AMD Ryzen R7 1700X Review: Odd One Out

By Published March 23, 2017 at 2:19 pm
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Additional Info

  • Component: CPU
  • Original MSRP: 400
  • Manufacturer: AMD

We’ve praised the R7 1700 ($330) for its mixed workload performance and overclocking capabilities at $330, and we’ve criticized the 1800X for its insignificant performance improvements (over the 1700) at $500. That leaves the R7 1700X ($400), positioned precariously between the two with a base clock of 3.4GHz, but the full 95W TDP of its 1800X sibling.

The 1700X performs as expected, given its flanks, landing between the R7 1700 and R7 1800X. All three are 8C/16T chips with the same CCX layout; refer back to our 1800X review for a more thorough description of the R7 CPU & Ryzen architecture. A quick comparison of basic stats reveals that the major advantage of the 1700X is a moderate increase in frequency, with additional XFR headroom as demarcated by the ‘X’ suffix. That said, our R7 1700 easily overclocked to a higher frequency than the native 1700X frequency, with no manual adjustment to voltage or EFI beyond the multiplier. The 1700X has a base clock of 3.4GHz and a boost clock of 3.8GHz, which theoretically means it could come close to the performance of our 3.9GHz 1700 straight out of the box while retaining the benefits of XFR (circumvented by overclocking).

AMD Ryzen R7 1800X vs. 1700, 1700X Specs

  Ryzen R7 1700 Ryzen R7 1700X Ryzen R7 1800X Ryzen R5 1600X Ryzen R5 1500X
Socket Type AM4 AM4 AM4 AM4 AM4
Cores/Threads 8C/16T 8C/16T 8C/16T 6C/12T 4C/8T
Base / Boost 3.0GHz / 3.7GHz 3.4GHz / 3.8GHz 3.6GHz / 4.0GHz 3.6GHz / 4.0GHz 3.5GHz / 3.7GHz
TDP 65W 95W 95W 95W 65W
Stock Cooler Wraith Stealth (65W)
~28dBA
Wraith Spire (95W)
~32dBA
Wraith MAX (125W)
~38dBA
None Wraith Spire
Memory Support 2ch/2rank: 1866-2133
2ch/1rank: 2133-2400
1ch/2rank: 2400-2667
1ch/1rank: 2667
2ch/2rank: 1866-2133
2ch/1rank: 2133-2400
1ch/2rank: 2400-2667
1ch/1rank: 2667
2ch/2rank: 1866-2133
2ch/1rank: 2133-2400
1ch/2rank: 2400-2667
1ch/1rank: 2667
2ch/2rank: 1866-2133
2ch/1rank: 2133-2400
1ch/2rank: 2400-2667
1ch/1rank: 2667
2ch/2rank: 1866-2133
2ch/1rank: 2133-2400
1ch/2rank: 2400-2667
1ch/1rank: 2667
Release Date March 2 3/2/17 3/2/17 4/11/17 4/11/17
Price $330 $400 $500 $250 $190

At around $400, the R7 1700X lands ~$70 more than the R7 1700 counterpart, and ~$100 less than the flagship R7 1800X CPU. In terms of market positioning, this makes the 1700X interesting for would-be R7 1700 buyers who are hamstrung by corporate policy, e.g. “no overclocking allowed,” but potentially overpriced for users more willing to invest the OC time on a 1700 SKU.

In our tests, though, the stock 1700X was consistently and expectedly outperformed by the overclocked 1700. The point of interest, though, is the thermal performance of the 1700 and 1700X. The heat discussion has always been complicated with thanks to AMD’s temperature scale, as we discussed on Page 4 of the 1800X review and in a follow-up, but the 1700X does seem to run hotter even when considering tCTL offsets. We mostly determine this by looking at throttle performance, as the clock-rate will visibly dip when bumping against the maximum Junction temperature. We’re still a bit confused as to exactly what’s going on thermally, but are continuing to work on furthering an understanding of Ryzen’s temperature readings.

Before getting into testing, note the following: A new Windows 10 update has allegedly improved performance for some Ryzen benchmarks. We have not yet migrated our test platform to this update; we wanted to get the 1700X tested and reviewed under the same conditions as the 1700 + 1800X (testing was done prior to the Windows update). We’ll revisit these CPUs in more depth after a few more major updates get pushed for motherboards, Windows, and software. Right now, the environment is changing literally daily (we are receiving beta EFI versions nearly every day). To keep a stable test platform, we’re holding updates until a major content refresh for all of the chips. This may mean waiting until the R5 reviews for that bench platform refresh.

Test Methodology

CPU Test Methodology

Our usual testing methodology is defined further below, per typical copy/paste of methods between reviews, but we have a few explicit items to address with Ryzen.

