Ryzen 5000 Review: The best consumer CPU we've ever seen

AMD's historically good Ryzen 9 5900X and Ryzen 9 5950X desktop CPUs have trounced Intel's Core i9.

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Our next multi-core test uses V-Ray Next to measure CPU performance using an Academy Award-winning rendering engine. The results again should surprise no one: The 16-core Ryzen 9 5950X comfortably sits in front of the 18-core Intel CPU, and the 12-core Ryzen 9 5900X comes impressively close to the older 16-core Ryzen 9 3950X. The Ryzen 9 5900X again destroys the 10-core Intel chip by an astounding 42 percent.

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Our last multi-core modeling test is the Persistence of Vision Raytracer, which dates all the way back to the Amiga. It’s been updated since then by a global team of volunteers. Like most 3D modelling programs, it scales up in performance with core count.

While we include historical scores in some other tests, we only include the most current results with POV Ray. We did this not because we think POV Ray requires special treatment, but because the results are very consistent. The 18-core Core i9-10980XE doesn’t come out on top, nor does the 10-core Core i9-10900K. If someone found a multi-core rendering test where Intel came out on top over Ryzen, it would be actual news.

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It’s not unusual to find Ryzen hammering Core in multi-core benchmarks, but ever since the Zen 2-based Ryzen 3000 line, Intel has clung by its fingernails to its lead in single-threaded performance. With the Zen 3-based Ryzen 5000, Core i9’s slim lead finally loses its tenuous grip.

You can see that below: The same Core i9-10900K that's 6.6 percent faster than the Ryzen 9 3900XT is 14.5 percent slower than Ryzen 9 5900X, and 16 percent slower than Ryzen 9 5950XT. 

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You can see this again in Cinebench R20, where the 10th-gen Core i9-10900K is basically within the margin of error with the Ryzen 9 3900XT, and about 7 percent faster than the Ryzen 9 3900X. The Ryzen 9 5900X, however, is an insane 18.4 percent faster than the Core i9. The slightly faster Ryzen 9 5950X delivers a solid 20.7-percent performance advantage over Core i9-10900K.

We’ll see how this manifests itself in gaming, where single-threaded performance still matters, but we can’t overstate this enough: This is simply a stunning turn of events. AMD wipes out the only remaining justification to buy an Intel desktop CPU today.

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Ryzen 5000 Content Creation Performance

Content creation is an activity where multi-core CPUs can shine. First up, we’ll look at an encoding task using the latest version of HandBrake (version 1.3.3) to transcode the open-source Tears of Steel UHD 4K video to H.265/HEVC using the 1080p/30-fps preset. HandBrake is an excellent encoder and does favor more cores and higher clock speeds, as well as any special instructions the CPUs offer.

Core counts above 16 tend to yield diminishing returns, but down here with “just” 16 cores and below, core counts matter. The 12-core Ryzen 9 5900X decreases encode times over the 12-core Ryzen 9 3900XT by 20.7 percent. That’s impressive as hell, and pretty close to AMD’s promise of 20-percent improvement over its previous design.

What about Intel? The new Ryzen 9 5900XT encodes take about 29 percent less time, with only about 20 percent more threads. The 16-core Ryzen 9 5950X decreases the encode time by 39 percent, which again is a very decent return based on having 60 percent more threads.

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While HandBrake is a free and popular encoder, we also wanted to look at tasks powerful CPUs get used for: video editing and photo editing. For that we use the latest version of Adobe Creative Cloud Premiere Pro and run the CPUs through workstation builder Puget System’s benchmark tests. It breaks the test into various GPU-heavy and CPU-heavy tasks using MultiCam modes, as well as various popular professional codecs. When it’s done, the benchmark produces a score. For our tests, we ran the standard test run.

First, we’ll point out the result between the 12-core Ryzen 9 3900XT and the 10-core Core i9-10900K chip. Despite its lower core count, the Core i9 actually edges out the Ryzen 9 3900XT by about 4 percent. Based on that, Intel has the advantage--barely.

The 12-core Ryzen 9 5900X, however, opens up a real gap to the tune of 13 percent. Ryzen 9 5950X is slightly faster at 14.3 percent.

Both scores are solid wins, and a clear advantage for Ryzen 5000, but it’s not the yield you’d see with 3D modelling tasks. Still, if the cost is similar or close, we’d take the Ryzen 5000, and that’s all that matters to AMD. 

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Ryzen 5000 Compression Performance

Next we move on to compression tests using the popular 7-Zip app. The first result is 7-Zip 19.00’s performance compression test. The compression side is sensitive to memory latency, cache performance and out of order performance. The result is no surprise.

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Decompression performance is sensitive to integer performance, and branch prediction performance. With this test less reliable on memory latency and memory bandwidth per core, we again see that more cores matter. The 16-core Ryzen 9 5950X opens up a huge lead over the 12-core Zen 3 chip.

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We’ll close off our 7-Zip section with single-threaded results, which favor AMD’s chips again. We don’t need to show you the decompress single-threaded performance, because it’s the same, with AMD running over Intel.

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So far nothing—nothing—has put the Intel Core i9 in front of the Zen 3 chips. Nevertheless, we were surprised when the Intel chip lost WinRAR’s built-in benchmark using all of the cores. The test itself doesn’t use every single thread, but it has long run horribly on AMD CPUs--the 10-core Core i9 has a 15 percent advantage over the 12-core Ryzen 9 3900XT.  

Our pet theory is that this particular test runs poorly on CPUs with increased latency. We say that because we saw Intel’s performance suffer when it went from the ringbus design of the original 10-core Core i7-6950X to mesh-based Skylake-X. Zen 3's greatly reduced latency should therefore help, but the results didn't map perfectly to our theory. The 16-core Ryzen 9 5950X is actually underperforming the 12-core Ryzen 9 5900X by a large amount despite the additional cores. Both chips are also constructed with dual-chip CCDs, so the jury remains out. We should also note that while WinRAR supports multi-core, it doesn’t scale to the 24 or 32 threads of the Ryzens—or even the 20 threads of the Core i9.

There’s more to explore here obviously, but Ryzen still wins, in a test we’ve never, ever seen it win at when put against Intel.

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WinRAR single-threaded performance helps remove those pesky questions of latency across cores or CCDs, but the result is the same. While the Core i9 has a 12-percent lead over the Ryzen 9 3900XT, the Ryzen 9 5900X comes in an astounding 71 percent faster than the Intel chip. The higher-clocked Ryzen 9 5950X is slightly faster as well.

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Next, what you’ve been waiting for: Gaming performance

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