AMD is back in the desktop CPU game with its Ryzen family of processors, thanks to successes with per-core performance and energy efficiency brought about by its "Zen" micro-architecture. The company launched its Ryzen processor family with the top-end Ryzen 7 series, which consists of eight-core models that start at $329 and go all the way up to $499. These chips do manage to make you think twice before choosing an Intel Core i7-7700K quad-core chip, and makes the Core i7 "Broadwell-E" series look terrible, all the way up to the $1,199 i7-6900K. On the brink of Summer 2017, AMD launched the Ryzen 5 line of performance-segment processors to capture key price-points ranging between $170 and $250.
The Ryzen 5 series from AMD competes with the entire spectrum of Intel's Core i5 quad-core "Kaby Lake" series, at prices ranging from $170 to $250. This puts Intel's high-volume Core i5-7600K and value-oriented i5-7400 in its crosshairs. Carved out of the same 14 nm "Summit Ridge" silicon as the eight-core Ryzen 7 series, the Ryzen 5 series consists of six-core and quad-core SKUs, which are further bolstered by SMT (simultaneous multi-threading) and unlocked base-clock multipliers across the board. SMT (and its Intel implementation, Hyper-Threading) is something quad-core Core i5 parts lack, and unlocked multipliers is reserved only for the i5-7600K quad-core and $189 i3-7350K dual core. What's more, the six-core Ryzen 5 parts feature a staggering 16 MB of L3 cache (compared to the paltry 6 MB of the price-comparable Core i5 quad-core parts), and the quad-core Ryzen 5 1400 a decent (on paper) 8 MB. Given AMD has made significant strides in improving per-core performance and the software ecosystem finally taking advantage of more than four logical CPUs, the Ryzen 5 series chips are extremely exciting on paper.
The Ryzen 5 1400 quad-core chip we're reviewing today has an enviable premise - a quad-core chip with SMT enabling 8 threads, 8 MB of L3 cache, and slightly lower clock speeds than the 1500X, yet an unlocked multiplier, for just $170. If you've read our Ryzen 5 1500X review, you'll note that we found it to be a very compelling alternative to the Core i5-7400. At its price, the Ryzen 5 1400 targets the upper-end of Intel's Core i3 dual-core lineup, and maybe even disrupts its entry-level quad-core Core i5 lineup. Dual-core Intel chips still make for decent entry/mainstream gaming PC chips for those who want to game at 1080p with reasonably dialed up settings. AMD is changing the game here by offering up four cores, eight threads, and more than double the cache, besides the freedom to overclock.
AMD made the Ryzen 5 1400 by disabling two cores per quad-core complex (CCX) on the 14 nm "Summit Ridge" silicon, resulting in four cores. In addition, AMD halved the L3 cache per CCX to 4 MB. This is unlike the 1500X, where it left the L3 cache untouched, giving you 16 MB. So you have 8 MB of shared L3 cache and 512 KB of L2 cache per core. The chip is clocked at 3.20 GHz, with 3.40 GHz of TurboCore frequency. It lacks XFR (extended frequency range) in the real sense. A vestige of the feature overclocks the chip up to 50 MHz beyond the rated boost frequency. It doesn't appear to have any real price-matched competitor from the Intel stable. You get the Core i5-7400 at $190, but that's already sorted out by the Ryzen 5 1500X at the same price. Intel recently slashed the price of the overclocker friendly Core i3-7350K dual-core chip to $150, but we haven't had a chance to test it yet.
On popular demand, we decided to also run our entire selection of games at HD resolution (1280 x 720 pixels). You will likely not game at this resolution, but it provides useful insights into the CPU's performance since games get extremely CPU limited at this resolution.