AMD's Ryzen 7 2700X has proven itself an impressive range-topper for the second generation of Ryzen CPUs, but that chip's 105-W TDP and attendant cooling requirements aren't the right fit for every PC. On one end of the spectrum of PC enthusiasm, small-form-factor systems and low-noise builds want a lower-TDP chip that can be cooled using slimmer hardware than AMD's own Wraith Prism.
On the other end, overclockers who are going to shelve or sell the AMD stock cooler probably don't want to shell out for the Ryzen 7 2700X's stock-clocked smarts and fancy heatsink. AMD's Precision Boost logic goes out the window when one overclocks any Ryzen part, so those folks likely just want a Ryzen chip that will get out of the way and let them pursue peak all-core clock speeds. In our experience, Ryzen CPUs all tend to overclock about the same, too, so it's not worth paying extra for a top-end model when a cheaper part will likely respond to tuning in a similar fashion.
Enter the 65-W Ryzen 7 2700. This non-X chip benefits from all the improvements of moving to GlobalFoundries' improved 12LP lithography process, including better-performing transistors and improved cache and memory latency compared to first-generation Ryzen parts. The Ryzen 7 2700 also gets the improved, finer-grained Precision Boost 2 voltage-and-frequency-scaling logic that governs the Ryzen 7 2700X. That's especially important for getting the maximum performance out of the tightly-constrained thermal envelope the 2700 needs to work in at stock speeds.
Extracting the maximum performance from its thermal envelope isn't the only challenge facing the lower-power Pinnacle Ridge part. When the Ryzen 7 1700 first launched, it established an attractive entry point for eight-core Summit Ridge chips at $329. To get better stock-clocked performance, one had to shell out $399 for the Ryzen 7 1700X or $499 for the Ryzen 7 1800X. Neither of the first Ryzen 7 X-marked parts included a cooler in the box, either, while the Ryzen 7 1700 included AMD's capable Wraith Spire heatsink. That made the Ryzen 7 1700 an attractive value.
AMD's pricing and provisioning for its second generation of Ryzen CPUs does a lot to dull the appeal of a Ryzen 7 1700-class chip. The Ryzen 7 2700 carries a $299 suggested price with the same Wraith Spire cooler of the Ryzen 7 1700, while the Ryzen 7 2700X is just $30 more with the more capable Wraith Prism cooler in the box. Given the trifling price difference at play, it's tough to understand why a builder who doesn't fit either of the two niches I described above would pick the 65-W part over the 105-W part.
As always, then, the question comes down to just how much performance one is giving up for 30 bucks and 40 watts of thermal headroom. Let's find out.
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:
|Processor||Intel Core i7-8086K||Intel Core i7-8700K|
|CPU cooler||Corsair H110i 280-mm closed-loop liquid cooler|
|Motherboard||Gigabyte Z370 Aorus Gaming 7|
|Memory size||16 GB (2x 8 GB)|
|Memory type||G.Skill Trident Z DDR4-3866 (rated) SDRAM|
|Memory speed||3400 MT/s (CPUs at stock), 3866 MT/s (CPU OC)|
|Memory timings||16-16-16-36 2T|
|System drive||Samsung 960 Pro 512 GB NVMe SSD|
|Processor||AMD Ryzen 7 2700X||AMD Ryzen 2700||AMD Ryzen 7 1700|
|CPU cooler||AMD Wraith Prism (where noted)
EK Predator 240-mm AIO
|AMD Wraith Spire (stock)
EK Predator 240-mm AIO (OC)
|AMD Wraith Spire|
|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|
Our test systems shared the following components:
|Graphics card||Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Founders Edition|
|Graphics driver||Nvidia 398.36|
|Power supply||Thermaltake Grand Gold 1200 W (AMD)
Seasonic Prime Platinum 1000 W (Intel)
Where applicable, our overclock for the Core i7-8086K was 5.1 GHz all-core with 1.38 V and no AVX offset. Our Core i7-8700K OC was set at 5 GHz with a -2 AVX offset and 1.35 V. While our Ryzen 7 2700X was not overclocked, its Precision Boost 2 all-core clock speed was observed to be 4.075 GHz under AVX workloads. Our Ryzen 7 2700, where overclocked, was operating at 4.2 GHz all-core clocks with a 1.45-V Vcore.
Out of curiosity, I also ran our CPU benchmarking suite on the Ryzen 7 2700X with AMD's included Wraith Prism heatsink installed. We normally use a massive EK Predator 240-mm all-in-one liquid cooler to allow our Ryzen chips to perform at their best, but I wanted to see what effect, if any, that massive heatsink has on stock-clocked performance given that Ryzen CPUs' boost smarts actually do care about the cooler on top. Throughout this piece, you'll see the EK-equipped Ryzen 7 2700X without any notes, while the Wraith Prism-equipped 2700X is marked as such throughout our article.
Some other notes on our testing methods:
- All test systems were updated with the latest firmware, graphics drivers, 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 2560x1440 at 60 Hz. Gaming tests were conducted at 1920x1080 and 144 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.