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Ryzen 5 3500X Reviewed: Promising But Out Of Reach

AMD officially launched the Ryzen 5 3500X yesterday. Regrettably, the new six-core chip will not be available outside of the Chinese OEM market. Today, Chinese website Expreview posted its review of the Ryzen 5 3500X, which is probably as close as we'll ever get to it.

(Image credit: AMD)

If it isn't clear by now, the Ryzen 5 3500X was conceived to go head to head with Intel's Core i5-9400F, which shares the same six-core, six-thread configuration. Logically, Expreview pitched the two processors against each other in its review. The publication also threw the Ryzen 5 3600 into the mix so we can see exactly how much of a performance difference there is between the two Ryzen siblings.

ModelCores / ThreadsBase ClockBoost ClockL3 CacheTDPPCIe LanesMemory SupportMSRP
AMD Ryzen 5 36006 / 123.6 GHz4.2 GHz32MB65WPCIe 4.0 x 24Dual DDR4-3200$199
AMD Ryzen 5 3500X6 / 63.6 GHz4.1 GHz32MB65WPCIe 4.0 x 24Dual DDR4-3200N/A
Intel Core i5-9400F6 / 62.9 GHz4.1 GHz9MB65WPCIe 3.0 x 16Dual DDR4-2666$157

The Ryzen system employs MSI's B450M Mortar Titanium motherboard and G.Skill's FlareX 16GB (2x8GB) DDR4-3200 memory kit with CL14-14-14-34 timings. The Intel system utilizes the B360M Mortar Titanium and an undisclosed DDR4-2666 memory kit, which is the maximum memory speed that B360 motherboards support. An XFX RX 5700 XT Black Wolf graphics card handles the graphical duties.

Expreview has a pretty detailed review of the Ryzen 5 3500X. We've summarized the benchmarks that we consider are the most representative of real-world performance.

Office, Web Browser, and Productivity

PCMark 10Ryzen 5 3600Ryzen 5 3500XCore i5-9400F
Score6,1695,8605,618
Essentials10,72410,59310,142
Productivity8,4328,0107,550
Digital Content Creation7,0466,4356,285
Word8,6658,5247,916
Excel16,21314,72713,832
PowerPoint12,29511,58411,460
Edge8,6358,5127,638

According to the overall PCMark 10 scores, the Ryzen 5 3500X delivers up to 4.3% higher performance than the Core i5-9400F. Despite not having SMT (Simultaneous Multi-Threading), the Ryzen 5 3500X is only 5.3% slower than the Ryzen 5 3600.

Rendering, Encoding, and Compression

BenchmarkRyzen 5 3600Ryzen 5 3500XCore i5-9400F
WinRAR19,54713,2369,879
7-Zip Compression45,51536,22529,184
7-Zip Decompression787,969477,672453,480
X264 FHD Benchmark5035.4734.9
X265 HD Benchmark3023.9922.4
Corona 1.3 Benchmark3,376,9902,148,2102,072,480
POV-Ray 3.7.1 Beta 3 Single thread448.58445.25425.51
POV-Ray 3.7.1 Beta 3 Multi-thread3,249.262,338.252,391.34
Blender 2.80 Single Thread192.32196.23201.13
Blender 2.80 Multi-thread25.5234.6936.03
Cinebench R20 Single-core485467430
Cinebench R20 Multi-core3,6962,6502,380

In general, the Ryzen 5 3500X is faster than the Core i5-9400F. In certain benchmarks, such as WinRAR or 7-Zip, there's a 34% and 24.1% performance delta, respectively. However, the other benchmarks show that the normal difference is usually between 2% to 11%.

Gaming

GameRyzen 5 3600Ryzen 5 3500XCore i5-9400F
PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds124.6122.7127.3
Overwatch187.4188190.2
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive249.3238238
Grand Theft Auto V151.2154.4142
Shadow of the Tomb Raider114110110
Total War: Three Kingdoms73.673.373.3
Assassin's Creed Odyssey656559
Far Cry 5109108111
Metro Exodus63.3963.2563.63

When it comes to gaming, it's fair to say that the Ryzen 5 3500X performs in the same ballpark of the Core i5-9400F. Some titles favor AMD, while others favor Intel. The Ryzen 5 3500X beat the Core i5-9400F in two of the nine tested games. Both chips tie in three of them. So the scales lean slightly to Intel's side.

