AMD Ryzen 7 1800X Review

Last Updated on by Daniel Lawrence

FOR

  • Stunning multi-core performance
  • Competitive single core performance
  • Sturdy Chipset
  • Solid power draw
  • Insane Price

AGAINST

  • Overclocking is touch and go
  • Temperatures are ‘unique’

Where do you start with a processor like Ryzen? The hype for this product has been unprecedented since its first mention. AMD has been long absent from mainstream competitive processor performance, and for the last five years Intel has sat on a positive monopoly of incremental 10% increases and 15% price hikes.

That’s not to say that AMD was entirely absent, purely that its design ethos with the Bulldozer line of mainstream processors just wasn’t anywhere near as competitive as its Intel counterpart. The choice was an illusion.

AMD knew this, to the point that in 2011 they began work on an entirely new processor design, that of Ryzen. Recruiting famed chip designer Jim Keller (successfully crafting both AMD’s legendary Athlon 64 and Apple’s A4 processor), AMD set to work on creating what is likely the biggest shake-up in processor technology within the last ten years.

So, Ryzen, what is it? In short it’s a brand new architecture based on the 14nm manufacturing process. At launch we’re introduced to three new processors, known as the 7 series.

The 1800X, king of the hill with 8 cores 16 threads, 16MB of L3 smart cache, a base clock of 3.7 GHz turboing up to 4.0 GHz, and a TDP of 95W coming in at £500 ($499, around AU$650).

The slightly slower cousin, the 1700X, another 8 cores, another 16 threads, still with 16MB of L3 featuring a lower core clock of 3.4 GHz turboing up to 3.8 GHz at £400 ($399, around AU$520) .

And lastly there’s the 1700. Again 8 cores, 16 threads, 16MB of L3 with a core clock of 3.0 GHz boosting to 3.7 GHz, however this time featuring a TDP of 65W and a sweet price of £325 ($329, around AU$430).

That’s three 8 core processors, all with AMD’s SMT (Simultaneous Multi-Threading), and all within spitting distance of Intel’s highest performing 4 core and 6 core chips.

Specs & chipsets

But, what is a processor without its supporting plethora of inputs, outputs and connections? Notably AMD’s AM3+ and FM2+ platforms were typically archaic when it came to connection standards and updates, so how does the new series of boards look aligned alongside these processors?

Well taking a look at the chip first, we have dual channel memory, with support for up to 64GB of DDR4 (supporting 2400 MT/s officially, and up to 3600 MT/s on the board), 24 PCIe 3.0 lanes, 16 dedicated to graphics, 4 for PCIe SSDs, and 4 for chipset communication, and support for up to 4 USB 3.1 devices solely on the chip.

On top of that the X370 chipset, supports an additional 2 USB 3.1 Type C, 6 USB 3.1 Type A, 6 USB 2.0, 4 SATA 6Gb/s ports, 2 SATA Express ports (or another 4 SATA 6GB/s), and an additional 8 PCIe 2.0 lanes as well.

Meaning if you want to run two way SLI at 8×8 with a single M.2 PCIe SSD you can do that. It’s not quite up to Intel’s Z270 standards just yet, however overall processor performance trumps anything on Intel’s level right now, but we’ll get to that later.

Next up on the list of things we have to cover is AMD’s SenseMI software suite. And in particular that’s the XFR (extreme frequency) feature enabled by default on any of the ‘X’ offerings.

So until the 5 and 3 series launch later this year, that’s the 1700X and 1800X. Think of it as GPU Boost for your processor. Thanks to a true cornucopia of sensors embedded into each CPU the BIOS can detect when certain temperature and voltage parameters are being met, and in turn overclock a number of cores by 50-100 MHz to improve performance in the programs or applications that are utilizing those cores.

For instance, the 1800X in this review, on a full render benchmark will happily hit 3.7 GHz across all of its cores, but in gaming titles, two to three cores can hit 4.1 GHz and sit there quite happily thanks to our cooling solution and the applications demand or lack of utilization of more than four cores.

Performance

So, performance. How does it fare in real world benchmarks in our labs? Honestly, from the get go we were impressed, and we’ve built a lot of systems here at TechRadar, both with Intel and AMD components.

Over the last five years Intel has always been the smoother experience. That said, installing Windows 10 and its associated drivers with Ryzen was a dream. Even installing Nvidia’s GeForce drivers came without any hiccoughs. Everything just worked.

