AMD has made their resurgence with the release of the first-generation Ryzen processors. With everything looking up for AMD on the processor-side of the market, all eyes are on them to deliver a rightful successor to their rebirth product. A year after the original Ryzen debut, AMD is launching their Zen+ architecture which powers the 2nd-generation of Ryzen processors, codenamed Pinnacle Ridge.
Ryzen has been the main driving force for AMD in the past year, helping the company recover from a decade-long drought which has led to Intel practically slacking off on innovations and stalling the advancement of the industry by intentionally capping core counts. With AMD dropping their Ryzen 7 and Ryzen 5 early 2017, Intel was faced with an unforeseen yet daunting obstacle, one which was enough to make them get up from their throne and cut their 7th-generation Kaby Lake processors shelflife to make way for their new 8th-gen Coffee Lake processors which debuted Intel’s first 6-core processors for mainstream desktop users.
AMD officially launched their 2nd-gen Ryzen products earlier this year with the launch of their Ryzen + Radeon Vega-powered APUs which kicked off the Ryzen 2xxx series but it is only with the new Pinnacle Ridge processors that we get to see the real 2nd-gen Ryzen CPUs.Forged in GlobalFoundries’ 12nm fabrication process, the Zen+-based Pinnacle Ridge Ryzen CPUs mark the first time AMD has beaten Intel in who has the smaller manufacturing process. Similar to how Intel has been refining their 14nm process in recent years, improving on it and maxing out their architecture, AMD has went in a similar path with Zen+ with the new Pinnacle Ridge chips boasting higher frequencies and improved IPC performance amongst other things.
During launch, AMD has announced four SKUs for the 2nd-gen Ryzen family which includes two Ryzen 7 chips and two Ryzen 5 chips. To make things easier, the SKUs are the Ryzen 7 2700X and Ryzen 7 2700 joined by the Ryzen 5 2600X and Ryzen 5 2600.
This week we have both Ryzen 7 and Ryzen 5 flagships, the 2700X and 2600X respectively.Following up on our review of the Ryzen 7 2700X flagship 8-core processor from AMD, the Ryzen 5 2600X is the mainstream offering from AMD. Specs-wise, its the direct competitor to Intel’s Core 6-core Coffee Lake processors with the Ryzen 5 2600X featuring 6-core/12 threads and runs at 3.6Ghz base but has a significantly higher boost clock than its predescessor at 4.2Ghz. XFR2.0 (eXtended Frequency Range) allows the new processors to perform above their boost frequencies if and when the cooling and power are below a certain threshold, granting increased performance on capable cooling. The processor has 512KB of L2 cache for each core and 16MB shared L3 cache pool.
AMD has been very keen on strategically pricing their Ryzen products just below Intel’s HEDT, allowing them to be an attractive competition against Intel’s mainstream desktop products. The Ryzen 7 2700X is priced at $329, way below the $499 launch price of the Ryzen 7 1800X last year. The Ryzen 7 1700X was also pricier at $399 at launch. This time around AMD is beefing up the package with the Wraith Prism cooler, a beefy stock cooler with RGB!
For the Ryzen 5 family, AMD opens up with the $229 Ryzen 5 2600X. Taking over the new pricing of the Ryzen 5 1600X, the Ryzen 5 2600X is quite cheaper on launch than the $249 launch SRP of the 1600X. Following it is the Ryzen 5 2600 with an attractive $199 SRP. Both Ryzen 5 models include the Wraith Stealth cooler.
About Zen+ Architecture
As mentioned earlier, the 2nd-generation Ryzen processors are based on the Pinnacle Ridge chips which uses the Zen+ architecture. Zen+ is more of a refinement to the existing Zen architecture and AMD hopes to bring the true Zen2 architecture in a future release. Still, Zen+ offers plenty of changes which makes the new Ryzen processors quite a different beast than they’re predecessors.
The biggest change for Zen+ is the transition to the 12nm process. This allows AMD to push clocks further for similar or lower voltages as compared to the original Zen. It also marks the first time AMD is on a smaller node than Intel. The smaller process allows AMD to achieve higher clock speeds, better overclocks and voltage reduction.
To compliment the Zen+ architecture, AMD employs faster cache and improved memory controllers to reduce latency on the new chips. L3 and L2 cache both receive significant improvements in latency performance along with both L1 and DRAM. Memory clock support also gets higher clock support with 2nd-gen Ryzen chips supporting DDR4-2933 JEDEC and up to DDR4-3400.
