I5 7600k vs ryzen 1600x
Ryzen 5 review vs. Core i5: Ryzen 5 1600X wins for best mainstream power CPU
AMD’s $250 Ryzen 5 1600X is here to challenge Intel’s quad-core, $250 Core i5-7600K for the honor of being “The People’s CPU.” Everyone likes to read about expensive, gold-plated, $1,000 parts, but in the real world, most people can’t or won’t spend that much and are looking for the best price-to-performance ratio.AMD Ryzen 5 1600X Processor
While Ryzen 5 1600X may not have clock speeds as high as the Core i5-7600K’s, it does offer additional cores and virtual cores. We’ve run a battery of benchmarks to see if those cores will make up the difference.Gordon Mah Ung
AMD’s Ryzen 5 1600X will compete head-on with Intel’s Core 5-7600K in the all-important $250 CPU category.
Meet Ryzen 5
AMD actually announced four Ryzen 5 CPUs last month. Two of them are quad-cores with SMT (simultaneous multithreading): The $169 Ryzen 5 1400 and the $189 Ryzen 5 1500X. The last two are six-core chips with SMT: The $219 Ryzen 5 1600 and the $249 Ryzen 5 1600X.Intel Core i5-7600K
All are based on the same die used in the upscale Ryzen 7 lineup we’ve already reviewed, but they have cores switched off.
The one of most interest to us is the Ryzen 5 1600X. With its list price of $249, it maps almost perfectly to the Core i5-7600K, which has a current list price of $242 and has sat around at $250 for much of its life.
The six-core and quad-core Ryzen CPUs are essentially built using the same eight-core dies from Ryzen 7. Each features two Core Complex (CCX) units with CPU cores switched off. One core on each is switched off for the six-core Ryzen 5s, and two cores on each are turned off for the quad-core CPUs. They also have different clock speeds.AMD
Each Zen core complex is made up of four individual processors. AMD turns off some cores for the six-core and quad-core Ryzen 5 parts.
How we tested
For the Core i5-7600K, testing was conducted using the same system we used for the Core i7-7700K in our Ryzen 7 review, but with a few key changes. We updated the Asus ROG Maximus IV Code to the latest available BIOS, which basically adds Optane support. We also pulled two of four memory modules we had installed. This reduced the RAM from 32GB to 16GB of DDR4, but it also allowed us to increase the memory clock of our Corsair modules from DDR4/2133 to DDR4/2933 speeds.IDG
Ryzen 5 1600X and Core i5-7600K compared
Note that running Kaby Lake at higher speeds with all memory slots full isn’t an issue. Not all of the CPUs we tested (*cough* Ryzen), however, will easily support high clock speeds with all DIMM slots loaded.
For the Ryzen 5 1600X, rather than re-use the previous AMD X370 build from the Ryzen 7 review, I used an MSI B350 Tomahawk motherboard. AMD provided the board, saying it had a newer BIOS that offered the best performance. A clean install of Windows 10 was loaded onto a Kingston 256GB HyperX SSD (the same model and capacity used in other test machines). For RAM, I used a pair of Geil EVO 8GB modules with the timing set to AMD’s specifications for testing on the Tomahawk board.
As with all of our builds, we used Founders Edition GeForce GTX 1080 cards. I verified clock and RAM timings on each card before I began testing.
Read on for productivity benchmarks on Ryzen 5.
Our benchmarking begins with a battery of productivity tests. First, Cinebench for multithreaded performance, then Blender and POV-Ray for image-rendering chops. We add Handbrake and Adobe Premiere CC 2017 for video encoding.
Our first test is the ever-reliable Cinebench R15, which is made by Maxon and based off a real rendering engine used in its Cinema4D parts. You might recall that this benchmark was fingered by the FTC over alleged Intel benchmark improprieties, but Maxon has claimed its innocence.
The first result you see is Cinebench R15 restricted to a single thread. The Core i5-7600K comes out on top, which is to be expected given its higher clock speed and higher instructions per clock. For the most part, the Core i5-7600K sits at 4.2GHz at almost all loads all the time. The Ryzen 5 1600X bounces around, hitting 4.1GHz clock speeds only on occasion. You’re looking at maybe a 12-percent difference, which ain’t bad, but in the end, still second-best.IDG
Running Cinebench R15.038 restricted to a single thread, the higher clock speeds and better instructions per clock of Kaby Lake give it a slight advantage over Ryzen.
We retested on Cinebench R15, but this time with all the CPU cores and threads available. You’re seeing roughly an 80-percent difference in performance when all cores are hot on Ryzen 5 and the Core i5. Let’s say that again: An 80-percent difference. That’s just a crushing blow to Core i5 and pretty much frames how this battle is likely to shape up: Give up a little single-threaded performance for a huge bump in multi-threaded performance.IDG
When tapping all cores, Cinebench R15.038 shows you the performance advantage Ryzen 5 1600X, with its six cores and SMT, has over the four-core Core i5-7600K.
Blender is a popular open-source 3D renderer that’s used in a lot of indie movie productions. Like most 3D production apps, it loves cores, but I’ve found it not to scale quite as well as Maxon’s rendering engine. Still, Ryzen 5 is clearly in front by a huge margin and finishes about 50 percent faster than Core i5.IDG
The open-source Blender 3D rendering application shows you how much faster Ryzen 5 is with 12 threads vs. the Core i5-7600K’s 4 threads.
POV Ray performance
Our last rendering test uses a professional application called Persistence of Vision Raytracer, or POV Ray. It actually hearkens back to the days of the Amiga. Its built-in benchmark spits out a score that tells you how many pixels per second are rendered by a CPU.
First, single-threaded performance, which looks an awful lot like Cinebench R15’s single-threaded results. The Kaby Lake Core i5 has the advantage. Haters, say what you will, but those 7th-gen chips are mean little CPUs.IDG
Core i5-7600K will have the advantage in single-threaded applications.
With POV-Ray, like all professional applications, the number of cores and threads available boost performance. The multithreaded results say it all: The Ryzen 5 is pushing out almost 50 percent more pixels per second during its render job. It’s another crushing blow to Core i5, showing you the weakness of a straight quad-core chip with no Hyper-Threading.IDG
Once you change the benchmark from single-threaded to multi-threaded, Ryzen 5 crushes Core i5.
