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Intel’s competitive Alder Lake chips have upset AMD’s dominance with its Ryzen processors, particularly in the lower price ranges, but the new $199 six-core 12-thread Ryzen 5 5600 and $159 Ryzen 5 5500 are designed to plug key gaps in the company’s portfolio. These new chips come as part of AMD’s broader launch of seven new Ryzen 5000 models that aim to shore up the company’s rankings in CPU benchmarks and retake its position on the Best CPUs for gaming list.
AMD’s Ryzen 5000 chips fully eclipsed Intel’s performance lead in desktop PCs when they launched back in 2020, but the company has long neglected to launch any sub-$250 chips with the potent Zen 3 architecture. That’s kept the bar for entry unattainably high for value seekers.
AMD’s new chips are long overdue, arriving a year and a half after the first wave of Ryzen 5000 chips, but they’re badly needed. Intel’s Alder Lake launch caught AMD uncharacteristically flat-footed, wresting away AMD’s performance lead. Intel’s aggressive pricing also brought superior value in every price range while exploiting AMD’s glaring lack of any sub-$250 Zen 3 chips.
AMD’s solution is pretty simple: The company is bringing back its non-X models, but with a twist. As a reminder, AMD’s non-X models are the lower-cost and lower-performing versions of the ‘X’ models (like the Ryzen 5 5600X), but they have historically offered nearly the same performance as their counterparts, particularly after overclocking. AMD is also putting a new spin on the practice: Some of these new models, like the Ryzen 5 5500, are repurposed APUs with a disabled integrated GPU.
|Price Street/MSRP||Design – Arch.||E/P – Core|Thread||P-Core Base/Boost (GHz)||TDP / PBP / MTP||L3 Cache|
|Ryzen 7 5800X3D||$449||Zen 3 – Vermeer||8P | 16T||3.4 / 4.5||105W||96MB|
|Ryzen 7 5700X||$299||Zen 3 – Vermeer||8P | 16T||3.4 / 4.6||65W||32MB|
|Ryzen 5 5600||$199||Zen 3 – Vermeer||6P|12T||3.5 / 4.4||65W||32MB|
|Ryzen 5 5500||$159||Zen 3 – Cezanne||6P | 12T||3.6 / 4.2||65W||16MB|
|Ryzen 5 4600G||$154||Zen 2 – Renoir||6P | 12T||3.7 / 4.2||65W||8MB|
|Ryzen 5 4500||$129||Zen 2 – Renoir||6P | 12T||3.6 / 4.1||65W||8MB|
|Ryzen 3 4100||$99||Zen 2 – Renoir||4P | 8T||3.8 / 4.0||65W||4MB|
The new non-X models are designed to respond to Intel’s commanding lead on the low end, and AMD has also slashed pricing on its existing Ryzen 5000 models. AMD is even enabling support for Ryzen 5000 chips on older 300-series motherboards, opening up a value option that’s a good fit for the new low-end Ryzen lineup. Meanwhile, the Ryzen 7 5800X3D with 96MB of L3 cache aims to retake the gaming performance crown from Intel’s souped-up Special Edition Core i9-12900KS that we reviewed yesterday.
AMD’s six new low- and mid-range chips arrive at retail today, while the Ryzen 7 5800X3D will be available on April 20, 2022. We have the Ryzen 5 5600 and 5500 on the test bench today, and we’ll soon have reviews for the rest of the models as well. Here’s how AMD’s new mainstream contenders stack up.
