AMD Ryzen 2nd Generation release date, news and features: everything you need to know

AMD Ryzen 2nd Generation

For years, Intel ruled the processor game with impunity, as AMD tirelessly tried to keep up. However, thanks to Ryzen’s runaway success, that’s all changed. AMD launched its 14 nm Ryzen CPUs in late 2016, and were available to the public in mid 2017, offering high core counts and better multi-thread performance. All while maintaining AMD’s famously low prices – AMD delivered in every way.

AMD came out with hit after hit last year, starting with the Ryzen 7 1800X, which was a stunning victory lap as AMD breathed new life into a stagnating CPU market, putting Intel on guard and bringing back innovation and competition in a major way.

As time marched on, we were even more impressed by the Ryzen 5 1600X for its stunning price-to-performance ratio, and were also amazed by the cheap Ryzen 3 1300X. Then AMD topped it all off by unleashing the powerful Ryzen Threadripper 1950X, bringing core counts into the high teens at a price well below Intel’s comparable CPUs.

Now that we’ve seen a leaked review of the Ryzen 2700X, and that pre-orders are officially open, we’re getting pumped to get our hands on the next generation of AMD CPUs. We’re ready to start speculating on whatever AMD’s advanced Zen 5 architecture is.

Ryzen saw AMD scoring big pretty much across the board, and has seen record sales as a result. Wo what's next? Well, we’ve already started to see benchmarks for AMD Ryzen 2nd Generation CPUs. AMD has already shared some of its plans for this new generation, so if you’re in the market for a PC upgrade this year and want something with enough power to play the best PC games, create content and more, here’s a look at what’s coming on April 19. 

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? AMD's upgraded, budget-friendly processor chips
  • When is it out? April 19, 2018
  • What will it cost?  $199 (about £140, AU$260) starting price for the Ryzen 5 2600

AMD Ryzen 2nd Generation release date

The wait is almost over for the new AMD chips. The first generation Ryzen processors started shipping in March 2017 and were rolling out throughout 2017 and early 2018. And now Ryzen 2nd Generation chips are available for pre-order, and will start shipping on April 19, 2018.

Beyond those chips, the timeline points to releases for both the 2nd Generation Ryzen Pro and Ryzen Threadripper chips during the second half of the year. Ryzen Pro chips are designed for business and IT usage, with up to 8 cores and 16 threads, while the aforementioned Ryzen Threadripper is the big daddy of AMD's offerings with 16 cores for die-hard gamers. Forbes reports that AMD plans to release a similar number of Ryzen 2nd Generation chips as last year.

Those are all desktop chips, mind you – AMD's official 2nd Generation rollout timeline doesn't include laptop versions on the 2018 calendar. It does show first-generation Ryzen 3 mobile chips out during the first quarter of the year, with Ryzen Pro following in Q2. 

AMD Ryzen 2nd Generation price

AMD plans for its second generation of Ryzen chips to be just as affordable as the first batch. Granted, delivering more affordable CPUs has always been AMD's edge, but for the first time in years, the cheaper Ryzen chips could honestly hang with, if not surpass, Intel's offerings.

Given that, AMD had to continue its course with the 2nd Generation models. It was  imperative that they deliver affordable, high-performance CPUs, so ideally we would see prices that aren't too far off from what AMD asked for the last time around. Surprisingly they're actually even more affordable than before.

  • AMD Ryzen 7 2700X: $329 (about £230, AU$420) 
  • AMD Ryzen 7 2700:  $299 (about £210, AU$380) 
  • AMD Ryzen 5 2600X: $229 (about £160, AU$290) 
  • AMD Ryzen 5 2600: $199 (about £140, AU$260) 

Last year, the quad-core Ryzen 3 1300X debuted at $129 (£112, AU$169), while Intel's Core i3 7350K went for $149 (£169, AU$299). Bump up to the hexa-core Ryzen 5 1600X, and we saw it offered for $249 (£249, AU$359) – compare that to the quad-core Intel Core i5-7600K at $239 (£219, AU$339), although you lose a couple of cores in the process.

