AMD’s Ryzen 7 1800X: A Ryzen Review

AMD finally brings Zen to PCs…

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Today we are finally reviewing AMD’s Ryzen 7 1800X. It’s the first chip based on the company’s new Zen microarchitecture. The 1800X offers eight Zen cores at a 3.6 Ghz base clock and 4 Ghz turbo clock alongside 16 MBs of L3 cache and DDR4 2667 memory. It is a modern, high-performance, multicore CPU that is the spearhead of AMD’s return to the high-end x86 microprocessor market. Most importantly it’s the first product from the company in nearly a decade to offer similar performance per clock when compared to competitive chips from Intel.

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AM4 Actually Appears

The 1800X brings to market the long-awaited socket AM4 platform which was launched to the OEM market in September of last year but withheld from enthusiasts until now. AMD is offering a number of different chipsets to support socket AM4 but today we’ll be looking the 1800X while attached to AMD best chipset, the X370, which offers USB 3.1 G2, Type C, x4 NVMe, SATA Express, SATA III, RAID, and dual discrete GPU support. Weighing in with a total of 18 USB ports AMD’s X370 chipsets leaves little to be desired from a desktop I/O perspective.

AMD Ryzen DDR4

AMD’s traditionally weak memory controller has also been addressed with Ryzen. The AM4 platform brings AMD into the modern era with DDR4 and allows the company to outpace Intel with official support for DDR4-2667.

AMD Ryzen SenseMI

Dynamic Performance

AMD has endowed Ryzen with a suite of performance and power tuning technologies that it calls SenseMI. Pure Power is a modern version of Cool’n’Quiet that downclocks Ryzen at idle or low load scenarios. Precision Boost is AMD’s new version of Turbo Boost that can boost our 1800X up to 3.7 Ghz on all cores and 4 Ghz on one core. XFR or extended frequency range takes advantage of any thermal headroom present to boost up to 4.1 Ghz on a single core. According to AMD these SenseMI technologies are all made possible thanks to AMD’s hardware monitoring network which pulls the status of various sensors on the Summit Ridge die every millisecond.

AMD Ryzen Unlocked

From a consumer perspective, AMD has been very careful not to disrespect its customers by arbitrarily choosing to multiplier lock certain CPU models. Better yet they’ve gone a step further and enabled overclocking on both their X series chipset and their midrange B series chipsets. Intel on the other hand multiplier locks most of its processor range and disables overclocking on anything other than its highest end Z and X series chipsets.

Too Long; Didn’t Read

If you’re a subscriber you can now find our testing methodology, exact hardware configurations, a detailed justification of these benchmarks, and our raw testing data at the very end of the article. We’ve opted to place that information behind our paywall with the acknowledgment that few people actually read those parts of our reviews and with the goal of making these articles easier to read for people who aren’t interested in those aspects of our content.

Transparency Statement

For the sake of transparency, we want you to know that AMD, Intel, Gigabyte, ASUS, and Corsair provided the CPUs, motherboards, and memory kits we’ve tested in this review. All the other components were purchased at retail and without the knowledge or consent of those companies. We took no outside input for this article other than a bit of last-minute troubleshooting with the help of AMD’s Jason DeVos. Thanks, Jason!

Taking FX Down a Peg

The goal here is for AMD’s latest and greatest Ryzen 7 1800X CPU to show a meaningful performance advantage over the most efficient Piledriver cored FX chip, the FX-8370e.

AMD Ryzen 1800X AMD FX 8370e

Cue surprise, it’s a blowout in Ryzen’s favor. The ancient Piledriver core is no match for AMD’s soon to be best-of-2017 CPU core. It’s worth noting here that WinRAR appears to be having issues with Ryzen.

In our discussions with AMD we got the distinct impression that the software world isn’t quite ready for AMD’s Zen core. But that they are actively working with developers to improve this situation.

Ignoring the WinRAR and VirtualBox results we can see that the 1800X offers 71 to 90% better performance in single threaded scenarios. Talk about a big swing.

Looking at multithreaded performance the story becomes extreme where more often than not the 1800X offers more than twice the performance of the 8370e. Impressively the 1800X does better in our Blender benchmark than anywhere else. Turning in a time below even what AMD demoed at the New Horizons event back in December.

Moving to gaming performance the 1800X has another clear win. In heavily CPU-limited scenarios like our Ashes of the Singularity benchmark or Civ VI’s AI benchmark the 1800X is able to show off its overwhelming might.

In the end, we’re left with the knowledge that a single Ryzen 7 1800X offers about double the performance of AMD’s old FX-8370e.

Taking on Broadwell-E

With Vishera out of the way, it’s time for Summit Ridge to go head to head with its real competition: Intel’s Broadwell-E. This is the chip behind Intel’s current crop of 10, 8, and 6 core offerings. Unfortunately for the 1800X, Intel didn’t sample the 6 or 8 cores models to us, rather we have the cream of Intel’s crop: the i7-6950X.

This chip is a 10 core monster with a base clock of 3 Ghz, boost of 3.5 Ghz, and 25 MBs of L3 cache. It’s aided in today benchmarks by a recent performance addition from Intel: Turbo Boost Max Technology which enables the i7-6950X to boost well above its nominal boost clock using a combination of more responsive hardware and software performance profiling. The i7-6950X is Broadwell-E in its full glory.

In its press teasers, AMD demonstrated the 1800X either matching or beating the i7-6900K so the goal here is for Ryzen to do something similar with our i7-6950X.

