New Single Thread Performance Champion?

Aside from rough microarchitectural performance claims, we don’t typically talk much about first-party benchmark numbers – they are unverified and we’d rather hold station until the reviews where we can talk about our own testing. There are a couple of numbers that I do want to pull out of AMD’s marketing however, if only to put some markers in the sand compared to numbers we already have.

One of the favorite benchmarks that both Intel and AMD have used over the years is Cinebench, a test scene render for Cinema4D. AMD has been promoting it with Ryzen because it holds a performance lead, whereas Intel prefers to highlight it as an example of a less-than-ideal representative workload. We use it in our test suite as only one of a number of rendering workloads, covering a large user base. From our numbers, Intel and AMD’s best processors have the following results in a single threaded test:

CineBench R20 Single Thread Score
(As Measured at AnandTech)
AnandTech uArch Process 1C Turbo Score
Intel Core i7-1185G7 Tiger Lake Intel 10nm SuperFin 4.8 GHz 595pts
Intel Core i9-10900K Comet Lake Intel 14+++ 5.3 GHz 538pts
AMD Ryzen 9 3950X Zen2 TSMC 7nm 4.7 GHz 536pts
AMD Ryzen 9 3900XT Zen2 TSMC 7nm 4.7 GHz 523pts

(Note that in the single threaded test, the power limits ultimately should not apply because one core should not consume all the power of the chip. For the Tiger Lake processor, because this is a nominal 15 W TDP part with a 50 W turbo, this actually does go above the power limit with one core active, as it scores 554. As a result, the 50 W mode with a 28 W TDP was used and scores 595. This is more akin to a desktop processor anyway.)

AMD’s number for its Ryzen 9 5900X, at 4.8 GHz turbo, is 631.

CineBench R20 Single Thread Score
(As Measured by AMD)
AMD uArch Process 1C Turbo Score
AMD Ryzen 9 5900X Zen3 TSMC 7nm 4.8 GHz 631pts

Generation-on-generation, this would be a 17.8% performance increase. Over Intel’s highest performing desktop Core i9, that would be a lead of 17.3%. Over Intel’s latest generation microarchitecture, Tiger Lake, this is a 6% performance increase at the same frequency.

Whichever way you slice it, whether you consider the lead a 17% lead from desktop-to-desktop, or a 6% lead from best-to-best, one thing is clear that if this result is correct, AMD will have the single threaded performance crown.

The previous time that AMD truly held this title was over a decade ago, and ever since the company has been playing catch-up. The argument over having enough single thread performance, if these results are correct, is one that AMD can fight toe-to-toe on. Not only that, but in AMD’s marketing materials, they believe it is a clear cut winner.

Mainstream Gaming

This sort of metric also extends out to gaming, which has been a contentious issue since Ryzen enabled AMD to play in this market again. AMD’s numbers here focus on 1080p gaming for two reasons: firstly it’s an area where CPUs are more important for performance, but secondly because they cite that 1080p monitors are still the bulk of monitor sales for gamers, especially when looking at high refresh rates.

For 1080p high quality gaming, AMD is making two clear claims.

Firstly, when comparing the Ryzen 9 5900X to the Ryzen 9 3900XT, the new processor is stated to boost average frame rates anywhere from +5% up to +50%, with an average around +26%.

Secondly, when comparing the Ryzen 9 5900X to the Core i9-10900K, the new processor is stated to win by 7%, with individual benchmarks varying from a 3% loss to a 21% win.

This latter one is important, as when the Core i9-10900K was released, there as a strong marketing message that this was the best gaming CPU available on the market. Now AMD believes it can make that claim and take the crown. The important element for AMD to manage however is availability – the availability of the 10900K has been so varied that Intel quietly released the 10850K to manage expectations. If AMD can put enough Ryzen 9 5900X processors into the hands of people that want them, then Intel has a bigger step to climb to regain the title when it will reportedly launch its Rocket Lake processors in Q1 next year.


AMD’s Claims

As always, we will wait until we have the hardware on hand to form our own conclusions. These results are AMD first party tests, so the usual standards of caution apply. AMD has a strong history of making accurate claims, confirmed by our testing in recent years, but we still recommend waiting for our review.

