Ryzen 5 1500X takes on Intel's Kaby Lake-based Core i5 CPUs with four cores of its own. But because the chip supports simultaneous multi-threading, it presents eight logical cores to your operating system.
|Price Per Usable Core||Price Per Thread|
|Ryzen 7 1800X||$58.75||$29.38|
|Ryzen 7 1700X||$48.50||$24.25|
|Ryzen 7 1700||$41.25||$20.62|
|Ryzen 5 1600X||$41.66||$20.83|
|Ryzen 5 1600||$36.55||$18.75|
|Core i5-7500||$48.00 - $50.50||$48.00 - $50.50|
|Ryzen 5 1500X||$47.25||$23.65|
|Ryzen 5 1500||$42.25||$21.25|
As you can see, AMD's Ryzen 5 1500X bears the family's highest cost per physical core. It lands in the same range as Intel's Core i5s, in fact. But the 1500X's value comes from the benefit of SMT technology. While this chip's cost per thread is also highest among the Ryzen 5 CPUs, the 1500X does become more competitive than Intel's offerings when you divide its price tag across eight threads. Of course, taking advantage of that extra functionality isn't trivial. But if your application does benefit from parallelization, Ryzen 5 1500X is positioned to capitalize.
Although price per thread is an interesting academic metric, the price to performance ratio is typically more meaningful. As an example, we don't like AMD's Ryzen 5 1600X much for gaming because it costs more than Core i5-7600K, and the Intel chip overclocks better to boot.
Because Intel stubbornly locks the multipliers on its non-K-series SKUs, though, cheaper Core i5s don't enjoy the same advantage against Ryzen 5 1500X. AMD's processor isn't a gamer's dream at its stock settings. But a little tuning puts the 1500X in contention with similarly-priced Intel CPUs. We experienced unflattering frame time spikes in some titles on the Core i5-7400, so an overclocked Ryzen 5 1500X provides a smoother experience in that regard. Overclocking also helps the 1500X against Intel's Core i5-7500.
The 1500X isn't as competitive in our Adobe and Encoding tests. Then again, we ran those benchmarks using stock clock rates. A bit of optimization would help AMD quite a bit, whereas the Core i5-7500 and -7400 are locked to their factory-set frequencies. Although Ryzen 5 1500X can't keep up with the six-core 1600X in these types of workloads, it's hard to beat for the price.
Ryzen 5 1500X and its Intel competition easily drop into affordable motherboards, and both include bundled coolers (though we suspect that AMD's Wraith Spire is the beefier solution). You do need to budget for a high-end memory kit if you want access to the 1500X's best performance, though.
By virtue of its four cores, Ryzen 5 1500X isn't as fast as higher-end Ryzen processors in heavily threaded applications. But it readily challenges Intel's Core i5s in those workloads. Where Kaby Lake claws its way back is single- and lightly-threaded tasks. Fortunately for AMD, once you get down to this price level, the Intel chips are limited by locked ratio multipliers. So overclocking proves powerful in changing the dynamic.
Indeed, Ryzen 5 1500X relies on overclocking to make its story compelling. At stock settings, gaming PCs are better-equipped with the Core i5-7500. But the freedom to optimize helps AMD's 1500X serve up smooth frame rates with threads left over for dominating content creation workloads. The value of overclocking always weighs heavily on our recommendations, and Intel doesn't even qualify. AMD consequently gets the kudos for satiating enthusiasts across its portfolio.
If that sub-$200 price range is the top of your budget, Ryzen 5 1500X is a good alternative to Intel's locked Core i5s. An overclocked 1500X serves up better gaming performance than the Core i5-7400. Plus, its four extra logical cores provide a big boost in heavily threaded content creation apps, pushing AMD's chip out of front of Core i5-7500.
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