Ryzen 5000 mobile review: AMD wins big in laptops

AMD's Zen 3-based Ryzen 5000 chips put the screws to Core i7 laptops.

Credit: AMD

AMD’s new Ryzen 5000 mobile CPU has arrived with a bang. Its predecessor, Ryzen 4000, reset the bar for what to expect from laptop performance. But AMD's not nearly finished.

With the Ryzen 9 5980HS, AMD has fit an even more powerful CPU into a 13-inch, 3-pound convertible laptop that simply hammers competitors that weigh twice as much. Read on to learn more about how it operates in the new Asus ROG Flow X13.

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What is Ryzen 5000 mobile?

Ryzen 5000 mobile differs from AMD's desktop chipsets because it's a purpose-designed monolithic die comprising the latest Zen 3 cores, slightly improved graphics, a better memory controller, and power-focused improvements. The Ryzen 5000 line of CPUs is built on TSMC’s 7nm process.

The CPU isn’t exactly new, for the simple reason that the company designed Ryzen 5000 CPUs to be pin-compatible with the previous Ryzen 4000 motherboards used in laptops. That requirement does limit how crazy AMD could get with the new chip. Still, the new Zen 3 cores do not disappoint one bit. 

zen3 vs zen2 AMD

One of the major changes between the Zen 2 cores in Ryzen 4000 and the Zen 3 cores in Ryzen 5000 was the base level of cores in a Core Chiplet Die (CCD), which increased from four to eight cores. Like the desktop version, that meant all eight cores would have access to the same L3 cache. With Ryzen 4000, four cores shared 4MB of cache with another four cores that had their own separate cache, a more awkward arrangement that slowed performance. 

Zen 3 also doubles the size of the cache from 8MB to 16GB. It may not be the massive 32MB of L3 cache the desktop Zen 3 CPUs feature, but it’s a sizeable increase.

The Zen 3 cores themselves are major redesigns intended to eliminate inefficiencies in the previous Zen cores. AMD's goal is to neutralize Intel’s sole remaining advantage in lightly-threaded and single-threaded tasks.

Asus ROG Flow X13 Gordon Mah Ung

The Asus ROG Flow X13 weighs as much as an XPS 13 2-in-1 yet features an 8-core Ryzen 9 5980HS, GeForce GTX 1650 and can be paired with a GeForce RTX 3080.

Bend-your-brain time

For our review of Ryzen 5000, we were given access to an Asus ROG Flow X13 laptop. It’s a 2.9-pound, ultraportable laptop featuring a lovely 16:10 aspect-ratio 4K+ screen, touchscreen, pen, and a 360-degree convertible hinge.

You’d expect a laptop that converted into tablet or A-frame to be a sedate model made for web-browsing, Office productivity, and watching videos. The vast majority of such convertibles are paired with Intel's low-powered “U-class” CPUs, not those “H-class” CPUs reserved for burly gaming laptops that weight five to eight pounds.

We have seen a lot of CPU and GPU power in a light laptop before. MSI’s year-old  Prestige 14 impressively featured a 6-core Comet Lake U CPU and GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q. The problem was designing it to weigh less than three pounds, which led to a lot of compromises in cooling.

Not so inside of the Asus ROG Flow X13. AMD’s Ryzen 9 5980HS is a 35-watt “high efficiency” version of the CPU. Like the Prestige 14, the ROG Flow X13 features a GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q GPU, but it also has a portable eGPU featuring a custom Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080. It connects to the Flow X13 using a custom x8 PCIe Gen 3.0 connector.

Unfortunately for today’s review, the eGPU was caught up in customs, so you won’t see the gaming chops of the Flow X13 just yet. Fortunately, if you really just want to know if the Ryzen 5000 can live up to its purpose, you can.