Straight into rendering benchmarks and the performance is truly impressive. The AMD Ryzen 7 1800X scored 1,612 points in CineBench R15’s multi threaded test, putting it in line with Intel’s Core i7-6900K at stock (out of the box) speed. And a further impressive 159 points on the single hreaded test.

Throw that over to Fry Render, and compare it to Intel’s latest mainstream Kaby Lake Core i7-7700K, and it dwarfed the 14nm 7 series chip by almost a minute, thanks to its additional cores.

Power draw was a bit more aggressive than we’d have liked when compared against Intel’s mainstream quad dimm offerings, but when you consider this thing has twice the core count, we can let the additional 70W under load slide.

In games, the AMD Ryzen 7 1800X kept up and held its head high, only lagging behind in our testing titles by 1-2 fps in a few scenarios. Impressive to say the least considering the core i7-7700Ks massively dominating single core performance.

But all in all, it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience, and we didn’t spot any particular anomalies.

Overclocking

Overclocking is a pretty mixed bag this time around. By default the AMD Ryzen 7 1800X should clock up to 4 GHz under turbo, however our particular sample under Asus’s very early BIOS on its Crosshair VI Hero struggled to reach that under any of our testing methodologies.

We cranked up the ratio to 40 and left the V Core voltage on Auto to achieve 4.0 GHz across the board without much in the way of issue, boosting our CineBench scores up to the 1700 point mark in the process.

That said we struggled to get any more than that out of it. 4.1 GHz no matter what we tried just wouldn’t set in, even ramping up the voltage on the V Core manually to 1.45V. So Ryzen’s not the overclocker we hoped it would be.

Speaking of voltages, on auto the chip will fluctuate between 1.3675V (AMD’s proscribed stock voltage) and 1.41V on the Asus Crosshair VI Hero. With our particular sample we did manage to undervolt it down to 1.285V, keeping it stable under load, which did help reduce temperatures overall (about 5-6 degrees C), but not by anywhere near as much as if we’d have done the same on an Intel processor.

As for temperatures, the AMD Ryzen 7 1800X is a bit of an oddity. At the beginning of this article you may have seen one of the negatives stating “unique temperatures”, this is because at idle, under a 280mm AIO cooler the AMD Ryzen 7 1800X will happily sit at 50-60 degrees celsius, with ours standing resolute at around 57. That’s hot, for any processor.

In fact, after more thorough testing, swapping out coolers and even collaborating results with fellow tech journalists, we found this to be the norm.

Bear in mind that there have been some criticisms of Ryzen CPU’s temperatures, and AMD has responded by saying there is a fault in the temperature sensor of the chip, which then inaccurately reports higher temperatures. AMD is working on a fix for this, so once applied we should see more normal (and accurate) temperatures. We’ll update our review once we’ve retested the CPU.

That said, throw the benchmarks on, ramp up the clocks to 4.0 GHz across all 8 cores, and pop the voltage up to 1.4V and the chip will top out at 73 degrees C, and not move past that point. Is it hot? Yes, but also no.

Final verdict

Ryzen 7 as a whole is nothing short of phenomenal, with the AMD Ryzen 7 1800X (AMD’s flagship CPU) absolutely decimating the competition when it comes to price versus performance.

Compare this chip against Intel’s Core i7-5960X/6900K and it’ll easily keep pace, with an even stronger single core IPC than its team blue HEDT alternative, which is no small feat for a core priced at £500 ($500, AU$800).

That’s a £470 ($570, AU$750) difference between the two. Yes, you don’t get as many PCIe lanes, and yes you lose out on quad channel memory, but when companies such as Nvidia cripple SLI beyond two way support, and quad-channel memory has yet to make its debut into the mainstream consumer-focused market, the climate has never been better suited for AMD to launch a processor line quite like this.

Overclocking isn’t great, and single core performance could be better (as it’s currently at mainstream Haswell levels of performance). However this is AMD’s first venture into the 14nm manufacturing process, with an entirely new chip design. And with Ryzen 2 and Ryzen 3 already well into their development cycles, these are kinks that can be ironed out in later iterations.

With AMD’s Ryzen 7, whatever your stance, AMD has brought choice, has brought competition, and has brought life back to the processor market.