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.
A representation of the behavior of Precision Boost 2 on Ryzen second-gen CPUs. Source: AMD
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 2560×1440 at 60 Hz. Gaming tests were conducted at 1920×1080 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.
Memory subsystem performance
The AIDA64 utility includes some basic tests of memory bandwidth and latency that will let us peer into the differences in behavior among the memory subsystems of the processors on the bench today, if there are any.
With nearly-identical frequencies and timings among our test systems, performance on each team is about the same across the board. The Ryzen 7 2700 offers read, write, and copy bandwidth on par with the Ryzen 7 2700X, while the Ryzen 7 1700 lags it slightly across the board. Score one improvement for the 2700.
Memory access latency was another pain point AMD sought to mitigate with the Zen+ architecture, and the Ryzen 7 2700 pares several nanoseconds off its predecessor’s result here.
Some quick synthetic math tests
AIDA64 also includes some useful micro-benchmarks that we can use to flush out broad differences among CPUs on our bench. The PhotoWorxx test uses AVX2 instructions on all of these chips. The CPU Hash integer benchmark uses AVX and Ryzen CPUs’ Intel SHA Extensions support, while the single-precision FPU Julia and double-precision Mandel tests use AVX2 with FMA.
The Ryzen 7 2700 is a better performer than its predecessor in these synthetics, but not by much. Stock clock for stock clock, the Ryzen 7 2700X takes advantage of its higher TDP to deliver much higher performance across the board. The overclocked Ryzen 7 2700 leads the 2700X in turn, but it’s clear AMD’s Precision Boost 2 magic is already letting the 2700X deliver most of the performance potential of Pinnacle Ridge silicon.
The WebXPRT 3 benchmark is meant to simulate some realistic workloads one might encounter in web browsing. It’s here primarily as a counterweight to the more synthetic microbenchmarking tools above.
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.
Even for all of its Precision Boost 2 mojo, the Ryzen 7 2700 only delivers a modest performance increase in Qtbench versus the Ryzen 7 1700. Overclocking the chip puts it in the ballpark with the Ryzen 7 2700X, but we didn’t have to tune the 2700X at all to gain the handful of seconds we got out of the higher-end part.
File compression with 7-Zip
The free and open-source 7-Zip archiving utility has a built-in benchmark that occupies every core and thread of the host system.
Of late, Ryzen CPUs have experienced a major boost in throughput during 7-Zip’s decompression test for some reason, allowing them to take a massive lead in that half of the 7-Zip benchmark. The AMD chips put up a good showing in the compression portion of 7-Zip, as well, but the standings are closer and the overclocked Coffee Lake parts take the top spot.
Disk encryption with Veracrypt
In the accelerated AES portion of this benchmark, the Ryzen parts lead the Coffee Lake competition at stock clocks. Overclocking the i7-8700K and i7-8086K lets them take the top spots, though.
Flip over to the unaccelerated Twofish portion of the benchmark, and the multithreaded grunt of the Ryzen 7 parts really shows itself. The Ryzen 7 2700 turns in a modest performance increase over the Ryzen 7 1700, and the overclocked Ryzen 7 2700 takes the top spot.
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 tends to be a best-case performance scenario for any CPU, and this single-threaded result is no exception. The Ryzen 7 2700 handily outpaces the Ryzen 7 1700 and doesn’t even trail the Ryzen 7 2700X by that much.
Cinebench is really about its multithreaded portion, though, and here, the 2700 proves itself with a nice shot of extra performance compared to its 65-W forebear. Even overclocking Coffee Lake isn’t enough to stop the Ryzen onslaught in Cinebench.
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.
Blender once again shows that the Ryzen 7 2700 offers some modest gains over its predecessor, enough to match the stock-clocked Core i7-8700K and i7-8086K on our bench. The higher TDP and higher clocks of the Ryzen 7 2700X pay off handsomely here, though. Overclocking the 2700 to 4.2 GHz is good for the top spot.
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’s a no-brainer to give it a spin on these CPUs.
