As we observed with the Ryzen 7 1700X and 1700, AMD’s unlocked multipliers and similar overclocking ceilings are great for enthusiasts on a budget. You're able to buy a cheaper CPU and realize almost the same performance as higher-end models after a bit of tinkering. We couldn't achieve a 4 GHz overclock with Ryzen 5 1600, which would have matched our results with the 1600X. According to other tests we've seen, though, it’s certainly possible to find a sample capable of 4 GHz. We also couldn't match the 1600X's 3200 MT/s memory speed, but that is fairly common from non-X Ryzen CPUs. Motherboard vendors should have a wave of new firmware versions coming soon that might improve memory overclocking.
We use a geometric mean of average and minimum FPS through our benchmark suite to generate a gaming price efficiency chart. This includes six titles released in 2016 and four older games that launched in 2015.
In the suite, a stock Ryzen 5 1600 provides nearly the same average frame rate as Intel's Core i5-7500. But a bit of overclocking propels it into the lead. An overclocked 1600 can't quite reach the performance of a tuned Core i5-7600K, but it sells for $20 less and comes awful close paired up to high-end graphics. Most systems in this price bracket utilize less powerful GPUs, and the Ryzen 5 1600 should provide enough horsepower to propel mid-range builds to smooth gameplay.
The story changes when we remove older games from our calculation. The second average frame rate chart, which only includes modern games that tend to utilize processing resources more efficiently, places the stock Ryzen 5 1600 ahead of Intel's stock Core i5-7600K. That's quite an impressive feat considering the 1600 also has plenty of spare threads available for more taxing productivity applications. Notably, Intel's CPUs continue to enjoy a substantial lead when we look at minimum frame rates in new and old games alike.
The 1600's low price point is hard to ignore. This CPU features the lowest price-per-core through AMD's Ryzen portfolio, and in light of its solid showing through our application and game suite, it also provides an impressive price-to-performance ratio. The addition of a bundled 95W cooler magnifies the savings relative to Intel's Core i5-7600K and AMD's Ryzen 5 1600X, neither of which include a thermal solution. The Ryzen 5 1600 also provides more performance than Core i5-7500 in a wide range of applications for a little extra money. That should get you thinking about stepping up to AMD's $220 Ryzen instead of buying a locked Intel model.
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