AMD Ryzen 5 5600 and 5500 Specifications and Pricing
|Price – Street/MSRP||Design – Arch.||E/P – Core|Thread||P-Core Base/Boost (GHz)||E-Core Base/Boost (GHz)||TDP / PBP / MTP||Memory Support||L3 Cache|
|Ryzen 5 5600X||$230 ($299)||Zen 3 – Vermeer||6P | 12T||3.7 / 4.6||–||65W||DDR4-3200||32MB|
|Ryzen 5 5600G (APU)||$220 ($259 )||Zen 3 – Cezanne||6P | 12T||3.9 / 4.4||–||65W||DDR4-3200||16MB|
|Ryzen 5 5600||$199||Zen 3 – Vermeer||6P|12T||3.5 / 4.4||–||65W||DDR4-3200||32MB|
|Core i5-12400 / F||$192 – $167 (F)||Alder Lake||6P+0E | 6C/12T||4.4 / 2.5||–||65W / 117W||DDR4/5-3200/4800||18MB|
|Ryzen 5 3600X||$250 ($240)||Zen 2||6P | 12T||3.8 / 4.4||–||95W||DDR4-3200||32MB|
|Ryzen 5 3600||$229 ($200)||Zen 2||6P | 12T||3.6 / 4.2||–||65W||DDR4-3200||32MB|
|Ryzen 5 5500||$159||Zen 3 – Cezanne||6P | 12T||3.6 / 4.2||–||65W||DDR4-3200||16MB|
|Ryzen 5 4600G (APU)||$154||Zen 2 – Renoir||6P | 12T||3.7 / 4.2||–||65W||DDR4-3200||8MB|
|Core i3-12100 / F||$122 – $97 (F)||Alder Lake||4P+0E | 4C/8T||3.3 / 4.3||–||60W / 89W||DDR4/5-3200/4800||12MB|
The Ryzen 5 5600 and 5500 have drastically different designs, but there are a few commonalities. Like their more full-fledged counterparts, both chips come with a bundled Wraith Stealth cooler that is sufficient for stock operation. They also support up to DDR4-3200 memory. In addition, these chips are fully unlocked for overclocking the CPU cores, memory, and fabric. In contrast, Intel’s non-K models only support memory overclocking, and the company’s nonsensical decision to keep certain voltages locked restricts DDR4 overclocking headroom.
The $199 Ryzen 5 5600 is a new Vermeer model, meaning it comes with the standard chiplet-based Zen 3 architecture. This chip is the long-awaited and badly-needed ‘non-X’ version of the Ryzen 5 5600X, so it shares the same feature set, albeit with reduced clocks. The 5600 has a 3.5 GHz base and 4.4 GHz boost, so you’re only losing 200 MHz for the base and boost clock rate compared to the 5600X. This chip will grapple with Intel’s popular Core i5-12400.
For its lowest-end Zen 3 chip, the $159 Ryzen 5 5500 finds AMD employing a new tactic of repurposing its monolithic (single-chip) Cezanne silicon that it typically uses for APUs, but the company has disabled the chip’s integrated Ryzen Vega graphics engine. This six-core 12-thread chip slots in to compete with Intel’s graphics-less $167 Core i5-12400F.
Aside from the disabled iGPU, the 5500 has the same design as the Ryzen 5 5600G, including support for PCIe 3.0 instead of PCIe 4.0. As a result, this chip will make a great pairing for older, lower-end AM4 motherboards (you definitely don’t want to pay for functionality you don’t need by pairing it with a PCIe 4.0-supporting motherboard).
The 5500 is very similar to the 5600G with the same architecture but an active iGPU — there’s only a 200 MHz difference in CPU base/boost clock rates between the two chips. Like its counterpart, the Ryzen 5 5500 also comes with 16MB of cache, half that of the chiplet-based Ryzen 5 5600 with the same number of cores and threads. This will result in reduced performance in several workloads.
The Ryzen 5 5600 and Ryzen 5 5500 would make great pairings for inexpensive 300- and 400-series motherboards. These chips are already supported on 400-series boards, and as of AGESA version 1207, most 300-series motherboards will support Zen 3 Ryzen 5000 processors after a BIOS update (make sure the BIOS has AGESA 1207 or newer). AMD says that Ryzen 5000 support will vary by vendor, as will the timeline for new BIOS revisions. However, we should see the updates arrive in the April-May timeframe. Notably, these BIOS revisions will also include the fix for AMD’s fTPM stuttering issues.
We tested with Windows 11 on an X570 motherboard to maintain a comparable test environment with the rest of the processors in the test pool. Of course, you wouldn’t pair this chip with this class of motherboard, but even lower-end 300-series motherboards should provide enough juice for full operation. We also tested with secure boot, virtualization support, and fTPM/PTT active to reflect a properly configured Windows 11 install. We have a full breakdown of the test system configurations at the end of the article.