Another multithreaded app, another modest increase in performance from the Ryzen 2700 watt-for-watt.
Indigo Bench is a standalone application based on the Indigo rendering engine, which creates photo-realistic images using what its developers call “unbiased rendering technologies.”
Same story here. Indigo stretches every thread of these chips, and the Ryzen 7 2700 turns in a modest performance improvement over its predecessor.
Handbrake is a popular video-transcoding app that just hit version 1.1.1. 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.
Sorry to sound like a broken record, but the Ryzen 7 2700 only turns in a small performance improvement over the Ryzen 7 1700 here. The Ryzen 7 2700X delivers much better stock-clocked performance in Handbrake. To really wake up the Ryzen 7 2700 in this benchmark, it’s necessary to overclock it to 4.2 GHz on all of its cores.
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.
Same story we’ve been seeing: the Ryzen 7 2700 is better than the Ryzen 7 1700 at stock clocks, but Intel chips dominate the benchmark overall.
Even as it passes six years of age, Crysis 3 remains one of the most punishing games one can run. With an appetite for CPU performance and graphics power alike, this title remains a great way to put the performance of any gaming system in perspective.
The Ryzen 7 2700 gets off to a good start with Crysis 3, turning in higher frame rates and a lower 99th-percentile frame time than its predecessor. Overclocking the chip really lets it shine here, as well. Only Intel’s Coffee Lake chips are faster, but boy, are they faster when overclocked.
These “time spent beyond X” graphs are meant to show “badness,” those instances where animation may be less than fluid—or at least less than perfect. The formulas behind these graphs add up the amount of time our graphics card spends beyond certain frame-time thresholds, each with an important implication for gaming smoothness. Recall that our graphics-card tests all consist of one-minute test runs and that 1000 ms equals one second to fully appreciate this data.
The 50-ms threshold is the most notable one, since it corresponds to a 20-FPS average. We figure if you’re not rendering any faster than 20 FPS, even for a moment, then the user is likely to perceive a slowdown. 33 ms correlates to 30 FPS, or a 30-Hz refresh rate. Go lower than that with vsync on, and you’re into the bad voodoo of quantization slowdowns. 16.7 ms correlates to 60 FPS, that golden mark that we’d like to achieve (or surpass) for each and every frame.
To best demonstrate the performance of these systems with a powerful graphics card like the GTX 1080 Ti, it’s useful to look at our three strictest graphs. 8.3 ms corresponds to 120 FPS, the lower end of what we’d consider a high-refresh-rate monitor. We’ve recently begun including an even more demanding 6.94-ms mark that corresponds to the 144-Hz maximum rate typical of today’s high-refresh-rate gaming displays.
From the get-go, we can see a major improvement in the Ryzen 7 2700’s performance at the 8.3-ms mark. The second-gen Ryzen part shaves more than two seconds off time spent holding up our GTX 1080 Ti, resulting in a smoother gameplay experience. The problem, as usual, is that the 2700X does the job even better.
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
Thanks to its richly detailed environments and copious graphics settings, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided can punish graphics cards at high resolutions and make CPUs sweat at high refresh rates.
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided has never gotten on well with Ryzen parts at 1920×1080 and high refresh rates, and this round of testing doesn’t do anything to change that picture. The Ryzen 7 2700 gives us a small performance improvement over the Ryzen 7 1700, but even the overclocked 2700 can’t come anywhere close to the peaks of Coffee Lake in this title.
Grand Theft Auto V
Grand Theft Auto V‘s lavish simulation of Los Santos and surrounding locales can really put the hurt on a CPU, and we’re putting that characteristic to good use here.
Grand Theft Auto V tends to love what Intel’s CPUs have to offer, and it shows even at stock speeds. On the AMD side of the aisle, the stock Ryzen 7 2700 posts a nice increase in performance over the Ryzen 7 1700, but the 65-W second-gen Ryzen eight-core is outshined by its slightly-more-expensive sibling without overclocking in the picture.
