The Ryzen CPU Buyer’s Guide

We recently covered the current lineup of GPUs in 2019, but we didn’t offer any CPUs to go along with them. Luckily, AMD has many Ryzen CPU options to complement your new GPU.

Best Choice

MSI Gaming AMD Ryzen X470

Best of the Best

Allows overclocking, multi-GPU support, additional PCIE lanes for add-in cards/storage

Premium

Great features

Offers overclocking, an additional USB 3.1 Gen 2 port

Best Value

MSI ProSeries A320

Affordable

Supports up to AMD Ryzen lineup of 4C/8T chips

 Chipset only allows 1x USB 3.1 Gen 2 port

Before Ryzen, AMD’s last large-scale CPU architecture was FX, which was released in 2011. (For perspective: children born when FX launched are now entering school.) Over that six-year gap of AMD not being able to compete with Intel in the High-End and Enthusiast markets, we’ve seen a massive shift from AMD to Intel at practically every price point and in every use case.

The AMD lineup of CPU successfully competes with Intel — and in some respects triumphs over them — at practically every price point from $160 to $1,000.

This doesn’t mean that you should immediately jump from the blue side to the red side, however, as Intel still has the upper hand when it comes to things like single-core performance and IPC. At the end of the day, however, AMD has done exactly what they intended to: give consumers a second option for Ryzen CPUs.

Ryzen Central Processing Unit Lineup Overview

R7 2700X
  • Number of CPU Cores: 8
  • Total L3 cache: 16MB
  • Total L2 cache: 4MB
  • Base clock: 3.7GHz
  • Max boost clock: 4.3GHz
  • Default TDP: 105W
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R7 2700
  • Number of CPU Cores: 8
  • Total L3 cache: 16MB
  • Total L2 cache: 4MB
  • Base clock: 3.2GHz
  • Max boost clock: 4.1GHz
  • Default TDP: 65W
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R5 2600X
  • Number of CPU Cores: 6
  • Total L3 cache: 16MB
  • Total L2 cache: 3MB
  • Base clock: 3.6GHz
  • Max boost clock: 4.2GHz
  • Default TDP: 95W
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R5 2600
  • Number of CPU Cores: 6
  • Total L3 cache: 16MB
  • Total L2 cache: 3MB
  • Base clock: 3.4GHz
  • Max boost clock: 3.9GHz
  • Default TDP: 65W
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R5 2400G
  • Number of CPU Cores: 4
  • Total L3 cache: 4MB
  • Total L2 cache: 2MB
  • Base clock: 3.6GHz
  • Max boost clock: 3.9GHz
  • Default TDP: 46-65W
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The goal of this Ryzen CPU buyer’s guide is to brief you on the currently-available chips that comprise the Ryzen CPU lineup, demonstrate where each chip performs best, and help you decide which chip from the AMD Ryzen lineup is right for you based on your budget and intended use.

Let’s get to it!

Differences Between Motherboard Types

When building or upgrading a computer-based around Ryzen, eventually you’ll have to decide what best Ryzen motherboard you’re pairing your chip with. However, it isn’t quite as simple as picking the highest-rated best Ryzen motherboard and checking out.

Not every Ryzen chip from the Ryzen lineup will work on an AM4 motherboard, and some features won’t be enabled depending on which board you go with. Below, we’ll go over the core differences of these best Ryzen motherboards that you’ll find when putting the three major board types alongside each other.

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MSI ProSeries A320


The A320 chipset from AMD Ryzen lineup is the lowest-end currently offered on the Ryzen platform.


It supports only up to AMD Ryzen lineup of 4C/8T chips, meaning you cannot seat an R5 1600 or greater on the socket; the chip simply won’t work. Aside from this, the best Ryzen motherboard also does not allow overclocking — a feature that is enabled on every Ryzen CPU currently available.


The chipset also only allows 1x USB 3.1 Gen 2 port. At the end of the day, A320 is more for off-the-shelf office PCs than it is for any gamer.