During testing, GamersNexus discovered that Windows would occasionally engage core parking or other power saving features that could impact framerate in some games, specifically with Ryzen. This was not always detectable, but some games reacted more than others (our biggest observable difference was ~4-5%). As such, all tests were conducted in performance mode. We further discovered that SMT toggling improves performance in nearly all gaming use cases, and so tested with SMT both enabled and disabled. When asked about this, AMD supplied that it is likely on the ISV optimization side. Learn more about that here.

We’ve been using the newest (and correct) version of AMD’s chipset drivers since we began testing, and we’ve been on ASUS’ version 5704 (latest available when testing began) BIOS for the Crosshair Hero VI. ASUS was good to provide us this update immediately when we reached out, though AMD officially distributed an older EFI version to reviewers; this older version is detrimental performance in some ways, as it was not the production-ready EFI. We have performed some EFI difference benchmarking, and will update once the next stable EFI version ships.

Fortunately, we had already retrieved the correct EFI from ASUS directly, and so did not have to test multiple EFI versions – though we did have to retest the platform and CPU multiple times for other validation. EFI version matters a lot in these very early days of Ryzen. This is an entirely new architecture – not some updated on a long-known design, like KBL was – and vendors were not prepared. Early EFI distributions were based on older uCode. Results will vary between test environments in greater ways than usual.

A clean image is used for all testing. We have Windows images on multiple SSDs, each labeled for the appropriate CPU architecture. We pull an SSD with the correct label from the shelf (e.g. Skylake, Broadwell-E, Ryzen) and use that for testing. Note also that Windows HPET can affect performance.

Because of how Ryzen’s boosting reacts to temperatures, we put the R7 1700X under the same liquid cooling we’ve used for all our major CPU reviews: the Kraken X62. This eliminates unpredictable thermal throttles during test.

Game Test Methodology

NVIDIA 376.33 drivers were used for all benchmarking. Game settings were manually controlled for the DUT. All games were run at presets defined in their respective charts. All other game settings are defined in respective game benchmarks, which we publish separately from GPU and CPU reviews. Our test courses, in the event manual testing is executed, are also uploaded within that content. This allows others to replicate our results by studying our bench courses.

Windows 10-64 was used for testing.

Each game was tested for 30 seconds in an identical scenario, then repeated three times for parity.

Average FPS, 1% low, and 0.1% low times are measured. We do not measure maximum or minimum FPS results as we consider these numbers to be pure outliers. Instead, we take an average of the lowest 1% of results (1% low) to show real-world, noticeable dips; we then take an average of the lowest 0.1% of results for severe spikes.

Hardware Used

Core Components (Unchanging)

  • NZXT 1200W Hale90v2
  • For DDR4 platforms: Corsair Vengeance LPX 32GB 3200MHz*
  • For Ryzen DDR4: Corsair Vengeance LPX 3000MHz clocked to 2933MHz (See Page 2)
  • Premiere & Blender tests do not exceed 8GB DRAM. Capacity is a non-issue for our testing, so long as it is >16GB
  • For DDR3 platforms: HyperX Savage 32GB 2400MHz
  • Intel 730 480GB SSD
  • Open Air Test Bench
  • Cooler #1 (Air): Be Quiet! Dark Rock 3
  • Cooler #2 (Cheap liquid): Asetek 570LC w/ Gentle Typhoon fan
  • Cooler #3 (High-end): Kraken X62

Note: fan and pump settings are configured on a per-test basis.

AM4 Platform:

ASUS Crosshair Hero VI

Used for R7 1800X, R7 1700X, R7 1700.

Z270 Platforms:

- Gigabyte Aorus Gaming 7 (primary)

- MSI Gaming Pro Carbon (secondary - for thermal validation)

- i7-7700K (x2) samples from motherboard vendors

Both used for the 7700K.

Z170 Platform:

- MSI Gaming M7

- i7-6700K retail

Z97 Platform:

- Gigabyte Z97X G1 WIFI-BK

- i7-4790K

Z77 Platform:

- MSI GD65 Z77

- i7-2600K

Dx12 games are benchmarked using PresentMon onPresent, with further data analysis from GN-made tools.

Note: We'd like to add the i5, i3, and FX CPUs, but this was enough for now. We'll add those as we expand into coverage of Zen or i5 Kaby Lake products.

Thermal Test Methodology

Thermal measurement on Ryzen is not necessarily trivial, as most software is incorrect or inaccurate in these early days. See this page from our 1800X review for further information, or AMD’s own statement.

Power testing is simply done at the wall. We do not presently tap into the rails, and openly identify this as our weakest point in current test methodology. This is something we will eventually work toward revamping. For now, we use wall meters to determine a power delta in A/B tests.

Continue to Page 2 for thermal & power testing.

 


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Last modified on March 23, 2017 at 2:19 pm

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