AMD came in swinging with a new generation of desktop CPUs under the Ryzen 7000 Series banner. Accommodating the Zen 4 architecture that scales to well beyond 5GHz, more goodness comes by way of a new AM5 platform housing DDR5 memory and PCIe 5.0 connectivity. The vanguard consists of four performance chips, running from big chief Ryzen 9 7950X down to Ryzen 5 7600X.
The baby of the bunch builds on last-generation Ryzen 5 5600X by offering far loftier frequencies, but before we take you down Benchmark Lane, let’s recap on what’s new for Ryzen 7000 Series.
All About The Core
Each evolution of a base architecture presents designers with an opportunity of doing things better. The beating heart of Ryzen 7000 Series is Zen 4, which is the brain that powers CPU cores. Like before, up to two core complexes – each carrying eight cores and 16 threads – hook up to a central input/out die (IOD). The devil is in the details when teasing out gen-on-gen improvements.
Outside of hard-nosed architecture refinements – steady your horses, technical readers – AMD doubles each core’s L2 cache from 512KB to 1MB, though closer-to-the-core L1 and more distant L3 remain at Ryzen 5000 series per-core levels of 64KB and 4MB, respectively.
But wait a second, doesn’t adding more cache balloon the transistor count and, potentially, die space? Yes, it does, but AMD’s magic trick is in adopting foundry partner TSMC’s 5nm high-performance process, down from 7nm used since 2019, and the net effect Zen 4 is able to shoehorn >50 per cent transistors yet take up less space. David Copperfield would be proud.
AMD takes an overt swipe at rival Intel’s hold on the mid-range best CPU by declaring each Zen 4 core and associated L2 is almost half the size of 12th Gen Golden Cove cores and their L2 cache. Hard to argue against that from a manufacturing viewpoint.
|Zen 4||Zen 3|
|CPU fabrication process||5nm||7nm|
|CPU die size||71mm²||80.7mm²|
|IOD fabrication process||6nm||12nm|
|IOD die size||122mm²||125mm²|
New GPU-Laden IOD
AMD also invests a lot of extra silicon to the IOD die, which shrinks from 12nm to 6nm for the latest chips. Finding out where the extra 1.31bn transistors go is actually easy. As the IOD controls external interfaces to features such as memory and connectivity, there’s some extra die space apportioned there.
But that’s not the whole shebang. AMD grasps the die-size reduction opportunity with both hands and integrates graphics into the IOD. The question isn’t one of why, but one of why not, given the graphics heritage imbued in the company.
All Ryzen 7000 Series CPUs carry RDNA 2 graphics as standard. Don’t get too excited and think you can ditch that Radeon RX 6600 XT or GeForce RTX 3060. That’s not happening as the IGP is comprised of a two-CU, 128-shader cluster pulled over from mobile technology.
The main purpose of these graphics is to enable all Ryzen 7000 Series CPUs to fit into systems that don’t require heavy GPU capability. Truth be told, that’s millions upon millions of PCs, and AMD has historically required add-in discrete cards for most 5000 Series chips or resorted to a few G Series. Intel, on the other hand, has been mining this rich volume seam for years with low-power, flexible-output IGPs baked into each generation of Core. AMD wants a slice or two of that pie.
The two-CU GPU arrangement is eerily similar to the built-in graphics on just-announced Ryzen 7020 Series processors. Expect a pinch of gaming performance for light-load eSports titles played at, say, 720p with basic settings, yet display flexibility is arguably as important. The GPU features a strong roster of encode/decode abilities and display outputs – certainly enough not to need a discrete card in a small-form-factor PC. AMD has severed the necessary link between most Ryzen processors and discrete cards, and that’s a good thing.
What’s Going On, Zen 4
Resident CPU guru and known as ‘father of Zen’ in close-knit circles, Mike Clark headlined the recent Architecture Day by positing Zen 4 enjoys a geomean average 13 per cent instructions-per-cycle (IPC) uplift over in-market Zen 3, judged at the same frequency.
As frequency and not IPC is the main driver of Ryzen 7000 Series’ performance progression over the previous generation, we’re okay with the apples-to-apples uplift. It’s actually surprising how little extra performance is provided by the doubling of per-core L2 cache, bringing into question where it was necessary for this round of chips. Most of the gains – around 80 per cent or so – emanate from three areas: the front-end, load/store, and branch prediction.
This is telling insofar as most of the architectural tweaks derive from optimisations to what’s referred to as ‘feeding the beast.’
