On March 2020, Sony finally unveiled details about the hardware of the PS5. One of the most notable features was its custom-designed processor that was based on AMD’s critically acclaimed Zen 2 architecture. The original Zen architecture was first released by AMD way back in 2017, and it took the world by storm. Since then, Ryzen CPUs have been wildly popular among gamers and system builders and the PS5 is no exception.
Turns out that Playstation 5 really is as powerful as a true modern-era gaming PC. Largely thanks to its CPU, it has a performance level that is near indistinguishable and a price (at least in MSRP) that is simply unbeatable right now.
What CPU does the PS5 have?
The Playstation 5 uses a custom AMD Zen 2-based 8-core/16-thread CPU that has a max frequency of 3.5Ghz. It has been confirmed that the CPU also uses a variable clock-down/clock-up frequency system that focuses on GPU usage efficiency.
Unlike a typical Ryzen CPU that tends to push as far as its thermal envelope can go, the CPU simply matches its performance to the processing capacity of the GPU. Meaning, frequency is lowered at less demanding parts even if the application (game) is still active, achieving both usage efficiency and temperature control. This is as opposed to the Xbox Series X, which was eventually confirmed to use fixed frequencies.
PS5 CPU Equivalent
Architecture and configuration-wise, the closest equivalent that we have to the PS5 CPU would be the Ryzen 7 3700X. It has the same Zen 2 architecture, 8-core/16-thread, although 3.6Ghz is the base clock, not its max frequency. It also uses a different SmartShift system than the PS5 CPU, more suited to pushing performance relative to acceptable operating temperatures (PBO).
Price-wise and from a pure gaming performance perspective, however, the more recent Core i5-12400 should be the better comparison. Even at 6-cores and 12-threads, this Intel 12th Gen Alder Lake contender soundly beats the Ryzen 7 3700X on most titles and has an MSRP that is effectively less than a third of its cost ($180-$200).
PS5 Processor Specs
Both the Playstation 5 and the Xbox Series X use a custom AMD Zen 2-based CPU with 8 cores and 16 threads, but the major difference is the clock speed configuration. The PS5 has a variable frequency of 3.5Ghz (max), while the Xbox Series X CPU uses either 3.8Ghz or 3.6Ghz only, depending on how many threads are being utilized at that time.
PS5 CPU Specs List
• Architecture: AMD Zen 2 (Ryzen 3000 equivalent)
• Process Node: 7 nm
• Cores/Threads: 8/16 (SMT supported)
• Frequency: 3.5 GHz (“max” base clock, variable)
For the longest time, consoles have been lampooned by PC enthusiasts for the inferior gaming experience that could easily be replicated by even very modest, almost dirt-cheap setups (prior to 2020, of course).
Today, replicating the performance of the PS5 is simply hard to beat with its strategically lowered MSRP, even if the current GPU crisis does not exist. As we can see with the PS5 CPU, its custom design alone is very impressive not only in keeping the console operating optimally. But it is also equally great in delivering next-gen graphics that are essentially no longer significantly different to that of current-generation PC equivalents.