AMD’s Ryzen processors have indubitably reshaped the mainstream PC in the year since their release. Four-core, eight-thread CPUs reigned in those systems for the better part of eight years, but first-generation Ryzen parts brought core and thread counts typical of high-end desktop chips within range of the average builder for the first time.
The Zen microarchitecture has since proven itself worthy in a broad range of gaming and productivity tasks, and enthusiast-friendly perks like capable stock coolers, universally unlocked multipliers, and soldered heat spreaders have won the hearts of many a DIY builder. Some fundamental disadvantages of the Zen core versus Intel’s Skylake architecture, like SIMD units that provide half the potential throughput of the blue team’s cores, will require major architectural changes if AMD chooses to address them. Massive re-architecting like that will likely need to wait for the move to 7-nm-class process technologies and the bounty of extra transistors they could offer.
The Ryzen 7 2700X and Ryzen 5 2600X
AMD has been listening to Ryzen owners over the past year for more pragmatic changes it can implement to make its products more competitive, however, and it came up with a few relatively straightforward fixes. First and foremost, enthusiasts have demanded a better-behaved and lower-latency integrated memory controller for use with high-speed DDR4 RAM, important characteristics for feeding as many as eight cores with dual-channel memory. Overclockers have pined for more potential from Ryzen CPUs, many of which top out at 3.8 GHz to 4 GHz all-core speeds. Folks who don’t overclock want higher stock clock speeds, as well. Finally, AMD felt it could reduce access latencies at the various levels of the processor’s cache and memory hierarchy to improve performance.
At least on paper, AMD has ticked off every box on that wish list with the Zen+ microarchitecture that underpins second-generation Ryzen CPUs. The company says the die size, transistor count, and fundamental logic of the Zen core remains unchanged in the transition from GlobalFoundries’ 14-nm FinFET process to its 12LP process.
Instead, the company is reaping the benefits of the better transistors available from that process to improve performance on critical paths of the chip. In sum, that means higher peak clock speeds, lower cache latencies, a more robust memory controller, and lower voltage requirements for the same performance.
With the improvements of 12LP in mind, some might find it odd to see that the TDP of the top-end Ryzen 7 2700X has actually increased 10 W, to 105 W. Part of this change is because of second-gen Ryzen’s Precision Boost 2 dynamic-voltage-and-frequency-scaling technology. More on that chip’s specs in a second.
Instead of first-generation Ryzen CPUs’ simple concept of single-core, two-core, and all-core boost speeds, Precision Boost 2 allows AMD’s SenseMI power- and temperature-monitoring tech to vary second-gen Ryzen parts’ all-core clock speeds more or less linearly, from one to as many as eight loaded cores and one to sixteen threads.
Precision Boost 2 means a second-generation Ryzen chip can take full advantage of the power and thermal headroom available to it, and AMD says it’s intentionally allowing Ryzen second-generation parts to burn more power under load to fully realize Precision Boost 2’s potential in cases where the original Precision Boost would have had to fall back to an all-core boost speed. To be clear, higher power usage alone should not be seen as a regression, at least in theory. This decision makes perfect sense if it allows Ryzen second-gen parts to consume less energy over the course of a task thanks to higher performance-per-watt.
The move to a more linear dynamic voltage and frequency scaling curve means that the behavior of AMD’s Extended Frequency Range (XFR) technology is changing, as well. XFR 2 does away with the idea of a fixed frequency increase across single-core and all-core workloads, as seen on all first-generation Ryzen products to some degree. Instead, XFR 2 works more like the Mobile XFR feature we first saw on Raven Ridge mobile chips.
The peak Precision Boost 2 speed on any Ryzen second-generation part will still rise (by about 50 MHz, in our experience) if better-quality cooling is installed, but the bigger change is that users should see higher sustained frequencies on multi-core workloads with a more capable cooler, and hence better performance in those tasks. That sustained clock-speed improvement is the second key way that AMD is improving performance with its second generation of Ryzen parts.
