After years of anticipating their release, it's hard for me to believe that AMD's Zen-based Ryzen CPUs only arrived a month ago. Frankly, I've never seen so much drama unfold so quickly in the tech community -- what an exciting time to be a PC enthusiast!
As we begin to recover from the roller coaster ride that was Ryzen 7, we now have Ryzen 5 to address. Getting the ball rolling, AMD has announced four models in its more affordable series, including a pair of six-core CPUs as well as two quad-core models.
The 1600X is configured similarly to the Core i7-6800K and stands as the flagship of AMD's Ryzen 5 family, boasting six cores and 12 threads with a base clock frequency of 3.6GHz and a boost speed of up to 4GHz. Like all Ryzen CPUs, the 1600X is unlocked, but we wouldn't necessarily expect to squeeze much more out of the stock settings given what we've seen from Ryzen 7.
AMD says the 1600X will be almost 70% faster than the Core i5-7600K when measuring multi-threaded performance in Cinebench, though that isn't a huge surprise considering the Ryzen part has two more cores plus eight threads.
Alongside the 1600X is a second six-core part known as the 1600, which comes downclocked by 400MHz but is nonetheless completely unlocked. As was the case when we reviewed the 1700X and 1700, it's likely that the 1600 will be a much better buy than the 1600X. However, we only have the 1600X on hand for today's testing.
The 1500X and 1400 represent AMD's new four-core/eight-thread Ryzen 5 parts and these come clocked even lower out of the box. The 1500X operates at a base clock of 3.5GHz with a boost of 3.7GHz and the 1400 runs at 3.2GHz but can boost to 3.4GHz (and again, both are unlocked).
For those wondering, the 1500X and 1600 will ship with the Wraith Spire cooler while the 1400 comes with the smaller Wraith Stealth cooler. Unfortunately, we only have one quad-core model on hand for review and that's the higher-clocked 1500X.
Price-wise, the 1600X is set at $250 alongside the Core i5-7600K, though we suspect you may be better off buying the standard 1600 for $30 less at $220. Folks seeking a sub-$200 Ryzen 5 chip have the 1500X and 1400 to pick from at $190 and $170, prices that compete with lower-end (locked) Core i5s and higher-end Core i3s such as the $170 unlocked 7350K, which we know to be terrible value.
By the way things look on paper, the Ryzen 5 1400 should have Intel's entire Kaby Lake-based Core i3 range begging for mercy while the locked Core i5 models should be equally if not more rattled.
In the first of what will likely be many write-ups about Ryzen 5, we'll be pitting the 1500X against the locked Core i5-7500 and the 1600X against the unlocked 7600K. The Core i7-7700K, 6900K and 1800X will be included purely for comparison's sake, and although we haven't had time to add results for the six-core 6800K, we think it's unnecessary anyway. Given Ryzen's pricing scheme, Broadwell-E can be considered a write-off at this point.