AMD Ryzen 5 1600 3.2 GHz Review 95

AMD Ryzen 5 1600 3.2 GHz Review

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Introduction

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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. Ahead of Summer 2017, when PC gamers hit stores for hardware upgrades, AMD is launching a new line of Ryzen processors at price points targeting them, with the new Ryzen 5 series.

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 $169 to $249. 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 the $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 parts feature a decent 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 series is led by the Ryzen 5 1600X, a six-core part priced at $249. This is closely followed by the Ryzen 5 1600 six-core chip we're reviewing today, at $219. It is priced between the Core i5-7600 (non-K), which goes for $229, and the i5-7500, which is priced at $199, down from its launch price of $209. People who want performance "close" to the i5-7600K, but don't plan on overclocking their CPU usually opt for the cheaper (and slower) non-K variant to save some money (and get an included cooler). This is where the Ryzen 5 1600 is different. You get all the features of the 1600X, including the unlocked base-clock multiplier, but will have to deal with lower clock speeds. The Ryzen 5 1600 even keeps XFR (extended frequency range), a feature that automatically overclocks the processor beyond the maximum turbo frequency depending on the cooler's efficiency. The chip is clocked at 3.20 GHz, with 3.60 GHz TurboCore, compared to the 3.60/4.00 GHz the 1600X ships with. It's still a whole $30 cheaper. What's more, you even get the AMD Wraith Spire cooler, while the 1600X lacks stock cooling altogether.

AMD made the Ryzen 5 1600 by disabling two out of eight CPU cores physically present on the 14 nm "Summit Ridge" chip, which is, in turn, one core per quad-core complex (CCX), while leaving L3 cache untouched. So you have a staggering 16 MB of shared L3 cache and 512 KB of L2 cache per core. The chip is clocked at 3.20 GHz, with 3.60 GHz of TurboCore frequency. Its main competitor from the Intel stable is the Core i5-7600 non-K at $229, and there is the i5-7500 at $199.

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.

AMD Ryzen 5 Market Segment Analysis
 Pentium G4560Core i3-7100Ryzen 5 1400Core i5-7400Core i5-7500Ryzen 5 1500XRyzen 5 1600Core i5-6600KCore i5-7600KRyzen 5 1600XRyzen 7 1700Core i7-6700KCore i7-7700KRyzen 7 1700X
Cores / Threads2 / 42 / 44 / 84 / 44 / 44 / 86 / 124 / 44 / 46 / 128 / 164 / 84 / 88 / 16
Base Clock3.5 GHz3.9 GHz3.2 GHz3.0 GHz3.4 GHz3.5 GHz3.2 GHz3.5 GHz3.8 GHz3.6 GHz3.0 GHz4.0 GHz4.2 GHz3.4 GHz
Max. BoostN/AN/A3.4 GHz3.5 GHz3.8 GHz3.7 GHz3.6 GHz3.9 GHz4.2 GHz4.0 GHz3.7 GHz4.2 GHz4.5 GHz3.8 GHz
L3 Cache3 MB3 MB8 MB6 MB6 MB16 MB16 MB8 MB6 MB16 MB16 MB8 MB8 MB16 MB
TDP54 W51 W65 W65 W65 W65 W65 W91 W91 W95 W65 W91 W91 W95 W
Process14 nm14 nm14 nm14 nm14 nm14 nm14 nm14 nm14 nm14 nm14 nm14 nm14 nm14 nm
SocketLGA 1151LGA 1151AM4LGA 1151LGA 1151AM4AM4LGA 1151LGA 1151AM4AM4LGA 1151LGA 1151AM4
Price$80$120$170$190$200$190$220$240$240$250$315$340$350$390

A Closer Look


The Ryzen 5 1600 retail package includes AMD's new Wraith Spire cooling solution. The cooler features a large cylindrical heatsink with radially projecting fins, which is ventilated by a large fan. AMD has optimized the fan for low noise.


