AMD has made their resurgence with the release of the first-generation Ryzen processors. With everything looking up for AMD on the processor-side of the market, all eyes are on them to deliver a rightful successor to their rebirth product. A year after the original Ryzen debut, AMD is launching their Zen+ architecture which powers the 2nd-generation of Ryzen processors, codenamed Pinnacle Ridge.
Ryzen has been the main driving force for AMD in the past year, helping the company recover from a decade-long drought which has led to Intel practically slacking off on innovations and stalling the advancement of the industry by intentionally capping core counts. With AMD dropping their Ryzen 7 and Ryzen 5 early 2017, Intel was faced with an unforeseen yet daunting obstacle, one which was enough to make them get up from their throne and cut their 7th-generation Kaby Lake processors shelflife to make way for their new 8th-gen Coffee Lake processors which debuted Intel’s first 6-core processors for mainstream desktop users.
AMD officially launched their 2nd-gen Ryzen products earlier this year with the launch of their Ryzen + Radeon Vega-powered APUs which kicked off the Ryzen 2xxx series but it is only with the new Pinnacle Ridge processors that we get to see the real 2nd-gen Ryzen CPUs.Forged in GlobalFoundries’ 12nm fabrication process, the Zen+-based Pinnacle Ridge Ryzen CPUs mark the first time AMD has beaten Intel in who has the smaller manufacturing process. Similar to how Intel has been refining their 14nm process in recent years, improving on it and maxing out their architecture, AMD has went in a similar path with Zen+ with the new Pinnacle Ridge chips boasting higher frequencies and improved IPC performance amongst other things.
During launch, AMD has announced four SKUs for the 2nd-gen Ryzen family which includes two Ryzen 7 chips and two Ryzen 5 chips. To make things easier, the SKUs are the Ryzen 7 2700X and Ryzen 7 2700 joined by the Ryzen 5 2600X and Ryzen 5 2600.
This week we have both Ryzen 7 and Ryzen 5 flagships, the 2700X and 2600X respectively. In this review we’ll focus on the Ryzen 7 2700X and we’ll see how it compares with the current Intel mainstream flagship, the i7-8700K and the older Ryzen 7 1800X. The Ryzen 7 2700X is the current flagship of the 2nd-gen Ryzen family instead of a 2800X. The R7 2700X features 8-cores and 16-threads with a base clock of 3.7Ghz and a boost clock of 4.3 Ghz. XFR2.0 (eXtended Frequency Range) allows the new processors to perform above their boost frequencies if and when the cooling and power are below a certain threshold, granting increased performance on capable cooling. The process has 512KB of L2 cache for each core and 16MB shared L3 cache pool.
AMD has been very keen on strategically pricing their Ryzen products just below Intel’s HEDT, allowing them to be an attractive competition against Intel’s mainstream desktop products. The Ryzen 7 2700X is priced at $329, way below the $499 launch price of the Ryzen 7 1800X last year. The Ryzen 7 1700X was also pricier at $399 at launch. This time around AMD is beefing up the package with the Wraith Prism cooler, a beefy stock cooler with RGB!
About Zen+ Architecture
As mentioned earlier, the 2nd-generation Ryzen processors are based on the Pinnacle Ridge chips which uses the Zen+ architecture. Zen+ is more of a refinement to the existing Zen architecture and AMD hopes to bring the true Zen2 architecture in a future release. Still, Zen+ offers plenty of changes which makes the new Ryzen processors quite a different beast than they’re predecessors.
The biggest change for Zen+ is the transition to the 12nm process. This allows AMD to push clocks further for similar or lower voltages as compared to the original Zen. It also marks the first time AMD is on a smaller node than Intel. The smaller process allows AMD to achieve higher clock speeds, better overclocks and voltage reduction.
To compliment the Zen+ architecture, AMD employs faster cache and improved memory controllers to reduce latency on the new chips. L3 and L2 cache both receive significant improvements in latency performance along with both L1 and DRAM. Memory clock support also gets higher clock support with 2nd-gen Ryzen chips supporting DDR4-2933 JEDEC and up to DDR4-3400.