What we compared to Ryzen 5000

One thing every single person should remember is laptop CPUs are part of a package. You don’t buy the CPU and build your laptop—you get the laptop with all of the parts installed, most permanently. In other words: You can’t isolate mobile CPU performance, because it's inextricable from the weight and design of the laptop, and especially the cooling in the laptop.

Normally, for example, we wouldn’t think it fair to compare a typical 5-pound H-class CPU against a 3-pound U-class convertible laptop. With the ROG Flip X13, though, you really have to. 

  • MSI’s Prestige 14 Evo is equipped with a 4-core, 11th-gen Core i7-1185G7 with Iris Xe graphics, 16GB of LPDDR4X/4267 memory, a 512GB PCIe Gen 4 SSD, and a 14-inch FHD screen. It weighs 2.7 pounds.
  • MSI’s older Prestige 14 is equipped with a 6-core, 10th-gen Core i7-10710U, GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q graphics, 16GB of LPDDR3/2133 memory, a 1TB PCIe 3.0 SSD, and a 14-inch 4K screen. It weighs 2.8 pounds.
  • Lenovo’s Yoga Slim 7 has an 8-core Ryzen 4800U with Radeon graphics, 16GB of LPDDR4X/4267 memory, a 512GB PCIe 3.0 SSD, a 14-inch FHD, and lap weight of 3.1 pounds.
  • The Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 includes an 8-core Ryzen 9 4900HS (sometimes mistyped as ‘4800HS’ in the charts that follow), GeForce RTX 2060 Max-Q graphics, 16GB of DDR4/3200 memory, a 1TB PCIe 3.0 SSD, a 14-inch FHD screen, and a weight of 3.6 pounds. 
  • The Acer Predator Triton 500 comes with a 6-core 10th-gen Core i7-10750H CPU, GeForce RTX 2080 Super Max-Q graphics, 32GB of DDR4/3200 memory, a 1TB PCIe 3.0 SSD, and a 15.6-inch 300Hz FHD screen. It weighs 4.6 pounds.
  • Gigabyte’s brand new Aorus 17 sports an 8-core, 10th-gen Core i7-10870H CPU, GeForce RTX 3080 max-Q, 32GB of RAM, and a 17.3-inch 300Hz FHD screen. It weights 6 pounds.

This selection gives us a pretty healthy mix of Ryzen 4000H and Ryzen 4000U, as well as 11th-gen Intel U-class CPUs and 10th-gen Intel H-CPUs. The GPUs matter too, and we’ll call that out where think you should pay attention.

Battery Life: TBD

One point we want to note up front is we’re still looking into battery life on our Flow X13. Even its beefy 62-watt-hour battery will be challenged keeping a 4K+ resolution panel running, but our unit generally gave us about 5 hours of battery rundown time. AMD’s own results on the same test, with a similar laptop, put the clock at about 6 hours. AMD says it has put a ton of work into extending the battery life of Ryzen 5000 over Ryzen 4000, so we’re going to kick the tires on this one longer. 

Ryzen 9 5980HS Performance

We’ll start this off with Maxon’s Cinebench R20. It’s the a CPU-based 3D modelling application that is used in its commercial Cinema4D app. It's also integrated into Adobe products. More cores and more threads matter in this test, so not surprisingly, the Ryzen 9 5980HS in the Flow X13--when set to its higher “turbo” performance--is the leader of the pack. It takes a sizeable lead against the Ryzen 9 4900HS in the Zephyrus G14, but more important for AMD, it crushes the new 8-core Core i7-10870H in the Gigabyte Aorus 17, a larger, heavier laptop. 

The CPU to pay attention to is the Core i7-1185G7 in the MSI Prestige 14 Evo. It’s based on Intel’s newest cores, and although the four-core, low-power version here gets crushed, Intel will soon introduce a higher power H35 version with the same cores and an 8-core H-class version.

ryzen  9 5980hs cinebench r20 nt IDG

Longer bars indicate better performance

Cinebench R20 uses a slightly older rendering engine from Maxon, but luckily the company has released Cinebench R23 using its latest rendering engine. One big change from all previous versions of Cinebench is the time it takes to run. While Cinebench R20 may take two to three minutes to run, Cinebench R23 defaults to 10 minutes-plus, making it more of a stress test than before.

