Ryzen 5 1600X: Building a versatile work-and-play PC with AMD's 6-core CPU champion

With 6 cores and 12 threads, AMD's Ryzen 5 1600X is perfect for affordable work AND play.

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Performance results

Everything worked just fine the first time I booted up the Ryzen 7 1600X rig. Sweet, sweet relief.

ryzen 1600x build 1 Brad Chacos

Nvidia's known as "Team Green" in the GPU wars, but on the CPU side, that's AMD's nickname because of old branding colors.

After cleanly installing Windows—for best performance on a Ryzen system, you don’t want to reuse a Windows image from an Intel machine—I hopped back into the BIOS to configure the system’s RGB lighting and activate the memory’s XMP profile, which hit those lofty 3,200MHz speeds without a hitch.

Then, being PCWorld’s resident gaming editor, I loaded up some games for a quick look at the rig’s performance.

I tested three games, all at 2560x1600 resolution and High graphics presets, with V-sync disabled. The Division’s a gorgeous open-world loot shooter that can bring underpowered systems to their knees. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is another demanding game, but it plays well on Ryzen systems, particularly if you crank your system’s memory speeds. Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation is DirectX 12’s flagship and the first game to ship Ryzen-specific performance optimizations, which I definitely wanted to try out firsthand. I tested that game in both DirectX 11 and DirectX 12 modes.

Here are the results:

Ryzen 1600X perf Brad Chacos

As you can see, the results were stellar even at 2560x1600 resolution. All the games hovered around the golden 60 frames per second standard—even the notoriously strenuous Deus Ex. It’s worth noting that I didn’t test these with AMD’s supercharged new Balanced power plan, or any of the other tricks recommended to boost the chip’s performance. Following PCWorld’s guide to 7 tips and tricks to maximize your Ryzen PC’s performance would no doubt push frame rates even further but I wanted to show out-of-the-box results here.

Overclocking can add a lot of pep to the Ryzen 7 series chips’ step, and since the Ryzen 5 series uses the same chips but with cores disabled, it seems likely you’d be able to push the 1600X to the same 3.8GHz-to-4GHz overclocks of the pricier chips. PCWorld’s guide to AMD’s Ryzen Master overclocking software can help on that front. The Wraith Max ran quiet and kept temperatures reasonable even under heavy gaming loads, but if you’re looking to crank clock speeds to the max, I’d definitely recommend investing in an aftermarket cooler.

For more information on the build’s processing and file transfer chops, be sure to check out PCWorld’s Ryzen 5 1600X review and Samsung 960 Pro review for the full low-down on that hardware.

ryzen 1600x build 14 Brad Chacos

The completed Ryzen 5 1600X build.

All in all, I consider this build a rousing success. It’s small, it’s clean, it’s relatively quiet, and it’s incredibly versatile.  The only part I’d change is the RAM—not because it’s underpowered, but because the situation with the RGB header cord irks me so much. (Hey, I’m vain when it comes to my builds.)

A PC built around a Core i5-7600K might beat this system in pure gaming performance, but not by much with a GTX 1070 in tow, and Intel’s chip wouldn’t come close to this Ryzen 1600X PC’s productivity prowess. Hail to AMD’s new midrange champion. 

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