AMD updated the SenseMI logic on the new Ryzen processors. XFR and Precision Boost now get a new version in which AMD aims to improve performance on the chips further. Precision Boost 2 now drops the 2-core/all-core target in favor of an all-core boost based on an algorithm that factors in temperature, current and voltage. XFR2 (eXtended Frequency Range) now boosts clocks when temps are very good. XFR2 will boost all cores above the rated boost clocks vs. the best cores on the previous implementation. AMD mentions that under ideal cooling, XFR2 can give around 7% performance increase without any manual overclocking. The X470 chipset is predominantly similar to the X370 chipset that preceeds it. It features same feature set but offers lower power draw. The X470 spec also prescribes board maker to stick to a higher CPU VRM standard.
Pinnacle Ridge is an SoC (system on chip) and has both northbridge and southbridge functionality built into the processor. Socket AM4 chips have memory and PCIe, USB3.0 and SATAIII ports. The actual chipset serves more of a connectivity purpose, allowing more I/O options like SATA, USB3.1 and PCIe lanes (Gen2) to be added on the board.
AMD is including a new storage solution with X470 dubbed StoreMI. StoreMI allows combining storage into one large volume which is invisible to the user, fusing your HDD, SSD and RAM to serve as a high-speed volume. X370 owners also have access to StoreMI via a BIOS update but under a different app name. StoreMI is non-destructive and can be rolled back to traditional partitions without any data loss. StoreMI is free on X470 and is offered for a fee (FuzeDrive) on the older X370 chipset.
AMD uses the same packaging for their new 2nd-gen Ryzen as the older version. Before, there were the large box and the smaller box (CPU-only) but since AMD is including a cooler with all their 2nd-gen Ryzen processor, the boxes will have the uniform large box. A window cutout allows the buyers to see which processor is inside the box.
The Ryzen 5 2600X package includes the Wraith Stealth cooler and the Ryzen 5 2600X CPU along with sticker badge and documentation.
The Ryzen 5 2600X still fit the AM4 socket and sport the same size and layout for the processors. The soldered IHS is retained which AMD promises to be one of their edge over the competition offering buyers better temperature performance than non-solder.
CPU Performance Test
AMD Ryzen (Gen1)
Processor: AMD R7 1800X/R5 1600X/R3 1300X/R3 1200 Motherboard: ASUS Crosshair VI Hero Memory: Gskill Trident Z DDR4-3200 16GB Graphics Card: ZOTAC GTX 1080 Ti AMP! Edition Power Supply: Seasonic P1000 Storage: WD Blue SSD 1TB Monitor: ViewSonic VX2475SMHL-4K Cooler: DeepCool Captain 240EX 240mm
Processor: Intel Core i7-7700K Motherboard: ASUS MAXIMUM IX APEX Memory: G.Skill Trident Z DDR4-3200 32GB Kit Graphics Card: ZOTAC GTX 1080 Ti AMP! Edition Power Supply: Seasonic P1000 Storage: WD Blue SSD 1TB Monitor: ViewSonic VX2475SMHL-4K Cooler: Thermaltake Water 3.0 Riings 360mm
AMD Ryzen (Gen2)
Processor: AMD R7 2700X / R5 2600X Motherboard: ASUS Crosshair VII Hero Memory: Corsair Vengeance DDR4-3600 16GB Graphics Card: ZOTAC GTX 1080 Ti AMP! Edition Power Supply: Seasonic P1000 Storage: WD Blue SSD 1TB Monitor: ViewSonic VX2475SMHL-4K Cooler: AMD Wraith Prism
Encoding Tests Arithmetic Tests System Benchmarks Memory Benchmarks
Gaming Benchmark – Test Setup
For this test we’ll focus on the gaming performance both our processors. Do note that we have specially selected benchmark runs for CPU testing vs. GPU testing so these vary from our GPU benchmark results. To see more details about the benchmark sequences, please see our game benchmark method guide.
Frame rates and frame times of a 60-second game play were recorded using FRAPS v3.5.99. The test results are the average of 3 benchmark runs. Since this is a GPU review, we benchmarked the area of the games that put heavy load on the GPU.
The games and corresponding image quality settings used are shown in their respective tabs.
Note: Some proprietary technologies of NVIDIA like PCSS, HBAO+, and HairWorks work on AMD GPU’s BUT to maintain uniformity amongst GPUs, these have been turned OFF.
Witcher 3 – Gaming Performance Test
CD Projekt Red’s latest installment in the Witcher saga features one of the most graphically intense offering the company has to date. As Geralt of Rivia, slay monsters, beasts and men as you unravel the mysteries of your past. Vast worlds and lush sceneries make this game a visual feast and promises to make any system crawl at its highest settings.
Frame Rate: Unlimited
Nvidia HairWorks: Off
Motion Blur: Off
Ambient Occlusion: SSAO
Depth of Field: On
Chromatic Aberration: Off
Light Shafts: On
Rise of the Tomb Raider – Gaming Performance Test
The reboot of the gaming phenomenon Tomb Raider puts players in Lara Croft’s hiking boots as we pick-up from the last game. Featuring upgraded graphics, DX12 support and new image quality improvements, this game challenges new hardware with its graphical offering.
