AMD Ryzen 7 5800X Review: The Pricing Conundrum – Tom’s Hardware

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AMD's Ryzen 7 5800X slots into AMD's Zen 3-powered product stack with eight cores and sixteen threads, serving as the mainstream workhorse of the Ryzen 5000 series processors that have taken our list of Best CPUs by storm. Powered by the Zen 3 architecture that delivers a ~19% increase in instruction per cycle (IPC) throughput, the Ryzen 7 5800X delivers the impressive gains over the previous-gen models that we've come to expect, resetting our performance expectations for an eight-core processor.

However, balancing a product stack is all about selecting the right price point for any given chip, and the Ryzen 7 5800X's relatively high price point ($50 more than the previous-gen model) not only puts it into contention with bruising competition from within AMD's own product stack, it also allows Intel's $374 Core i7-10700K to slot in as a value alternative.

The $449 Ryzen 7 5800X is the next step up the ladder from the $299 six-core 12-thread Ryzen 5 5600X, the best gaming CPU for the money, but the 5800X provides roughly the same gaming performance for $150 more.AMD also stopped bundling air coolers with its chips with a TDP rating that exceeds 65W, so the 105W Ryzen 7 5800X comes without what used to be one of AMD's most prized value-adds for the Ryzen 7 series the Wraith Prism RGB cooler.

AMD's cooler-less Ryzen 5000 series models require a 280mm AIO cooler (or equivalent air cooler), adding plenty of cost into the equation. That will likely dissuade gaming-focused enthusiasts from dropping the extra cash for the 5800X's two additional cores that don't deliver meaningful gaming performance gains over the Ryzen 5 5600X.

Conversely, the $549 Ryzen 9 5900X is an alluring chip for the productivity-minded. The 5900X comes armed with 12 cores and 24 threads for $100 more than the 5800X, and the extra four cores and eight threads equate to ~37% more performance in threaded workloads for 22% more cash. The Ryzen 9 5900X is also the fastest gaming chip in the Zen-3 powered stack, so there aren't any tradeoffs from moving up to the competitively-priced 12-core model.

Intel's $440 Core i9-10850K comes into the picture with ten cores and 20 threads. This chip serves as the gaming equivalent to the $490 Core i9-10900K and is $10 cheaper than the Ryzen 7 5800X. The aging Skylake microarchitecture doesn't have enough gas left in the tank to match the Ryzen 7 5800X's stellar performance in gaming or lightly-threaded work, but it does offer roughly 3% more performance in threaded performance. Given its other deficiencies, we don't see Core i9's extra threaded horsepower wooing away many Ryzen 7 5800X shoppers.

AMD's Zen 3 suffers from a noticeable gap in its product stack: Based upon product naming alone, it appears there is a missing Ryzen 7 5700X to plug the $150 hole in the stack, but we aren't sure if AMD will actually bring a 5700X to market.For now, that gap allows the $374 Core i7-10700K to weigh in as a cheaper alternative to the 5800X, but you'll make plenty of tradeoffs for the lower price point. Given the 10700K's low price point, it makes a solid value alternative - just be aware that you'll sacrifice performance.

AMD's premium could be a disadvantage if Intel becomes more aggressive on pricing, but AMD's suggested selling prices rarely manifest at retail, and continuing shortages have found Ryzen 5000 chips selling far over recommended pricing. History indicates that, given sufficient supply, AMD's processors typically retail for far less than the official price points. That makes it hard to predict how pricing will shake out over the next months as supply normalizes.

Meanwhile, Intel's response won't come until the first quarter of 2021 when its Rocket Lake chips blast off. These new chips bring a back-ported Cypress Cove architecture that grants a double-digit IPC increase paired with Intel's never-ending line of 14nm chips.Early indicators point to these chips flaunting their own impressive gains in per-core performance.

Intel's Rocket Lake tops out at eight cores, so while those chips won't be able to challenge AMD's core-heavy Ryzen 9 processors, they could be worthy rivals for AMD's Ryzen 7 and 5 models. For now, Zen 3 has caught Intel flat-footed with its Comet Lake chips, so you should only consider them as alternatives if they're retailing below the official MSRPs.