Topside, the Ryzen chip looks quite similar to every AMD desktop processor since the Athlon64. A large, thick integrated heatspreader tops off the chip. Underneath, you see the chip's PGA (pin grid array). AM4 consists of 1,331 pins (missed opportunity to add 6 more ground pins), and these pins are a lot finer than those you find on AM3+ FX-series processors, so handle these chips with extreme care.


AM4 still has a rectangular cooler-mount-hole layout (as opposed to the square ones on Intel LGA platforms). AMD should have switched to a square layout to make it easier to orient tower-type coolers to blow hot air out the rear of the case. Current AM4-ready tower coolers have elaborate retention module kits that let you do so. Most popular cooler vendors are either selling or giving away AM4 retention modules for free. You often also have to remove the plastic retention module motherboards ship with to install certain kinds of coolers.

The "Zen" Architecture

The oldest reports about AMD working on the "Zen" architecture date back to 2012, when AMD re-hired CPU core designer Jim Keller, credited with the original winning K8 and K9 architecture designs, to work on a new core architecture to succeed "Bulldozer." AMD continued to invest in the "Bulldozer" IP in the form of incremental core updates, hoping that trends in the software industry towards parallelization could improve, giving it a big break in price/performance. Those trends, in the form of DirectX 12 and Vulkan 3D APIs being multi-core friendly, came in a tad late (towards late 2016). Four years of work by a team dedicated to its development, led by Jim Keller, resulted in the "Zen" core.


At the heart of the "Zen" core are two very important innovations - a very "intelligent" branch-prediction system that uses neural nets (yes, of the same kind that power deep-learning machinery) to predict branches in code and load the most appropriate instructions and allocation of core resources; and there's a 1.5X increase in issue width and execution resources, besides a 1.75X increase in the instruction scheduler window. Intel had been beating AMD in core performance and efficiency in exactly these two areas, and AMD finally addressed it instead of throwing in many more hardware resources without addressing the branch-prediction issues. "Zen" also features an up-to-date ISA instruction set including AVX2, FMA3, and SHA.


All Ryzen processors are based on the 14 nm "Summit Ridge" silicon built at GlobalFoundries' swanky new facility in Upstate New York. One look at the die shot will show you that the CPU cores are clumped in two groups each. One such group is called a quad-core complex (CCX). There is no specific reason as to why AMD chose groups of four cores, other than four being a manageable number of cores for AMD's product managers. Each individual core in a CCX can be disabled and doesn't share anything with its neighboring core except for an 8 MB block of L3 cache. Each core has its own dedicated 512 KB L2 cache. The two CCX units talk to each other over AMD Infinity Fabric, a new high-bandwidth interconnect that succeeds HyperTransport. For the Ryzen 5 1600, AMD disabled one core from each of the two CCX units, resulting in a six-core chip.

The AM4 Platform

What sets "Summit Ridge" apart from Intel dies, such as "Kaby Lake" or "Broadwell-E," is that it is a full-fledged SoC (system-on-chip). It integrates both the northbridge and southbridge. In addition to memory and PCIe, socket AM4 processors also put out USB 3.0 and two SATA 6 Gb/s ports. The platform still has something called a "chipset," but it only serves to increase connectivity options, such as adding more SATA ports, USB 3.1 ports, and a few more general-purpose PCIe lanes. On Intel's platforms, the PCH (platform controller hub) serves the functions of the southbridge, while the northbridge is fully integrated with the processor.



AMD has five chipsets for Ryzen - the X370 for high-end desktops, which supports proprietary multi-GPU technologies such as NVIDIA SLI, the mid-tier B350 chipset with a slimmer connectivity feature set, and the entry-level A320 chipset for low-cost desktops. There's also the X300 and A300. We doubt you can even call these a chipset because they don't even have an A-link chipset bus to the SoC and only talk over legacy SPI pins, and they have simple components to keep the platform ticking. What sets the two apart is the lack of CPU overclocking support on the A300. On machines with the X300 and A300 (such as SFF desktops), all the connectivity is handled by the SoC.
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