What you need to know about AMD Ryzen

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

Zen is AMD's architecture that enabled the company to take the fight to Intel and retain some market share before falling off the battlefield. AMD was in a slow decline, but everything was pinned on the success of Zen. Ryzen is the branding used for the new processors, which are separated into numerous families. AMD launched the latest generation of 3000 series Ryzen processors in 2019.

It's fairly apt as names go. AMD is essentially Ryzen-ing from the depths of despair. (Editor's note: We're sorry about the puns). The processor family consists of Ryzen 3, 5, 7, 9, and Threadripper. This should sound familiar as it shares similarities with how Intel goes about separating its mainstream processor product lines. This also makes it easier for consumers (and AMD) to better determine and compare which processors are meant to compete with those from Intel.

Meet the Ryzen family

AMD Ryzen

AMD

Things are straightforward when it comes to breaking down the various Ryzen product families. 1000 series processors were released in 2017, 2000 series followed in 2018, and 3000 series launched in 2019. The 3rd-gen Ryzen CPUs come rocking substantial improvements over the predecessors with better efficiency through 7nm manufacturing and more performance, though older generation Ryzen CPUs can often be found at great prices.

AMD Ryzen 3, 5, 7, and 9 processors all use the AM4 socket. Most AM4 motherboards include support for all three generations, but it's worth checking if the motherboard you own (or plan to purchase) supports the AMD Ryzen CPU you have in mind. Threadrippers are huge CPUs and require their own socket, called TR4. You'll need a specific motherboard to support these beasts.

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FamilyCPUsCoresThreadsGPUPricing
Ryzen 31200
1300X
2200G
3200G
4
4
4
4
4
4
4
4
-
-
Vega 8
Vega 8
$110 (opens in new tab)
$125 (opens in new tab)
$113 (opens in new tab)
-
Ryzen 51400
1500X
1600
1600X
2600
2600X
2400G
3600
3600X
4
4
6
6
6
6
4
6
6
8
8
12
12
12
12
8
12
12
-
-
-
-
-
-
Vega 11
-
-
$139 (opens in new tab)
$150 (opens in new tab)
$150 (opens in new tab)
$200 (opens in new tab)
$170 (opens in new tab)
$189 (opens in new tab)
$156 (opens in new tab)
$200 (opens in new tab)
$249 (opens in new tab)
Ryzen 71700
1700X
1800X
2700
2700X
3700X
3800X
8
8
8
8
8
8
8
16
16
16
16
16
16
16
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
$220 (opens in new tab)
$190 (opens in new tab)
$700 (opens in new tab)
$280 (opens in new tab)
$320 (opens in new tab)
$240 (opens in new tab)
$329 (opens in new tab)
$399 (opens in new tab)
Ryzen 93900X
3950X
12
12
24
24
-
-
$499 (opens in new tab)
$750
Threadripper1900X
1920X
1950X
2920X
2950X
2970WX
2990WX
8
12
16
12
16
24
32
16
24
32
24
32
48
64
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
$260 (opens in new tab)
$365 (opens in new tab)
$490 (opens in new tab)
$542 (opens in new tab)
$731 (opens in new tab)
$1,204 (opens in new tab)
$1,618 (opens in new tab)

Picking the right AMD Ryzen CPU

AMD Ryzen 5 2600

AMD Ryzen 5 2600

AMD has a number of product families in the desktop processor market, including the popular Ryzen 3, Ryzen 5, Ryzen 7, Ryzen 9, and Threadripper. But which one is best for you and your PC?

How to pick the right AMD Ryzen CPU

Optimized AMD technologies

Ryzen 5 2600

The company has worked for years on optimizing the new processor, unlocking enhanced levels of efficiency. The chips automatically monitor temperature and voltage readings across the board and adjust performance parameters depending on current stats. This makes it possible to get the most out of the CPU with available cooling right out the box. And we must say, AMD packs in some killer OEM coolers.

Precision Boost utilizes a 25MHz granularity, making it rather accurate when it comes to setting the final clock speed of each core. This all helps with getting maximum performance without turning the CPU into a new source of heat for the home. Finally, for system builders or those with adequate cooling, the eXtended Frequency Range (XFR) allows for the Ryzen CPU to be pushed even further.

Pure Power handles all temperature readings and power draw to maximize performance, while Neural Net Prediction and Smart Prefetch work alongside one another to better prep the processor for workloads.

Should you join Ryzen?

Are AMD processors now worth your investment? In a word: absolutely. There are nothing but positives with Ryzen, especially when one looks at what AMD brought to the market in recent years. Whether you're with team red or blue, Ryzen is worth considering for the price since AMD is aggressively targeting similar Intel processors.

