AMD Ryzen 5 1500X 3.5 GHz Review 35

AMD Ryzen 5 1500X 3.5 GHz Review

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Value & Conclusion

  • The AMD Ryzen 5 1500X will retail for $189.
  • Gaming performance within 10% of Core i7-7700K and Ryzen 7 1800X
  • Convincingly beats similarly priced Intel Core i5 "Kaby Lake" quad-core chips
  • Features multi-threading (which competing Intel Core i5 quad-core chips lack)
  • Single-threaded performance improved over previous generation
  • Unlocked multiplier
  • 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 competing Intel parts
  • Memory frequency options and memory compatibility limited
  • Setup complicated (memory, HPET, CCX, SMT, and power profile)
  • Overclocking barely worth it
  • Requires optimized apps of which there are not many
  • Lacks integrated graphics
The Ryzen 5 1500X has the potential to be a disruptive product for AMD, one that wrecks through Intel's sub-$200 CPU lineup, and we are relieved to report that it did succeed to an extent. Suddenly, Intel's sub-$200 processors, including the Core i3-7100 dual-core, Core i5-7400 quad-core, and $206 Core i5-7500, seem like bad options. Intel is giving you too little for the money. Intel's "Kaby Lake" architecture continues to maintain per-core performance leadership over AMD's "Zen," but not by much thanks to the latter's huge leap in core performance over previous AMD chips. The Ryzen 5 1500X processor also gives you so much more for its $189 price - 4 cores with SMT enabling 8 threads (competing Core i5 chips lack HyperThreading), higher clock speeds out of the box, and unlocked base-clock multipliers. Intel has the gall to ask $189 for the dual-core i3-7350K with unlocked multiplier and half the L3 cache.

That being said, the Ryzen 5 1500X won't fail you in any of the gaming and productivity tasks you'd want from a $1,000 gaming PC, but there are some shortfalls. Depending on the application, performance may be similar, much better or worse than on competing Intel processors. Things are similar with gaming performance. While 1440p and 4K gaming is pretty much equal due to the bottleneck being in the GPU, some games show a noticeable loss in performance at 1080p. We also measured minimum framerates (99th percentile) that suggest Ryzen delivers better minimums in some games, but are not 100% convinced yet of whether our data is accurate.

With non-gaming tasks, such as multi-threaded media encoding, the Ryzen 5 1500X wields a handsome competitive edge over Core i5 quad-core chips in its price range, which again is a repeat of the Ryzen 7 1800X vs. Core i7-7700K battle. You could benefit from the 8 logical CPUs this chip offers thanks to SMT in scenarios such as game streaming, in which some of the processor's resources are encoding and streaming your game capture to services such as Twitch. Productivity software can already take advantage of multiple CPU cores, and with the advent of DirectX 12 and Vulkan, games too are beginning to benefit from more than 4 logical CPUs.

Since the Ryzen 5 1500X has half the CPU cores and L3 cache of the Ryzen 7 1800X, you'd expect power draw to be significantly lower, especially given its 65W TDP rating. The 1500X has a higher power draw than any of the Core i5 "Kaby Lake" chips in Prime95, a multi-threaded stress test that loads all the cores and threads available. The single-threaded test SuperPi also highlights that the 1500X isn't as efficient as "Kaby Lake" quad-core chips. During gaming, however, the power-draw is just 6% higher.

While on paper the Ryzen 5 1500X gives you so many more features than similarly priced Core i5 "Kaby Lake" chips, it 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 keep platform cost down for non-gaming loads. If this affects you, maybe you could wait for AMD to roll out its Ryzen-branded "Raven Ridge" socket AM4 APUs in the second half of 2017.

Should you pick the Ryzen 5 1500X over Intel's lineup at $189? It depends. The identically-priced Core i5-7400 is Intel's slowest quad-core chip based on "Kaby Lake" and is convincingly beaten by the 1500X across the board. The $206 Core i5-7500 is beaten in most tests, too, and the 1500X even registers wins against the much costlier i5-7600K in some tests. What worries us most is that platform maturity is not there yet even though AMD's latest Agesa update brought some improvements. If you do nothing other than gaming on your $1,000 rig, you're still better off opting for an Intel Core i5-7500 or higher. If, however, you're looking for a more wholesome package that gives you the power to handle media-productivity tasks, as well as netting you reasonable gaming performance, then the Ryzen 5 1500X makes for a decent option. Intel's sub-$200 CPU lineup is definitely challenged.
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