AMD’s first Zen 5 CPU is the ‘monster’ Ryzen 9 9950X

AMD is launching its first Zen 5 desktop processors in July, with the Ryzen 9 9950X flagship leading the pack as “the world’s most powerful desktop consumer processor.” Based on AMD’s existing AM5 platform, the new Ryzen 9000 series of CPUs include the Ryzen 9 9950X, Ryzen 9 9900X, Ryzen 7 9700X, and Ryzen 5 9600X.

The flagship Ryzen 9 9950X is a 16-core, 32-thread CPU, with 80MB of L2+L3 cache and a 5.7GHz boost clock. AMD is promising around a 16 percent instructions per cycle (IPC) uplift in performance over the previous-generation Ryzen CPUs, with big promises of performance gains in productivity as well as gaming.

The Ryzen 9000 series lineup.
Image: AMD

“It’s a big leap, and we’re very very proud of it,” says Donny Woligroski, senior technical marketing manager for consumer processors at AMD, in a press briefing with The Verge. “It’s a monster. This processor does really well against the competition.”

AMD is promising gains of up to 56 percent in Blender against Intel’s Core i9-14900K with the new flagship 9950X, and even 21 percent in Cinebench 2024. On the gaming side, AMD’s benchmarks show a 4 percent frame rate bump over the 14900K in games like Borderlands 3, all the way up to 23 percent better performance in Horizon Zero Dawn.

At the heart of the 9950X is AMD’s new Zen 5 architecture. It’s still using the AM5 socket, with the usual PCIe Gen 5 and DDR5 support, but there are some updates under the hood to deliver more performance that AMD argues make this not a trivial update. “Sometimes there are updates of Zen that are not as fundamental, but Zen 5 is a sweeping update with vastly improved branch prediction for both accuracy and latency,” says Woligroski. “It’s a really impressive difference, and this delivers up to twice the instruction bandwidth, up to twice the data bandwidth, and up to twice the AI performance of the last gen.”

AMD’s IPC promise for the latest Zen 5 CPUs.
Image: AMD

AMD’s benchmark claims against the 14900K.
Image: AMD

AMD originally promised that the AM5 socket, which launched in 2022, would keep seeing new processor support until at least 2025, but it’s now extending that commitment at Computex to 2027 or beyond. The previous AM4 socket was introduced in 2016, and it’s still going strong today, almost a decade later. AMD is even launching new 5900XT and 5800XT processors for AM4 motherboards in July. The original 5900X was a 12-core processor, but the 5900XT is now a 16-core, 32-thread CPU, designed to take on Intel’s midrange 13th Gen desktop CPUs. The 5800XT has 8 cores, 16 threads, and a boost clock up to 4.8GHz.

AMD’s commitment to AM4 and now AM5 is seriously impressive, especially compared to Intel, which is about to launch its fourth desktop socket since 2015. The upcoming LGA 1851 socket replaces LGA 1700, which debuted in 2021, replacing 2020’s LGA 1200, which replaces the LGA 1151 Intel used from 2015 to 2019.

AMD’s new Ryzen 9 and Ryzen 7 CPUs for the AM4 socket.
Image: AMD

“This really speaks to the success of socket AM4 and previous-gen processors that are lasting so much longer than anyone thought a platform could,” says Woligroski. “It’s the real advantage of having a commitment from your CPU supplier that says we’re in this for the long haul — if you want to upgrade at some time, you don’t have to throw your system away and start from scratch.”

While AM5 is being extended, AMD is also launching new X870 and X870E motherboard chipsets for these new Ryzen 9000 series CPUs. You don’t need these new boards for these new CPUs, but they do come with USB 4.0 as standard, and they all include PCIe 5 Gen 5 on the graphics and NVMe sides, even on the non-E X870 boards this time around. They also support higher EXPO memory overclock support, which is great for enthusiasts who want the best memory speeds possible.

The four new Ryzen 9000 series CPUs and 5900XT / 5800XT will all launch in July, but AMD isn’t providing pricing for any of the processors yet. The Ryzen 9 9900X will include 12 cores, 24 threads, and a 5.6GHz boost. Interestingly, it also has a 50-watt lower TDP than the 7900X. The Ryzen 7 9700X ships with eight cores, 16 threads, and a 5.5GHz boost clock. Finally, the Ryzen 5 9600X will have six cores and 12 threads, alongside a 5.4GHz max boost.

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