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.

86 Comments
  • This is good news. I'm all for competition.
  • I'm all in for new amd at mo
  • Fiercy 🔥👏
  • Awesome. I need to build a new pc
  • Likely gonna be using AMD for my next pc build then.
  • I wouldn't take hat to the bank. They've not bothered competing in the consumer CPU space in about 3 years, and when that was last happening, it was in the form of a chip that was insanely power hungry (next to Intel), hotter, and slower by a good margin. While I hope for AMD to knock it out of the park (read: be moderately competitive), I'm not getting my hopes up. I'll wait for real-world benchmarks and testing to see what we get from this.
  • Yeah and now they produce less expensive tech leading edge chips with lower power consumption than intel.
    Intel has lost, I moved from Intel to ryzen 2600, never going back.
  • I got a Ryzen 7 1700 myself about a year and a half ago. They are now in a position where buying Intel is just foolish for all but the most niche cases. Ryzen is definitely great, but it took more time to reach that "why buy Intel ever?" point than some had hoped.
  • already using Ryzen 5 1600X and loving it, FAST!
  • That comment by Keith Wallace was made two years ago, rollindice lol.
  • Yeah, and? I wasn't wrong at all. There were a lot of bad issues with Ryzen at that launch. The BIOS was a tire fire at best, which was fun to fix. I fully supported the platform, sold my firmed on it and got it myself, but AMD had a LOT of ground to make up. They did some crazy stuff in that time away, and now they're undoubtedly the market leader.
  • I've only ever had bad experiences with AMD laptops, not once tried an AMD desktop though. I think in part it's because AMD is usually found in budget laptops so the performance is going to be terrible anyway due to other cheap components in the mix, but what I've found is if you spend say £300 on a laptop, Intel chips always outshine AMD (even though the laptop itself is still pretty terrible). I'm interested to see if this new architecture can compete with Intel for real and not just on paper, with Windows on ARM and now some possible real competition coming from AMD it might just be the thing needed to start getting some innovation across the board and that's always good for everyone.
  • I've had good luck with AMD desktop processors.
  • Same here
  • 2017 will probably be the year I actually build a desktop again, haven't had a real desktop for about 4 years now, the last thing I owned was a dell AIO with an i5 but got rid of that last year. If these new chips turn out to be good performers and decent value I think I'll give them a try for sure.
  • There is an excellent piece from AnandTech analyzing why AMD based laptops perform so bad, much worse than expected considering the CPU. Bottom line, vendors combine the chips with terrible other components get the cheapest laptop and thus performance is very limited.  http://www.anandtech.com/show/10000/who-controls-user-experience-amd-car... There was a time when I choose an AMD's CPU to my rig not because it was cheaper (although it was) but because it was also faster than the equivalent from Intel. A lot of older enthusiasts remember these times and are eager to see with AMD is back into the game.
  • Got one right here.. Was around when the athlon 500 released and intel dropped prices to match. Those were the days.
  • Got one here from the days of a 4x84 amd 33 (40)
  • Not sure why the downvotes, I thought I was being pretty positive and realistic.
  • They probably stopped reading partway through the first sentence, unfortunately. Upvoted one for you =)
  • Intriguing.
  • 64 or 128bit
  • 128bit? First we need to forgot 32bit in 2017 on Desktop
  • I dont know why it never occurred to me that 128-bit was a thing
  • "Precision Boost utilizes a 25MH granularity." There is z missing there. Other than that I hope that for my next upgrade I can considerer an AMD CPU as one of the finalist if not the winner. Anyways, I always go for the best price-performance relation.
  • There is an S missing there, oh and an A :D
  • Exciting sounding chip! My target date for a new CPU is tax time (mid-Feb - late-March). If this thing is out by then, I'd be willing to consider it. Right now, though, my target chip is a Core i5 6600K. Price, performance, and upgrade path will all factor in. But damn, even if I never buy this chip or anything like it, hooray for AMD, right? This sounds like one hell of a serious chip, and not only is this very, very good news for the company, but it's good news for all of us as well, regardless of which side of the red/blue divide we land on, as two serious contenders is way better for all of us than one dominant company, and a "me too". Competition breeds innovation, which brings us even better chips all around! So, hooray! :-)
  • The 6600K is a year-old chip, really. That's just a Skylake refresh, sitting there because Intel is slow with Kaby Lake (likely intentionally dragging their feet to watch for Zen). By the time you are going for a new CPU, AMD and Intel should both be close to new chips.
  • So there's zero chance this will be in Scorpio?
  • Zero.
  • There is a really good chance that a custom zen APU will be used on it, since the Xbox one use a custom  AMD-Microsoft APU. Microsoft promised backward compatibility on project Scorpio with Xbox one and everyone is going AMD for the Cost-effective  result dumping Intel and Nvidia.
  • ya, but with x86 parts 'backwards compatible' can mean AMD, Intel or nVidia. Nothing in the xbox is *that* custom
  • And got the rounds again for chips it has been stated
  • Intel demands that the newest CPU needs a new motherboard and CPU cooling.
    AMD respects our needs in this regard.
  • ?
  • Whenever I do an upgrade whether its been an AMD cpu or an Intel one I've always upgraded the motherboard and memory to get the best out of the CPU.  
  • Basically depends on how often you upgrade, every 5 years, and you need to upgrade everything, every 2-3 years and you can usually reuse motherboard and RAM on AMD, rarely on Intel. Not that many people upgrade the CPU every 2-3 years.
  • well, not this time. New platform, new socket, and new northbridge
  • That's because there is 4-5 year old gap in processors, new tech in the newer chips meant new board
  • Hopefully these will actually be competitive, Intel have been sitting on their near monopoly for way too long.
  • Well, even if they turn out to be competitive, Intel has been filling their war chest for the past 5 years or so. It is going to be a very unfair fight with Intel cutting the prices below the profit threshold if necessary.
  • Intel doesn't want AMD dead because otherwise they would be a monopoly and the US government doesn't want that.
  • Doesn't matter, CPU or GPU, even if AMD is clearly the better choice, they do not get the sales.
  • I look forward to a Zen APU design as well. Heck, a Zen APU with HBM, just for the sake of science. 
  • Hi Rich, I live in India I want to buy a gaming laptop under INR 28000 could you please suggest me some whinch fit under my budget also keeping in mind about the climatic conditions in India should I prefer Intel Core i3 5005U(5th Gen) or AMD A8 7410 processor
  • You can't get a gaming laptop under 28K.
     
