AMD Ryzen 5 1600 3.2 GHz Review 95

AMD Ryzen 5 1600 3.2 GHz Review


Value and Conclusion

  • The AMD Ryzen 5 1600 currently retails for $220.
  • Beats Intel 7500 and Intel 7600K in multi-threaded apps
  • Features SMT/HTT (which competing Intel Core i5 quad-core chips lack)
  • Single-threaded performance improved over previous generation
  • Unlocked multiplier
  • Heatsink included
  • Platform updated to include latest features (PCIe 3.0, USB 3.1, NVMe)
  • Gaming frame rates lower than competing Intel chips
  • Higher power draw than Intel CPUs
  • Memory frequency options and memory compatibility limited
  • Setup complicated (memory, HPET, CCX, SMT, and power profile)
  • Boost frequency significantly lower than on Ryzen 5 1600X
  • Requires optimized apps of which there are not many
  • Lacks integrated graphics
The AMD Ryzen 5 1600 non-X processor is the smaller brother of the Ryzen 5 1600X. Both processors come with six cores and support SMT for twelve logical cores. Competing Intel processors are four cores only without Intel's Hyper-Threading Technology. Both the Ryzen 5 1600 and 1600X also feature 16 MB of cache and Precision Boost, which boosts up to 3.60 GHz for the non-X and over 4.00 GHz for the 1600X - which is a significant advantage of the 1600X as long as you're not overclocking (when manual overclocking is active, XFR and Boost are disabled automatically). XFR adds another 200 MHz to the Precision Boost clock on the 1600X. On the 1600 non-X, this usually results in a bonus of 50 MHz over Precision Boost frequency if your cooling is up to it, which it usually is. Another noteworthy difference is that the Ryzen 5 1600 comes with a cooler included in the box, which the 1600X does not.

Performance of the Ryzen 5 1600 processor is very reasonable across the board and excellent once you start looking at multi-threaded applications. Here, we also see big wins over the competing Intel processors, which fail due to their shortage of cores and HT. In single-threaded applications, which includes many productivity programs like Office, the Intel CPUs are on top, though, thanks to their outstanding single-thread performance, but AMD is not far behind. Most productivity software (that doesn't do heavy calculations) is fast enough on any half-decent processor anyway. Once calculations start playing a role, these applications usually are optimized to benefit from multiple cores.

Gaming performance is very reasonable too and can easily compete with Intel at resolutions higher than 1080p. At 1080p, the only caveat our data reveals is that many games are somewhat CPU limited on Ryzen, which is also confirmed by our new 720p testing. For the typical gamer using a 1080p 60 Hz monitor, this won't be an issue. If you are using a powerful graphics card (GTX 1080 or better) on a 120 Hz or 144 Hz monitor at 1920x1080, the Intel processors are the safer option when it comes to making sure you max out the graphics card's performance potential.

Overclocking of our Ryzen 5 1600 sample worked well and reached 3.80 GHz easily, at 1.35 V, which helps make up some of the lost clock to the 1600X. Unlike other Ryzen processors we tested, such a 3.80 GHz overclock exceeds the capabilities of AMD's Boost technology that tops out at 3.6 GHz, and goes that high only in single-threaded workloads.

A minor point for the majority of our readers, but still worth mentioning in my opinion, is that Ryzen lacks integrated graphics (yes, even if the motherboards have monitor connectors). It may not mean much to gaming PC builders, but system integrators, builders of office computers and you, when building a computer for your parents, might miss integrated graphics, which is a cost-effective solution to keeping platform cost down for non-gaming loads. If this affects you, perhpas you could wait for AMD to roll out its Ryzen-branded "Raven Ridge" socket AM4 APUs in the second half of 2017.

With a retail price of $220, the Ryzen 5 1600 is $30 cheaper than the 1600X and includes a heatsink in the box, which brings the actual difference to at least $50. The next-cheapest Ryzen processor is the 1500X, which is $30 cheaper still, but is quad-core only. As mentioned in earlier reviews, my biggest concern with Ryzen is not performance or pricing, but platform maturity. While board vendors and AMD are continuously improving the quality of the BIOS software and memory compatibility, it still is not "there" yet. All our testing was done on AMD's latest AGESA, which solved many problems and is a good step in the right direction, but it also introduced a few new issues, and it takes time to learn to work around them. While BIOS flashing might be easy for enthusiasts, it is black magic for the general consumer, which, combined with the complexity of memory compatibility, might result in them running Ryzen at memory speeds of 2133 or 2400 MHz only, with a significant performance penalty. AMD has promised an update to AGESA for the end of this quarter, with even better memory options, so I'm looking forward to that.
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