AMD's Ryzen 9 5900 would be the best gaming CPU if they existed and we could actually buy one

AMD Ryzen 9 5000-series box
(Image credit: AMD)

Three months after the supposed launch of the OEM-only Ryzen 9 5900 it looks like chips are actually finding their way out into the wild. I'm not sure how, though, because I've checked across a variety of PC builders and none of them are offering the 12-core, 24-thread Zen 3 processor. 

Still the only Ryzen 5000 CPUs you can grab right now are the Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 7 X-series chips, with the Ryzen 9 5900X—our pick as the best CPU for gaming today—only available for pre-order with no real idea about when shipping might actually happen.

Maybe that's why the non-X version, a lower-clocked, lower-TDP part, has still not actually been released despite having a nominal launch date of January 12 this year. AMD Ryzen processors haven't been quite as thin on the ground as their Radeon GPU counterparts—which have all but ghosted us gamers—but specifically the higher-spec Zen 3 chips have been as rare as elephant eggs.

And if AMD can charge more for the 105W Ryzen 9 5900X than a 65W Ryzen 9 5900, why would it spare the precious few slices of silicon it can muster for the cheaper part? With a peak clock speed of 4.7GHz, versus the 5900X's 4.8GHz, it's not like there will be a whole host of 7nm chiplets that can't manage the pace of the X-series Zen 3 silicon, but could be packed into a straight 5900 CPU.

Still, regular tweaker TUM_APISAK, has dug up a Userbenchmark listing for the OEM-only chip, which suggests that there are actual processors out there. The performance listed by the notorious Userbenchmark (an unreliable site that unreasonably favours Intel CPUs) isn't the important thing, it's the fact that it's in there at all.

If there starts to be a regular supply of the Ryzen 9 5900 into retail, allowing system builders to ship more 12-core AMD gaming PCs then that is objectively a good thing. The Zen 3 processors are excellent, and realistically the best gaming PCs are pre-built machines now, if only because that's the only way you're going to get the latest hardware in your home.

This is the way the last generation of AMD chips went, and indeed the latest APUs too, with the Ryzen 9 3900, the last-gen equivalent of this latest OEM-only part, even finding its way into laptops.

But it still sucks for the DIY market that AMD would only allow these 65W parts to get into the hands of OEMs. They're getting all the good stuff these days. Building a gaming PC used to be fun, now it's a painfully frustrating, needlessly overpriced, often harrowing ordeal.

Dave James
Managing Editor, Hardware

Dave has been gaming since the days of Zaxxon and Lady Bug on the Colecovision, and code books for the Commodore Vic 20 (Death Race 2000!). He built his first gaming PC at the tender age of 16, and finally finished bug-fixing the Cyrix-based system around a year later. When he dropped it out of the window. He first started writing for Official PlayStation Magazine and Xbox World many decades ago, then moved onto PC Format full-time, then PC Gamer, TechRadar, and T3 among others. Now he's back, writing about the nightmarish graphics card market, CPUs with more cores than sense, gaming laptops hotter than the sun, and SSDs more capacious than a Cybertruck.