AMD’s Ryzen 5 1500X: A Review

Chopping the Ryzen 7 1700X in half…

In this review we’ll be looking at AMD’s Ryzen 5 1500X. This is a quad-core chip with 8 threads that uses a harvested version of the Summit Ridge die and offers AMD’s new Zen CPU core. The 1500X is the best quad-core chip that AMD makes and is priced to take on Intel’s mid-tier Kaby Lake i5 offerings. Compared to those chips the 1500X looks set to offer a bit less single threaded performance and a bit more multi-threaded performance. You can find it on Amazon for $190 bundled with AMD’s Wraith Spire cooler.

Like it’s little brother the Ryzen 3 1300X the Ryzen 5 1500X uses half the cores in each of the CCX’s on the Summit Ridge die in a 2 + 2 configuration and offers all 16 MBs of L3 cache. Just like the rest of AMD’s desktop Ryzen chips it support 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 1500X 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.

SMT for the Win

Let’s see how the best Ryzen 5 quad-core matches up against the best Ryzen 3 SKU.

Compared to the 1300X, Ryzen 5 1500X offers essentially the same single threaded performance, clearly better multi-threaded performance, slightly worse gaming performance, and mildly better performance per watt. Credit to AMD’s product planners, the Ryzen 5 1500X does appear to have the performance required to justify its price point.

Taking on the Value Champ

Now that we know that the 1500X can beat out its little brother the question becomes how does it fare against its older sibling the Ryzen 5 1600X?

Unfortunately the 1600X appears to be a better chip than the 1500X in every way expect price. The 1600X offers better single threaded performance, massively better multi-threaded performance, clearly better gaming performance, and it’s bit more efficient to boot. Is all that worth an additional $40? I think so.

AMD Ryzen 5 1500X is a solid chip, but if you can find the cash, the 1600X is clearly a better buy. If multi-threaded performance means nothing to you then the Ryzen 3 1300X offers similar single threaded performance at lower price point. Intel’s Kaby Lake based chips like the i3-7350K are probably an even better choice if you _really_ don’t care about cores. The Ryzen 5 1500X sits in a weird spot where the chips in AMD’s product stack both above and below it are more interesting from performance per dollar perspective. That’s not to say it’s a bad chip, it just has trouble standing out in this highly competitive segment of the desktop market.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.