AMD Zen3 – 5000 Series CPUs Release

CG Director Author Jerry James  by Jerry James   ⋮ 
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AMD Zen3 – 5000 Series CPUs Release

AMD announced its newest range of Ryzen 5000 (yes, we’re skipping 4000 on the desktop) on October 8th. They supposedly offer a whopping 19% IPC improvement over the last generation Ryzen processors – Ryzen 3000 CPUs. If this is indeed true, we’re looking at an extremely competitive lineup of processors. Please stay on the lookout for updates on their performance.

Before we talk about upgrades, it’s essential to understand what processors you can expect to see from AMD this generation (as of now).

Ryzen 5000 Processors Technical Specifications

 CoresThreadsBase FrequencyMax Boost FrequencyPrice in USD (MSRP)
Ryzen 5 5600X6123.70 GHz4.60 GHz299
Ryzen 7 5800X8163.80 GHz4.70 GHz449
Ryzen 9 5900X12243.70 GHz4.80 GHz549
Ryzen 9 5950X16323.40 GHz4.90 GHz799

A quick glance through the Ryzen SKUs that AMD announced is enough to confirm that the company has only announced its most premium products at this time. We’ll most likely see more value-oriented options like a Ryzen 7 5700X or a Ryzen 5 5600 before Intel’s Rocket Lake launch in Q1 2021.

For creative professionals, only 2 of these products would make sense – the Ryzen 9 5900X and the Ryzen 9 5950X. The Ryzen 7 5800X offers pretty terrible value, and no one should buy that particular SKU.

The 6-core Ryzen 5600X creates a bit of an issue when it comes to recommendations. If the performance data AMD showed is indeed accurate, we’re looking at a processor like the Core i5 10600K but without the ridiculous power draw. We’re likely to see better viewport performance on this release compared to last-generation processors.

But there’s a problem — the price.

If the price wasn’t a hindrance and you wanted the best viewport experience you could get for working on complex scenes, I’d bet you’d have jumped to Intel for your workstation months ago – leaving rendering to another machine entirely.

At a $299 price point, the 3600X doesn’t offer very good value. Wait for more value-oriented SKUs to launch.

IPC Gain: Why Does it Matter?

First off, what is IPC? It’s the amount of work the CPU can do within one clock cycle. Here’s a rough analogy:

Think of it this way. Say you’re tasked with filling a pail of water from a water tank using a pitcher/jar. How can you complete this task faster? Well, you could just be faster at filling the jug and emptying it into the tank (clock speed bump). The faster you are, the quicker you can fill the pail. But there’s one more way. You could grab a bigger jug and continue at the same speed as before. It’ll still be faster, right? That’s the equivalent of an IPC improvement here.

AMD’s Ryzen has consistently retained its lead over Intel when it comes to CPU rendering tasks where the raw multi-core performance of a processor matters more than any other factor. Whether you’re comparing the mainstream platforms or the HEDT platforms, AMD was a clear victor.

However, when it came to actively working on complex projects, AMD was at a disadvantage for a while. It wasn’t a significant downside, but it was one. To be fair, they did cover up most of their performance flaws with the Ryzen 3000 processors, but they still felt just a smidge behind Intel, as I pointed out in the 10900K and 10600K review for creators.

The Ryzen 5000 processors’ 19% IPC uplift should be more than enough to make up for their one tiny, tiny flaw. In fact, they might even be the best choice for active workstation use as well as rendering.

B450/X470 vs. B550 vs. X570 Motherboards: What do You Need to Run Zen 3 Processors?

AMD re-confirmed Zen 3 compatibility for older motherboards. However, 400-series motherboards will only get an update next year.

So, you should be able to get support for the newest processors from AMD without requiring a motherboard change. There’s no reason to jump to a 500-series board if you’re on a 400-series one unless you find yourself constantly running out of PCI-E bandwidth or extensibility.

As the 500-series motherboards come equipped with PCI-E 4.0 lanes, they will allow you to run the latest generation of devices without holding them back one bit.

Jumping from a Ryzen 3000 to Ryzen 5000 Processors: Do You Need an Upgrade?

As always, the answer is – it depends. I’ve split our audience into four broad categories to talk about each kind of workload individually.

Workload #1: CPU Rendering

If you’re primarily CPU rendering on your machine, you’ll most likely be on a Threadripper processor. Skip the Ryzen release and wait for the Zen 3 Threadripper SKUs. AMD is bound to announce them around Q1-Q2 2021.

Workload #2: GPU Rendering

Flatly no. If your primary workload is rendering using multiple GPUs, there’s absolutely no reason to upgrade to any of the announced Ryzen 5000 processors. In fact, we still recommend 2nd and 1st Generation Threadripper parts to budget builders because all you need is the PCI-E bandwidth to support as many GPUs as possible, and the processor doesn’t affect the rendering experience all that much.

Workload #3: Hybrid Rendering and Workstation Use

As I mentioned above, AMD lacked the snappiness that Intel offered, even with the improvements Ryzen 3000 processors brought to the market. But this Ryzen 5000 release should sort the issue out for good. I sincerely hope we no longer have to recommend two separate rendering and workstation systems for the best experience. We’re anxious to test them out and confirm this.

If you’re on a Ryzen 9 3950X and want something that’s better for both active work and rendering – yes, the Ryzen 9 5950X IS a viable drop-in upgrade that might be worth a look. Again, do wait for independent benchmarks to confirm this.

Workload #4: Gaming and Streaming

Once again, no. Don’t get caught up in marketing and think you have to upgrade. It’s a trap that many who follow the tech landscape get caught up in when reviewers and companies are showing off the latest and greatest to arrive on the scene.

A Ryzen 3000 processor hasn’t suddenly become a lousy gaming CPU. You might gain a few frames in games at 1440p and 1080p by jumping to a Ryzen 5000 part. But it’s not going to be noticeable because most competitive games run just fine on Ryzen 3000 processors – even if you’re into high-refresh-rate gaming with high frame rates.

If you’re just gaming, skip this launch.

Now, for streamers, it’s a bit more complicated.

For those using GPU-encoding (hardware encoding) to stream, there’s no reason to upgrade. But if you’re using software encoding, an upgrade might be worth it to get a more powerful processor that can relay a smooth stream to your viewers while ensuring your frame rates never dip too low.

Of course, I’ll throw in the obligatory – ‘wait for benchmarks’ here as well.

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Jerry James - post author

Hi, I’m Jerry – a Freelance Technical Content Writer and Strategist.
I’ve been building PCs for the past 15 years, and I’m not stopping anytime soon.
Feel free to comment and ask for my inputs on your PC builds; I’ll do my best to help out!

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DanF

Great post as always, Jerry! All these posts have helped me tremendously building my first ever PC and it was a success!
And not sure, but would there happen to be a typo about “The 6-core Ryzen 3600X”, and the 5600X was being referred instead?

Cheers.

Stefan

Hi Jerry, thanks alot for your first thoughts! Looking forward to more in-depths building guides.

Cheers