Everyone is used to companies bragging about how their hardware is better than the competition, and AMD's launch event for Ryzen was no exception. But what you don't see often is a company showing the instances where their hardware doesn't win.
After Dr Lisa Su gave her initial presentation at AMD's Ryzen launch event in San Francisco, other speakers began to take the stage. But it wasn't until a breakout session afterwards where AMD delved a little deeper into gaming benchmarks for their 1800X 8-core CPU - as well as some figures for their 6-core offerings, Ryzen 5.
Ryzen is officially on sale now, and the benchmarks were under NDA so I couldn't share them with you earlier. But what you'll see is the Ryzen 7 1800X, 1700X and 1700 pitched against Intel's i7-6900K, i7-6800K and the more common i7-7700K, respectively, with Intel's CPUs coming out ahead for the most part.
The CPU that's stands out to me is the Ryzen 7 1700, since it's priced at $469 locally (the kind of CPU people building a gaming PC for $2000 or under would consider). It's also a fraction cheaper, by about $20, than the i7-7700K used in the last slide. (The gap between the 1700 and the 7700K in GTA 5 at 1440p is pretty stark, mind you, considering both machines are running a NVIDIA GTX 1070 GPU.)
If you're interested, here was the settings AMD say they used for all six machines in their testing:
It's a bit of an odd mix, but it's also missing a few titles that have favoured AMD over the last year. There's no Total War: WARHAMMER, which AMD was a big supporter of prior to release, and there's no Hitman or Rise of the Tomb Raider, two other games that have been staples in DirectX 12 testing.
But those games have also been good to AMD graphics cards, not AMD CPUs in particular. And one point AMD frequently hammered home in San Francisco was that they were still in the process of optimising their compilers and reaching out to developers, which should result in performance gains down the road. (Those performance gains will probably be marginal, as you often see with driver updates, but every bit adds up.)
Right now, AMD's pitch is all about the value play. As far as they're concerned, their CPUs are cheaper - significantly so, in the case of the 1800X - and the performance is comparable, if not marginally better in certain scenarios. And having more cores means they'll get more usage out of non-gaming applications, like streaming or video encoding, too.
But gamers will want to keep an eye on what those scenarios are. Right now, the price difference between the Ryzen 7 1700 and the i7-7700K is pretty negligible. But if you happen to be a streamer? Or you're a game developer who does a lot of encoding/rendering and you want an 8-core or 10-core CPU? That's a different equation.
Either way, it's always interesting to see a company come out with tests that don't always show their product winning. Gamers, and the tech world, is so often accustomed to the opposite, tests that are skewed just the right way so CEOs and PR can say "we have the fastest product EVER".
AMD's pitch is a little different. Third party benchmarks might not be quite as flattering - and we'll have our own in the next week or so - but it's a refreshing change of message nonetheless.
The author travelled to San Francisco as a guest of AMD.