Ryzen 5 1600X: Building a versatile work-and-play PC with AMD's 6-core CPU champion

With 6 cores and 12 threads, AMD's Ryzen 5 1600X is perfect for affordable work AND play.

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Building the Ryzen 1600X PC

If you’ve never crafted a computer, PCWorld’s comprehensive guide to building a PC can walk you through the process. We’re just going to go over the broad strokes and aspects unique to this particular build here.

As always, I started by building out the motherboard first—it’s easier to install the major components before your motherboard’s in the case.

Samsung 960 Pro M.2 SSD Brad Chacos

The Samsung 960 Pro blends right in on the Aorus Gaming 5 motherboard even before you add a graphics card.

Since the Samsung 960 Pro’s an NVMe SSD, my very first step was slotting that into place and screwing it in. Gigabyte’s Ryzen motherboards slap the M.2 slot under the first PCIe slot, which means your SSD is covered by your graphics card. It’s not ideal—I prefer the M.2 connector over the PCIe slot, to keep your GPU’s hot air from exhausting onto your M.2 SSD—but I’ve never noticed performance loss from placement like this.

Installing the RAM was a bigger headache, and a major bummer. (Be sure to read your motherboard manual to make sure you install your modules in the optimal slots for your configuration!)

ryzen 1600x build 18 Brad Chacos

Come. On. This cord is useless.

The Gaming 5 includes an RGB header to sync RGB-equipped devices with the motherboard’s lights using Gigabyte’s BIOS-based RGB Fusion software. The Geil Evo X includes a cable to connect the memory to an RGB header. Sweet, right? Nope. The RGB cable bundled with the Evo X is incredibly short—far too short to reach the RGB header on the left side of the board, where Gigabyte and most other motherboards place it. So rather than syncing the RAM’s colors with the motherboard, I instead had to use a secondary cable (with the aforementioned ugly red wires) that connects to a system fan header for power. Doing so limits you to using the Evo X’s native red, blue, or green lighting presets.

Ugh.

ryzen 1600x build 19 Brad Chacos

The Ryzen 5 1600X in the motherboard.

Installing the Ryzen 1600X itself was simple. Just match the corner with the triangle on the bottom of the processor with the matching triangle on motherboard socket. It should slip right in, then you secure it in place with the retention lever. Easy-peasy!

Setting up the Wraith Max cooler proved mostly straightforward as well. It uses a retention scheme that clips onto to the AM4 socket’s native mounting hardware, so you won’t need to swap anything out or muck around with bolts.

ryzen 1600x build 22 Brad Chacos

The Wraith Max's RGB effect is subtle, classy, and completely optional rather than over the top. (But blue RGBs in an AMD build seem so WRONG.)

That said, this installation reminded me how much I prefer bolt-based CPU coolers. The heatsink at the top of the motherboard doesn’t leave much room to get your fingers in there to secure the Wraith Max’s clip, so the Wraith’s heat sink moved around a lot as I struggled to secure it—which meant the pre-applied thermal paste didn’t create a solid seal with the processor. I wound up having to uninstall the Wraith Max completely after building the PC to reapply new thermal paste after seeing extraordinarily high temperatures after my initial installation.

The Wraith Max packs RGB lights of its own, and like the Geil Evo X RAM, it includes a cable that connects to an RGB header to coordinate the color with your motherboard lights. That cable suffers from the opposite problem as Geil’s, though: It’s too long.

Most motherboards position their motherboard header just underneath and to the left of the CPU socket. The Wraith Max’s RGB connector is at the bottom-left of the fan; there’s maybe an inch of physical space separating it from the motherboard RGB header. But the RGB cord AMD ships with the Wraith Max is roughly a foot long. That means you need to find something to do with all that cabling, but the length is too short to, say, cleanly route it out to a motherboard cut-out and then back in from another.

wraith max wire Brad Chacos

I will never be able to NOT see this wire for the Wraith Max's RGB lighting.

I wound up having to loosely tie the cable together and trail it across the middle of the motherboard, which doesn’t look horrible in the final build, but definitely isn't ideal.

Those are all nitpicks though. I love the look of the Wraith Max in practice, and it didn’t take long to get it in place. It’s leaps and bounds better than stock Intel coolers.

ryzen 1600x build 21 Brad Chacos

The Corsair Carbide 400C makes cable management a breeze.

The rest of the Ryzen 1600X build went together quickly and easily. Despite its tiny stature, the Corsair 400C includes ample space above the motherboard to route your topmost cables, unlike some other cases in this price range. It also features nice rubber grommets in each of the motherboard cut-outs, and a power supply cover that hides the mess of wires snaking out from your PSU—not that there’s many in this build, as the EVGA Supernova 650 P2 is fully modular.

Next page: Brief performance results and final thoughts

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