First AMD Zen 5 processor performance is worryingly shaky

But it's not the full picture.

AMD Ryzen APU.
Background by Annie Spratt.

The first AMD Zen 5 processor – believed to be a Strix Point APU – shows weak performance in tests. Though worrying, this is nothing unusual for early engineering units that have yet to reach their full potential.

Spotted inside Geekbench’s database as AMD engineering sample 100-000000994-14_N, this chip features 12 cores seemingly targeting the laptop segment. While this is normal for CPUs, Ryzen laptop APUs previously maxed out at eight cores to leave silicon space for integrated GPUs. The extra four here will supposedly be of the dense Zen 5c variant.

That said, performance is less than expected according to these Geekbench 5 results, especially scoring 1,217 on single-core tests. Although the listing states it has a 2GHz base clock, Benchleaks claims it ran at 1,413MHz average. Taken at face value, a multi-core score of 8,016 isn’t so bad at this frequency. Still, it’s not certain why clocks are so low. It could be a limitation as an engineering sample or a misreport. If it ends up true, then this performance would be less than ideal for a 12-core processor. In fact, it’d lose out to eight-core Rembrandt chips from 2022, such as the Ryzen 9 6900HX.

Geekbench score.

In all logic, AMD’s Strix Point – or any Zen 5-based CPU – should provide at least some improvements over Zen 4. Otherwise, what’s the point of releasing it? Yes, it could have exceptional efficiency, but many users won’t see the point of upgrading if reviews show low benchmarks.

There are still plenty of unanswered questions here. Why Geekbench 5 rather than a Geekbench 6 test? Was it running with simultaneous multithreading (SMT) on? If this scales to, say, 2.8GHz in a production sample, will the scores double along with it? We’ve plenty more to learn about Strix Point mobile before casting judgements, regardless of whether the first picture is a curious one.

Even if Strix Point turns out to be weak, AMD still has an ace up its sleeve called Strix Halo. The latter cranks everything to 11, packing up to 16 Zen 5 cores and 40 RDNA 3.5 CUs using a chiplet design. In any case, we shouldn’t have long to wait, as AMD is expected to unveil this new generation before the end of the year.