All second-generation Ryzen CPUs enjoy a more robust memory controller than first-generation Ryzens, too. As it does with Raven Ridge desktop parts, AMD rates second-gen Ryzens for DDR4-2933 support from single-rank, two-DIMM memory configurations (although only from motherboards with six PCB layers, oddly enough). Using more DIMMs or dual-rank memory will cause stock memory speeds to drop off, just as with first-generation Ryzen parts. Even with that in mind, our hands-on testing with AMD’s demo X470 systems at an event in New York suggested that overclocked memory speeds in the range of 3600 MT/s with two DIMMs could be achievable with some care. That’s a major improvement over first-gen Ryzens, where speeds greater than 3200 MT/s proved difficult to reliably achieve without exacting choices of memory kits and motherboards.
Sizing up the lineup
As we teased in our teaser last week, four second-generation Ryzen desktop CPUs are launching today.
|Ryzen 7 2700X||8/16||3.7||4.3||20 MB||105 W||Wraith Prism (LED)||$329|
|Ryzen 7 2700||3.2||4.1||65 W||Wraith Spire (LED)||$299|
|Ryzen 5 2600X||6/12||3.6||4.2||19 MB||95 W||Wraith Spire||$229|
|Ryzen 5 2600||3.4||3.9||65 W||Wraith Stealth||$199|
The Ryzen 7 2700X is the top-end part among these, and it’ll occupy the top-end slots formerly filled by the Ryzen 7 1700X and Ryzen 7 1800X. Its eight cores and 16 threads run at 4.3 GHz peak speeds and a 3.7 GHz base clock. It maintains the 4 MB of total L2 cache and 16 MB of shared L3 from past Ryzen 7 parts. Compare those clock speeds to the 3.6 GHz base clock and 4 GHz peak speeds of the Ryzen 7 1800X (or 4.1 GHz with first-gen XFR accounted for).
|Cores||Threads||Base clock||Boost clock||XFR||TDP||Suggested
|Ryzen 7 1800X||8||16||3.6 GHz||4.0 GHz||100 MHz||95 W||$499|
|Ryzen 7 1700X||3.4 GHz||3.8 GHz||100 MHz||95 W||$399|
|Ryzen 7 1700||3.0 GHz||3.7 GHz||50 MHz||65 W||$329|
|Ryzen 5 1600X||6||12||3.6 GHz||4.0 GHz||100 MHz||95 W||$249|
|Ryzen 5 1600||3.2 GHz||3.6 GHz||50 MHz||65 W||$219|
In a change from its approach with the heatsink-less first-generation Ryzen X-branded CPUs, AMD will bundle its new Wraith Prism cooler in the box with the 2700X. The Wraith Prism improves AMD’s already-solid top-end boxed cooler with four direct-contact heat pipes, and it adds a little extra bling to the Wraith with an addressable RGB LED ring and a translucent, RGB LED-illuminated fan. AMD told me that it expects the Wraith Prism will perform about on par with enthusiast-favorite air coolers like the Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo.
AMD wants builders to think “value” with the Ryzen 7 2700X, and it’s pricing the highest-end second-gen Ryzen chip so far at just $329—down from $499 for the Ryzen 7 1800X at launch. That’s also $40 short of the Core i7-8700K’s suggested price, and the highest-end Coffee Lake chip doesn’t even come with a stock cooler in the box. AMD continues to solder the integrated heat spreader atop the second-generation Ryzen die, as well, a move that could help overclockers extract the most performance from the chip without the need for the exotic and risky measure of delidding and re-pasting the integrated heat spreader. Coffee Lake builders pushing their systems to the limit are already quite familiar with this operation.
The Ryzen 7 2700 will take over the eight-cores-in-65-W spot formerly filled by the Ryzen 7 1700. The $299 2700 will offer a 4.1 GHz peak clock speed and a 3.2 GHz base clock, and it’ll come with the same capable RGB LED-illuminated Wraith Spire cooler in the box as its forebear had. Recall that the Ryzen 7 1700 provided a 3.7 GHz peak speed and a 3 GHz base clock—all without the benefit of Precision Boost 2’s more granular control under load. The 2700 should offer a major performance upgrade over its predecessor. Overclockers looking to push a Ryzen second-gen part while saving a few bucks should like this chip, too.
