Overclocking

Firstly, it does seem that the 20°C temperature offset is in force on the Ryzen 5 1600X as it was on the X-edition Ryzen 7 CPUs, although it was only at nearly 4GHz and over 1.42V that temperatures got anywhere near levels that are remotely concerning. A decent air cooler will keep things in check using our settings, which were a vcore of 1.425V, which allowed us to get to 3.95GHz across all six cores. Even raising this to a little over 1.43V didn't net even an extra 25MHz.

Once again, the prolonged, sustained, heavy load of Terragen 4 was the only test to have issues above 4GHz - even Prime95 was okay. This does, of course, mean that without XFR, single-threaded performance is basically identical to or even a little slower than stock speed performance in some instances, since XFR can boost things to 4.1GHz in optimal situations. This is a good overclocking result for multi-threaded performance, though, as any application that uses more than two cores will see significant speed boosts.

Performance Analysis

Dipping down to six cores and 12 threads was always going to see a dip in performance in multi-threaded tests compared to the Ryzen 7 series, but the Ryzen 5 1600X had the edge over the stock speed Core i7-6850K and the Core i7-7700K in HandBrake, even when the latter was overclocked to 5GHz, and it edged out an even bigger lead in the CPU-Z multi-threaded test too. It was a similar story in Cinebench, with the Ryzen 5 1600X again beating the overclocked Core i7-7700K and stock speed Core i7-6850K. It wasn't quite as potent in the Terragen 4 test, though, as the extra clock speed offered by Core i7-7700K was enough to shave nearly 20 seconds off the 234 second rendering time, with the Core i7-6850K being faster still.

AMD Ryzen 5 1600X Review AMD Ryzen 5 1600X Review - Overclocking, Performance Analysis and Conclusion
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Gaming performance was as expected, with Ashes of the Singularity still lagging behind Intel's quad-cores, although there is apparently a patch in the works to improve things here. There was 8fps variance in the minimum frame rate and 6fps in the average frame rate between the slowest and fastest results in Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, and the Ryzen 5 1600X sat in the middle of the pack, slightly behind the Core i3-7350K, with the game clearly preferring a couple of fast cores compared to six slower-clocked ones. Things only improved by 1fps once overclocked, which makes sense given the two-core stock speed frequency is already 4GHz.

This was all fairly clear by looking at the top spots, occupied by the overclocked Core i3-7350K and both sets of numbers for the Core i7-7700K, which is the fastest stock-speed CPU in the test. Fallout 4 showed even smaller variance, but again it was the overclocked Intel CPUs that had a small edge, with the Core i3-7350K coming joint top in yet another title that clearly doesn't make much use of more than two cores and four threads.

Once overclocked, the Ryzen 5 1600X cemented its place as a great multi-threaded performance CPU, leapfrogging the stock speed Ryzen 7 1700 in HandBrake and coming within a fraction of the faster-clocked Intel Core i7-6850K. Cinebench painted an even rosier picture, with the Ryzen CPU beating the overclocked Core i7-6850K and leaving Intel's quad-cores in its dust. However, it did little to bolster gaming performance except for Ashes of the Singularity, where in percentage terms the boost was getting on for 10 percent.

Conclusion

As unsurprising as the results are given we're just dealing with a similar CPU to the Ryzen 7 trio, just with fewer cores and threads, they are still significant regarding what the Ryzen 5 1600X means in terms of shaking up the mid-range CPU market. Here you have a £250 CPU that matches the multi-threaded performance of of the £600 Core i7-6850K. Yes, that CPU offers additional PCI-Express lanes for multi-GPU systems, but if that's your argument then we can safely say the picture will be leaning even more in AMD's favour if we'd had a Core i7-6800K to hand, which is limited to 28 PCI-Express lanes.

Even stock speed performance here is excellent for the money, although we'd be very tempted to splash out on the Ryzen 7 1700 for an extra £60 or so if multi-threaded performance was important and you're up for a little overclocking. Perhaps the most important point here is that if multi-threaded performance is top of your list, for the price, Intel simply doesn't feature here - even the more expensive Core i7-7700K is out-done by big margins in most tests.

Of course, multi-threaded performance shouldn't be confused with good gaming performance - the two are very different, and games are one area that AMD continues to lag behind. Even when overclocked, the AMD CPU was often slower than Intel CPUs with significantly faster frequencies. Even if you discount Ashes of the Singularity, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided was still slower at our 1080p test resolution, and we're not even using a particularly high-end GPU - just a Radeon R9 390 series. A lot will come down to the title in question, of course, but the question of CPU-limited games and whether you need more than four cores for the majority of titles was out there well before Ryzen turned up, and we're sure most people know the answer.

This might change now that eight or more threads are available for less than £170/$170 thanks to the Ryzen 5 1400, but in most cases, though, the difference is small, and you often need an Intel CPU with a frequency of at least 4GHz to start edging out any kind of lead in games, and this isn't going to be the case with Intel's non K-edition CPUs such as the Core i5-7500. Even though we sadly couldn't get hold of one in time to test here, it's obvious that the Ryzen 5 1600X would annihilate it in multi-threaded tasks, and with frequencies well south of those on the Core i7-7700K, it's likely the AMD CPU would be a match in games as well.

The Ryzen 5 1600X is certainly very interesting, but it's much more expensive than the likes of the Core i5-7500. It's potentially the other Ryzen 5 CPUs that could be the best bang per buck too. For starters, the 1600 costs £30 less and could be the Ryzen 7 1700 of the Ryzen 5 range - able to overlcock to the same level as the 1600X for less cash. Similarly, while they're only quad-cores, the Ryzen 5 1500X and 1400 both offer eight threads via simultaneous multi-threading, and with prices matching Intel's non-K quad-cores, AMD could find that arena to be its strongest yet given that Intel doesn't have any overclockable quad-cores for less than £220.

We digress, though. The short story is that the Ryzen 1600X is a superb budget CPU for multi-threaded performance and appears to be able to nail a near 4GHz overclock fairly easily. There are some niggles in gaming performance, though, and we'd also be tempted to consider the Ryzen 7 1700 too and also see how the cheaper Ryzen 5 CPUs fare before reaching for your wallet.
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