Ryzen myths

Gor­don Mah Ung cuts through the chat­ter, myths and hearsay

PC Advisor - - CONTENTS -

With the Ryzen 7 launch just over two months ago and Ryzen 5 now here, AMD’s come­back CPUs are gen­er­at­ing as much con­tro­versy, con­fu­sion, and mis­in­for­ma­tion as they are ex­cite­ment. Here we cut through the chat­ter to give you the real an­swers about AMD’s lat­est CPU.

PER­CEP­TION: Ryzen runs hot RE­AL­ITY: Not true

De­spite re­ally low ther­mal de­sign power (TDP) rat­ings, Ryzen chips have oddly been la­belled as run­ning hot. The prob­lem seems to re­late to how util­i­ties are read­ing the new chips’ on-die sen­sors. AMD, in fact, just dis­closed that cer­tain CPUs fea­ture off­sets that make it look as though they are run­ning hot.

“In the short term, users of the AMD Ryzen 1700X and 1800X can sim­ply sub­tract 20°C to de­ter­mine the true junc­tion tem­per­a­ture of their pro­ces­sor. No arith­metic is re­quired for the Ryzen 7 1700. Long term, we ex­pect tem­per­a­ture mon­i­tor­ing soft­ware to bet­ter

un­der­stand our tCTL off­sets to re­port the junc­tion tem­per­a­ture au­to­mat­i­cally,” the com­pany wrote in a blog post.

Keep in mind, we’re talk­ing about Ryzen per­for­mance un­der stock set­tings – not over­clocked. Even so, if the tool were off by 20°C in the up­ward di­rec­tion, it would def­i­nitely ap­pear to be hot. The fix is likely to come once the util­i­ties are up­dated to recog­nise the off­set of the CPU.

PER­CEP­TION: Ryzen is ter­ri­ble when it comes to gam­ing RE­AL­ITY: Not true

If there’s just one fact from this en­tire fea­ture that you should re­mem­ber, it’s this one: Ryzen is not ter­ri­ble for gam­ing. Yes, even if your friend heard it from a friend who was watch­ing a friend’s Twitch stream, we re­peat: it is not ter­ri­ble for gam­ing.

AMD’s gam­ing per­for­mance can at times be per­plex­ing. In multi-threaded and sin­gle-threaded ap­pli­ca­tions, it’s gen­er­ally out­stand­ing. In tested games, how­ever, Ryzen tends to takes third place be­hind In­tel’s Kaby Lake and Broad­well-E CPUs. This is akin to say­ing an Olympic 100m run­ner is ‘slow’ for get­ting a bronze medal. Of course, its gam­ing per­for­mance at higher res­o­lu­tions and high­qual­ity vis­ual set­tings is mostly im­per­cep­ti­ble, be­cause that usu­ally turns into a GPU load, rather than a CPU load. In sum, Ryzen is a fine gam­ing CPU and not ter­ri­ble at all.

PER­CEP­TION: AMD is as good as In­tel in gam­ing to­day RE­AL­ITY: Par­tially true

We’ve said that Ryzen isn’t ter­ri­ble for gam­ing, but it’s also not the best. The vast ma­jor­ity of our own tests, along with those con­ducted by other re­view­ers, show that when us­ing to­day’s games and to­day’s ver­sion of Win­dows, Ryzen takes a back seat to In­tel’s CPUs.

This can be seen at the most pop­u­lar res­o­lu­tion of 1080p and lower, and even at higher-qual­ity set­tings in some games. The pro­ces­sor will also likely fal­ter with mon­i­tors that push high re­fresh rates, such as 120- or 144Hz. As much as some fans may not want to ac­cept it, the chip isn’t as good as Core i7 in many gam­ing sce­nar­ios.

Ryzen will be as good as In­tel, how­ever, when you run that game at 4K Ul­tra HD res­o­lu­tion. At higher res­o­lu­tions – which is where you should be play­ing with a beefy GPU such as a GTX 1080 or GTX 1080 Ti – the graph­ics card be­comes the bot­tle­neck, and you’ll no­tice lit­tle or no dif­fer­ence be­tween a Ryzen or Core i7.

Ryzen has proved it­self equal to or bet­ter to In­tel Core i7 in some games. How­ever, rea­son­able ob­servers would agree that In­tel has the lead given to­day’s con­di­tions. To­mor­row there may be op­ti­mi­sa­tions, but to­mor­row is not to­day, and the frame rate to­day is what gamers care about.

