The US$85 AMD Ryzen 5 1600 AF looks to be a new 12nm Zen+ part and even outperforms the Ryzen 5 2600
It is not often that we see a new fabrication process 'backported' to the previous generation, but AMD seems to have done just that. Last week, news emerged of the appearance of a variant of the Ryzen 5 1600 that is interestingly fabbed on a 12nm Zen+ process unlike the 14nm process of the original. The new Ryzen 5 1600 'AF' version as it is called, is essentially a Ryzen 5 2600 and can be identified by the part number that ends with AF such as YD1600BBM6IAF. CPU-Z also identifies this chip as a 12nm Zen+ Pinnacle Ridge part.
User /u/vogonpoetry_ on Reddit managed to get a Ryzen 5 1600 AF and has posted some interesting findings. The new Ryzen 5 1600 AF now comes with the Wraith Stealth cooler unlike the Wraith Spire of the original. The OP found that with RAM at 3000 CL15 and the Gammaxx GT cooler, the 1600 AF could sustain the slightly increased boost frequency of 3.7 GHz for longer periods and could post 400 points higher than the original Ryzen 5 1600 in Cinebench R20.
While the stock performance was surprisingly on Ryzen 5 2600 levels, the Ryzen 5 1600 AF did not offer much in terms of overclocking both for the CPU and memory. It could be possible that this CPU is still using Zen's integrated memory controller (IMC) and not that of the Zen+'s.
From the looks of these tests, it seems that budget buyers can benefit a lot if they do manage get their hands on these AF chips. However, there are a few points to note here. It is very much possible that CPU identification programs are identifying a different stepping (B2) as a Zen+ part due to inaccurate reporting of the ID strings by the processor. Also, while the OP has noted good sustained performance under load, the same cannot be expected from all such AF chips. Overclocking wasn't anything noteworthy and silicon lottery will have a big part to play here.
All said, the US$85 asking price is incredible value for a 6-core 12-thread CPU. Those looking to have a cheap but fairly capable system for increased overall productivity stand to gain a lot from the Ryzen 5 1600 AF.