REVIEW: Chillblast Fusion Ryzen Render VR Pro WX 7100
The introduction of AMD’S Ryzen processors make eight-core computing a lot more affordable for 3D artists
Orestis Bastounis takes this new build through its paces
The resurgence of AMD CPUS as a viable alternative to Intel is perhaps 2017’s biggest PC hardware news. And this Chillblast Fuson Ryzen is the first AMD system to grace the pages of 3D Artist in years.
Ryzen uses the new ‘Zen’ architecture, bringing performance up to a level that is genuinely competitive with Intel chips in gaming and productivity applications, accompanied with a pricing strategy that vastly undercuts the competition. Ryzen competes with Core i7 processors in four to eight-core configurations, with the more high-end Threadripper chips going up against Intel Xeons in eight, 12 and 16-core packages. All Ryzen processors support two threads per CPU core, and the line-up runs with DDR4 memory, quad-channel in the case of the Threadripper part.
This is all great news for artists, because CPU performance affects rendering times across the board, working with the GPU to various extents depending on the program. The Chillblast Fusion Ryzen packs the Ryzen 1800X CPU, an eight-core, 16-thread part, with a 3.6GHZ base clock and 4.0GHZ boosted frequency.
Additionally, the Fusion Ryzen comes packed with all the same impressive component and build quality that we’ve become used to seeing from Chillblast, including a stunning SSD, a 240GB Samsung 960 Pro, an Asus Prime B350M Ryzen motherboard, a Corsair Hydro H60 CPU Cooler, a 750W FSP power supply, 16GB of system memory and a 2TB hard disk. Housed in a Fractal Design Define Mini C case, the tower is a relatively svelte build. Inside, it’s no surprise to discover that the components and cables are given plenty of airflow from a neat and tidy PC build.
Graphics are handled by AMD’S Radeon Pro WX 7100 card, a card that sits somewhere between a Quadro P2000 and P4000 in performance terms.
The system costs a penny under £2,000 (including VAT). Although that’s not pocket change, it’s a lot more affordable than the prices many eight-core 3D workstations reach. Chillblast informed us that an upgrade to an Intel Core i7-7820x CPU, the most powerful Intel eight-core processor, would add £500 to the price (including the additional cost incurred with an X299 motherboard).
Choosing between AMD and Intel is a decision prospective PC buyers have had to make for decades. The answer has always come down to the numbers – benchmark performance versus cost, a calculation that has traditionally been favourable to AMD, but perhaps less so in recent history. With the launch of Ryzen though, our tests showed this affordable eight-core processor to be more than capable of delivering the serious rendering grunt artists require.
3ds Max 2015 was the first test we ran, with the Underwater demo completing in six minutes 45 seconds at 1080p. It’s roughly half the time the old quad-core Core i7-4790k took. Specviewperf scores showed the WX 7100 to hold its own as well, with a strong Catia-04 result of 102.99, and 71.41 in Maya-04, rounding off a generally great all-round performance from this workstation.
Cinebench 15 spat out a CPU score of 1630, slightly behind the 1798 attained by Intel’s ten-core Core i7-6950x we covered earlier this year. Although we can’t directly compare systems, we’re fairly certain the Ryzen 1800X does not quite meet the single-thread or multi-threaded performance levels of Intel’s current high-end Core i7 eight-core processors. But with any multi-threaded software, having eight CPU cores is a fantastic benefit, that can make a serious dent in rendering times. With Ryzen, you get those benefits in a system that costs £500 less than Intel’s.
The decision is perhaps not about whether to spend the extra and go with Intel’s eight-core offering, but whether it’s worth even considering a quad-core system for 3D work any more, given the advantages offered by Ryzen. While the benchmark results aren’t showing Ryzen completely trashing Intel on all fronts, it’s clear that if you use multi-threaded software, the Ryzen 1800X is a more sensible choice than any quad-core processor, without breaking the bank, and this is perhaps the key point.
Until now, the highest levels of multi-core performance also carried the highest prices, but AMD is seriously shaking up this situation with its new products. This advantage is likely to be even more significant with Threadripper’s 16 cores going up against some of the priciest CPU products Intel sells.
This affordable eight-core processor [is] more than capable of delivering the rendering grunt artists require
BOTTOM RIGHT Chillblast’s workstations never disappoint, and this one delivers a quality cooler, PSU, fast M.2 storage and great build quality
BOTTOM LEFT The WX 7100 performed well, although we did notice it becomes a bit noisy when under heavy GPU load
MAIN Intel might still have the upper hand, but Ryzen is making the option of eight-core processors available to a much wider audience
BELOW If an eight-core Ryzen is this good, we can’t wait to see AMD’S 16-core chips