AMD Ryzen 7 1800X
AT A GLANCE
Maximum Turbo core speed 4.1GHz with XFR
Total L3 cache 16MB
We began hearing about Ryzen even when AMD was still struggling with its bumbling Bulldozer architecture. Originally known as Zen, this was the chip that would introduce new competition at the high-end of the desktop market.
Ryzen features a bunch of new sensing and adaptive prediction technologies known as SenseMi. The core of this is a trio of features – pure power, precision Boost, and Extended Frequency range (XFR) – built into the hardware itself that are able to continuously adjust the chip’s clock speed, voltage, and temperature to reduce power consumption and maximize performance.
Sensors at the chip level enable constant monitoring and adjustments, so while pure power enables more efficient power delivery, Precision Boost allows granular 25MHz increments in frequency, and XFR will boost clock speeds beyond the official range if the cooling solution allows.
For the Ryzen 7 1800X, XFR is a modest 100MHz boost to 4.1GHz from its 3.6GHz base clock, but it’s worth noting that the feature is only enabled on Ryzen “X” chips. it also only works across two cores at once, and not all eight, so the difference will be most apparent in single-threaded tasks.
More importantly, the Ryzen 7 1800X, like all other Ryzen 7 parts, are true eight-core chips that leave Bulldozer’s module-based design behind. Bulldozer combined two discrete cores into a single “module”, with the two sharing several resources between them. This meant that they could not operate independently and execute eight instructions simultaneously as a true eight-core CPU could.
That changes with the 8-core/16-thread Ryzen 7 chips, which have also adopted Intel’s simultaneous multi-threading approach. The result is truly impressive multi-threaded performance that rivals the far more expensive 10-core Intel Core i7- 6950X (3.0GHz, 25MB L3 cache).
In the multi-threaded Cinebench R15 benchmark, the Core i7-6950X was only 14 percent faster than the Ryzen 7 1800X, and it retails for well over S$2,000 compared to the latter’s S$818. It was also a whopping 63 percent faster than the quad-core Core i7-7700K (4.2GHz, 8MB L3 cache), so AMD is standing toe-to-toe with Intel’s Broadwell-E chips.
However, this means that applications need to be able to fully utilize all eight cores and all those nifty hardware features in order for the chip to demonstrate its full prowess. When it comes to games, which often benefit far more from higher clock speeds rather than more cores, the Core i7-7700K still takes the lead.
This is especially apparent when gaming at 1080p, where the CPU and not the GPU is often the bottleneck. Of course, this will depend on how much the game actually relies on the CPU. For instance, Ashes of the Singularity clearly taxes the CPU more, and the Core i7-7700K was up to 50 percent quicker at 1080p and High settings. On the other hand, a more intensive, GPU-focused game like Deus Ex: Mankind Divided saw the performance differential narrow to just a handful of frames.
That said, the difference is less apparent at 4K where the GPU is the limiting factor, so you’ll also want to consider what resolution you intend to game at. One added boon is a better ability to handle streaming, which is very CPU-intensive. Ryzen’s multi-core prowess ensures a smaller performance drop, even if Intel’s CPUs are still overall faster.
If you’re looking for the best performance while gaming, we wouldn’t recommend the Ryzen 7 1800X now because the Core i7-7700K is both faster and cheaper.
When it comes to overclocking, the Ryzen 7 1800X has relatively limited headroom, especially compared to the Core i7-7700K that can comfortably overclock to 5.0GHz on air. AMD says most chips can get to 4.2GHz at 1.4V, but we only managed to hit 4.05GHz (overclocking disables XFR unfortunately). Of course, your mileage will vary as overclocking can differ very much from chip to chip.
But if you’re really looking to squeeze out a ton of extra performance from your CPU, Ryzen isn’t the chip for that.
The final piece of the story is the debut of the AM4 platform, which supports modern features like dual- channel DDR4 memory and USB 3.1 (Gen 2). The good news is that there’s also a dedicated micro-ATX and mini-ITX chipset in AMD’s X300 chipset, so compact workstations are an option with Ryzen as well.