Two second-generation Ryzen 5 processors will launch alongside the new Ryzen 7 lineup. The Ryzen 5 2600X boasts six cores running at 4.2 GHz peak speeds and a 3.6 GHz base clock. It’ll come with 3 MB of L2 and 16 MB of L3 cache enabled, and it too will come with the Wraith Spire cooler. The 2600X delivers anywhere from 100 MHz to 200 MHz of peak clock speed boost over the Ryzen 5 1600X’s peaks, though its base clock remains unchanged. For builders after the best stock-clocked six-core performance from a Ryzen 5, AMD will oblige for $229.
The Ryzen 5 2600 may be the most important chip in the Ryzen second-generation lineup. I thought the Ryzen 5 1600 was worthy of a rare TR Editor’s Choice award when I reviewed it, and the Ryzen 5 2600 improves on the formula with a nice dash of higher clock speeds. This second-gen six-core chip promises 3.9 GHz peak clocks and a 3.4 GHz base clock, up anywhere from 100 MHz to 200 MHz over its forebear. AMD has slightly dulled the appeal of the 2600 by boxing the entry-level Wraith Stealth cooler with it instead of the beefy Wraith Spire that crowned the Ryzen 5 1600 in use. Still, builders who want a stock-clocked six-core Ryzen 5 shouldn’t find many other shortcomings in this $199 chip, and overclockers are likely going to toss the stock cooler, anyway.
Now that we’ve seen what the second generation of Ryzen CPUs has to offer, let’s get to testing.
Our testing methods
As always, we did our best to deliver clean benchmarking numbers. We ran each benchmark at least three times and took the median of those results. Our test systems were configured as follows:
|AMD Ryzen 1600X||AMD Ryzen 1800X||AMD Ryzen 2600X||AMD Ryzen 2700X|
|CPU cooler||EK Predator 240-mm liquid cooler|
|Motherboard||Gigabyte X470 Aorus Gaming 7 Wifi|
|Memory size||16 GB (2x 8 GB)|
|Memory type||G.Skill Sniper X DDR4-3400 (rated) SDRAM|
|Memory speed||3400 MT/s (actual)|
|Memory timings||16-16-16-36 1T|
|System drive||Samsung 960 EVO 500 GB NVMe SSD|
|Intel Core i7-7700K|
|CPU cooler||Corsair H115i Pro 280-mm liquid cooler|
|Motherboard||Asus ROG Strix Z270E Gaming|
|Memory size||16 GB|
|Memory type||G.Skill Flare X DDR4-3200 (rated) SDRAM|
|Memory speed||3200 MT/s (actual)|
|Memory timings||14-14-14-34 2T (DDR4-3600)|
|System drive||Samsung 960 Pro 500 GB|
|Intel Core i7-8700K||Intel Core i5-8400|
|CPU cooler||Corsair H110i 280-mm liquid cooler|
|Motherboard||Gigabyte Z370 Aorus Gaming 7|
|Memory size||16 GB (2x 8 GB)|
|Memory type||G.Skill Sniper X DDR4-3400 (rated) SDRAM||G.Skill Flare X DDR4-3200 (rated) SDRAM|
|Memory speed||3400 MT/s (actual)||3200 MT/s (actual)|
|Memory timings||16-16-16-36 2T||14-14-14-34 2T|
|System drive||Samsung 960 Pro 500 GB|
They all shared the following common elements:
|Storage||2x Corsair Neutron XT 480 GB SSD
1x HyperX 480 GB SSD
|Discrete graphics||Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Founders Edition|
|Graphics driver version||GeForce 385.69|
|OS||Windows 10 Pro with Fall Creators Update|
|Power supply||Seasonic Prime Platinum 1000 W|
Some other notes on our testing methods:
- All test systems were updated with the latest firmware and Windows updates before we began collecting data, including patches for the Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities where applicable. As a result, test data from this review should not be compared with results collected in past TR reviews. Similarly, all applications used in the course of data collection were the most current versions available as of press time and cannot be used to cross-compare with older data.
