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AMD Ryzen 7 5800X - Review 2020


Just looking at dollars, cents, and cores, you wouldn’t be faulted for thinking the new Editors’ Choice-winning 12-core AMD Ryzen 9 5900X is the best desktop CPU to face down Intel’s 10-core flagship, the Core i9-10900K. (Both should sell for around $550.) But in our testing, AMD’s next processor down in its new “Zen 3” Ryzen 5000 stack, the eight-core AMD Ryzen 7 5800X ($449), puts up a surprisingly powerful challenge to the Core i9-10900K in both gaming and productivity tasks. Though the Ryzen 7 5800X sports two less cores than that Core i9, its Zen 3 architecture boosts it enough to make it a serious value pick among high-end CPUs released this year. Like the Ryzen 9 5900X, for most folks it’s overkill solely for use in gaming at 1080p or 1440p (especially considering the still-stellar Ryzen 3 3300X exists). But anyone seeking a well-engineered—and well-rounded—high-end processor that won’t break the bank should keep the Ryzen 7 3800X front and center. It’s a muscle-bound overachiever and also an Editors’ Choice winner.


The AMD Ryzen 7 5800X Specs: Filling Out the Zen 3 Top End

To start, if you’d like a deeper dive into all the improvements that AMD has made to its newest line of desktop CPUs in the Zen 3 launch, we recommend checking out our comprehensive review of the Ryzen 9 5900X. But as a situational summary, here’s a quick overview of the specs for the new Zen 3 desktop stack of Ryzen 5000-series CPUs, which comprises four chips in the first wave…

We’ve reviewed the Ryzen 9 5900X alongside the Ryzen 7 3800X, and we will review the other two in the coming weeks. The eight-core/16-thread AMD Ryzen 7 5800X enters as the third-most-powerful CPU in the late-2020 Zen 3 stack, just behind the 12-core/24-thread Ryzen 9 5900X ($549).

In the above spec breakout, you can see that AMD is shoring up almost every price bracket in the midrange and high end with processors that can slot into almost any budget, save for budget system builders. (We suspect Ryzen 5000/Zen 3 flavors of those CPUs aren’t too far behind this launch, however.)

AMD Ryzen 7 3800X

Next, let’s take a look at the Ryzen 7 5800X versus its last-generation AMD Zen 2 equivalents, and the current like-priced “Comet Lake” 10th Generation Core competition from Intel…

As you can see, when comparing the Ryzen 7 5800X to the Intel Core i7-10700K, the latter trails in metrics like power draw and legacy motherboard compatibility. However, they both feature the same number of cores and threads: eight cores and 16 threads each. The LGA 1200 socket is new with Intel’s 10th Generation Core CPUs, requiring a new motherboard. The Ryzen 7 3800X’s support for the AM4 socket means you might be able to use it on a late-model AMD board.

You can use an X570 or B550 AMD board with the Zen 3 chips with a BIOS update, and many X470 and B450 motherboards should get BIOS updates to work with Zen 3 CPUs in early 2021. Although you might expect to save a bunch of bucks if you already own a Socket AM4-compatible motherboard, those hoping for a bundled cooler inside the box to keep costs down will be disappointed. Since its line of Ryzen 3000 XT CPUs released earlier this year, AMD has shied away from including bundled coolers like the Wraith Prism with its top-end processors, under the expectation that users shopping at this price level will have (or want to buy) their own air or liquid coolers to install during setup.

Ryzen 7 Box

Intel does still lead on boost clock speed, which is where it has hung its hat regarding gaming results for the past two generations of chips. But are those boost clocks alone enough to carry the company’s aging 14nm++ architecture to a first-place finish in performance numbers? Let’s jump into our benchmarking suite to find out.


Testing the AMD Ryzen 7 5800X: The Zen 3 Sweet Spot?

For our test setup, we installed the Ryzen 7 5800X into an MSI MEG X570 Godlike AM4 motherboard (our standard test platform for latest-generation Ryzens) and populated two of the DIMM slots with 16GB of memory set at 3,000MHz. An Nvidia GeForce GTX 2080 Ti handled video output during the CPU tests. (Like other Ryzen desktop chips not ending in “G,” these first four Zen 3-based Ryzens do not have on-chip graphics, so a video card is necessary.) We used an NZXT Kraken Z63 280mm closed-loop liquid cooling solution to keep the chip cool during all our benchmark runs, with fan profiles set to the default of our Godlike’s BIOS settings.

AMD Ryzen 7 5800X Bottom

We test CPUs using a variety of synthetic benchmarks that offer proprietary scores, as well as real-world tests using consumer apps like 7-Zip, and 3D games such as Far Cry 5. Included in the charts below is a variety of like-priced competing and sibling AMD and Intel CPUs.

CPU-Centric Tests

For starters, concentrate on the Ryzen 7 3800X and the Intel Core i9-10900K. Short version? That’s a little embarrassing for Intel…

While the Intel Core i9-10900K does maintain a slight lead over the Ryzen 7 5800X in a few of these runs, the $549 processor didn’t earn enough medals over AMD’s $449 competition to justify the price gulf. The Core i9-10900K wins on the single-core run of our iTunes benchmark and the all-cores run of Cinebench R15, and it managed a draw against the 5800X on all-cores POV-Ray.

