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
We ran real in-game benchmarks on four popular titles: Rise of the Tomb Raider (3rd-person adventure), DOOM (first-person shooter), Battlefield 1 (first-person multi-player shooter), and Rocket League (an e-sports title). We think they provide a pretty representative look at gaming today.
Rise of the Tomb Raider
Well, no surprise here, at least to us. The Tomb Raider series uses an impressive graphics engine that leans entirely on GPUs rather than CPUs. Therefore we see very little variation here, although the 7700K does lead by a nose. We think there may be some platform advantages at play here, because all the Ryzen processors top out at the same FPS, despite having very different clock speeds.
We've got to hand it to Bethesda here: DOOM looks pretty darn good given how well it performs, but it can be a little picky when run on the default OpenGL engine. Now, if you're familiar with DOOM, you'll know that in addition to the OpenGL API it uses by default, it also allows gamers to choose a new and improved API, Vulkan, which like DX12 is lower-level and thus lets developers get closer to the metal. Because we'd seen odd behavior under OpenGL in our previous testing of the eight-core i7-6900K, we chose to use OpenGL again for this test.
In this test, Ryzen at first had noticeably lower gaming performance versus the 7700K, and on par with the 6900K. That's because we ran it on the "Ryzen Balanced" power profile for Windows 10, which was developed for first-gen Ryzen. This time around, AMD has baked an update into the hardware, meaning you don't need a special Windows power profile, and so we tested the 2600X and 2700X with the universal Windows Balanced profile. As the graph above makes clear, you really should use a standard profile, as last year's Ryzen Balanced profile can actually hurt performance with these new processors. Running the "non-Ryzen" Balanced profile allows the 2700X to get way ahead of the 6900K, which has no workaround for OpenGL's inability to effectively use all of its cores. Take note that the older Ryzen 7 1700 actually worked really well with the Windows Ryzen power profile, so clearly, something is dramatically different in the newer Pinnacle Ridge hardware.
The good news for AMD is that the 2700X is just a few percentage points behind the Core i7-7700K in this title, while the Ryzen 5 2600X stays just ahead of the Ryzen 7 1700. To get an even bigger boost, AMD users will want to run the Vulkan API.
Ah, BF1, the latest title in the long-running Battlefield series. Set in the World War I timeframe, it's great to look at and equally great to play. Alas, it's really hard to test multi-player games like this one, but because we think they are the best gauge of the benefits of modern multi-core processors, we made a special effort to bring you these numbers. And trust us, it wasn't easy, in part because BF1 is unfortunately not proving as popular as its predecessors. We often had to wait up to 30 minutes just to find a full server running our chosen map (Empire's Edge), meaning these benchmarks took longer to collect than all of the other game benchmarks combined!
Again, we see the Core i7-7700K a step ahead of the other processors, but the numbers are extraordinarily tight. Strangely, the 2700X is the slowest horse in this race, but that's probably just due to the test-to-test variation inherent to live multi-player rounds. Overall, we think anyone would be hard-pressed to feel the difference between these five processors.
This is the first time we're using Rocket League as a benchmark, but given the huge rise in popularity of titles like this one in the e-Sports arena, we thought it was appropriate to add it this time around. Truthfully, e-Sports is probably the only area of PC gaming that's actually growing, and in fact, it's growing so fast that it's led to gaming PCs entering whole new markets that consoles previously dominated. What makes e-Sports titles unique from other blockbuster games is that they tend to use relatively-simple graphics engines and reward gamers with lighting-fast reflexes, which means you want high framerates. Because they require little in the way of graphics horsepower, hitting those high framerates often puts a much greater load on CPUs than graphics-intensive titles.
As it turns out, all of our test platforms allowed the GTX 1080 video card we used to run at its maximum potential, achieving over 210 frames per second on average. That's really, really fast, and it's the kind of number competitive e-Sports gamers probably like to see. That also means fans of this game can save money going with the Ryzen 5 2600X, for example, over the 7700K that costs 50% more.