- Our test systems were all configured using the Windows Balanced power plan, including AMD systems that previously would have used the Ryzen Balanced plan. AMD’s suggested configuration for its CPUs no longer includes the Ryzen Balanced power plan as of Windows’ Fall Creators Update, also known as “RS3” or Redstone 3.
- Unless otherwise noted, all productivity tests were conducted with a display resolution of 2560×1440 at 60 Hz. Gaming tests were conducted at 1920×1080 and 60 Hz.
Our testing methods are generally publicly available and reproducible. If you have any questions regarding our testing methods, feel free to leave a comment on this article or join us in the forums to discuss them.
Memory subsystem performance
Let’s kick off our tests with some of the handy memory benchmarks included in the AIDA64 utility . We’re especially eager to have a look at this benchmark’s measurement of memory latency, since that’s one of AMD’s claimed improvements in the Zen+ architecture.
As we might expect from systems running dual-channel memory at similar speeds, none of these chips pull far ahead or fall far behind the rest of the pack. The i5-8400 and i7-7700K would likely be even closer to the competition still if they had played nicely with the DDR4-3400 kit we used to test our Ryzen systems.
As we had hoped, the AIDA64 memory latency test shows a slight reduction in the time it takes to fetch data from main memory between first-generation and second-generation Ryzen CPUs, all else being equal, but hey, improvements are improvements.
Some quick synthetic math tests
AIDA64 offers a useful set of built-in directed benchmarks for assessing the performance of the various subsystems of a CPU, as well. The PhotoWorxx benchmark uses AVX2 on compatible CPUs, while the FPU Julia and Mandel tests use AVX2 with FMA.
Zen+ doesn’t include any fundamental changes to the resources available from each core, so it’s no surprise that these synthetic math tests shake out about as we’ve come to expect. AMD chips take a wide lead in the AIDA64 Hash test thanks to their support for Intel’s SHA Extensions, while the Coffee Lake and Kaby Lake parts punch above similarly-provisioned Ryzens in the single-precision Julia and double-precision Mandel floating-point math tests thanks to their twice-as-wide SIMD hardware.
On first glance, there might not seem to be anything remarkable about these numbers. Second-generation Ryzen CPUs take advantage of their slightly-lower-latency caches and slightly-higher clock speeds to outpace their forebears across the board, and that’s a welcome improvement for what was a minor pain point with first-gen Ryzen chips.
Compiling code with GCC
Our resident code monkey, Bruno Ferreira, helped us put together this code-compiling test. Qtbench records the time needed to compile the Qt SDK using the GCC compiler. The number of jobs dispatched by the Qtbench script is configurable, and we set the number of threads to match the hardware thread count for each CPU.
Here’s a nice win out of the gate for the Ryzen 7 2700X. Precision Boost 2 lets the second-gen top-end part boost to around 4 GHz in sustained workloads by our observation, and that impressive all-core speed lets the 2700X speed past the i7-8700K. The Ryzen 5 2600X lands squarely in between its first-generation counterparts, as it too can sustain 4 GHz in sustained workloads. Our observations of both the Ryzen 7 1800X and Ryzen 5 1600X suggest those chips’ less-sophisticated Precision Boost algorithms only allow them to reach 3.7 GHz in all-core workloads.
File compression with 7-zip
The Ryzen 7 2700X edges out the Core i7-8700K by a little bit in the compression half of this benchmark. Move to the arguably more-common case of decompressing files, however, and even the Ryzen 5 2600X beats out Intel’s top-end Coffee Lake part. Both Ryzen 7s establish a league of their own for unpacking archives.
Disk encryption with Veracrypt
In the accelerated AES portion of this benchmark, our higher-performing parts appear to be hitting a memory-bandwidth wall. Turn things over to the elbow-grease Twofish algorithm, however, and the second-gen Ryzens once again prove their mettle. The Ryzen 5 2600X goes toe-to-toe with the Core i7-8700K, while the Ryzen 7 2700X flies far out in front.
The evergreen Cinebench benchmark is powered by Maxon’s Cinema 4D rendering engine. It’s multithreaded and comes with a 64-bit executable. The test runs with a single thread and then with as many threads as possible.