For the rest of our testing, it wasn’t nearly as close as Intel might have hoped. When we ran both processors through our Cinebench R15 single-core test, the Ryzen 7 5800X beats the Core i9-10900K by 25 percent, despite having 20 percent less boost clock to do it with. Then came the multi-core tests, which on the whole weren’t all that close, save for the two (slight) wins for Intel we mentioned above. It’s not a surprise to see Ryzen chips lead here (they’ve often held pole position in these benchmarks since the original Zen launch when you look at like-priced processors), but once you factor in the price-to-performance ratio, Intel finishes further behind in the race than ever.

Let’s repeat that in a different way: Even with two more cores available, the 10-core Intel Core i9-10900K loses on some of these multi-thread-aware benchmarks to the eight-core Ryzen 7 5800X, and anything but all-out victory here is invariably still a loss for Intel considering the power differential. As we theorized in our review of the Ryzen 9 5900X, these wins in single-core and multi-core results look to just be down to all the optimizations in design and layout that are a part of what makes Zen 3 different from Zen 2.

AMD has been hard at work iterating and improving everything about the Zen architecture for several years now, and, finally, those efforts look to be paying off in spades. Based on these tests, we didn’t see an area where the two Zen 3 processors could be considered objectively “worse” than Intel’s comparative offerings. And in an economically troubled time when prospective buyers need the absolute most performance for their dollar possible, the two Zen 3 chips tested so far seize strong positions over the equivalent 10th Generation Intel Cores.

Gaming at the High End: AMD Ryzen 7 5800X Frame Rates

Here’s what we saw in our bank of gaming tests with our GeForce RTX 2080 Ti card running the show. This top-end consumer graphics card is the primary arbiter of performance at 4K with all of the CPUs that we have laid out below. At 1080p, though, the card gets out of the way a bit more and lets the CPU differences shine. 

As an eight-core processor, the AMD Ryzen 7 5800X sits just over the threshold of what’s generally considered “necessary” for a gaming CPU, since the great majority of games don’t leverage more than six cores at a time. That said, the Ryzen 7 5800X still excels across the board in gaming, even managing to beat out the Ryzen 9 5900X on every single 1080p test.

By proxy, this also means it tops most of the results the Intel Core i9-10900K put up in the same runs, and that was previously the fastest processor for 1080p gaming in 2020. There were certain titles that the Core i9-10900K held a technical lead in, such as Hitman: Absolution and the original Tomb Raider (2013). However, these minor wins aren’t nearly enough in our book to bridge the $100 gap between it and the Ryzen 7 5800X.


A Brief Look at Overclocking and Thermals

In our testing, when overclocking or at stock, the Ryzen 7 5800X never went above 69 degrees C, which lines up well with the results we saw in the same tests on the Ryzen 9 5900X, which hit a max of 71 degrees C.

To continue our comparison with Intel’s Core i9-10900K, which maxed out at 79 degrees C during temperature testing, it’s clear that the many innovations on offer in Zen 3, culminating in the 105-watt TDP for this chip, help to keep the 5800X cooler than the competition even during the most demanding scenarios. That includes multi-core content creation tasks that last for more than 10 minutes at a time.

Ryzen Master

Finally, on our overclocking trials, we were able to achieve a stable overclock of roughly 10%, which was surprisingly 4% less than what we could get out of the 12-core Ryzen 9 5900X. That said, practically speaking, it did not matter much, just like with the Ryzen 9 5900X. Any overclock applied to the chip returned either equal or diminished real-world benchmark scores or frame rates versus what we saw in our stock benchmarks. Clearly, the 5800X has been designed tightly enough to squeeze just about all the juice out of the silicon right from the box.


Verdict: Gamers Will Go Ga-Ga

Intel is prepping, targeting early 2021, yet another launch of chips based on the 14nm++ lithography with its upcoming “Rocket Lake” desktop CPU refresh. Meanwhile, AMD continues to steam ahead with Zen 3 processors that, without mincing words, now force Intel’s competing desktop CPUs into an even deeper defensive crouch.

AMD Ryzen 7 5800X Box

The AMD Ryzen 7 5800X isn’t the absolute fastest of what Zen 3 has to offer in content creation. But its balance of price to performance in both gaming and content work is what really sets this specific Zen 3 CPU apart from other new-generation AMD and Intel chips we’ve tested so far. The CPU is a great pick for anyone who wants a processor that can hold its own in creative tasks like media editing and rendering. But it also leaves almost nothing on the table when it’s time to fire up one of your favorite games in 1080p.

It’s a great gaming chip, to be sure, but if a pure gaming CPU is what you are after and money is short, we’d still recommend considering cheaper options like the Zen 2-based Ryzen 3 3300X. Plus, if past benchmarks are any indication of future ones, it’s possible that the six-core Ryzen 5 5600X ($299) released alongside the Ryzen 7 5800X might prove even more of an enticing option for gamers than either the Ryzen 7 5800X or Ryzen 3 3300X might. We’re looking forward to testing that one when it arrives.

But for today, if you’re looking for a killer balance of price (under $500), performance, and core/thread count both for pumped-up photo/video work and for competitive, frame-rate-sensitive play, the Ryzen 7 5800X is spectacular silicon. It’s another brick in AMD’s fast-rising wall of desktop dominance.

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