(Image credit: AMD, Intel)
If you can’t wait ’til the end of the year, these are the best CPUs for gaming right now.
Oh, before we get to all that, you might be wondering why the leap to the Ryzen 5000 branding with this generation. Us too. The Ryzen 4000 branding was due a desktop range this year, yet AMD has confirmed it’ll be the 5000-series that makes its way into our gaming PCs instead.
The decision to switch the name to Ryzen 5000 is no doubt driven by marketing consideration, although perhaps there’s some thought to also clearing up the strange Ryzen desktop/Ryzen Mobile naming mess that’s been causing confusion ever since Ryzen’s inaugural season.
Whatever the reason to switch, the first chips bearing the new Ryzen 5000 moniker will be the Ryzen 9 5950X, Ryzen 9 5900X, Ryzen 7 5800X, and Ryzen 5 5600X. All will be powered by the new and improved Zen 3 architecture.
The successor to the incredibly successful and revolutionary Zen 2 architecture that launched in 2019, Zen 3 is said to be much more than an incremental update—in fact, AMD is promising an “entirely new architecture” with performance to match. An its first official benchmarks point to promising improvements in gaming performance.
Of course, we’ll have to wait until we get our hands on these chips to really put them to the test. But in the meantime here’s everything we know about Ryzen 5000 today.
At a glance…
AMD Ryzen 5000 release date
AMD has confirmed that both the new Zen 3 CPUs and RDNA 2 graphics cards are on track for release later this year. When exactly? Following its most recent live stream, we now know that AMD Ryzen 5000 processors will be available to purchase on November 5, 2020.
AMD Ryzen 5000 specs
Sweeping changes to the Zen architecture are on the way for its third iteration, and a fair bit changed under the heat spreader for Ryzen 5000 as a result. That means slightly higher clocks, a different core cluster configuration, and significantly higher IPC (instructions per clock) over Zen 2.
AMD Ryzen 5000 performance
AMD Ryzen 5000 processors have been shown demolishing single-threaded Cinebench R20 results. It’s not just synthetic results either, AMD has shown the Ryzen 9 5900X is some 28% faster than Zen 2 in Shadow of the Tomb Raider, with some similar gains in other games too.
AMD Ryzen 5000 price
The chiplet architecture introduced with Zen 2 has proven itself an effective money-saving measure, and some of those savings will carry over to Zen 3, too. The new Ryzen 5000 processors are slightly pricier than last generation, but at least the mid-range Ryzen 5 5600X remains at the same price as its predecessor.
AMD Ryzen 5000 processors will be available to buy from November 5, 2020 worldwide. That’s AMD’s official line on the Zen 3 release date, and that only leaves just under a month until the big day arrives.
The chipmaker’s CEO, Dr. Lisa Su, confirmed it was “on track to launch next-generation Zen 3 CPUs and RDNA 2 GPUs in late 2020”, and it’s living up to at least half of that promise. Here’s hoping RDNA 2 can also arrive on time and in big numbers. At least AMD’s Frank Azor is confident the RX 6000-series won’t be a paper launch.
“We quickly adapted our global operations to navigate pockets of supply chain disruption and addressed geographic and market demand shifts caused by COVID-19,” Dr. Lisa Su recently confirmed. So it at least sounds like AMD’s on the right track, although it wasn’t likely to give us any other impression.
If you want to read all about the AMD Ryzen 5000 announcement event, head over to our live report page for a recap.
Our expectations were high for AMD Ryzen 5000 CPUs—and the company hasn’t disappointed yet. The recently disclosed specifications for the Ryzen 5000 CPUs point to another great stride in the right direction for AMD, with single-threaded performance once again on the up.
We now know of four AMD Ryzen 5000 CPUs: the AMD Ryzen 9 5950X, Ryzen 9 5900X, Ryzen 7 5800X, and Ryzen 5 5600X.
