AMD Shows Its 8-Core Ryzen CPU Beating Intel’s Best At Half The Price

AMD has finally unveiled some details and specs surrounding their upcoming CPU, Ryzen. And not only did they put a price on the CPU, they revealed something far more important: instances where Ryzen not only matched Intel’s top of the line eight core processor, but beat it, and for half the price.

Due out on March 2, AMD finally lifted the lid on their Ryzen 7 series of CPUs, targeted at gamers, content creators, workstations and others looking for high performance. But the key to the whole launch came in a couple of parts: the first being Ryzen’s vast improvement, with more than a 52% increase in clocks per cycle on AMD’s previous generation of CPUs, and the second being price.

AMD’s new top-of-the-line consumer CPU, the Ryzen 7 1800X, will retail for $699 ($US499 internationally). It’s designed to rival Intel’s i7-6900K, which starts from $1449 in Australia, and is priced at $US999 overseas. The 1800X also has a rated thermal design power (TDP) of 95W, well below the i7-6900K’s 140W TDP.

AMD’s weakness traditionally, however, hasn’t been price but performance. The company went to great lengths to put that to test at their launch event in San Francisco, showing multiple graphs and running live tests to showcase Ryzen’s capabilities.

Before getting into that, here’s the full breakdown of the specs between Ryzen’s 7 series of CPUs, including their Australian pricing:

Ryzen 7 1800X: $699

  • Speed: 3.6Ghz base speed, 4.0GHz boost speed
  • Cores: 8 cores, 16 threads
  • TDP: 95W

Ryzen 7 1700X: $569

  • Speed: 3.4Ghz base speed, 3.8Ghz boost speed
  • Cores: 8 cores, 16 threads
  • TDP: 65W

Ryzen 7 1700: $469

  • Speed: 3.0Ghz base speed, 3.7GHz boost speed
  • Cores: 8 cores, 16 threads
  • TDP: 65W

(For those in New Zealand, the CPU’s are priced at $NZ799, $NZ639 and $NZ529 respectively.)

Using the Cinebench benchmarking tool, AMD showed that a Ryzen R7 1800X machine with 16GB of DDR4 RAM, using a NVIDIA 12GB TITAN X and an AM4-based motherboard was able to match a similar Intel i7-6900K machine (with the same RAM, GPU and storage, but an ASUS STRIX X99 Gaming motherboard) in a single-core test. In the multi-threaded version of the same test, the Ryzen machine returned a 9% better score than the i7-6900K system.

Images: Slides from AMD’s presentation at the Ryzen Tech Day

Ryzen R7 1800X Intel i7-6900K
1601 (Cinebench R15 nT) 1474 (Cinebench R15 nT)
162 (Cinebench R15 1T) 162 (Cinebench R15 1T)

AMD also showed tests of the cheaper Ryzen 7 1700 CPU ($469) surpassing Intel’s i7-7700K. The latter is a popular CPU for high end gaming PCs, but it also retails for around $500 locally. The same test was replicated with the 1700X ($569), which outperformed Intel’s i7-6800K (a $600 CPU) in the multi-threaded Cinebench test by 39%. They weren’t the only benchmarks shown during the Ryzen launch event, but those are held under an embargo until the chip’s launch on March 2.

There were also a couple of live demos, showcasing the Ryzen 1800X against a i7-6900K in a singleplayer mission of Battlefield 1 and tutorial for Sniper Elite 4. Both were unscripted, so it’s impossible to guarantee 100% variance in the test, and the two machines were running two Radeon RX 480s in Crossfire.

To the eye, the Ryzen 1800X machine was a handful of frames ahead, perhaps 10 at most. AMD didn’t supply graphs or tabled data afterwards for that specific test, but we were able to observe it up close ourselves during a separate session. And the point was fairly obvious in any case: AMD wanted to show that Ryzen’s top-of-the-line CPU could deliver 4K gaming performance on par, if not better, than Intel’s best eight-core CPU, for half the cost – and they could.

There is a small elephant in the room: namely the fact that Intel’s i7-6950X, the 10-core Broadwell-E behemoth, was excluded from the equation. But it’s a moot point: very few gamers have the wherewithal to spend $2319 or more on just a CPU, and it wasn’t relevant to the claim AMD was making.

AMD’s argument: they have the world’s fastest eight-core desktop CPU in the market today. The enthusiast community will make a firmer judgement on that in the weeks to come. But it’s hard to ignore the greater theme: competition has returned to the CPU market and it would be a surprise if Intel did not respond in some form, although their 10 nanometre Cannon Lake CPUs are expected to start shipping towards the end of this year.

A slide shown at the end of Dr Su’s presentation also showed that PC Case Gear would be taking pre-orders for the Ryzen 7 CPUs from today. Newegg, Amazon and Origin PCs were also listed, but it’s not confirmed if they will accept pre-orders from Australians (or whether they will ship prebuilt Ryzen systems to Australia just yet, as in Origin’s case). A Ryzen liquid cooler has already appeared online, the Corsair H60 (which is also compatible with Intel’s Skylake series of CPUs).

Image: The slide in question, highlighting Origin, PC Case Gear, Newegg and Amazon

AMD added that they would reveal more about their Vega series of GPUs later this year – which are scheduled to ship during the second quarter – and the Ryzen offerings for laptops at a later date.

The author travelled to San Francisco as a guest of AMD.

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