If you’re like us, you immediately uninstalled the annoying brand-name Zip program on your PC and pointed your browser at the free and fast 7-Zip. The free app features a built-in benchmark that measures the speed of a machine at compressing and decompressing files. Ryzen 5 picks up Core i5, throws it into the audience, then jumps out of the ring to smash a break-away chair over its quad-core head.IDG
The free and popular 7-Zip features a built-in benchmark to measure a CPU’s ability to compress and decompress files. The winner by a country mile is Ryzen 5 1600X.
I haven’t always used Geekbench in CPU reviews, as the test has been somewhat controversial in the past. The latest version still takes algorithms its creator (Primate Labs) thinks are relevant in image editing, encryption and the like, and measures how well a CPU can run them. Primate Labs has changed how the test looks at CPU performance, however, and most consider that to be an improvement.
The latest version specifically addresses Ryzen performance, so I was interested to see the results. Ryzen 5 outpaces Core i5, but even though this is a multi-threaded test, I’m not seeing the scaling result I expected. That means either the test’s algorithms don’t particular favor Ryzen, or it just doesn’t scale with the core and thread counts that well. I’m inclined to believe the latter, as the difference between a Core i5 and Core i7 (which adds Hyper-Threading) is maybe 10 percent.IDG
Geekbench 4.10 has been updated to better support Ryzen CPUs. The result is a slight bump in performance for both Ryzen 5 1600X and Core i5-7600K.
Perhaps more relevant is the single-threaded result from Geekbench 4.1, which mostly mirrors the single-threaded performance we’ve seen from Cinebench and POV-Ray. In fact, Ryzen 5 seems to do even worse, trailing Core i5 by just over 20 percent. If Geekbench’s choice of algorithms are a reliable indicator (and it uses a dozen different algorithms), the world runs just slightly better on Intel.IDG
Single-threaded performance confirms: When it comes to lightly threaded tasks, the 4.2GHz clock speed and higher IPC of the Core i5-7600K win out.
PCMark 8 Performance
PCMark 8 tries to replicate real-world use by not just using small algorithms, but also creating small simulated applications to measure performance.
First up is the PCMark 8 Creative Conventional test, which throws various workloads at a system, including encoding, video conferencing, and photo editing. In the end, Ryzen 5 has a slight advantage. Although there is an encoding portion, I’d take that to mean the creative mode is pretty lightweight and doesn’t favor multiple cores much. The takeaway from this is, if you’re editing photos and doing quick video edits with the free software that came with Windows, both CPUs will do the job.IDG
PCMark 8 includes a Creative benchmark that throws a little more CPU workload at the system. The results are yawn-worthy.
PCMark 8 Work focuses on productivity tasks like browsing, video web conferencing, and driving a spreadsheet. You could do this work on just about any CPU, and it wouldn’t make working in a row of cubicles any better.IDG
PCMark 8’s Home Convetional test tells you that, yeah, pretty much any of these CPUs are more than enough to handle basic computing chores.
To measure encoding performance, we use the popular and free Handbrake to convert a 30GB 1080p MKV file using the Android Tablet preset. Handbrake loves, loves, loves CPU cores, and it shows. Ryzen 5 smokes Core i5 by about 70 percent in encoding time. Again, 12 threads vs 4 threads is not even a contest.IDG
Handbrake loves CPU cores, and it shows in these outstanding results for Ryzen 5,
Adobe Premiere Pro Creative Cloud 2017
For a video test, we took an actual published project from our video colleagues at IDG.tv that was shot on a 4K Sony camera, and we tasked both machines to encode it using the Blu-ray preset in Premiere Pro CC 2017. Premiere Pro lets you encode using the GPU, which tends to offer a huge performance decrease in render time, or the CPU, which is still generally considered to offer the best visual quality. Using the CPU for this first chart, you can see the Ryzen 5 flexing its core count over Core i5, offering a massive decrease in render times. If time is money, Ryzen 5 gets you more money.IDG
When we benchmark Adobe Premiere Pro CC using just the CPU, Ryzen 5’s 12 cores beat Core i5’s 4 cores.
Realistically, however, many people will give up visual quality for the speed of a GPU render. Although the CPU matters a little less, we’re still seeing roughly a 40-percent bump in GPU rendering speed by using Ryzen 5 vs. a Core i5.IDG
When we switch to GPU encoding using Adobe Premiere Pro CC, the CPU matters less, but Ryzen 5’s cores still have an impact.
We know you want to know about gaming performance, so keep reading.
On the application side, Ryzen 5 has it handled. But how about gaming performance? That’s been the Achilles heel for Ryzen in early-days testing.Gordon Mah Ung
First up is Futuremark’s popular 3DMark test. This test is designed first and foremost as a GPU and graphics load test. Everything works as it should: Ryzen 5 gets a small advantage thanks to its additional cores, but for the most part, it’s dead-even between the pair of GeForce GTX 1080 cards we used for testing.IDG
3DMark Fire Strike is first and foremost a GPU test. Because the two very different CPUs were tested with the same GPU, the results are pretty much the same.
3DMark also include a physics test using a real-world game physics engine. The more cores you have, the more theoretical performance you get out, so guess what: Ryzen and its 12 threads pummels the Core i5 and its 4 threads.
Thee problem with Fire Strike’s physics test is that it measures things in a perfect world. In the real world, game developers just don’t exploit all the cores in a CPU. This result, though it highlights the horsepower of Ryzen 5, isn’t going to match the reality in 99.9 percent of today’s games.IDG
3DMark's Fire Strike test favors Ryzen 5's many CPU cores, but most games don't use all the cores anyway.
The world of gaming is supposed to change with DirectX 12, where cores matter. If we’re to believe 3DMark’s DX12 test, things don’t look quite so decisive for Ryzen. AMD says the API test doesn’t really scale much beyond six cores (true), and it tends to love cache bandwidth, too.IDG
3DMark’s API Overhead test puts Ryzen in the lead, but not by the margin you’d expect. AMD says the test favors cache bandwidth and doesn’t scale with core and thread count.
Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation Performance
Moving on to a real game, we used Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation. Oxide, the developer of Ashes, has said much of the controversy around Ryzen 7’s gaming performance comes from the new micro-architecture. While AMD’s offerings foundered, the gaming world optimized for Intel—and it showed in our first tests out of the gate, with Ryzen 7. The results you see here follow a few weeks of code-tweaking for Ryzen.
Ryzen 5, for the most part, is slightly faster than Core i5. When you consider the slightly higher clock speeds and improved IPC of Core i5, that’s actually a pretty significant win in this GPU-centric test mode. The results, Oxide said, are only expected to get better.IDG
The patched version of Ashes puts Ryzen 5 on very good footing against Core i5.
Ashes also includes a CPU-centric mode too that’s designed to put more units on the screen. It should favor more cores (although it doesn’t scale as much as we’d hope), and Ryzen 5 comes out with a decent victory here. Neither CPU is slow, but the fact that Ryzen 5 performance can be made faster with a few tweaks is very encouraging.IDG
When you set Ashes to its CPU centric mode, it puts more strain on the CPUs, which favors Ryzen 5.
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands
Ghost Recon: Wildlands is considered to be a serious system hog with its incredible foliage effects, and it lived up to its reputation. We ran it at 1080p on just the High setting, and we barely kept our head above the 100-fps mark. Core i5 finishes about 7 percent faster, but for the most part I’d consider this a tie, or at best a moral victory for Ryzen, which unfairly got a reputation for being “bad” at gaming. It’s not.IDG
Wildlands puts the Ryzen 5 at a very close second to the Core i5.
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
Running Deus Ex: Mankind Divided in DX12 mode, Ryzen was just a little slower than Core i5-7600K. Interestingly, many reviews have shown Ryzen tying with or even beating Kaby Lake. The Core i5’s advantage likely comes from its higher clocks and higher IPC, but it’s another moral victory for Ryzen 5.IDG
Core i5 shows a slight advantage with the Deus Ex: Mankind Divided benchmark, but Ryzen 5 loses by very little.
F1 2016 Performance
Among the games that seem to favor Ryzen is Codemaster’s F1 2016. Although AMD’s own tests put Ryzen 5 ahead of Core i5, my tests show Ryzen 5 slightly trailing Core i5. Note that in AMD’s own tests, the company configured the Core i5 with the RAM set at DDR4/2400, while my tests tried to make it more even by using DDR4/2933 on both. In the grand scheme of things I’d rule it a tie, which makes it another moral victory for Ryzen.IDG
For our F1 2016 test we used the same memory in both testbeds, something AMD didn’t do for its own benchmarks.
Sleeping Dogs Performance
The thing is, Ryzen 5 still exhibits performance issues that have many wringing hands over the CPU’s gaming chops. You can see it with Sleeping Dogs, where at 1080p resolution and Medium settings, Ryzen exhibits the typical 20-percent to 30-percent slower performance.IDG
Running Sleeping Dogs at 19x10 with Medium quality shows why Ryzen’s performance still gives some gamers the willies.
That performance difference is what you see when you remove the GPU as a bottleneck and move the work to the CPU. By notching Sleeping Dogs’ quality to Extreme (the quality you’d likely run at with a GeForce GTX 1080), you move the load back to the GPU, and the differences mostly vanish.IDG
In most PC gaming the GPU is the bottleneck. Once you shift to Extreme quality and focus on the GPU, the CPU performance differences disappear.
Rise of the Tomb Raider Performance
Other games are even worse. Ubisoft’s Crystal Dynamic's Rise of the Tomb Raider at Medium and 1080p shows a massive frame rate difference.IDG
Rise of the Tomb Raider is one of the titles that clearly doesn’t run well on Ryzen right now. At medium, the performance disparity is huge.
Even running Rise of the Tomb Raider at its top Very High setting, Ryzen can’t keep up with Core i5. Only by moving up to a higher resolution and making it more of a GPU test do things even out.IDG
Even setting the the game to very high, the CPUs can still hold back performance some.
Conclusion: Don't panic. Keep reading.
If the last four charts are enough to freak you out, don’t. We know much more about Ryzen 5 then we did about Ryzen 7 when it launched, and the lack of answers seemed to swirl around for weeks.
Although there are still some outstanding questions, it’s clear to me that there isn’t some flaw with Ryzen that makes it slow (which everyone feared). The most logical conclusion is to blame the games themselves.
I say this because If Ashes of the Singularity developer Oxide can bump performance by 20 percent or more after a couple weeks’ worth of tweaking, and in fact says it’s not fair to even compare Intel with AMD with the previous code, it stands to reason other games could do the same. Optimization may not erase the difference completely, but it should make any remaining difference insignificant.
Ryzen may still have problems with older games if only because game developers are unlikely to update code for a 2014 title. However, I’d bet few of you are having problems running a three-year-old game with your rig today. A modern GPU and modern CPU can run any older title without issues. The more important question is whether developers will support Ryzen going forward for games that come out in 2020—not 2014.Gordon Mah Ung
After testing Ryzen 5, and especially after seeing how its performance changed with optimized games, Ryzen gaming performance is clearly not as big of a deal as it seemed when Ryzen 7 first launched. When it comes to deciding the matter at hand—which is the best $250 CPU—the complicated answer is: Match the workloads above with what you do and choose based on your needs, not what someone tells you is right.
The problem is, people don’t want complicated answers. They want simple answers and they want you to pick for them. In that case, Ryzen 5 is the way to go. It burns Core i5 to the ground in multi-threaded applications performance and doesn’t give up much in single-threaded performance.Gordon Mah Ung
On the thorny gaming question, Core i5 still has an advantage for now. We expect newer games will support Ryzen, making the performance difference mostly moot down the road.AMD Ryzen 5 1600X Processor
It’s pretty hard to pass up the incredible performance the Ryzen 5 1600X offers, especially as we move into a world where more cores and more threads are expected to matter. For that new world, the Ryzen 5 1600X is easily the winner and just a hell of a deal for the overall performance you get.Note: When you purchase something after clicking links in our articles, we may earn a small commission. Read our affiliate link policy for more details.