Power Consumption

LoadRyzen 5 3600Ryzen 5 3500XCore i5-9400F
Idle54W47.5W42W
AIDA64 Stress FPU132W124W111W

Although both the Ryzen 5 3500X and Core i5-9400F are rated with a 65W TDP (thermal design power), Expreview's tests show that AMD's chip is seemingly more power hungry. The Ryzen 5 3500X draws up to 13.1% and 11.7% more power than the Core i5-9400F at idle and heavy loads, respectively.

Since the Ryzen 5 3500X is an OEM chip, AMD doesn't list a recommended price for it. However, JD.com, a major Chinese retailer, has the Ryzen 5 3500X listed for 1,099 yuan, which approximately translates to $154. However, Intel recently lowered the Core i5-9400F's recommended pricing from $182 to $157. At any rate, the Core i5-9400F can be found for as low as $139.99.

  • hftvhftv
    This would have been a great chip but AMD probably didn't want to take a piece out of the 3600's market
    Reply
  • hannibal
    Also They may not have too Many chiplets that requires to cut of the hyper threading... So these are those that has been cut down as much as needed.
    Reply
  • Gillerer
    Minute FPS differences shouldn't be considered "wins" for either CPU.
    Reply
  • alextheblue
    I am disappointed a more affordable Zen 2 won't hit the US market yet. Maybe they're waiting until more 2000 inventory clears out?
    Reply
  • Gillerer
    Or they're trying to incentivize people in more affluent parts of the world to spend up and get the R5 3600, by having the next step down be the Zen+-based 3000 series APUs.

    Also, at least in China the 3500X is OEM only. Reversing that for the US (or Europe) would go against the whole idea; offering a more affordable SKU for a cost-sensitive market. This means you won't be able to purchase it outside pre-built systems (and aftermarket gray resellers), even if it ever makes its way to western markets. Would you order one from Aliexpress? :)

    It's also possible that, with the way the existing models are selling, AMD doesn't have enough faulty dies to commit to non-SMT SKUs to satisfy the demand of the entire world. This is another reason to limit such a product to a single - albeit large - market.
    Reply
  • Rdslw
    hftvhftv said:
    This would have been a great chip but AMD probably didn't want to take a piece out of the 3600's market
    I think its a great chip, but they either don't have that much failed 3600, that need lower clock or smt disabled that make it feasible to steal market out of what still is 1'st and 2'nd ryzen series territory.
    2300x up to 1200 still stay strong on that end, and they still want to get some $ from 1/2 series.
    Its not good to segment the market so much, as they now ride the train of being faster than Intel for WHOLE 3'rd gen lineup.
    Reply
  • cryoburner
    hftvhftv said:
    This would have been a great chip but AMD probably didn't want to take a piece out of the 3600's market
    It might have been alright, but I'm not sure it would really be filling much of a need. The great thing about the rest of the Ryzen 3000 lineup is that each chip is offering higher thread counts than Intel in any given price range. The Ryzen 3600 offers i7-like multithreaded performance for $100+ less. The 3700X offers i9-like multithreaded performance for $100+ less. And the 3900X offers performance comparable to Intel's current HEDT processors for hundreds of dollars less.

    What would a Ryzen 3500X offer? Performance similar to an i5-9400F, for around the same price as the 9400F. Looking on PCPartPicker, all but one online retailer in the US currently has the 9400F priced under $150, with Amazon selling it for $140. AMD would need to charge no more than that for the 3500X for it to make any sense, and why do that when they can simply leave SMT enabled and sell the same processor near the $200 price point, where it already offers notably better value than the competition? At close to $150, there would be no thread or core count advantage over the 9400F, and no price advantage either. And with 7nm production being as limited as it is, pricing it much below that wouldn't make much sense. Plus, it's already possible to get last generation's Ryzen 2600 with SMT enabled for around $120, which seems like a really good deal even if it lacks the 15% higher IPC of Zen 2.

    hannibal said:
    Also They may not have too Many chiplets that requires to cut of the hyper threading... So these are those that has been cut down as much as needed.
    I kind of doubt that any meaningful number of chips would "need" to have SMT disabled. It should be an integral function of each core, so if the SMT of a core didn't work, most likely the entire core wouldn't work. And these are already chips that have a pair of cores disabled, just like the 3600, so presumably a defective core would just be disabled entirely.

    Most likely, the SMT is perfectly functional on these chips, and is just getting disabled for market-segmentation reasons. That is what Intel does. A 9900K and a 9700K are the same silicon, just one has had its SMT disabled so that they can charge a $100+ premium for the feature.

    I suspect the same applies to most of the cores AMD disables for their 6 and 12-core processors as well. Most are probably functional cores, though they are likely the lowest-binned cores on the chip. Defective cores could also be disabled though.

