AMD Ryzen 5 1600X CPU Review

Overclocking, Creators Update & Test Setup

Overclocking

As mentioned, the Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 7 families share the same die configuration, so we run up against a similar 3.9 to 4.1 GHz overclocking ceiling. AMD recommends the same 1.35V maximum CPU voltage for long-term overclocks, and although the company says Ryzen can withstand 1.45V, longevity may be affected. In either case, voltages above stock aren't covered under Ryzen's warranty, so any damage you cause is yours to live with. That doesn't mean AMD wants you to shy away from enhancing the chip's performance. It even makes the Ryzen Master utility available for download. The latest build corrects temperature reporting and doesn't require HPET (High Precision Event Timer) for accurate measurements.

We dialed in a Prime95-stable 4 GHz overclock with 1.375V core voltage and an auto LLC (Load Line Calibration) setting. In the U.S. lab, we recorded up to 87°C (per AIDA) with our Noctua NH-U12S SE-AM4 during extended stress tests. We had a sliver of thermal headroom to spare, so we tried to pass the 4 GHz barrier but just couldn't get our sample stable enough.

Ryzen processor performance responds well to higher memory data rates, as illustrated on the prior page. Unfortunately, the stability of overclocked DDR4 is dicey on early motherboard firmware. The situation is improving, though. We were able to successfully achieve 3200 MT/s on MSI's B350 Tomahawk and Asus' B350-Plus using their XMP-equivalents (A-XMP and D.O.C.P., respectively) with 14-14-14-34 timings. Surpassing 3200 MT/s requires reference clock adjustments. So far, we haven't had any success obtaining stable memory overclocks beyond 3200 MT/s with adjusted reference clock settings.

We also overclocked our Core i5-7600K sample to 5 GHz at 1.375V with the same 3200 MT/s XMP settings. At the same time, we disabled the stock Core i5-7600K configuration's Enhanced Turbo Boost feature, which allows all cores to run at the maximum Turbo Boost frequency. This feature facilitates a big speed-up in some applications. Nearly every motherboard exposes it, so it has become fairly common. But we consider it an unfair "cheat" in a CPU review.

Windows Creator's Update

Microsoft recently unveiled its Windows 10 Creators Update. It'll start rolling out right away through the normal Windows Update process. However, the software was available for manual installation prior to today's review, so we moved all of our test systems over before running the Tom's Hardware benchmark suite.

Most notably, the Creators Update includes a new Game Mode that optimizes GPU and CPU performance. The mode improves resource utilization by employing optimized scheduling in concert with isolating and reducing background tasks. This also confers performance consistency advantages. Windows enables Game Mode by default for a pre-selected whitelist, but it can also be turned on in any UWP or Win32 title.

Game Mode is easy to use. While in your game of choice, toggle the Game Bar with the Win + G key combination and select Game Mode from the settings menu. After that, the game continues to operate in Game Mode for any subsequent session until you disable the feature. We measured gains of several FPS in most titles and recorded improved frame time consistency. We also updated our GeForce GTX 1080 Founders Edition to Nvidia's 381.65 driver build.

Test Setup

AMD's new architecture has several unique characteristics that, if accounted for, can improve your frame rates in some games. Performance under the Windows Balanced power plan was a notable weakness back when Ryzen 7 launched. But we discovered that switching to the High Performance profile often remedied this.

Modern processors have several defined voltage and frequency settings called P-states that can be applied on a per-core basis. In the interest of preserving performance as much as conserving power, the processor can dynamically switch cores into various P-states based on utilization. Unfortunately, lower power states take longer to wake up from. P-state transitions can occur during gaming sessions, and when your application catches the CPU sleeping, performance suffers.

Windows' Power Saver and Balanced profiles allow the operating system to dictate when the cores transition between P-states. This approach is more efficient, but it incurs up to a 30ms delay between when the OS orders a transition and the processor acts upon it. However, switching to the High Performance profile hands power management back to the processor. With control of its own power states, a modern CPU can transition between the various P-states in 1ms, minimizing the performance issues we originally observed.