Cinebench’s single-threaded mode is primarily of academic interest for a rendering benchmark. Harness every thread these chips have to offer, and a different story emerges. The Ryzen 7 2700X walks all over its first-generation forefather, while the Ryzen 5 2600X again pulls nearly even with the i7-8700K.
Blender is a widely-used, open-source 3D modeling and rendering application. The app can take advantage of AVX2 instructions on compatible CPUs. We chose the “bmw27” test file from Blender’s selection of benchmark scenes to put our CPUs through their paces.
Ryzens love to render, and that’s no less true of the 2700X with the latest version of Blender. The Core i7-8700K can’t hope to keep up.
Corona, as its developers put it, is a “high-performance (un)biased photorealistic renderer, available for Autodesk 3ds Max and as a standalone CLI application, and in development for Maxon Cinema 4D.”
The company has made a standalone benchmark with its rendering engine inside, so it was a no-brainer to give it a spin on these CPUs.
Make that three for three for AMD in our rendering tests.
Handbrake is a popular video-transcoding app that just hit version 1.1. To see how it performs on these chips, we converted a roughly two-minute 4K source file from an iPhone 6S into a 1920×1080, 30 FPS MKV using the HEVC algorithm implemented in the x265 open-source encoder. We otherwise left the preset at its default settings.
Even with an AVX wind at its back, the i7-8700K just can’t overtake the Ryzen 7 2700X. Same goes for the i5-8400 against the Ryzen 5 2600X.
CFD with STARS Euler3D
Euler3D tackles the difficult problem of simulating fluid dynamics. It tends to be very memory-bandwidth intensive. You can read more about it right here. We configured Euler3D to use every thread available from each of our CPUs.
It should be noted that the publicly-available Euler3D benchmark is compiled using Intel’s Fortran tools, a decision that its originators discuss in depth on the project page. Code produced this way may not perform at its best on Ryzen CPUs as a result, but this binary is apparently representative of the software that would be available in the field. A more neutral compiler might make for a better benchmark, but it may also not be representative of real-world results with real-world software, and we are generally concerned with real-world performance.
Perhaps because of Intel’s compiler magic, the Core i7-8700K and Core i5-8400 lead this test. The Ryzen 7 2700X still puts up a strong showing, but it can’t continue its streak of dominance.
Digital audio workstation performance
One of the neatest additions to our test suite of late is the duo of DAWBench project files: DSP 2017 and VI 2017. The DSP benchmark tests the raw number of VST plugins a system can handle, while the complex VI project simulates a virtual instrument and sampling workload.
We used the latest version of the Reaper DAW for Windows as the platform for our tests. To simulate a demanding workload, we tested each CPU with a 24-bit depth and 96-KHz sampling rate, and at two ASIO buffer depths: a punishing 64 and a slightly-less-punishing 128. In response to popular demand, we’re also testing the same buffer depths at a sampling rate of 48 KHz. We added VSTs or notes of polyphony to each session until we started hearing popping or other audio artifacts. We used Focusrite’s Scarlett 2i2 audio interface and the latest version of the company’s own ASIO driver for monitoring purposes.
A very special thanks is in order here for Native Instruments, who kindly provided us with the Kontakt licenses necessary to run the DAWBench VI project file. We greatly appreciate NI’s support—this benchmark would not have been possible without the help of the folks there. Be sure to check out their many fine digital audio products.
Ryzen CPUs have struggled mightily with this high-sample-rate and low-buffer-depth configuration of the DAWBench VI benchmark in the past, but the improved cache-and-memory latencies and higher clock speeds available from second-generation Ryzen chips seem to offer substantial improvements in performance over their first-gen counterparts. Relaxing the buffer depth to 128 only widens the Core i7-8700K’s lead over the solid second-place standing of the Ryzen 7 2700X and the third-place finish of the Ryzen 5 2600X, though.
The DAWBench DSP test tends to treat Ryzen chips better, and at a 96-KHz sampling rate and a buffer depth of 64, the Ryzen 7 2700X actually manages to come out on top of the i7-8700K by a hair. The Ryzen 5 2600X offers a slight increase in performance over the Ryzen 5 1600X here, as well.
