After experiencing the power of the flagship R7 1800X, and later the sweet spot for gamers, the R5 1600X, we now come to the pure performance quad-cores offered in AMD’s Ryzen lineup with the Ryzen 5 1500X. Retailing for $189 USD with a base clock of 3.5 GHz, a 65W TDP value, 16mb of L3 cache, and 8 threads to draw from, the 1500X is where most AMD budget builders will lean towards when choosing a new processor for their next build.
Originally for this review, I intended to build another computer for the R5 1500X to test out the performance myths surrounding Ryzen’s compatibility with a Nvidia graphics card and slower ram, but unfortunately, multiple components arrived DOA. This situation left me with no choice but to use the same components from the R5 1600X review. So while I can’t offer any data on whether or not these myths may, in fact, be true, at least I have direct performance comparisons to showcase on the same test bench.
Unlike the R5 1600X, which could comfortably hit well above its weight class and compare to top-tier i7’s, the Ryzen 5 1500X is strictly an i5 intended competitor, going toe-to-toe with the likes of the i5 7600K for almost half the price. While quad-cores are still considered the norm for gaming-centric builds, the absence of two additional cores is sorely missed here. Ryzen’s claim to fame at the moment is how well it performs during productivity and multi-tasking based applications. By compromising to this entry in the lineup, consumers lose out on the bulk of this ability as well as the extra headroom for future titles when more games start to take advantage of higher core counts.
This statement against the R5 1500X is reflected well in our Cinebench R15 score of 806cb, which is impressive against performance oriented i5’s that don’t come close to featuring 8-threads, but a vast majority of i7’s score higher. PC Mark 8 tells a similar story, with the Ryzen 5 1500X performing slower and reaching a score of 5128, almost 500 points off from the 1600X’s score. The biggest hit, however, was in 3D Mark Time Spy with the 1500X taking a massive hit of 2000 CPU points when compared to the 1600X in the same category.
So while the data supports that the Ryzen 5 1500X isn’t all that impressive of a productivity processor, this chip still retains close to 95 per cent of the same gaming performance as our Ryzen 5 1600X. Going through the same suite of gaming benchmarks with the Ryzen 5 1500X offered some compelling results. The titles impacted the least were DOOM (Vulkan, Ultra) and Total War Warhammer (DX 11,12, Ultra) which reached an average loss of 10-15 FPS, but were still hitting well into the fields of 100 FPS and over 60 FPS respectively. The AMD sided benchmark that was affected the most was Ashes of the Singularity (DX12, Extreme), which was only able to hit an average of 26.7 FPS during the CPU-focused test and almost didn’t even reach a high of 30.
Grand Theft Auto V took a different kind of hit while testing it on Very High to High settings. While the Ryzen 5 1500X system was still able to hit highs of over 100 FPS, the stability of the system came into question when explosions and destruction physics caused the system to hit severe lows of 42 FPS. Just to compare, the 1600X never once went below 60 FPS, even during intense moments like these. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (Ultra) was the game I expected to choke and stutter on the 1500X, but the chip still delivered an enjoyable experience even with every Nvidia effect turned on. The system was able to achieve frame rates of 52 FPS on average, a high of 63 and lows of 39 FPS.
The Ryzen 5 1500X is a pure gaming chip that budget builders won’t help but love, delivering just as good of results as the best i5’s on the market right out of the gate with little to no hassle. While I sorely miss the stability and multitasking capabilities of the R5 1600X, I can’t deny that the 1500X delivers nearly the same level of gaming performance as it for $50 less and even comes bundled with a great stock cooler to easily reach speeds of 3.9 GHz. I could easily see this processor or even the R5 1400 being at the heart of some fantastic portable builds.
Despite this, I still consider the 1600X the true sweet spot in this lineup. I would rather put down more money on a CPU now, knowing that I would still get great value for the dollar while also securing myself for the industries future, then buy another new CPU in four years. Quad cores will still be around for years as a standard for gamers, that’s undeniable, but their potential appears to be drying up overtime. So while Intel goes back to the drawing board and comes up with their next game plan to tackle these Ryzen 5 threats and revolutionize the CPU market yet again, AMD can take a quick break and relax knowing they’ve brought back a powerful level of competition to the marketplace that consumers won’t leave unnoticed.