CPU naming conventions are pretty complicated. To make matters worse, the same models of Ryzen CPUs often release in X and non-X versions. If you’ve been wondering what the difference between the two is, I’ll break it down for you in this article.
Ryzen X CPUs feature higher clock speeds and are, therefore, faster than their non-X variants. However, they also consume more power, run hotter, and tend to be more expensive. Ryzen X CPUs are essentially slightly upgraded versions of their non-X counterparts.
In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know about the differences between the standard and X Ryzen processors. I’ll also cover the recently released Ryzen 7000 CPUs since that’s what all the hype is about these days.
The Differences Between Ryzen X and non-X CPUs
As mentioned, Ryzen X processors are really only slightly upgraded versions of the non-X models they’re based on. X and non-X CPUs of the same model have nearly identical specs overall but differ in a few specific areas.
Something I should address here before we begin is that both Ryzen X and non-X CPUs are overclockable as long as you have a motherboard that provides you with that facility.
A common misconception is that non-X CPUs are locked, and only the X variants have support for overclocking. That’s not the case. You can overclock both and see great results from doing so, although whether overclocking is worth it is an entirely different matter.
A CPU uses a ‘fetch-execute cycle’ to carry out your computer’s processing. A CPU’s clock speed, denoted in GigaHertz (GHz), measures the frequency with which it can execute instructions.
The higher a processor’s clock speed, the faster it can carry out tasks and the greater performance it can deliver when under maximum load.
Feel free to check out our guide on how a CPU works for a better understanding of clock speeds.
X series processors typically have higher clock speeds, but only by a slight margin.
For example, the Ryzen 5 3600, one of the most popular mid-range Ryzen processors, has a maximum clock speed of 4.2GHz.
Its X variant, the Ryzen 5 3600X, has a maximum clock speed of 4.4 GHz. In other words, a difference of 200Mhz exists between the two.
Not huge, but not something we can ignore either. The 3600X will offer noticeably better performance.
A CPU’s power consumption is tied strongly to its maximum clock speed. In order to deliver the extra bit of performance, the X CPUs also require more power.
The Ryzen 5 3600 from the previous example has a TDP (Thermal Design Power) of 65 watts. The X variant of the same has a TDP of 95 watts.
The 30-watt difference only exists when both processors are under full load. But, generally speaking, X variants are slightly less power efficient than their standard processor.
By thermals, I’m referring to a CPU’s operating temperatures. Of course, it’s desirable to have your processor run as cool as possible.
Overheating can shorten component lifespan and induce thermal throttling. Furthermore, if your processor gets too hot, it will shut down automatically to prevent severe damage.
A processor’s thermals are directly tied to its power consumption. Microprocessors consume nearly 100% of the electrical energy they consume into heat energy. That means your average processor is basically a 65-watt heater when under full load.
A processor with a higher TDP will generate more heat and run hotter, which is precisely the case with X edition processors.
Usually, the extra heat generated isn’t too much of a problem if the processor has a decent cooling solution. But that’s the thing; you would need a more aftermarket powerful cooler for the X CPUs, which can add to your costs.
And, of course, since X variants are essentially upgraded processors, they tend to cost a bit more. The Ryzen 5 3600 launched at an MSRP of $200 (you can find it for much cheaper on Amazon today). The Ryzen 5 3600X, on the other hand, launched at $250.
Whether or not the performance difference justifies the increased price has to be determined on a case-by-case basis. However, generally speaking, non-X variants tend to be more price-efficient. In other words, they offer you slightly more bang for your buck even when you account for the lower performance.
Ryzen 7000 Series X vs. non-X CPUs
AMD released their Zen 4 Ryzen 7000 X processors, namely the Ryzen 5 7600X, the Ryzen 7 7700X, the Ryzen 9 7900X, and the Ryzen 9 7950X, in Q4 2022.
The processors are great performance-wise. The only problem is that their pricing was a bit hard to justify – And that became evident when Intel released their 13th generation Raptor Lake lineup, which was priced much more competitively and offered consumers better value.
The 7000X series processor consequently saw a sharp dip in their price. They’re now available for much lower than their MSRP, at a price many consider fairer.
In January, AMD released their standard Ryzen 7000 processors (non-X). Based on their specs and pricing, it’s easy to see that the non-X CPUs offer users much better value for money and address many of the complaints received by their X counterparts, particularly power efficiency.
AMD did not hold back with the 7000X CPUs’ power usage. The 7900X and 7950X featured an incredible 170-watt TDP. The 7600 and 7700X had a 105-watt TDP.
These CPUs not only consumed a lot of power but also ran very hot, so you had to get an expensive aftermarket cooler to run them without throttling.
The standard 7600, 7700, and 7900 CPUs released in January, however, have a surprisingly low 65-watt TDP.
You have to wonder how AMD managed to make these new non-X processors consume so little power, considering that they offer only slightly less performance than their X editions.
The only performance-influencing difference between the Ryzen 7000 X and non-X processors is the boost clock, and that too by a mere few hundred MHz.
For example, The Ryzen 5 7600X features an impressive 5.3GHz boost clock. The Ryzen 5 7600 (non-X) is right up there as well with a 5.1GHz boost clock. Not much of a practical difference.
To sweeten the deal even further for their customer base — and potentially to make up for a not-so-successful 7000X CPU launch — AMD is including their wraith coolers with the new 7000 non-X processors. Meaning users will even be able to save on aftermarket cooler costs.
From the looks of it, the Ryzen 7000 non-X processors will be a top choice for value-conscious gamers in 2023. Especially those who would rather not have to pay extra to get a stronger power supply and cooler to run the X-variant processors.
Ryzen X and non-X processors differ primarily in their clock speed. X CPUs offer slightly higher clock speeds but at the expense of greater power consumption and higher temperatures. The X processors also tend to cost a fair bit more due to their increased performance. However, the non-X CPUs are the ones that offer better value.
AMD just released their 7000 non-X processors in January 2023. These processors are clear winners over their X counterparts that were released in late 2022. They cost less and consume way less power but are only slightly inferior in performance.