Our overclocks were rather straightforward — we enabled the auto-overclocking Precision Boost Overdrive (PBO) feature with ‘advanced motherboard’ settings and adjusted the scalar setting to 10X. Additionally, as outlined in the table below, we made sure to match our memory overclocks with a 1:1 FCLK/memory clock ratio to keep latency low, which games love. For the Ryzen 5 5500, we had to increase the SoC voltage to 1.25V to solidify our DDR4-4000 memory overclock, but that wasn’t required for the Ryzen 5 5600, largely because it tapped out at a lower DDR4-3800 in 1:1 mode. We tested the Ryzen 5 5600 and Ryzen 5 5500 in two different configurations each:
- Ryzen 5 5600: Corsair H115i 280mm water cooler, PBO Disabled, DDR4-3200
- Ryzen 5 5600 PBO: Corsair H115i 280mm water cooler, PBO Enabled, DDR4-3800, FCLK 1900 MHz (1:1 Ratio)
- Ryzen 5 5500: Corsair H115i 280mm water cooler, PBO Disabled, DDR4-3200
- Ryzen 5 5500 PBO: Corsair H115i 280mm water cooler, PBO Enabled, DDR4-4000, FCLK 2000 MHz (1:1 Ratio)
AMD Ryzen 5 5600 and 5500 Gaming Benchmarks — The TLDR
As usual, we’re testing with an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 to reduce GPU-imposed bottlenecks as much as possible, and differences between test subjects will shrink with lesser cards or higher resolutions. You would never see these low-end chips paired with an RTX 3090, but this allows us to highlight unrestrained chip performance. Because most of the titles below show little meaningful differentiation at higher resolutions, we only tested four of the seven titles at 1440p. We typically include Microsoft Flight Simulator in our test suite, but we encountered inexplicable issues with loading the game on our AMD test platforms and didn’t have time to rectify the issue prior to the NDA lift.
At stock settings, the Core i5-12400 is 2% faster than the Ryzen 5 5600 in our overall measurement of 1080p gaming performance, which is a slim victory. After overclocking, the 12400 is 3.9% faster than the Ryzen 5 5600 and ties the 5600X for the overall lead.
The Ryzen 5 5600 is basically a 5600X-killer — it doesn’t make sense to spend the extra cash for such slim gains. Both the 12400 and the 5600 retail for $199, and that’s a tough position for the Ryzen 5 5600 given its aging AM4 platform with less sophisticated connectivity. Additionally, you could choose the graphics-less 12400F that offers the same performance as the full-featured model for ~$175, helping reduce the extra costs associated with Alder Lake motherboards.
The Ryzen 5 5500 falls within 2 percent of the Ryzen 5 5600G in the 1080p benchmarks, but it isn’t as much of a closely-contested battle against the Intel chips. The less-expensive $129 Core i3-12100 is 6.2% faster in gaming at stock settings than the $159 Ryzen 5 5500, and basically ties the overclocked 5500 without any effort.
If gaming is all you’re interested in, the Core i3-12100 is the better buy with a much more modern platform — the 5500 is limited to the PCIe 3.0 interface. However, the Ryzen 5 5500 will have advantages for the productivity-minded, as we’ll see in the application benchmarks.
Both the new Ryzen chips offer a tremendous step forward over their Zen 2 predecessors. The Ryzen 5 5500 is roughly 10% faster than the Ryzen 5 3600X and 3600, while the Ryzen 5 5600 is ~30% faster, representing a massive generational improvement.
|Tom’s Hardware||1080p Game Benchmarks – fps %age|
|Ryzen 5 5600X||98.71%|
|Ryzen 5 5600||98.1%|
|Ryzen 5 5600G||84.5%|
|Ryzen 5 5500||83.2%|
Naturally, moving over to 1440p brings a GPU bottleneck into the equation, so the performance deltas between the chips shrink tremendously. Flipping through the 99th percentile charts for both resolutions also shows larger deltas, but we have to view those with caution as Windows 11 seems to suffer from more framerate variability than our Windows 10 test platform.
