A Comprehensive Buyer’s Guide to AMD CPUs (2022)

AMD CPUs in 2022 are some of the most impressive chips ever made, with fantastic performance, excellent efficiency, and some exciting new developments. But picking between them isn’t always easy. There are models with lots of cores which might seem impressive but aren’t really necessary for more modest tasks, and new and exciting gaming processors which aren’t as well suited to professional tasks.

To make sure you’re buying the right CPU for you and your needs, here’s a comprehensive look at AMD’s lineup of processors, what makes them so good, and which one might be the best pick for your next upgrade.

AMD Ryzen 5000 and Zen 3 CPUs

Image source: AMD

The latest generation of AMD CPUs is known as Ryzen 5000 and includes standout entries like the 5600X, the 5800X3D, and the 5900X, among others. They’re all based on AMD’s latest architecture, Zen 3, and were originally launched in November 2020, with some supplementary models launching in early 2022.

The Zen 3 microarchitecture at the heart of these CPUs is an upgrade over the previous Zen 2 design used in Ryzen 3000 CPUs and the latest generation Xbox and PlayStation consoles. It’s based on the 7nm TSMC process node for the chiplets, and GlobalFoundries’ 12nm process for the I/O die. Zen 3 saw an average increase in instructions per clock of 19% over Zen 2 and enabled higher clock speeds than all predecessor CPUs.

Zen 3 also made adjustments to the cache and core layout, doubling the available L3 cache to all cores and improving the communication between cores.

The overall effect of this is a dramatic increase in performance in single-threaded and multi-threaded tasks, making Ryzen 5000 processors much more performant than Ryzen 3000. At the time of its release, Ryzen 5000 performance even eclipsed that of Intel’s best CPUs. But, in the years since then, Intel’s Alder Lake 12th generation CPUs have provided credible competition for AMD’s best and managed to take back the gaming performance crown in most titles.

Ryzen 5000 Refresh

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AMD increased its own competitiveness in the CPU space in early 2022 with the release of a new batch of processors, mostly targeting the mid-range and entry-level sections of the market. These more modestly priced processors aren’t all stellar choices, but there are some gems among them: particularly the high-end AMD Ryzen 5800X3D, which has its own unique hardware makeup.

Based on the original 5800X, the 5800X3D lowers clock speeds slightly in favour of adding an additional 64MB of L3 cache, effectively trebling the amount available to the original 5800X. This makes the 5800X3D much faster in gaming and even with the release of Intel’s halo 12900KS, AMD’s new top gaming CPU is hotly competitive.

That keeps AMD in the fight for flagship performance right up until the end of its iconic AM4 series of processors, which are set to finally be replaced by AMD’s Zen 4 chips later this year.

As it stands, all Ryzen 5000 CPUs support DDR4 memory and PCIExpress 4. Intel’s newer Alder Lake designs support PCIExpress 5 and DDR5, though neither offer particularly big advantages in performance or hardware support in early 2022. That is likely to change in the next year or two, but now, the PCIExpress 4 NVMe drives and graphics cards supported by AMD systems are more than enough for a modern PC.

Which AMD Ryzen 5000 CPU Should You Buy?

Although there are some instances where buying an older Ryzen 3000, or one of the ultra-rare Ryzen 4000 desktop CPUs might be a good idea, for the most part, AMD’s Ryzen 5000 generation of processors represents better performance, better efficiency, and better value for money.

With the right motherboard update, you should be able to put any Ryzen 5000 CPU into most motherboards, so they are a great upgrade path. But, if you’re building a brand new PC, there’s still plenty worth considering too.

Here are some of the best Ryzen 5000 CPUs for different wants, needs and budgets.

Note: The following recommendations are for desktops only. For laptops, skip to the relevant section below.

The Best Entry-Level AMD Ryzen 5000 CPUs

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If you want a simple system designed for browsing the web, watching your favourite shows and movies on streaming services, office work, and even a little light gaming, the AMD Ryzen 5600G is your best bet.

This processor features the same six cores and 12 threads as the higher-end 5600X, but has a reduced boost clock of 4.4GHz, rather than 4.6GHz. This does result in a slight reduction in CPU performance over the 5600X, but since the 5600G is so much cheaper, this isn’t much of a trade.

Where the 5600G really shines, though, is with its onboard GPU.

Vega Graphics

Those seven Vega graphics cores give the 5600G the ability to not only use your PC without a graphics card, but have enough graphical power to handle light gaming. If you play older AAA games, indie games, or Esports games and want a budget system to get those experiences up and running without paying for a dedicated GPU, this is the best budget chip for the job.

If you have a dedicated graphics card already and don’t need that function, you could save yourself a little money by going with the newly released AMD Ryzen 5500. It has almost-identical specifications to the 5600G, but knocks a couple of hundred megahertz off the boost clock and ditches the onboard GPU. This should save you a few pounds, and actual CPU performance is within a couple of percentage points of each other – even if the 5600G remains the definitive higher performer across the board.

Neither of these CPUs can really stand up to Intel’s new 12th generation processors on price, but if you’re particular about having an AMD system, or have an existing AMD Ryzen PC and want an upgrade that’s going to give you current-generation performance at an affordable price, either the 5600G or 5500 will be decent picks.

The Best Mid-Range AMD Ryzen 5000 CPUs

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There are a few excellent options for Ryzen 5000 CPUs that are truly fresh faces to AMD’s lineup. Where previously the somewhat-limited range of Zen 3 processors would have given little choice in this section of the price to performance spectrum, now there are a few exciting options.

