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article imageAMD unveils new set of Ryzen processors for mainstream users

By James Walker     Mar 16, 2017 in Technology
AMD has officially announced its new range of Ryzen 5 CPUs. The gaming-oriented chips are designed to undercut Intel's rival offerings by offering comparable performance at a much lower price, bringing competition back to PC components.
AMD finally unveiled its highly-anticipated Ryzen processor range last month. At its original event, it only detailed the high-end Ryzen 7 chips, each of which have eight cores and are now on sale. Today, it launched the Ryzen 5 which will be available from this April.
Although far from a like-for-like comparison, you can consider the gap between the Ryzen 5 and 7 as similar to Intel's long-standing Core i5 and i7 branding. Whereas the Ryzen 7 is focused on compute performance across a large number of threads, the Ryzen 5 is more aimed at general consumers looking for a competent processor for gaming and content creation.
Four Ryzen 5 chips have been announced. At the top of the range is the 1600X and 1600, both of which are hexacore with 12 threads. They are followed by the 1500X and 1400, quadcore chips with a total of 12 threads. It's possible more options will arrive in the future, such as products to fill the gap between the 1400 and 1500X.
Clock speeds vary across the range with the fastest chip being the 1600X. It has a base clock of 3.6GHz and can boost up to 4.0GHz when thermals allow. The 1600 has a substantially lower base clock of 3.2GHz and can boost to 3.6GHz. The quadcore 1400 and 1500X chips have base and boost clocks of 3.2 and 3.4 and 3.5 and 3.7 respectively. Rated power consumption is 65W across the board, with the exception of the 95W 1600X.
AMD is pitching these chips at people looking for high-performance quadcore and hexacore processors at prices far lower than Intel's established offerings. The flagship 1600X will retail at $249, putting it against the quadcore Intel Core i5-7600K at $242. For just $7 more, AMD gives you two more cores and a 10MB larger cache, improving performance in multithreaded workloads.
AMD Ryzen
AMD Ryzen
AMD
However, clock speeds on the Ryzen 5 are lower than Intel chips across the board, suggesting gaming performance could be disappointing. AMD has already faced criticism for weak game benchmark scores with the Ryzen 7 series.
While Ryzen gives you a chance to buy a strong processor on a much lower budget than Intel, it looks like it will also incur a gaming performance penalty. AMD says it's working on improving gaming performance but it's unclear when or how it will be able to raise the frame rates. In any case, Ryzen is still a much-needed rival to Intel's Core architecture, giving PC buyers more choice and driving down prices.
"Ryzen will ultimately bring innovation and competition to virtually every segment of the PC market, and Ryzen 5 is the next big step on that journey, designed to achieve new levels of compute performance for millions of PC users," said Jim Anderson, senior vice president and general manager, Computing and Graphics Group, AMD. "AMD reinvigorated the high-performance desktop market with Ryzen 7 earlier this month, and AMD Ryzen 5 now brings the power and efficiency of the 'Zen' core to users in the highly popular sub-$300 segment of the market."
The Ryzen 5 range will launch on April 11 at retailers worldwide. It's currently limited to desktop PCs and motherboards but AMD is also gearing up to give the chips a wider launch in other device form factors. Pricing is $169, $189, $219 and $249 for the 1400, 1500X, 1600 and 1600X respectively.
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