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AMD Ryzen 5 1600X CPU Review

Conclusion

Ryzen 5 1600X offers many of the same features and capabilities first introduced by Ryzen 7, except you get them at a more mainstream price point. That really isn't surprising since this CPU is based on the same die, albeit with a couple of disabled cores. Although Ryzen 5 1600X's idle power consumption is much higher than even the fastest Kaby Lake-based processors, it's more competitive under taxing workloads. Overall, the trimmed-down design boasts similar power consumption as the eight-core Ryzen 7s.

Due to its identical clock rates, AMD's Ryzen 5 1600X demonstrates similar performance as the Ryzen 7 1800X in lightly-threaded content creation and productivity tests. The 1600X also outpaces the Ryzen 7 1700 in a great many scenarios where its higher frequency weighs heavier than its core count deficit. This makes the 1700 a tougher sell.

Intel’s Kaby Lake-based processors beat Ryzen 5 1600X in lightly-threaded applications where they can leverage superior IPC throughput. But the 1600X’s extra cores/threads turn the tables in software well-optimized for multi-core CPUs. Surprisingly, the 1600X even rivals the 1700X in certain scenarios. That paints a pretty convincing picture for a budget workstation chip, especially in light of the incredible price-to-performance ratio compared to Intel’s Broadwell-E line-up.

The Ryzen 5 1600X also makes a compelling argument against purchasing the 1700 for your next gaming PC. Six nimble cores regularly match or beat AMD's budget-oriented eight-core model. It'd be easy to speculate that, due to the 1600X’s lower core count, less inter-CCX traffic unburdens the Infinity Fabric and provides more competitive performance. We'll explore this in more depth later. For now, we think it's safe to say there's little reason for enthusiasts to splurge on the higher-end Ryzens for gaming, especially when the dual-CCX die overclocks similarly, regardless of configuration.

But don't forget the Core i5-7600K. It's a capable gaming processor. And although the 1600X challenges it in much of our benchmark suite, the Core i5 still comes out on top at stock settings. Further, overclocking Kaby Lake opens up a sizeable advantage that AMD cannot overcome, given limited frequency headroom. We expect Ryzen's overclocking potential to improve as GlobalFoundries' 14nm process evolves, but Intel's isn't sitting by idly, either.

AMD is still working on improving the utilization of Ryzen 5's resource-rich architecture, and a few gaming titles make it apparent that this is still a work in progress. We’ve seen several developers come forward with Ryzen-specific patches, and if AMD's gets its wish, more will follow suit. In the meantime, AMD developed its own Windows power profile to combat the performance issues we observed back when Ryzen 7 launched. Unfortunately, some of the other workarounds we played with may not apply as universally to Ryzen 5. For instance, disabling SMT on the 1600X resulted in choppy frame delivery, apparent in our frame time charts.

At least overclocking is allowed on inexpensive B350-based motherboards. This makes Ryzen 5 a much better value than Broadwell-E, arguably superior to Ryzen 7 for mainstream gamers, and at least competitive with Kaby Lake. As shown in our Infinity Fabric-oriented tests, though, you'll want a fast memory kit to achieve the best gaming performance.

Ryzen 5 1600X provides a tremendous price-to-performance ratio for budget workstations, rivaling Core i7-6800K. It also facilitates playable performance in games (though it still lags Kaby Lake-based Core i5s more often than not). Considering what Intel charges for its Core i5-7600K, we'd certainly like Ryzen 5 1600X a lot more for gaming if it debuted at a lower price. Much of the Ryzen tapestry is woven using value as its thread. But it's hard to keep that story together when Ryzen 5 1600X sells for $249 and Core i5-7600K goes for $240. With that said, professionals on a budget are far more likely to jump on a potent six-core chip like the 1600X when it's able to beat the $450 Core i7-6800K.


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  • ninja_warrior
    If you can reliably overclock any of the ryzen 5/7 to 4.0, why would you get the 1600x over the 1700? Comparing a 1600x at 4.0 to a 1700 at 3.0 and then concluding that it's a better CPU when the 1700 can overclock exactly the same seems pretty stupid
    Reply
  • dstarr3
    Well, good effort from AMD, at least.
    Reply
  • bloodroses
    A little disappointing for the Ryzen 5's imo. You'd think with the reduced core count you'd get better frequencies (and OC'ing) than what you get with the Ryzen 7.

    I honestly don't see a reason why to get a Ryzen 5 at this point since the i5 is definitely better for gaming and the Ryzen 7 is better for workstation use. The price alone takes it out of its own market.
    Reply
  • tamban
    A CPU review with only gaming benchmarks? Tom's hardware really likes Intel's hardware.
    Reply
  • FormatC
    19547998 said:
    A CPU review with only gaming benchmarks? Tom's hardware really likes Intel's hardware.
    Try page 10 :P

    31(!) Workstation benchmarks. Too less?
    Reply
  • Oranthal
    How about a real world test where you play a game and run a 1080p stream then compare performance? How about 1440p? How about broadening the scope of testing? Nah just ignore the strength of more cores and focus on single thread work and a few games.
    Reply
  • tamban
    Haha, my bad.
    Reply
  • irish_adam
    you say that the i5 7600k comes out on top at stock but just on the gaming benchmarks i make it 4-4 with 2 draws. I wouldnt say that it came out on top at all. I would say they are pretty evenly matched at the moment. Also apart from the odd couple from both sides their frame difference was less than 10, at over 100FPS i'd pay good money that no one would be able to distinguish a difference between either system.
    Reply
  • elbert
    Great review Paul and Igor. Best review I have seen given its the only review with 2 intel cpu's in the price range of Ryzen 5. The RAM info is great which shows that Ryzen gains a real 9ns latency advantage using higher clocked RAM on the Ryzen 5. Given the Ryzen 7 has less cache per core I would expect that gain to be higher.

    An issue that does stick out here is high price of the overclocking solution. How does the 7600k fair with a stock intel heatsink compared to the 1600x wraith spiral best overclocks? I think Ryzen has a real price advantage given the cooler required for a reasonable overclock.

    Also how does the 7600K compare in games while twitch streaming against the 1600X?
    Reply
  • dstarr3
    19548037 said:
    How about a real world test where you play a game and run a 1080p stream then compare performance? How about 1440p? How about broadening the scope of testing? Nah just ignore the strength of more cores and focus on single thread work and a few games.

    Maybe that's your real-world test, but that isn't mine. And am I the only one that can see the workstation benchmarks on page 10? Everyone seems to be ignoring them and then complaining that they aren't there.
    Reply