Ryzen Versus Core i7 In 11 Popular Games


As we noted in the AMD Ryzen 7 1800X CPU Review, gaming is a mixed bag for AMD. Some titles respond well to the new architecture, while most others still require optimization of some sort. Where those optimizations will focus remains a question mark.

Our 3DMark physics, CPU, and draw call tests indicate that Ryzen is plenty powerful when the game engine and API can utilize its resources effectively. Unfortunately, this isn't what we see consistently in the real world. We don’t expect the Ryzen 7 processors to beat Intel’s Core i7-7700K and Core i5-5600K in most games; Kaby Lake does enjoy an IPC throughput advantage and higher frequencies, after all. However, we recorded abnormally low performance from Ryzen in several titles, such as Rise of the Tomb Raider, Project CARS, Hitman, Civilization VI, and Ashes of the Singularity. Conversely, Ryzen competes more readily in Tom Clancy’s The Division, Metro: Last Light Redux, and Battlefield 4, particularly when the workload is graphics-bound. And we did record real victories for AMD, too. Ryzen scored big in Deus Ex: Mankind Divided and Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor at 2560x1440. What we're working on now is determining how those titles are unique in the way they utilize Ryzen 7.

Between the good and the bad, we have a slightly better idea of what to expect from games that respond well to Ryzen and those requiring some work.

The Ryzen processors sell for a much lower price than Intel's Broadwell-E-based CPUs, earning them solid marks in value comparisons using workstation-class software. This same value story isn't applicable in games, though, where much cheaper Intel Kaby Lake-based CPUs are typically as fast or faster. The $240 Core i5-7600K beat all three Ryzen CPUs in several games, and the $350 Core i7-7700K nearly swept the table.

To complicate matters, AMD and its motherboard partners still have a lot of work left to get Socket AM4 platforms running stably. But it's happening as fast as firmware updates can be finalized. The company's recent announcement that a new power plan is forthcoming shows promise as well, though this probably should have been finalized before launch. And it's not clear if a modified profile simply optimizes for Ryzen's idiosyncrasies at the expense of, say, power consumption, heat, and noise.

While we're happy to have Ryzen doing serious battle with Broadwell-E for the hearts and minds of content creators, coders, and other professionals, our assessment of the gaming space suggests Ryzen 7 isn't currently the processor family to beat. Intel's Kaby Lake-based CPUs are definitely less expensive, and typically faster. Perhaps a rash of patches will change the way existing games treat Ryzen. Maybe developers are already rolling optimizations into their upcoming titles. And we definitely have high expectations for the Ryzen 5 and 3 line-ups, which should level AMD's strengths against Intel's mainstream processors using more evenly matched prices.


MORE: Intel & AMD Processor Hierarchy

Paul Alcorn
Managing Editor: News and Emerging Tech

Paul Alcorn is the Managing Editor: News and Emerging Tech for Tom's Hardware US. He also writes news and reviews on CPUs, storage, and enterprise hardware.

  • Overall good CPU but compared to Intel it sucks. You are better with Kaby Lake. AMD CPU needs this, that or that...same story as with their video cards. Wait for performance increase which happens but by that time competitor has newer generation product. Look at difference between Nvidia and AMD high end offering.

    Almost forgot...to me a real upgrade is going to be Intel 2066 socket.
  • Loxosceles19
    Were all the test cpus at stock clocks?
  • Sakkura
    Most of these performance differences are not that relevant. I mean if you have a 60Hz monitor, practically all these tests max that out.

    So Ryzen is definitely better value for money than Broadwell-E even for gaming. Neither of those can currently match Kaby Lake, but they're not supposed to anyway. Ryzen 3/5 will compete with Kaby Lake by being cheaper and presumably only a little slower, and thus better value for money.
  • PaulAlcorn
    19423857 said:
    Were all the test cpus at stock clocks?

    Yes, we tested at stock clocks.
  • prince_13
    i hope this review is not paid by Intel .!
  • prince_13
    how much intel paid u ? XD
  • COLGeek
    Intel does not pay for our reviews. Thank you.
  • Rookie_MIB
    Well, what I gather from this round up is that Ryzen 7 series is a workstation CPU which can game decently well. So - if you use your computer for productivity (video processing, VMs, compiling etc) in addition to gaming, it's the processor to buy. It's vastly less expensive that Broadwell-E, and performs as well (if not better) in some regards.

    If your computer is used for gaming first with some secondary workstation uses, you're better off with Kaby Lake. The almost 5ghz clock speeds rule for gaming where it's not highly optimized for higher thread counts.

    My Ryzen 7 1700 arrives today BTW. :D :D :D

    I am definitely curious to see how the APU's which are coming fare. An actual decent x86 architecture with a really good IGP? If they could stick a 2GB hunk of HBM on it.... lordy that would be fast.
  • BulkZerker
    Anyone remember when disabling hyperthreading got you an fps boost in video games (ffs that was an issue in battlefield 3)? Its that, all over again.
  • mitch074
    To be expected - most current games are developed to make use of 4 threads on Intel CPUs, no more no less, once compiled on PC.

    As for "it should have been finalized before release", yeah right - even consoles need firmware updates once out to fix non-optimal settings. And if the situation under Linux is any indication, even Intel isn't exempt - they had to rewrite a whole new power management scheme to make use of Sandy Bridge, and even then you may end up with a frozen system now and again if you don't disable power management. We're talking SERVERS here, people! the kind of machine that runs 24/7 and thus working power management means real MONEY!

    So to me, a grounds up brand new CPU architecture (something Intel hasn't done in more than 5 years) that works reliably out of the box and can beat the established champion in several benchmarks and real-world tasks for half the price is a GREAT accomplishment. And if Deus Ex and Shadow of Mordor are any indication, Ryzen can indeed kick Kaby Lake in the butt when properly used.

    What can be understood from this article is that, CURRENTLY, AMD's Ryzen isn't the best gamer CPU out there as games aren't geared towards it yet. You can game properly with it though, and it more than likely will get faster with time. If you need to build a gaming rig today, go Kaby Lake; if you're building a workstation, go Ryzen - knowing you can game on it too. If you can wait a few months though, all bets are off.

    As for AMD's performance in the GPU market, look at how many GameWorks games are out there, and how fast AMD's performance climbs up after game release (from a couple of weeks to a few months) - while it took almost a full year for Nvidia to catch up on DX12 performance!