Be aware that large performance deltas in a few of the game titles can heavily impact these types of overall measurements. It’s always best to make an informed decision based on the types of titles you play frequently, so be sure to check out the individual game benchmarks below.
3DMark, VRMark, Chess Engines on AMD Ryzen 5 5600 and 5500
Synthetic benchmarks don’t tend to translate well to real-world gaming, but they do show us the raw amount of compute power exposed to game engines. It’s too bad most games don’t fully exploit it.
Far Cry 6 on AMD Ryzen 5 5600 and 5500
F1 2021 on AMD Ryzen 5 5600 and 5500
Hitman 3 on AMD Ryzen 5 5600 and 5500
Horizon Zero Dawn on AMD Ryzen 5 5600 and 5500
Red Dead Redemption 2 on AMD Ryzen 5 5600 and 5500
Watch Dogs Legion on AMD Ryzen 5 5600 and 5500
AMD Ryzen 5 5600 and 5500 Application Benchmarks — The TLDR
We can boil down productivity application performance into two broad categories: single- and multi-threaded. These slides show the geometric mean of performance in several of our most important tests in each category, but be sure to look at the expanded benchmark results further below. We don’t have the full overclocked Ryzen 5 5500 (PBO) results yet, so it isn’t included in the below albums. We will add those results in the coming hours, but we do have enough data to generate our cumulative performance measurements.
The Alder Lake chips lead by healthy margins in our cumulative measurement of single-threaded performance, with the Core i5-12400 being 14.6% faster than the Ryzen 5 5600 at stock settings, and 10% faster after we tune both chips. Meanwhile, the stock Core i3-12100 is 19% faster than the Ryzen 5 5500, and overclocking the latter does little to rectify the disparity. You’ll have to look to Intel’s own Alder Lake family for faster single-threaded performance.
Turning to threaded applications, the Core i5-12400 is 2.8% faster than the Ryzen 5 5600 at stock settings, and 5.5% faster after tuning. Meanwhile, the Ryzen 5 5500 is 19% faster than the Core i3-12100 in threaded work, and that increases to 23% after overclocking.
|Tom’s Hardware – Application Benchmarks||Single-Threaded||Multi-Threaded|
|Ryzen 5 5600X||90.7%||98.6%|
|Ryzen 5 5600||87.2%||97.3%|
|Ryzen 5 5600G||86.5%||91.1%|
|Ryzen 5 5500||82.4%||89.6%|
Rendering Benchmarks on AMD Ryzen 5 5600 and 5500
The Core i3-12100 is impressive in single-threaded rendering work, leading all competing Ryzen chips in both Cinebench and POV-Ray benchmarks, but its quad-core design isn’t well suited for the heavily parallelized rendering workloads that you’ll see in the real world.
The Core i5-12400 is a closer match for the Ryzen 5 5600 in the threaded benchmarks, but the Intel chip often trails only by a slight amount or leads convincingly. Paired with its absolute dominance in lightly-threaded rendering, the Core i5-12400 is the better all-rounder for this type of work.
Encoding Benchmarks on AMD Ryzen 5 5600 and 5500
Encoders can be either heavily threaded or almost exclusively single-threaded — there certainly doesn’t seem to be a middle ground.
The HandBrake transcoder is heavily threaded and uses AVX instructions to boost performance, with the x265 version featuring a heavier distribution of SIMD instructions than the x264 version. The Core i5-12400 and the Ryzen 5 5600 are closely matched in x265, which naturally plays to Intel’s strength in AVX work, but the 5600 pulls ahead slightly in x264.
Turning to the single-threaded LAME benchmark finds the Intel processors leveraging their generally higher IPC and clock rates to take the lead, while the Ryzen 5 5600 takes the lead in the FLAC encoder.
Overall, you’ll find the 12400 or the 5600 jockeying for the lead in this selection of workloads, but the Ryzen 5 5500 easily beats the Core i3-12100 due to its higher core and thread count.
