AMD is launching multiple Ryzen 5 processors today, from the Ryzen 5 1400 (quad-core, SMT, 3.2GHz base, 3.4GHz turbo) to the Ryzen 5 1600X (six-core, SMT, 3.6GHz base, 4GHz turbo). We have two of the new parts on-tap today — the Ryzen 5 1500X, with an MSRP of $189, and the Ryzen 5 1600X, with an MSRP of $249. Details on the two chips are shown below.
Like Ryzen 7, Ryzen 5 is aggressively targeting Intel’s price points and market position. At $189, the 1500X offers SMT, a feature Intel’s desktop Core i5 chips have always lacked. At $249, the 1600X packs six cores and SMT to compete directly the upper end of Intel’s Core i5 range (the 7600 and 7600K) as well as the Core i7-7700K.
But the threat to Intel isn’t just about processors. AMD’s new B350 chipset has picked a fight with Intel’s midrange chipset designs as well.
There are a few salient points to consider when comparing these platforms. Among them:
Overclocking: AMD’s B350 fully supports it for both memory and CPUs. Intel’s B250 does not. The highest RAM standard you can use on a B250 board is 2400MHz. This includes any attempt to use XMP settings — our Asrock B250M Performance board died and refused to POST every time we attempted to load XMP values. Why Asrock continues to make them an option on a motherboard that shouldn’t offer the feature is anyone’s guess.
RAID support: The B350 supports RAID 0, 1, and 10. Intel’s B250 supports no RAID of any kind.
USB support: Intel’s B250 offers more native USB 3.0 ports without the need for any additional chips, but AMD has a pair of native 3.1 Gen 2 ports that Intel lacks.
NVMe support: Both Intel and AMD can support NVMe, but there’s a difference between them. AMD’s support for PCI Express 3.0 is baked directly into the SoC on its own dedicated channel, while Intel’s NVMe support shares bandwidth with all of the other chipset I/O, connected via DMI 3.0.
Motherboards based on B350 are expected to retail for $75 – $120, which broadly corresponds to Intel’s B250 motherboard ($62 – $129 on Newegg).
Overall, we’d say AMD’s B350 offers better enthusiast features, with USB 3.1 Gen 2, RAID 0,1,10 support, and fully unlocked overclocking. Intel’s B250 has the edge in total PCI Express 3.0 lanes, but all of that I/O has to pass through the bottleneck of an x4 PCIe configuration (DMI 3.0). AMD also uses an x4 PCIe connection to provide much of its I/O, but that’s key to the company’s argument: What good is that much connectivity if any serious attempt to use all of it results in I/O bottlenecks?
Test setup: I’ve got the DDR4-3200 blues
My original plan was to test Ryzen 5 with the same 16GB of DDR4-3200 that we used for the Ryzen 7 launch. This worked beautifully with our Ryzen 5 1600X, but refused to play nice with the 1500X. We tried two different sets of DRAM from Geil and G.Skill, and neither could run at 3200MHz when paired with the 1500X. Adjusting timing and voltages made no difference.
We dropped back to DDR4-2933 for the 1500X and ran all those tests before realizing that Intel’s B250 chipset presented its own problem. With no memory overclocking capabilities at all, the fastest RAM we could pair with the Core i5-7500 was DDR4-2400. These configuration discrepancies are noted in our graphs. Since higher DRAM clocks and voltages also increase power consumption, our maximum power consumption tests cannot be considered a strict apples-to-apples comparison. All four testbeds were tested with the same Geil DDR-3200 with an Gigabyte G1 Gaming GTX 1070 running Nvidia driver version 376.33.