AMD updated the SenseMI logic on the new Ryzen processors. XFR and Precision Boost now get a new version in which AMD aims to improve performance on the chips further. Precision Boost 2 now drops the 2-core/all-core target in favor of an all-core boost based on an algorithm that factors in temperature, current and voltage. XFR2 (eXtended Frequency Range) now boosts clocks when temps are very good. XFR2 will boost all cores above the rated boost clocks vs. the best cores on the previous implementation. AMD mentions that under ideal cooling, XFR2 can give around 7% performance increase without any manual overclocking. The X470 chipset is predominantly similar to the X370 chipset that preceeds it. It features same feature set but offers lower power draw. The X470 spec also prescribes board maker to stick to a higher CPU VRM standard.
Pinnacle Ridge is an SoC (system on chip) and has both northbridge and southbridge functionality built into the processor. Socket AM4 chips have memory and PCIe, USB3.0 and SATAIII ports. The actual chipset serves more of a connectivity purpose, allowing more I/O options like SATA, USB3.1 and PCIe lanes (Gen2) to be added on the board.
AMD is including a new storage solution with X470 dubbed StoreMI. StoreMI allows combining storage into one large volume which is invisible to the user, fusing your HDD, SSD and RAM to serve as a high-speed volume. X370 owners also have access to StoreMI via a BIOS update but under a different app name. StoreMI is non-destructive and can be rolled back to traditional partitions without any data loss. StoreMI is free on X470 and is offered for a fee (FuzeDrive) on the older X370 chipset.
AMD uses the same packaging for their new 2nd-gen Ryzen as the older version. Before, there were the large box and the smaller box (CPU-only) but since AMD is including a cooler with all their 2nd-gen Ryzen processor, the boxes will have the uniform large box. A window cutout allows the buyers to see which processor is inside the box.
The Ryzen 7 2700X package includes the Wraith Prism cooler and the Ryzen 7 2700X CPU along with sticker badge and documentation.
The Ryzen 7 2700X still fit the AM4 socket and sport the same size and layout for the processors. The soldered IHS is retained which AMD promises to be one of their edge over the competition offering buyers better temperature performance than non-solder.
CPU Performance Test
AMD Ryzen (Gen1)
Processor: AMD R7 1800X/R5 1600X/R3 1300X/R3 1200 Motherboard: ASUS Crosshair VI Hero Memory: Gskill Trident Z DDR4-3200 16GB Graphics Card: ZOTAC GTX 1080 Ti AMP! Edition Power Supply: Seasonic P1000 Storage: WD Blue SSD 1TB Monitor: ViewSonic VX2475SMHL-4K Cooler: DeepCool Captain 240EX 240mm
Processor: Intel Core i7-7700K Motherboard: ASUS MAXIMUM IX APEX Memory: G.Skill Trident Z DDR4-3200 32GB Kit Graphics Card: ZOTAC GTX 1080 Ti AMP! Edition Power Supply: Seasonic P1000 Storage: WD Blue SSD 1TB Monitor: ViewSonic VX2475SMHL-4K Cooler: Thermaltake Water 3.0 Riings 360mm
AMD Ryzen (Gen2)
Processor: AMD R7 2700X / R5 2600X Motherboard: ASUS Crosshair VII Hero Memory: Corsair Vengeance DDR4-3600 16GB Graphics Card: ZOTAC GTX 1080 Ti AMP! Edition Power Supply: Seasonic P1000 Storage: WD Blue SSD 1TB Monitor: ViewSonic VX2475SMHL-4K Cooler: AMD Wraith Prism
Encoding Tests Arithmetic Tests System Benchmarks Memory Benchmarks
Gaming Benchmark – Test Setup
For this test we’ll focus on the gaming performance both our processors. Do note that we have specially selected benchmark runs for CPU testing vs. GPU testing so these vary from our GPU benchmark results. To see more details about the benchmark sequences, please see our game benchmark method guide.
Frame rates and frame times of a 60-second game play were recorded using FRAPS v3.5.99. The test results are the average of 3 benchmark runs. Since this is a GPU review, we benchmarked the area of the games that put heavy load on the GPU.
The games and corresponding image quality settings used are shown in their respective tabs.
Note: Some proprietary technologies of NVIDIA like PCSS, HBAO+, and HairWorks work on AMD GPU’s BUT to maintain uniformity amongst GPUs, these have been turned OFF.
Witcher 3 – Gaming Performance Test
CD Projekt Red’s latest installment in the Witcher saga features one of the most graphically intense offering the company has to date. As Geralt of Rivia, slay monsters, beasts and men as you unravel the mysteries of your past. Vast worlds and lush sceneries make this game a visual feast and promises to make any system crawl at its highest settings.
