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AMD Ryzen 5000 Review: The best consumer CPU we've ever seen


Many will see today as an historic shift in computing power. With its new Ryzen 5000 desktop CPUs, AMD has finally knocked Intel to the floor, and is raising its boxing gloves in victory as the flash bulbs pop and the ref declares a winner. The headline takeaway: Ryzen 9 5900X and Ryzen 9 5950X have trounced Intel’s Core i9.

The Ryzen 5000 chips using AMD’s Zen 3 cores are arguably the best consumer desktop CPUs the world has ever seen. Ryzen 5000 simply gives no quarter to its Intel arch-nemesis in any single task. Heavy lifting multi-core work? AMD. Light single-threaded tasks? AMD. Gaming? AMD. PCIe 4.0? AMD. No need to throw away your existing motherboard? AMD.

The $800 Ryzen 9 5950Xand $550 Ryzen 9 5900Xhave so utterly destroyed Core i9 that we’re still stunned by the severity of the sweep. But at the same time, we really shouldn’t be surprised, as this has been building ever since AMD first showed off its Zen core in Aug. 2016—just across the street from where Intel was ironically wrapping up its 20th and final Intel Developer Forum.

There’s a lot to unpack with these new CPUs, but we understand if you want to skip to “the good stuff.” So read on if you want to hear about AMD’s path to glory over the past few years, or feel free to jump ahead to these upcoming sections: 

Before Ryzen. After Ryzen.

You can see just how disruptive Ryzen has been by looking at the table below, which summarizes the last five years of consumer desktop computing history. At the top you can see the calm, blue waters of Intel, whose only competition was itself, testing the limits of just how much it could charge a consumer for a CPU (Hint: it was $1,723).

The first red entry, AMD’s original Ryzen processor, would upend it all by offering an 8-core CPU for less than half of what Intel had been charging the year before.

before ryzen after ryzen IDG

Before Ryzen. And After Ryzen.

From there it’s just been one duck and weave after another. As Intel’s chip architecture languished at 14 nanometers, AMD has literally danced around its rival’s aging body in the ring. AMD goosed its process, slightly improved its performance, and then cut prices even further with its Ryzen 7 2700X.

With Ryzen 9 3950X, AMD shocked the world with a consumer CPU packing 16 cores on a 7nm process at a reasonable price. While we don’t show it—the Intel equivalent—the Core i9-9960X was slower and cost $1,600.

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