AMD's 2000-series processors aren't revolutionary, but they are far beyond the normal evolutionary updates we've become accustomed to over the last several years.
In the chart below, we plotted gaming performance with both average frame rates and a geometric mean of the 99th percentile frame times (a good indicator of smoothness), which we then converted into an FPS measurement. We're also presenting price-to-performance charts that get split up to include CPUs-only and extra platform costs. For the models that don't come with a bundled cooler, we add an extra $25 for a basic heat sink. We also add $20 if overclocking requires a more expensive motherboard (as is the case for Z370).
In gaming, AMD's stock Ryzen 7 2700X delivers a great performance boost that rivals its overclocked predecessor in every one of our tests. Tuning the 2700X provides additional performance, though you probably won't notice the difference. Check out our chart: as you can see, the Ryzen 7 2700X effectively ties Core i7-8700K based on the geometric mean. But it sells at a $30 discount, drops into a less expensive motherboard, and comes with a thermal solution that adds even more value.
While the overclocked Core i7-8700K is a fierce competitor, it requires you to buy a Z-series motherboard for overclocking, along with a capable cooler. Core i5-8600K offers most of the -8700K's performance, but you lose Ryzen 7 2700X's sixteen threads and bundled heat sink/fan. We think it's safe to say that AMD is delivering on its pledge to provide a near-equivalent gaming experience in most titles.
If you're searching for a more productivity-oriented processor, Ryzen 7 2700X is incredibly attractive. It offers superior performance compared to the Core i7-8700K in many of our threaded tests, and is much more competitive in lightly threaded applications than previous-gen models.
AMD's Precision Boost 2 and XFR2 algorithms are already pushing the voltage/frequency curve to its limits, so don't expect much in the way of overclocking headroom. We did tune Ryzen 7 2700X up to 4.2 GHz, but a higher dual-core Precision Boost 2 frequency of 4.3 GHz offers better performance than our all-core overclock in certain applications. Significant gains in games were likely a result of heightened sensitivity to our DDR4-3466 memory.
AMD's latest Ryzen 7 delivers a host of features that make enthusiasts swoon, such as an unlocked multiplier, backward compatibility with 300-series motherboards, solder between the heat spreader and die, and an LED-equipped cooler. We only wish that B450-based motherboards were available at launch time. Hopefully we hear more about AMD's lower-cost platform soon.
In a broader sense, AMD is delivering on its first update to the Ryzen processor series, proving that it can execute on its roadmap. It looks like it's going to be another busy year in the CPU space--and that's more good news for enthusiasts and gamers.
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