PC Buyer Beware!

AMD Ryzen 3, 5 & 7 processors (CPUs)

AMD Ryzen 3, 5 and 7 processors (CPUs) strike back hard at Intel dominance

AMD Ryzen processor in its AM4 motherboard socket

The big question currently hanging over the processor market

March 18, 2017. – The big question currently hanging over the processor market is: Will the AMD Ryzen processors revive AMD’s fortunes?  – AMD has faded badly in recent years in competition with Intel, which has pulled steadily ahead of AMD in both performance and value for money. But now, according to reviews, AMD has made a strong comeback with its Ryzen processors.

At long last, AMD has come up with a new processor architecture called Zen. The processors have the main name of Ryzen and come in ranges with the names Ryzen 3, Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 7. The incremental CPU numbering system matches Intel’s Core i3, i5 and i7 ranges of processors, which are currently in their seventh generation (March 2017).

In both cases, the higher the number – 3, 5 and 7 –  the more capable and expensive the processors in a particular range are.

AMD Ryzen 7 CPUs

Thus far, only the Ryzen 7 CPUs are available in computer stores, including Amazon. April 11, 2017 is the advertised release date of the Ryzen 5 models. The Ryzen 3 models should be available some time in mid 2017.

The Ryzen 7 CPUs, embodying SMT (AMD’s version of Intel’s Hyper-Threading Technology), have 8 cores and 16 threads. They are currently available in three models – the  Ryzen 7 1800X ($/£500), a whopping $/£500 dollars cheaper than the equivalent 8-core Intel Extreme Edition, the $/£400 Ryzen 7 1700X ($/£400) and the Ryzen 7 1700 ($/£330). In short, for the price of the Intel Core i7-6900K CPU, you can buy a Ryzen 7 1800X CPU plus a high-end GeForce GTX 1080 graphics card and have $50 change.

The retail processor package includes an AMD Wraith Cooler (heatsink-and-fan unit) and thermal paste that is applied between the processor and the cooler.

Unfortunately, in playing games, the Ryzen 7 CPUs have a mixed ability compared to Intel’s latest Core i5 and i7 CPUs. However, as the games that they don’t play (as well Intel’s comparable CPUs) are optimised for them, this state of affairs is likely to improve for AMD. Moreover, apparently, the next generations of Ryzen are already well-advanced in development. Therefore, any negative disparity in gaming may well disappear. Furthermore, the comparisons between the Ryzen 3 and 5 models, not yet released, and Intel’s i3 and i5 models, are not available. AMD will be selling far more of those ranges than the more expensive Ryzen 7 models, therefore, the more competitive they are in cost and performance, the higher that AMD’s performance in the marketplace will rise.

Web-search for the latest prices. Amazon is a good site for helpful purchaser reviews.

AMD Ryzen 7 models – main specifications

AMD Ryzen 5 CPUs – Out in April 2017

The Ryzen 5 models come in 6-core and 4-core models, all of which provide SMT and, like the Ryzen 7 models, come unlocked for the purpose of overclocking (increasing the clock speed above the stock speed). The main specifications and prices of the AMD Ryzen 5 product line is as follows:

1600X (6 cores, 12 threads, 3.6GHz base clock) – $249 (£205)
1600 (6 cores, 12 threads, 3.2GHz base clock) – $219 (£180)
1500X (4 cores, 8 threads, 3.5GHz base clock) – $189 (£155)
1500 (4 cores, 8 threads, 3.2GHz base clock) – $169 (£140)

Ryzen AM4 socket motherboards, Simultaneous Multithreading Technology (SMT), DDR4 RAM memory

Ryzen CPUs use the new Zen microarchitecture, a new AM4 motherboard socket and the same minute 14nm (nanometre) manufacturing process as Intel’s Core processors. This means that AMD CPUs that use the previous AM3 socket cannot run on AM4 motherboards and Ryzen processors cannot run on the earlier AM3 motherboards.

Intel’s Hyper-Threading Technology that creates two threads for each actual processor core, effectively doubling the number of cores, first appeared in 2002 and has been incorporated in most of Intel’s processors since then. Now, at last, in its Ryzen processors, AMD features its own version of this technology that is generally called Simultaneous Multithreading Technology  (SMT).

Note that the Ryzen CPUs use the latest DDR4 RAM memory, but do not incorporate a graphics chip, as do AMD’s APU processors. Therefore, if building a desktop PC, you have to choose a graphics card that you can afford. If you are buying a ready-made Ryzen PC, you should check that the hard disk or SSD drive, graphics card and amount of DDR4 memory meet your particular needs. 16GB is ample for most users’ needs.

Here is a list of high-end components tested to work together very well with the Ryzen 1700 CPU:

AMD R7 1700 processor
Asus Prime x370 PRO ATX motherboard
16GB Kingston Fury 2400 DDR4 memory
Samsung 960 PRO 512GB M.2 NVME SSD
2TB Western Digital Black SATA-III hard disk drive (HDD)
Windows 10 Professional (64 bit version)
EVGA 8GB GTX 1080 FTW Edition high-end graphics card
EVGA 650W Modular Gold power supply
Corsair 200R ATX case

All of the above components have their own sections in the Hardware menu item on each page of this website.

You can learn a lot about the motherboard and its UEFI BIOS from its user manual.

Here is the download page for the Asus Prime x370 PRO motherboard that supports the AMD Ryzen processors:

https://www.asus.com/uk/Motherboards/PRIME-X370-PRO/HelpDesk_Manual/

Note that I had to scroll to the end of the manual so that every page filled up before it would download to my computer.

Ryzen overclocking

Every AMD Ryzen processor is unlocked and therefore supports overclocking. Never forget that you might need to use heavier-duty cooling solutions instead of a stock heatsink and fan unit for a high level of overclocking, such as moving a processor’s speed (frequency) from 3GHz to 4GHz. No doubt to protect itself from ignorant overclockers, AMD  developed an overclocking tool that only kicks into action if it detects that the correct level of cooling is available. Read the information on it at the following link.

How to use Ryzen Master, AMD’s powerful new CPU overclocking tool –

http://www.pcworld.com/article/3178406/components-processors/…

Apparently, the Ryzen 7 1700 is the best model to overclock. Apparently, you can overclock it from its stock speed of 3.0GHz to 4.0GHz with ease.

AMD Ryzen 7 1700 Overclocking – Best Ryzen Processor? –

Laptop versions of Ryzen

AMD executives have announced that the Ryzen 7 laptop CPUs, code named Raven Ridge, are to be made available in the second half of the year. A top AMD executive, Anderson, said that both the laptop and the desktop PC versions of Ryzen “are equally important for us from a business perspective.”