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

HWM (Malaysia) - - LAB EXAM - Text by John Law

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.

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