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AMD Ryzen 5 1500X (4C8T) CPU Review

Ryzen 5 1500X delivers strong performance when you focus on productivity tasks. Workloads such as video editing and rendering benefit from the additional threads provided by SMT, giving the 1500X a commanding lead over Intel’s similarly-priced competitors.

One of the most beneficial features for Ryzen 5 1500X is its unlocked core ratio multiplier. This gives the chip an ability to be easily overclocked to 3.9GHz, based on our sample’s headroom. By comparison, the only Intel multiplier-unlocked chip worthy of mentioning at this price point is the Core i3-7350K and that’s a dual-core, Hyper-threaded part. The frequency boost available to Ryzen 5 1500X helps it to overcome the raw IPC benefit of Kaby Lake’s Core i5-7400 in several scenarios.

Gaming performance for Ryzen is still off the pace set by Kaby Lake and other Intel architectures. That point is still true for Ryzen 5 in its four-core, eight-thread guise. There were instances where the Core i5 was significantly faster when paired with a powerful graphics card.

Switch to a 4K gaming resolution and you’ll struggle to notice a performance difference between Ryzen 5 1500X and Core i5-7400. However, even at 1440P when paired with a GTX 1070, the multiplier-locked Kaby Lake i5 is a little quicker.

Worth noting, though, is Ryzen 5 1500X’s spare CPU capacity whilst gaming thanks to its SMT implementation. Those four additional threads compared to a Core i5 can be used to power background activities such as game streaming. This is a task that will result in definite slow-down on the Core i5-7400 as it tended to stick close to 100% utilisation when delivering its gaming results.

Power draw on the 1500X is noticeably higher than that of the Core i5-7400. Disproportionally so, too, as the increase in power draw is larger than the performance boost obtained by opting for AMD’s eight-thread chip. With that said, the levels are far from concerning and they are not going to add significant cost to an energy bill.

Thermal performance was good, even with the included Wraith Spire cooler (which is a potent heatsink fan). We dialled in 1.40V for the overclock and were met by temperatures well below 80C. Core i5-7400 runs cooler, despite its physically inferior stock cooler, thanks largely to lower power draw.

Our conclusion for the Ryzen 5 1500X is somewhat mixed. If you have a hard budget of less than £200 for a CPU, the 4C8T AMD part offers superb value for money in computational workloads. However, Intel’s Kaby Lake competitors are faster if all you do is play games.

If you have a mixed variety of workloads which include gaming and productivity, Ryzen 5 1500X puts itself forward as a solid choice. This is thanks to its balance between productivity capabilities and good enough gaming performance when paired with a sensible graphics card for buyers in this market.

Unlike the Ryzen 5 flagship 1600X that is overshadowed by its cheaper, overclockable sibling, the 1500X is worth its $20 price increase over the 1400. You get noticeably higher out-of-the-box frequencies (especially for XFR), double the shared L3 cache, and a better CPU cooler.

As such, we have no problem giving the 1500X a positive recommendation if you use your system for more than just gaming. Significant challenges will, however, be thrown the 1500X’s way if there is any price reduction on the £30 more expensive six-core Ryzen 5 1600.

The AMD Ryzen 5 1500X will be available for £189.99.

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Pros:

  • Multi-threaded performance is far better than Intel’s price competitors.
  • Single-threaded XFR boost to 3.9GHz is a high clock speed for this price point.
  • Allows for manual overclocking with an unlocked core multiplier.
  • Clock frequency helps it overcome IPC disadvantages versus the locked Kaby Lake Core i5.
  • Spare processing capacity when gaming may appeal to streamers on a budget.
  • Wraith Spire is a well-balanced cooler with headroom for overclocking.
  • Plenty of flexibility thanks to the AM4 platform.

Cons:

  • Gaming performance is behind that of Intel’s competition.
  • Power draw in our Cinebench measurements is disproportionately higher than Intel’s competition.
  • Worth a $20 upgrade over the 1400 but the six-core 1600 is only $30 more expensive.

KitGuru says: A worthy option to all-round users who want a low-cost point of entry onto the Ryzen eco-system. Not as fast as Kaby Lake quad-cores when it comes to gaming but vastly superior to Intel’s price point competition in tasks that leverage multiple threads.

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Rating: 8.5.

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