  • You need atleast 60K for gaming laptop (eg: DELL Inspiron 15 5000/7000 Gaming series) in India. Better go with Xbox One S or PS4 or Nitendo Switch, though Gaming PC would be great if you can afford.
  • Alot of talk and nothing to back it up yet. AMD has been destroyed by NVidia and Intel for as long as I can remember, I doubt their luck is changing any time soon.
  • They have showed out some proof for like for like, but real world is needed, heck if the results are true even 15% loss people wouldn't care. It's still price vs speed. Over clock of 15% would be much cheaper
  • except the results have not been true. When people have attempted to reproduce the Intel result on their bench the Intel chip did a bit better than AMD's... none of this is final hardware, so I'll take both sides with a grain of salt, but I think this means that Zen will be much better than their current offering... but no Intel Killer... at least not yet.
  • You don't remember very far back, do you?
  • And yet, the XBOX1, PS4 and Hololens uses AMD.  The last time I was in need of building an HTPC, AMD APU's were the better performing processor. 
  • Just a note and apu had refreshed cores over bulldozer!
  • impressive. i will need a new computer in the next year.
  • whats a desktop?
  • Its a thing for playing games - kind of like an XBox or PS4. Also, some people use them at work.
  • 😂
  • It's like a laptop, but properly powerful.
  • Hard to believe AMD could be competitive again, I rocked their chips Athlon 64 until Phenom II X6, than again Intel hasn't advanced much in years. Last 5 years PC has been boring, most chip advancements have been mobile based, glad to see we may finally have competition again and possibly cheaper prices because of it.
  • It's about time intel had some serious competition although Imreman cautious until I see some benchmarks. AMD has had a few too many false dawns and failed to deliver strong competition to either intel or nvidia. I've used AMD numerous times on past upgrades but my current rig is a core i7 and nvidia card because AMD were just not competitive enough on performance albeit price they were.
  • It's about time, Intel has been producing inferior products for a while and now the monster 👾 has awoken from it's slumber. I can't wait 😊 to get rid of this junk I5 that they say was better than any AMD.
  • Only when real life benchmarks come out and pricing get published, we can tell whether it's the golden days of 2000 all over again.
  • I've never had an issue with an AMD Powered system. Can't wait to see the new stuff.
  • Me too! I have been using amd systems for about 7 years now. No problems what so ever. It is always worth money.
  • I have been using AMD since my second PC, my first one was a Cyrix 166, but then I updated to a AMD 233 a couple of years after. I know AMD made a bit of a bulls up with the Buldozer chips and it spin offs, bmy last one was  a FX8350 until I updated to Ryzen and it worked fine, it was cheap. The APUs are great little chips, I helped a mate build a A10 Machine, just for browsing and dowing a bit of office work, but he have used it for games and also done some light video editing on it and it works really well. For a machine that cost just under £400 to build that is pretty good.  Could have cut costs a bit more by going with 4GB of ram instead of 8 and maybe going for a normal spinny drive instead of SSD and going for a slightly cheaper case. 
     
