- What Ryzen is
- How we tested
- How fast is it? There’s only one way to find out
- Gaming performance
- So what the hell is going on?
How we tested
For the benchmark-o-rama, I set up four separate PCs. All featured clean installs of the latest version of 64-bit Windows 10. Each of the PCs was also built using the same SSD and GPU, and the latest BIOS was used on each board.
I turned to what we believe are Ryzen’s natural competitors: Intel’s $1,089 8-core Broadwell-E Core i7-6900K; the $441 6-core Broadwell-E Core i7-6800K; and the $349 4-core Kaby Lake Core i7-7700K. And, although its well beyond its prime, I also included an 8-core AMD FX-8370, which is currently the top Vishera-based CPU you can get without wading into the crazy range (meaning AMD’s insane FX-9590 chip, which works with only a handful of motherboards due to its excessive power consumption).
For the pair of Broadwell-E processors, I tested on an Asus X99 Deluxe II board. I used an Asus Z270 Maximus IX Code for the Kaby Lake chip. I paired the Vishera with an ASRock 990FX Killer. The Ryzen CPUs were tested with an Asus Crosshair VI Hero board.
I used a Founders Edition GeForce GTX 1080 on all of the builds, and the clock speeds were checked for consistency.
I opted to test each with 32GB of RAM, with the memory controllers fully loaded using standard JEDEC-speed RAM. On the Ryzen and Kaby Lake systems, that meant four DIMMs of DDR4/2133 for a total of 32GB of RAM. The Broadwell-E systems were stuffed with eight DIMMS of DDR4/2133 for a total of 32GB RAM. The FX CPU had four DDR3/1600 DIMMS in it for a total of 32GB of RAM. The Ryzen, Kaby Lake, and FX machines were in dual-channel mode, whereas the Broadwell-E box was in quad-channel mode.
One final disclosure: I expected to test all the builds using closed-loop coolers. But because AMD didn’t send me a CLC for Ryzen until late into testing, I had to test all the PCs using air cooling. AMD fans might suspect this hobbled the Ryzen parts, which have a mode called eXtended Frequency Range (XFR) that allows the chip to clock up to the capabilities of the cooler.
I should add here that XFR only really adds up to 100MHz to the chip’s speeds today. The Ryzen 7 1800X on XFR, for example, would hit 4.1GHz over its Precision Boost speed of 4GHz. The Noctua air cooler I used is itself a fairly burly cooler, and I did see XFR speeds kicking in on occasion.
Read on for benchmarks, benchmarks, and more benchmarks.