The red team have just launched the brand new AMD Ryzen 2 Pinnacle Ridge processors. These second-gen Ryzen chips are an improvement over the initial Zen CPUs in pretty much every way. They’re faster, the top chip’s more affordable, and they’ve got gaming performance that makes it very difficult to justify picking an Intel CPU for your new rig build.
Want to see how the current crop stack up? Check out our pick of the best CPUs for gaming.
- AMD Ryzen 2 release date
The initial crop of second-generation Ryzen processors - code-named Pinnacle Ridge - launched April 19, just over 12 months after the first CPUs burst onto the scene. The Ryzen 3 range and Ryzen 7 2800X must surely follow later on...
- AMD Ryzen 2 specs
It’s all about the new 12nm production process, so there aren’t any more cores, just slightly higher clockspeeds, better gaming performance, and improved efficiency.
- AMD Ryzen 2 AM4 platform
Just as AMD promised, the Ryzen 2000-series chips drop into the exact same AM4 CPU socket the first Ryzen processors, and the new Raven Ridge APUs, use. Though there is a new range of slightly higher performing X470 motherboards.
- AMD Ryzen 2 price
The prices of the last-gen Ryzen chips have been slashed over the last couple of months, but Ryzen 2 is priced to compete. The Ryzen 7 2700X costs $329, and the Ryzen 5 2600X costs $229.
- AMD Ryzen 2 performance
AMD originally suggested the process change from 14nm to 12nm would yield a 10% performance boost on its own, but clockspeed bumps and second-gen Precision Boost mean the 2700X shows a 17% boost over the 1800X and the 2600X is 12% faster than the 1600X.
Update April 29, 2018: AMD have really nailed it. The launch of the original Ryzen processors wasn’t the smoothest, with memory compatibility issues and the missing mainstream Ryzen 5 range, but this time around the second-gen release looks like it’s going without a hitch.
The new chips we’ve tested are markedly better than the first-gen processors, showing how AMD have listened to the feedback and made tangible improvements to their design. The 2700X is a fantastic octa-core CPU, faster than the best of last year’s AM4 processors, the 1800X, and hugely cheaper too. It also makes the more expensive Intel Core i7 8700K redundant too, which is quite a feat.
The 2600X, the sequel to one of our favourite gaming CPUs of last year, the Ryzen 5 1600X, is our pick of the second-gen bunch. The Core i5 8400 may still have a slight gaming frame rate lead, and be the cheaper option, but the 2600X has a lot more going for it as an overall package.
There are also non X-series versions available, which have slightly slower clockspeeds, but should still be able to deliver the same level of improvements as their siblings. The $200 straight 2600 could be the one to make the i5 8400 unnecessary.
Original feature: It’s hard to believe that it’s been a year since the red team released the first AMD Ryzen CPUs, sending shockwaves through the processor market and disrupting every launch their Intel rivals made throughout the rest of the year.
And now they're back, producing an updated second-gen version of the Ryzen chips using a slightly respecced Zen+ CPU architecture with a few key tweaks. So, what are AMD offering with these new processors?
AMD’s Ryzen 2 processors are launching on April 19, 2018. If you can’t wait, they are already up for pre-order.
AMD are launching four new CPUs in the first wave of the advanced 12nm lithography: the Ryzen 7 2700X at $329, Ryzen 7 2700 at $299, Ryzen 5 2600X at $229, and Ryzen 5 2600 at $199. Currently there’s no sign of a top-tier Ryzen 7 2800X.
AMD are also included Wraith coolers across the entire second-gen Ryzen lineup - even the X-series chips. The top Ryzen 7 2700X comes with the new Wraith Prism, while the Ryzen 7 2700, Ryzen 5 2600X, and Ryzen 5 2600 come with the Wraith Spire (LED), Wraith Spire, and Wraith Stealth, respectively.
Also launching alongside the new Ryzen 2 processors will be the X470 chipset within various new motherboards. While not a necessary purchase, thanks to AMD’s extended AM4 support, these new mobos are offering new and improved power delivery and the StoreMI storage technology.
We’ve got the X-series chips benchmarking in the PCGN test rig right now, and will have the full performance numbers for you on April 19.
The new Ryzen 2000 series Pinnacle Ridge chips will feature the new Zen+ architecture and use an improved 12nm production process, as opposed to the first Ryzen chips’ 14nm lithography.
So far two enthusiast X-series Ryzen 2 chips have been announced, alongside two power-efficient CPUs.
Core parity has been maintained with the first generation of Ryzen chips. The 12nm design isn’t going to allow for any extra space inside the chip as it’s more about power than extra transistor density. James Prior, one of AMD’s desktop gurus, told us at CES that “it’s not an area statement, it’s a power efficiency statement. The area is not going to change much, but the ability for us to manipulate the frequency voltage curve has improved.”
But AMD are also promising extra features to optimise the performance per Watt capabilities of their new Zen+ processors. The new Precision Boost 2 and Extended Frequency Range (XFR) 2 features have changed the CPU goalposts for boosted clockspeeds. In the previous design Precision Boost would only kick in when there were just two cores being used, but now it’s going to be enabled even when all CPU cores are engaged.
