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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129 comments
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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
  • dstarr3
    Well, good effort from AMD, at least.
  • 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.
  • tamban
    A CPU review with only gaming benchmarks? Tom's hardware really likes Intel's hardware.
  • FormatC
    2454786 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?
  • 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.
  • tamban
    Haha, my bad.
  • 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.
  • 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?
  • dstarr3
    2277213 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.
  • RCaron
    Great review, but I agree there's an incorporated bias against AMD.

    I think it does well for the review that it is, a technical review. As such a technical review can't really postulate on where the programming world is going with respect to mutlicore processing.

    There has been a speed bottleneck in processors that is holding up research on 3D modelling, virtual reality, and see-and-avoid systems (object detection and avoidance) for drones. None of these technologies can be solved using Intel's single core strategy (researchers have tried around the world and gave up), multicore processing is required. (Supercomputers are too expensive of a solution)

    Games will also be going this direction. You can do more faster with more cores, even if those cores aren't amazing (like Intel's cores). There is no beating this. This means for the next year or more Intel will be behind AMD in multicore applications.. but I'd expect Intel's response to be impressive.

    What these reviews do show, and this is where the author ultimately fails, is that Ryzen is fast enough to play games at high resolution, without noticing any real difference in performance. Future games that are programmed for mutlicores will run faster on a Ryzen CPU with more cores than on the comparable Intel offering with fewer cores. This article shows this.

    So the final comment should be, would you rather spend $240 on a chip (not to mention motherboard and ram) that is going to be slow as molasses running games optimized for multiple cores next year, or do you want to pay $249 for a chip that will only get faster from year to year as more and more software is designed for multicore processing.

    At this point the decision is simple. Intel as it is right now, is selling yesterday's technology.

    If you buy a computer to last 1 year, then buy Intel. But if you want something that will last 5 years and still be able to play games at high resolution then your ONLY option is buy a Ryzen. There is no escaping this fact, it's the single common comment by most technical reviewers, including this one. He clearly states that Intel is benefiting from software designed to run single-core processors.

    Add to that that Ryzen boards are compatible with future Ryzen chips, while Intel will have to come out with a completely new motherboard and ram specifications when it answers AMD next year. If you buy Intel you're literally throwing your money in the toilet. with respect to the future performance of your new computer.

    This isn't a just a choice between chips, it's a choice between a retiring platform (single-thread) versus the adoption of a new platform (multicore, parallel processing).

    A great many people will be buying AMD for this reason.
  • rgd1101
    Would like to see the charts add i7 7700k/7700 for comparison
  • bigedmustafa
    It was a little weird seeing the i7-7700k disappear from all of the workstation benchmarks; such a comparison might have actually highlighted the value of Ryzen 5. It was also weird seeing the FX9590 appear only on the power consumption tests when the FX8370 was used for software testing. Whichever chips are chosen for comparison, it would be nice to see those same chips shown consistently throughout the review and not dropped or replaced from section to section.
  • FormatC
    I removed the 7700K from workstation, because my colleague does the same in gaming section. It is a totally other price target.

    And:
    We used the Creators Update to be fair to AMD, but only I need one day per CPU for one workstation run. This all was a decision, how to use the time optimal. Someone asked about 1440p benchmarks... What is better? Creators Update and fresh content or all CPUs and outdated crap?


    The power consumption thing is right, but my mainboard for the FX-8370 with the soldered shunts for measuring was damaged (the 5th in the last two years). So I was not able to measure the power draw on the same way and I had no time to build me the same setup again in this few hours for testing.
  • ykki
    What gpu was used? Can't find it in the test setup table.
  • FormatC
    As every time: GTX 1080 FE...
    (take a look at "US all")
  • captaincharisma
    2277213 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.


    riiiiiight, cause 6 lackluster cores can beat out 4 quality cores all day . you should know AMD's motto is always going to be quantity over quality. but hey, if a few hits in performance are good enough for people then buy it.
  • tripleX
    2445859 said:
    Great review, but I agree there's an incorporated bias against AMD. I think it does well for the review that it is, a technical review. As such a technical review can't really postulate on where the programming world is going with respect to mutlicore processing. There has been a speed bottleneck in processors that is holding up research on 3D modelling, virtual reality, and see-and-avoid systems (object detection and avoidance) for drones. None of these technologies can be solved using Intel's single core strategy (researchers have tried around the world and gave up), multicore processing is required. (Supercomputers are too expensive of a solution) Games will also be going this direction. You can do more faster with more cores, even if those cores aren't amazing (like Intel's cores). There is no beating this. This means for the next year or more Intel will be behind AMD in multicore applications.. but I'd expect Intel's response to be impressive. What these reviews do show, and this is where the author ultimately fails, is that Ryzen is fast enough to play games at high resolution, without noticing any real difference in performance. Future games that are programmed for mutlicores will run faster on a Ryzen CPU with more cores than on the comparable Intel offering with fewer cores. This article shows this. So the final comment should be, would you rather spend $240 on a chip (not to mention motherboard and ram) that is going to be slow as molasses running games optimized for multiple cores next year, or do you want to pay $249 for a chip that will only get faster from year to year as more and more software is designed for multicore processing. At this point the decision is simple. Intel as it is right now, is selling yesterday's technology. If you buy a computer to last 1 year, then buy Intel. But if you want something that will last 5 years and still be able to play games at high resolution then your ONLY option is buy a Ryzen. There is no escaping this fact, it's the single common comment by most technical reviewers, including this one. He clearly states that Intel is benefiting from software designed to run single-core processors. Add to that that Ryzen boards are compatible with future Ryzen chips, while Intel will have to come out with a completely new motherboard and ram specifications when it answers AMD next year. If you buy Intel you're literally throwing your money in the toilet. with respect to the future performance of your new computer. This isn't a just a choice between chips, it's a choice between a retiring platform (single-thread) versus the adoption of a new platform (multicore, parallel processing). A great many people will be buying AMD for this reason.


    First time poster, almost scripted response. Thanks, AMD Spokesperson!
  • tripleX
    2277213 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.


    1080p streaming argument is no bueno. No one does that on the CPU, and if they do, they use Intel's dedicated hardware (quick sync) to do it. AMD doesn't have integrated graphics, so how do you do a like comparison of that?

    So again, its not a real world scenario. That's why you see absolutely no sites testing it. Marketing fluff.
  • ykki
    600985 said:
    Would like to see the charts add i7 7700k/7700 for comparison

    For productivity charts, yes. For gaming, ehhhh.....
  • Martell1977
    Have to give AMD credit, in some of those benchmarks it is just barely below the i5, but the i5 is clocked 1ghz higher. That's impressive and shows that core count is starting to make a difference more and more. Intel might actually have to start making more than 4 core mainstream parts....it's about time.
  • rgd1101
    1427918 said:
    600985 said:
    Would like to see the charts add i7 7700k/7700 for comparison
    For productivity charts, yes. For gaming, ehhhh.....


    Would be nice for mostly for work and some gaming system.
  • FormatC
    I wrote it in my German conclusion that the 1600X is a very good bang for the buck to build a low-cost workstation with extra performance. Try Intel with a six-core. Alone the mainboard costs above 200 USD. And the best: after the work you can play with the 1600X. My Xeon is slower ;)

    Intel is too funny. They will bring a polished consumer CPU to the enthusiast platform for a lot of money. AMD brings enthusiast or prosumer CPUs to entry-level platforms and it works too. Niche but clever :)
  • Brian_R170
    The 1600X is pretty good product, maybe better than this article suggests, but I'm still waiting for the no-excuses gaming chip that we should be seeing after years of reading about AMD's "deep commitment to gamers".