Front-end and branch prediction advances afford the largest portion of IPC gain – somewhere in the region of 60 per cent – and the key here is the increase in the size and processing ability of operation cache. The reasoning is simple enough because Zen 4, like its predecessor, keeps to a decode rate of four regular instructions per cycle, which is weak when the queue can dispatch six into the execution engines.
AMD got around this by having a 4K L0 op-cache on Zen 3, but this is increased to around 7K on Zen 4, alongside larger supporting buffers. And that’s been a hallmark of Zen evolution over the years. Zen 2, for example, had an L1 Branch Target Buffer (BTB) of only 512 entries; Zen 3 increased that to 1,024, and Zen 4 goes up to 1,536 entries. It wouldn’t surprise us one iota if Zen 5 doubles buffer and cache sizes again.
The easiest way to visualise the overall benefit is to imagine the front-end being a funnel into the core’s engine – the wider and more efficient it is, the better one can saturate the execution engines. Some of the most sought-after CPU architects are high-quality front-end merchants… and with good reason.
If you’re going to feed the beast more, it better have the stomach to digest bigger portions. This is where larger instruction retire queues and register files come into play. Adding them takes transistor space, explaining why Zen 4 is fundamentally larger than Zen 3, though it’s considered worth the expense as performance benefits outweigh the cost of implementation.
Moving on down to load/store units, Zen 4 goes, you guessed it, larger in areas that matter. Of particular note is the 50 per cent increase in L2 DTLB, though from what we can glean, it may be less associative.
This birds-eye view of key changes reinforces the message doled out above. AMD spends most of Zen 4’s additional resource into expanding buffers, caches and queues. The downside of doing so is increased latency out to larger, slower L2 and L3 caches, yet a few cycles can be masked by more in-flight processing.
Did we forget to mention AVX-512 support? How remiss. Zen 4 does indeed support most of the feature-set but does so in an interesting way. Rather than go for a single, 512-wide ALU, which is the optimal but expensive way, AMD chooses to double-pump 256-bit-wide instructions. This approach is slower than a native implementation, of course, and Zen 4 does it this way, we imagine, in order not to hurt frequency too much. Full-on AVX-512 workloads have a habit of dragging speeds down and thermals up.
Going double-pump, though not ideal, is a good middle ground for consumer processors and fits neatly between regular AVX-256 and proper AVX-512 performance. Showing how noisome AVX-512 can be, Intel officially doesn’t support it on recent 12th Gen Alder Lake processors, which naturally puts AMD at an advantage in specific media workloads. Being fair, there’s little in the way of AVX-512-optimised software at the moment, yet AMD jumps on the mantra of if you build it, they will come.
Fight For Frequency
Design decisions within Zen 4 all tell one story. Architecture refinements play second fiddle to the quest for much higher frequency than available on Zen 3. According to all-round AMD genius Joe Macri, a multi-year collaboration with foundry partner TSMC, which has become closer over time, has enabled the duo to fine-tune high-performance 5nm silicon for elevated clocks.
The exact nature of the silicon remains unknown, but we do know AMD actually failed in the original aim of releasing Zen 4 with a top-bin speed of 6GHz. As 5nm matures, AMD may take very select dies and launch a wattage-unencumbered ‘Ryzen 9 7990X’ with that seminal frequency. But hey, 5.7GHz ain’t bad right out of the gate. Rival Intel appears to have beaten AMD to the 6GHz punch by sort of announcing the upcoming Core i9-13900KS.
Stratospheric single-thread speeds are all well and fine. We’re more impressed by the multi-core prowess of Ryzen 9 7950X, which hovers on the right side of 5GHz when everything is run at 11. Oops, letting the proverbial cat out of the benchmark bag there.
Packaging Opportunities – AM5
AMD’s mainstream chips since 2017 have been resident on the AM4 platform. Fantastic socket longevity provides ample upgrading opportunities over time, considered one of AMD’s key strengths – Ryzen 9 5950X, for example, can be run on select X370 motherboards from way back when – but is an obstacle when designing feature-rich, powerful platforms for the next five years. Something has to give, and in this case, AM4 is the sacrificial lamb.
Which all leads me on to the second point about Ryzen 7000 Series. The chips use the AM5 form factor that’s just not compatible with gnarly, old AM4. You see, AMD transitions to an LGA1718 socket from PGA1334, meaning the pins are located on the motherboard, not the CPU, as is the case with AM4.
