Until recently, deciding on your next CPU essentially came down to a choice of which Intel chip to pick. AMD processors fell behind in performance, meaning a Core-branded chip was always going to win. But we've also seen the rate of progress slow down for Intel's chips, with new generations only offering between a 10-30 percent performance gain.
The last huge performance bump offered by Intel came with the launch of the Sandy Bridge Core i5-2500K back in 2011. Since then, RAM, storage, and graphics cards upgrades to a 2500K system have been the more sensible option. But now with Ryzen offering Intel some real competition, is it finally time to upgrade your 2500K gaming rig without spending a fortune?
That's the question Techspot decided to answer by seeing if a Ryzen chip is a worthy replacement for the 2500K. More specifically, Techspot pitted a Core i5-2500K overclocked to 4.4GHz against a Ryzen 3 1200 and Ryzen 5 1400 both running at 4GHz.
If you purchased a 2500K back in 2011, you probably paid around $220. Today, a Ryzen 3 1200 costs $110, while the Ryzen 5 1400 is $180. The 2500K offered 4 cores and 4 threads with 6MB cache; the 1200 matches that but with 8MB cache. The 1400 still has 4 cores, but 8 threads and 8MB cache.
Techspot's testing focused on gaming, including Total War: Warhammer, Overwatch, The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt, Rainbow Six Siege, World of Tanks, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Three graphics cards were used, including the GeForce GTX 1060, 1070, and 1080.
If you own a 2500K system and are wondering whether to upgrade, you can sit back happy in the knowledge that your processor still continues to perform well. Against the budget Ryzen processors, the 2500K is a match, although the Ryzen CPUs do pull ahead in some areas. As before, if you're motherboard supports it then a new graphics card should be your first upgrade.
If your 2500K system is really starting to show its age, then Ryzen is certainly the way to go on a budget. Spend the money you save on not buying a Core i5 or i7 on a better graphics card alongside a R3 1200 or R5 1400 chip. If you're gaming at 1080p, you'll be enjoying Ultra settings for a few years to come.