Most of Intel’s mainstream Core i3 and Core i5 CPUs come with integrated graphics processors (IGPs, for short), which means that if you don’t need tons of graphics horsepower, you can save quite a bit of money by not having to buy a separate graphics card. By contrast, AMD’s only mainstream desktop Ryzen CPUs with integrated graphics are its G-series models, available in either a Ryzen 3 2200G or the Ryzen 5 2400G reviewed here (as well as lower-wattage “GE” variants). At $ 149, the Ryzen 5 2400G is $ 50 more than the Ryzen 3 2200G, and it offers a commensurate performance improvement. And both are a much better value than their Intel competitors if you’ll rely on them for the best possible graphics performance from an IGP. If you’re building or upgrading a budget desktop PC to be used for gaming on the cheap, the choice between the two G-series chips really comes down to what else you could spend that extra $ 50 on. When it comes to general computing performance, though, the Ryzen 5 2400G lags a little behind its Intel competition.
Bring On the Eight Threads
Built on a 14-nanometer processor architecture, the quad-core, 3.6GHz Ryzen 5 2400G has all the hallmarks of a modern desktop processor. One of its main advantages over the Ryzen 3 2200G, also a quad-core chip, is the ability for each CPU core to execute two processes or threads concurrently, a process known as simultaneous multi-threading (SMT). That means the Ryzen 5 2400G offers eight threads to the Ryzen 3 2200G’s four, which can provide significant performance improvements if the apps you’re running are designed to take advantage of multi-threading.
The Ryzen 5 2400G is configured slightly differently from its main competitor, the Intel Core i5-8400. The Intel chip, which costs $ 180, has more cores (six), but a lower base clock speed (2.8GHz). The Core i5-8400 also lacks support for SMT (which Intel calls Hyper-Threading), so each core can handle just a single thread at a time, for a maximum of six threads. Both chips can boost their clock frequencies under heavy workloads, up to a maximum of 3.9GHz for the Ryzen 5 2400G and 4GHz for the Core i5-8400. On paper, then, the Core i5-8400 edges out the Ryzen ever so slightly with its higher maximum clock speed and core count, but lags behind in thread count with the lack of Hyper-Threading. Ultimately, the differences among clock speed, cores, and threads aren’t as important on a budget CPU as they are on a high-end chip like the AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2970WX or the Intel Core i9-9980XE.
Last month, Intel introduced a 9th Generation “Coffee Lake” successor to the Core i5-8400. Other than an increased base clock speed of 2.9GHz, the new Core i5-9400 is mostly the same as its predecessor, including its $ 180 price. We haven’t tested it yet, so I’ll stick with the Core i5-8400 as a point of comparison for this review.
As I alluded to above, where the Ryzen 5 2400G really shines is graphics performance. Its integrated graphics processor, dubbed the Radeon RX Vega 11, runs at a maximum frequency of 1.25GHz and borrows from the main system memory. That’s a comparable setup to the 1.2GHz Intel UHD Graphics 630 processor in the Core i5-8400. But with 11 processing cores of its own (thus the “11” in its name), the Vega 11 is light-years ahead of the UHD Graphics 630 when it comes to the frame rates you’re likely to see while playing graphics-intensive games. That means the Vega 11 is a near substitute for a low-end discrete graphics card, especially if you’re willing to stick to resolutions of 1080p or below and refrain from pushing the game’s graphics-quality settings too high.
That said, don’t be misled by the Vega in the name. The Vega 11 is more powerful than the eight-core Vega 8 IGP in the Ryzen 3 2200G, but neither offers anywhere near the full graphics experience you’d get from discrete Radeon RX Vega 56 and Radeon RX Vega 64 cards, which compete with Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 10-series and 20-series gaming graphics processors. These cards cost more than $ 300, which puts them far out of reach of budget gaming PCs.
Overclockability and Compatibility Galore
AMD includes an array of minor, nice-to-have features with all Ryzen chips. Chief among them is overclocking. Boosting clock speeds on the Ryzen 5 2400G is relatively easy with the Ryzen Master app for Windows, though you can also use other apps or tweak the BIOS settings. Meanwhile, only some Intel CPUs are designed for overclocking, and they, unsurprisingly, cost extra. If you want an overclockable Core i5, for example, you’ll need to step up to the $ 260 Intel Core i5-8600K.
On a budget chip, though, overclockability is mostly good for tinkering rather than meaningfully boosting performance, so it’s not a critical feature. (Check out our comprehensive guide to overclocking Ryzen CPUs if you’re interested in learning more.) If you’re budget-sensitive, after all, you probably want to stick with AMD’s bundled air cooler, and if you’re keen on overclocking, you probably want something better than that, which would bring you into the range of a pricier Ryzen chip to start with.
Far more useful is robust compatibility with the growing pool of Ryzen motherboards. Even though the Ryzen 5 2400G boasts an IGP, it uses the same AM4 socket and chipset as the rest of the Ryzen family (excluding the ultra-high-end Ryzen Threadripper). As long as you’ve got an AM4-socket motherboard with HDMI or DisplayPort outputs, the Ryzen 5 2400G should work fine, although you may need to upgrade the BIOS after installation.
This compatibility also makes testing easy: I performed my benchmark tests using PCMag’s Ryzen B350-chipset testbed, the same machine we used to test a host of other recent AMD CPUs, including the Ryzen 3 2200G. It’s equipped with a Gigabyte AB350-Gaming 3 motherboard, 16GB of Corsair DDR4 memory, and a Toshiba OCZ Vector 150 boot drive.
