AMD’s Ryzen 5 1600X: A Review

The best Ryzen out there…

Today we’ll be looking at AMD’s Ryzen 5 1600X. This is 6 core chip with 16 MBs of L3 cache that uses the same Summit Ridge die as its Ryzen 7 and Ryzen 3 siblings while inheriting the Zen cored goodness that AMD brought to market back in March. As this review shows you’re really not losing that much performance by going with a Ryzen 5 chip rather than a Ryzen 7 model and compared to the cheapest Ryzen 7 model you’re picking up quite a bit of single threaded performance. You can find it on Amazon for $230.

The AM4 Platform

Just like the rest of AMD’s desktop Ryzen chips it supports 2 DDR4 memory channels at speeds of up to 2666Mhz with two single rank DIMMs or 2400 Mhz with 2 dual rank DIMMs. If you want to use four DIMMs you’ll be limited to 2133 with single rank memory or 1866 with dual rank memory. In practice and with the latest AGESA update this chip will work perfectly fine with whatever the XMP profile is for your memory kit. We’ve had no trouble setting different memory kits with their XMP defaults at 3200Mhz or 3000Mhz.

AMD’s Ryzen 5 1600X offers 24 on-die PCI-E Gen3 lanes and slightly different I/O options depending on what motherboard chipset you opt for. 16 of these lanes are reserved for graphics and if you go with the X370 chipset these can be broken down into an 8 + 8 lane configuration for crossfire or SLI setups. Otherwise it’s a single 16 lane link.

In addition 4 lanes are reserved for communicating with the chipset and the final four are reserved for storage and NVMe devices. With the X370 chipset the four lanes dedicated to the chipset can be broken down into 8 Gen2 lanes. With the B350 chipset that becomes 6 Gen2 lanes and with the A320 that again becomes 4 Gen2 lanes. If you care about having a lot of PCI-E lanes the desktop Ryzen 7, 5, and 3 parts are probably not for you.

All desktop Ryzen parts offer the same I/O which is dependent on the chipset you chose. With the X370 chipset that means 12 USB 3.1 ports and 6 USB 2 ports. This is bundled with 4 SATA ports and a single NVMe x4 device. If you use a NVMe x2 device this becomes 6 SATA ports. 2 SATA Express devices, for those who still care about this standard, are also supported. Like pretty much all modern chipsets RAID 0, 1, and 10 are supported. Overclocking is supported on the X370 and B350 chipsets but not the A320 chipset.

None of products in the Ryzen 7, 5, or 3 families support multisocket configurations. At the moment if you want multisocket system you’ll have to turn to AMD’s EYPC.

The Best Ryzen

If I were to recommend one chip to buy today it would be the Ryzen 5 1600X. It offers the best combination of out-of-the-box performance per dollar on the market.

With that in mind lets compare it to the bottom chip in the 8 core Ryzen 7 series: the 1700.

Clocking Core

The 1600X leads the Ryzen 7 1700 in single threaded and gaming performance while maintaining similar multi-threaded performance and performance per watt. Unless you’re planning on overclocking and want 8 cores the Ryzen 5 1600X is a better buy that the more expensive 1700.

Compared to the similarly priced Intel i7-6700K the Ryzen 5 1600X manages to offer good single threaded performance compared to one of Intel’s best quad-core chips while clearly out performing it in multi-threaded workloads and reaching parity in gaming. Of course Intel’s chips still have a lead in terms of performance per watt thanks to their lower power consumption in idle and lightly threaded usage scenarios. But in the desktop market power efficiency isn’t that big of a factor and the difference in power efficiency between these two chips in gaming and fully loaded scenarios is minimal.

If you’re looking for a Ryzen chip worth hanging onto for a few years it would hard to pass up the Ryzen 5 1600X.S|A

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Thomas Ryan is a freelance technology writer and photographer from Seattle, living in Austin. You can also find his work on SemiAccurate and PCWorld. He has a BA in Geography from the University of Washington with a minor in Urban Design and Planning and specializes in geospatial data science. If you have a hardware performance question or an interesting data set Thomas has you covered.