That’s going to allow the boost frequencies to be used for more real world applications, such as gaming. A lot of games are still designed to primarily use a single core or thread, but they will often also spill small workloads off onto other threads. With the previous version of Precision Boost, even if these other threads were barely ticking over, it would be enough to nix the auto-overclocking and would immediately drop the 1000-series Ryzen chips down to their base clockspeeds.
With this second generation version on the Ryzen 2000-series processors it’s much more opportunistic and will aim for the highest possible frequency, with increased granularity, by constantly checking against CPU temperature, load, and current. That means there’s no longer a step change in frequency and more of a gradual move up and down the curve.
In short, it ought to give us higher boosted clockspeeds in-game. Bonus.
As well as in the upcoming Pinnacle Ridge Ryzen 2 CPUs, Precision Boost 2 is already in action in the current Ryzen Mobile - even the super low-power new Ryzen 3 mobile chips - and is also available in the Raven Ridge desktop APUs which AMD launched in February this year.
There was some concern about the Pinnacle Ridge processors' cooling potential when it was revealed by AMD that the 2000-series Raven Ridge APUs were using a non-metallic thermal interface material inside the heatspreader. They chose this material as it was cheaper and considered less vital for a low-cost chip.
AMD's Robert Hallock has confirmed via Reddit, however, that they are returning to the soldered heatspreader for the second-gen Ryzen processors. That's the same thermal interface they used for the initial 1000-series variants.
Along with the new Ryzen 2000-series chips will come a fresh 400-series chipset. Don’t panic just yet if you’re rocking an existing 300-series AM4 board as it will still be compatible with the new Pinnacle Ridge CPUs, you’ll just need a BIOS update.
All the manufacturers of the 120-odd AM4 boards on the market have promised to have BIOS updates available for their 300-series boards to allow this cross-compatibility, but you won’t have to wait ‘til April for that as they have been released already for the Raven Ridge desktop APUs.
Because these new desktop APUs use a lot of the new features of the Pinnacle Ridge chips they require a new BIOS to work too. So, if you’re looking to pick up any 2000-series processor, be it Pinnacle or Raven Ridge, then you need to make sure your board’s updated first. AMD will be putting an ‘AMD Ryzen Desktop 2000 Ready’ sticker on all updated boards, so if it ain’t got a sticker it needs updating before your new chip will work.
But what exactly are the 400-series board going to offer?
“The new 400-series chipset is an evolution of the 300-series,” explains Prior. “We’re going to improve a couple of capabilities, like when you plug in a USB hub to our root complex you get better throughput from multiple USB connections at the same time, we’re improving power consumption. We’re also taking in a bunch of the feedback from the launch of the 300-series motherboard and pushing those into the design of the 400-series motherboards. So the new high-end boards are going to have improved memory layout, memory overclocking, VRMs, power delivery, as well as a change in the chipset.”
That means you might get some improved overclocking, but aside from the I/O performance the old 300-series boards aren’t going to be too far off the pace of the new chipset when it comes to getting those new 12nm chips rocking.
The new 400-series AM4 boards will still retain cross-compatibility with the previous generation of Ryzen processors, as well as support for all the AM4-based APUs too.
We now have confirmed pricing for two Ryzen 7 and two Ryzen 5 chips and the second generation Ryzen chips are considerably cheaper than their first-generation counterparts were when they first launched last year.
AMD's Ryzen 7 2700X will cost you $329, while the less power-hungry Ryzen 7 2700 comes in at $299. The potential gaming champ, the Ryzen 5 2600X, will cost you $229, while the Ryzen 5 2600 will hit your bank account to the tune of $199.
Given that there won't be any real core-count changes for the new Ryzen 2 processors, all the performance differences between the 2000- and 1000-series CPUs will be down to the process changes, clockspeed bumps, and feature updates.
AMD are estimating the switch from the 14nm node to a 12nm one would be able to deliver a performance boost of around 10% on its own. Couple that with an expected boost to the base and maximum clockspeeds and you should see a nice little overall performance hike compared with the previous generation.
Fresh benchmarks have appeared online showing gen-on-gen performance boosts of around 18% for the new Pinnacle Ridge processors. The latest Geekbench scores show both the Ryzen 7 2700X and the Ryzen 5 2600X delivering around that impressive benchmark hike compared with their first-gen compatriots.
Considering the Zen+ architecture is essentially purely a die-shrink from 14nm to 12nm, it's looking like the new Precision Boost feature, which allows the Ryzen 2 CPUs more free range to hit their peak frequencies, is having a serious impact on the benchmark performance of the new chips.
And if that carries over into gaming, then we could be looking at AMD completely castrating the Intel competition. Gaming performance was really Intel's last bastion of hope against the plucky Ryzen upstart, and that's going to make Intel's response this year very interesting indeed.
The changes to the Precision Boost and XFR algorithms will be what delivers extra performance for us gamers. At the moment games are not really benefiting from the dynamic boosting of the Ryzen 1000-series cores, so the second-gen version of Precision Boost, which enables the built-in overclock even if all the cores are in use, ought to deliver higher frequencies while gaming.
With the improved production process, more mature CPU architecture, and improved 400-series chipset, it’s also possible that we’ll see some improved overclocking performance from the new Ryzen 2000-series chips too. The original Ryzen processors do not offer a lot in the way of overclocking headroom, but if we can get the Ryzen 2 CPUs up around the 5GHz mark that would be something.