From the ashes, A-Ryzen
AMD’s Ryzen 7 1800X flagship CPU is finally here, and we had the honor of reviewing it. As the story goes, it’s been years since AMD has had anything substantial come out of its CPU division. Barring the launch of its latest Bristol Ridge APU in 2016, the
Back with a vengeance
As mentioned, the new Ryzen CPU architecture is a first for AMD in many years (about five years, give or take). It’s one of the primary reasons why much of the fanfare from AMD supporters can be easily justified. The company has made massive and innovative (quantum even) leaps with its Ryzen CPU, and one of those leaps is in the die size. AMD made a huge jump in shrinking its CPU, going from the 28nm Piledriver architecture, straight down to an entirely new 14nm Ryzen CPU lithography. The end result of this jump? A 52-percent increase in performance compared to its previous generation CPUs. The new CPU has also been given a brand new AM4 chipset, albeit still based on AMD’s use of the PGA (Pin Grid Array) socket. To that end, the new Ryzen 7 1800X (along with all CPUs under the Ryzen 7 lineup) has 1,331 pins built into the CPU.
The next leap that you’ll see in the Ryzen 7 1800X is the inclusion of AMD’s new SMT, better known as Simultaneous Multithreading. Essentially an AMD variant of Intel’s Hyperthreading technology, the SMT technology allows each of the Ryzen 7 1800X’s eight cores to run up to two threads simultaneously, bringing that magical number for the CPU up to 16 threads. Even better, AMD
had managed to do all this while keeping the CPU’s overall power consumption down to 95W.
AMD’s next improvement to be introduced with Ryzen was SenseMI (pronounced Sense-em-aye). The feature comprises five different sensors and predictive technologies, all of which have been baked and embedded directly into the Ryzen 7 1800X. These five sensors are Pure Power, Precision Boost, Extended Frequency Range (XFR), Neural Net Prediction, and Smart Prefetch. However, the takeaway highlight of these five contributing factors would be XFR. To describe it simply, XFR is the feature that essentially unlocks all Ryzen CPUs. It is the feature that permits overclockers (and us) to push the CPU’s clock speeds beyond what the average person would consider safe and simply outlandish.
The most brilliant thing about XFR, however, is its innate ability to detect the type of cooling solution that you’re using to keep the CPU cool. In other words, the feature practically changes the way the Ryzen 7 1800X runs, depending on whether it’s being cooled by air, water, or liquid nitrogen for the extreme overclockers. There is a slight catch to the existence of XFR. Love it or leave it, XFR is an everlingering presence with the Ryzen 7 1800X. AMD confirms that you cannot turn it off (oddly enough, you can disable SMT), unless of course, you choose to manually overclock the CPU.
On the subject of overclocking, AMD’s new Ryzen Master overclocking utility is another feature that allows users to overclock the CPU without having to enter the motherboard BIOS in order to accesss the overclocking options.
Awakening the beast within
Just to reiterate, AMD has only launched its high-end Ryzen 7 CPU lineup, which is made up of three SKUs: the 1800X, 1700X, and the 1700. While we’ve yet to test out the latter two CPUs, we can share the specifications of the Ryzen 7 1800X with you: • 14nm FinFET Zen architecture • PGA 1331 • 8-core, 16 threads • CPU frequencies: 3.6GHz base clock /
4.0GHz boost clock • 512KB L2 cache • 8MB L3 cache • 95W TDP • Socket AM4 chipset As demonstrated by the specifications above, the Ryzen 7 1800X runs between 3.6GHz and 4.0GHz out of the box, and this is all thanks to XFR. But here at HWM, we try our best not to test our components at stock speeds, as we’ll explain a little later.
“AMD’s next improvement to be introduced with Ryzen was SenseMI (pronounced Senseem-aye). The feature comprises five different sensors and predictive technologies.”
Now, as you all know, we usually perform our benchmark tests using our own equipment, but because AMD’s Ryzen CPU uses a brand new AM4 chipset, AMD was kind enough to provide a full sample kit consisting of a motherboard, new memory sticks, and a custom air cooler designed to be compatible with the AM4 motherboard. Below is the list of components used, along with our components that could be paired with the AMD-provided components: • Gigabyte AORUS AX370-Gaming 5 • Corsair LPX 16GB (2x 8GB) DDR43000MHz • Noctua NH-U12S SE-UM4 Cooler • ASUS ROG Strix Gaming RX 480 8GB • Kingston HyperX Predator 480GB PCIe SSD • WD Caviar Black 6TB • Corsair RM1000 PSU As with all overclockable components, we made the executive decision to manually overclock the Ryzen 7 1800X’s clock speeds up to a stable point of 4.05GHz. Again, manual overclocking disables the CPU’s onboard XFR feature, at least until you reset the CPU to its optimized defaults. We would’ve like to push the CPU a little higher past 4.1GHz, however, every time we did so, the Ryzen 7 1800X simply froze on us, and we were forced to restart the process all over again. To see how it stacked up against its direct competitor, we pit the Ryzen CPU against Intel’s Core i7-5960X and Core i7-7700K CPUs. Furthermore, the programs and game titles that we used in order to benchmark these three CPUs are as listed below: • Futuremark 3DMark 2013 • Futuremark PCMark 8 • Super Pi • Cinebench R15 • Ashes of the Singularity (DX12) • Battlefield 1 • Deus Ex: Mankind Divided • Doom In both Futuremark 3DMark 2013’s CPU and Physics tests, the Ryzen 7 1800X outpaced the Extreme Core i7-5960X and Core i7-7700K by a mile. Despite having the same number of cores, our Core i7-5960X was actually showing signs of trouble in keeping up with its rival. Needless to say, the Core i7-7700K clearly couldn’t keep up with its four cores.
Sadly, the Ryzen 7 1800X wasn’t consistently at the top with all the tests. On PCMark 8’s Creative and Home accelerated tests, it was clear to see that it was the Core i7-7700K that was in the lead, while the Ryzen 7 1800X and the Core i7-5960X were actually at loggerheads with each other. Cinebench R15 is the latest program that we recently added to our list of benchmarks for CPU testing. Once again, the Ryzen 7 1800X, after overclocked to 4.05GHz, beat out the two Intel processors in the multi-threaded CPU test, achieving a score of nearly 1,800 points. However, in the single-threaded test, it lost out again to the Kaby Lake Core i7-7700K CPU, scoring a meager 163 points versus the competition’s 213 points.
“At the time of writing, multiple online reports have been saying that the Ryzen CPUs weren’t optimized for gaming, but more for tasks like video rendering or graphics design. The debate is subjective, and in our case, gaming with the new CPU was a non-issue.”
On Super Pi, the Ryzen 7 1800X completed 32 million calculation under the 10-minutes marker, but what is even more impressive is that it completed 16 million calculations in just four minutes.
At the time of writing, multiple online reports have been saying that the Ryzen CPUs weren’t optimized for gaming, but more for tasks like video rendering or graphics design. The debate is subjective, and in our case, gaming with the new CPU was a non-issue. The Ryzen 7 1800X, paired with an ASUS ROG Strix Gaming RX 480, was able to deliver some relatively high frame rates for our listed titles, be it at 1,440p resolution or Full HD. The only exception to the list was Ashes of the
Singularity: for whatever reason, we ran into immense difficulty in running the game on the DirectX 12 API during our test.
52 percent – that is how much of an improvement Ryzen is over the Piledriver architecture.