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AMD Ryzen 5 1600X & 1500X Performance Review

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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Gaming Performance (Synthetic)

3DMark Fire Strike (DX11)





3DMark Time Spy (DX12)




3DMark is one of those programs that's worthwhile for synthetic testing but not much else as evidenced by these results. On one hand it looks like the Ryzen 5 1600X is able to consistently deliver Ryzen 7 1800X-beating clock speeds. As such, its 3DMark Fire Strike score is a bit higher. The 1500X meanwhile also boasts some pretty high scores in this DX11-focused benchmark.

Time Spy on the other hand favors multiple threads (the same can't be said of actual DX12 games as we will see) so things turn around a bit with the two Ryzen 5 processors' results getting a bit closer to Kaby Lake chips while Ryzen 7 CPUs pull ahead.
 
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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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Joined
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12,861
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Montreal
Gaming Performance (Battlefield 1 / COD: IW)

Battlefield 1


Battlefield 1 will likely become known as one of the most popular multiplayer games around but it also happens to be one of the best looking titles around. It also happens to be extremely well optimized with even the lowest end cards having the ability to run at high detail levels.

In this benchmark we use a runthough of The Runner level after the dreadnought barrage is complete and you need to storm the beach. This area includes all of the game’s hallmarks in one condensed area with fire, explosions, debris and numerous other elements layered over one another for some spectacular visual effects.





Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare


The latest iteration in the COD series may not drag out niceties like DX12 or particularly unique playing styles but it nonetheless is a great looking game that is quite popular.

This benchmark takes place during the campaign’s Operation Port Armor wherein we run through a sequence combining various indoor and outdoor elements along with some combat.




If anything, game tests shows just how overpriced Ryzen 7 processors are for gaming applications. Their massive thread counts don't count for much and in some ways the additional cores may actually increase latency as they attempt to align over AMD's Infinity Fabric interface. This actually causes the Ryzen 5 CPUs to look like excessively good values.

Against Intel's 7700K, 7600K and 7500K the Ryzen 5 processors don't exactly deliver knock-out performance. Far from it in some cases, particularly in BF1.
 
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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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Joined
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Gaming Performance (Deus Ex / DOOM)

Deus Ex – Mankind Divided


Deus Ex titles have historically combined excellent storytelling elements with action-forward gameplay and Mankind Divided is no difference. This run-through uses the streets and a few sewers of the main hub city Prague along with a short action sequence involving gunplay and grenades.



Doom


Not many people saw a new Doom as a possible Game of the Year contender but that’s exactly what it has become. Not only is it one of the most intense games currently around but it looks great and is highly optimized. In this run-through we use Mission 6: Into the Fire since it features relatively predictable enemy spawn points and a combination of open air and interior gameplay.



Deus Ex and Doom show very much the same results and Battlefield 1 and Call of Duty with one game showing extremely competitive results for Ryzen 5 while the other is bottlenecked by the game engine itself.
 
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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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Gaming Performance (GTA V / Overwatch)

Grand Theft Auto V


In GTA V we take a simple approach to benchmarking: the in-game benchmark tool is used. However, due to the randomness within the game itself, only the last sequence is actually used since it best represents gameplay mechanics.



Overwatch


Overwatch happens to be one of the most popular games around right now and while it isn’t particularly stressful upon a system’s resources, its Epic setting can provide a decent workout for all but the highest end GPUs. In order to eliminate as much variability as possible, for this benchmark we use a simple “offline” Bot Match so performance isn’t affected by outside factors like ping times and network latency.



Grand Theft Auto is obviously a title which requires high clock speeds for optimal performance but there's also an argument to be made for the possibility of Intel-focused optimizations. Time will tell if that's the case. Meanwhile, there isn't really much to say about Overwatch; the Titan X we are using insures the game engine becomes the bottleneck rather than any system component.
 
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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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Power Consumption

Power Consumption


I don’t typically dedicate a whole page to power consumption but there’s a pretty substantial story lurking behind the numbers you see below and how they directly relate to TDP claims from both Intel and AMD. Without getting too technical, the way these two companies go about measuring TDP is fundamentally different from one another. Intel themselves published a very comprehensive and quite neutral White Paper (PDF download) about some of the nuances of power testing a few years ago and its worth a quick read if you have a chance.

In this case it looks like AMD is publishing something quite different from Intel. As such, the Ryzen’s TDP aren’t directly relatable to Intel. It sure looks bloody impressive and make no mistake about it, Ryzen is a relatively efficient 14nm design but there’s no secret black magic that would make its process node that much more efficient than Intel’s.

As both Intel and AMD recommend, the best way to measure true power deltas between processors is via a simple (yet calibrated) power meter plugged into the wall outlet. That’s exactly what we do but add in a controlled 120V power input to eliminate voltage irregularities from impacting the results.



I mentioned at the beginning of this review that both qand and six core Ryzen 5 processors were based upon the same core as the 8-core variants; they simply have a few of those cores disabled. As a result the 1600X's high clock speeds bring its power consumption numbers close to those exhibited by the 1700X but the disabled processing modules insure sufficiently higher efficiency than the 1800X. The Ryzen 5 1500X exhibits much the same behavior but remains the most energy frugal of AMD's newest processors.

Against Intel's Kaby Lake CPUs, depedning upon which benchmark you look at Ryzen 5 either delivers competitive or less than optimal performance per watt metrics. Overall though, I would say these two processors come out ahead.
 
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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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Joined
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Overclocking Results - Hitting A Wall...Again

Overclocking Results - Hitting A Wall...Again



Back in the Ryzen 7 1700X and 1800X reviews I took no small amount of time discussing how Ryzen behaved when overclocked. Both of those processors basically topped out at about the same point as their bigger brothers.

