When the Xbox Series X, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series S all launch next month, the new consoles on both sides of the Sony and Microsoft divide will be packing AMD-engineered GPUs and CPUs. The next-gen consoles all boast Zen 2-based processors, an AMD architecture that will be just a few days behind the curve upon release. On Nov. 5, AMD will launch its new Ryzen 5000 series processors for PCs, the first on the market to employ Zen 3.
On average across several games tested at 1080p with high quality presets, AMD claims that the new Zen 3 chips will offer a 26% performance boost over the recent Zen 2 3000 series processors. Older titles like League of Legends and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive see boosts around 40 to 50%. Those are fairly significant jumps in performance, which may prove to edge out Intel's current top-end processors, but those gains will come at a cost.
AMD will have four different variants in the 5000 series available at launch, ranging from the six-core 5600X at $299 to the sixteen-core 5950X at $799 all the way at the top-end. AMD's flagship model, the 5900X, comes in at twelve cores at $549.
For comparison's sake with the next-gen consoles, let's compare the Zen 2 processors used in the new Xboxes and PlayStation 5 to AMD's new 5800X, which will retail for $449. All three processors in question have eight cores and are manufactured using a 7nm process common across Zen 2 and Zen 3. The cores in the new 5800X will run at a base frequency of 3.8 GHz, the same as the Xbox Series X processor without simultaneous multithreading (SMT) engaged. With SMT, the Xbox process clocks at 3.6 GHz, comparable to the variable frequency 3.5 GHz in the PS5. The Xbox Series S uses the same CPU as the Xbox Series X, only clocked slower at 3.6 GHz or 3.4 GHz with SMT on. With boost enabled, PC users will be able to get the new 5800X up to a max of 4.7 GHz.
Simply put, even without modest boosting, a new Zen 3 processor with the same number of cores will run as fast or faster than both next-gen console Zen 2s. For PC builders who're happy spending hundreds if not thousands of dollars to out-do the latest consoles, the 5000 series may be exciting, but it by no means makes the new Xboxes or PlayStation look "slow." Remember that the new consoles also have GPUs based on AMD's new RDNA 2 architecture, which isn't on the PC market just yet.
When the 5000 series launches next month, AMDs Zen 3 may run into a similar demand problem as Nvidia's new 3000 series GPUs, which may not be easy to get a hold of until early 2021. On Oct. 28, AMD will also unveil its new Radeon RX 6000 GPUs, the first PC cards to feature RDNA 2. If those come in at a competitive price and with strong performance, AMD may actually give Nvidia a run for its money. Then again, Nvidia was first on the market with real-time ray tracing and has DLSS 2.0 on its side—Reviews Editor Mike Williams thinks those advantages are enough to mean AMD "would have to have some vastly surprising offering" in store in order to really challenge Nvidia.
AMD, though, is probably quite happy to be at the heart of all the new next-gen consoles. With Zen 3 just a few weeks away, a lot of people are also surely eager to mix-and-match AMD and Nvidia products, dreaming up Ryzen 5000 and RTX 3080 builds that'll likely ensure tip-top PC performance throughout the lifespan of these new consoles.