DAWBench VI loves Intel CPUs, and lowering the sampling rate to 48 KHz just lets the Core i7-8700K take an insurmountable lead at both buffer depths. Still, the Ryzen 7 2700X and Ryzen 5 2600X actually stay in the running instead of running out of gas as the first-generation Ryzens do here.
DAWBench DSP at 48 KHz and a buffer depth of 64 puts the Core i7-8700K and the Ryzen 7 2700X neck-and-neck, but this recipe of settings also lets the Ryzen 7 1800X wake up a bit. Relaxing the buffer depth to 128 lets the Ryzen 7 2700X stretch its legs over the 1800X to stay neck-and-neck with the i7-8700K until the bitter end. The Ryzen 5 2600X stakes out a nice middle ground between the Ryzen 5 1600X and Ryzen 7 1800X.
While it’s hard to draw a one-to-one relationship between a given improvement in Zen+ and our second-gen Ryzens’ performance in DAWBench, it appears the combo of lower cache latencies, lower memory latencies, and higher clocks is a big step in the right direction for these parts, especially in the DAWBench VI benchmark. I hope that AMD can continue refining its chips along these lines for future DAW performance gains. For now, it appears that folks who want a true DAW all-rounder are still best suited by the Core i7-8700K, but second-gen Ryzen parts are more competitive here than ever.
A quick look at power consumption and efficiency
We can get a rough idea of how efficient these chips are by monitoring system power draw in Blender and using that information to fill in the blanks on the convenient fact that one joule equals one watt expended over one second. Our observations have shown that Blender consumes about the same amount of wattage at every stage of the bmw27 benchmark, so it’s an ideal guinea pig for this kind of calculation. First, let’s revisit the amount of time it takes for each of these chips to render our Blender “bmw27” test scene:
The Ryzen 7 2700X comes out on top here, of course, but many have wondered just what its 105-W TDP suggests for overall power draw and efficiency. Recall that AMD says it pushed the TDP of the 2700X upward to allow the chip to better take advantage of its Precision Boost 2 headroom. Let’s see just how that
Our Watts Up shows that the 2700X is indeed drawing more power from the wall than its predecessor in Blender, and by no small margin. We could stop here and say that the 2700X is a power hog, but that would be half an analysis. We have a better way of thinking about this problem, and that’s by estimating the total amount of energy each of these systems expends to complete a given task. This simple calculation multiplies the time each chip takes to complete the Blender “bmw27” benchmark by our observed power draw at the wall to estimate that task energy figure.
So that’s something. Despite its substantially higher instantaneous power draw, the Ryzen 7 2700X doesn’t seem to draw much more power in total than the Ryzen 7 1800X before it. Given the 2700X’s higher performance in Blender, that looks like a performance-per-watt win to us. The same is true of the swift Ryzen 5 2600X, whose higher performance translates to a potentially lower task energy expended compared to the Ryzen 5 1600X.
Mash up these data sets into a convenient scatter plot, and we get a visualization of the tradeoffs involved to reach the highest performance and the lowest power consumptions. While the Core i7-8700K does consume the least power to complete our render, it doesn’t complete it the most quickly. The Ryzen 7 2700X expends about 12% more power to deliver a 17% lower time-to-completion of our benchmark. That tradeoff might be worth it for builders whose time is worth more than the minor increase on a power bill, for example.
Overall, it seems like the combo of a higher TDP and Precision Boost 2 not only lead to better performance overall for the Ryzen 7 2700X, but also higher performance per watt. Its roughly 3%-higher task energy gets it roughly 10% better performance in Blender versus the Ryzen 7 1800X, and that kind of better-than-linear scaling is the kind of improvement we like to see.
Whew. So what do our reams of data tell us about AMD’s second-gen Ryzen CPUs? Let’s try and sum it all up with our trusty bang-for-the-buck scatter plots, starting with gaming performance.
As a CPU reviewer, I’ve got to stomach a hard truth: the vast majority of single-player games are just not that CPU-bound these days. I searched far and wide for some newer titles that I hoped would show a difference in performance between the various processors on our test bench, but the results above show just how hard it is to put much distance between CPUs this way, even with a GeForce GTX 1080 Ti running the show at 1920×1080. It’s telling that Crysis 3 and Grand Theft Auto V remain useful CPU-bound gaming benchmarks several years after their PC debuts.
