Ashes of the Singularity & Battlefield 4
A Note On Testing
As mentioned, we encountered lower-than-expected results in many of our game benchmarks. Concerned that the explanation could be related to Windows' handling of P-states, we ran tests on Ryzen under the High Performance and Balanced power profiles as a diagnostic measure. The former is denoted with an HP in our charts. Intel's chips are tested using Windows' Balanced profile, representing the way most of us configure our desktops.
The Zen architecture is AMD's first with simultaneous multi-threading, so we also tested the Ryzen 7 1800X with SMT disabled to flesh out any performance deltas attributable to this feature. Indeed, we observed higher performance with SMT turned off in some titles.
Finally, we normalized the clock rates of our test samples to compare per-clock performance. Game engines and DX11 do not always scale linearly, so our 3.8 GHz numbers merely serve as a reference.
In light of the unexpected results we do present, we have to warn you that some of our data could be attributable to factors like motherboard firmware or early microcode. Then again, these are products AMD and its partners are selling, so that's a risk early adopters assume. In the meantime, we continue running tests and asking questions. Expect a follow-up soon.
Ashes of the Singularity
Ashes of the Singularity scales well with additional cores and frequency. This rewards the Core i7-6900K and its broadside of eight cores and 16 threads.
Surprisingly, Ryzen 7 1800X does not reap the same benefits. We expected much higher performance in this CPU-intensive title from the 1800X due to its similar core configuration and higher clock rates. In the end, Core i7-6900K outperforms the stock Ryzen setup, despite AMD's seemingly favorable specs.
We disabled the 1800X's SMT feature and its average frame rate increased to 70.9 FPS. By comparison, we disabled Hyper-Threading (Intel's equivalent technology) and re-tested the -6900K, yielding a 7 FPS performance loss.
Surprisingly, even the 4C/8T Core i7-7700K outpaced AMD's Ryzen 7 1800X by a significant margin (and that was after trying to provide the 1800X with the most favorable settings possible). We also noted minimal uplift from overclocking the 1800X to an all-core 3.8 GHz. Due to the automatic XFR function, and the fact that we couldn't disable XFR without losing all Precision Boost capabilities, we couldn't test at AMD's base 3.6 GHz.
AMD provided its own benchmark numbers at 4K, creating a graphics-bound situation. We tested at 2560x1440 to reduce this bottleneck, exposing more difference between CPUs. The same strangeness happens at QHD too though, and 1800X trails the field by a quantifiable margin. The 1800X's behavior suggests the game isn't optimized for Zen at this point; Oxide Games released this statement:
“Oxide games is incredibly excited with what we are seeing from the Ryzen CPU. Using our Nitrous game engine, we are working to scale our existing and future game title performance to take full advantage of Ryzen and its eight-core, 16-thread architecture, and the results thus far are impressive. These optimizations are not yet available for Ryzen benchmarking. However, expect updates soon to enhance the performance of games like Ashes of the Singularity on Ryzen CPUs, as well as our future game releases.” - Brad Wardell, CEO Stardock and Oxide
We traipse into graphics-bound territory during our 1920x1080-based Battlefield 4 testing. Ryzen 7 1800X in its stock configuration (with the Balanced power profile) is the only modern processor that doesn't average 160 FPS or more. It fares better with the High Performance profile activated, pulling in with the rest of the field if you're willing to leave Windows in this mode.
The FX-8350 trails at its 3.8 GHz setting, though that's a down-clock compared to its 4 GHz base frequency. The similarly-clocked Ryzen 7 1800X provides a notable speed-up compared to the old -8350.
The Ryzen 7 1800X provides the same performance as Intel's Core i7-6900K, pushing the EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 FE into graphics-bound territory. If your favorite titles tend to be GPU-limited, you can save $500 on an eight-core processor that offers a lot of heft in more heavily-threaded applications (or save an additional $175 on a quad-core chip that games really well).