    It is probable that binning is being used to differentiate which chips end up in the 3600, and which in the 3500X, but their clocks are pretty close. I suppose some chips might fall just short of hitting the 3600's boost clocks though.
    Reply
  • hftvhftv
    cryoburner said:
    It might have been alright, but I'm not sure it would really be filling much of a need. The great thing about the rest of the Ryzen 3000 lineup is that each chip is offering higher thread counts than Intel in any given price range. The Ryzen 3600 offers i7-like multithreaded performance for $100+ less. The 3700X offers i9-like multithreaded performance for $100+ less. And the 3900X offers performance comparable to Intel's current HEDT processors for hundreds of dollars less.

    What would a Ryzen 3500X offer? Performance similar to an i5-9400F, for around the same price as the 9400F. Looking on PCPartPicker, all but one online retailer in the US currently has the 9400F priced under $150, with Amazon selling it for $140. AMD would need to charge no more than that for the 3500X for it to make any sense, and why do that when they can simply leave SMT enabled and sell the same processor near the $200 price point, where it already offers notably better value than the competition? At close to $150, there would be no thread or core count advantage over the 9400F, and no price advantage either. And with 7nm production being as limited as it is, pricing it much below that wouldn't make much sense. Plus, it's already possible to get last generation's Ryzen 2600 with SMT enabled for around $120, which seems like a really good deal even if it lacks the 15% higher IPC of Zen 2.


    I kind of doubt that any meaningful number of chips would "need" to have SMT disabled. It should be an integral function of each core, so if the SMT of a core didn't work, most likely the entire core wouldn't work. And these are already chips that have a pair of cores disabled, just like the 3600, so presumably a defective core would just be disabled entirely.

    Most likely, the SMT is perfectly functional on these chips, and is just getting disabled for market-segmentation reasons. That is what Intel does. A 9900K and a 9700K are the same silicon, just one has had its SMT disabled so that they can charge a $100+ premium for the feature.

    I suspect the same applies to most of the cores AMD disables for their 6 and 12-core processors as well. Most are probably functional cores, though they are likely the lowest-binned cores on the chip. Defective cores could also be disabled though.

    It is probable that binning is being used to differentiate which chips end up in the 3600, and which in the 3500X, but their clocks are pretty close. I suppose some chips might fall just short of hitting the 3600's boost clocks though.
    Some probably do fall short of the boost clocks, but after updating my BIOS, my 3600 can hit 4200Mhz all day while gaming
    Reply
  • Gillerer
    cryoburner said:
    It is probable that binning is being used to differentiate which chips end up in the 3600, and which in the 3500X, but their clocks are pretty close. I suppose some chips might fall just short of hitting the 3600's boost clocks though.

    The binning in this case is probably based on power or voltage; if you get dies with more than 2 cores that have exceptionally poor efficiency characteristics, you can make it easier for them to clock reasonably within the power limits by reducing the most work they can ever do - by disabling SMT. Since Windows scheduler will know to put lightly threaded workloads on the best cores, this wouldn't affect frequencies in those workloads much, either.

    The way AMD needs/wants to symmetrically disable the same number of cores from each CCX, may require them to introduce an SKU such as 3500X, to harvest "lopsided" dies, where one CCX has 2 or 3 poor cores.

    If you only have at most 1 really bad efficiency cores per CCX, they'd obviously get disabled, and depending on the quality of the remaining 6, be used in in a 3600, 3600X, 3900X, Threadripper or EPYC.

    hftvhftv said:
    Some probably do fall short of the boost clocks, but after updating my BIOS, my 3600 can hit 4200Mhz all day while gaming

    I don't think @cryoburner was referring to boost clocks on any CPU sold as a 3600; Rather why a die with six functional cores - a potential candidate for 3600 use - would be relegated to use in a 3500X.
    Reply
  • Olle P
    alextheblue said:
    I am disappointed a more affordable Zen 2 won't hit the US market yet. Maybe they're waiting until more 2000 inventory clears out?
    I've also been waiting for some Ryzen 3 based on Zen 2 to be released.

    My guess is that it won't happen, at least not any time soon, because of a combination of factors:
    The yield of Zen 2 chiplets is way too good to provide a sufficient amount of chiplets that won't be good enough for the more profitable SKUs.
    The demand for Zen2 products is very high, with production of CPUs (putting the pieces together) being a bottleneck. The lucrative SKUs get priority.
    The parts of a Zen 2 Ryzen (I/O chip, substrate, IHS, pins, etc) and the manufacturing of the CPU is (I guess) still to expensive for a low cost SKU, even if it's using "discarded" chiplets.
    Reply