The Ryzen 5000 series processors come as four models that span from six cores and twelve threads up to 16 cores and 32 threads. With the exception of the Ryzen 7 5800X, AMD increased its Precision Boost clock rates across the board. However, the Ryzen 7 5800X has the same 4.7 GHz boost clock as its predecessor, the Ryzen 7 3800XT.

As before, AMD only guarantees its boost frequencies on a single core, and all-core boosts will vary based on the cooling solution, power delivery, and motherboard firmware. Given sufficient accommodations, the chips could exceed their specified boost clocks - our Ryzen 7 5800X sample frequently boosted to 4.85 GHz on a single core, which is well above the rated 4.7 GHz boost. It's clear that AMD has spec'd the Ryzen 5000 processors conservatively.

AMD also reduced Zen 3's base frequencies compared to the previous-gen processors. For instance, the Ryzen 7 5800X comes with a 3.8 GHz base frequency compared to the previous-gen 3800XT's 3.9 GHz, but in practice, that isn't a meaningful distinction. AMD says that if you top the chip with an adequate cooler, it will rarely (if ever) drop to the base frequency. We recorded many cases of a 4.5 GHz all-core boost with the Ryzen 7 5800X, which certainly wasn't possible with the previous-gen chips. We'll cover that more in-depth below.

The Ryzen chips continue to expose 20 lanes of PCIe 4.0 to the user and stick with DDR4-3200 memory as the base spec. However, if the silicon lottery shines upon you, we found that the chips offer much better memory overclocking due to improved fabric overclocking capabilities.We achieved DDR4-3800 with a 1:1 memory/fabric clock ratio, which wasn't possible with the previous-gen Ryzen 7 3800XT, but still short of the DDR4-4000 we achieved with the Ryzen 9 5900X. Overall the 500-series motherboard firmwares are mature, but there is continuing development on the memory and fabric overclocking front. That means we could see further improvements here with newer BIOS updates.

The Ryzen 5000 chips drop into existing AM4 motherboards with 500-series chipsets, like X570, B550, and A520 models. AMD is adding support for 400-series motherboards starting in Q1, 2021, but that comes with a few restrictions. Regardless, some motherboard vendors have jumped ahead and already offer support on 400-series motherboards, so that initiative is well underway. Just remember that you'll lose support for the PCIe 4.0 interface on those older motherboards.

We've covered AMD's Zen 3 microarchitecture more in-depth in our Ryzen 9 5950X and 5900X review. The highlight reel is that AMD has unified its L3 cache into one 32MB contiguous cluster, which vastly reduces memory latency, thus boosting performance in latency-sensitive workloads, like gaming.AMD also made a number of fine-grained optimizations to the microarchitecture.

AMD leverages its existing Ryzen SoC for the 5000 series chips. Zen 3 uses the same 12nm I/O Die (IOD) paired with either one or two 8-core chiplets (CCD) in an MCM (Multi-Chip Module) configuration. For the Ryzen 7 5800X, the chip comes with one CCD with all eight cores enabled, while CPUs with 12 or 16 cores come with two chiplets.

The IOD still contains the same memory controllers, PCIe, and other interfaces that connect the SoC to the outside world. Just like with the Matisse chips, the IOD measures ~125mm^2 and has 2.09 billion transistors.

The chiplets have been redesigned, however, and now measure ~80.7mm^2 and have 4.15 billion transistors. That's slightly larger than Zen 2's CCDs with ~74mm^2 of silicon and 3.9 billion transistors. For more details of the magic behind the 19% increase in IPC, head here.

We've included our test system breakdown at the end of the article, and we also have the frequency, boost, and thermal testing following the gaming and application testing below.

Much like their previous-gen counterparts, the Ryzen 5000 series processors rarely achieve all-core overclocks that exceed the single-core boost frequency, so manual all-core overclocking results in less performance in lightly-threaded tasks. As such, we stuck with AMD's Precision Boost Overdrive (PBO), which boosts performance in multi-core workloads while maintaining the high single-core boost clocks.AMD has also announced its new Precision Boost Overdrive 2, which confers a slight performance boost in single-threaded work while also improving multi-threaded performance. Final BIOS revisions with the new feature roll out later this month, so be aware that our testing below leverages the standard Precision Boost Overdrive feature.