The first is AMD’s newly-released Ryzen 5 5600. This non-X Ryzen CPU features six cores and 12 threads, and a maximum 4.4GHz boost clock just like the entry-level 5600G. Where the 5600 really stands out, though, is with its doubled L3 cache.

With 32MB of cache, it is able to enjoy much higher frame rates in games (with a dedicated GPU). In almost all cases, it ends up being a percentage point or two behind the long-standing 5600X, which has higher clock speeds and a higher price tag.

The Ryzen 5 5600 is an excellent pick for a more mid-range gaming system, or for more performative basic tasks like office work, web browsing, and enjoying streaming content.

Video and 3D Work

If you want to do some heavier work though, like video editing, or 3D rendering, you’ll need something a little more capable.

Enter the Ryzen 7 5700X. Released in early 2022, this eight-core, 16 thread CPU is everything the Ryzen 7 5800X was when it launched, but with a near-infinitesimal 100Mhz lower boost clock: 4.6GHz. That’s the only real difference between the two CPUs and it shows in benchmarks, where the 5700X is basically a 5800X in all but name.

Like the 5600, you’ll need to pair the 5700X with a dedicated graphics card to get the system up and running, as it has no onboard GPU of its own, but it doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Still, the 5700X is a fantastic gaming CPU too, with its eight cores offering additional performance for higher frame rates at 1080p, and better support for multitasking if you want to stream or record your gameplay.

The Best AMD Ryzen 5000 Gaming CPU

Image source: AMD

With the release of AMD’s Ryzen 5000 CPUs, it finally took the gaming crown from Intel after many years of reaching for it. While it was retaken by team blue with Intel’s Alder Lake processors, AMD has a hot new competitor for it again in 2022: The Ryzen 7 5800X3D. This unique processor offers cutting-edge gaming performance for any AMD system owner willing to upgrade, and is an exciting option for anyone looking to build a high-end AMD gaming PC ahead of Zen 4 CPUs later this year.

The 5800X3D has eight cores and supports up to 16 simultaneous threads. It has a boost clock of 4.5Ghz, 200MHz lower than the 5800X it’s based on. What makes it stand out, however, is the 64MB of additional L3 cache that AMD stacked on the top in what it’s calling 3D VCache. This additional cache uses smart interconnects with the CPU die to triple the existing L3 cache and in turn, dramatically improve gaming performance.

AMD originally claimed that the 5800X3D should be between 10 and 25% faster than the 5800X, and even more capable than Intel’s high-end 12900K. That proved to be true when the CPU got into the hand of third party reviewers, who all found the 5800X3D to be at worst, competitive with the 12900K, and in many cases, it pulled ahead. Only the launch of Intel’s specially binned and overclocked 12900KS prevented the 5800X3D from being the definitive best gaming CPU of 2022 so far.

Still, it’s the best AMD gaming processor of 2022, and considering it’s well over £100 cheaper than the comparable 12900K, and several hundred pounds cheaper than the 12900KS, the 5800X3D is arguably the best value for money high-end gaming CPU available today.

Best AMD Ryzen 5000 CPU for Video Editing

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AMD CPUs have been known for their strong multi-threaded performance for several generations, so it’s no surprise that some of the best video editing processors in 2022 are AMDs. Although Intel’s top of the line options might still steal the top spot in some applications, AMD’s 12 core Ryzen 9 5900X and 16 core Ryzen 9 5950X are still two of the most impressive performers for video editing.

They give you all the cores you need for fast rendering and detailed live playback of ultra high definition resolutions. You won’t always see linear performance gains with 16 cores over 12, so check to see if your editing application can truly benefit from the additional four cores and eight threads. The 5950X remains an expensive processor, too, so pick the best multi-threaded CPU for your particular needs.

Best AMD Laptop CPUs

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AMD has refreshed its lineup of laptop CPUs much more recently than its desktop chips, launching a line of Ryzen 6000 6nm Zen 3 CPUs in early 2022. The highest performing AMD mobile CPUs include the 6900HX and 6980HX, which each offer eight cores and 16 threads, and boost clocks that reach as high as 5GHz in the case of the top chip.

Most of AMD’s Ryzen 6000 series offers impressive performance and efficiency, though, including the lower power 6800U, and 6600U.

The real standout feature of AMD’s mobile CPUs, however, is the RDNA2 onboard graphics. In all Ryzen 6000 chips, they come with enough cores and power to deliver stellar esports and entry-level gaming performance, so they make great budget gaming CPUs in the right laptop.

It’s hard to recommend individual chips when so much is dependent on the design profile of the laptop, its cooling potential, and other hardware choices. You can buy any Ryzen 6000 CPU and rest assured you’ll get good performance and even better efficiency, but look up individual laptop reviews to find the right laptop for your needs.

Conclusion

AMD Ryzen 5000 CPUs might not be as cutting edge or as performance-leading as they once were, but they’re still excellent options whether you’re a gamer, worker, or creative type looking for powerful rendering performance.

Price cuts and refreshed lineups have kept Ryzen 5000 relevant even as its AM4 platform comes to an end, and the 5800X3D is a stellar swan song to go out on, delivering cutting-edge gaming performance at an affordable price.

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If you still aren’t sure which AMD CPU is right for you and your PC build, please do get in touch with a member of our expert customer service and sales teams.

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