Frame Rate: Unlimited
Nvidia HairWorks: Off
Motion Blur: Off
Ambient Occlusion: SSAO
Depth of Field: On
Chromatic Aberration: Off
Light Shafts: On
Rise of the Tomb Raider – Gaming Performance Test
The reboot of the gaming phenomenon Tomb Raider puts players in Lara Croft’s hiking boots as we pick-up from the last game. Featuring upgraded graphics, DX12 support and new image quality improvements, this game challenges new hardware with its graphical offering.
Very High settings
Ambient Occlusion: On
Pure Hair: On
Vignette Blur: Off
Motion Blur: Off
Screen Space Reflections: On
Lens Flares: On
Film Grain: Off
It has only been a year since AMD has launched the original Ryzen and the 2nd-gen Ryzen we have today is a great example of how committed AMD is in improving their position in the performance market for CPUs. The new 12nm process has allowed AMD to have another achievement over Intel and add to that the fact that they position themselves on a more conservative pricing model versus their rival.
Overall CPU performance shows us that AMD is gaining grounds in most situations where multithreading is a factor. With more cores at its disposal, the Ryzen 7 2700X is able to deliver better performance than Intel’s current mainstream flagship, the i7 8700K. Single CPU performance is still in Intel’s favor but the gap has been closed versus the previous Ryzen processors. This is AMD showcasing vast improvements in one generation than Intel has given us in recent years.
In terms of gaming, its pretty much a close match with all the CPUs in our bench and that means gamers playing on 1080p will still best performance on faster Intel CPUs when chasing higher refresh rates but on an overall scenario, the 2nd-gen Ryzen CPUs are more than capable of handling games. The biggest benefit here is that streamers and content creators have more CPU resources at their disposal for less money than what Intel currently offers and with the growing vlogging and streaming industry, Ryzen provides a great entry platform for a multi-purpose work-and-play setup for these users.
We’ll be taking a look further at many more aspects of performance for the 2nd-gen Ryzen in more in-depth articles following this review but to give you an idea, overclocking on the Ryzen 2nd-gen chips is pretty much a non-requirement if you’re after more performance. Provided you have ideal cooling, you get an easy 6% increase without touching manual OC options. This rewards better cooling and the Wraith Prism is quite a capable cooler.
At $329, the Ryzen 7 2700X is cheaper than the 6-score Core i7-8700K and Core i7-7820X at $350 and $599 respectively.
AMD Ryzen 7 2700X, ASUS ROG Crosshair VII Hero
Intel Core i7 8700K, ASUS ROG Maximus X Hero, Corsair H100i V2
Intel i7 7820X, ASUS ROG Rampage VI Apex, Corsair H100i V2
To give you an idea on the initial platform cost, a Ryzen 7 with a ROG Crosshair VII Hero motherboard will cost $608. Since AMD already includes a cooler with their processor, we can skip getting that. In our list above, we both used the Corsair H100i V2 on our Intel builds and while it may be a pricey option, we’ve never been fans of Intel’s thermal performance and have always sworn with AIO options on their processors. We can get away with a larger tower heatsink but again, the Ryzen 7 2700X easily cruises its boost clocks with its included Wraith Prism, something Intel doesn’t have anything comparable to. Adding the cost of the Corsair H110i v2 AIO cooler to the Ryzen set, we get a 737$ initial cashout which is pretty much the same as the Intel option but you really don’t need it so it can be a later purchase. This is somewhat offset by the fact that the Intel Core i7-8700K has an IGP, something the HEDT i7 7820X and Ryzen 7 2700X do not have. AMD also has the benefit of upgrading from an existing 300 series chipset so those already running Ryzen can easily upgrade their BIOS and drop-in their new processors.
AMD has clearly made some great leaps from their first launch of Ryzen and the 2nd-generation of Ryzen processors look very interesting from a value/performance perspective. An overall great value, both in core count, performance and in bundle, AMD’s 2nd-gen Ryzen processors are a great step forward for the company.
Focusing more on the Ryzen 7 2700X, if you’re already using an R7 1800X, we really don’t see the need for an upgrade but if you’re on a Ryzen 3 or older platform, including an Intel one, and are looking to boost performance for content creation and streaming, the Ryzen 7 2700X currently offers the best option for the most cores for your buck.
We give the Ryzen 7 2700X 8-core processor our B2G Gold Award!