AMD is making a big deal about how its next-gen Ryzen 7000 chips are more efficient than Intel’s, for the same or greater power. And you know what that means: PCWorld has to put those claims to the test. In our latest YouTube video, Gordon assembled near-identical, high-power desktop PCs to test out the top-of-the-line from AMD and Intel, the Ryzen 9 7950X and Core i9 12900K, to see which one would suck down the most electricity.
The results are a bit surprising. According to our testing, which actually measures full system power draw (that’s the number your electric company will charge you, not just single-component TDW), AMD and Intel are approximately even in full-power modes. The Ryzen 9 wins by a considerable margin on multi-thread benchmarks like Cinebench R23, where it managed to beat Intel by about 30 percent in performance while consuming 10 percent less power. Ditto in a Blender test, with about the same results.
But in single-thread benchmarks, which are more likely to reflect everyday computing, things are much more even. In fact in the single-thread Cinebench, PugetBench Premiere Pro and Lightroom, and WebExpert 4 tests, the Core i9 managed to very slightly edge out the Ryzen 9 in terms of power draw. That makes sense, because it’s drawing less power as a single component. In gaming scenarios the Ryzen 9 was drawing about 10 percent more power…but that hardly matters, since your graphics card will be a much bigger factor in total system power draw for any 3D game.
But AMD has an ace in the hole, and it’s called Eco Mode. With a TDP of 170 watts, AMD designed the Ryzen 7950X to be able to run at two stages of more efficient speeds, at 105 watts and 65 watts. For the sake of comparison, the Core i9 12900K runs at 125 watts.
What happens when you turn on Eco Mode? A dramatic drop in power consumption, without a huge loss in actual number-crunching power. Dropping the Ryzen 9 to 105 watts and then 65 watts resulted in approximately 30 percent to 50 percent drop in power consumption, while single-thread performance in Cinebench remained the same. That’s a predictable result, considering the nature of the test. But what about multi-thread mode? Amazingly, the Ryzen 9 7950X beat out the Core i9-12900K for multi-thread performance even at its lowest 65-watt setting. It’s a result that’s so remarkable Gordon had to do a double-take.
Michael is a former graphic designer who's been building and tweaking desktop computers for longer than he cares to admit. His interests include folk music, football, science fiction, and salsa verde, in no particular order.