We've had great results with memory overclocking with the Ryzen 5000 series. However, while motherboard firmware is solid for stock and general overclocking use, it is still very much a work in progress for fabric overclocking. That impacts the peak memory frequencies you can attain while still using the 1:1:1 fclk/uclk/mclk ratio that provides the best results.

We've reached DDR4-4000 with a 2000 MHz fabric with other Ryzen 5000 processors, but we're limited to a 1900 MHz fabric speed for the Ryzen 7 5800X. As such, we dialed in DDR4-3800 at 16-16-16-36 timings for our 5800X PBO configuration. We had to dial the CCD and IOD voltage to 1.15V to stabilize the fabric frequency.

We conducted our testing with Windows 10 Pro (2004 build 19041.450) with the newest versions of each benchmark - with the exception of Cinebench R23 and v-ray 5, both of which recently launched. We'll add those tests in future reviews.

Here you can see the geometric mean of our gaming tests at 1080p and 1440p, with each resolution split into its own chart.We tested with an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 to reduce the impact of graphics-imposed bottlenecks. Be aware that these deltas will shrink with either higher resolutions or lesser GPUs.

The Ryzen 7 5800X and the Ryzen 5 5600X essentially tie in our overall measure of 1080p gaming performance at both stock and overclocked settings. Although the 5800X does post slightly better 99th percentile framerates, the deltas aren't significant enough to alter the purchasing decision. We see a similar trend in our 1440p results, making the decision easy if you're only interested in gaming - the Ryzen 5 5600X, our current top pick in our list of Best CPUs for Gaming, is the chip to get. In a nutshell, there's no meaningful difference between these two chips in gaming.

Turning to Intel, the $375 Core i7-10700K is $75 (20%) cheaper than the 5800X and trails in 1080p gaming by 15%, and 7% at 1440p. The 5800X also offers better 99th percentile frame rates. Given the Ryzen 5 5600X's low price point, that doesn't really leave the 10700K much room to operate for gaming-focused rigs. Go with the Ryzen 5 5600X if you're looking for a cheaper chip than the 5800X for gaming, specifically.

The Core i9-10900K is $40 more expensive than the 5800X, but it also trails in average frame rates in gaming, even after tuning both processors. The overclocked 10900K does squeeze out 3% and 5% higher 99th percentile frame rates in 1080p and 1440p gaming, respectively. Still, it's important to note that overclocking raises platform costs in the form of beefier cooling requirements, and for most enthusiasts, these small gains in 99th percentile frame rates aren't worth the extra cost. Given the price delta associated with the 10900K, it isn't a better value for gaming than the Ryzen 7 5800X.

However, the Core i9-10850K offers nearly the same performance as the 10900K in gaming, and is $10 cheaper than the 5800X. The 10850K is compelling due to its overclockability. Once tuned, we've found that it offers the same performance as the 10900K at 5.1 GHz, which we use as a stand-in for the overclocked 10850K because gaming performance is virtually identical. At stock settings, the 10850K isn't quite as competitive against the Ryzen 7 5800X as the 10900K. The 10850K lags the 5800X by 11% in 1080p gaming and 5% at 1440p, which doesn't make a compelling case for choosing it over the 5800X, either, unless you're dead set on building an Intel-powered gaming rig or need integrated graphics, of course.

You'll see a few differences between the Ryzen 7 5800X and 5600X in the titles below, largely where games prize either core counts or other factors. However, those deltas rarely exceed 3%. Given the similarities between the two processors, we're going to skip the blow-by-blow commentary for the individual benchmarks below. We'll dive in a bit deeper during the synthetic gaming tests and the application testing results, both of which have larger performance deltas due to the Ryzen 7 5800X's more generous core counts.

Do pay attention to the previous-gen Ryzen models (Ryzen 7 1800X, Ryzen 7 2700X, Ryzen 7 3800X, and Ryzen 7 3800XT) as you flip through the gaming charts - they tell quite the story of how far AMD has come in just a few short years of refinements to its Zen architecture and manufacturing process.

We run these synthetic gaming tests as part of our main application test script. We use an RTX 2080 Ti for these tests to facilitate faster testing, but we use an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 for all other gaming benchmarks (we don't include these tests in the preceding cumulative measurements).

