When AMD announced that all of its Ryzen 7 CPUs would get unlocked multipliers and eight cores, we immediately imagined opportunities for enthusiasts to snag the lower-end models for less and overclock to great effect. Our testing shows that, if you're willing to spend some time tuning, the Ryzen 7 1700X offers better overall value than the 1800X at a similar 95W TDP.
This shouldn't be surprising. After all, Ryzen 7 1700X bears many of the flagship's attributes, differing mainly in base and peak clock rates. As a result, you get satisfactory performance in heavily threaded workloads at a lower price. Though most professionals eschew overclocking in favor of stability, even at its stock settings the 1700X serves up a solid price-to-performance ratio.
The story gets better once you push Ryzen 7 1700X up to and beyond the 1800X's default configuration. And overclocking is simple, too. We bumped the core voltage up to 1.3875V and increased the SoC voltage to obtain a rock-solid 3.9 GHz across all of the chip's cores. With the right cooler, a moderate overclock doesn’t come close to pushing Ryzen's thermal boundaries, and there is likely some additional headroom if you're willing to tolerate higher voltages. Memory tuning is still somewhat limited, but we're told that future firmware updates should make more settings available.
Of course, the 1800X's challenges in games carry over to the 1700X, too. Even overclocked, Ryzen lags behind cheaper Intel CPUs in much of our gaming suite. Your best chance of seeing parity comes from graphics-bound resolutions and detail settings. AMD claims that patches may address some of our concerns, but we aren't holding our breath. It's far more probable that future titles include optimizations for AMD's new architecture.
It would be easier for us to recommend Ryzen 7 to gamers if it was less expensive. But with Core i7-7700K and Core i5-7600K performing so well, and both CPUs less expensive than the 1700X we're reviewing today, Kaby Lake maintains its leadership. But there remains near-term hope for the Ryzen family: AMD's Ryzen 5 series will surface early in April at price points better suited to take on mainstream Core CPUs.
We've established that Ryzen 7 1700X tells a better value story than the 1800X, and it gets even better if you're willing to live with the B350 chipset's reduced feature set. Enthusiasts willing to overclock should be able to match or exceed the 1800X's stock performance with little effort. Now, what we really want to know is whether Ryzen 7 1700 is the best model of all, or if dipping down to the 65W model means giving up some overclocking headroom. Stay tuned!
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