Chipset Support

As always, AMD is keen to highlight that the new Ryzen 5000 processors are supported in currently available motherboards. Due to the long life cycle of the AM4 platform, there has been some segmentation between chipset and processor support, however AMD this time around has made it very clear when it comes to supported chipsets. AMD has split its instructions in two.

For 500 series chipset users, motherboards firmware that supports the new hardware should already be available. Users will need to ensure that a minimum AGESA version of 1.0.8.0 is installed which will ensure that the system will boot. For full support and performance, users should update to AGESA 1.1.0.0 for the best experience.

For 400 series chipset users, AMD is currently hard at work with motherboard partners to update their firmware stacks. AMD expects the first beta BIOSes with Ryzen 5000 support to be made available from January, however part of this will be motherboard manufacturer dependent. Full release BIOSes will be at a later date. When asked if the new 5000-series firmware for 400-series chipsets will remove support for older processors, AMD said it would be on a case-by-case basis depending on how the motherboard vendor wanted to enable support.

For users that purchase motherboards that do not have the required BIOS support for Ryzen 5000, the Processor Loan Boot Kit programme will still be available.

A Word on Sticker Shock

It is hard not to notice that AMD is raising the prices of its hardware for this new generation. The company believes that it is truly in a winning position, and that better hardware in the market deserves to be priced at a level that matches this. For any competitive business owner with a belief of a better product, finding that right balance of demand and price is always critical to how to manage sales and ultimately market share.

Anand once said a very insightful phrase to me. “There are no bad products, only bad prices.”

So with AMD asking for another $50 on these processors, is that a lot to ask?

AMD’s argument is that, for performance per dollar, it still retains a healthy lead over its competition in each market segment. The spokespersons were keen to point out that they still remember where AMD has come from to reach this level of performance, and understand that a metric such as performance per dollar has always been high on the list of requirements from its most passionate users. The difference this time around is that, because AMD is claiming it has the best performance on the market, it can now charge that slight premium but still offer a more compelling product.

The success of AMD’s Ryzen 3000 family is easy to see. It offers a very attractive performance per dollar proposition, and nine of the top ten processors on Amazon’s best sellers list are from AMD. Here’s that list, with the pricing as given in our buyer’s guide last week:

Price Options
[#] is Amazon Best-Seller Position
# AMD Price
[1] Ryzen 5 3600 $205
[2] Ryzen 7 3700XT $295
[3] Ryzen 5 3600X $209
[4] Ryzen 5 2600 $149
[5] Ryzen 9 3900X $430
[6] Ryzen 7 3800XT $340
[7] Ryzen 5 3600XT $230
[8] Ryzen 7 2700X $218
[9] Ryzen 3 3200G $100

This is an impressive list, however there a theme I have noticed. Starting from the top, the first four best-selling processors are below $299. The lowest Ryzen 5000-series processor in this launch comes in at the $299 price bracket. Out of that top nine, only #5 and #6 are above $299. This is a clear indication of where the bulk of the market is, especially as AMD is likely in increasing both market share and revenue.

In discussing the pricing with AMD, I noted that the new Ryzen 5000 processors are not only replacing hardware with a $50 higher MSRP, but also replacing hardware that routinely sells below MSRP. This makes the differences more akin to $90-$150. This of course changes some of the dynamic when we start discussing performance per dollar.

AMD’s response to this commentary was the one I would have given if I were in their position. The Ryzen 5000 series is a new product, and the claim of market leading performance means that the early adopters and AMD enthusiasts that want the best on day one will be able to get the hardware they desire. During the initial phase in almost all launches, users looking for the best bang-for-buck build will always look to purchasing the previous generation, which is almost always offered at a good discount as stock transfers to the latest product. AMD believes it has set the pricing of the new Zen 3 processors where it remains competitive, but still balances the message that AMD claims it has the best, most efficient processors.

What Now?

For users looking for processors under that $299 mark, or more offerings at the 65 W TDP, we expect AMD to look at expanding the Ryzen 5000 product list over the next six months. No exact word from AMD was given about what might come in the future. I even asked about Threadripper with Zen 3, but as expected there was no official comment.

