For years, Intel has sat on the CPU throne, as the creator of the best processors. However, times are changing, thanks to the runaway success of AMD Ryzen. Team Red unveiled its 14nm Ryzen processors in late 2016 and released them to the public in early 2017, featuring high core counts and better multi-thread performance. AMD then knocked it out of the park again with the release of AMD Ryzen 2nd generation, establishing a solid lead. And, now that Ryzen Threadripper 2nd Generation is on the way, it’s looking like it’s going to stay that way.
AMD put out hit after hit with Ryzen. The Ryzen 7 1800X was a stunning victory lap, as AMD breathed new life into a stagnating battery life. When the Ryzen 5 1600X eventually came out, we were even more impressed, due to its stunning price to performance ratio. Then there was the cheap, and still amazing Ryzen 3 1300X. Then AMD put icing on the silicon cake with the Ryzen Threadripper 1950X, which brought core counts into the high teens – a tradition AMD is planning on repeating with the 32-core Threadripper CPU announced at Computex 2018.
AMD isn’t going to slow down, either, as the manufacturer is planning to release a range of Ryzen 2000 series processors throughout 2018, including much-anticipated Ryzen laptop chips and Ryzen-powered gaming PCs.
Now that we’ve finally gotten our hands on, and reviewed a wide range of Ryzen 2nd Generation CPUs from the Ryzen 5 2600X to the powerhouse that is the Ryzen 7 2700X – not to mention the Ryzen 7 2800X, coming at a later date, that will push performance even further. And, now, we’re ready to start looking to the far future – with AMD’s mysterious Zen 5 architecture.
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 for the new AMD chips is finally over. The first generation Ryzen processors shipped out in March 2017 and rolled out throughout 2017. Now, Ryzen 2nd Generation chips have launched at around the same time of year, on April 19, 2018.
Beyond the first few chips AMD released, the timeline points to released for both the 2nd Generation Ryzen Pro and Ryzen Threadripper chips throughout the second half of the year. Ryzen Pro chips are designed for business and IT use-cases, with up to 8 cores and 16 threads, while the Ryzen Threadripper is the ‘big daddy’ of AMD’s offering with 16 cores for die-hard gamers. And, Forbes has reported that AMD is planning on releasing a similar number of Ryzen 2nd Generation chips as last year – including the anticipated Ryzen 7 2800X.
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
Ryzen 2nd generation processors offer quite the generational leap over their predecessors . 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 AMD 12nm process results in an approximately 16% performance increase and 11% better lower power draw over the original Ryzen's 14nm process.
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.
And, now that we’ve gotten our hands on the Ryzen 7 2700X and the Ryzen 5 2600X, we know that AMD has succeeded in pushing its specs. The 2700X with its 8 cores, 16 threads and speedy boost clock of 4.3GHz outperforms the Intel Core i7-8700K, finally embracing the enthusiast market. Even the lower-end Ryzen 5 2600X pushes performance into the next generation with 6 cores, 12 threads and a 4.2 GHz boost clock.
AMD Ryzen 2nd Generation is a distillation of everything AMD wanted to do with Ryzen. And, if the specs of the early Ryzen 2nd Generation CPUs are anything to go off of, we’re very excited to see what this lineup looks like by the end of 2018.
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.