ProsNice upgrade from last year's parts; competitive pricing; lots of value-added features; capable new X470 platform
ConsIdle and load power use have gone up with the higher clockspeeds; gaming performance still not at Intel's level
In this review, we'll be taking a close look at AMD's brand-new "Pinnacle Ridge" family of products, including the Ryzen 5 2600X, Ryzen 7 2700X, and X470 chipset. It's been a while since The Tech Buyer's Guru has done a full-on CPU bench test. We last took a look at the full range of Intel's 6th-series Core CPUs back in September 2016, and since then, a lot has changed... and a lot has stayed the same. AMD re-emerged from its long slumber, shaking up the CPU market in March 2017 with its Ryzen "Summit Rdige" family of multi-core CPUs, which we profiled in a how-to guide shortly after its release. Intel responded with a halting release of its 8th-generation chips in October 2017, which were built on, wait for it... the same Skylake architecture it had used in 2015's Skylake and 2017's Kaby Lake, but with a new name (Coffee Lake) and more cores for around the same price (or the same number of cores for a lower price, depending on how you look at it). In reality, this was just a defensive salvo against Ryzen, which clearly caught the industry leader by surprise. Intel's release of Coffee Lake was so rushed that chips weren't even widely available for purchase until December, and true 8th-gen motherboards only arrived this month (April 2018), in the form of the H370 and B360. Like it or not, the Z370 that Intel's been peddling since Coffee Lake's launch is simply a Kaby Lake Z270 chipset that has been modified so that only Coffee Lake will run on it. Not so consumer-friendly, honestly.
AMD is marching to the beat of a different drummer, which is why we're very excited to be testing two of its brand-new processors, the $230 Ryzen 5 2600X six-core CPU and the $330 Ryzen 7 2700X eight-core CPU. These models are the fastest in each of their product families, and replace the outgoing Ryzen 5 1600X and Ryzen 7 1800X, which debuted in the Spring of 2017 at $250 and $500, respectively. AMD has clearly tried to differentiate itself from Intel with this release, starting with the fact that the new Ryzen CPUs are far cheaper than the models they replace, as well as the fact that 300-series motherboards released last year will support these chips with a simple firmware update. That being said, the new 400-series motherboards launching alongside the 2000-series CPUs are guaranteed to have proper firmware onboard, and even better, represent significant upgrades from the prior generation in terms of connectivity and features. This isn't just a new coat of paint, folks, or even worse, a forced migration to a new chipset that offers nothing new.
So let's get into the nitty-gritty of this product release, starting with our test setup. To conduct the benchmarks, we actually ran five different test systems. In order to keep things simple, we'll just list the CPUs and motherboards below:
- AMD Ryzen 7 1700 3.2GHz octo-core (released at $329 in March 2017) running on Gigabyte AB350-Gaming 3
- AMD Ryzen 5 2600X 3.6GHz hexa-core (released at $229 in April 2018) running on Asus Crosshair VII Hero (Wi-Fi)
- AMD Ryzen 7 2700X 3.7GHz octo-core (released at $329 in April 2018) running on MSI X470 Gaming M7 AC
- Intel Core i7-7700K 4.2GHz quad-core (released at $350 in January 2017) running on Gigabyte Z270X-UD3
- Intel Core i7-6900K 3.2GHz octo-core (released at $1,100 in June 2016) running on Asus X99 Pro/USB 3.1
You can see our 2600X mounted below, in the standard and somewhat confusing 90-degree rotated orientation it requires. At least AMD's locking mechanism is far less scary to use than Intel's!
Note that although AMD supplied us with a brand-new set of Ryzen-approved G.Skill 2x8GB Sniper DDR4-3400 CAS 16 RAM sticks, we did most of our testing with Corsair 2x8GB Vengeance RGB DDR4-3000 CAS 15 sticks we had on hand. Why? The answer is simple: faster RAM makes all systems faster, not just Ryzen 2nd-gen systems. Yes, as we mentioned, we confirmed it worked, which couldn't be said for Ryzen 1st-gen systems, but DDR4-3400 works fine on Intel's current systems too. We think Ryzen shoppers are more likely to buy DDR4-3000 anyway just based on cost, but don't worry, we'll provide a few benchmarks later on to show you what you can expect if you splurge for ultra-fast RAM!
For our testing, we're using two CPU benchmark tests (CPU-z and Cinebench), one game benchmark test (3DMark Time Spy), and four real-world games: Rise of the Tomb Raider, DOOM, Battlefield 1, and Rocket League. All game benchmarks were run at a 2560x1440 resolution, which is becoming the new norm for high-performance gaming, and is not a serious challenge for the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 video card that we equipped each of our systems with, meaning the pressure was on the CPU subsystem. You might see CPU game benchmarks run at 1920x1080 or lower resolutions (like the absurd 800x600), but we feel it's a whole lot more informative to run hardware the way it was meant to be run.
OK, let's move on, starting with what's new in the Ryzen world!