When I started this comparison I already roughly knew how things would play out. Given the higher core count of the Ryzen 5 1600 and the higher clock speeds of the Core i3 8350K. The results reflect this almost perfectly; the Ryzen part dominates the blue team’s offering in applications and synthetics where many cores and threads are used, and the blue team strikes back when only a few (Four or less) threads are in use. Let’s take a closer look at the results.
In Geekbench 4, the Ryzen 5 1600 puts a strong showing in multi-core, but the overclocked i3 8350K unexpectedly matches the stock clocked 1600 in multicore. It seems this benchmark could be less aware of the Ryzen CPU’s architecture. Both CPUs put out a respectable Single core showing but the i3 8350K is quite far ahead, 23% at stock and 35% when overclocked. Cinebench works a treat with as many threads as you can throw at it, so it’s no wonder we see the 1600 absolutely dominate the i3 8350K here in multicore, but again, the i3 pulls ahead in single core. SuperPi is about as single-threaded as they come, so it is no surprise to see the i3 taking the lead here. Moving to Corona Render, which like Cinebench, takes all the cores it can get. The Hexa core Ryzen CPU dominates the quad-core Intel here.
CPU’z built-in benchmark seems to scale very well to the Ryzen architecture. Here we see the usual; the 1600 winning in multicore but the 8350K moving ahead in single, but not by as much as other benchmarks have shown when both are at stock. When the CPUs are overclocked, the single-core gap grows wit hthe 8350K in the lead by nearly 30%. Clock speeds are a wonderful thing.
Looking at 3DMark’s Firestrike first we can see that with the Ryzen CPU powering the machine, there is a roughly 4-5% reduction in graphics score. This is reflected in both stock and overclocked runs. This is a small difference but repeatable. However, when the CPU is tasked with running Physics calculations, the Ryzen 5 1600 quickly pulls ahead nearly 70% when both parts are running at their maximum overclocks. Ryzen does seem to suffer a little bit in the combined score, with the Intel CPU providing a 31% faster result at stock and 23% when both are overclocked. Perhaps Firestrike isn’t well optimised for the Zen micro-architecture.
Moving on to Timespy’s CPU test, which can fully utilise all twelve threads on the Ryzen 5 1600. The AMD CPU quickly pulls ahead of the quad-core Intel part, but less so in the Timespy Extreme CPU test. This utilises the AVX2 instruction set, and the Skylake-architecture powering the i3 8350K has 256-bit FPUs compared to 128-bit on the Ryzen. Perhaps this is helping to boost the Intel part’s relative performance.
Taking a quick look at the 3D benchmarks such as Unigine Superposition and Heaven, we can see that at 1440p, both CPUs can keep the benchmark GPU bound, with the bottleneck shifting to the CPU as we go lower to 720p. While the Intel CPU markedly outperforms the 1600 at 720p and slightly at 1080p, this is mostly academic. This is reflected in World of Tank’s new “Encore” benchmark, where we see the two CPUs neck and neck at 1440p but the Ryzen 5 1600 starting to slip behind as the resolution lowers. The i3 8350K is up to 31% faster at 720p when both CPUs are overclocked.
Let’s take a look at the gaming tests. In Total War: Warhammer, despite being launched in DX12 mode, we see the i3 8350K take a considerable lead. Only at 1440p does the 1600 manage to almost keep pace with the Intel chip. When running the (mostly academic) 720p “low” benchmark, the Intel CPU is a head by over 40%. It is likely this game isn’t fully realising the API’s ability to scale to many threads. Clock speeds dominate here, it seems.
Sleeping Dogs shows a similar result, but even at 1080p the 1600 isn’t too far behind. At 1440p resolution, both CPUs can keep it mostly GPU bound, with only a few FPS lost on the 1600. Batman: Arkham Knight and Shadow of Mordor continue the trend, with the 1600 almost tying the 8350K at 1440p but slipping behind as the resolution drops. One must note though, despite rendering less frames per second, the experience is pretty much identical and well over what I would consider playable. The same overall story continues with Bioshock Infinite and GTA5. However Dying Light is a very well threaded game, and we see the Ryzen 5 part keeping the game fully GPU bound at 1440p and giving the 8350K a run for its money at 1080p despite a 1 GHz clock deficit.
As we move to Ashes of the Singularity, we can finally see a game which will scale to multiple threads. Being a DX12 engine, this game puts almost equal load on all twelve threads on the 1600. That said, clock speeds and IPC do factor a major amount into the end result, as though the 1600 has 50% more cores and 200% more threads, it only manages to outperform the i3 by 8% when both are running at maximum frequency – 1 GHz is a lot of additional cycles.
Ryzen Strikes back
An interesting outlier to the gaming results is Armored Warfare. This game is based on the CryEngine – an engine which is well known to scale to many threads. In this game we see both CPUs, as expected, keep the game GPU bound at 1440p, but when the resolution drops, we see the Ryzen 5 1600 actually outperform the Intel competition. Even at 720p, the 8350K at 4.8 GHz only just about matches the 3.9 GHz Ryzen.
Well, there we have it. After comparing these two CPUs I can quite confidently tell you that I feel they are two different parts for two different roles. The Ryzen 5 1600 is an excellent All-round CPU providing outstanding multi-threaded performance for the price, and still provides a good showing in gaming. The i3 8350K strikes me as a underrated product aimed almost exclusively at gamers playing older or current DX11 or below games. That, or an individual requires industry-leading single-threaded performance without breaking the bank. But one thing you will have to remember is the 8350K doesn’t come with a cooler whereas the Ryzen 5 1600 does. This itself will add a fair amount to the price of the intel chip.
On the Intel side, we have to look at the i5-8400. Without having tested the more expensive i5-8400, I can’t comment as to whether that part is actually faster than a fully overclocked 8350K in gaming (I doubt it), but I still believe the 8350K has its place as a dedicated gamer’s chip. If you’re looking to pull the most FPS in a current-gen game for £165 and want to invest in the Z370 platform, the 8350K offers what you want. There is no clear-cut winner to this performance showdown in my opinion. Simply put, with overclocking permitted on AMD’s B350 platform, and the fact that the Ryzen CPU comes with a cooler that is more than adequate for 3.9 GHz in my testing, the Ryzen CPU is a clear winner in terms of price. But even as a gamer, if I had to choose between these two CPUs, I would choose the Ryzen 5 1600; simply because as games get more and more threaded – moving to next-gen APIs – and become more optimised for CPUs with many threads, I truly believe the 1600 will have the last laugh.