2

GIGABYTE B450M


The B450M chipset from the Ryzen lineup is where AMD strikes the best balance between budget and features. B450M boards offer overclocking, an additional USB 3.1 Gen 2 port, *most best Ryzen motherboards support AMD’s entire Ryzen CPU lineup, and the price of these best Ryzen motherboards generally stays in the $100-200 range.


*Some B450M best Ryzen motherboards will not support every Ryzen chip currently available, and this will be on a board-by-board basis. Check specifications for each B450M board before purchasing.

3

MSI Gaming AMD Ryzen X470


The X470 chipset is AMD’s flagship series of best Ryzen motherboards which are intended to bring you every feature that AM4 offers. With these best Ryzen motherboards, you’re allowed overclocking, multi-GPU support, additional PCIE lanes for add-in cards/storage, and more.


For most consumers, the the previous version, the X370 chipset, is going to suffice, offering the best middle-ground for the best Ryzen motherboard’s platform at a great price. If you’re looking to be on the bleeding edge of AM4 however, you’re going to want to look towards the X470 chipset.

Ryzen Chips Overview

In the AMD Ryzen lineup that is currently available, you’ll see a handful of chips ranging from $160 all the way up to $450. 


This is because AMD is intending for their Ryzen platform to cover every possible price bracket. This includes even high-end hardware, as AMD recently announced their Epyc lineup of processors intended for server use, as well as their Threadripper series, which is intended to bridge the gap between their server market and consumer market.


Below, we’ll quickly cover the general specs pertaining to each chip. This includes their core count, cache, Max boost clock, and finally cost. This is to give you a brief rundown of what each chip offers, and what it is best intended for.


It is important to note that within each Ryzen CPU lineup, the only difference between each chip is their stock clock speed and overclocking capabilities.

Enthusiast ($300+)

1

AMD Ryzen 7 1800X processor


The R7 1800X is the fastest (for multithreaded applications) Ryzen CPU currently available on this platform. However, as it might be obvious, this Ryzen CPU is not cheap and is the most expensive chip in the AMD Ryzen lineup.


Specifications:

  • Number of CPU Cores: 8.
  • Total L3 cache: 16MB.
  • Total L2 cache: 4MB.
  • Base clock: 3.6GHz.
  • Max boost clock: 4GHz
  • Default TDP: 95W.

Overall, the R7 1800X is a very fast Ryzen CPU, very capable chip that raises the bar for multithreaded workloads. 

2

AMD Ryzen 7 2700X


The Ryzen 7 2700X is where many consumers will find the best price-to-performance ratio Ryzen CPU on the enthusiast side of things.


While you might not be able to overclock this Ryzen CPU as far as you could, we're sure that this CPU is poweful enough already so that you don't need to concern about those details.


Specifications:

  • Number of CPU Cores: 8.
  • Total L3 cache: 16MB.
  • Total L2 cache: 4MB
  • Base clock 3.7GHz.
  • Max boost clock: 4.3GHz
  • Default TDP: 105W.

If you’re looking to go the route of 8C/16T and feel your workload will benefit from this kind of chip, the 1800X is also a great Ryzen CPU option at a very comfortable price.

3

Ryzen R7 27​​​00


The R7 2700 is where Ryzen’s enthusiast chips begin. While it isn’t the best overclocker, and it isn’t the best R7 chip available, it’s much cheaper than other similar products, while still maintaining the same number of cores, cache, and TDP.


Furthermore, for anyone not looking to overclock, the best Ryzen CPU for gaming also comes with AMD’s new Wraith Spire cooler, meaning you can save money by not having to purchase an aftermarket cooler. One is recommended if you intend to overclock, however.


Specifications:

  • Number of CPU Cores: 8.
  • Total L3 cache: 16MB.
  • Total L2 cache: 4MB
  • Base clock 3.2GHz.
  • Max boost clock: 4.1GHz
  • Default TDP: 65W.

