AMD Ryzen 5 Processors - The Verdict
Performance Summary: The two Ryzen 5 series processors we tested performed well throughout our entire battery of tests. Despite its lower cost, the 4C/8T Ryzen 5 1500X competed very well with the 4C/4T Core i5-7600. In single- and lightly-threaded tests, the Kaby Lake-based Core i5 usually had an edge, but the 1500X was never too far behind. In multi-threaded workloads like Blender, Cinebench, or 3DMark Physics, however, the Ryzen 5 1500X's support for SMT allowed it to jump out to significant leads over the Core i5. The 6C/12T Ryzen 5 1600X is slightly pricier than the Core i5-7600, but the 1600X's two additional cores, higher clocks, and support for SMT push its performance into a different category and easily justify the cost. The Ryzen 5 1600X's performance was often better than the Core i7-7700K, which is particularly evident in the multi-threaded tests. In single-threaded tests the 7700K is typically faster.
With that said, though lower-resolution game performance with non-optimized titles remains an issue for Ryzen, that situation is improving. A recent patch for Ashes of the Singularity doesn't put Ryzen on the same level as Intel's high-end processors, but it improves the situation significantly. Also, a recent power-profile released by AMD, which disables core parking, helps as well. With non-optimized games though, Ryzen will still likely suffer from performance shortfalls when in CPU limited situations. When the GPU is the limiting performance factor in games, the differences will be much less pronounced.
AMD Ryzen 5 series processors will be available today, with prices starting at $169 for the Ryzen 5 1400. An additional $20 will get you a Ryzen 5 1500X, while the 6-core Ryzen 5 1600 and 1600X will sell for $219 and $249, respectively. At those prices, AMD is clearly targeting Intel's Core i3 and Core i5 series Intel processors, and since AMD’s Ryzen 5 offerings are likely to have higher core counts and / or support for SMT at any given price point, they should have performance advantages in multi-threaded workloads. With single or lightly-threaded workloads, however, Intel's Kaby Lake architecture still has the edge, clock-for-clock. With that said, Ryzen 5 offers a compelling value proposition, especially for those users that will take advantage of the processor's additional core resources. The Ryzen 5 1600X in particular sets the bar for what you can expect from a $250 processor these days. The Ryzen 5 1600X's frequencies make it one of the fastest Ryzen processors for single-threaded workloads and its 6 core / 12 thread configuration give it a big edge in multi-threaded workloads versus quad-core processors.
Although Ryzen 5 isn't a clean-sweep for AMD versus Intel in the mainstream processor space, it does put the company in a much stronger position. All things considered, Ryzen 5, particularly when paired to a B350 motherboard (some of which can be found for as low at $80), represents a very good value.