Sash Thoughts: If you're looking for a great value (gaming) CPU don't overlook 1st or 2nd Gen Ryzen
Updated: Jan 13, 2020
So I thought I'd make a post on this subject, as I've been thinking about it quite a lot lately, especially after the release of the Ryzen 3rd generation parts with the Zen2 micro-architecture. Basically the title says it all, but I will elaborate.
I recently found out that AMD silently released a Zen+ (2nd generation Ryzen) revision of the Ryzen 5 1600, called the "1600 AF". You can learn about it at GamersNexus who made a good video on it.
This CPU is $85, and I don't have words to describe how insane that value prospect is. So definitely look out for those if you're making a sweet budget rig; even for gaming. Otherwise, what I said originally still stands!
Ryzen 1st and 2nd generation CPUs are still great for gaming
That makes it nice and clear, and is the point I wanted to get across with this post. The big thing about the new Ryzen 3000 launch is that we've seen some pretty insane discounts on the previous generation Ryzen parts; something that has never historically happened with Intel CPUs even after the launch of a new generation (go figure).
Case in point: Discounted previous-generation Ryzen CPUs are offering, simply, the best value performance per £/$/€ right now. So I thought I'd make a sort of buying guide as to what Sash thinks would make the perfect centre-piece for your new PC / rig, even if it is for gaming mainly, and you want to extract the most value from your coin.
Ryzen 5 2600 / 2600X / 2700 are insane value (27/12/2019)
Looking around at current prices (at the time of typing this) I'd say that the 2nd generation parts are the best options now. But if you can get a 1st generation part for less, then that's great also. Rememeber even 1st generation Ryzen doesn't have 'slow' cores. Right now I can't find any better deals on 1st generation (those have already disappeared from stock I guess) but the above rule is valid.
Sash Note: In many games the 6-core 12 thread Ryzen 1st and 2nd generation parts will offer more consistent frame-times than even the 6-core 6-thread Intel Core CPUs - even if the average FPS is lower - including the 'K' series. As the consoles get Ryzen 16-thread CPUs, and developers start pushing for more CPU-simulated effects such as Physics, expect to see a huge increase in the 'minimum' thread-count for smooth gaming.
Looking at the prices for 2nd generation parts on Amazon right now:
I'm going to focus mainly on the CPUs I listed above, those are the 2600, 2600X and 2700. Now, if you look at this screenshot of Amazon right now, you can see what I mean. These prices are absolutely insane for what you're getting, brand new sealed. I can't even begin to accurately describe my excitement at the prospect of, for example, a Ryzen 7 2700 for around this price (though it did come up a bit since I bought it - still insane value).
This post will serve as a historic one, too, even though the value prospect of these parts changes over time. With that said...
These prices represent the best value CPUs available on the market. Even for future-looking gaming.
This is a fact. If you're wondering about getting a 2nd generation Ryzen CPU and you're thinking it's terrible for gaming, or someone's told you that Ryzen Sucks for Gaming, or that Intel's i3 are just so much better, then take it from me (a person who has gamed, created and experienced almost every Ryzen AM4 CPU ever released since launch in 2017, and I had an i7-7700K at 5 GHz back then too), Ryzen 2nd generation doesn't suck at gaming. In fact, it's very good at gaming. If you've got a 60-120 Hz panel and need a gaming CPU that's not going to let you down going forward as games finally start to use those extra threads (CPU Physics is a thing you know), then look no further than Ryzen 2nd generation. For the prices listed above you simply can't go wrong.
Out of those parts, I'd say the Ryzen 5 2600X is the best value here for a pure-gaming oriented rig (update: check it out in Warframe), the 2600 non-X for the best overall value (or if you want to overclock it) and the 2700 is the best for a creativity/productivity and gaming PC - or you plan to have the PC for 5 years :) - trust me those cores will serve you well.
The fact of the matter is, Ryzen 3K (Zen2, that is 3600 and above) have essentially the same gaming credentials as Intel's fastest Core-branded CPUs; and while Ryzen 2000 does fall a bit short of that level of performance in video games, it is rarely enough to notice at 120 Hz or below, and in some titles the performance will be identical, and versus the lower-thread count (and often equal or higher priced) intel CPUs; performance will often be even better). If you're buying for a budget PC - regardless of purpose - Intel really isn't an option right now.
In fact, I'd argue that intel isn't really an option for anything on Desktop right now. Remember that the AM4 socket upon which you place your Ryzen 1 or 2 series CPU, if you have a B350 or above board (even though some A320s also support 3K) you can upgrade your CPU to a discounted Ryzen 3000 next year! Or maybe even a Ryzen 4000, with a Bios Update. Now that's value).
"Oh, Sash is being a Fanboy again."
Can you prove me wrong?