AMD Ryzen 5 1600X and 1600 vs. i5-7600K and 7500
After releasing the extensively reviewed 8-core 16-thread Ryzen 7 CPUs last month, AMD marked April as the month of the Ryzen 5 processors. This tier of the Zen microarchitecture-based CPUs includes 4-core and 6-core hyper threaded processors, in a price range of $169-$249.
Today, we will compare the Ryzen 5 1600X ($250) and 1600 ($220) to their price equivalents from Intel: the i5-7600K ($240) and i5-7500 ($200).
Specifications-wise, the Ryzen 5 processors are much closer to the i7-6800K and i7-6850K, which are Intel’s enthusiast X99-platform based 6-core 12-thread CPUs. On the other hand, price-wise, the AMD parts are much closer to the Kaby Lake 4-core 4-thread i5 line-up.
The Ryzen 5 1600X and the 1600 are based on the same chip, with slightly different configurations. It is possible to overclock both of these CPUs to similar clockspeeds with little to no benefit to performance from the XFR (extended frequency range) the 1600X offers.
The benefit of the 1600 is that it comes with AMD’s Wraith Spire stock cooler, which is actually decent. The Wraith Spire is rated to dissipate up to 95W of power, and is quiet. High-level overclocking (100+ W) will be problematic with this cooler, but a moderate OC to the base level of the 1600X is possible.
Because the 1600X and 1600 utilize 6 cores with 12 threads, it’s safe to assume that many modern non-gaming applications are able to leverage the performance Ryzen 5 offers. This is especially nice at this price, since the competition from Intel only offers for non-hyperthreaded cores.
Both the 1600X and 1600 handily beat the i5-7600K and i5-7500 in multi-threaded workloads. Applications that scale better with clock speed will prefer the higher clocked, higher IPC Intel CPUs. For most content creation (such as video editing) and code compiling, Ryzen 5 is the new best choice.
Handbrake and X264 encoding brings the Ryzen 5 CPUs significantly ahead of the Intel price-equivalents. Source: PCPer
In Audacity MP3 encoding on the other hand, which is mostly a single-threaded application, the higher-clocked Intel processors are significantly faster than Ryzen 5 (lower is better in this graph). Source: PCPer
With gaming, the story is far more interesting. Ryzen 5 has the advantage in multi-threaded applications, because all of Intel’s i5 CPUs in this price range only have 4 cores and 4 threads. But a lot of games are still heavily dependent on higher clock speeds over multiple threads. That’s where Intel still has the upper-hand.
Nevertheless, GamersNexus, HardwareUnboxed and other reviewers tend to agree that due to multiple factors, the Ryzen 5 processors compare favorably to Intel’s price equivalents, both in terms of value and performance.
GamersNexus shows how even though the overclocked Ryzen 5 1600X average framerate is lower than the i5 7600K’s, the 1% and 0.1% lowest recorded framerates are higher on Ryzen, leading to a generally smoother and more consistent experience. Source: GamersNexus
Ashes of The Singularity is a great example of how multi-threaded games with many units can leverage the full potential that Ryzen has to offer. Source: HardwareUnboxed
Depending on the game, many reviewers show the Ryzen 5 1600X being on par or slightly (~7%) below the i5-7600K, while the Ryzen 5 1600 was mostly on par or beating the locked i5-7500.
Depending on how well the game is optimized for Ryzen (some games already have “Ryzen patches” meant to better leverage the performance of the new AMD CPUs), the trophy is still in Intel’s hands. But other interesting facts come into play.
AM4 platform specifications.
Even though the AM4 platform is being actively patched by both AMD and motherboard vendors, it is here to stay for at least three years. That means you can buy an AM4-based platform now and upgrade later without the need to get a new motherboard.
Also, all Ryzen CPUs are unlocked, including the cheaper Ryzen 5 1600. Overclocking this CPU to around the 1600X levels brings it far above the locked i5-7500 in terms of performance. It also comes with a decent stock cooler, so that’s another $20+ saved.
The i5-7600K and Ryzen 5 1600X both require an aftermarket cooler. But the Intel chip also needs a more expensive Z270 motherboard, while Ryzen CPUs can be overclocked on cheaper B350 motherboards. Looking at CPU usage graphs, it is also evident that the i5 is mostly pegged at 100% usage, meaning there is nowhere for the processor to grow, while the Ryzen 5 processors show CPU usage hovering mostly in the 50-60% range, leaving room for developers to get more out of them with better multi-threading.
Ghost Recon: Wildlands maxing out what the 7600K has to offer, while the 6-core 12-thread still has some performance to spare. Source: JokerProductions
Ryzen does need faster RAM to perform best. Faster DDR4 costs more, which can negate the cost savings of Ryzen’s cheaper motherboards.
The Ryzen 5 1600 is an easy recommendation over the i5-7500. Choosing between the Ryzen 5 1600X and i5-7600K is more difficult, but for most people the 1600X is a better option. The extra threads are very useful when they can be used, and the single-threaded performance deficit isn’t too large.
The best value can be had by overclocking the Ryzen 5 1600 processor ($219) on a $100 motherboard. This offers a $70 savings compared to a 1600X or an i5-7600K system (factoring in the extra price for the processor and the aftermarket cooler), while achieving comparable gaming performance.
It feels like it is finally time for the mainstream to move on from 4 cores and 4 threads. It is possible to get significantly better multi-threaded and comparable gaming performance for cheaper with Ryzen 5.
The Ryzen 5 CPUs can be found in our Great and Excellent tiers.
Two Years Later, Who Won? Ryzen 5 1600 vs. Core i5-7600K
This is a comparison we've been wanting to put together for some time. With Computex 2019 out of the way and the full confirmation of 3rd-gen Ryzen, before that hits us here's an updated comparison between the Ryzen 5 1600 and Core i5-7600K. It’s time to see which processor offers gamers the best performance in 2019.
When the R5 1600 was first released, you could easily argue in favor of the 7600K as the better gaming CPU. The vast majority of games performed better on the Core i5-7600K and often much faster in what we considered older games at the time. However, for newly released 2017 games they were more evenly matched and in a few core-heavy titles such as Ashes of the Singularity, the Ryzen CPU was a little faster or in Battlefield 1 it was overall more consistent.