The other pos­si­ble ad­van­tage Ryzen may have over In­tel’s quad-core gam­ing chips is in game hitch­ing. Anec­do­tal re­ports have sug­gested some games on Ryzen will see fewer hitches than they’d ex­pe­ri­ence with a quad-core CPU, due to the ad­di­tional cores on the AMD chip. PER­CEP­TION: An eight-core chip is a bet­ter gam­ing CPU if you want to be the next YouTube sen­sa­tion RE­AL­ITY: True Rea­son­able peo­ple will agree that In­tel’s parts are faster than AMD’s chips for to­day’s games, but that’s for tra­di­tional gam­ing. The ex­hi­bi­tion­ist cul­ture of to­day means you don’t play by your­self any­more – you’re prob­a­bly streaming live to an au­di­ence on YouTube, Twitch or Facebook as you try to be­come the next in­ter­net sen­sa­tion.

Rea­son­able peo­ple will agree that hav­ing more cores for real-time game streaming means hav­ing an eight-core CPU is bet­ter. That’s be­cause most streaming soft­ware uses the CPU to en­code the stream, which eats up re­sources. A quad-core pro­ces­sor will run out of re­sources be­fore an eight-core chip does, lead­ing to dropped frames and hitch­ing.

This isn’t even a par­ti­san di­vide. Sure, AMD has pushed more cores as an ad­van­tage of its Ryzen over In­tel’s Kaby Lake, and In­tel has used the same ar­gu­ment for push­ing its six- and eight-core Core i7 chips over its own quad-core chips.

There’s an ar­gu­ment that us­ing GPU en­cod­ing, such as GeForce Ex­pe­ri­ence’s Shad­owPlay, works just as well. This is true, but most stream­ers are very much the def­i­ni­tion of con­tent cre­ators and will use video ed­i­tors daily.

In the end, if you do want to be the next YouTube or Twitch sen­sa­tion, an eight-core chip is the bet­ter choice. PER­CEP­TION: It’s Win­dows 10’s fault RE­AL­ITY: Not true As peo­ple tried to get to the bot­tom of why Ryzen per­formed so well in ap­pli­ca­tions (both multi-and sin­gle-threaded) but not on games, the usual sus­pect was called in for ques­tion­ing: Win­dows. Many the­o­rised that its sched­uler, or the part of the OS that doles out work­loads to the CPU, just wasn’t play­ing nicely with Ryzen. In the end, AMD it­self cleared Mi­crosoft as a sus­pect, say­ing the sched­uler is func­tion­ing cor­rectly.

We reached out to Mi­crosoft to con­firm whether it was in­deed work­ing on cor­rect­ing is­sues with the sched­uler on Ryzen, but at the time of writ­ing had not heard back.

If AMD it­self is say­ing Win­dows 10 isn’t at fault, that pretty much set­tles it. Con­sid­er­ing that Linux ker­nel needed a patch to ac­count for Ryzen’s multi-thread­ing, how did Win­dows 10 skate through? It’s not like a ven­dor would be or­dered to fall on its own sword to pro­tect Win­dows 10’s rep­u­ta­tion, right? PER­CEP­TION: Re­view­ers who wrote neg­a­tive things about Ryzen are shills for In­tel RE­AL­ITY: Not true (mostly) It’s al­most im­pos­si­ble to fact check for shills, be­cause many in­flu­ences on re­view­ers are un­seen and im­pos­si­ble to prove. What we can say is that many of those ac­cused of be­ing bi­ased to­wards In­tel are also among those AMD it­self cited in the cov­er­age of the new Ryzen chip.

If that were the case, why would AMD point to their cov­er­age as proof of the suc­cess of Ryzen? Many of the re­view­ers of the pro­ces­sor have also con­tin­ued to fol­low ini­tial cov­er­age with ad­di­tional test­ing, in an at­tempt to get to the bot­tom of why Ryzen isn’t quite as fast as In­tel in gam­ing.

Short of ac­cess­ing the bank ac­counts of all sup­posed shills, we can chalk up the ac­cu­sa­tions to the pent-up en­thu­si­asm of a ded­i­cated fan base. PER­CEP­TION: There’s a mas­sive short­age of moth­er­boards RE­AL­ITY: Mostly true Af­ter an ini­tial short­age of Ryzen CPUs, they are now read­ily avail­able. The prob­lem is that you may not be able to get a moth­er­board to put it in.

Specif­i­cally, it’s hard to find the top-end, en­thu­si­ast-fo­cused X370 boards. Plenty of the more se­date B350 boards are avail­able.

No need to throw in the towel, though. Spot checks on Ama­zon (at the time of writ­ing) showed some avail­abil­ity. One moth­er­board ven­dor promised that more were ar­riv­ing by the boat­load.

Still, we’ll rate this as mostly true, be­cause when you have a shiny new Ryzen 1700 star­ing at you from your build bench, you’re not go­ing to be a pa­tient camper.

De­spite what you may have heard, Ryzen is not ter­ri­ble for gam­ing at all

When the PC com­mu­nity wants to blame some­one, Win­dows is al­ways among the usual sus­pects

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