Is the Ryzen 9 5900X good for gaming? Or is it exaggerated?
The 5900X has been out for a few years now, is it still good for gaming?
Updated: October 19, 2022 08:11
AMD’s Ryzen 5000 series hit the market in late 2020, and the all-new Zen 3 architecture was at the heart of the new processors. The Ryzen 9 5900X was released to directly compete with the competition’s Core i9 variants on the gaming and productivity fronts. Within AMD’s own lineup, the Ryzen 9 5900X was positioned as the “reasonable” flagship, at $549 at launch.
The Ryzen 9 5900X is an extremely powerful processor for gaming and productivity tasks, thanks to its high core count and efficient Zen 3 architecture. However, it’s not the ideal processor for everyone due to its high price, and may even be considered overkill for most gaming scenarios.
So is the Ryzen 9 5900X overkill for gaming? Let’s explore this in a bit more detail.
Ryzen 9 5900X Specifications
Although the designation “Ryzen 9” is generally used for top-tier AMD desktop processors, there are still several SKUs in this subcategory. The AMD Ryzen 9 5900X sits just below the AMD Ryzen 9 5950X in the Zen 3 processor lineup, and this difference is reflected in both the price and performance of the two processors respectively.
On paper, the Ryzen 9 5900X has all the numbers to compete for the very top spot in gaming performance among mainstream desktop processors.
- Architecture: ZEN 3
- Hearts: 12
- Sons: 24
- Base clock: 3.7 GHz
- Boost clock: 4.8 GHz
- L3 cache: 64 MB
- TDP: 105W
- Overclockable: Yes
As evidenced by the spec sheet, the Ryzen 9 5900X is where some of the most impressive numbers in the CPU space meet. Not only does the 5900X have lots of cores and even more threads, but the cores themselves are clocked very high (up to 4.8 GHz), which is crucial for single-threaded performance.
Additionally, it’s important to note that the Ryzen 9 5900X has 64MB of L3 cache for the CPU, which is a lot compared to other options on the market in a similar price bracket. Having quick access to a large amount of L3 cache is great for gaming as it dramatically reduces latency.
AMD Ryzen 9 5900X
Is the Ryzen 9 5900X overkill?
Thanks to its impressive specs and the much improved Zen 3 architecture, the Ryzen 9 5900X is easily one of the fastest gaming processors on the market. It even matches the much more expensive Ryzen 9 5950X in most games, making it better value for money.
With the 5900X, you can expect smooth frame rates even in the toughest gaming scenarios, provided you pair it with a high-end GPU. On that front, the Ryzen 9 5900X can handle just about every GPU available at the time of writing, without producing significant bottlenecks at 1440p or 4K.
With the launch MSRP of $549, the question of value becomes a little more complicated. Sure, the Ryzen 9 5900X is blazingly fast, but it’s not the best value for money for gaming. There are cheaper options in AMD’s own lineup (Ryzen 5 5600X and Ryzen 7 5800X) that can deliver around 80-90% of the gaming performance of the 5900X, at a fraction of the cost.
Additionally, the Ryzen 9 5900X gets quite hot and consumes a lot of power thanks to its extended power budget, which may be an additional area of concern when buying this CPU for gaming. Therefore, the Ryzen 9 5900X can be considered a bit overkill if you just plan to play games on this CPU.
Is the Ryzen 9 5900X good for streaming?
So if the 5900X is overkill for gaming, is it good for productivity tasks like streaming? In a word, yes! The 12 cores and 24 threads of the 5900X take flight in strenuous CPU-intensive task such as streaming. In fact, the Ryzen 9 5900X is the sweet spot between gaming CPUs and productivity-focused CPUs in AMD’s own Ryzen lineup.
If you’re using traditional encoders like h.264, the Ryzen 9 5900X is really allowed to spread its wings. The 5900X delivers more than satisfactory performance when streaming at 1080p, while gaming on the same system. You can even use high quality streaming settings without any appreciable frame loss or loss of quality.
Sure, it struggles a bit if you crank all the streaming settings to max, but that’s not particular to this specific CPU. System gaming performance while streaming also remains within a reasonable margin of the original performance without the additional streaming load.
In a nutshell, the streaming performance of the Ryzen 9 5900X can be called solid A-.
While the AMD Ryzen 9 5900X isn’t as expensive as the flagship Ryzen 9 5950X, it’s still not a value-oriented processor. Despite its amazing gaming performance, it can be considered a bit overkill for gaming due to the presence of affordable alternatives. On the other hand, it’s a really solid option for streamers, and should definitely be considered by users who want incredible gaming performance as well as solid productivity performance.