The R7 2700 is a very compelling option from AMD’s Ryzen lineup, striking the perfect balance between affordability and performance.

High-End (<$300)

As of writing this article, AMD currently has two best Ryzen CPUs in the $200-300 range, both offering 6C/12T. This is a great balance, and the perfect sweet spot for gamers and content creators alike who are wrestling with a budget.

The R5 2600X and 1600 are two very powerful, affordable chips that bridge the gap between multi threaded workloads and gaming, offering great performance in both.

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AMD Ryzen 5 2600X

The AMD Ryzen 5 2600X, the more expensive of the two chips in this area, is a very fast, powerful chip that comes in at a price which aims to undercut Intel’s i5 lineup of CPUs. 


With it’s 6C/12T layout, the chip is put into an excellent position where it is easily capable of performing in multithreaded applications, while not spreading itself too thin for things like gaming, which don’t necessarily take advantage of the high core count.


Specifications:

  • Number of CPU Cores: 6.
  • Total L3 cache: 16MB.
  • Total L2 cache: 3MB
  • Base clock 3.6GHz.
  • Max boost clock: 4.2GHz
  • Default TDP: 95W.

2

AMD Ryzen 5 2600 processor

The core differences between the 2600 and 2600X is that the latter has a better cooler. The difference in price between both CPUs isn't big and we would recommend you to ge the 2600X version if possible.


One other detail to note is that the R5 2600 also features a reduced TDP. This is good for thermals, as it means less heat needs to be dissipated from the chip. The only downside to this best Ryzen CPU for gaming is that it means overclocking the chip might prove slightly more difficult compared to its immediate step-up.


Specifications:

  • Number of CPU Cores: 6.
  • Total L3 cache: 16MB.
  • Total L2 cache: 3MB
  • Base clock 3.4GHz.
  • Max boost clock: 3.9GHz
  • Default TDP: 65W.

Of the two R5 chips which feature 6C/12T, it could easily be argued that the R5 2600 is the superior chip versus the 2600X, as the included cooler can help save you money, and the chip can easily be overclocked to nearly matching the performance of the 2600X.

Mainstream (<$200)

While both the R5 1600 and 2400G might not be the best for multi threaded workloads, these chips are definitely worth taking a look at for anyone on a budget. Because of their lower core count, the 1600 and 2400G are the perfect Ryzen chips for computers focused mostly on gaming.

The chips aren’t going to be incompatible with multi threaded workloads or anything, but they might not perform quite as well as the chips immediately proceeding them.

1

Ryzen 5 1600


The Ryzen 5 1600 is a great chip for gamers looking to build a gaming computer without breaking the bank. Because of the 1600's competitive price compared to Intel’s similarly-specked chips, gamers playing on AMD’s Ryzen chips are enabled to spend more of their budget on a GPU without worrying that it will be bottlenecked.


Because of this, you’re able to get more graphics horsepower and more Ryzen CPU horsepower compared to Intel, without spending any more money.


Specifications:

  • Number of CPU Cores: 6.
  • Total L3 cache: 16MB.
  • Total L2 cache: 3MB
  • Base clock 3.2GHz.
  • Max boost clock: 3.6GHz
  • Default TDP: 65W.

2

AMD Ryzen 5 2400G

What's interesting about AMD Ryzen 5 2400G is that it comes with a built-in Radeon vega RX 11 graphics. 


We believe that the specifications of this product are not oustanding. In reality, they might be lacking a bit with today's need of high-end technology. However, for around $150, it isn't that bad of a processor either.


Specifications:

  • Number of CPU Cores: 4.
  • Total L3 cache: 4MB.
  • Total L2 cache: 2MB
  • Base clock 3.6GHz.
  • Max boost clock: 3.9GHz.
  • cTDP: 46-65W

Suggested Chips

Now that we’ve covered the gist of what each chip in the AMD Ryzen lineup looks like, you’re probably scratching your head wondering which one is right for you. To help amend that, I’ll be outlining our picks for the best Ryzen CPU for gaming and other any given scenario.