All that said, if high-refresh-rate gaming is your jam, the Core i7-8700K holds on to its top spot with our revamped game selection. The Ryzen 7 2700X and Ryzen 5 2600X are hardly in poor company down with the Core i7-7700K in the 99th-percentile frame-time department. Gamers who game first and foremost would do well to direct their attention to the mighty impressive Core i5-8400 and its $179 price tag, though. Ahem.
Folks raring to spend $300 or more on a CPU really need to work as hard as they play these days, and in productivity tasks, the Ryzen 7 2700X is all upside compared to its first-generation forebears. The higher peak clocks from this part allow for single-threaded performance that’s more than adequate in day-to-day use, and the higher sustained performance from Precision Boost 2 lets the 2700X claim a number of victories over Intel’s Core i7-8700K in tasks like compilation, rendering, and transcoding where Ryzen chips were already hanging tough.
The 2700X also performed admirably in our single-PC high-refresh-rate gaming and streaming test with Deus Ex: Mankind Divided—one that the i7-8700K simply couldn’t handle without dropping buckets of frames. Admittedly, our much-less-CPU-heavy and more-typical Far Cry 5 streaming test gave the edge back to the hottest Coffee Lake part, but only just. Folks who want to try their hand at single-PC streaming with CPU encoding can’t go wrong with either of these parts.
Outside of our performance results, AMD’s refresh of its high-end mainstream platform makes X470 motherboards feel reassuringly mature, and the company’s efforts to improve the robustness of the second-gen Ryzen memory controller seem to have paid off nicely. The DDR4-3400 kit that I tested with fired right up with nothing more than a trip to the XMP settings in my Gigabyte X470 Aorus Gaming 7 Wifi’s firmware, and I used it with nary a hitch throughout my tests of the 2700X. We probably need to test our chip with more memory kits soon to see whether we’ve been handed a cherry kit, but initial results for those hungering for fast memory kits appear promising.
Our early overclocking efforts suggest tweakers could wring a few percent more clock-speed headroom from second-generation Ryzen CPUs, as well, although our 4.275-GHz all-core result on the 2700X took more voltage than some might be comfortable with for day-to-day use. We expect most overclockers will be most interested in the $299 Ryzen 7 2700, anyway, and AMD has indicated that we’ll have an opportunity to put that chip through its paces. Stay tuned.
Aspiring AMD builders without the budget or workload for eight cores and 16 threads of second-generation Ryzen goodness need not despair. The $229 Ryzen 5 2600X delivers single-threaded performance that’s only a hair’s breadth away from the Ryzen 7 2700X, and its impressive multithreaded performance, high-quality stock cooler, and unlocked multipliers make similarly-priced and locked-down Coffee Lake Core i5s look like a hard sell for do-it-all systems. I’m especially interested to see how the Ryzen 5 2600 stacks up against the Core i5-8400 when we get our hands on that part.
AMD Ryzen 5 2600X
All told, the best thing about today’s CPU market is that builders can choose just the chip they need at the right price. Those after the very best single-threaded performance, overclocking potential, high-refresh-rate gaming experiences, and all-round digital audio workstation performance can still get it in the Core i7-8700K, and those things still justify the price premium the blue team’s best mainstream chip commands. Even with the tarnish of Meltdown and Spectre on its heat spreader, the i7-8700K is still a remarkable chip—just not as much so as it was back in October of last year.
Those whose needs run more toward sheer multi-threaded grunt, on the other hand, can pick up a Ryzen 7 2700X for less money than the i7-8700K, and they’ll enjoy its capable (and colorful) stock heatsink, winning parallel throughput, perfectly snappy per-core performance, and polished platform. AMD has stuffed an impressive amount of bang into the Ryzen 7 2700X for the buck, and if the stuff it does well meshes with your workload, you really can’t go wrong. The second round of Ryzen looks mighty fine indeed, and I’m happy to call both the Ryzen 7 2700X and Ryzen 5 2600X TR Editor’s Choice’s.