AMD Ryzen 1800X Intel 6950X

Ignoring our WinRAR result again we see the 1800X offering similar or slightly better performance than the 6950X in single threaded applications. On average the 1800X pulls off a marginal win in our benchmarking suite.

Moving to multithreaded performance the 1800X falls behind a little bit. Looking at the least competitive scenarios the 1800X appears to perform with the differential in core count, 10 versus 8, between it and the 6950X. It’s able to compensate for this disadvantage with better than expected performance in VirtualBox, as well as Rendering apps like Blender and Cinebench, and finally audio transcoding with Foobar2000.

In both multithreaded and single threaded scenarios, I think it’s fair to say the 1800X is performing better than I expected. Interestingly while the 1800X and 6950X offer similar performance in aggregate, looking at individual applications can reveal pretty big differentials in performance.

In gaming performance, we have a draw where the 1800X will get you to the next turn in your game of Civ VI faster than 6950X but will lag slightly behind in Ashes of the Singularity. DOOM acts as a reality check here to remind us that there’s effectively no difference between these two chips in GPU-limited games.

While the 1800X lags slightly behind the 6950X in multithreaded applications it’s impressive to see AMD’s wonder chip coming within a hairsbreadth of taking the desktop performance crown from Intel with this first effort.

Slugging it out with Skylake

Intel’s high-end 4 core SKUs like the i7-6700K and i7-7700K are the chips that I expect most people will consider purchasing in-lieu of AMD’s 1800X. Just like in a comparison between these two chips and the i7-6950X this decision boils down to understanding what’s better for your use-case: more cores and cache or raw clock speed? If you ask AMD, they’ll tell you more cores is the way to go. If you ask Intel, you’ll never hear anything back because they axed everyone who knew how to market desktop CPUs a few years ago.

Today we can ask the question, what’s better: 4 fast cores from Intel or 8 pretty fast cores from AMD?

AMD Ryzen 1800X Intel 6700X

Again Ryzen and the 1800X have exceeded my expectations. In the worst case for the 1800X it delivers only 76% of the single threaded performance of the 6700K. In most cases, it does significantly better than that at around 85% of a 6700K. In SHA-512 hashing bandwidth and VirtualBox performance it even pulls off some decent wins. While the 1800X still can’t match the 6700K’s raw clock speed it comes close enough that I sincerely doubt that the gap will make a difference to all but the most exacting of buyers.

Moving to multithreaded performance the 1800X just destroys the 6700K. A 4 core chip going up against an 8 core chip shouldn’t be a contest, and at least in this match up, it’s not. Let’s just try and forget about the matchups between AMD’s old 8 core chips and Intel’s 4 core parts for now.

Gaming performance is really where this match up comes to life with the 1800X holding its own in Ashes of the Singularity and DOOM. Then taking a clear lead in Civ VI’s turn-time benchmark. The 1800X does better against the 6700K in our gaming benchmarks than it did against the 6950X.

Looking at Performance per Watt

Raw performance is the single most important aspect of a HEDT processor and it’s clear that the 1800X has plenty on tap. But what about power consumption? What about performance per watt?

Here we’ll be comparing the FX-8370e, the 6950X, and the 1800X to see how efficient they are relative to one another.

AMD Ryzen1800X Intel 6950X PerfPerWatt

The 1800X offers about 50 percent better performance per watt than the FX-8370e but still falls behind Intel’s 6950X by about 15 percent in our HEDT workload-focused performance per watt testing scheme. Importantly the 1800X offers a very similar power consumption profile to the 6950X under gaming workloads and at desktop idle. But there remains a considerable performance per watt gap in light workloads like watching a 4K YouTube video or browsing social media. It’s unfortunate to see that AMD’s desktop chips still suffer from this kind of wasteful behavior in light workloads given how many times they’ve presented on addressing this issue with their mobile APUs.

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Ryzen is here and Ryzen is pretty awesome. While the 1800X can’t quite match the single threaded performance of Intel’s fast 4 core chips it destroys them in multithread apps and offers slightly better performance in modern CPU-sensitive games. At the other end of the spectrum AMD’s two cores short from taking the crown from Intel’s 10 core chips. But in both cases, Ryzen did better than I, and I assume many people expected even after AMD’s boisterous performance demos.

If you own an FX series CPU,  Ryzen is a great upgrade from literally any of those chips. If you own and Intel chip older than Ivy Bridge or with less than four cores then Ryzen is again a great upgrade for you. Where the argument for buying a shiny new Ryzen chip starts to falter is when we think about Broadwell-E and Skylake owners. Those folks should probably stay put, and spend some time regretting that they didn’t wait for Ryzen given the inevitable round of price cuts on Intel CPUs that’s going to come down the line.

AMD Ryzen 7 Why

AMD’s Ryzen 7 1800X is a good chip at a great price and its putting Intel on notice. AMD is back and the 1800X is the first step in the perennial underdog’s plan regain market share from Intel and build confidence in its products. Zen is no Bulldozer.

Note: The following is for professional and student level subscribers.

Disclosures: Charlie Demerjian, Thomas Ryan and Stone Arch Networking Services, Inc. have no consulting relationships, investment relationships, or hold any investment positions with any of the companies mentioned in this report.

So there you have it: SemiAccurate’s early 2017 CPU benchmarking suite.S|A

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Thomas Ryan is a freelance technology writer and photographer from Seattle, living in Austin. You can also find his work on SemiAccurate and PCWorld. He has a BA in Geography from the University of Washington with a minor in Urban Design and Planning and specializes in geospatial data science. If you have a hardware performance question or an interesting data set Thomas has you covered.