AM4, it has to be said, is the outlier in AMD’s processor stable. High-performance Threadripper (Pro) and server-optimised Epyc have been on an LGA footing since time immemorial; AM5 joins them. No more bent pins on the CPU, though watch out for dropping anything in the socket! In a concession to legion enthusiasts, AMD doesn’t change the 40mm x 40mm socket area, meaning you can re-use AM4 cooling. Another plus point is motherboard makers don’t have to completely redesign boards. A win-win.
Back on point, it’s the extra 29 per cent of pinnage that largely enables AMD to feed high-end beasts with more power. Sure, AM4 could scale high with lots of voltage, but it wasn’t designed to run close to 200W – AM5, on the other hand, laps it up. Extra routing pins also offer plenty of scope to add more features and performance in the future. With all that in mind, I believe shifting the entire mainstream ecosystem is the right idea, even if it doles out short-term pain by closing long-in-the-tooth upgrade paths.
DDR5 – The Only Show In Town
Five appears to be the magic number. AMD makes the move to DDR5 memory almost a year after Intel brought it to the mainstream with 12th Gen Core. Unlike its rival, Ryzen doesn’t bother with also carrying DDR4 compatibility. Want Ryzen 7000 Series, you better budget for DDR5 memory.
The good news is DDR5 memory is becoming more affordable each passing month. A high-performance 32GB kit is available for around £200, which is about 50 per cent more than the cost of enthusiast-grade DDR4. £70 premium for memory is small beer when considered in the wider sense, so whilst DDR4 support would have been nice, especially for budget builds featuring lower-end Ryzen 7000 chips, it ain’t a deal breaker.
One man’s dual-channel DDR5 implementation isn’t the same as another’s. AMD’s distils down as follows:
The takeaway is simple. Sticking four modules into a motherboard results in officially supported speed dropping from a nice 5200MT/s to just 3,600MT/s. Sure, most enthusiast boards will offer much higher speeds, and run stably at that, yet the steep frequency drop-off isn’t ideal. Put simply, run with two modules if you can. Now where are those 64GB modules running at 6600MT/s?
Getting granular on a platform level, you may remember Ryzen 5000 Series CPUs tied the internal memory clock speed to Infinity Fabric speed and integrated memory controller. This changes on Ryzen 7000 Series because of the higher speeds offered by DDR5. In practise, internal RAM speed is still run on a 1:1 ratio with the IMC but the Fabric clock drops down to a 3:2 ratio.
Let’s take an example of DDR5-5200 memory. It actually runs at 2,600MHz internally, which ties to the frequency of the IMC (also 2,600MHz). Infinity Fabric, meanwhile, runs at 1,733MHz on a 3:2 ratio. Put simply, getting the IF clock to 2,600MHz is not going to happen.
You may have read about a sweet spot memory speed of DDR5-6000, and there’s good reason why that works well. The IMC also scales to 3,000MHz in that instance while IF chugs along at 2,000MHz. All good. Running past an internal 3,000MHz DDR5 clocking causes the IMC to halve in speed, while IF fidgets between 1,850-2,100MHz.
The key to fast running is symmetry. You may find application performance is marginally slower with DDR5-6400 as the IMC speed is cut to only 1,600MHz.
Motherboard makers lick their chops when a new socket comes out. Catering for the enthusiast first, AMD’s partners are now releasing X670E and X670 chipsets. Boards are expected to cost from £200 and scale up to, well, more paper than most wallets hold.
A lot of the expansion goodies are held on the IOD section of the CPU, and you will receive this connectivity mana, illustrated above, irrespective of chipset employed. Compared to Ryzen 5000 Series processors, which are still considered rich in features, AMD increases PCIe lanes from 24 to 28. That’s only half the story as Ryzen 7000 Series upgrades them to speed-loving PCIe 5.0.
This actually shakes out simply. You now have one more CPU-integrated PCIe x4 link ostensibly for additional storage, run at up to PCIe 5.0 for upcoming SSDs. In a nod toward legacy support and BIOS flashback updates, AMD further adds a single general-purpose USB 2 port.
Four of the aforementioned 28 lanes emanating from the IOD portion of the chip are purposed into PCIe 4.0 for connecting the CPU to the chipset. And it is a set of chips this time around. Look closely to determine X670E and X670 utilise a two-chip solution. Known internally as Promontory 21 and built by ASMedia, both are not connected directly to the CPU. Rather, only the first is via the shown PCIe 4.0 x4 link. The second daisy-chains to the first via another PCIe 4.0 x4 internal link and has to run through it to pass data to the processor. A downside is potentially higher access latency on the second Prom 21, but an obvious benefit of a two-chip solution is that one can double-up on connectivity without needing a single, super-large solution. Once you understand this, the decent connectivity increase in supported devices compared to X570 makes implicit sense.
