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The Ryzen 5 1600 launched in 2017 with the YD1600BBAE code (visible on the box and the CPU), but in September a YD1600BBAF model began appearing on retailers’ sites. Common hardware detection tools including CPU-Z and HWInfo recognize the AF model as using a 12nm process, though as AMD hasn’t confirmed anything, it’s not yet a guarantee.
One Redditor, who picked up the AF model, commented that “under any load, even 1-2 cores, the old chip fell to 3.4GHz. But this new AF chip was able to sustain 3.7 for longer periods which is only 200 MHz lower than the real 2600.” The AF chip still has the same maximum clocks as the AE, but can apparently stay higher for longer, which is what you’d expect from a node upgrade. It could provide a slim performance lead in-game.
At this point, it’s a mystery why AMD would be slipping in 12nm dies. Perhaps it’s just a mistake in the code, perhaps they had defective 2600 dies they wanted to turn into something else. Perhaps demand for the 1600 outpaced demand for the 2600, or perhaps GlobalFoundries had to close a portion of their 14nm manufacturing lines for some reason. Regardless, you should be buying an AF over an AE.
On Amazon, the AE chip presently costs $120 – an identical price to the superior 2600, which is the better buy if you’re looking to spend $120. The AF, meanwhile, costs only $85 for what is potentially superior performance over the AE. The only compromise is that the AF comes with a Wraith Stealth cooler instead of a Wraith Spire, but as the difference worked out to be ~5° C while gaming during our testing, it’s a miles better deal.