From the edi­tor

Ryzen 5 has changed every­thing, to the point where we’ve had to re­vamp our Elite list, ex­plains Ben Hardwidge

Custom PC - - CONTENTS -

What we didn’t ex­pect was the to­tal an­ni­hi­la­tion of In­tel’s Core i3 and Core i5 pro­ces­sors

Let’s do a CPU Labs! It feels like we haven’t done one since the Nor­man in­va­sion, and now there’s some good com­pe­ti­tion, so it won’t just look like an In­tel cat­a­logue. It did in­deed throw up some sur­pris­ing re­sults. So sur­pris­ing, in fact, that we had to re-write var­i­ous chunks of the mag­a­zine af­ter­wards, in­clud­ing a com­plete re­vamp of the Elite list. I’ll ex­plain the Elite changes in a minute, but I firstly want to dis­cuss Ryzen’s im­pact.

Be­fore we started work on this is­sue, we knew that Ryzen 7 had knocked In­tel’s Broad­well-E chips for six, and we’d had a taster of Ryzen 5, cour­tesy of the 1600X.

I dis­cussed the po­ten­tial for a CPU Labs with Antony, and we both agreed that there would likely be pros and cons of Ryzen 5 vs Kaby Lake.

The lat­ter chips would have higher clock speeds, so they would be bet­ter in games and soft­ware that re­lied on sin­gle- threaded per­for­mance. Con­versely, the Ryzen 5 CPUs would be bet­ter in heav­ily multi-threaded soft­ware.

What we didn’t ex­pect was the to­tal an­ni­hi­la­tion of In­tel’s Core i3 and Core i5 pro­ces­sors. Even In­tel’s Core i7-7700K is only rel­e­vant to a spe­cific niche now. As with most of our Labs tests, we used a weighted spread­sheet to col­late all the per­for­mance re­sults, along with the prices, and work out the scores for us. We could then judge the CPUs as fairly as pos­si­ble.

You can see the re­sults for your­self on p40, but there’s ba­si­cally no point in buy­ing a main­stream In­tel CPU for most peo­ple. You can even buy a 6-core Ryzen 5 chip with 12 threads for un­der £200.

Yes, the higher clock speed gives In­tel’s Core i7-7700K a slight ad­van­tage over Ryzen 5 CPUs in games, but that’s it, and the dif­fer­ence is small com­pared with Ryzen’s ad­van­tage in other tests. For nearly every­thing else, you’ll save a load of money and get faster per­for­mance from a Ryzen 5 chip. This sit­u­a­tion trans­forms the PC en­thu­si­ast mar­ket sig­nif­i­cantly. We haven’t seen com­pe­ti­tion on this level since the Athlon 64 was up against the Pen­tium 4. Since then, we’ve mainly been rec­om­mend­ing In­tel plat­form af­ter In­tel plat­form, with te­dious pre­dictabil­ity. In­tel stopped in­no­vat­ing, and kept ef­fec­tively re­leas­ing the same chips with a few tweaks here and there for sev­eral years, and our in­dus­try moulded it­self around it.

Which brings me to our Elite list – a sec­tion that ba­si­cally be­came engi­neered to show you what In­tel kit to buy. Oc­ca­sion­ally there was a bud­get AMD APU ma­chine, but the other five pages of PC builds would al­ways be In­tel-based.

Un­til now. There’s no point in build­ing a bud­get Core i3 gam­ing rig now, or a midrange Core i5 ma­chine. Even build­ing an LGA2011 sys­tem seems largely fruit­less un­less you have loads of money and want to build a 10-core mon­ster.

As a re­sult, we’ve re­jigged the Elite list into a com­po­nent buyer’s guide, rather than a PC build­ing guide. It gives us the flex­i­bil­ity to rec­om­mend a wider range of PC parts, there’s room to grow and you’ll no­tice that AMD’s Ryzen 5 and 7 CPUs are sit­ting pretty as our rec­om­mended 6-core and 8-core CPUs on p68.

Sev­eral read­ers have re­quested that we bring back the rec­om­mended CPUs, motherboard and cool­ers lists, so hope­fully, this new Elite list will be more pop­u­lar. We may rein­tro­duce a cou­ple of full PC lists in the fu­ture, but for the mo­ment, Elite has gone back to be­ing a com­po­nent guide, with AMD right at the top of it. Dif­fer­ent times in­deed.

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