The AM4 socket had a good run. Too good a run, some could (and do) argue. We’ve seen it host some of the best processors and components AMD has ever released, design-wise, and seen AMD arguably retake the crown of upper-echelon processing power for mainstream consumers with the 5000 series.
But the successful, rip-roaring life of the AM4 is drawing to a close and many consumers, currently in the market for a new build, find themselves standing at something of a proverbial crossroads. Do you build now, at the expense of a future upgrade path in the years to come, or do you hold and wait for the AM5 and all of the wondrous possibilities that can accompany it?
Should You Wait for the AM5 Socket?
The question of whether or not you should wait for the AM5 socket boils down to a few key factors. First, what it is you’re planning on buying now, and second what you expect to get by waiting for the AM5. Down below we will take a look at what you can expect to gain from the AM5 socket in terms of an upgrade path and the argument against waiting for the next best thing.
AM5 Socket Release Date
Nobody really knows when AM5 is coming out.
There is, as of yet, no official word on an AM5 release date, with AMD having remained conspicuously mum on the subject and more than willing to let the rumor pot stir (almost as if only to further provide evidence of a rumor mill’s worth). With many guesses in 2019 and early 2020 that the 5000 series would debut on the AM5, and seeing how that turned out, it’s important to remember that it’s all just speculation best ingested with a healthy tablespoon of salt.
That said, the current estimate is that the AM5 is likely to release sometime between late 2021 and early 2022. Remember this is nothing more than a general consensus achieved through estimates based on AMD’s previous track record of release schedules. The only certainty in the conversation surrounding the AM5’s release date is that it won’t be soon. So if you are waiting, you could be waiting up to a year or more.
What Gains Will the AM5 Provide?
The next question is: why wait?
AM5 is just a socket, but the tantalizing carrot it dangles before the consumer is the prospect of a virgin upgrade path that can last for generations to come like the AM4 did. If you are consternated, unable to decide whether you should build now on an AM4 or wait for the AM5 to come out and get in on the ground floor of a brand new upgrade path, there are a few subordinate factors worth your consideration. Firstly, what are the new components coming out, when will they be coming out, and what will their capabilities be relative to current-gen counterparts.
Despite being released last year, DDR5 has yet to achieve widespread adaptation in mainstream desktop PCs just yet. When the AM5 releases with DDR5 support, users will be able to reap the advantages of quadrupled density and doubled transfer speeds at better power efficiency, alongside all the other obvious benefits of better RAM. This will likely come at a steep cost, however.
There are conflicting reports regarding whether or not PCIe5 will be included with the upcoming Zen 4 architecture; Unlike DDR5, PCIe5 is not expected to make its debut under the AMD umbrella anytime in 2021 but may accompany Zen 4 in early 2022. This notion bodes well for individuals and organizations engaged with machine-learning and cloud-computing services who require, more than anyone else, increased bandwidth and transfer rates. However, if you’re just an individual gamer looking for a bump in FPS, PCIe5 shouldn’t be much of a consideration anyway and definitely won’t factor into a decision to hold off for AM5 — so you can scratch this off your list.
With the AM5 we should expect USB4 support, bringing with it an immense upgrade in transfer speed (double that of USB 3’s latest iteration) at 40GBps speed. On top of the increased capacity, the new USB4 will show enhanced data splitting, allocating bandwidth according to use when transmitting both video and data rather than simply splitting it 50/50 like USB 3– vastly improving speed and transfer efficiency.
4. Zen 4
The most exciting feature lying in wait for consumers has to be the Zen 4 microarchitecture, roughly expected sometime in 2022, but currently inhabiting only the nightly dreams of tech enthusiasts everywhere. Little is known for certain about AMD’s upcoming evolution in microarchitecture, but the rumor mill is currently overclocking like there’s no tomorrow to produce all sorts of promises; many predictions are suggesting a performance boost as magnificent as 40% over Zen 3, with a 29% uptick in IPC. So, all things considered, Zen 4 is one hell of a honeypot for those considering playing the waiting game and the one worth thinking about most.
To Build or Not to Build
We say get building.
Don’t waste your time waiting on the next best thing because there will always be a next best thing. If you do shell out for the current lineup of beasts on the AM4, you can rest assured they will remain beastly for some time to come. The 5000 series is the one last hurrah of the AM4 but it will easily last for a few years to come. Not only will most of the 5000 series be comfortable with whatever you can throw at them for some time, but you will also save a lot of money making purchases on current tech rather than freshly released next-gen components.
There will always be something around the corner that feels worth waiting for, including several years from now when you are in the market for another motherboard again.
What are you most excited about in the upcoming next-gen components? And what do you think of the “to build or not to build” debate? Let us know in the comments below!