You can see that below, where the older 14nm-based Comet Lake H chips lose a little ground against the 7nm Ryzen 4000 and Ryzen 5000. For example, while the same scene is actually rendered in both versions of Cinebench, going from a 3-minute render to a 10 minutes-plus sees the Ryzen 9 5980HS go from a 21-percent lead over the Core i7-10870H in R20, to a 32-percent lead with R23. Compare that to the newer 10nm 11th-gen Tiger Lake, which maintains mostly single-digit differences between versions. 

ryzen  9 5980hs cinebench r23 nt IDG

Longer bars indicate better performance

Up next is Chaos Group’s V-Ray Next, a ray tracing renderer that contributed to Captain America: Civil War and Dead Pool. It loves CPU threads, and for the most part, the tiny Flow X13 leaves the larger laptops in the dust. Ryzen 4000 does fairly well too, but the Ryzen 9 5980HS excels even on heavily multi-threaded tasks.

ryzen  9 5980hs v ray next cpu IDG

Longer bars indicate better performance

Next up is the Corona Renderer, an unbiased photorealistic renderer. Like any renderer, it loves those cores, and we see yet more proof that if you really need more cores, the new Ryzen 5000 has a decent leg up over its older siblings as well as the competition’s CPUs.

ryzen  9 5980hs corona IDG

Longer bars indicate better performance

We could run more multi-threaded modelling apps until your eyeballs fell out, but we think even Intel fans would tell the judge that Ryzen has a core count advantage, especially when you’re comparing Intel’s older 10th-gen Comet Lake H chips versus a new Zen 3-based Ryzen 5000. Your Honor, may we ask the prosecution to move onto what counts for most people? Single-threaded performance.

For that, we return to Maxon’s Cinebench R20, but set to use a single-thread. The result is impressive. On Turbo, the Ryzen 9 5980HS in the Asus ROG Flow X13 is basically faster than recorded entries for Core i9-10900K, Ryzen 9 3950X, and Core i9-9900K, and about dead-even with the Ryzen 5 5600X desktop CPUs. 

You heard right: This laptop CPU should basically be as snappy as an impressive list of high-performance desktop chips.

ryzen  9 5980hs cinebench r20 1t IDG

Longer bars indicate better performance

Compression Performance

We now take a break from 3D rendering to look at more common task: file compression. First up is 7-Zip 19.00, a free, popular compression tool. You can download 7-Zip, run it, and be finished in the time it might take the stock Windows decompress utility to get its act together.

In the single-threaded test. 7-Zip tests compression and decompression, which respectively tickle different parts of the CPU and memory subsystem in a PC. You can see that despite the advantage Ryzen 4000 has in 3D modelling, the Ryzen 9 4900HS in the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 gets trounced. It’s hard to say why, but the Ryzen 9 4900HS does have DDR4/3200 RAM, while the Ryzen 7 4800U has LPDDR4x/4266. Because the test is sensitive to memory and cache performance, that difference may contribute to the Ryzen 4000's disappointing results.

AMD would rather you look at its new Ryzen 5000, which outperforms the three Intel CPUs. That's a good indication of just how well the Ryzen 9 5980HS might do elsewhere.

ryzen  9 5980hs 7zip 1t IDG

7-Zip also features a multi-threaded test, which in this case gives the edge to the two Ryzen CPUs using LPDDR4x/4266, but that Ryzen 9 4900HS is again underwhelming. And yes, when you see odd results like this, you re-run the test. We ran the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 in its Turbo mode, which didn’t make much of a difference either.

ryzen  9 5980hs 7zip nt IDG

Longer bars indicate better performance

HandBrake Performance

Our next test uses HandBrake 1.3.1 to transcode the open-source 4K Tears of Steel video to 1080p / 30 fps using H.265. The test takes about 20 minutes to complete, and typically more cores help (although it doesn’t scale like 3D modelling).

