AMD’s New 5700G, 5600G APUs Offer Solid Gaming Results, Plug Holes in Ryzen Lineup

AMD’s 5700G and 5600G dropped yesterday as the latest Zen 3 CPUs and the first major additions to the product line in some months.

The 5700G and 5600G combine AMD’s latest Zen 3 architecture with the older Vega graphics core. In order to speed time to market, AMD essentially swapped the Ryzen 4000’s Renoir CPU for Zen 3’s Cezanne. This new chip is intended to plug the large gap in AMD’s product line that has existed since the launch of the Ryzen 5000 series late in 2020.

One significant difference between the Ryzen 5000 “G” CPUs and their “X” desktop cousins is that the “G” chips lack PCIe 4.0 support. Because these processors re-used Renoir’s design outside of the CPU swap, the chips themselves are only equipped with PCIe 3.0. Here’s how the cores stack up and drop into AMD’s existing product stack.

Compared to the 5800X, the 5700G packs the same number of CPU cores but pulls back on the TDP (from 105W to 65W), cuts the L3 cache in half from 32MB to 16MB, and taps clocks downwards ever so slightly. Remember that while the CPU has only half the L3 of a full 5800X, it keeps Zen 3’s unified cache and does not split its L3 into multiple blocks. This eliminates the latency penalty caused by dividing the L3 cache into smaller chunks. One reason why AMD increased L3 size dramatically with Zen (compared to Bulldozer) and Zen 2 was to minimize how often a CPU had to snoop data from an L3 slice attached to a different CPU. A Zen 3 with a 16MB L3 cache may lose less performance against a Zen 2 with 32MB cache than we would otherwise predict as a result.

The 5600G has an easier comparison against the 5600X for two reasons: TDP and clock. Its boost clock is actually 200MHz higher than the 5600X, while it uses the same 65W TDP. There’s less thermal room for the 5600X to distinguish itself compared to its younger, graphics-equipped sibling.

Because these GPUs re-use Renoir’s hardware, the GPU attached to the 5700G is still Vega. While gamers have normally been less than enthused about APU gaming, the ongoing GPU shortage has left many people unable to afford a new video card. An APU-equipped 5700G would still represent an upgrade over past integrated desktop solutions from AMD or Intel and it could offer enough low-end gaming performance to tide a person over until GPU prices come down again.

At $359, the Zen 3-based APU drops in-between the more powerful Zen 7 5800X and the six-core Zen 5600X. The other new APU, AMD’s Ryzen 5 5600G, at $256, is similarly meant to drop into the gap between the 5600X and the beginning of AMD’s Zen 2 / Ryzen 3000 product line. On paper, that’s exactly what they do. But how do they perform?

We’ve checked multiple reviews to round up results from PCMag, PC Gamer, and Tom’s Hardware. This is a bit of an unusual situation. The 5700G is likely to capture most of the interest, but the 5600G is actually more important to shoring up AMD’s product family. Intel’s Rocket Lake has not been an enormously popular enthusiast platform, but the lower-end Core i5 CPUs in Intel’s product stack actually outperform AMD at the moment — or at least they did. The 5600G is AMD’s attempt to change that.

Both chips get good marks across the board. We’ve been talking about how 1080p isn’t as good a target for modern gaming as 720p, and THG’s gaming results bear that out:

Dropping from 1080p to 720p improves the net frame rate by 1.73x. This is the kind of gain we expect to see when a title is severely memory bandwidth bound. The leap from 720p to 1080p approximately doubles the number of pixels on screen, and performance falls by somewhat less than half when one does so. THG notes that OEMs like HP continue to cripple AMD systems by shipping them with single-channel memory configurations. If you buy an APU-based desktop, make absolutely certain it’s using dual-channel memory. They write: “The dual-channel HP configuration is 74% faster at 1280×720 than the single-channel configuration, and 82% faster at 1080p. Bear in mind that the single-channel configuration is the only option available through Office Max, so plenty of uninformed customers are buying what are best described as crippled systems.” They rank the 5700G as 15-20 percent faster than the older Zen+-based (heh) Ryzen 5 3400G.