We still saw Ryzen processors struggle in a number of titles such as Arma 3, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, Far Cry Primal, Grand Theft Auto V, Total War Warhammer II, and Watch Dogs 2 to cite a few prime examples. And yet we liked the Ryzen 5 1600 as it was cheaper, held the promise of superior platform support, came with a box cooler and generally beat the Core i5 processor in productivity tasks. In effect, for intensive workloads the Ryzen 5 1600 mimicked what we saw from the Core i7-7700K and that was impressive at the time.
For those reasons and more, just two months after its release we named the Ryzen 5 1600 'the best value desktop CPU'. While we noted that for high refresh gaming the 7600K would be the better choice, at least in the short term, we did expect the 2 extra cores and 8 threads of the Ryzen 5 processor to come in handy before too long. It’s been roughly two years since those initial impressions and we haven't revisited this comparison. Most recently the focus has been on Zen+ processors such as the Ryzen 5 2600 and 2700. But today we'll see how times have changed and favored one side or the other.
The Ryzen 5 1600 was tested on the MSI B450 Tomahawk using G.Skill Ripjaws V DDR4-3200 CL15 memory. The Core i5-7600K was tested on the Asrock Z270 Taichi with the same G.Skill memory. Both systems were configured using the Xtreme memory profile and MCE was disabled on the Intel system, at least for the stock testing. We used a Gigabyte RTX 2080 Ti Aorus Xtreme and the CPUs were cooled using the Corsair Hydro h200i Pro AIO liquid cooler. Both CPUs were tested stock and then with a realistic overclock applied, so we’re not pretending every CPU sold is of the highest quality silicon.
In total there are eight games tested at two resolutions. That translated into over 200 benchmarks runs to create this piece... Let’s get into the results.
First up we have Rage 2, the newest game we’ve benchmarked for this article. This title uses the Vulkan API exclusively and we've found it’s not very CPU demanding as it plays very well on a modest quad-core.
The Core i5-7600K offered a slight performance bump over the Ryzen 5 1600, though given the clock speed deficit you’d probably expect the margins to be a greater at 1080p with an RTX 2080 Ti. Moving to 1440p we see similar margins, the Core i5 processor is a little faster out of the box but once we overclocked the margin closes to almost nothing.
World War Z supports DirectX 11 and Vulkan but for best performance we always test with the latter API. Both CPUs allowed for over 100 fps out of the box, yet the 7600K was 14% faster on average. This is another title that isn’t particularly taxing on the CPU and we’ve found modern quad-cores will get the job done. Moving to 1440p and we see that the margins are virtually eliminated, here the 7600K was ~4% faster out of the box and 3% faster with both CPUs overclocked.
When we first benchmarked the Ryzen 1000 series in games, we found Far Cry Primal to be a particularly bad title for AMD’s new core heavy processors. Single thread performance seems to be the key here, that and the games just aren’t developed with Ryzen in mind, despite AMD sponsoring the latest installment in the series, though I believe that was mostly to optimize for their Radeon technology.
Whatever the case Ryzen CPUs don’t do well in Far Cry games and we have a good example of this here with Far Cry New Dawn. Although the R5 1600 was able to deliver smooth gameplay it was still much slower than the Core i5-7600K which delivered a whopping 25% more performance.
The margins are very similar at 1440p as well, here the R5 1600 isn’t able to come back and we saw way better performance out of the 7600K. We’re aware that some have reported frame stuttering from even the latest 6-core Core i5 processors in Far Cry 5 and Far Cry New Dawn, but I have to say the experience was certainly no worse than what we saw from the Ryzen 5 1600.
The Hitman 2 results for the 7600K are really strange. Given how CPU limited this title is you’d expect a 23% all core frequency boost to have a rather significant impact, but it doesn’t. We saw just a few more frames from the 7600K once overclocked, we often see strange results when testing with Hitman 2 and we honestly don’t know what’s going on here in our NPC heavy benchmark. The R5 1600, on the other hand, saw a decent 6% performance boost from a 8% all-core overclock. We see similar margins at 1440p, overall both CPUs delivered a similar gaming experience in Hitman 2.
Things are getting interesting now. Shadow of the Tomb Raider is one of the most demanding games released in the last year. The Ryzen 5 1600 was noticeably smoother in this title and with 22% more frames on average it was also a lot faster. We can see even when overclocked the 7600K appears so heavily choked that the frequency increase doesn't help, there appears to be some other kind of performance limitation.
The performance gains for the R5 1600 when overclocked are also very mild, but they’re also much more in line with the frequency increase. Moving to 1440p and the R5 1600 continues to blitz the 7600K, offering ~30% more performance with both CPUs overclocked.
The Ryzen 5 1600 also proves to be the superior choice for the Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, another modern demanding title. Here the Ryzen processor offered 16% more performance out of the box. At the more GPU limited 1440p resolution the results do come together but even so once overclocked the R5 1600 still enabled 8% more performance and overall was slightly smoother.
Battlefield V is the first time we’ve seen the i5-7600K fall flat on its face. While still playable, the experience was pretty horrible compared to the smooth R5 1600. We saw a similar thing in our day one Ryzen coverage, though not quite to this extent. Back then the 7600K provided higher frame rates on average, but the 1% low performance was weaker.
Today when testing with Battlefield V the 1% low performance is a disaster for the 7600K and this means although the R5 1600 was only slightly faster on average the actually gaming experience was worlds better. The Core i5-7600K crash and burned at 1440p, this is a game that simply requires more than four cores and threads, even if they’re clocked at or around 5 GHz.
Another series of horrible results for the Core i5-7600K can be seen when testing with The Division 2. The Ryzen CPU was 33% faster out of the box when comparing the average frame rate and 32% faster for the 1% low result. That margin is reduced once both CPUs are overclocked, though the margin was still ~25% faster on average and 24% faster for the 1% low.
The Ryzen 5 1600 remains well ahead at 1440p and even with both CPUs overclocked is the clear winner here.
