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.
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