  • Ryzen + Vega sounds exciting for my next PC, go team red!
  • What is all of this talk about AMD beating Intel *now* much less in the future upon release?
    1) All we have seen are 2-3 cherry picked benchmarks against Intel on highly threaded applications. AMD has typically been better at multi threaded performance, while being poor at per-core efficiency.
    2) Having a lower TDP than Intel is NOT a good thing. Efficiency comes largely from manufacturing process (as any instructional efficiency must come with new software... and software will lag behind 2-3 years). As they are not manufacturing on Intel's Fabs, they will not have that advantage. The low TDP more likely points to poor overclock-ability, poor stability at high temps, or overall poor 'burst' performance... none of this is a good sign for a supposedly high end chip. It also has little to do with idle and normal workflow power usage which is where real efficiency is.
    3) Attempts at reproducing these benchmarks has shown that the Intel chip actually performs much better than they claim, and much better than the numbers they gave for their own chip.
    4) A lot of the 'efficiency' that they are working is to get these chips to run stable at near-Intel speeds... this close to launch... this is not a good sign. Now, don't get me wrong. I love AMD. I was a huge fan of them back when they were the little guy putting Intel in their place. I can't wait for them to relive their glory days. All I am trying to say is that AMD is desperate for attention, and is making some big claims, and the media is happy to give it to them because we are all tired of the lack of excitement in the CPU market... but let's temper out expectations a bit.
    Even if the new Zen chips live up to the hype (and they won't... I mean, they can't just poop out a unicorn), Intel has been holding back for years, and will finally start to take off the gloves with some good products. More likely than not, AMD will put out something far better than what they have been offering, and *maybe* catch up to some of the 5 year old chips Intel has on the market. Considering Intel has done nothing terribly exciting since then, that might be good enough to capture some market share, and sell some chips at a decent price to get a cash influx. A year or two with some real budget behind AMDs new-found (and awesome!) leadership for R&D and we might see some real competition hit in 3-5 years. But all of that is a million 'ifs' away, and AMD has to play their cards right. Their leadership may be able to pull it off, and I am rooting for them... but let's hold off on making claims that they just can't possibly achieve this time around.
  • Do you have a link to those benchmarks? Genuinely want to know what was advertised by AMD vs user reported benchmarks.
  • Until people can setup similar systems with both CPUs, benchmarking is kind of pointless.
  • I think it is another Intel fanboy... The only benchmarks I find are from some french magazine and ryzen seem to perform between i7 6800 and 6900 with similar power usage.
    https://www.extremetech.com/computing/241688-new-leaked-benchmarks-show-...
    So, I would say the results were replicated and mostly seems in line with what AMD provide. Also he is wrong that the performance per watt ratings are purely based on manufacturing. It is not even that, AMD provided for example the models used for blender benchmark. It would be embarrassing if they faked it and when ryzen releases it does not match.
    http://wccftech.com/amd-ryzen-zen-cpu-benchmarks-leak/ I would say, ryzen will be better performance per dollar for sure. But the fact is that Intel can probably still make faster processors and sell them for 2000-4000 USD. If you check for example Xeon prices from years 2000-2005 you can see that they went down to 500 USD when AMD was making better processors cheaper. The problem is that, Intel can simply lower their prices and feble minded people still choose Intel over AMD even when they pay more for same performance. If people do not smart up, the end result will be Intel monopoly and goodbye to cheap processors.
  • The problem AMD has is that even if their cpu is competitive, Intel will just lower their prices to get the sales, AMD having just spent a ton on R & D will need to recoup their costs and can't afford to get into a price war. Their new line will need to be better than the competition and they'll need to strike significant deals with the OEM's like HP and Dell etc. Dell particularly have been pretty much Intel-exclusive forever (though that was basically because Intel paid them to not use AMD chips in the past).