All three Ryzens come out on top, led--barely--by the Ryzen 9 5980HS. It doesn’t crush the Core i7-10870H the way you might expect it to, but you should remember that it’s a three-pound laptop too with far more limited cooling.

Intel fans, don't get too rowdy. It’s actually not very good when a Ryzen 7 4800U in the Lenovo Yoga Slim 7 basically breaks even with a Core i7-10870H chip. The 11th-gen Tiger Lake doesn’t look too hot either, with its mere four cores.

ryzen  9 5980hs handbrake IDG

Shorter bars indicate better performance

Office 365 Performance

We use UL’s PCMark 10 Application test which tasks Microsoft Office 365’s Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Edge with all the boring but valuable things any office drone would do. We’d interpret this to be mostly a tie.

Looking at the subscores for the applications (not shown), we can tell you the laptops with more cores seem to have an edge in Excel. The score for the Core i7-10750H in the Acer Predator Triton 500 confused us, but it's possible that one laptop had a slightly different version of Edge installed. The laptops with discrete GPUs all profited in this test, suggesting that GPUs may matter even to Office 365, finally.

The simple fact that AMD can stand with Intel in lighter-duty work is a good thing. 

ryzen  9 5980hs pcmark 10 apps IDG

Longer bars indicate better performance

Adobe Creative Cloud Performance

Moving on to a heavier workload, we use workstation builder Puget System’s PugetBench to gauge how these laptops do using Adobe’s popular Creative Cloud.  One word of caution: In just about every test above, the results were mostly focused on the CPU performance. As a living, breathing, organic and vast application suite, Adobe touches just about everything on a PC, and those with faster GPUs typically have an advantage.

Premiere Performance

Up first is PugetBench for Adobe Premiere (we examined PugetBench in detail recently). As you can see from the results, Premiere likes a combination of a fast CPU with more cores, and perhaps more importantly, a very fast GPU. 

And yes, that new Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 GPU is no joke. Combined with the wickedly fast GPU, the 8-core Core i7-10870H is clearly the best laptop here for Adobe Premiere work.

Core count matters, too. Even tthough the Acer Predator Triton 500 packs a GeForce RTX 2080 Super, its 6-core Core i7-10750H is likely putting it behind the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 with its 8-core Ryzen 9 4900HS and GeForce RTX 2060.

Of interest here is the Asus Flow X13 and its 8-core Ryzen 9 5980HS. Set to Turbo, with its modest onboard GeForce GTX 1650, it just about matches the Acer Predator Triton 500.

Once we finally get our hands on the Asus XG Mobile with its GeForce RTX 3080, we’ll rerun this test to see to see where the Flow X13lands with a faster GPU.

ryzen  9 5980hs pugetbench premiere IDG

Longer bars indicate better performance

Photoshop Performance

Up next is the application so ingrained in society that people say “Photoshop it” to mean they edit a photo. We again use Puget Systems PugetBench, which actually recommends 32GB of RAM for reliable scores. Despite this recommendation, we’ve found it to be fairly reliable on 16GB of RAM.

Unlike Premiere, Photoshop doesn’t typically leverage the GPU as heavily, but it's still difficult to separate the two in results. When not leaning on the GPU, it’s mostly lightly threaded work, and CPUs with high efficiency and high clock speeds matter. We’ve also found indications of customization that favor’s Intel’s newest chips.

