multi threaded applications but it falls woefully behind even the 7600K when clock speeds matter. It also makes the Ryzen 7 1700-series look positively overpriced.

The 1500X meanwhile does quite well but there's nothing which really stands out about its overall performance. Remember, it isn't all that much less expensive than its 1600X stablemate.
 
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