A Noctua AM4-compatible air cooler keeps temperatures in check, but such a high-end air cooler is likely overkill for the Ryzen 5 2400G, which is designed to consume 65 watts of power in normal use cases. Another nice feature of most current-generation Ryzen chips is that they include an air-cooling solution in the box. In the Ryzen 5 2400G’s case, it’s a basic AMD Wraith Stealth fan that lacks the programmable LED lighting of the Wraith Prism coolers included with some midrange and high-end Ryzen chips. But it’s perfectly adequate for a budget PC build and attractive to boot.
If you’re keeping score, so far the Ryzen 5 2400G has crossed a GPU and a cooler off of your shopping list. The AMD stock cooler and the chip’s IGP are both credible substitutes for components you otherwise would need to spend money on, especially if you’re building a gaming rig on as small a budget as possible. The big question, then, is whether the Ryzen 5 2400G’s performance can live up to its ambitions.
Excellent Performance for an IGP
I compared the Ryzen 5 2400G’s performance on our benchmark tests with its little sibling, the Ryzen 3 2200G, as well as the Core i5-8400. For score comparisons, I also threw in the more powerful, more expensive AMD Ryzen 5 2600X and Intel Core i7-8700K for extra context. The CPU is often the most crucial component of any PC build, so it’s always smart to look at the next tier up to see what you could gain by shifting some of your spending from other components, such as the memory and the storage drive.
What I found was encouraging for casual gamers, but less so for people who prefer better general computing performance over 3D-graphics prowess. The Vega 11 IGP in the Ryzen 5 2400G churned out eminently playable frame rates on older titles like Tomb Raider and Sleeping Dogs. I achieved 69 frames per second (fps) in Tomb Raider’s in-game benchmark at 1080p resolution and Normal quality settings. That’s slightly better than the Ryzen 3 2200G (60fps) and well ahead of the IGP in the Core i5-8400, which produced an only borderline-playable frame rate of 29fps.
The story is much the same with the Sleeping Dogs built-in benchmark. On this game, the Ryzen 5 2400G recorded 78fps, compared with 34fps for the Core i5-8400. The Ryzen 5 2400G still comes out way ahead, even when compared with the IGP results from the much more expensive Intel Core i7-8700K, which uses the same UHD Graphics 630 silicon as the one in the Core i5-8400. (The Core i7-8700K achieved 35fps on Tomb Raider and 41fps on Sleeping Dogs at the same settings.) Note again: This is at 1080p, but with graphical detail settings dialed well down.
Turning down those detail levels and lowering the screen resolution is a tried-and-true method for playing games on lower-end hardware, of course. You shouldn’t expect anything remotely like these numbers at 1440p or 4K resolution. Neither should you expect them on the latest games: The Ryzen 5 2400G achieved an average 28fps on Far Cry Primal at 1080p and the Normal detail setting.
A Look at Compute Performance
When it comes to general computing performance, the Core i5-8400’s two extra cores give it a slight advantage over the Ryzen 5 2400G. For example, in Maxon’s CPU-crunching Cinebench R15 test, which is fully threaded to make use of all available processor cores and threads, the Ryzen 5 2400G achieved a score of 839 compared with the 961 of the Core i5-8400. The Intel also did slightly better (171 versus 159) with just a single core working on this test, which renders a complex image to indicate a system’s suitability for processor-intensive workloads.
The slight performance gap continues when it comes to other multimedia creation tasks. The Core i5-8400 took 1 minute and 43 seconds to convert a batch of audio files from the WAV format to the AAC format using a vintage version of Apple iTunes, compared with 1:56 for the Ryzen 5 2400G. This is not surprising, as this well-aged version of iTunes has been kept around in our test suite specifically to demonstrate lightly threaded legacy software.
The gulf is there when it comes to video transcoding and file compression, too. The Core i5-8400 took just under 10 minutes to transcode a 12-minute 4K video clip to 1080p, compared with 13:40 for the Ryzen 5 2400G.
The Core i5-8400 also did better on our 7-Zip file-compression benchmark.
I hope you’re not planning to run specialized rendering and graphics-production apps like POV-Ray or Blender on your budget PC, but if you are, you’ll see familiar deltas between the Ryzen 5 2400G and Intel Core i5-8400, as our test results show.
Neither chip is great at these types of specialized tasks, though, and you’ll want to invest in a more powerful processor like the Core i7-8700K to run them.
Overall, across our productivity benchmark suite, the Ryzen 5 2400G’s deficit compared with the Core i5-8400 is slight but persistent. The same is true of its surplus over the Ryzen 3 2200G.
Distilling the Budget CPU Market
Add in the gaming performance results, and together these trends tie up the budget-CPU-with-IGP market into a nice little bow. If you’re interested in getting the most gaming performance out of the least CPU and GPU budget, the Ryzen 3 2200G is your go-to chip. Meanwhile, if you don’t care about gaming and need to wring as much productivity performance out of a CPU in this price range, it’s worth spending the extra money on the Core i5-8400 or Core i5-9400, which still come in below $ 200.
Finally, if you have a bit of room in your budget, and want better across-the-board performance than the Ryzen 3 2200G but plan to primarily use your PC for light, legacy gaming or noncompetitive e-sports fare, the Ryzen 5 2400G is hard to beat. In fact, it’s nearly perfect for this type of cheap PC, seeing as its gaming-performance advantage for those tasks is far greater than its deficit on processor-intensive productivity workloads.
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