This one is just a short, fun (in retrospect) post!
A couple of weeks ago, I managed to snipe an order with Amazon for the AMD Ryzen 9 5900x. It was through Amazon, sold by them, and at MSRP, with a ship date in mid-June. Unlike my previous luck with them for my Geforce RTX 3080, it did not update immediately and ship the same day, but instead moved up twice, to late May, to early May, before I finally received it today.
First things first – Amazon shipping for the Ryzen 5000 series sucks. If you get a 5600x, it will probably be fine, since there is an included cooler in the box and that means more weight and padding, but the higher-tier processors all come in smaller, lighter boxes. Yet, because AMD has set shelf space at retail, the packaging without a heatsink remains huge, and the end result is that the inside of the box is empty-ish. With the light weight of it, Amazon ships it in their bubble-wrap envelope, and so it will likely arrive banged up, at least a smidge.
So I got mine today with the box a little worse for the wear, but it was fine. The small plastic clamshell case in the inner-box photo is what the processor itself was actually in, and when I pulled it out, the pins were fine.
But I was excited, perhaps too much so. I benchmarked my current system with the 3900x I’ve been using since building it in late January, carried over from my prior rig, and then powered off and prepared to remove the 3900x and replace it with the 5900x. My moment with soft-tubed watercooling would pay off, surely, as I could pull the CPU block out easily without having to drain the watercooling loop, so I did relatively easily.
Socket clear and ready, CPU waterblock out of the way, I went to stick the CPU into the socket.
I pulled it back to find not 1, not 2, not 3, but 4 bent pins on my brand-new, 6 months of waiting 5900x!
Surely, the disaster scenario, and I may have gotten up and paced my living room with my head in my hands, admittedly.
But bent pins are fixable, and worst case, I could blame it on Amazon, whose shoddy packaging would have enabled such damage, in theory! So I set out to fix it. First, a gift card – too thick to fit in the rows of delicate pins, the bottom of the CPU having 1,334 of them across just under 3 square inches of space. Then, I grabbed a business card and worked it between the rows, trying to gently nudge the pins back into alignment.
Eventually, it looked right from above, but at sides, it was still crooked.
A guide online suggested grabbing a 0.5mm mechanical pencil, but we didn’t have one at home, so off to Target to buy one. Get home, tried to use it, but it was a bit of a problem – it could bend too much, and my biggest fear was that a back-and-forth bend would compromise the pins enough to snap them, which was the real nightmare.
But I was slow and delicate, and was able to get things nudged back into shape, at least it looked like it.
A moment later, I flipped my case onto its side to try and socket the CPU, to use the zero-insertion force to my advantage to test the pin status. No noises, and the CPU locked in firmly, locking arm down and engaged. Dare I hope?
The system booted and showed the new CPU correctly, allowed me to set my original BIOS settings from the 3900x, and launched into Windows. My RGB RAM wasn’t holding my old setting for color, but everything else was working fine. A quick Google later and I found out that Ryzen 5000 actually required an RGB control update for the memory – so I got that, rebooted, and voila – it worked!
3D Mark ran fine – good, got the performance uplift I expected, hooray!
The FFXIV Shadowbringers benchmark ran flawlessly with a 4,000 point uplift at my settings, so that was a relief. The Civilization VI benchmarks both ran well, and lastly, the Final Fantasy XV benchmark ran great as well.
I logged into WoW and was greeted with a rock-solid locked 100 FPS, something that the 3900x couldn’t quite get to, especially not in Ardenweald or Oribos.
All that nervousness, all that fear, all resolved in the hours of steady operation.
So lesson learned – use extra-caution when inserting any PGA CPU, and especially be careful if trying to adjust the pins after such an episode!
Now, the performance observations.
The 19% IPC uplift is generally spot-on, and further helped by the increases in effective clockspeed. My 3900x was rated to reach a 4.6 GHz clock speed on a single core, but rarely reached more than 4.45 GHz, while also running fairly hot, with idle temperatures for that part in the high 40s to low 50s Celsius, even on watercooling. The 5900x runs cooler on average, but also does so by utilizing less power on average but ramping higher. I never saw my 3900x hit the full TDP of 105w, but the 5900x has already done so several times, while also reaching a 5 GHz boost, higher than advertised!
Because of this, it tends to run higher temperatures when running an actual application or task – not alarmingly so, but higher than the 3900x when running at full clip. The 3900x generally idled much higher but didn’t have as sharp of an increase up in temperatures when running more intense workloads, while the 5900x idles up to 12 degrees lower than my 3900x!
Between the much higher clock speeds and the IPC uplift, the CPU does have an excellent, all-around performance uplift for my general work. My 3D rendering runs much smoother, but the biggest effect so far is in MMO gaming, where the engines that run MMOs, generally CPU-limited, have a much greater smoothness and framerate stability. The locked 100 FPS of WoW was atypical for a lot of gameplay on my 3900x, while a large variety of games no longer have dips or stutters in the way I was accustomed to on the 3900x. That isn’t to say the 3900x was bad, quite the contrary, but I am very happy with the experiential upgrades the 5900x has offered.
Lastly, there appears to be an improvement in overall stability as I hinted at above. The 3900x used AMD’s old CCX model, and so it was effectively 4 nodes of 3 CPU cores each. The Ryzen 9 5900x is a new design with 2 nodes of 6 cores each, which means single core loads have access to more L3 cache and multi-core workloads have less travel and latency between cores. In particular, for games, where 6 cores is still a sort of upper-bound, the 5900x can run without having to shuffle data between CPU nodes, and if an application stretches beyond 6 cores, it has a more consistent single trip to make, instead of inconsistent trips that vary from inter-silicon to across the substrate to another die. Either the work is in the same die or it’s in the other one, so communication is more consistent and reliably faster.
Overall, the increase in performance is consistent, reliable, and the experience benefits it has with less stuttering and faster core-to-core work all add up to a pretty strong improvement. I’m pretty happy with my system now, and with it in its final state, now I can just…play.
Well, until the next thing, I suppose.