AMD is trying to claw back lost market share with its eight-core Ryzen processors, and in the process, the company is generating a tremendous amount of excitement. Most of the enthusiasm stems from competitive pricing and solid performance in content creation and productivity workloads, even if Ryzen isn't shaping up to be universally superior, as many hoped prior to launch. The chips still suffer an IPC deficit compared to Intel’s Kaby Lake processors, and the unique Zen microarchitecture falls behind in some games at lower resolutions. While the Ryzen 7 CPUs we've tested provide a smooth experience in most titles, they don't oust Intel from its comfortable position atop the benchmark charts. This makes it difficult to universally recommend those high-end parts.
But it appears the bottom of AMD's Ryzen 7 stack offers the best value. The company claims that its Ryzen 7 1700 is the most efficient eight-core CPU available. And priced at $330, it's undoubtedly the cheapest one with modern amenities. The 1700 wields the same design as its more expensive counterparts, including the same Zen-based architecture, two CCXes enabling 16 logical cores, and 16MB of L3 cache. It also sports an unlocked ratio multiplier, AMD's SenseMI suite, and Socket AM4 compatibility.
AMD Ryzen 7 1800X
Ryzen 7 1700X
Ryzen 7 1700
The 1700’s 65W TDP stands out as its most notable differentiator compared to the higher-end 95W Ryzen 7s. A more conservative power rating means lower voltages (and heat), so its 3 GHz base and 3.7 GHz boost frequencies understandably trail the 1700X and 1800X as well.
Both X SKUs do benefit from AMD's XFR (eXtended Frequency Range) technology, which provides an additional 100 MHz over the boost ceiling if your thermal solution is beefy enough. In contrast, the 1700 comes equipped with a reduced XFR feature set that doesn’t boost beyond 3.7 GHz, though it does facilitate an all-core 3.1 GHz boost in threaded workloads. You also save a few bucks with the bundled 95W Wraith Spire cooler, and although we wouldn’t recommend using the stock heat sink for overclocking, it’s a nice addition.
The 1700 wades into a brutally competitive segment; its $330 price tag is only slightly lower than the $350 Core i7-7700K rocking a 4.2 GHz base and 4.5 GHz Turbo Boost clock rate. The Ryzen 7 1700 beckons with twice as many cores and double the L3 cache, though that doesn't translate to more performance in every application. After all, even Intel's Core i5-7600K competes with the top Ryzen 7s in certain workloads.
The Ryzens we've tested thus far suffer curious performance losses in some games. But AMD contends that many developers will patch their software to improve frame rates. Encouragingly, Stardock/Oxide recently patched Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation to optimize for Ryzen. Valve also released a patch for Dota 2. Both updates improve performance, and more important, they hint at what we might see from other devs in the future.
In the meantime, Ryzen 7 1700 offers a great starting price for eight cores and an unlocked multiplier. We think it can match its bigger brothers with a bit of tuning. Let's test that theory out.
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