As for the processors announced today, November 5th is the date to put in your diary. On this date, reviews will go live, details about the microarchitecture will be revealed, and processors will be available. We’re already pre-testing a LOT of hardware for our review. Let us know what comparisons matter most to you.

 
AMD Ryzen 5000 and Zen 3 on Nov 5th
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  • Notagaintoday - Thursday, October 8, 2020 - link

    "But people making a Ryzen build from scratch would need a new motherboard anyway"

    But the millions and millions who already have a AMD X570/B450/A420 platform, won't, so that's a $300 saving for them!

    "only the 5600X comes with a bundled cooler, the 5800X would give you such an expense as well"

    Err, nope! Point to a single review that shows how a Ryzen CPU draws 229 Watts in normal usage! Unlike an Intel CPU, you can save $100 just on the cooling! Like I said, you can save that amount too on Intel, butthen again you can forget about that Turbo boost speed, and your CPU will run like a $150 AMD one!

    Don;t get me wrong, until 5th November, there are reasons to have bought an Intel CPU, and maybe after 5th November there might be reasons to still buy one, but the use case will be so niche after that date, you've got to have reasons you so far haven;t been able to articulate.

    Its not good to fan-boy a company, any company. I've owned both Intel and AMD, but really I can't see anyone but Fan boys highlighting Intel from next month, as to so so makes no sense! I'm running a 3950X right now, and this launch gives me no compelling reason to upgrade, but would I buy Intel, nope! Too expensive, to restrictive an eco-system (try getting 3200Mhz memory on a H series motherboard), and too high a TDP, and from whats happened today, at best they now tie with AMD.

    Intel were wee-weeing and laughing at AMD three yars ago about their 'glued together CPU', when the market place was crying out for more cores...

    Intel is reaping what it sowed, nothing more nothing less and to shill form them appears at best daft to me...,
    Reply
  • Gio97BR - Thursday, October 8, 2020 - link

    But if you're already on AM4, it's not like it would make any sense to consider going Intel.

    People who will have to choose between those two platforms for a new build are those who don't have an AM4 chipset. That's why I didn't take that as an argument for Zen 3's value proposition.

    About cooling the 5800X versus the 10700KF... Look, the 10700KF really does require better cooling to properly boost. However, if you're spending $450 on a CPU will you really go cheap on it's cooling system? Specially with AMD insinuating that the Wraith Spyre would not unleash the 5800X's full potential?

    I don't think that you will spend $100 more in cooling by getting a 10700KF. So your build will also likely remain cheaper overall. If your sole purpose is gaming I don't think that long-term electricity bills will by themselves justify the more expensive option.

    And look, I'm not an Intel fanboy. My gaming rig is Ryzen based, and the 5900X is the most appealing CPU available IMO. But I'm not an AMD fanboy either. I'm very annoyed by fanboyism.

    That's why I started commenting here after getting quite bothered by people accepting a 20% price hike on the lower-end models and applauding AMD unconditionally as if they were cattle. It's because of fans like those (and corrupt press) that Intel and Nvidia kept milking customers generation after generation when they had no real competition.

    I'm glad that Anandtech noticed the hike and interrogated AMD on this topic. Otherwise, it could have been part of the problem, such as Tom's Hardware saying "just buy it" about Nvidia's Turing, when that generation brought an almost null performance increase over Pascal, dollar per dollar.

    I understand why you dislike Intel, and I dislike it too. But I don't think this is a good enough reason to unconditionally pander AMD.
    Reply
  • Notagaintoday - Thursday, October 8, 2020 - link

    getting quite bothered by people accepting a 20% price hike on the lower-end models and applauding AMD unconditionally as if they were cattle"

    Not sure why? AMD had to artificially lower heir prices to compete with the Intel fanboys. The 1800X was launched at $499 I think, but within weeks was at $449, and within a few months was selling at $399.

    AMD haven't been able to hold their price in the face of fools/idiots buying Intel, "cos its the fastest in'it"?

    Even though AMD has been outselling Intel by 90% in market share, it has only been getting 60% of the total CPU spend (see Mindshare's charts). Intel is still raking it in, because consumers spend more with Intel. Look at the 7980XE; $2,000 !!!

