In the market for a midrange or budget PC but don’t want Intel inside? You’ll soon have some new CPU options: AMD’s Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 3, which the company unveiled today after months of speculation and leaks.
Unlike the flagship Ryzen 7, which is now on sale for use in high-end gaming rigs, the midrange Ryzen 5 and budget-oriented Ryzen 3 aren’t yet available, but they are shaping up as viable competitors for the Intel Core i5 and Core i3, respectively.
The six-core Ryzen 5 1600X, which is slated for release in the second quarter of 2017, will have a base clock speed of 3.5GHz and can be boosted to 4GHz. Pricing hasn’t been announced yet, but AMD said the 1600X will land in the sub-$300 bracket.
In AMD’s internal testing, it achieved a score of 1,132 on the industry-standard Cinebench performance benchmark, handily besting the Core i5 7600k’s score. Independent benchmark scores are not yet available (see this guide for more on how we use benchmark tests at PC Labs), but AMD’s own results certainly give Intel cause for concern.
The Ryzen 5 will also come in a four-core variety, the 1500X, with a base clock speed of 3.5GHz, boostable to 3.7GHz.
In the second half of the year, AMD also plans to release the Ryzen 3 for budget PCs, although it hasn’t yet announced performance and pricing for those chips. Once the lineup is complete, AMD hopes Ryzen will challenge what it sees as Intel’s ho-hum approach to mainstream processor innovation.
“One of the worst afflictions you can have is incrementalism,” AMD’s General Manager of Computing and Graphics Jim Anderson said at a press event in San Francisco last week. He was talking about Intel, and suggested that its chips have seen modest 10 percent performance boosts between generations even as they get more expensive.
Of course, it’s relatively easy for the Ryzen family to bring better performance at a lower price right out of the box, because AMD is essentially starting from scratch—the company said it spent four years and more than 2 million engineering hours developing the Ryzen chips. What will be more impressive is if successive Ryzen iterations also offer performance improvements reminiscent of the late-90’s heyday of CPU innovation.