What We Found
For those that skipped to this point we’ll quickly summarize: overall the Ryzen 5 1600 was noticeably slower in a single game, namely Far Cry New Dawn. Performance was still very playable, but frame rates were well down on the Core i5-7600K. Ryzen was also slightly slower in World War Z and it was a draw in Rage 2 and Hitman 2. As we moved into more demanding modern titles, we found the R5 1600 to be a good bit faster in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and then overwhelmingly faster when testing with Battlefield V, Shadow of the Tomb Raider and The Division 2.
These findings are inline with what we said and found two years ago. Back then the i5-7600K was a tad faster in the majority of games, however Ryzen showed a lot of promise when performing well in the most CPU demanding games of the time, delivering more consistent performance. We recommended the Ryzen 5 1600 over the Core i5-7600K in 2017 for a number of reasons, many relevant at the time, but one that is relevant today is that we believed it'd be the better gaming CPU in the long run and that happens to be the case.
Taking all this into consideration, if you were faced with upgrading or building a new gaming PC in mid-2017 and had the choice between these two processors, you could say going with the 7600K was a mistake. Today the R5 1600 is the superior performer enabling highly playable performance in all the latest games, while the 7600K struggles in a number of titles.
As a bonus, if you invested in the AM4 platform two years ago, you now have the luxury of upgrading to what we expect to be a much more powerful Zen 2 processor without having to change your motherboard. Core i5-7600K owners on the other hand would have to pay through the nose for a 7700K just to enable playable performance in titles such as Battlefield V. In fact, there’s almost no chance you’ll land a second hand 7700K for less than what a brand new Ryzen 5 3600X costs.
For this article our sole focus was on gaming performance, but if you care about core heavy application performance, there isn’t much to discuss. The R5 1600 thrashed the 7600K at launch and nothing has changed there (benchmarks from our original review below, for more go here).
If anything Ryzen has only improved in workstation tasks as software continues to be optimized for the Zen architecture. The platform has matured a lot, too, and it’s now faster and more stable. Meanwhile the Intel Kaby Lake range along with all their processors have become slower due to the security vulnerabilities that were publicly revealed in early 2018 and a few more recently. Hopefully next time you have us benchmarking a Ryzen processor it will be the brand new 3000 series, until the next one.
AMD Ryzen 5 1600/1600X vs Core i5 7600K review
Since the release of the Core i5 2500K in January 2011, Intel's mainstream quad-core processor line has been the default choice for those looking to put together a capable gaming PC. The i5 is always fast out of the box and overclocking can keep your platform competitive for anything up to five or even six years. But the return of AMD has already proven disruptive in other areas of the x86 market and the Ryzen 5 1600 and 1600X are simply irresistible products: Core i5 is no longer the 'go to' CPU line for gamers - there is now genuine, potent competition. And to cut straight to the chase, given the choice between a 7600K or the cheaper Ryzen 5 1600, it's the AMD product we'd choose.
To understand why Ryzen 5 is so effective, check out this stock vs 4.8GHz overclock Core i5 7600K vs Core i7 7700K benchmark head-to-head. Across the titles tested, the majority show a stock i7 outperforming an overclocked i5. Single-core performance is still important but the takeaway is that more processing cores and threads trump frequency, with the majority of modern game engines favouring more than four cores. The rest of the review effectively writes itself then: what Ryzen 5 lacks in clocks, it makes up for with many more threads. Both Ryzen 5 1600 and 1600X have six full cores and 12 threads, available for the same ballpark money as the i5's basic four cores and four threads.
However, despite Ryzen 5's massive advantage in terms of basic resources, Intel still has some fundamental advantages - but certainly in terms of productivity, there's no competition. Cinebench confirms that Intel's Kaby Lake has a substantial single-thread advantage but on the multi-core benchmark, AMD's lead is overwhelming. The cheaper Ryzen 5 1600 can even beat the Core i7 7700K - even though the latter has a 1GHz advantage over the AMD offering. The extent to which that synthetic benchmark reflects on real-life performance in productivity apps will, of course, vary according to the application.
Here at Digital Foundry, we do a lot of video encoding. The benchmarks a little further down the page are based on our real-life workflow based on 4K processing with Handbrake, using the industry-leading x264 and x265 encoders. They reveal that AMD's much cheaper CPUs can power through h.264 encoding, beating the i5 effortlessly and marginally outperforming the 7700K. However, the HEVC results place the Ryzens in-between the i5 and i7 - this is because the x265 encoder utilises AVX instructions heavily, an area of CPU design where Intel is much stronger.
This video breakdown of the strengths and weaknesses of Ryzen 5 and Core i5 effectively visualises why we reckon AMD has the better buy in the mainstream CPU market.
Regardless though, the i5 is clearly on shaky ground. Its per-core performance is excellent, but clearly the lack of hyper-threading is holding it back significantly, both in games (as seen in the i5 vs i7 benchmark video) and productivity applications. Meanwhile, AMD blitzes the competition through sheer brute force in terms of processing resources. It's a strategy that works well in these benchmarks and it also carries through to gaming - which begs the question: to what extent is the CPU important to gameplay?
The role of the CPU is in running game logic and simulation (physics, animation and much more) then preparing the instructions for the GPU on what to draw. Ideally, gaming frame-rates should be limited either by the GPU, by v-sync or by a frame-rate limiter - all of these scenarios give smoother gameplay. Our methodology adjusts the focus though: we run our test titles at 1080p on ultra settings or close to it, and we pair the CPU with an overclocked Titan X Pascal graphics card. The idea is to remove graphics as the limiting factor and push CPU (and by extension, DDR4 memory bandwidth) to the forefront of testing. It's not indicative of performance in an actual gaming rig, but it shows the difference in relative power between one CPU and the next. By extension, you can assume that the CPU with higher results offers more headroom, more future-proofing if you like.
In terms of equipment, we tested our Ryzen 5s on an MSI X370 Titanium board and paired them with two 8GB modules of 3200MHz GSkill Flare-X DDR4. A key advantage of the AM4 platform is that processor and memory overclocking is not limited to the most expensive boards though - we also verified similar results in an Asus board based on the cheaper B350 chipset. For Intel, to get the best out of the unlocked K chips, investing in either a Z170 or Z270 board is essential - overclocking only works with those expensive chipsets, and even your fast DDR4 is limited to 2400MHz on lower-end motherboards. Hopefully, this kind of artificial limitation will be phased out in future now that Intel doesn't have the market to itself.Cinebench renders this scene by allocating one 'tile' to each CPU thread in the multi-core benchmark. Ryzen 5 therefore renders 12 tiles simultaneously as it builds up this image.
