Ryzen 5 review vs. Core i5: Ryzen 5 1600X wins for best mainstream power CPU

We test the best for $250, pitting the new Ryzen 5 1600X against Intel's vaunted Core i5-7600K.

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Why you don't need to freak out

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.

ryzen 5 6 Gordon Mah Ung

Conclusion

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.

ryzen 5 1 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.

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.

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At a Glance
  • AMD Ryzen 5 1400 with Wraith Stealth cooler

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