AMD Ryzen 5 1500X & 1400 vs. Intel i5-7400 & i3-7350K

This month, AMD launched multiple Ryzen 5 processors. The 1600X and 1600 are sub-$300 6-core 12-thread CPUs that pose some healthy competition to Intel’s i5-7600K and i5-7500.

On the other hand, the sub-$200 Ryzen 5 1500X and 1400 have 4 cores and 8 threads. They compete more with Intel’s locked i5-7400 and the unlocked 2-core, 4-thread i3-7350K CPUs, neither of which we recommend at their current price points.

The Ryzen 5 1500X comes with a Wraith Spire cooler, the Ryzen 5 1400 with a Wraith Stealth. The Intel i5 7400 comes with a stock Intel cooler and the i3 7350K doesn’t include any cooler at all.

The 1500X is the cheapest Ryzen CPU to include 16 MB of L3 cache. The 1400 has half of that disabled, equating to 8 MB of L3 cache. This means that there is more than just clock difference between the two lower-tier Ryzen 5 CPUs. All Ryzen 7 processors together with the Ryzen 5 1600X and 1600 differed only in terms of clockspeed and XFR (extended frequency range). The lower cache size is a significant downside of the Ryzen 5 1400, and partially contributes to its exclusion from our list of recommendations on our homepage.

Although there are few benchmarks comparing these CPUs to their price equivalents from Intel, it is safe to assume that in non-gaming scenarios, the additional cores and threads in the Ryzen processors will result in superior performance. If you’re in the sub-$200 price range and looking for a non-gaming CPU, then Ryzen 5 is the obvious choice.

AM4 platform specifications.

Gaming is a different story, though.

Both the Ryzen 5 1500X and 1400 are unlocked chips, meaning they can be overclocked on any motherboard, be that high-end X370 or mid-tier B350 (we would highly recommend pairing lower-cost CPUs with a B350 motherboard).

The Intel i5-7400 is a locked-multiplier CPU, which means it can’t be overclocked on any motherboard and has a fixed clockspeed of 3.0 GHz and a boost of 3.5 GHz. The slightly cheaper i3-7350K can be overclocked, but it is still limited to only two cores and four threads. Its overclocking capabilities are also unlocked only on an expensive Z270 motherboard with an aftermarket cooler, which increasing the price of entry if you want to overclock.

As with other Ryzen processors, performance with the 1500X/1400 is greatly dependent on the game.

TechPowerUp has a great suite of benchmarks comparing the Ryzen 5 1500X (non-overclocked) against the more expensive Intel i5-7500, running at a clockspeed of 3.4 and boost of 3.8 GHz.

Looking at the summary performance of the CPUs TechPowerUp tested on multiple games, we can see that the i5 7500 is ~2% faster than the far cheaper 1500X. Please note that overclocking the 1500X even on the stock cooler can noticeably increase average performance. Source: Techpowerup

The i5-7400 is noticeably slower than the i5 7500, which would mean that it would, on average, be slower in games than the Ryzen 5 1500X. Overclocking the Ryzen processor will bring it far ahead of the Intel price-equivalent.

A YouTuber known as TechShowdown recently made a video comparing the performance of the i5-7400 and the Ryzen 5 1400. In the video, we see the Ryzen CPU performing equally to the i5, especially when overclocked to 3.8 GHz. If we look at how the i5-7400 competes against Intel’s unlocked i3 in this HardwareUnboxed video, we will see something very interesting.

In Battlefield 1 the non-overclocked i3 is noticeably behind the i5, able to reach its level of performance only when overclocked on a Z270 motherboard. Source: HardwareUnboxed


Watch Dogs 2 shows the same behavior – the i3 is able to reach i5 levels of performance only when overclocked on a more expensive Z270 motherboard. Source: HardwareUnboxed

Even though an overclocked i3-7350K will beat the Ryzen 5 1400, the former will require a more expensive motherboard and an aftermarket cooler to leverage its overclocking possibilities. The Ryzen 5 1400, on the other hand, can be overclocked on any sub-$100 B350 motherboard and comes with a semi-decent stock cooler, the Wraith Stealth. The value offered by the i3-7350K has been questioned ever since it was announced, and it is generally recommended to buy a slightly more expensive quad-core over the i3-7350K.

To conclude, the Ryzen 5 line-up almost completely beats Intel’s i5 line-up, with the exception of the i5-7600K possibly offering more value to high-framerate gamers. We would argue that the unlocked Intel i5 processor is a way to save costs anyway, and a professional competitive gamer should still go with the far superior i7-7700K that offers higher average and minimum framerates together with smoother frametimes. While pricier, the i7-7700K remains the best gaming CPU available.

Intel’s 4-core 8-thread i7 7700K overclocked to 5 GHz is still the best choice for professional high-framerate gamers. Source: PCPer

We can recommend the Ryzen 5 1500X over the i5-7400 due to its superior non-gaming performance, and similar gaming performance. We would recommend avoiding the i3-7350K in any scenario, as any locked Intel i5 processor will perform similarly and won’t require a Z270 motherboard or an aftermarket cooler.

The Ryzen 5 1400 is a harder sell, especially due to its decreased cache size and smaller stock cooler compared to the 1500X. We would recommend investing the extra $20 price difference between the two CPUs and going with the 1500X, where its higher L3 cache size and better included cooler increase the value of the processor even more.

The Ryzen 5 1500X can be found in our Great tier.