3DMark Physics, Ashes of the Singularity, Battlefield 1 & 4
3DMark's DX11 physics and DX12 CPU tests give us a good (albeit synthetic) measure of processing resources available to a game engine.
The Time Spy metric illustrates DX12-based CPU scaling based on its demanding physics simulation, occlusion culling, and procedural generation operations. This test shows Ryzen 7 1800X with a healthy lead over Intel's Core i7-6900K, while Ryzen 7 1700X and 1700 outpace the Kaby Lake CPUs with lower core counts.
Futuremark's DX11 Fire Strike benchmark runs 32 parallel soft and rigid body physics simulations that tax the processor specifically. We see the same trends emerge in this benchmark, though Ryzen 7 1700 curiously beats the 1700X, even after repeated tests.
The system initiates thousands of draw calls per frame rendered, so 3DMark's API Overhead metric is interesting as well. Intel's Core i7-6900K establishes a healthy lead with DX12 draw calls at 1920x1080, but provides fewer DX11 single-threaded draw calls during the test.
Ashes of the Singularity
Ashes of the Singularity is notoriously CPU-bound, responding well to higher core counts and clock rate. But the Ryzen CPUs lag behind Intel's Broadwell-E- and Kaby Lake-based chips by a significant margin. Even the four-core, non-Hyper-Threaded Core i5-7600K beats the 16-thread Ryzen 7s.
We noticed a pronounced speed-up in our Ryzen 7 1800X review when we disabled SMT on the AMD platform, so it's clear that Ashes isn't utilizing this architecture to its fullest. Oxide Games released a statement saying that it plans to optimize for Zen, so a performance improvement is expected in the future. We didn't see any sort of time commitment, though.
Benchmarks run at 2560x1440 give us a look at high-resolution gaming without hitting the GPU bottleneck imposed by 4K. And while the frame rates do drop a bit, Core i7-6900K continues dominating with its eight-core, 16-thread configuration. AMD's FX-8350 suffers the highest frame time measurements during the test run, and the Core i5-7600K experiences more frame time variance than the Ryzen 7 processors.
We cranked Battlefield 1's quality settings to Ultra to represent a normal gaming experience with a beefy GPU, then we repetitively took the armor-laden walk at the opening scene of O La Vittoria. Intel CPUs take the lead again, but there is less separation between them and the Ryzen 7s.
There is also little differentiation between the three Ryzen SKUs; the purportedly value-oriented 1700 lags the $500 1800X by 1.6 FPS on average. All of the Ryzen 7s seem to offer similar overclocking headroom, so the 1700 might stand out as a good selection due to its $330 price point. Then again, a Core i5-7600K sells for $240 and has much more room to overclock.
Although the game engine rewards Intel's Core i7-6900K with a lead over the rest of the test pool, the CPUs fall into the same finishing order. AMD's Ryzen processors trail Intel's chips, but we notice less separation between the three Ryzen 7 SKUs. Incidentally, all of these CPUs provide a smooth gaming experience, though the FX-8350 predictably demonstrates the most frame time variance.
Our Battlefield 4 tests consist of a bumpy jeep ride through hostile territory at the beginning of the Tashgar level. This benchmark appears wholly graphics-bound (there's an average of 1.3 FPS separating the CPUs we're evaluating).
Due to the GPU-imposed ceiling, we observe similar frame time variance for all of the processors, except for AMD's aging FX-8350.
The Ryzen processors effectively tie Intel's Core i5-7600K in this test. Looks like there's truth to AMD's claim that Ryzen's gaming performance is best when you're wholly GPU-bound.