As we've already established, modern game engines tend to favour many-core designs, but if there's one stand-out example in our test suite of a more old-school reliance on single-thread performance, it's the Far Cry engine. Additional frequency translates into higher frame-rates, explaining why both six-core Ryzen 5s outperform the entry-level eight-core Ryzen 7, and also why the i5 and i7 are so far ahead of the AMD competition. An interesting side-note on Far Cry Primal can be seen here, where we compare a 3.2GHz Skylake i5 6500 to the Ryzen 5s - it takes the Ryzen 5 1600X at 3.6GHz to match the Intel chip running 400MHz slower. Meanwhile, the Ryzen 5 1600 represents the same workload running clock-for-clock between R5 and i5 though we do have a small memory bandwidth advantage on the AMD side.
Elsewhere, however, the race tightens up. The Witcher 3, Rise of the Tomb Raider and especially Crysis 3 love frequency of course, but they also benefit heavily from as many cores and threads as you can throw at them, with both Ryzen 5s offering a significant advantage over Intel's stock Core i5. Here, Ryzen 5 sits comfortably at a mid-point between Core i5 and Core i7. However, not everything is as it seems based on the numbers alone. Assassin's Creed Unity posts a lead on the i5, but when studying performance at the per-scene level, i5 is pulling ahead in relatively empty scenes in our benchmark, with Ryzen 5 performing better in areas packed with NPCs. There's the suggestion that the i5 frame-rate average is boosted by big performance gains in less useful, more 'empty' rendering scenes. Similarly, in the Crysis 3 benchmark, the i5 and indeed i7's scores are skewed higher when the viewpoint shifts to similarly sparse scenes.
We've got a complete breakdown of this behaviour in our video review, but the bottom line is that it's not just different game engines that can favour i5 or Ryzen 5 processors - it can actually vary on a scene-by-scene nature in many games. And of course, therefore, results can vary depending very much on what scenes are chosen for benchmarking.
To illustrate, The Witcher 3's Novigrad City - our test area - can easily max an i5 quad with 100 per cent utilisation across all cores, and Ryzen 5 is faster here. However, benchmark a less demanding area or an engine-driven cut-scene and the i5 takes the lead. We've tried to tailor our tests to concentrate more on these heavier workloads and for our money Ryzen 5 is the more versatile, capable performer in areas where the CPU matters most in gaming.
The balance of power shifts when it comes to the more expensive Core i7 7700K - despite losing two cores up against the Ryzen 5s, enabling hyper-threading sees it power ahead in most of our tests, and even though Crysis 3 in particular makes such good use of AMD's many-core design, the 7700K is the only processor in the test suite here that will keep you above 60fps at all times. It's an excellent product, but you pay a hefty premium for that top-tier consistency in performance. But what about overclocking? It got somewhat toasty and required a heavy duty cooler, but we could push both Kaby Lake Core i5 and i7 processors to 4.8GHz - to what extent does that push the i7 further into the lead, and can i5 claw back into contention against Ryzen 5?Ryzen 5 copes better than Core i5 in heavily threaded workloads, while Intel's chip pushes ahead in less complex scenes. This shot from our Crysis 3 benchmark shows the tipping point, with Ryzen holding its performance better overall.
For our overclocking tests, we push each processor to their limits and in the case of Ryzen, the eight-core 1700 running at 4.0GHz effectively represents the very best gaming performance you can expect from any of the new AMD CPUs running on the AM4 socket (even the top-tier 1800X overclocks to much the same limit). Our 1600X hit the same 4.0GHz overclock and the remarkable reality is that despite losing a couple of cores against the Ryzen 7 processors, very little performance is lost. However, in all of our tests with Ryzen at 4.0GHz, we've found that voltage requirements - and thus heat generation - require substantial cooling solutions. Curiously, even under a closed-loop liquid cooler, our Ryzen 5 1600 maxed at 'just' 3.8GHz, but here's the thing: you can achieve the same frequency using the supplied Wraith Spire heatsink and fan you get for free with the processor.
For a mainstream system, this is crucial. The Ryzen 5 1600 is not only cheaper than the 1600X, you save further money in that you don't need to purchase a cooler. And it's the same situation with the Intel chips - only the locked, non-K chips come with coolers, and they're flimsy affairs that aren't built for overclocking. The Wraith Spire with the Ryzen 5 1600 is a meaty piece of kit, definitely delivering good performance in this sense, making it by far the most best value offering out of the whole bunch of processors we're testing here. The bump to frame-rates in moving from 3.2GHz to 3.8GHz is incremental, but it raises those crucial minimum frame-rates and delivers the psychological victory that you're outperforming the more expensive 1600X. The fact that it's achievable without shelling out for a better thermal solution only adds to the feel-good factor.
On the face of it, adding in the region of six to eight per cent to performance via a CPU overclock seems like an irrelevance, but what it translates to in day-to-day gaming is more consistent performance under load and for most players - using standard 60Hz screens - that translates to a better lock on 60fps gameplay. The one exception to the more modest gains found when overclocking comes (predictably) from the single-thread focused Far Cry Primal, which achieves an 18 per cent uplift on the i5. Generally though, the idea that the i5 can be overclocked to match Ryzen 5's prodigious multi-core gaming performance isn't totally validated by our results. The takeaway is that overclocking helps Intel more than it does AMD, but looking at the benchmarks on a scene-by-scene basis, even a 4.8GHz core speed doesn't massively help the complex scenes that the i5 struggled with at stock speeds. More cores really can make a big difference.Games that rely more heavily on single-thread power see the i5 triumphant and the gap only widens when overclocking is factored in.