Web Browsing, Office and Productivity on AMD Ryzen 5 5600 and 5500
The ubiquitous web browser is one of the most frequently used applications. These tests tend to be lightly threaded, so a snappy response time is critical. We’re accustomed to the Alder Lake chips running the table over competing Ryzen chips in the web browser tests, but the Ryzen 5 5600 is competitive.
Compilation, Compression, AVX Benchmarks on AMD Ryzen 5 5600 and 5500
This section includes a diverse set of workloads, including exceedingly branchy code in the LLVM compilation workload and the massively parallel molecular dynamics simulation code in NAMD. The Core i3-12100 isn’t very potent in these heavily-threaded applications, but the Core i5-12400 leads many of the benchmarks. Notably, the Ryzen 5 5600 does well in the NAMD workload due to its healthy slab of L2 cache. AMD benefits in the SHA3, AES, and HASH benchmarks from its cryptographic optimizations. That said, most of these types of workloads in this section aren’t well-suited for this class of chip, but we include them as a reference.
AMD Ryzen 5 5600 and 5500 Power Consumption and Efficiency
The Intel Alder Lake chips still suck more power than AMD’s Zen 3-powered Ryzen 5000 series chips, but pairing the Intel 7 process with the hybrid architecture brings big improvements, particularly in threaded work.
The Zen 3-equipped Ryzen 5 5600G has long been the most efficient chip we’ve tested, but the Ryzen 5 5500 gives it a run for the money in the HandBrake renders-per-day-per-watt measurements. That isn’t entirely surprising, as the 5500 is merely a lower-clocked version of the 5600G, and efficiency tends to improve the further you move to the left on the voltage/frequency curve.
The Ryzen 5 5600 is also plenty efficient, but the Core i5-12400 takes a slight lead in the efficiency metrics. As you’d expect, the Core i5-12400 and Core i3-12100 draw more power during the heavily-threaded AVX y-cruncher workload.
Here we take a slightly different look at power consumption by calculating the cumulative energy required to perform Blender and x264 and x265 HandBrake workloads, respectively. We plot this ‘task energy’ value in Kilojoules on the left side of the chart.
These workloads are comprised of a fixed amount of work, so we can plot the task energy against the time required to finish the job (bottom axis), thus generating a really useful power chart.
Bear in mind that faster compute times, and lower task energy requirements, are ideal. That means processors that fall the closest to the bottom left corner of the chart are best.
Zen 3 Enters the Budget Arena
The arrival of AMD’s Ryzen 5000 found the company with a clear performance lead over rival Intel chips, so the company prioritized high-priced high-margin chips and largely abandoned the budget market. The arrival of Alder Lake has changed the paradigm entirely, spurring AMD to finally bring Zen 3 to the budget arena.
AMD’s non-X $199 Ryzen 5 5600 and $159 Ryzen 5 5500 lower the bar for entry to the Zen 3 architecture and provide access to the lowest-priced AM4 motherboards via retroactive support on older boards, but these chips don’t retake the overall performance lead in their price brackets. Instead, they slot in as a solid upgrade for existing AMD system owners or as a value alternative to Intel’s Alder Lake for new system builds.
Below, we have the geometric mean of our gaming test suite at 1080p and 1440p and a cumulative measure of performance in single- and multi-threaded applications. We conducted our gaming tests with an RTX 3090, so performance deltas will shrink with lesser cards and higher resolution and fidelity settings.
At stock settings, the Core i5-12400 is 2% faster than the Ryzen 5 5600 in our cumulative measurement of 1080p gaming performance and 3.9% faster after overclocking. In our multi-threaded application benchmarks, the Core i5-12400 is 2.8% faster than the Ryzen 5 5600 at stock settings and 5.5% faster after tuning. It’s also 15.6% faster in single-threaded applications.
Both chips retail for around $199, leaving the Ryzen 5 5600 in a tricky position. If pricing stays in line with the MSRP, the 5600’s primary advantage will be its access to cheaper motherboards that lower the total platform cost. However, the AM4 platform is long in the tooth, and you’ll sacrifice the PCIe 4.0 interface if you go with older boards.