PCMag’s results also confirm that the 5700G is the fastest desktop iGPU you can purchase today:

The Ryzen 5 5600G and Ryzen 7 5700G are very similar as far as gaming performance, so you aren’t giving much up by going with the weaker chip. The other reason to drop to 720p gaming is that you may be able to bump detail settings up a notch higher. In some titles, 720p Medium or High is a better overall experience than 1080p Low / Medium.

Image by PC Gamer

There are specific games where the gap between the 3400G and 5700G is larger. PC Gamer reports that the 5700G is no less than 1.27x faster than the 3400G in Civilization VI at 1080p Low. This gap remains identical at 720p, suggesting that the game benefits substantially from the different cache arrangement built into the 5700G rather than any dramatic difference in the graphics core.

As far as overall compute performance is concerned, the 5700G offers 8-12 percent less single-threaded performance than the 5800X and 17-22 percent less multi-threaded performance. This last is partly due to the CPU’s smaller L3 cache and lower clock speeds, but holding to a 65W TDP is undoubtedly a factor here. The 5800X has a lot more freedom to stretch its legs.

The Ryzen 5 5700G generally outperforms the Core i5-11600K, but there are a couple of tests like y-cruncher and POV-RAY 3.7 where we see the chip fall a bit short. In y-cruncher, we suspect the availability of AVX-512 binaries gives Intel an extra boost, while POV-RAY 3.7 appears sensitive to the CPU’s smaller L3 cache.

Everyone likes the 5600G, while the 5700G is a bit more situat8ional. PCMag writes: “If you’re a faithful player of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Rainbow Six: Siege, or Valorant, the AMD Ryzen 5 5600G makes it possible to build your next “good enough” gaming rig for much less than what it would cost with any other processor that’s come before it.” Hot Hardware declares “The AMD Ryzen 5 5600G and Ryzen 7 5700G are a couple of highly-compelling, mainstream processors.” The 5600G is a particularly good deal, but the 5700G is reasonable as-well.

THG does not believe the 5700G is as good of a deal if used exclusively with a dGPU, writing: “[T]he 5700G doesn’t live up to its billing as a non-X equivalent, especially because it doesn’t come close to matching its “X” counterparts, even after overclocking.” Tom’s opinion in this case is based on the CPU’s gaming performance when paired with a discrete graphics card. In their tests, the 5700G is only 84.3 percent and 88.9 percent as fast as the Ryzen 7 5800X in 1080p and 1440p respectively.

At $359, the Ryzen 7 5700G is 80 percent the price of the Ryzen 7 5800X. Offering 85 percent as much performance in 80 percent the price is not a bad deal, objectively speaking, but the Core i7-11700K and KF are available for between $349 – $375. The Core i7-11700K is fully competitive with the Ryzen 7 5700G everywhere but in terms of power consumption, where the AMD chip is significantly better.

If you care at all about energy efficiency, the 5700G’s slightly lower performance is offset by significantly better energy consumption compared to any current Intel desktop chip. If you care more about maximizing gaming performance and less about power draw, the Core i7-11700K may be a worthy choice.

For anyone who needs an integrated graphics core, the 5600G is a slam dunk, with the 5700G available as a slightly higher-performing option. If you don’t need an iGPU, the 5600G is still a very well-positioned chip by every metric. The use case for the 5700G is a little narrower, but it’s a great high-efficiency option. Eyeballing THG’s chart it looks as though it’s nearly 2x as energy-efficient as the 11700K, even if it loses slightly in sheer performance.

As always, if you are buying an APU for gaming, keep in mind that APU’s scale much better with faster DRAM. While it is not worth paying absolute top dollar, DDR4-3200 or DDR4-3600 is preferred.

We’re glad to see that AMD has finally taken a step towards improving iGPU performance. There are still users who benefit more from 8 CPU cores than from a discrete card versus an integrated solution. Anyone who wanted to save money on a GPU but couldn’t fit their workloads into a quad-core now has a little extra breathing room.

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