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AMD presses its advantage with affordable Ryzen 5 processors, available April 11

Why it matters to you

Looking for a processor that won't break your budget? You may want to wait till April 11, when AMD releases its new Ryzen 5 line.

AMD isn’t letting off the gas. The company has announced it will follow up its trio of Ryzen 7 processors with the Ryzen 5 line, which will hit store shelves on April 11. That’s an impressive pace, as Ryzen 7 (we called the $329 Ryzen 7 1700 “the best value CPU around“) was just released March 3.

This announcement is bolstered by details about the new Ryzen 5 processors. We now know the chip line will launch with four processors, ranging in price from $169 to $249. This will align Ryzen 5 with the bulk of Intel’s Core i5 quad-core desktop processor line. Here are the full specifications.

Processor Cores Threads Base clock Precision Boost TDP Price
Ryzen 5 1400X 4 8 3.2GHz 3.4GHz 65w $169
Ryzen 5 1500X 4 8 3.5GHz 3.7GHz 65w $189
Ryzen 5 1600 6 12 3.2GHz 3.6GHz 65w $219
Ryzen 5 1600X 6 12 3.6GHz 4GHz 95w $249

The lineup looks quite impressive on paper, as Ryzen 5’s specifications will generally hold an edge against Intel’s Core i5. The Core i5-7400, for example, has four cores and lacks Hyper-Threading. It also has a maximum clock speed of 3.5GHz, lower than the Ryzen 5 1500X’s maximum clock speed of 3.7GHz. Yet the Intel chip is slightly more expensive at $195 from most retailers.

AMD’s chips are also unlocked across the product line, so long as you buy an enthusiast-level motherboard. Intel’s only unlocked chip available in Ryzen 5’s price range is the Core i3-7350K, which has only two cores, with four threads. The Core i5-7600K, Intel’s most affordable unlocked quad-core, is $240.

More: Testing shows “delidding” Ryzen processors has little effect 

Ryzen plans to beat that one, too, with its Ryzen 5 1600X. That chip, which sells for slightly more than the Core i5-7600K, promises two extra cores and four more threads. AMD says that makes it up to 69 percent quicker, albeit in Cinebench nT, a benchmark that’s extremely well optimized for multiple cores.

As an aside, AMD said it will make Ryzen processors available with certain in-house coolers. The Wraith Stealth cooler will be available with the Ryzen 5 1400. The Ryzen 5 1500X and 1600 will be available with the Wraith Spire.

This announcement is compelling, because it will give AMD chips that target the heart of the processor market. Even gamers and enthusiasts often end up buying in this price range. The main question, though, is how the processor will hold up in single-core tests. Our reviews of the Ryzen 7 1700 and Ryzen 7 1800X found both lean heavily on multi-core performance to justify their overall value. Yet the Ryzen 5 1400 and 1500X won’t have a core count edge against their prime Intel competitors.

Luckily, we’ll only have to wait less than a month to see how AMD’s midrange Ryzen chips will stack up.