AMD at the Australian press launch of the Zen ecosystem, including the Ryzen processors and the 500-series graphics cards.
AMD at the Australian press launch of the Zen ecosystem, including the Ryzen processors and the 500-series graphics cards.

PC processors just got exciting again

IT'S saying something that both the computer using public and AMD both have something to be happy about right now. It's been a long time since processor maker has brought something to market that truly created some competition with the industry heavyweight, Intel.

But now they have.

This is important for many reasons, not least of all being the pressure it puts on Intel to stop charging so much for processors, finally. It's also important because it creates competition in terms of things like features and compatibility.

AMD released its new line of Ryzen processors in March to a lot of hope from those of us who are looking to build or upgrade our computers soon. Mainly this came from seeing Intel-competitive performance at price points so far below what we were used to it has made a huge change to the market.

These new processors are based on the much-awaited new Zen architecture and come with new multitasking features and self-diagnostic sensors to make overclocking easier.

From its top-of-the-line offering, the 1800X to its entry-level model, the 1400, the Ryzen processors are considered almost as good as their Intel counterparts but much better in terms of value for money.

The Ryzen 7 line, the 1800x, 1700x, and 1700, is aimed squarely at intel's i7 series processors, while the Ryzen 5 line is, as you may have guessed, aimed at the Intel i5 series.

The Ryzen 5 series, the 1600X, 1600, 1500X, and the 1400 represents the more affordable end of the processor offering from AMD. The 1600X is configured similarly to Intel's Core i7-6800k and has 6 cores running 12 threads. More cores and more threads let heavy-duty software such as image editing, video editing, and gaming run faster and more smoothly.

The 1600 also shares the 6-core, 12-thread architecture while the 1500X and 1400 have four cores with eight threads. Even four cores is a solid architecture for anyone who isn't stretching their computer to some kind of limit.

All the 5-series processors come with a default clock speed and a boost speed, with the processor running faster when it's better cooled. The 1600x is obviously the fastest out of the box but all processors are unlocked so that enthusiasts can overclock the chip for higher speeds.

The suspicion here is that the 1600 will wind up being a better buy than the 1600x despite being 400mhz slower purely because the latter can be overclocked to, hopefully, similar performance to its faster cousin.

Like anything to do with overclocking, however, it's not something you do unless you both completely understand how to do it and aren't afraid to risk shortening the lifespan of your processor if you do it badly.

The Ryzen 5 processors are for most people. The 1400 being a perfect pick for a home theatre PC. The 1500X is hard to go past for a home computer. The 1600X and 1600 for gamers and people who edit some form of media who need a reliably fast card but can't or don't need to fork out for the Ryzen 7 models.

When buying or building a new computer, keep an eye out for the Ryzen chips as they may just save you a lot of money for the performance they put out.

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