AMD created a Ryzen-specific Balanced power plan that alters the P-state timers and thresholds. The company is rolling this plan into the next iteration of chipset drivers, but you can download it today. We stuck with the High Performance profile for our testing because it offers the best frame rates, but AMD does claim its power plan improves performance in several games.

We've also seen higher performance from Ryzen 7 in some games by disabling SMT. Even though we don't feel this is an acceptable workaround (you shouldn't have to toggle the feature on a per-application basis), we ran similar tests with Ryzen 5 1600X to explore a few unique characteristics.

For this piece, we split testing between our German and American labs. The U.S. team ran the gaming benchmarks, while the Germans measured performance in workstation apps and thermal/power data. Both labs used MSI's B350 Tomahawk motherboard.

If you want to know more about how the Tom's Hardware DE system looks and is controlled, check out How We Test Graphics Cards.

Test Systems and Measurement Setups
Systems
Germany AMD 1
Ryzen 5 1500X, 1600X, Ryzen 7 1800X, 1700X, 1700
MSI X370 XPower Gaming Titanium

Intel LGA 1151
Intel Core i5-7600K, Core i5-7500
MSI Z270 Gaming 7


AMD Socket AM3+

FX-9590
Asus Crosshair V Formula
2 x 8GB Corsair Dominator DDR3-2133 @1866 MT/s


Germany All
16GB (2x 8GB) G.Skill Ripjaws DDR4-3200 (15-15-15-35)
1x 1TB Toshiba OCZ RD400 (M.2, System SSD)
2x 960GB Toshiba OCZ TR150 (Storage, Images)
be quiet Dark Power Pro 11, 850W
Windows 10 Creators Update Version 1703

U.S. AMD 1
Ryzen 5 1600X, Ryzen 7 1700
MSI B350 Tomahawk
2x G.Skill FlareX DDR4-3200 @2666 and 3200 MT/s

U.S. Intel 1
Intel Core i7-7700K, i7-7600K, i7-7500
MSI Z170A Gaming M7
2x G.Skill FlareX DDR4-3200 @2400 and 3200 MT/s

U.S. AMD 2
AMD FX-8370
MSI 970 Gaming
2x Kingston HyperX DDR3 2133 MT/s

U.S. All
EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 FE
1TB Samsung PM863
SilverStone ST1500, 1500W
Windows 10 Creators Update Version 1703
Cooling
Germany
- Alphacool Eispumpe VPP755 Pump
- Alphacool NexXxoS UT60 Full Copper 240mm
- Alphacool Eisblock XPX CPU
-Alphacool Cape Corp Coolplex Pro 10 LT
- 5x be quiet! Silent Wings 3 PWM
- Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut

U.S.
-Corsair H100i v2
-Noctua NH-U12S SE-AM4
-Arctic MX-4
Case
Lian Li PC-T70 with Expansion Kit and Mods

Power Consumption Measurements
- Contact-free DC Measurement at PCIe Slot (Using a Riser Card)
- Contact-free DC Measurement at External Auxiliary Power Supply Cable
- Direct Voltage Measurement at Power Supply
- 2 x Rohde & Schwarz HMO 3054, 500MHz Digital Multi-Channel Oscilloscope with Storage Function
- 4 x Rohde & Schwarz HZO50 Current Probe (1mA - 30A, 100kHz, DC)
- 4 x Rohde & Schwarz HZ355 (10:1 Probes, 500MHz)
- 1 x Rohde & Schwarz HMC 8012 Digital Multimeter with Storage Function
Thermal Measurements
- 1 x Optris PI640 80Hz Infrared Camera
- PI Connect Analysis Software with Profiles
Noise Measurements
- NTI Audio M2211 (with Calibration File)
- Steinberg UR12 (with Phantom Power for Microphones)
- Creative X7, Smaart v.7
- Custom-Made Proprietary Measurement Chamber, 3.5 x 1.8 x 2.2m (L x D x H)
- Perpendicular to Center of Noise Source(s), Measurement Distance of 50cm
- Noise Level in dB(A) (Slow), Real-time Frequency Analyzer (RTA)
- Graphical Frequency Spectrum of Noise

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This thread is closed for comments
129 comments
    Your comment
  • 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".