AMD Ryzen 5 Mobile 3500U CPU Review

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AMD Ryzen 5 Mobile 3500U

Now let’s talk about the AMD Ryzen 5 3500U, this is after all what we are reviewing specifically, today.  The AMD Ryzen 5 3500U was launched in January (Q1) of 2019.  The AMD Ryzen 5 3500U, which is called Picasso, directly replaces its predecessor, the AMD Ryzen 5 2500U, which is called Raven Ridge, which was launched in October of 2017.  These mobile CPUs/APUs are geared for thin and light laptops and operate at the 15W TDP level.

Now, there is another series of CPUs on the desktop side that are also recent and also based on the Zen+ architecture same as the mobile CPUs. We reviewed an AMD Ryzen 5 3400G back in November which has integrated Vega 11 graphics, so it is an APU also. However, that CPU is a desktop variant and thus has a much higher TDP than the 3500U in our laptop. We cannot directly compare them, but we will mention the CPU when relevant under test that is shared between this review and that one. 

The AMD Ryzen 5 2500U (its predecessor) was the first series that was released on AMD’s new Zen architecture.  The same Zen architecture that backs the AMD Ryzen 3/5/7 1000 series desktop CPUs.  Like the Ryzen 5 1500X, for example.  The naming is a bit weird because you would think the 2000 series would mean Zen+ architecture like the desktop parts, but that is not the case with the mobile parts.  The mobile parts start with the 2000 series moniker and are original Zen architecture that matches the desktop 1000 series Zen architecture.

The new AMD Ryzen 5 3500U is, therefore, the Zen+ architecture that the desktop Ryzen 2000 series is based on.  Like the Ryzen 5 2500X.  What this means is that the mobile model numbers are just one series ahead of the desktop series, but one architecture behind.  The desktop Ryzen 3000 series is based on Zen2 architecture, but the Mobile 3000 series is not Zen2, it is only Zen+.  So, the mobile CPUs are one architecture level behind the desktop CPUs.

It sounds confusing, but it isn’t, just remember the mobile stuff is one architecture behind despite the model number series being the same.  The AMD Ryzen 3500U is Zen+ and therefore it benefits in a better manufacturing process than Zen architecture, with higher clock speeds, like the desktop parts.  The IPC is barely increased from the original 2500U. The official report is that the IPC is about 3% above the 2500U with the new 3500U.

CPU Specifications

The AMD Ryzen 5 3500U, being based on Zen+, is a 12nm GlobalFoundries manufactured processor.  It is a 4 core CPU with AMD SMT support, so it actually has 8 threads, therefore it is a 4c/8t CPU.   This makes it very capable straight out in multi-threaded applications for such low-cost and small laptops.  The base clock is 2.1GHz and it has a maximum boost clock of up to 3.7GHz.  Though it is a 15W CPU, it is configurable between 12-35W. 

This exceeds the original Ryzen 5 2500U.  That processor was only capable of a base clock of 2GHz and a maximum boost clock of 3.6GHz with a configurable TDP between 12-25W and was also on a 14nm process.  Therefore, the AMD Ryzen 5 3500U is on a better manufacturing node, runs faster in MHz, and has a larger configurable TDP.  The reported performance difference overall considering everything is about 8% faster than the 2500U.

The memory supported is 32GB of dual-channel DDR4-2400.  Therefore, the theoretical max bandwidth is 35.76 GB/s in double-channel and 17.88 GB/s in single-channel.  The AMD Ryzen 5 3500U has 384KB of Level 1 Cache, 2MB of Level 2 Cache and 4MB of Level 3 Cache.  This is the same cache setup as the 2500U. 

This CPU supports PCIe 3.0, this being Zen+ means it supports PCIe 3.0 and not the new PCIe 4.0 that Zen2 supports.  It has 12 PCIe lanes, 1×8+1×4, 2×4+1×4.  The AMD Ryzen 5 3500U uses the BGA FP5 packaging and AMD SoC Platform.  The CPU does support AMD Precision Boost.

Vega 8 Graphics

One of the more interesting things about this mobile CPU is the integration of AMD Vega 8 graphics on this CPU/APU package.  Now, in our next article, we are going to specifically look at the GPU performance of the Vega 8 graphics.  For right now, let’s just briefly go over the specs so you know what it is made of.

AMD Vega 8 is basically GCN 5th generation graphics architecture.  This is the same architecture that backs the Vega 10, Vega 12 and Vega 20 discrete GPUs, such as the AMD Radeon RX Vega 56 and AMD Radeon RX Vega 64 discrete GPUs.  This architecture was also on Raven Ridge, the first Zen mobile CPUs.  You will find other Vega graphics versions on Picasso CPUs, like Vega 3, Vega 6, Vega 9, Vega 10 and Vega 11.  Therefore Vega 8 kind of sits in the middle to lower portion of the potential integrated graphics options.

As the name indicates, Vega 8 has 8 CU’s or Compute Units or sometimes called Graphics Core Count.  This gives it 512 streaming processors (shading cores) and 32 Texture Units and 8 ROPs.  With the new AMD Ryzen 5 3500U, the total boost clock of Vega 8 can hit 1200MHz (1.2GHz).  This is 100MHz faster than with AMD Ryzen 5 2500U where Vega 8 hit 1100MHz (1.1GHz).  Therefore Vega 8 should offer slightly faster performance with the new 3500U. 

Vega 8 also offers a lot of different feature support that is up-to-date.  There is support for DX12_1, OpenGL 4.6 and OpenCL 2.2.  There is TrueAudio, FreeSync 1 and 2, HDCP 1.4 and 2.2, HDMI, DisplayPort, and up to 4 display support.  AMD’s VCN 1.0 video decoder which supersedes AMD’s UVD and VCE decoders is in place.  There is full hardware decoding of H.262, MPEG-4, VC-1/WMV9, H.264, H.265, and VP9.  It can do hardware encoding of H.264 and H.265.  This is the same as the newer Navi architecture, in fact, so the video decoder is actually very good on Raven Ridge and Picasso.

We will test the Vega 8 GPU performance in our second article, stay tuned for that.  Today is all about the CPU performance.

Brent Justice
Former managing editor of GPUs at HardOCP for 18 years, Brent Justice has been reviewing computer components since the late 90s, educated in the art and method of the computer hardware review, he brings experience, knowledge, and hands-on testing with a gamer-oriented and hardware enthusiast perspective. You can follow him on Twitter - @Brent_Justice You can sub to his YouTube channel - Justice Gaming You can check out his computer builds on KIT - @BrentJustice

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