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Dual Chinese Zen-Based CPUs Beat Ryzen 5 5600X In Multi-Threaded Workloads

Hygon C86 3185
Hygon C86 3185 (Image credit: EJ Hardware/YouTube)

Chinese tech YouTuber EJ Hardware has benchmarked a pair of Hygon C86 3185 processors, which are rarely seen outside China. The Zen-based chips were the product of AMD's joint venture with Hygon, where the latter obtained x86 and SoC IP licenses to develop chips for the Chinese market.

Hygon's C86 series consists of both 14nm mainstream and server processors, meaning there are chips spanning from four up to 32 Zen cores. Hygon's C86 processors are physically identical to AMD's Ryzen and EPYC processors. In fact, the Chinese-made chips should slot into the same AM4 and SP3 sockets, but in the majority of the cases, the processors are soldered to the motherboard.

The Hygon C86 3185, launched last year, has eight Zen cores with simultaneous multithreading (SMT). It operates with a 2 GHz base clock and 3.4 GHz boost clock. There's also 4MB of L2 cache and 16MB of L3 cache. If you need a point of reference, the C86 3185 is basically a lower-clocked version of the Ryzen 7 1700X. The C86 3185 and the Ryzen 7 1700X even have the same 95W TDP, but the former's power consumption maxed out at 70W, according to EJ Hardware's findings. So right off the bat, we already know that the Ryzen 7 1700X is the faster of the two.

Hygon C86 3185 Specifications

ProcessorCores / ThreadsBase / Boost Clock (GHz)L2 / L3 Cache (MB)TDP (W)MicroarchitectureLithography
Ryzen 5 5600X6 / 123.7 / 4.63 / 3265Zen 37nm
Ryzen 7 1700X8 / 163.4 / 3.84 / 1695Zen14nm
C86 31858 / 162.0 / 3.44 / 1695Zen14nm

EJ Hardware probably pulled the motherboard with the Hygon processors out of a W550-H30 workstation system. The motherboard housed two C86 3185, amounting to 16 total first-gen Zen cores. On the contrary, the Ryzen 5 5600X wields six Zen 3 cores, running at a 3.7 GHz base clock and 4.6 GHz boost clock. The hexa-core 7nm chip also has double the L3 cache as the C86 3185 with a 30W lower TDP.

Being a server motherboard, there are certain caveats. For one, the memory frequency is locked at DDR4-1866, so memory performance was below average. There weren't any options to configure the memory for a higher frequency. Since the chips are soldered to the motherboard, EJ Hardware couldn't just rip them out and stick them in a B450 motherboard, either.

Hygon C86 3185 Benchmarks

ProcessorCinebench R20 Single-CoreCinebench R20 Multi-CoreCinebench R23 Single-CoreCinebench R23 Multi-CoreBlender (BMW Scene)x264 HD BenchmarkPCMark 10
Ryzen 5 5600X5984,5361,53611,7173:33.0660.512,089
C86 3185 x 23045,06565513,2142:44.6540.57,618

As expected, the Ryzen 5 5600X dominated in single-core performance. The hexa-core processor is equipped with Zen 3 cores, whereas the C86 3185 is still on the first-generation Zen cores.

The Ryzen 5 5600X delivered up to 97% and 135% higher single-core performance than the dual C86 3185 in Cinebench R20 and R23, respectively. On the other hand, the pair of Hygon chips outperformed the Ryzen 5 5600X by 12% and 13% in the multi-core tests in Cinebench R20 and R23, respectively. 

In Blender and the x264 HD Benchmark, the two C86 3185 were 23% and 33% faster than the Ryzen 5 5600X. When it comes to PCMark 10, however, the Ryzen 5 5600X crushed the Hygon team by a 59% margin.

EJ Hardware's gaming tests showed that the C86 3185 chips, at least in a two-fold configuration, have good gaming performance. When paired with a GeForce RTX 3080 Ti, the processors had no problem delivering excellent frame rates at a 1080p and 4K resolution. The Hygon processors only struggled in Cyberpunk 2077.

EJ Hardware's results are testimony to Zen 3's prowess. It basically takes two gimped Ryzen 7 1700X in tandem to beat a single Ryzen 5 5600X in multi-threaded workloads, and the margin wasn't even very significant. The single-threaded performance between Zen and Zen 3 was night and day, though. However, China isn't chasing after performance — instead, the country aims to achieve technological self-sufficiency.

  • NightHawkRMX
    Hygon is nothing new, and it's no surprise dual 8 core CPUs would beat a single 6 core in multi core.
    Reply
  • dalek1234
    NightHawkRMX said:
    Hygon is nothing new, and it's no surprise dual 8 core CPUs would beat a single 6 core in multi core.

    Exactly. It's like comparing a Chicken to a Banana. A pointless article.
    Reply
  • wifiburger
    nothing special here, it's not actually anything close to Zen1, there's a bunch of instructions that are broken, missing, or slower vs Zen1

    The encryption support is very different since it needs to support China's own encryption & I doubt very much they are going past Zen 1. Even them acquiring Zen1 IP is sketchy at best.
    Reply
  • tafreire
    I can't believe AMD delivered CPU technology to the chinese.
    Reply
  • truerock
    tafreire said:
    I can't believe AMD delivered CPU technology to the chinese.
    Unfortunately, AMD having sold Intel's patents to China will ultimately cause the end of Intel and AMD as viable corporations in the next 5 to 10 years.
    Reply
  • Jagwired
    And all built with stolen technology from other countries.
    Reply
  • chickenla
    Well whenever a new product comes out we get headlines like "ADLERLAKE ANNHILIATES AND DESTROYS ZENS 3 LIKE BEN SHIPIRO DESTROYING COLLEGE FRESHMEN" when its only a 6%-7% increase in gaming performance.
    Reply
  • NightHawkRMX
    chickenla said:
    Well whenever a new product comes out we get headlines like "ADLERLAKE ANNHILIATES AND DESTROYS ZENS 3 LIKE BEN SHIPIRO DESTROYING COLLEGE FRESHMEN" when its only a 6%-7% increase in gaming performance.
    Clickbait = Money
    Reply
  • Alex/AT
    16 similar architecture cores finally beat 6 in multithreaded performance?
    Oh my god, I'm in awe.
    Reply
  • mitch074
    The most interesting thing I see in the article is that Zen could work in a multi CPU system. Just imagine a dual 5950 system ...
    Reply