AMD's core-heavy processors tend to dominate in threaded synthetic tests, like the Stockfish chess engine and 3DMark's DX11 and DX12 CPU benchmarks, but Intel's Core i9 models come with ten cores and twenty threads compared to the Ryzen 7 5800X's eight-core 16-thread design. As such, the Intel i9 processors carve out significant wins at stock settings in Stockfish, which scales nearly linearly with core count, and overclocking doesn't help the 5800X.

The DX11tests don't scale nearly as well with additional core counts, allowing the Ryzen 7 5800X and its large unified cache to take the lead over the competing chips. The DX12 test scales better than the DX11 variant, so here the Intel processors carve out a win at stock settings, and overclocking grants the 10900K a 17% lead over the tuned Ryzen 7 5800X.

VRMark again proves to be a bright spot for the Zen 3-powered chips. This benchmark leans heavily on per-core performance (a mixture of IPC and frequency). As you can see from the previous-gen Ryzen processors, AMD has traditionally trailed in this benchmark, but the Ryzen 7 5800X takes the uncontested lead, at least over the Intel processors. That reverses the long-held trend of Intel domination in this benchmark, and the 5800X's win is quite convincing - the stock 5800X, by virtue of its higher IPC and unified cache, beats the overclocked Core i9-10900K by a comparatively large margin.

Hitman 2 doesn't seem to scale well from 1080p to 1440p, at least not at the heightened fidelity settings we use for the benchmark. We stuck with the 1080p test for this title because the same trends carry over to 1440p.

We're just as excited as anyone else about Microsoft's long long-overdue release of Flight Simulator, and we're sure that serious flight sim fans will want to crank up the resolution on this title. Hence our tests at 1440p, which typically bring graphics bottlenecks into play. Expect these deltas to widen with 1080p testing.

This geometric mean of both the most lightly- and heavily-threaded tests in our application suite speak volumes. We're quite accustomed to seeing AMD's chips lead in the multi-threaded rankings while trailing, sometimes by sizeable margins, in the single-threaded performance ranking. That isn't the case anymore.

Although the Ryzen 5 5600X is incredibly potent in gaming performance given its price point, if you want the fastest possible single-threaded application performance possible without dropping $800 for the Ryzen 9 5950X, the Ryzen 9 5900X and Ryzen 7 5800X are your chips. However, the 5950X nudges past the 5800X by less than 1%. On the other end of the spectrum, at stock settings, the Ryzen 7 5800X beats the Ryzen 5 5600X by 4%, which doesn't sound like much unless you consider the relatively slim deltas we're accustomed to in this ranking.

Intel's Core i7-10700K and i9-10900K aren't very impressive by comparison - in lightly-threaded work, they trail by 14% and 10%, respectively, and even overclocking the chips doesn't bring them up to par with the stock Ryzen 7 5800X. In contrast, after tuning, the Ryzen 7 5800X offers the fastest single-threaded performance of AMD's Zen 3 stable.

Threaded applications fall more into the target area of content creators, and here we see that the Ryzen 7 5800X beats the Core i7-10700K easily, but the 10700K's lower price point, not to mention AMD's $150 gap between the Ryzen 7 and 5 families, allows it to slot in as a value alternative for the productivity-minded.

In terms of threaded performance, the Ryzen 7 5800X faces the most competition from the comparably-priced Core i9-10850K. At stock settings, the 1085K leads by 3% in our cumulative threaded performance measurement, and assuming your chip overclocks as well as ours did (we use the 10900K @ 5.1 for the stand-in because the chips are identical after tuning), that could jump to a 10% improvement in threaded work.

That does complicate matters for those that prioritize threaded horsepower, but here the 10850K's comparably-lackluster single-threaded performance enters the equation. Overall, the Ryzen 7 5800X offers a better blend of performance in both single- and multi-threaded workloads given the similar price points, and that's only if you're considering the application performance side of the equation. Despite the 10850K's $10 price advantage, the 5800X's excellent gaming performance sweetens the deal.

In reality, the Ryzen 7 5800X's biggest competitor comes from within the Ryzen stack - the Ryzen 9 5900X offers far superior threaded performance, along with better performance in gaming and lightly threaded applications, but for only $100 more. That's a 22% increase in price for 37% more threaded performance. Given that impressive return, $100 isn't a bridge too far for most high-end builds, so pay attention to the 5900X in the charts below.


AMD Ryzen 7 5800X Review: The Pricing Conundrum - Tom's Hardware

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