4 AMD Ryzen processors tested

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It’s been more than a year ago that AMD shook the CPU market with their Ryzen architecture. After such a revolution, it’s time for improvements and optimizations, and that’s exactly what the recently launched second-generation Ryzen processors bring. We tested the four youngest models from AMD’s stable: the six-core Ryzen 5 2600 and 2600X, and the eight-core Ryzen 7 2700 and 2700X.

For those who do not know what AMD Ryzen is exactly, we start with a short summary. AMD has not played a significant role in the market for desktop processors for some time. Intel had a huge head start in terms of speed and efficiency, more because of baffling at AMD than because of real innovation at Intel. The products of Intel evolved a little every year, we had not seen a revolution at any time.

A year ago there was a sudden change. AMD apparently came out of nowhere with their Ryzen architecture, with which they spontaneously stood side by side with their big competitor. No trifle, given the technical skills needed to develop such a technology. Although AMD technically did not really beat Intel out of the field, it broke the market by simply offering many more cores for less money, including eight-core processors for consumers. Long story short: AMD spontaneously came along again.

AMD apparently came out of nowhere with their Ryzen architecture, with which they spontaneously stood side by side with their big competitor

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A year later it is time for AMD to update this Ryzen architecture. The result is the Ryzen 2000 series. The biggest change is a reduction in the production process from 14 nm to 12 nm. This makes the new generation a bit more efficient and achieves slightly higher clock speeds. Furthermore, AMD has mainly optimized things such as the cache and automatic boost functionality. Positive of course, but no landslide.

There is not much change in the position of this new Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 7, directly opposite the Intel Core i5 and Intel Core i7. The Ryzen 7 offers more cores than its Intel counterpart, the Ryzen 5 adds multi-threading to the six cores that its competitor also has today. Such large numbers of cores already indicate that AMD directs these processors to fanatical computer users such as gamers or creative (semi-) professionals. The Ryzen entry-level models from last year, the Ryzen 3 1200 and 1300X, will not get any direct successors yet. They are spiritually followed up by the Ryzen 3 2200G and Ryzen 5 2400G apus: cpus with spicy integrated graphics.

Build a reputation

The models we are focusing on today do not have integrated graphics, just like last year, so that a separate graphics card is required for the system to function. No drama, because both gamers and creative (semi-) professionals will really need such a card, but uses that only want to use the processor power are put in a corner.

AMD seems, however, aware that every disadvantage must be compensated for their mission to make a real dent in Intel’s reputation. Enthusiasts may be impressed by Ryzen, but AMD has to compete with Intel’s long-standing reputation as the absolute standard in computers. To offer more value AMD has chosen to supply all second-generation Ryzen processors with coolers, where Intel supplies the top models without cooler. As far as those top models are concerned, AMD is taking an extra step compared to the competitor by continuing to dress those models with RGB lighting in the cooler.

We can be short about the performance of each of the supplied coolers: they are sufficient. If you want a system that remains inaudible even during heavy tasks, then it is worth investing in an extra cooling solution. You need a separate graphics card in combination with a Ryzen system.

Overclocking for everyone

If you want to overclock, it is advisable to also invest in a separate cooler. However, these AMD processors have the advantage of being overclocked when you want to combine them with the B350 or the upcoming B450 motherboards. With Intel, you are then stuck to the highest positioned boards and processors. Thanks to the rather simple AMD software, overclocking is child-friendly and accessible to a wider audience. Whether you win practically a lot with it is doubtful, because the Ryzen 5 2600X and Ryzen 7 2700X are already boosting themselves. In addition, the normally very economical Ryzen 7 2700 can be overclocked to the level of the more expensive 2700X, but then the consumption passes that of its bigger brother.

A seemingly likable choice of AMD is the ongoing support of the AM4 socket that they introduced with the first Ryzen generation. Intel has a less good reputation in this area. AMD, along with this second generation, is supplying the new X470 chipset, but the new processors must also function on the X370 and B350 boards from last year. Here, too, we wonder whether the practical benefit is so great. Combination of an older board with a new processor requires recent bios. We can not advise blind people to purchase the (often advantageous) older motherboards: you have to take steps to get a sign with a parent bios working. The AMD Wraith Prism shows that a stock cooler really should not be dull

Performance

In the field of performance, AMD makes a leap forward as expected. For example, the new Ryzen 7 2700 is roughly as fast as the Ryzen 7 1700X, but above all a lot more efficient and therefore the better choice, although the first generation of Ryzen processors for dumping prices can also be quite interesting. It is the Ryzen 7 2700X that shows what actually goes in, with a significant increase in performance across the board. However, we must note that the much higher turbo speeds also increase the power consumption. For Ryzen 5 we also see a modest increase in performance with the same power consumption.

Because the performance is not dramatically different, AMD continues to hammer on the same strengths: the advantage of many cores, which really makes a difference in heavy creative tasks such as rendering or video editing. But Intel has now also equipped its Core i7 models with six cores; the difference in the heavier tasks is not as big as last year. The addition of multi-threading in the Ryzen 5 above the Intel Core i5, however, creates a tough hole in the benchmarks, so that people on a limited budget who, for example, with Adobe Premiere to get started do well to the Intel Core i5 links leave. Nevertheless, the Ryzen 7 maintains its lead in the multi-threaded applications, because the benchmark scores we see are clearly better than those of the Intel Core i7-8700K.On the die-shot of the AMD Ryzen, you clearly see the different cores.

Gamers pay attention

Even with the higher clock speeds, gaming remains the point at which AMD still needs to improve. At 1440p and 4K resolution, the differences remain very limited, but at 1080p and full-HD resolution, video cards supported by a comparable Intel processor put a few percent higher scores. If you do the necessary creative work in addition to gaming, then such percentages are not shocking. However, if you buy a processor purely for gaming, Intel simply holds the strongest cards. AMD is especially interesting for gamers when you also do the necessary creative tasks with your system.

Faster working memory helps … a little.

It is no secret that the speed of the working memory only has a limited impact on the overall performance of a computer. On the bench, the impact of faster memory at AMD is slightly higher than with Intel, but our benchmarks showed that the difference between a boarding memory kit (2133MHz ddr4) and a pricey 3400MHz kit was roughly 3% in the creative performance of a Ryzen 7 2700X. In practice, you often pay little or no more for a 2933MHz or 3200MHz memory kit compared to an entry memory kit, so that’s an attractive purchase. Investing heavily in even faster memory, however, is objectively rarely attractive. It pays to check on the compatibility list (QVL) of your chosen motherboard which memory kits work with your motherboard.

And the target group is …

Although we structurally see good CPU performance, there are still a few spicy boats and buts. Anyone who only uses the PC for gaming looks better at Intel. Consumers who do not need the power of a video card also fall outside the Ryzen boat. In addition, the performance difference between a Ryzen 7 2700X and a Core i7 8700K in multi-threaded applications is not so extreme that Intel fans will be immediately impressed.

The Ryzen 7 2700X seems to have to rely mainly on users who frequently start using heavier creative applications. Streamers also have to take this processor seriously, because the large, number of cores is ideal for combining gaming and broadcasting on one computer. With this AMD does not grab the crowd, but the group of real power users.

The Ryzen 7 2700 is hardly cheaper but a lot less fast than the 2700X, which does not make it interesting to most users. Its very low consumption and unbeaten efficiency make it a great option for specific scenarios where low consumption is crucial, or when many cores are required without too strict per-core performance requirements (some VM scenarios). To make it really interesting for a wider audience, the price has to go down.

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