- 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?
Let’s move on to what may be the second-most important category for Ryzen: gaming. That’s pretty much where the story goes from incredible performance per dollar to head-scratching, even maddening, results.
First up is the always popular 3DMark test. Now owned by UL, this is a synthetic performance test that measures gaming. Yes, it’s synthetic, but for the most part, it’s widely regarded as being neutral ground. The first result is the overall score in 3DMark FireStrike. The Core i7-6900K takes the top spot, with the Core i7-7700K taking the second spot, and the Ryzen 7 1800X a close third. It’s pretty much a yawner.
3DMark’s Graphics sub score is designed to stress the graphics card. If 3DMark is doing its job, we should see very little difference among our machines, as we used identical GeForce GTX 1080 cards for our testing. Everything is right as rain. Only the FX is slightly slower, which could be because, well, it’s an AMD FX. Or maybe it’s the PCIe 2.0 on the platform. Either way, nothing to get excited about.
3DMark’s Physics test stresses core count, and we see the 8-core chips ahead by a good margin. The low-wattage Ryzen 7 1700 actually appears to break even with the 6-core Core i7-6800K here. The lower clock speed of the R7 1700 could be hurting it. And FX, yeah, “8 cores” indeed.
3DMark also includes a test of a CPU’s capabilities when tasked with issuing draw calls under DirectX 12. The results clearly put the Intel chips in the lead. Not only is the Core i7-7700K just about dead-even with both Ryzen chips, the 6- and 8-core parts are a sizable distance ahead. If you’re wondering why the 6-core Broadwell is neck-and-neck with the 8-core part, I’ve found this particular test doesn’t scale much beyond six cores.
Ashes of the Singularity DX12 performance
The good news is, we also have a real-world DX12 game in Ashes of the Singularity. This game is basically the tech demo for what can be done in DirectX 12, and it loves CPU cores. For this test run, I ran at 1920x1080 resolution with the visual quality set to low. Ashes has a GPU-focused mode and a CPU-focused mode. I chose the latter because I wanted to see the frame rate when a crazy amount of objects (and draw calls) are thrown at a game. The result was again confusing. The Core i7-6900K walks away from the pack, and even the 6-core Core i7-6800K shows Kaby Lake what-for in the test. The Ryzens are oddly slow considering they have more cores than both the Core i7-6800K and the Core i7-7700K. To be fair, much like 3DMark, I haven’t seen this test scale to crazy amounts. Right before we went to press, AMD send out a statement from the Ashes developer Oxide:
“Oxide games is incredibly excited with what we are seeing from the Ryzen CPU. Using our Nitrous game engine, we are working to scale our existing and future game title performance to take full advantage of Ryzen and its 8-core, 16-thread architecture, and the results thus far are impressive,” said Stardock and Oxide CEO Brad Wardell. “These optimizations are not yet available for Ryzen benchmarking. However, expect updates soon to enhance the performance of games like Ashes of the Singularity on Ryzen CPUs, as well as our future game releases.”
So, not valid?
Tomb Raider performance
I decided to look at Ryzen’s performance using the older version of Tomb Raider. Those looking at the theoretical performance of a CPU in games typically want to take the graphics card out of the equation by running the game at lower settings or even lower resolutions than one would normally use with their given hardware. For this test, I ran Tomb Raider at 1920x1080 resolution at the normal setting. The performance gap again put Ryzen in a bad spot. In fact, it’s frankly a very puzzling result. One can argue that when you’re pushing in excess of 300 or 400 frames per second, it’s kinda pointless, but why isn’t Ryzen, which so handily matches Intel’s Broadwell-E in other tests, right up there with Broadwell-E?
Rise of the Tomb Raider performance
Let’s move on to Rise of the Tomb Raider. Rise is newer and tougher on the GPU. At 1920x1080 and the medium setting, we’re again seeing rather disappointing performance numbers for Ryzen. I'd expected Ryzen to be near lock-step with Broadwell-E but it’s not even close.
Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege performance
Moving away from Lara Croft, I ran Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege at 1920x1080 and Medium. We’re pushing into silly frame-rate territory again, but as I said previously, this would normally stress the CPU. It’s how most reviewers would attempt to measure the theoretical gaming performance of a CPU.
Read on for AMD's take on our results.