I have a deep fear about how messy AMD's Ryzen 7000 CPUs will be with too much thermal paste

AMD Zen 4 AM5 socket photograph
(Image credit: AMD)

AMD has got a big end of year ahead of it. Its third take on its RDNA architecture is due before the end of the year and we're expecting Zen 4 to launch at around the same time. To whet your appetite a little bit for that new CPU architecture, the AMD Ryzen Twitter account has posted a photo of its new AM5 socket along with a few bullet points about what's on offer. Nothing exactly new here, but it's a lovely image.

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We know for instance that it's an LGA socket design similar, which should be familiar to anyone that has built an Intel system since it moved over to LGA 775. That means there are no pins on the chip itself, but rather contact pads, with the pins being in the motherboard socket. 

It doesn't say so in the tweet, but we've know it's a 1718 pin LGA design, which means there are 1718 of the little suckers to bend, break, or otherwise destroy if you're not careful when handling your motherboard. Here's hoping motherboards ship with a socket protector like Intel's motherboards do.

Part of the reason for the increasing pin count is down to adding support for the latest technologies, such as DDR5 and PCIe 5.0—for reference, the current AM4 socket has 1,331 pin slots. Somewhat contentiously, AMD has said that it will be supporting DDR5 exclusively, and unlike Intel's Alder Lake chips, won't be offering support for both DDR5 and DDR4. 

The issue with AMD's decision to only support the latest memory standard is cost—DDR5 is simply more expensive than DDR4, and while DDR5 pricing is starting to drop, you're still paying a premium. By way of example, you're looking at around $87 for 16GB of DDR5-4800, while 16GB of DDR4-2133 can be had for as little as $47. Still, with a few more months until Zen 4 actually lands, price drops could make this a non-issue.

Cooling off

Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML360R and EK-AIO Basic 240 CPU coolers on a two-tone grey background

(Image credit: Cooler Master, EKWB)

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The support for up to 170W power was the focus of plenty of conversations when it was first revealed back at Computex 2022 too, with AMD initially stating that this 170W was the Package Power Tracking (PPT) limit. It then corrected this, stating that the PPT was 230W, with the 170W figure being the Thermal Design Power (TDP). This is a notable bump from the AM4's 105W TDP and 142W PPT. 

That these new AM5 chips are compatible with current Socket AM4 coolers is probably the most surprising thing about these new chips. Because looking at their weird cutout shape that leaves room for the surface-mounted capacitors you wouldn't suspect this was the case. Being able to reuse your current cooler is definitely a plus in our book. I have the fear that thermal paste is going to fill up those gaps pretty quickly though.

AMD's Zen 4-powered Ryzen 7000 chips are expected this autumn. 

Alan Dexter

Alan has been writing about PC tech since before 3D graphics cards existed, and still vividly recalls having to fight with MS-DOS just to get games to load. He fondly remembers the killer combo of a Matrox Millenium and 3dfx Voodoo, and seeing Lara Croft in 3D for the first time. He's very glad hardware has advanced as much as it has though, and is particularly happy when putting the latest M.2 NVMe SSDs, AMD processors, and laptops through their paces. He has a long-lasting Magic: The Gathering obsession but limits this to MTG Arena these days.