Our time-spent-beyond-8.3-ms graph shows some of the magnitude of the Ryzen 7 2700’s performance improvements. The second-gen chip spends about half the time holding up our GeForce GTX 1080 Ti that its first-gen relative does. The Ryzen 7 2700X pares down that time even more, however, and only overclocking the 2700 can bring its performance into the same ballpark as its $30-more-expensive sibling.
Assassin’s Creed Origins
Assassin’s Creed Origins isn’t just striking to look at. It’ll happily scale with CPU cores, and that makes it an ideal case for our test bench.
Assassin’s Creed Origins hasn’t been the kindest game to Ryzen CPUs in the past, but it appears driver or game updates (or both) have helped bring performance more in line with the Intel competition. Less than 10 FPS separate the worst from the best in this test on average, and 99th-percentile frame times are tightly grouped, as well. Even so, Intel chips are still somewhat faster and smoother in this game, overclocked and stock alike. The Ryzen 7 2700 offers a small average-FPS boost and a small decrease in 99th-percentile frame times over the Ryzen 7 1700, but it’s still fighting things out at the back of the pack.
Our advanced metrics give us a better look at just what second-generation Ryzen chips do for Assassin’s Creed Origins performance. The Ryzen 7 2700 shaves nearly two seconds off its predecessor’s result at 11 ms (or 90 FPS), although even overclocking the chip doesn’t produce performance as good as what we get from the Ryzen 7 2700X. The Intel chips spend anywhere from a third to almost half the time holding up our test system’s graphics card at this mark, though.
Far Cry 5
Our observations suggest Far Cry 5 tends to bind up a single thread, so it’s no surprise that the Ryzen 7 2700 delivers a nice increase in performance over the Ryzen 7 1700 in both average FPS and 99th-percentile frame times. Still, Coffee Lake reigns supreme in the Montana backwoods.
At the 8.3-ms mark, the Ryzen 7 2700 turns in a huge improvement over the Ryzen 7 1700. Once again, though, the higher-TDP Ryzen 7 2700X turns in another large performance improvement even with the stock Wraith Prism heatsink, far beyond its marginal increase in cost over the 2700.
Streaming with Far Cry 5 and OBS Studio
To test software-encoded streaming performance with our CPUs, we fired up the latest version of OBS Studio and captured Far Cry 5 running at 1920×1080 before feeding it through the x264 encoder using the “faster” preset, a 60 FPS target frame rate, and Twitch’s maximum ingestable bit rate of 6000 Mbps from our location.
We verified that the resulting stream looked OK to the eye by playing it back on a separate PC in the TR labs. CPUs that couldn’t stream without noticeably dropping frames failed our test. Happily, all of the CPUs on the bench today provided a good-looking stream to this reviewer’s eye.
One thing is clear from these results: all of our chips take a big performance hit from being asked to game and stream all at once. At least in the case of streaming Far Cry 5, though, the Coffee Lake competition keeps frame rates higher and 99th-percentile frame times lower than any of the Ryzen 7 parts we tested.
If you just want to stream using CPU encoding from a single PC, the Ryzen CPUs can certainly get you there. If you want the best high-refresh-rate gaming experience at the same time, however, a Coffee Lake CPU is probably a better choice on the client side.
A look at the time each chip on the bench spends past 8.3 ms is perhaps the most illuminating threshold to consider for this test. Even in the worst case, our stock-clocked Coffee Lake parts spend about half the time holding up our GTX 1080 Ti by this measure than even the overclocked Ryzen 7 2700 does. Overclock either of those chips, and the blue team only pulls further ahead.
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:
Next, let’s look at the system power draw from the wall we observed during our testing:
By a small margin, the Ryzen 7 2700 has the lowest system power draw of this bunch while rendering out our bmw27 test scene—13 W lower than even the Ryzen 7 1700.
Instantaneous power draw doesn’t tell us much about how efficient a CPU is, though. Some chips will take more time to finish this workload than others, and a slow chip that doesn’t seem to draw a lot of power at a glance will ultimately consume a ton of juice if it’s running a workload for days at a stretch. Conversely, a power-hungry chip might finish a task much faster than slower, less-power-hungry parts, ultimately expending less task energy overall.
