AMD Ryzen processors, whose range has now grown to seven models with the number of cores from four to eight, after countless adjustments to the operating system settings, the release of new BIOS versions and even game patches, continue to show themselves to envy well in some tasks and surprisingly mediocrely in others. However, to succeed without having obvious trumps in hand, AMD can do very well. And therefore, Ryzen’s diversity should not be written off even by game lovers.
For example, with the six-core processors of the Ryzen 5 series, the company turned a very good feint, setting their cost on a par with the four-core Core i5. Thanks to this, in the person of Ryzen 5 1600X we got a very decent alternative for the Core i5-7600K, even despite the lower IPC.
But the Ryzen 5 family includes not only six-core processors. It also includes quad-core processors, which, according to the manufacturer’s plan, should combat the younger versions of Core i5 in the price category “up to $ 200”. However, there are certain doubts that such a struggle will really occur on an equal footing. Versions Ryzen, which AMD offers in the other price segments, have a large number of computing cores in comparison with Intel’s alternatives. In the case of younger Ryzen 5, this rule is not fulfilled: here the formal advantage on the side of AMD processors is that unlike Core i5, they have SMT multithreading technology. Is this enough for the quad-core Ryzen 5 to be a convincing alternative to the younger representatives of the Core i5 series, we’ll see in this review, which is devoted to testing the older quad core with the microarchitecture Zen, Ryzen 5 1500X.
⇡ # The Ryzen 5 series: from four to six
Ryzen 5 family consists of four processors. The older model is a 250-dollar 95-watt Ryzen 5 1600X processor with six cores and SMT support (Simultaneous multithreading), which has a massive 16 MB L3 cache and a base clock frequency of 3.6 GHz. When working in real conditions, the frequency of this processor can increase to 3.7 GHz with multithreaded load and up to 4.0 GHz with the load on one or two cores. And technology XFR (extended frequency range) will help raise the frequency even higher – up to 4.1 GHz in the case of activity of only one processor core. Its counterweight to the Ryzen 5 1600X is the Core i5-7600K, which has only four cores, is devoid of Hyper-Threading technology, has a relatively small L3 cache of 6 MB and operates at frequencies of 3.8-4.2 GHz. In this comparison, the Ryzen 5 1600X wins almost all the parameters, so it’s no surprise that eventually the offer of AMD looks very tempting.
In the case of the cheaper Ryzen 5 1500X, the situation is completely different. This CPU is rated by the manufacturer at $ 189, which makes it a competitor to the Core i5-7400 or even the Core i5-7500, if you focus on real retail prices. At the same time, the Ryzen 5 1500X has four cores with SMT support, a 16-megabyte L3 cache, a base frequency of 3.5 GHz with the ability to auto-accelerate at low load to 3.9 GHz, and its heat dissipates into a 65-watt thermal package. As a result, the undeniable superiority over Core i5 is obtained only in the size of the cache memory and in the support of the technology of multithreading, in terms of the number of cores and frequencies, the Ryzen 5 1500X and the equivalent Core i5 are almost identical. True, all variants of Ryzen support overclocking, and in the younger Core i5 the frequency multiplier is blocked, but even this fact does not allow to speak about the overwhelming superiority of the Ryzen 5 1500X in terms of characteristics – the six-core Ryzen 5 looks much more interesting in this respect
Remaining 5 Ryzen 5 processor models: 220-dollar Ryzen 5 1600 and 170-dollar Ryzen 5 1400 – are similar to Ryzen 5 1600X and Ryzen 5 1500X respectively, but have slightly lower operating frequencies, which makes them less attractive options for passport characteristics, but more interesting choice with a focus on overclocking.