  • There is a mountain of recent evidence that says you're wrong. Intel has not dropped prices to compete. As Threadripper comes out at $800-1,000, Intel is pushing their high-end stuff at $2,000. That's twice the price for 2 more cores, compared to AMD. Intel's been living in this monopolistic bubble that has done them no favors in preparing for a competitive AMD chip. AMD's a financial wreck and was before the Ryzen R&D costs, so the logic there also makes no sense. Lastly, boards are a lot better in the land of AMD, where you can find them at the same price, if not cheaper, and AMD will support a chipset longer. Oh, and did I mention that all AMD chips are able to overclock, where as there's a markup to get an overclockable Intel CPU? The same goes for boards, where the mainstream stuff for AMD can overclock, while you have to get a "premium" chipset from Intel to pull it off. Ryzen is a godsend, and the biggest threat is NOT Intel's pricing structure or silicon quality. The threat is what you mentioned at the end--Intel is a bunch of shady dirtballs who will cheat and lie to squash competition, rather than putting their best foot forward. Their response to Ryzen was to add another year of 14nm to their lineup, after breaking that tick-tock structure once before already. They're sandbagging and overcharging and shady.
  • So did I miss it or was the ram specs showed anywhere? What's the fastest ram speeds this can utilize?
  • I have Ryzen 1600, and Ram at 3200Mhz. There were some issues with ram frequency intially but after the BIOS update now I am able to use it at full capacity 3200 Mhz (CAS: 16-16-16-32)
  • Can go to 4000 mhz now
  • I would love to see AMD competitive again. I used to be a big fan of AMD. I would certainly consider them again. I'm just not sure if I'll be replacing my home desktops though. I dont play games as much now.
  • My old favorite is back, bought a new desktop last month. Ryzen 5 1600, 3200mhz memory. Check always compatible memory vendor list of motherboard, I ordered the wrong one at first. Love my new desktop, 200 bucks cheaper then comparable intel setup and it works great.
  • Memory can be a bit of a pain, I have a Ryzen 7 1700, added some Corsair vengence 2666Mhz memory and it did not work correctly, so I had to go into the UEFI and drop it down a bit, now it is fine. I ams ure i could get it running at 2666 if i havd a muck around with things, but it is fine as it is.  I really hope AMD does well with the new chips.   
  • did you upgrade your bios? updated BIOS will assist with memory issues
  • I really, REALLY hope that AMD pulls this off, but the real issue will be with their Chipsets for the Ryzen CPUs, not with the CPUs themselves.
    That is where Intel really shines, in their chipsets and especially in the creation and updating of the OS Drivers for said chipsets. They have USB-c, Thunderbolt, lots of PCI-lanes, and an almost unbreakable lock on the motherboard manufacturers. AMD has been slow to update driver support and to fix the issues that come up. AMD has had kind of a rocky start with their X399 chipsets. Memory issues, PCI-E timing issues, some GPU issues. They have fixed most of them, but some remain that make the CPUs look worse than they really are. Problems remain with Windows threading (and the Memory manufacturers have not all gotten on board with their timing standards.)
    This is understandable given the difference in the sizes of the companies here, but it will be an uphill climb for AMD.
    I am rooting for them however as I have fond memories of their Athlon 64 series and how it lit a fire under Intel to get off their #$%^ and bring out some new designs (and vastly lower their prices.)
  • Did you read about the PCI lane mess Intel would like to deliver with the next mainboard gen?
  • I know this article was published some time ago (7 months) and updated with Threadripper specs, but damn it's good to see AMD chips give Intel a thrashing for the money. Their reaction and spreading FUD in Xeon press slides just reinforces the fact they're scared of what AMD's model can achieve. Intel's design utilises one huge die; extra performance means yields need to improve to allow you larger dies at (x) dies per wafer, making their profit harder to secure. AMD on the other hand can provision more modules without needing to ensure the larger chips are feasible.
  • Rather than just republishing an old article, I think you should have written a new one from today's perspective. Ryzen is no longer 'new', but it is very good. I've been very happy with my Ryzen 5 1600 for the last 12 months.
  • Isn't the Ryzen 9, 3950X a 16 cores/32 threads processor?
  • Yes, and not out until September.
  • It'd be nice if this site didn't disable commenting on their affiliate link posts. There is a LOT of misinformation on the new Ryzen 5 one. You don't NEED faster memory for the 3000 series, and you can pull off much faster speeds on both CPUs than you list with ease. The reality is basically the opposite of what you claim in the post--the memory dependency on 2000 series is greater than 3000, even though 3000 can support much higher speeds. The post says the 3600X can match the 9600K in single-core tests without realizing it actually BEAT the 9900K in Passmark single-core. The 3600X will beat even the 2700X in a lot of tests because the arch improvements are that great from Zen+ to Zen2. This site could really stand to either open up the comments on such posts (so the commenter can help correct things and discuss it) or the things need to be written by someone with a much better grasp of the subject.