New X-series is therefore able to go real heavy on USB. Remember X570 natively supported up to 12 ports – eight USB 3.2 G2, four USB 2.0 – X670/E’s two-chip solution offers up to 20 of various speeds, with the option, for the first time, to have a couple of 20Gbps rolled into the mix. Nice.
Looking across, general-purpose lanes increase from eight to 12, and AMD throws in heaps of PCIe 3.0, as well. If you’ve got the chip features and bandwidth, why ever not. Both run at around 7W full chat, which when spaced out on a motherboard is okay for operating without the fans we saw on all original X570 boards. Good news.
Motherboard manufacturers won’t need to add many discrete chips for a fully-fledged board, and it’s only USB 4 that’s conspicuous by its absence. Even that’s not quite the headache that it could have been; most motherboard guys with premium offerings will use either the ASMedia ASM4242 or Intel Maple Ridge two-port USB 4 host controllers running off spare CPU PCIe lanes.
Ryzen 7000 Series Models
|Model||Cores / Threads||TDP||L3 Cache||Base Clock||Boost Clock||Launch MSRP|
|Ryzen 9 7950X||16 / 32||170W||64MB||4.7GHz||5.7GHz||$699|
|Ryzen 9 7900X||12 / 24||170W||64MB||4.7GHz||5.6GHz||$549|
|Ryzen 7 7700X||8 / 16||105W||32MB||4.5GHz||5.4GHz||$399|
|Ryzen 5 7600X||6 / 12||105W||32MB||4.7GHz||5.3GHz||$299|
AMD sticks to the tried-and-trusted six-core, 12-thread design present in every Ryzen 5 x600 model since inception in 2017. Innovation occurs outside of threads in each generation, and Ryzen 7000 Series brings two performance weapons to bear: much higher frequencies and Zen 4 smarts.
A by-product of boosting facets outside of the core results in a 105W TDP, or 142W PPT, which is the highest we’ve seen on this class of processor – historical chips topped out at 95W. We don’t view the extra power as a problem if the customer is compensated by a step-change in performance from one generation to the next.
A base clock of 4.7GHz and boost 5.3GHz augurs well for myriad applications, and by keeping to the $299 launch price attributed also for Ryzen 5 5600X, AMD has sucked up inflationary costs now pervasive across the world.
Would-be purchasers need to factor in a new motherboard and DDR5 memory, of course, though such upfront costs can be amortised over the platform’s considerable longevity. AMD has committed to supporting AM5 until at least 2026, meaning you can buy a processor today and upgrade to the latest and greatest a few years down the track – something which rival Intel Core cannot do.
AMD supports Ryzen 7000 Series CPUs with four chipsets ranging from best-in-class X670E through to B650. As the 7600X is the least expensive chip on the platform, we’d advise readers to veer towards either B650E or B650. Boards start at around the $200 mark and, if going for the all-singing, all-dancing X670E, all the way up to $1,000.
Getting the most out of the processor, tests are carried out on top of an Asus ROG Crosshair X670E Hero motherboard, 32GB (2x16GB) of G.Skill Trident Z5 Neo EXPO memory operating at official specifications of DDR5-5200 (CL30).
The supporting cast, also common between all processors, consists of an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 FE graphics card, Seagate FireCuda 530 2TB SSD, and Noctua NH-D15 cooling. The ensemble is powered by a be quiet! Dark Power 13 1,000W PSU. The review chip is run at AMD-mandated settings of 105W TDP and 142W PPT.
Two upcoming comparisons are most important. The first is the performance uptick of Ryzen 5 7600X over last-gen Ryzen 5 5600X, and analysis of improvements will inform us of AMD’s out-of-core innovation as both use a 6C12T philosophy. The second is against the Intel Core i5-13600K, priced at $319, so a natural competitor to the review chip.
Running at up to 5.3GHz and using the Zen 4 architecture provides AMD with a 28 per cent performance advantage over Ryzen 5 5600X, which is a nice start when one considers gains occur outside of threads.
Multi-core numbers jump a very credible 43 per cent over the immediate predecessor, and Ryzen 5 7600X is actually a hair faster than the head honcho Core i9-11900K from a couple generations back. Considered in isolation, that’s a huge achievement.
CPU comparisons rarely exist in silos, however, and while AMD’s performance progression is impressive, rival Intel goes nuclear on the mid-range. The 24,127-mark score posted by Core i5-13600K is, frankly, ridiculously good, so much so that it’s on par with a 16C32T Ryzen 9 5950X flagship processor. Chew on that for a while.