It seems like these Ryzen CPUs or their motherboards have a hard limit that cuts off chip current at a certain power consumption level. We’ve talked to various contacts and this seems to be a failsafe that may be modified as AMD rolls out new microcode for Ryzen processors. Until then, 4GHz is still a very good result and it boosts performance significantly on both chips but right now, running into this wall over and over again has me pretty frustrated. Its obvious Ryzen has more gas in the tank that's being left untapped. Hopefully this changes as the platform matures. So what did I hit.....you guessed it....


The 1600X sample I have in hand landed at just over 4GHz before the system simply cut off its power, leaving me with a black screen whenever load was applied. I could actually boot into Windows without a problem all the way up to 4.3GHz but that power limitation kept stepping in.


Unfortunately the 1500X was in the exact same position: 4Ghz or so. While this might seem disappointing, on a percentage basis these chips are actually quite decent overclockers and the performance they can deliver with higher frequencies is impressive to say the least.
 
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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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Joined
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Messages
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Conclusion; Ryzen 5 Shines

Conclusion; Ryzen 5 Shines


When Ryzen 7 launched there was a fair bit of controversy surrounding some of its shortcomings. Overclocking headroom was disappointing, finding the right memory was like walking through a minefield, Windows 10’s power plans didn’t play nice and there were some serious questions about how the Zen architecture behaved in games. In many ways it felt like a rushed introduction to a key component of AMD’s roadmap.

Now, about six weeks after that release we are no closer to answering some of our burning questions but through a series of well-placed community updates, we’re slowly but surely getting a glimpse of what the future has in store. It seems like a pretty bright future too, especially when you take the new Ryzen 5 processors into account. With Ryzen 5 being their intended volume movers, AMD needed to hit this out of the park and for the most part that’s exactly what happened.

Earlier in this review I mentioned that historically AMD has combated Intel’s clock speed and IPC superiority with core counts. Nothing has changed this time around and unlike Ryzen 7’s alignment with an Intel architecture that’s more than three years old, Ryzen 5 has the dubious honor of going toe to toe against Kaby Lake. Luckily its
becoming increasingly apparent that Zen has made some major inroads on the IPC front but that doesn’t mean ultimate victory of AMD either.

Let’s start off with the Ryzen 5 1600X since I’m quite passionate about what it accomplishes. I have a pretty jaded view of this segment but if there’s a CPU I could get excited about, it would be this one. Despite a price alignment with Intel’s quad thread i5-7600K, it easily matches or beats Intel’s i7-7700K in most real world and synthetic benchmarks. Meanwhile, due to high base and XFR frequencies it makes the $500 Ryzen 7 1800X look completely overpriced and outclassed in every gaming-centric price / performance metric. This just goes to prove my initial opinion about those Ryzen 7 processors: they make for poor value when installed in a system used exclusively for gaming.


Perhaps the best part about the 1600X is an ability to act like a chameleon of sorts; it easily adapts to whatever scenario you are dealing with. If you happen to be a prosumer who needs those 12 processing threads for rendering or video conversion, its results are extremely robust and extremely close to Ryzen 7 processors. Switch to gaming and its results are within spitting distance of some of the best Intel has to offer in the sub-$350 bracket. All of this and it only costs $250USD. That’s a winner in my opinion.

My opinion about the Ryzen 5 1500X is a bit less definitive but that doesn’t mean it should be overlooked. Rather, I look at its $190 price and find myself wondering why someone wouldn’t save a bit and drop down a mere $60 more on the faster-clocked and infinitely more adaptable Ryzen 5 1600X.

When looked at within a vacuum and not being influenced by its siblings the 1500X does some yeoman’s work rounding out AMD’s lineup within a key market segment. In multithreaded workloads it walks all over the similarly priced i5-7500 and still hangs on strong in less highly threaded real world scenarios. However, Intel’s raw clock speed advantage still wins out in some cases, especially within situations that aren’t heavily multithreaded like games. One particularly egregious example of this is Adobe’s Premier Pro which saw the i5-7500 hang right with a Ryzen 5 1500X despite the fact Intel’s processor features four less processing threads. Honestly I feel the 1500X’s relatively low 3.5GHz / 3.7GHz frequencies play some havoc with its overall results but I also understand why AMD needed to keep some frequency separation between it and higher end Ryzen processors.

The clock speed discrepancy between Ryzen 5 and Kaby Lake CPUs is one of the challenges AMD knew they would have to deal with. While thread counts and very aggressive pricing have helped mitigate the fallout, as we see time and again, that strategy can only go so far before it starts faltering. Naturally, overclocking will ease this situation even more but Ryzen 5 shares the same limitations of its bigger siblings in that respect: try going above 4GHz and you run face first into a wall. I do have to give AMD credit for actually featuring unlocked multipliers on every one of their sub-$250 processors though; it’s a real ace up their sleeves against the majority of Intel’s i5 and i3 series processors.

As we get to the end of this review, I think my recommendation is pretty clear: while the Ryzen 5 1500X is a good processor the 1600X should be destined for greatness. Its price, performance, efficiency, decent overclocking headroom, situational adaptability and so much more make it one of the best CPU’s released in the last half decade. AMD’s willingness to be transparent about their progress refining Ryzen is just the icing on the cake and goes to show there’s much more to be excited about in the future. Pair one of these 1600X’s up with a $120 B350 motherboard alongside an RX480 or GTX 1060 and you’ll have an absolutely rocking foundation upon which to build a very, very capable budget system.

 
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