Here is a detailed breakdown of the announced specs, and how they compare to the Ryzen 3000 chips on the Zen 2 architecture:
|CPU||Ryzen 9 5950X||Ryzen 9 5900X||Ryzen 7 5800X||Ryzen 5 5600X||Ryzen 9 3950X||Ryzen 9 3900XT||Ryzen 7 3800XT|
|Base clock (GHz)||3.4||3.7||3.8||3.7||3.5||3.8||3.9|
|Boost clock (GHz)||4.9||4.8||4.7||4.6||4.7||4.7||4.7|
|L2 + L3 Cache||72MB||70MB||36MB||35MB||72MB||70MB||32MB|
|Process node||TSMC 7nm||TSMC 7nm||TSMC 7nm||TSMC 7nm||TSMC 7nm||TSMC 7nm||TSMC 7nm|
As you may have noticed, there isn’t any change to core counts. That’s because Zen 3 appears to be using the same 7nm process node, or a very similar node at least, to Zen 2, and thus there’s seemingly no place to stuff any extra chiplets or cores on the chip dies.
That’s not to say there aren’t significant changes to the CCX, or CPU core complex, with Zen 3. AMD has combined the four-core CCX structure within Zen 2 into one super eight-core CCX with Zen 3. In theory, unifying L3 cache, streamlining memory access, and cutting latency between cores.
All in all, the changes introduced with Zen 3 account for a 19% increase in IPC, which will see performance tick upwards despite a similar loadout.
AMD is promising great things in way of gaming performance from the Ryzen 5000 CPUs.
In Shadow of the Tomb Raider at 1080p (high settings), the company is brandishing a 28% performance uplift with the Ryzen 9 5900X over its existing Zen 2-based Ryzen 9 3900X. Both 12-core/24-thread chips. Yeah, we’ll happily take that.
It’s also reporting sweeping average frame rates of 26% across a suite of, admittedly an AMD-friendly, games and competitive titles.
So with generational performance well and truly sorted, it’s onto facing down the competition. Intel still holds the lead in gaming with its high-end processors, but AMD is offering up some convincing Cinebench R20 single-threaded results that could have its Ryzen 9 5900X take the lead. We’ll have to test this out for ourselves before we can say for sure, but it’s looking good for team red.
We weren’t expecting any changes to AMD Ryzen’s tried and tested pricing strategy with the Ryzen 5000 chips, but as it turns out there is a slight change to the program. The Ryzen 5000 processors all sit $50 more expensive than their Zen 2 predecessors, right the way down to the Ryzen 5 5600X at $299.
The Ryzen 5 5600XT is the only CPU to be bundled with a cooler, and arguably a less capable one than its predecessor despite the price increase. AMD says on its website that its high-end chips don’t come with coolers because they’re “optimised for enthusiasts”, and it’s probably true that most bundled coolers are left by the wayside in favour of liquid-cooled AiO loops. Still, it’s a shame to see the otherwise superb Wraith coolers left out this generation, as they were back with the Ryzen refresh this past Summer too.
|Ryzen 5000||Price||Ryzen 3000||Price|
|Ryzen 9 5950X||$799||Ryzen 9 3950X||$749|
|Ryzen 9 5900X||$549||Ryzen 9 3900XT||$499|
|Ryzen 7 5800X||$449||Ryzen 7 3800XT||$399|
|Ryzen 5 5600X||$299||Ryzen 5 3600XT||$249|
In the grand scheme of things, these processors are comparably cheap by multi-core CPU standards, and that’s thanks to the introduction of a chiplet architecture with Zen 2, and later carried over to the Zen 3 architecture.
Monolithic chips (single silicon lumps) have been reaching maximum capacity for a while now—just look at the size of Nvidia’s Turing dies—and the cost of manufacturing large monolithic chips, which are at risk of more wastage per wafer, can quickly balloon as complexity is introduced. With a chiplet architecture shrinking die size right down, and shifting the I/O away from the needlessly expensive cutting-edge node, AMD’s able to cut costs dramatically. It projects that a monolithic 16-core processor would cost more than double the Ryzen 9 3950X to manufacture. Even eight-core chips are roughly 25% cheaper thanks to chiplets.
And that’s probably why AMD is still managing to offer a 16-core chip for $799, the Ryzen 9 5950X, and a 12-core chip for $549, in the Ryzen 9 5900X—even if that is a little more than we’re used to with comparable Zen 2 chips.