And therein lies the rub. AMD makes great strides from Ryzen 5000 Series; Intel turns it up to 11.
We have little to criticise Ryzen 5 7600X in isolation as gains from the previous incarnation are good. But just take a look at where price-comparable Core i5-13600K is.
|Core i5-13600K||AMD Ryzen 5 7600X||AMD Ryzen 7 7700X|
|7-zip 19.00 (HIB)||124,149 MIPS||96,624 MIPS||119,843 MIPS|
|Blender 3.3.0 (HIB)||352.9 samples||239.2 samples||311.4 samples|
|V-Ray 5.0.20 (HIB)||16,444 samples||11,600 samples||15,100 samples|
|y-cruncher 9513 (LIB)||170.5 seconds||192.5 seconds||167.8 seconds|
Choosing more multi-core workloads brings home the message. AMD may have thought Ryzen 5 7600X’s gen-on-gen upticks were enough, especially whilst keeping the same price, but Intel has deliberately thrown a rather meaty wrench in the mid-range works.
Shifting over to DDR5-5200 has positive implications for bandwidth.
Yet they arrive at the cost of DRAM latency.
Hard to call the Ryzen 5 7600X even average when it benchmarks above a Ryzen 9 5950X. All of Zen 4/AM5’s benefits coalesce here nicely.
A fine start in gaming, where the review chip is faster than any other Ryzen 5000 Series processor save for cache-imbued 5800X3D.
Very decent here, suggesting in no uncertain terms that Ryzen 5 7600X is a capable gaming chip.
No chip stands out against another in the GPU-bound Assassin’s Creed test.
Run with raytracing this time around, it’s only the pesky Core i5-13600K which stops Ryzen 5 7600X from being declared a mid-range gaming champ.
Lagging in multi-core applications compared to its immediate rival, AMD puts up a much better overall showing in gaming.
Power, Efficiency and Value
Let’s not forget AMD also runs more frugally than rampaging Core i5, as well.
Dividing the Cinebench R23 multi-core score by the observed system-wide power consumption gives us this graph. Ryzen 5 7600X does okay again.
This graph divides the same Cinebench R23 score by recommended pricing. There’s nothing wrong with a 51 score here – it’s closer to the top of the chart than it is the bottom – and AMD’s $299 SRP would have been fine if it wasn’t for ‘you know who’ upsetting the Ryzen apple cart.
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Cooled by a single-fan Noctua NH-D15 heatsink, the sample chip maintains an excellent 5.2GHz all-core frequency in out-the-box state. Contrary to AMD’s claims of a peak 5.3GHz boost speed, we routinely saw the chip climb to 5.45GHz on a few threads.
We mention this as manually overclocking the chip with 1.25V resulted in a stable peak all-core speed of 5.3GHz. In other words, overclocking isn’t worth it when native clocks are so high.
AMD has done a lot of things right with Ryzen 7000 Series CPUs. Harnessing a better architecture in the form of Zen 4 and then amplifying potential through vastly higher frequencies than the last generation, multi-core performance is up to 40 per cent faster whilst gaming sees a nice framerate boost, propelling the new series above all but the cache-heavy X3D from the Ryzen 5000 Series. All well and good.
Further virtue is to be found on a class-leading platform that’s here to stay for a few years at least. Considered with all these positives, Ryzen 5 7600X, priced at $299, ought to be a clear winner in the mid-range segment. Such a statement is true if considered in isolation, but the PC ecosystem doesn’t live in a vacuum.
AMD’s impressive generational gains are blitzed by what rival Intel has achieved in the same timeframe. Ryzen 5 7600X’s natural competitor is the Core i5-13600K, and unfortunately for the Zen masters, Intel’s just-released $319 wonder chip is in a different performance league for application performance and a shade better for gaming.
But make no mistake, there is nothing intrinsically wrong with Ryzen 5 7600X other than requiring a value readjustment in the face of nascent Core financial wrath. Offering a more futureproof outlook than its rival, AMD simply needs to lop some cash off for entry-level Ryzen 7000 Series to make implicit sense. $249 ought to do it. More pressing is the need for motherboard makers to play ball by reducing costs to entice AM5 uptake.
Better than its predecessor in every meaningful way and chock-full of cutting-edge technology, Ryzen 5 7600X, if priced right, remains a fine CPU for many a mainstream build.
AMD Ryzen 5 7600X
Verdict: The baby of the Ryzen 7000 Series desktop bunch is a good CPU in its own right.
Impressive gaming chops
Did we say Core i5?
No cooler in box
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