Additionally, while the 5600 lacks integrated graphics, the 12400 has the built-in UHD graphics 770 engine to provide at least a basic display out. You could also go with the graphics-less 12400F for ~$175, which helps reduce the impact of the extra costs associated with motherboards for Alder Lake. The Ryzen 5 5600 is also basically a 5600X-killer — it doesn’t make sense to spend the extra cash for such slim gains.
The $129 Core i3-12100 is 6.2% faster in gaming at stock settings than the $159 Ryzen 5 5500, and it ties after overclocking. The Ryzen 5 5500 is 19% faster than the Core i3-12100 in threaded applications, which increases to 23% after overclocking. Meanwhile, the stock Core i3-12100 is 19% faster than the Ryzen 5 5500 in single-threaded apps.
The Core i3-12100 is better for gaming-only rigs, but the Ryzen 5 5500 is undoubtedly a better all-rounder. However, the 5500 only supports the PCIe 3.0 interface, so it’s best suited for older, lower-end motherboards.
Critically, AMD has added support for the Ryzen 5000 chips to older 300-series motherboards. That makes perfect sense for the lower-end processors because it can keep the company’s existing customers from jumping to Alder Lake instead of waiting for the Zen 4 Ryzen 7000 chips to arrive.
However, AM4’s longevity is both a blessing and a curse — Intel’s Alder Lake has a more sophisticated platform that supports the PCIe 5.0 interface and DDR5 memory. Yes, PCIe 5.0 devices aren’t available yet, and DDR5 memory remains prohibitively expensive for this class of chip. However, it is nice to have those options in the years to come — PCIe 5.0 SSDs are in the works, and DDR5 pricing will eventually normalize. Additionally, AMD is moving on to the AM5 socket with Zen 4, making support for the 300-series boards feel like too little, too late.
AMD’s new tactic of repurposing its monolithic Zen 3 and Zen 2 APU designs by disabling the graphics units doesn’t seem like the best use of die area, but 7nm is mature and yields exceedingly well. This marks a new shift in the company’s strategy to using a monolithic die for the low end, a necessity for these lower price points because chiplet-based designs are more costly to produce in terms of packaging and logistics.
AMD has probably built up enough chips with defective iGPUs over the years to meet the initial demand, but we doubt it would purposely defeature chips to maintain the supply. As such, the supply of the defeatured APUs could dwindle rather quickly, much as we’ve seen with the company’s other low-end models (like the Ryzen 3 3300X and 3100).
The Ryzen 5 5500 is also a great chip for upgraders with existing Ryzen systems, but it only makes sense for new builds if you need more threaded heft and don’t mind using an older platform. The Core i3-12100 is a better choice for gaming-focused rigs due to its higher performance and friendlier price tag.
The Ryzen 5 5600 is a great drop-in chip for upgraders that already have systems built around older Zen processors, but it’s hard to recommend for a new build unless you’re willing to sacrifice modern amenities to maximize the bang for your buck. Overall, the Core i5-12400F is a better choice for both gaming and productivity-focused builds alike.
|Intel Socket 1700 DDR4 (Z690)||Core i3-12100, Core i5-12400|
|MSI Z690A WiFi DDR4|
|2x 8GB Trident Z Royal DDR4-3600 – Stock: DDR4-3200 14-14-14-36 / OC: DDR4-3800|
|AMD Socket AM4 (X570)||Ryzen 5 5600X, 5600G, 5600, 5500, 3600X, 3600|
|MSI MEG X570 Godlike|
|2x 8GB Trident Z Royal DDR4-3600 – Stock: DDR4-3200 14-14-14-36 | OC/PBO: DDR4-3800 (5600X, 5600) DDR4-4400 (5600G),Second-gen DDR4-3600|
|All Systems||Gigabyte GeForce RTX 3090 Eagle – Gaming and ProViz applications|
|Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti FE – Application tests|
|2TB Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus|
|Arctic MX-4 TIM|
|Windows 11 Pro|
|Cooling||Corsair H115i, Custom loop|
|Overclocking note||All configurations with overclocked memory also have tuned core frequencies and/or lifted power limits.|