The results here are nothing but good for AMD and Ryzen 5000. Again, it’s difficult to separate GPU from CPU, but we can say that the three- pound ROG Flow X13 and Ryzen 9 with GeForce GTX 1650 can outperform much faster GPUs and equal core-count CPUs from Intel.

ryzen  9 5980hs pugetbench photoshop IDG

Longer bars indicate better performance

Lightroom Classic Performance

Our last PugetBench/Adobe test uses Lightroom to churn through hundreds of RAW files. Of the three apps, it seems less leveraged on the GPU, so we get a better feel for how the laptops and chips stack up. We’d basically call this a tie which, from AMD’s ponit of view, is a good thing. Both of the Ryzen 4000 laptops shoe a small  disadvantage against both Tiger Lake and Comet Lake. Ryzen 5000 and Zen 3 close the gap enough to make the difference negligible.

ryzen  9 5980hs pugetbench lightroom classic IDG

Longer bars indicate better performance

Topaz Gigapixel AI

Our final test ventures into the brave new world of AI. Intel’s 11th-gen CPUs all feature some form of AI acceleration under the umbrella of DL Boost. It may seem esoteric, but it can be very impressive. Topaz Lab’s Gigapixel AI takes advantage of it to enlarge photos in a manner far better than traditional upscaling methods. For our test, we use Gigapixel AI 5.3.1 to perform a 6X enlargement on an 8MP photo of an F-22 Raptor taken with a Canon 1D MK IIn. It’s an entirely realistic use case for someone looking to get more life out of an 10-year-old photo they love. Gigapixel AI uses Intel’s OpenVINO framework, which runs on all CPUs--but if you have a CPU that accelerates it, you save a bundle of time. For laptops with discrete GPUs, Gigapixel allows you to run on the graphics subsystem using OpenGL.

The fastest laptop here is the MSI Prestige 14 Evo with Core i7-1185G7 and Iris Xe graphics. That's despite having four cores, no discrete graphics, and a very lean power and thermal budget. The only laptops that stand a chance against it are those with fast discrete graphics. Here's one place where, at least right now, Intel has a very big advantage.

ryzen  9 5980hs topaz gigapixel ai raptor IDG

A shorter bar indicates better performance

Ryzen 5000 mobile conclusion

We’ll close out our review by looking at how well the Ryzen 5000 scales from light loads to heavy loads. While it’s based on an older 3D modelling application which may not necessarily represent all workloads, we think it’s a nifty way to visualize just where the strengths of the new chip are.

We take Cinebench R15 and run it from a single thread to the maximum of threads on each CPU. Below we compare the Ryzen 9 4900HS to the Ryzen 9 5980HS.

ryzen 9 5980hs vs ryzen 9 4900hs threadscale IDG

Longer bars indicate better performance

For a different angle (below), we look at the same data as percent difference. On the right side of the chart below, the Ryzen 5000 typically outperforms the Ryzen 4000 by 10 to 12 percent. Ryzen has already demonstrated its lead in multi-core, so the work on the left side of the graph is what matters more. There we see the Ryzen 5000 turning in far greater leads over its predecessor. So yes, mission accomplished. 

ryzen 9 5980hs vs ryzen 7 4900hs percent threadscape IDG

Longer bars indicate better performance

Next we compare the 8-core Ryzen 9 5980HS to the 8-core Core i7-10870H. As you can see below, it’s across-the-board outpacing the Core i7-10870H, with a 20-percent lead in a single thread, and 22 percent with 16 threads.

ryzen 9 5980hs vs core i7 10870h percent threadscape IDG

Longer bars indicate better performance

Remember, the Ryzen 9 5980HS is accomplishing this in a three-pound convertible laptop versus a six-pound gaming laptop.

We’re not entirely sure Ryzen 5000 will scale up as you put it into fatter laptops with better cooling and more power—but we do know you can’t squeeze Intel’s current 14nm 8-core CPUs into laptops this thin, nor this light. For now, Ryzen 5000 is the ruler of all it sees.

617377 cezanne die 01 0007a alpha AMD

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Gordon Mah Ung

Gordon Mah Ung

PC World (US online)
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