AMD Ryzen 7 Processors -- The Verdict
Performance Summary: Save for a couple of exceptions, AMD’s new Ryzen 7 1800X, 1700X, and 1700 processors performed very well throughout our entire battery of benchmarks. In the general compute workloads, rendering, clock-for-clock comparisons, and a handful of others, AMD's Ryzen 7 1800X either outperformed or gave Intel’s much more expensive Core i7-6900K a run for its money. The lower clock speeds of the Ryzen 7 1700X and 1700 obviously resulted in performance a notch behind the flagship 1800X, but those processors also performed quite well. Ryzen was especially strong in heavily threaded workloads like 3D rendering and Ray Tracing, but even in less strenuous tests like PCMark, the Ryzen 7 series competed favorably.
It’s not all good news, though. With some legacy apps, audio encoding, lower-res gaming, and platform level tests, Ryzen trailed Intel – sometimes by a wide margin. There is obviously still optimization work that needs to be done – from both AMD and software developers. The computational fluid dynamics and Ashes Of The Singularity 1080p benchmarks are clear cases where Ryzen fell short. Overclocking support still feels like it’s in the early stages as well, and needs some time additional time to mature.
With that said, AMD has achieved massive improvements in absolute performance and efficiency over its previous-generation desktop processor architecture. There is simply no contest; even with lower frequencies, Ryzen crushes legacy FX series chips and propels AMD back into contention in the enthusiast PC market. Power consumption was right in-line with Intel’s 14nm processors too.
To be clear, Ryzen does not, at least currently, put AMD back in the same position it was in during the Athlon’s heyday, when AMD’s processors outpaced the Pentium 4 virtually across the board. Ryzen does, however, represent a huge step forward and makes AMD’s desktop processor platform a desirable, viable, alternative to Intel, even at the high-end.
Intel is still the king of the hill, however. The 10-core Core i7-6950X remains the fastest processor available for heavily threaded workloads, and its support for Turbo Boost 3.0 and massive amounts of cache make it a killer performer in lightly threaded workloads too. But that processor costs upwards of $1700. The next step down in Intel’s line-up, the 8-core Core i7-6900K is currently priced north of $1000. In contrast, the Ryzen 7 1800X is priced at $499 and the two trade victories in the benchmarks, for the most part. You could build an entire Ryzen-based system for the cost of the Core i7-6900K alone. That one data point speaks volumes.
The Ryzen 7 1700X and 1700 also represent great values in the enthusiast processor market. The fact that consumers will now be able to purchase modern 8-core / 16-thread processors, that are among the best performers on the market, for just over $300 is a great development on our book.
A couple of nagging issues and kinks that still need to be worked out prevent AMD’s Ryzen 7 launch from being a grand slam, but AMD has definitely rounded third and is fast on its way to crossing home plate. The hardware we tested is still early and performance and feature optimizations are most likely on the way, from AMD and its board and manufacturing partners. If AMD is able to further scale frequencies in short order and introduce significant optimizations – as it has done with its desktop APUs over the last few years – Ryzen is going to rock for some time to come. AMD's new Ryzen CPU family is off to a great start.