We saw the biggest price difference with the Ryzen 7 1800X, which at $499 (£500, around AU$650) was nearly half the price of Intel's Core i7-5960X/6900K. Of course, this lead to Intel introducing a more affordable Intel Core i7-8700K and Intel Core i7-7820X. Meanwhile, the AMD Threadripper 1950X came in at $999 (£999, AU$1,439) and delivered even stronger performance than Intel's like-priced Core i9-7900X.

Of course, AMD recently dropped its Ryzen prices across the board alongside the 2nd Generation announcement, keeping things competitive with Intel as the two companies wage war for your CPU-buying dollars.

AMD Ryzen 2nd Generation specs

At this point, we only have a few official details when it comes to exactly what kind of performance boost we'll see from the Ryzen 2nd Generation chips. They're built using a new 12-nanometer process, which will cram in even more transistors and thus provide more raw speed along the way.

According to ExtremeTech, AMD chief technology officer Mark Papermaster claims that the 12nm process results in an approximately 10% performance increase over the original Ryzen's 14nm process, "with additional opportunities to optimize performance per watt."

We could also see Ryzen 2nd Generation CPUs that will do away with the need for GPUs for anyone playing older games or eSports titles that focus on speed rather than sheer graphical output. If the first set of Ryzen APUs – including the Ryzen 5 2400G and Ryzen 3 2200G – are any indication, the company's 'discrete class' Vega graphics pack an incredible punch.

AMD says that the Ryzen 2nd Generation chips will be the smallest and fastest desktop processors to date – lofty promises, but ones that are sure to excite PC enthusiasts and users of all stripes. Ryzen 2nd Generation chips will deliver higher clock speeds and introduce the enhanced Precision Boost 2 technology to boost performance during high-drain scenarios.

Recent pre-order pages reveal the AMD Ryzen 7 2700X will see a 300MHz boost over its Ryzen 1700X predecessor. The alleged spec sheet reveals a CPU base clock of up to 3.7GHz and boosts up to 4.3GHz.

And, if a recently leaked review is to be believed, the Ryzen 7 2700X performs up to 14% better in synthetic benchmarks, and, less impressively, up to 4% faster in gaming performance.

All the while, the AMD Ryzen 7 2700X is said to retain its current 8-core and 16-thread count. If the rumors are true, this could mean the end of Intel's higher clock-speed advantage.

AMD has a very technical primer on Precision Boost 2 from its Ryzen Mobile Processor with Radeon Vega Graphics, in case you want to dig into the specs.

We've seen some SenseMi improvements in AMD's recent Ryzen-based desktop APUs, so it stands to reason that we'll see similar performance and efficiency increases in the Ryzen 2nd Generation line. That could include optimized power usage through Pure Power smart sensors and improved overclocking potential from Extended Frequency Range 2.

And there's some good news for prospective upgraders: unlike Intel, AMD will keep the same AM4 socket as the last Ryzen chips, so you won't need to buy a new motherboard to slot one of these CPUs into your machine. There will also be an enhanced X470 chipset that's optimized for Ryzen 2nd Generation and claims lowered power consumption, as well.

Note that AMD is calling the heart of the Ryzen 2nd Generation a Zen+ core, rather than the Zen 2. What's the difference? Well, Zen 2 will be an entirely new architecture built on a 7nm process, which – as you can imagine – could provide a world of difference when it comes to performance boost.

AMD's roadmap shows the Zen 2 and Zen 3 (listed at "7nm+") cores coming somewhere between the release of the Zen+ and the year 2020, so that's more likely to appear in 2019.

Zen 2 design is reportedly complete at this point, and it "improves on Zen in multiple dimensions" according to AMD. And the Zen 3 is "on track," as well. AMD could be primed to shake up the CPU industry all over again with the Zen 2, but that's not what we'll see this year: Zen+ is what's powering the Ryzen 2nd Gen chips.

Even so, there's plenty of reason to get excited for the Ryzen 2nd Generation CPUs, especially if you are (or will be) in the market for a new or upgraded PC in 2018. Now that Intel is on the defensive, though, we'll see whether AMD is able to repeat its surprising feat from last year.