    If AMD is to succeed with Zen 6 and if there is to be a Zen 8, AMD needs that additional revenue, it needs to drive its R&D. Intel still outspends AMD on R&D by an order of several magnitudes. Intel's spend on R&D is more than AMD's entire income for the year!

    Intel will recover, 2022 looks likely for 10nm to be ready, and even if it isn't Intel's 7nm will likely launch 2022/23 and that will likely beast AMD at 5nm, and unless you want there to be a return of Intel again in the driving seat for another 10 years of stagnation, you'll pay the slightly higher price, or you'll wait a few months for supply to outstrip demand and pay the lower price...

    If you persist in demanding always lower prices, you'll be left with just Intel... Then you'll have reason to complain!

    Rather than complaining abut AMD, maybe complain about the fools that have caused this; the idiots paying $2,000 for a gaming CPU that have given Intel a massive financial cushion so large they can lose 90% market share in the enthusiast space, and still not care! Its just like the idiots paying $1,500 for a GPU...

    Its not AMD's fault that people are stupid, so complain about the stupids, not AMD!
    Reply
  • gescom - Thursday, October 8, 2020 - link

    "Intel will recover, 2022 looks likely for 10nm to be ready, and even if it isn't Intel's 7nm will likely launch 2022/23 and that will likely beast AMD at 5nm"

    Good luck with Intel's 7nm competing with ryzen 3nm+ 8000 cpu series.
    Reply
  • Spunjji - Thursday, October 8, 2020 - link

    @Notagaintoday nailed it there. Not much more to say. Reply
  • 1 penny left and I am all in - Thursday, October 8, 2020 - link

    Really, like AMD was trying to beat Intel for the last 10 years. You think Intel will slap together a chip that will out do AMD in a few years. I think you are dreaming. Intel stuck with 14nm and milk as much as they can on consumers. Oh, they can't even do 10nm for that matter and you think 7nm cpu process. You are right, I don't want to pay $2000 intel 10cores cpu but I will buy 16 cores AMD for $800. Reply
  • Stu7nm3dflash - Thursday, October 8, 2020 - link

    Yeah, I’ve got a B450 MB, Ryzen 3 3100, I wanted some 7nm, but as I increased my ambitions, I wound up with enough components to make another cheap computer. I should have waited till the 4000 series APU, mini PCs came out. $A600, I guess that’s $US440, for the bare bones, another $A400, $US300, for the laptop RAM 16GB, PCIe 3 flash 500GB, 1TB flash drive. So much less work and money, but it’s always this way, I can one day get a 5000 series APU.

    Maybe I’ll get a 7nm graphics card, I was just tempted to go back into the game, by my iPad mini 5 having a 7nm chip, at 6.9 billion transistors and 5 trillion floating point operations, per second. Things haven’t changed much in the last 7 years. RAM is only double the speed, flash triple the speed, nearly quadruple the speed on the processor, those stupid case to motherboard pins, that you can hardly read, with glasses, a torch and a motherboard manual.

    But I did get a factory reset down to 18 minutes, good fast memory, can pass even Microsoft’s bloat ware, through billions of transistors at teraflops, it’s still obsessing though, set top boxes, tablets are more convenient. A new XboxS, can crunch 5 teraflops, with it’s 16GB of GDDR6, 8CPU cores who knows how many GPU cores, fast flash, for $US 299 I think.
    Reply
  • stryfe - Thursday, October 8, 2020 - link

    "Unlike an Intel CPU, you can save $100 just on the cooling!"

    You can buy a Noctua NH-D15 for <$100 and cool any of these CPUs from either Intel or AMD. Not sure how you'd save $100 when the cooler costs less than that.
    Reply
  • lmcd - Thursday, October 8, 2020 - link

    There was 0 good reason to buy X570 at launch and B550 barely launched in the last half year. The only people desperate for PCIe 4.0 wanted it for storage bandwidth, which is niche as can be. That leaves the people with a beta bios for their upgrade path. A good value proposition once it's done, but Rocket Lake will be out practically by the time those beta bioses are trustworthy. Reply
  • Spunjji - Friday, October 9, 2020 - link

    lmcd in with the goalpost move as per usual.

    "It may be better, but here are some reasons why I'd rather wait for an Intel product that won't be out until at least 2 months later and will almost certainly be slower with higher power draw".
    Reply

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