AMD launches Ryzen 5 to combat Core i5 and high-end Core i3

With AMD’s Ryzen 7 launch out of the way, and the motherboard stock situation almost sorted out, the company has now moved on to launching the Ryzen 5 family of processors. These are one level below the R7 series and feature either four or six cores across one or two CCX modules, with SMT enabled giving you an effective eight or twelve-core processor. While the R7 family was intended to take the fight to Intel’s high-end Core i7 lineup on the LGA 2011-3 socket, the R5 series is aimed more at the mainstream Core i7 and i5 processors, with the upcoming Ryzen 3 family priced to compete with the Core i3 and Pentium series. Today’s announcement is only a summary of the R5 lineup, as these chips will only go on sale on 11 April 2017.

In an attempt to slow down the hype train this time around, let me walk you through some of the finer points of this release. The lineup starts with the R5 1600X, which is basically a R7 1800X equipped with the same base and boost frequencies. It is a 95W TDP (thermal design point) processor with an all-core boost clock of 3.7GHz, and a top-end turbo of 4.0GHz, which will overclock two cores and four threads to that speed for lightly threaded workloads. For $249, it offers three times the multi-threaded performance of the Core i5-7600K, which costs $10 less in the U.S.

It also ships without a boxed cooler, so you’ll need to get hold of a socket AM4 compatible cooler on your own. If you want to know more about compatibility with various brands, click this link. Take note that Arctic Cooling has said they’ll be shipping a separate bracket for the AM4 socket, so that single entry is currently outdated.

The R5 1600 is a lower-clocked version of the R5 1600X, with a base clock of 3.2GHz, and all-core boost of 3.3GHz, and a top-end boost clock of 3.6GHz. At $219, it is $20 cheaper than the Core i5-7600K, and ships with the Wraith Spire cooler, but without LEDs. The R5 1600 is a 65W TDP processor, so it’ll be really cool and efficient even with the stock cooler.

Dropping lower, the R5 1500X is a quad core, eight-threaded processor competing with the locked Core i5 processors underneath the Core i5-7600K and 6600K, and it too ships with the Wraith Spire and has a 65W TDP. What’s interesting about this chip is that unlike other Ryzen processors, AMD told me that it has an extended frequency range (XFR) of 200MHz above the boost clock. If you look back at my Ryzen 7 launch coverage, you’ll notice that I mention that XFR for the 1700X and 1800X is a 100MHz window, while the 1700 makes do with a paltry 50MHz boost window.

The fact that the 1500X manages to add another 200MHz onto its boost means that in lightly-threaded benchmarks, it will generally beat the R7 1700X and R7 1700, and it will also give the R5 1600 a run for its money. This will also be a serious contender in game benchmarks compared to the Core i5-6600K, because the 1500X all-core boost clock is 3.6GHz, matching the 6600K. I’d watch this space closely.

And for the cheapest chip, the R5 1400 launches at $169. Surprisingly, this is actually going straight for the Core i3-7350K’s jugular, launching with a very similar price, but offering twice the number of physical cores and virtual threads. Unlike the 7350K, the R5 1400 can be overclocked on cheaper motherboards, and ships with the Wraith Stealth cooler, a small mini-ITX-sized cooler that will fit into a lot of small form factor chassis.

As a refresher, here’s an overview of the motherboard ecosystem for the Ryzen family. At the top is the x370 chipset, intended for use with multi-GPU setups as well as those of you who want lots of storage options. Both X370 and B350 support overclocking using an unlocked multiplier, and the X370 chipset supports ECC registered DDR4 memory, which means that AMD is still a great, cheap option to build a server for home office or business use with some data redundancy through software like ZFS. If you need neither multi-GPU or overclocking, then the A320 chipset is your best bet, offering almost no thrills and no overclocking. The X300 and A300 chipsets for mini-ITX motherboards are not available to vendors yet, but those products should be popping up as we get closer to the second half of the year.

That’s all for today! The Ryzen 5 family launches on 11 April 2017, and both the processors and motherboards should be available for purchase on that day. The Ryzen 3 series launches in the second half of the year, and is expected to retail for $150 or less, and ship with only two processors in the series, both quad cores without hyper-threading.