AMD Ryzen 5 2600

Intel and AMD now share a similar model-naming scheme. The two main families of processors — Core and Ryzen, respectively — use 3, 5, and 7 to differentiate the CPUs. The lower the number, the less capable the processor usually is. A Ryzen 3 processor won't be able to outpace a Ryzen 7, for example. And just like Intel, AMD keeps everything simple by only using a few model numbers, as well as the "X" suffix.

Everything you need to know about AMD Ryzen

It's all in the numbers

Here's a quick breakdown of the different AMD Ryzen processor brackets:

Within each bracket, the processors are named by model number — the higher the model number the more powerful the CPU. For example, a Ryzen 3 1200 is less powerful than a Ryzen 3 1300X and a Ryzen 5 1400. An X suffix simply means it's a slightly faster version of that model out the factory. So, the Ryzen 7 1800X is stronger than the Ryzen 7 1800. The differences aren't huge and only represent a slight increase in factory-set clock speeds.

Ryzen CPUs that start with the number two are Zen+ processors, released in 2018. And those with a G suffix for graphics include Vega video processing, much like the majority of Intel CPUs. That means you can run a system without a dedicated video card. The Ryzen 5 2400G is one such CPU. All AMD Ryzen CPUs use the same socket AM4.

Picking the right CPU for your PC

AMD Ryzen 5 2600

Ryzen 3

The Ryzen 3 is designed for budget-friendly PC builds and consumers who don't use their PCs for intensive applications. That said, the processors are all quad-core, sporting four physical cores, and as such, they don't slouch. You'd be able to build a capable gaming rig that can handle even big games.

Category 1200 1300X 2200G
Cores 4 4 4
Threads 4 4 4
Clock speed
Boost
3.1GHz
3.4 GHz
3.5GHz
3.7 GHz
3.5GHz
3.7 GHz
Cache 2 MB
8 MB
2 MB
8 MB
2 MB
4 MB
GPU - - Vega 8
Price $110 $125 $113

Ryzen 5

Ryzen 5 is where things get interesting for AMD processors. These CPUs are priced aggressively to take on the popular Intel Core i5 family and are incredible for gaming. These processors are a mix of quad- and hexa-core processors, packing more than enough power for video editing and other intense workloads.

Category 1400 1500X 1600 2600 1600X 2600X 2400G
Cores 4 4 6 6 6 6 4
Threads 8 8 12 12 12 12 8
Clock speed
Boost
3.2GHz
3.4 GHz
3.5GHz
3.7 GHz
3.2GHz
3.6 GHz
3.4GHz
3.9 GHz
3.6GHz
4.0 GHz
3.6GHz
4.2 GHz
3.6GHz
3.9 GHz
Cache 2 MB
8 MB
2 MB
16 MB
3 MB
16 MB
3 MB
16 MB
3 MB
16 MB
3 MB
16 MB
2 MB
4 MB
GPU - - - - - - Vega 11
Price $139 $150 $150 $170 $200 $189 $156

Ryzen 7

Much like the Core i7 Intel processors, the Ryzen 7 family may be overkill for most people, but it allows for advanced computing at a somewhat affordable price point. If you happen to have a capable GPU (I'm talking GTX 1070 and GTX 1080), you may find some benefit in picking up a Ryzen 7 CPU.

Category 1700 2700 1700X 2700X 1800X
Cores 8 8 8 8 8
Threads 16 16 16 16 16
Clock speed
Boost
3.0GHz
3.7GHz
3.2GHz
4.1GHz
3.4GHz
3.8GHz
3.7GHz
4.3GHz
3.6GHz
4.0GHz
Cache 4 MB
16 MB
4 MB
16 MB
4 MB
16 MB
4 MB
16 MB
4 MB
16 MB
Price $220 $280 $190 $320 $240

Threadripper

You probably won't need a Threadripper (consider it a "Ryzen 9" of sorts) CPU, but it'll be awesome to have one. It's for advanced users only who need to push their systems beyond their limits. I'm talking up to 16 cores and 32 threads.

Category 1900X 1920X 1950X
Cores 8 12 16
Threads 16 24 32
Clock speed
Boost
3.8GHz
4.0 GHz
3.5GHz
4.0 GHz
3.5GHz
4.0 GHz
Cache 4 MB
32 MB
6 MB
32 MB
8 MB
32 MB
Price $300 $620 $700

The choice is yours

Which processor is perfect for your build depends on what you'll need the PC to do, as well as how much money is available. We recently rounded up the best processors for building a PC on different budgets, which is worth checking out for a few helpful points:

Best CPU for your PC

Other than that, the rule of thumb is to spend as much as you can, within reason. It's better to purchase a Ryzen 7 instead of a Ryzen 3 and then have to upgrade sooner, which will cost more in the long run.

Updated on July 19, 2018: We refreshed this guide to include the newer Zen+ processors

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