AMD Ryzen 5000 processors: Everything you need to know

The AMD Ryzen 5000 series is a landmark CPU generation. It not only marks the last generation of AMD processors that will use its AM4 socket, but is the first where Team Red’s chips claim to reliably beat Intel’s top products in gaming.

Ryzen 5000 also represents a nomenclature jump over previous generations. Instead of the expected Ryzen 4000 range, in line with the Zen 2 mobile CPUs released earlier this year, the new desktop CPUs jumped ahead to Ryzen 5000.

That may mean that AMD’s mobile and desktop CPUs that share the same architecture will share the same naming scheme moving forward, but we’ll need to await the debut of Zen 3 mobile CPUs to find out.

For now, we only know about the desktop chips, and they’re looking great.

Pricing and availability

Ryzen 5000 CPU pricing

AMD officially announced the Ryzen 5000 series on October 8 (watch the event here), detailing a lineup of four distinct desktop CPUs. They are slated to go on sale on November 5. The 5600X will cost $299, the 5800X $449, the 5900X $549, and the 5950X will come in at $799.

With AMD’s Ryzen 4000-series mobile processors now beginning to proliferate among laptop manufacturers, it’s unlikely that we’ll see the debut of 5000-series mobile processors anytime soon. Typically, AMD reveals those in the new year, so we don’t expect to see any information on them until early 2021 at the earliest, with actual laptops sporting those CPUs debuting in the latter part of the year.

Architecture

AMD Zen 3 architecture layout

AMD’s Zen 3 architecture builds upon the success of Zen 2, with some significant changes that could lead to performance enhancements.

While based on the same 7nm process node as Zen 2, also leveraging the same chiplet layout, Zen 3 moves from a four-core CCX design to a unified eight-core CCX instead. That allows for sharing of L3 cache among a greater number of cores, effectively letting individual cores access twice as much cache as before. Cache latency is reduced, which could have a measurable effect on gaming performance.

Wider Float and Integer engines, advanced load/store flexibility, and a new “zero bubble” branch prediction system allow, as AMD claims, as much as a 19% improvement in instructions per clock (IPC).

That’s greater than even the most optimistic rumors had suggested. Ryzen 5000 has borrowed many of the enhancements from AMD’s Epyc Rome server CPUs, which also benefit from a unified cache design.

Performance

Third-party reviews are a must for confirming real-world performance, but based on AMD’s first-party preview of the chips at its Zen 3 reveal, we can expect Ryzen 5000 chips to deliver strong results.

Ryzen 5600X Ryzen 5800X Ryzen 5900X Ryzen 5950X
Cores 6 8 12 16
Threads 12 16 24 32
L2+L3 Cache 35MB 36MB 70MB 72MB
Base clock 3.7GHz 3.8GHz 3.7Ghz TBD
Max single-core boost clock 4.6GHz 4.7GHz 4.8GHZ 4.9GHz
TDP 65W 105W 105W 105W

Due to the Zen 2 CPU’s failure to hit initial boost clock targets when first released, AMD’s clock speed claims should be viewed through a skeptical lens for now. Single-core clocks may not be as high in day-to-day tasks, especially since most workloads, even older games, leverage a handful of cores at a time. AMD also did not mention all-core boost numbers, which are likely more applicable, especially for the lower-tier processors.

When it comes to performance, AMD didn’t detail benchmark results for all of its new-generation CPUs, focusing instead on the mainstream flagship, the 5900X. In Cinebnech 1T, which focuses on single-threaded performance, AMD showed the 5900X as the first CPU to break the 600-score barrier at stock speeds, easily outpacing the Intel Core i9 10900K.

Zen 3 Cinebench

It also made strong claims about its gaming performance, showing improvements of between five and 50% in a selection of games at 1080P resolution, when compared with the Ryzen 3900XT from the last generation. It’s unlikely that most gamers spending almost $550 on a CPU will play at that resolution, but that’s the best one to show the raw performance improvements of the AMD CPU.

5900X gaming performance

AMD also showed those same benchmarks with the 5900X facing off against the Intel Core i9 10900K flagship CPU, showing more modest, but still noticeable performance gains. If these prove accurate, it will be the first time that AMD has taken the CPU gaming crown in more than 15 years.

5900X vs 10900K

The Ryzen 9 5950X is said to be faster still in both productivity and gaming, though AMD didn’t give any head-to-head numbers against Intel’s best in that regard.

We’ll need real-world performance testing from third-party reviews (like us!) to see how accurate these results are, but leaked benchmarks from earlier this year may give us a hint. One result in a leak from Twitter user @TUM_APISAK for Ashes of the Singularity showed the Ryzen 7 5800X handily beating the Intel Core i9 10900K at 4K.

APISAK/Twitter

A few days after the Ashes of the Singularity benchmark, a CPU-Z screenshot started making the rounds, showing a Ryzen 7 3700X up against an unnamed AMD CPU. The screenshot shows 12 cores and 24 threads, so it’s likely the Ryzen 9 5900X. The benchmark showed a 25% improvement in single-core performance and 15% improvement in multi-threaded performance over last-gen’s 3900X.

100-000000061-08 pic.twitter.com/DwPS6W88co

— HXL (@9550pro) October 1, 2020

Although we can’t confirm either of the benchmarks now, we should be able to soon, and before AMD’s launch of RDNA 2 GPUs later this year.

The AM4 socket remains, for now

AMD Ryzen 9 3900x
Dan Baker/Digital Trends

One of the best features of AMD’s Ryzen CPUs has been their inter-generational support of the same AM4 socket. Those who bought older-generation Ryzen CPUs and motherboards have been able to upgrade their processors without the need to buy a new motherboard — they just need to update the BIOS. That will be the case with Zen 3 Ryzen 4000 processors too, though this will be the last generation of Ryzen chips to use the AM4 socket.

The Ryzen 5000 CPUs will support existing X570 and B550 boards with a BIOS update, as well as select X470 and B450 boards, with a non-reversible BIOS update if manufacturers choose to support it. There has been no news on a Zen 3 specific chipset, though rumors of an x670 design have been around for well over a year.

Some suggested that it would feature enhanced PCIe Gen 4.0 support, as well as increased I/O from additional M.2, SATA, and USB 3.2 ports. Wccftech reported that native Thunderbolt 3 support still may not happen on this chipset.

AMD’s next-generation Zen 4 CPUs, expected in 2021, will move beyond AM4 to a new AM5 socket design that’s alleged to be built around technologies such as DDR5 memory and PCIe 5.0, according to Wccftech.

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