Lisa Su announcing the HX series of unlocked AMD laptop processors

AMD is keynoting a digital CES this year, and have used the platform to announce new laptop chips. The bulk of the new Ryzen 5000 series mobile lineup is based on Zen 3 cores, just like Ryzen 5000 on desktop. Surprisingly, AMD isn’t just refreshing the cores. AMD is also introducing unlocked laptop processors, with the Ryzen 5000 HX series.

Meet The Unlocked AMD Laptop Chips: 5900HX and 5980HX

The AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX and Ryzen 9 5980HX are both unlocked laptop processors with 8 cores, a 45W TDP, and the ability to overclock. Both also have a huge (for laptops) 20MB of total cache – indicating a 16MB L3, up from 8MB last year. This signals a major performance jump. Max boost clocks are also up, hitting up to 4.6GHz on the 5900HX and 4.8GHz on the 5980HX.

The Full Ryzen 5000 Mobile Lineup

Model Cores/Threads Base Clock Boost Clock Architecture TDP
Ryzen 9 5980HX 8/16 3.3GHz 4.8GHz Zen 3 45W+
Ryzen 9 5980HS 8/16 3.0GHz 4.8GHz Zen 3 35W
Ryzen 9 5900HX 8/16 3.3GHz 4.6GHz Zen 3 45W+
Ryzen 9 5900HS 8/16 3.0GHz 4.6GHz Zen 3 35W
Ryzen 7 5800H 8/16 3.2GHz 4.4GHz Zen 3 45W
Ryzen 7 5800HS 8/16 2.8GHz 4.4GHz Zen 3 35W
Ryzen 5 5600H 6/12 3.3GHz 4.2GHz Zen 3 45W
Ryzen 5 5600HS 6/12 3.0GHz 4.2GHz Zen 3 35W
Ryzen 7 5800U 8/16 1.9GHz 4.4GHz Zen 3 15W
Ryzen 7 5700U 8/16 1.8GHz 4.3GHz Zen 2 15W
Ryzen 5 5600U 6/12 2.3GHz 4.2GHz Zen 3 15W
Ryzen 5 5500U 6/12 2.1GHz 4.0GHz Zen 2 15W
Ryzen 3 5300U 4/8 2.6GHz 3.8GHz Zen 2 15W


Some Words on Architecture

Sadly, though it’s mostly Zen 3, AMD is filling out their mobile 5000 series with rebrands. The 5700U, 5500U and 5300U all use the older Zen 2 architecture, with half the L3 cache and significantly slower cores. These CPUs look very similar on paper, with similar clock speeds and core counts to Zen 3. However, Zen 3 core has higher IPC and are better power efficiency.

This isn’t new. AMD had three different architectures in the 3000 series – the Athlon 3000G is Zen 1, 3200G and 3400G are Zen+, and the rest of the lineup is Zen 2. That wasn’t a good situation though. When we saw AMD jump from 3000 to 5000 series for Zen 3 on the desktop, we were excited. It could have meant that the 5000 series would be Zen 3 only. Alas, that is not to be. What we have instead is a 5800U and 5700U that look like they only have 0.1GHz between them, but in fact have an architectural gap worth maybe 5x that.

AMD aren’t alone in this kind of behaviour, teams Green and Blue could be accused of confusing naming too. Laptop performance also depends heavily on configuration and cooling, so system benchmarks will always be king. I’m not angry. Just disappointed.

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