Our estimates of task energy expended over the course of our Blender workload put the Ryzen 7 2700 on top. By our estimation, it expends slightly less energy than even the Core i7-8700K and i7-8086K while delivering even slightly better performance. That’s an impressive result for the 65-W second-generation Ryzen eight-core part.
This scatter plot might help visualize our results in a different manner. The best results on this chart would, in theory, gather in the lower-left corner, where task energy is lowest and time-to-completion is fastest. What we’re really showing here is Pareto efficiency, though: the various balances between task energy expended and time to completion that each of these chips strikes.
If you care the most about low task energy, the Core i7-8700K, i7-8086K, and Ryzen 7 2700 are the clear winners on this chart. To get better performance, as the Ryzen 7 2700X and our overclocked chips deliver, power consumption over the course of the task climbs significantly.
AMD’s $299 Ryzen 7 2700 occupies a peculiar spot in the second-generation Ryzen lineup. Back when the Ryzen revolution began, the Ryzen 7 1700 proved popular for its cores-per-dollar ratio and appealing overclocking headroom—usually enough to match or beat the performance of the $170-more-expensive Ryzen 7 1800X. That kind of overclocking potential made the 1700 an easy sell for folks after the best multi-threaded bang for the buck.
The argument for the Ryzen 7 2700 is less clear. GlobalFoundries’ 12LP process, Precision Boost 2, and all XFR 2 help the Ryzen 7 2700 deliver roughly 12.5% higher all-core clock speeds in the same thermal envelope as its predecessor. That’s all well and good, to be sure, but it’s not enough to make the Ryzen 7 2700 a repeat hit.
Here’s why: at stock clocks, the Ryzen 7 2700X is much better for both gaming and productivity for just $30 or so more at e-tail, discount winds aside. That step up should be a no-brainer for most.
That said, the Ryzen 7 2700 still fills some important niches. Maybe you want to overclock a second-gen Ryzen processor to its limits, a practice that still shuts down all of these chips’ dynamic-voltage-and-frequency intelligence. Given that all second-gen Ryzen chips overclock about the same, in our experience, there’s little point in spending the extra cash on the brains of the Ryzen 7 2700X and the Wraith Prism cooler if you’re not going to let AMD’s SenseMI features do their work. Hawk the 2700’s handsome Wraith Spire RGB LED cooler on eBay, get out your big air cooler or all-in-one liquid heatsink, and go nuts.
Or, y’know, just put that same big cooler on the Ryzen 7 2700X and get 4-GHz-or-higher all-core speeds without touching a single setting outside of XMP. Our overclocked Ryzen 7 2700 topped out at 4.2 GHz on all cores, and it took a fair bit more effort to eke out that extra 5% of clock speed than it did to just slap a big cooler on the 2700X and enjoy all of its stock-clocked smarts. Heck, you can even get the vast majority of the stock-clocked performance potential out of the 2700X just by installing its included Wraith Prism cooler, as our comparative tests versus a monster EK Waterblocks all-in-one show throughout this review.
The strongest case for the Ryzen 7 2700 is in systems where performance-per-watt is paramount, as this 65-W chip is a lot less power-hungry at stock speeds than its X-marked sibling. It beats out the Core i7-8700K in our estimates of Blender efficiency, to say nothing of its frugality versus the no-holds-barred 2700X. It’s pretty cool what GlobalFoundries’ 12LP process can do when a product isn’t heaved over the shoulder of the voltage-and-frequency-scaling curve. If you’re building a tiny workstation or a quiet yet high-performance system, the Ryzen 7 2700 is an outstanding choice.
Those niches aside, though, the wish list for most enthusiasts begins and ends at raw performance. By that measure, the Ryzen 7 2700 is just too expensive for what it loses against the Ryzen 7 2700X. Unless you really, really need a 65-W TDP or intend to squeeze every last hertz out of second-gen Ryzen silicon, you’ll be happiest with AMD’s top-end second-gen Ryzen CPU.