Entirely the entire Ryzen lineup at the moment has the following appearance:
|Nucleus / Flows||Rated frequency||Turbo frequency||XFR||L2 cache|
|The Ryzen 7 The 1800X||8/16||3.6 GHz||4.0 GHz||+ 100 MHz||8 × 512 KB||2 × 8 MB||95 W||Allowed||$ 499|
|Ryzen 7 1700X||8/16||3,4 GHz||3.8 GHz||+ 100 MHz||8 × 512 KB||2 × 8 MB||95 W||Allowed||$ 399|
|Ryzen 7 1700||8/16||3.0 GHz||3.7 GHz||+ 50 MHz||8 × 512 KB||2 × 8 MB||65 W||Allowed||$ 329|
|Ryzen 5 1600X||6/12||3.6 GHz||4.0 GHz||+ 100 MHz||6 × 512 KB||2 × 8 MB||95 W||Allowed||$ 249|
|Ryzen 5 1600||6/12||3,2 GHz||3.6 GHz||+ 100 MHz||6 × 512 KB||2 × 8 MB||65 W||Allowed||$ 219|
|Ryzen 5 1500X||4/8||3.5 GHz||3.7 GHz||+200 MHz||4 × 512 KB||2 × 8 MB||65 W||Allowed||$ 189|
|Ryzen 5 1400||4/8||3,2 GHz||3.4 GHz||+ 50 MHz||4 × 512 KB||1 × 8 MB||65 W||Allowed||$ 169|
The platform for Ryzen looks good too. Unlike the old Socket AM3 platform, the new AM4 platform got all the features necessary at the present stage, including dual-channel DDR4 SDRAM, dedicated PCI Express 3.0 x4 processor bus for NVMe SSD, USB 3.1 Gen2 interface, etc. The senior set of system logic for Ryzen, X370, supports overclocking of processors, as well as configurations of SLI and Crossfire. The more democratic chipset, the B350, is slightly trimmed by the number of PCI Express lines and does not support multi-GPU, however it does not obstruct overclocking as well as the X370. The range of motherboards based on these chipsets is very wide, it includes products of different price categories and different form factors.
All this allows you to configure configurations based on Ryzen processors, along with the usual assemblies based on Intel chips, which really looks like a huge achievement for AMD, which has recovered from the fiasco with Bulldozer. Ryzen microarchitecture is efficient and competitive, the heat generation of new processors does not go beyond the bounds of reasonable, and the platform for them has all the necessary properties.
However, as shown by practical familiarity, the Ryzen processors are not without serious drawbacks. And in the representatives of the Ryzen 5 series they were absolutely predictable and completely inherited from the slightly earlier Ryzen 7. And this is not surprising: both series of processors are based on the same 14-nm semiconductor crystal Zeppelin, that is, Ryzen 5 is obtained from eight-core Blanks by simply cutting off the “extra” computing cores.
First of all, this translates to the fact that, as in the case of Ryzen 7, the “raw” specifications of Ryzen 5 do not allow to judge with a reasonable degree of reliability their real speed. The modern Intel microarchitecture of Kaby Lake has better specific performance, which means that with the same number of cores and the same frequency, Intel processors work faster than Ryzen 5. This leads to the fact that in tasks that are not parallelized for execution in several threads simultaneously, Ryzen 5 as and their older brethren, will lose a bit in the speed of the decisions of the microprocessor giant.
There is another weak point in Ryzen. The new AMD processors are more sensitive, than their competitors, to memory bandwidth, but with the support of high-speed memory they have serious compatibility problems. New versions of the BIOS have been able to slightly improve the situation with memory capacity in modes faster than DDR4-2400 / 2666, but the Ryzen memory controller continues to display depressingly high latency, which seriously undermines performance in tasks that actively work with large volumes of data.
The overclocking is not too encouraging. Yes, AMD has kept free multipliers for the entire model range of its new CPU, but the results achieved in practice can hardly be a serious reason for optimism. Any versions of the new AMD processors, including Ryzen 5, using conventional cooling methods, are only chased to frequencies of the order of 3.9-4.0 GHz, while modern quad-core Intel chips, which are opposed to Ryzen 5, are often able to storm 5 -higher mark. And even if we talk about multi-core chips Core i7 class HEDT, then their frequencies can easily be brought to at least 4.2 GHz.
The semiconductor crystal Zeppelin, which underlies all Ryzen modifications, is made up of two four-core CCX blocks (Core Complex), which are interconnected by means of a special Infinity Fabric bus. The crystal configurations used in Ryzen 5 are somewhat different. In the six-core Ryzen 5 1600X and 1600 in the original crystal, one core in each CCX is deactivated in hardware. In the four-core Ryzen 5 1500X and 1400 processors, half of the cores are blocked. But in the Ryzen 5 1500X, a pair of cores in each CCX is disconnected, which allows to keep the entire distributed 16MB cache in the third CCX in two CCXs, and in Ryzen 5 1400 one of the two CCXs is completely blocked together with its associated 8- Megabyte part of the cache memory. Thus, half of the Ryzen 7 can only be called Ryzen 5 1400, while the older quad core uses a much larger part of the original semiconductor crystal.
