AMD Ryzen 5 2600 vs. Ryzen 7 1700: Which CPU is best for you?

AMD Ryzen 5 2600
AMD Ryzen 5 2600 (Image credit: Windows Central)

Choosing between the two AMD processors depends on what you plan to do with the PC. If you're only going to play some games and do some light productivity, you're better off saving money with the Ryzen 5 2600, but the Ryzen 7 1700 isn't a bad decision if you're set on more processor cores.

By the numbers

Even though the Ryzen 7 1700 is an older processor, it's also more powerful in multi-core applications than the 5 series of Ryzen CPUs, which almost equals everything out when you compare specifications.

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Header Cell - Column 0 Ryzen 5 2600Ryzen 7 1700
Clock speed3.4 GHz3 GHz
Boost speed3.9 GHz3.7 GHz
CacheL1: 576 KBL2: 3 MBL3: 16 MBL1: 768 KBL2: 4 MBL3 16 MB
RAM2933 MHz2667 MHz

After analyzing the numbers, you'd be tempted to assume there are very few differences between the two and you'd be correct. The major ones are the cores, threads, and available cache. While the Ryzen 7 1700 has the upper hand, it's not an immediate loss for the Ryzen 5 2600.

Not only is the Ryzen 5 2600 a full $40 less expensive, but it's also a newer processor that utilizes a smaller manufacturing process and supports faster RAM. You'd likely fail to notice a difference in the majority of games you may play or tasks to complete. Saving the $40 would allow for an excellent aftermarket cooler to be purchased and the Ryzen 5 2600 overclocked for additional performance.

It's only when you use video editing software and other processes that truly take advantage of the additional cores and threads that you'll see notable improvements. Running both processors at stock settings would see the Ryzen 5 2600 hold its own with the signification bump in both base and boost clock speeds.

Ryzen 5 2600 offers better value

The latest tech, innovations, and improvements have been added to the Ryzen 5 2600 to make a superb mid-range processor. It offers everything you require for gaming and productivity at an affordable price.

Ryzen 7 1700 is a multi-core beast

When six cores just aren't enough, you need more performance. This is what the Ryzen 7 1700 offers with a total of 8 and 16 threads. This makes it more of a match for intense applications. You'll find that the 2600 may hit a wall if not overclocked, but the 1700 has a higher ceiling out-the-box before you need to overclock it.

Rich Edmonds
Senior Editor, PC Build

Rich Edmonds was formerly a Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.