Ryzen To The Mainstream
AMD's 2000-series Ryzen CPUs are already available, challenging the Coffee Lake-based Core line-up from Intel. As we found in our Ryzen 7 2700X review, a host of improvements made possible by 12nm manufacturing, such as higher frequencies and Precision Boost 2, add more performance in threaded apps. Meanwhile, lower system memory and cache latencies augment AMD's showing in lightly-threaded apps like games. Unlocked multipliers, backward compatibility with older Socket AM4 motherboards, a beefy bundled cooler, and a $330 price tag combine to leave us impressed. The Ryzen 7 2700X offers a great alternative to Intel's Core i7-8700K, which costs more, doesn't come with a thermal solution, and drops into more expensive motherboards (at least if you want to overclock).
Similarly, Ryzen 5 2600X targets Intel's enthusiast-oriented Core i5-8600K, leveraging similar advancements and a more attractive $230 price tag. As we'll see, it's even faster than the first-gen flagship Ryzen 7 1800X in many workloads.
But First, Spectre Variant 2
Unfortunately, due to a lack of communication from AMD, we weren't told that the company had rolled its Spectre Variant 2 patch into shipping X470 platforms. As a result, our Ryzen 7 2700X launch day coverage didn't include Intel CPUs tested with their corresponding patches. Today's review does, however, feature results generated on Intel-based systems with the latest Spectre microcode updates.
Ryzen 5 2600X
Ryzen 2000-series processors, otherwise known by their Pinnacle Ridge code name, are based on the same basic Zen core design as previous-gen models (though AMD now uses Zen+ nomenclature to reference the architecture's various improvements). The CPUs still utilize a dual-CCX configuration, tied together with Infinity Fabric, yielding eight physical cores. The flagship Ryzen 7 2700X comes with all eight of its cores active. For Ryzen 5 2600X, AMD turns two off, creating a six-core, 12-thread configuration with an unlocked ratio multiplier.
As mentioned, Ryzen 5 2600X sells for $230, replacing the $220 Ryzen 5 1600X. It slots into the gap between Core i5-8600K and the Core i5-8400, forcing the chip to contend with Intel's recently-announced Core i5-8600. While we don't have that model in our lab yet, we do have the two nearest Coffee Lake-based competitors in today's benchmark charts.
What do you get, performance-wise, for the extra $10? Ryzen 5 2600X sports the same 3.6 GHz base clock rate and a slightly higher 4.2 GHz Precision Boost 2 frequency (+200 MHz) than 1600X. That might seem minor, but as our benchmarks show, the gains are quite pronounced in threaded workloads. Like its predecessor, the 2600X also features 16MB of L3 cache and a 95W TDP.
|Row 0 - Cell 0||AMD Ryzen 7 2700X||AMD Ryzen 7 1800X||AMD Ryzen 7 2700||AMD Ryzen 5 1600X||Ryzen 5 1600||AMD Ryzen 5 2600X||AMD Ryzen 5 2600||Intel Core i5-8600K||Intel Core i5-8600||Intel Core i5-8400|
|Base Freq. (GHz)||3.7||3.6||3.2||3.6||3.2||3.6||3.4||3.6||3.1||2.8|
|Precision Boost Freq. (GHz)||4.3||4.1||4.1||4.0||3.6||4.2||3.9||4.3||4.3||4.0|
|Cooler||105W Wraith Prism (LED)||-||95W Wraith Spire (LED)||-||95W Wraith Spire||95W Wraith Spire||65W Wraith Stealth||-||Intel||Intel|
Although AMD didn't include thermal solutions with its original Ryzen X-series processors, the company does bundle coolers with its pricier models now. On one hand, it's nice that the 95W Wraith Spire cooler neatly matches the 2600X's thermal design power. On the other, we're not expecting much overclocking headroom from the combination.
Ryzen 5 2600X can drop into either new X470 or older 300-series motherboards. As usual, AMD allows you to overclock on value-minded B-series boards, too. And even though 400-series B-models aren't available yet, they'll undoubtedly offer a lower-priced alternative for overclocking.
Officially, the Ryzen 5 2600X supports up to DDR4-2933 memory, just like Ryzen 7 2700X. This trumps Coffee Lake's Intel-specified DDR4-2666 ceiling (with a few caveats). AMD also sticks with Indium solder between Ryzen 5's die and heat spreader, improving thermal transfer performance. And as we mentioned in our Ryzen 7 2700X review, these new CPUs also include StorMI Technology, which is a software-based tiering solution that blends the low price and high capacity of a hard drive with the speed of an SSD, 3D XPoint (including Intel's Optane parts), or even up to 2GB of RAM.
Precision Boost 2 and XFR2
In a nutshell, AMD is leveraging GlobalFoundries' 12nm process to enhance its design, rather than shrink it. The enhancements offer higher performance or lower power consumption at any given frequency, giving AMD headroom for other improvements.
The company's previous-gen Ryzen processors have Precision Boost, which is similar to Intel's Turbo Boost technology, and eXtended Frequency Range (XFR), capable of delivering a frequency uplift when your cooling solution has thermal headroom to spare.
The new Precision Boost 2 (PB2) and XFR2 algorithms improve performance in threaded workloads by raising the frequency of any number of cores. AMD doesn't share a list of specific multi-core Precision Boost 2 and XFR2 bins because the opportunistic algorithms accelerate to different clock rates based on temperature, current, and load.
AMD gave us a graph of the PB2 frequencies for Ryzen 7 2700X, but we followed up with our own measurements to compare the current and previous-gen Ryzen 5 models. As you can see, Ryzen 5 2600X offers more robust multi-core frequencies than its predecessor, and our Ryzen 7 2700X measurements largely mirror AMD's. We tested both CPUs with AMD's Precision Boost Overdrive active. The Ryzen 7 2700X does have a higher TDP rating that some older motherboards may struggle with, so PB2 performance will vary based upon the power delivery subsystem.
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