However, the optimality of the configuration chosen for Ryzen 5 1500X raises serious doubts. The preservation of two CCXs in this processor improves the formal specifications for the L3 cache volume, but leaves a bottleneck – the Infinity Fabric bus, which is synchronized with the DDR4 memory, which slows down any communication between the cores. As a result, Ryzen 5 1400 is not only less demanding for memory performance, but in most cases it will be faster than its older counterpart when it is overclocked to the same frequency. In other words, in the pursuit of the best passport characteristics, AMD admitted a disagreeable skew in the Ryzen 5 model line.
And in general, Ryzen processors can not be called “children’s diseases”. There are a lot of them, but fortunately, among them there are no terrible chronic ailments. Some things can still be fixed by patches, some require changes in the microarchitecture, but in today’s form, Ryzen is quite an interesting option for a desktop computer. That is why we continue to get acquainted with various representatives of the AMD Ryzen lineup with great interest.
⇡ # Ryzen 5 1500X in detail
Ryzen 5 1500X is fundamentally different from all the previously reviewed CPUs with Zen microarchitecture in that its boxed supply includes a cooler. The processor is equipped with a relatively compact cooling system Wraith Spire, which is designed to divert 80 watts of thermal energy, which means that it not only easily cope with cooling a 65-watt processor operating in nominal mode, but it can even allow some overclocking.
It’s worth noting that Wraith Spire is not the oldest solution in the AMD Wraith cooler lineup, so RGB-backlighting is not foreseen in it.
As for the characteristics of the Ryzen 5 1500X, information about them can be easily obtained using the diagnostic utility CPU-Z. With the load on all cores, the frequency of this processor is 3.6 GHz.
With a single-threaded load, the processor automatically accelerates to 3.9 GHz. Thus, the senior quad-core CPU in the Ryzen line works approximately 100-200 MHz slower than the Ryzen 7 1800X flagship.
These are the features of building a model lineup of new AMD processors: with a decrease in the number of frequency cores, they do not grow here, but on the contrary decrease. This is due to the fact that the GlobalFoundries LPP 14nm technological process used by Ryzen can not provide an acceptable yield of suitable crystals capable of operating at frequencies above 3.4-3.5 GHz at safe voltages and with low heat release. Therefore, for older Ryzen models, the crystals are carefully selected, and the younger modifications receive a single filling.
When operating in nominal mode using the Wraith Spire regular cooler, the Ryzen 5 1500X processor does not warm up to more than 70 degrees. Accordingly, there are no claims to a temperature regime.
But the memory controller Ryzen 5 1500X was unpleasantly surprised. Specially selected memory modules built on Samsung B-die chips, which worked without problems with other Ryzen processors with DDR4-3200 frequency, with Ryzen 5 1500X were able to start only as DDR4-2933. The fastest mode of DDR4 SDRAM simply was not activated.
And this problem does not apply to a specific instance of the CPU, but to the Ryzen 5 1500X as a whole: after replacing the processor with another sample, we ran into exactly the same symptoms: the compatibility with DDR4-3200 in the quad core seems to have been forcibly locked by the manufacturer.
Many people hoped that the quad-core Ryzen 5 would be able to accelerate better than its older counterparts and would be able to throw off the “4 GHz curse”. However, the miracle did not happen again: since the Ryzen 5 1500X is based on the same 14-nm Zeppelin semiconductor crystal of about 200 mm 2 the overclocking potential turned out to be no better than the rest of Ryzen with a large number of cores. In addition, a significant part of Ryzen 5 processors is a rejection from the production of eight-core CPUs, and therefore in some cases users can get even more average chips overclocking potential.
As for the Ryzen 5 1500X we got, when cooled with the Noctua NH-U14S air cooler, it was able to work stably at the maximum frequency of 4.0 GHz. To pass the stability test in the new Prime95 29.10 optimized for the processors with the Zen microarchitecture, the supply voltage had to be increased to 1.425 V. The voltage is not more than 1.45 V, AMD engineers consider relatively safe for long-term use, so the overclocking can be considered applicable for everyday Use in the “combat” system.
The maximum temperature during the stability test was only 66 degrees and did not cause any concern. However, it was not possible to overclock the Ryzen 5 1500X above 4.0 GHz – further frequency increase caused instability. The result of the overclocking disappointed a little – in spite of the fact that the CPU frequency could be increased by 14% relative to the passport value, this is clearly worse than the overclocking, which the representatives of the Kaby Lake family can please, especially after scaling.
However, it’s fair to say that in one price category with Ryzen 5 1500X, Intel can offer only an overclocker processor with two cores – Core i3-7350K. Ryzen 5 1500X also has four full-fledged cores, and the younger Intel processor with the same number of cores and overclocking capability costs almost 30 percent more.