Very High settings
Ambient Occlusion: On
Pure Hair: On
Vignette Blur: Off
Motion Blur: Off
Screen Space Reflections: On
Lens Flares: On
Film Grain: Off
It has only been a year since AMD has launched the original Ryzen and the 2nd-gen Ryzen we have today is a great example of how committed AMD is in improving their position in the performance market for CPUs. The new 12nm process has allowed AMD to have another achievement over Intel and add to that the fact that they position themselves on a more conservative pricing model versus their rival.
Overall CPU performance shows us that AMD is gaining grounds in most situations where multithreading is a factor. With more cores at its disposal, the Ryzen 7 2700X is able to deliver better performance than Intel’s current mainstream flagship, the i7 8700K. Single CPU performance is still in Intel’s favor but the gap has been closed versus the previous Ryzen processors. This is AMD showcasing vast improvements in one generation than Intel has given us in recent years.
In terms of gaming, its pretty much a close match with all the CPUs in our bench and that means gamers playing on 1080p will still best performance on faster Intel CPUs when chasing higher refresh rates but on an overall scenario, the 2nd-gen Ryzen CPUs are more than capable of handling games. Notice though how the Ryzen 7 and Ryzen 5 chips do perform nearly the same so this really shows us that more cores do not translate to better gaming performance and shows that the Ryzen 5 2600X will be good enough in this particular 1080p scenario provided you don’t require the 8-core offering for other tasks. The biggest benefit here is that streamers and content creators have more CPU resources at their disposal for less money than what Intel currently offers and with the growing vlogging and streaming industry, Ryzen provides a great entry platform for a multi-purpose work-and-play setup for these users. We’ll dive in closer to CPU performance in gaming in another article where we will see various GPUs and games analyzed in-depth to see how the Ryzen 2nd-gen chips fare in different resolutions and game engines.
We’ll also be taking a look further at many more aspects of performance for the 2nd-gen Ryzen in more in-depth articles following this review but to give you an idea, overclocking on the Ryzen 2nd-gen chips is pretty much a non-requirement if you’re after more performance. Provided you have ideal cooling, you get an easy 6% increase without touching manual OC options. This rewards better cooling and the Wraith Prism is quite a capable cooler.
The Ryzen 5 2600X will have a launch price of $229 and will include a Wraith Stealth cooler. At $329, the Ryzen 7 2700X is cheaper than the 6-core Core i7-8700K and Core i7-7820X 8-core at $350 and $599 respectively.
AMD Ryzen 5 2600X, ASUS ROG Crosshair VII Hero
AMD Ryzen 5 1600X, ASUS ROG Crosshair VI Hero, Corsair H100i V2
Intel Core i7 8700K, ASUS ROG Maximus X Hero, Corsair H100i V2
Intel i7 7800X, ASUS ROG Rampage VI Apex, Corsair H100i V2
The Ryzen 5 is what AMD sets as its mainstream offering and while AMD doesn’t champion any particular line, the Ryzen 5 is predominantly the product that’s closely pitted with Intel’s mainstream offering. Straight-on, the Core i7-8700K beats the Ryzen 5 2600X but as we’ve mentioned, the different is close. The biggest draw here for consumers is the fact that AMD is offering the Ryzen 5 2600X for $229. As listed in the table above, the platform cost for the Ryzen 5 2600X is way below Intel’s. That savings can now be used for a GPU or memory. While you can choose a cheaper cooler, the thermal performance of Intel on the 8700K is simply not something we’d like to run on air. The initial launch of the Ryzen 5 1600X, saw it at $250 but today it sits at the same price as the 2600X. Those waiting for a price drop may feel compelled to get it, but if you’re not upgrading and getting it fresh, the fact that it doesn’t come with a cooler offsets the savings. AMD also has the benefit of upgrading from an existing 300 series chipset so those already running Ryzen can easily upgrade their BIOS and drop-in their new processors.
AMD has clearly made some great leaps from their first launch of Ryzen and the 2nd-generation of Ryzen processors look very interesting from a value/performance perspective. An overall great value, both in core count, performance and in bundle, AMD’s 2nd-gen Ryzen processors are a great step forward for the company.
The AMD Ryzen 5 2600X is a compelling product particularly if you want something to serve as a foundation for a budget workstation platform. Its not a simple purchase though. To really maximize the value potential of the AMD Ryzen 5 2600X, one can get a B350 motherboard, have the BIOS updated and you’re good to go. If you primarily use single-threaded applications, you should consider Intel more but for gaming, content creation and multimedia work, the AMD Ryzen 5 2600X offers the best value/performance offering in the market today.
We give the Ryzen 5 2600X 6-core processor our B2G Gold Award!