Of course, the more expensive i7 blazes into the distance on many titles and wins across the board. However, up against the maxed out eight-core Ryzen 7, one result bears explanation: Crysis 3 on Ryzen 7 at 4.0GHz clearly copes better with the more complex areas of the benchmark scene than the 7700K at 4.8GHz, holding frame-rate better on those packed vista shots. The i7, meanwhile, skews its results upwards with stratospheric frame-rates in less complex scene - we're not entirely sure this properly represents relative gameplay performance between the two chips. However, even with overclocking in place across the board on our test processors, the i7 is still the only CPU that keeps Crysis 3 running north of 60fps. At the conclusion of the test sequence, Crysis 3 streams in new level data while processing that intense vista shot - surprisingly, this combination of heavy workloads causes momentary stutter that favours Intel. The eight-core overclocked Ryzen dips to 56fps, the 7700K bottoms out at 73fps.
Our methodology in testing CPU performance in games is good for ascertaining relative performance in identical workloads, but the truth is, CPUs like the Ryzen 5 and the Core i5 lines aren't likely to be paired with an overclocked Titan in day-to-day gameplay. They are far more likely to be combined with graphics hardware that introduces a hard limit to gaming performance - GeForce GTX 1060 and Radeon RX 580, for example. We kept our processor overclocks in place and played a handful of demanding titles with both the Ryzen 5 1600 and the Core i5 7600K paired with the Nvidia card. The end result? The Witcher 5 actually runs ever-so-slightly faster on the i5, though the difference is borderline negligible and both CPUs can easily deliver a locked 60fps. Far Cry Primal - the bane of AMD in CPU benchmarks - runs identically on both i5 and Ryzen 5 with the GTX 1060 in place.
Crysis 3 is a different story, though. In its Welcome to the Jungle stage, this title ping-pongs between CPU and GPU limits and clearly the Ryzen 5 1600 has the bettering of the Intel chip, with anything between a 10-15fps lead in CPU-bound gameplay. As we mentioned in our Skylake-X review, despite being over four years old now, Crysis 3 on its very high setting remains a highly taxing game and it still severely challenges i5-class hardware, whichever generation you own, regardless of how high you clock it, however fast your DDR4 memory, whatever GPU you choose to use in your set-up. Only the 7700K steered north of 60fps at all times in this demanding title, but in the mid-range processor category, Ryzen 5 emerges triumphant here. And remember - in this test, the i5 is running with a 1GHz advantage under a closed loop liquid cooling solution. The AMD chip was operating with its supplied stock cooler.Ryzen's advantage in heavily threaded workloads doesn't just exist in benchmarks, what we saw with Crysis 3 can be illustrated just as well with a more typical games PC running a GTX 1060 - Ryzen 5 is much better here at staying north of 60fps.
The takeaway from both our relative performance and 'real life' 1080p60 gaming tests is pretty straightforward. Core i5 remains a hugely potent CPU for gaming, just as it always has been. However, even with a GTX 1060, you can hit CPU-bound scenarios during gameplay and since the move to the current console generation, the majority of game-makers have built their engines around many-core designs. This translates to the PC space and it seems to be paying off here with Ryzen 5.
There are now two great gaming CPU lines available for the core gamer. The overwhelming weight of the data points to Ryzen 5 as the best buy in this market segment, specifically the non-X 1600 model. It's especially compelling against the only two locked i5 chips we'd consider for gaming: the locked Core i5 7500 and 7600. Although it's a touch more expensive, you can overclock any Ryzen chip and you can run them with faster memory, 'luxuries' that are only permitted with the more expensive 7600K and top-tier Intel motherboards. And for its part, the once unassailable unlocked i5 K chip - beloved of gamers for so long - is overwhelmed in more complex gaming workloads by the wider Ryzen 5 six-core processors, while non-gaming tasks see the full weight of those extra cores and threads put to good use.
The bad news for AMD - if you can call it that - is that the 1600X is looking rather superfluous based on just how good the base 1600 is. Even at stock speeds, the performance differential isn't massive, and the 1600 overclocks well enough to beat stock 1600X performance. Our 1600 sample may not overclock to 4.0GHz like the 1600X does, but with a solid 3.8GHz on the supplied cooler (which you don't get with the X), we're happy to trade the 200MHz deficit in performance for the money we save. The only sticking point is that that some of those savings you make on your Ryzen system should be invested into faster RAM, with the aim being to hit circa 3000MHz or higher. It's a point made in many Ryzen articles, but to be fair, as our Core i5 7600K review demonstrates, fast RAM is a must for getting the most out of an Intel chip too.
Remarkably, Ryzen 5's performance overall is so good, it even makes an eight-core Ryzen 7 purchase look questionable if gaming is your focus - there's a very curious lack of scalability between six and eight cores based on the 1600X vs 1700 4.0GHz overclock results in the table above and there's even a scenario (Far Cry, of course) where six cores at 4.0GHz offers a slightly faster result than eight at the same frequency. Ryzen 5 offering so much here is actually a double-edged sword: it's good in the short term because you're getting excellent performance for your money, but it relies on significant improvements in later revisions of the Zen core to offer a tangible upgrade path if and when you feel the need to improve CPU performance.
This is less of an issue for Intel. Core i5 upgrades to i7 of course, offering a big chunk of extra overhead, but with the news that eighth-gen Core processors won't run on existing Z170 or Z270 motherboards, a quad-core i7 is as far as you can go. That's fair enough, except we're days/weeks away from Intel confirming its own mainstream six-core i5s and i7s. How those new 'Coffee Lake' Intel processors are going to shake out in terms of value is anyone's guess right now, but certainly based on the performance of the enthusiast Core i7 7800, a keenly-priced six-core chip would restore the balance of power in Intel's favour.
But with the CPUs available to buy right now, Ryzen 5 1600 is our choice as the best mainstream gaming CPU on the market. And that's a simply phenomenal achievement - since the debut of the Core i5 2500K back in 2011, Intel's i5 K chips have earned their place at the heart of millions of users' gaming PCs. The Ryzen alternative is faster where it needs to be, better suited to more modern game engines, and comes across overall as a kind of hybrid of i5 and four-core/six-core i7s depending on how its resources are deployed. This is AMD at its best: innovative, disruptive and bringing about radical change in a static market, with a simply superb alternative product.