Whether it’s for gaming, content creation, a mixture of both or even budget. More than likely there will be this best Ryzen CPU for gaming that suits your needs perfectly.


Let’s get to it!


Content Creation -  Ryzen lineup


Content creation, whether you’re a YouTuber, a professional photographer, a video editor or anything in-between, is more or less the process of creating content for a platform. Oftentimes this will involve software like Adobe Photoshop, Adobe After Effects, Adobe Premiere, Blender, 3DS Max, Cinema 4D and so on.


These applications all support multi threaded workloads, which means that an R7 chip is going to be ideal. Because of that fact, our pick for the ideal content creation best Ryzen CPU for gaming is:

Ryzen R7 2700


It’s difficult to recommend the RY 2700X or 1800X when the R7 2700 exists. It features the same Core / Thread count, cache and TDP as the other two, while also coming in at a lower price.


When overclocking, it is imperative that you find a stable clock. Rendering a project for many hours (or even days) at a time means that any form of critical system failure is simply not acceptable.


Because of this, many content creators tend to stray far away from overclocking. If you can afford to pick up an excellent aftermarket cooler, you can quickly close the gap on the 2700X. If you do not wish to overclock however, you can put the extra money into something like RAM.


Overall, the R7 2700 is the safest bet for content creators.

Gaming - Ryzen lineup

Relax and have a game-session

For those looking to build a computer whose intended use is gaming and little else, finding the best Ryzen CPU for gaming at a great price point that also offers impressive performance is key. Luckily, Ryzen has you covered here.


With its great cooler, perfect Core / Thread count and competitive price, you simply can’t go wrong with the:

R5 2600X


Storming onto the scene with 6C/12T, the 2600X is perfect for gamers looking for excellent gaming performance without paying for performance they won’t use.


While it is true that many games have begun supporting multi threaded rendering, a majority of games still only focus their load onto one or two cores. 


The R5 2600X also offers a great cooler, as it comes bundled with the Wraith Spire. While it won’t blow away any decent aftermarket cooler, it still offers a fair bit of headroom for overclocking right out of the box. 


The chip isn’t going to shred through multi threaded workloads, but by no means whatsoever is it a slouch. 

Hybrid (Workstation + Gaming PC)

If you’re looking to build a machine which is more than capable of playing games, but you don’t want to sacrifice too much multi threaded performance, you’re going to want to look into one of Ryzen’s middle ground chips. 

R5 2600X


The R5 2600X is the perfect chip for gamers looking to create content, or content creators looking to game a bit when they need to take a break. Specifically, we’re recommending the 2600X over the 2600 because it’s worth investing into a decent cooler to overclock the 2600X. 

Budget

R3 Lineup

While we didn’t cover this in our chip overview, there’s an upcoming line of Ryzen CPUs under the R3 monicker. These chips are intended to fill the <$170 price point and will compete directly against Intel’s i3 offerings. If you’re on a very tight budget, holding out for the R3 AMD lineup will most likely be your best bet.

Unfortunately, AMD has yet to say exactly when these best Ryzen CPUs will be dropping, though they have noted a “Q3 2017” launch window.

rocket

Closing thoughts

Whether you’re in the market for a high-end best Ryzen CPU for gaming, something a bit more mid-range or something in-between the two, Ryzen currently has plenty of offerings. More than likely you’ll be able to find a Ryzen CPU that perfectly fits your needs.


This, coupled with the R3 and Threadripper AMD Ryzen lineups demonstrate that AMD is likely going to have the best Ryzen CPU available for everyone. This is perfect for anyone hoping for competition against Intel, as AMD outperforms them at every corner when it comes to price-to-performance, and it doesn’t seem like this will be changing anytime soon.


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