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Friday | October 15, 2021
AMD Ryzen 1800X – Review

AMD Ryzen 1800X – Review


AMD is back. The red team has spent years on the ropes after conceding the high ground to Intel, but now the firm has unleashed its Ryzen processors and much-anticipated Zen architecture – and the first chip to use this new technology is a barnstormer.

The first Ryzen chip is the range-topping 1800X. This £500 beast shakes up the market: it’s a little more than the £350 Core i7-7700K and the £430 i7-6800K, but it’s also designed to undercut the mighty i7-6900K, which costs £1,050 and comes from the Broadwell-E range.


The R7 1800X is AMD’s new flagship, which means a tempting set of headline statistics. It’s got eight cores with support for sixteen concurrent threads, which is double the number of the i7-7700K – and equal with the 6900K.

The 1800X rattles along at 3.6GHz with a 4GHz boost peak across all cores – another figure that competes well with Intel, which often has higher boost speeds but across fewer cores.

AMD also deploys a feature called Precision Boost, which raises speeds in increments of 25MHz. AMD says this improvement allows for finer control of performance, heat and power consumption. It’s also paired with Extended Frequency Range, or XFR, which automatically overclocks the chip to deliver maximum performance – in theory, at least.

The new AMD chip doesn’t just serve up a tempting clock speed and core count. It’s got 16MB of L3 cache – twice as much as the 7700K – and 4MB of L2 cache, which is four times as much as the Intel chip. That’s important, because this larger low-level cache can help feed instructions to the CPU with far more speed than older AMD chips – and, AMD hopes, faster than anything Intel can manage.

AMD’s new chip packs in plenty of innovation alongside those solid headline numbers. It’s built using a new 14nm FinFET manufacturing process, which matches Intel’s Kaby Lake and delivers a huge leap over the older 32nm that AMD used. It means that less power is required throughout, which means AMD can deliver more performance while keeping the chip more efficient.

And then there’s the Zen architecture that’s used to build Ryzen CPUs. It’s full of big changes, with a huge leap in the number of instructions possible per clock cycle and an AMD debut for simultaneous multi-threading – the same technology behind Intel’s Hyper-Threading.


Clock speed: 3.6GHz
Boost speed: 4GHz
Cores/Threads: 8/16
L2 Cache: 4MB
L3 Cache: 16MB
Manufacturing Process: 14nm FinFET
TDP: 95W
Socket: AM4
Memory Support: Dual-channel DDR4 2666MHz
Chipsets: X370, B350, A320, X300, A300, B300

The Ecosystem

AMD isn’t just introducing the R7 1800X – the arrival of the Ryzen architecture means several new chips, a new socket, new chipsets and new motherboards.

The Ryzen7 range is made of three parts, all with eight cores. The 1700X costs £369 and runs at 3.4GHz, and it shares its cache amounts and 95W TFP with the range-topping 1800X that we’ve reviewed here. There’s also the £330 1700, which has a 3GHz core and a 65W TDP on account of its lesser automatic overclocking abilities.

The Ryzen 5 range is home to affordable mid-range parts that will launch within the next couple of months. The 1600X and 1600 arrive with 3.6GHz and 3.2GHz base clocks and a little less cache than the top-end chips along with six cores. The quad-core 1500X and 1400 chips are slower, with less cash, and will be the most affordable Ryzen parts – likely below £200.

The new processors use AMD’s AM4 socket. It’s the first from AMD to support DDR4 memory and will support Ryzen CPUs and forthcoming APUs based on the Zen architecture. It works in the familiar way, with the pins on the processor descending into tiny indentations.

The entire range supports manual overclocking thanks to an unlocked multiplier, but you’ll need a compatible motherboard to start tweaking. That means a board with an X- or B-series chipset. Luckily, that covers three of the five chipsets AMD has introduced with Ryzen – so only the cheapest boards won’t support overclocking.

The new Ryzen chipsets impress in other departments, too, with improvements that finally bring AMD into line with Intel. It supports dual-channel DDR4 memory, PCIe storage, USB 3.1 and almost every other connectivity mod-con.

Intel only pulls ahead in extreme scenarios, where Broadwell-E supports more PCI lanes and quad-channel memory. That’s great for high-level performance, but it does mean that Intel’s eight-core CPUs are locked away in its X99 platform – whereas AMD Ryzen supports eight-core chips throughout the entire range.

The X370 chipset is the best on offer. It’s the only Ryzen chipset with eight PCI lanes, and it’s the only one that supports Nvidia SLI. It has support for six SATA ports – two more than the next-best chipset – and can serve up more USB 3.1 ports. The eight PCI lanes in the chipset join with the 24 included with the CPU, which means Ryzen has a maximum of 32 – a figure that falls behind the maximum of 40 on Intel Kaby Lake and Broadwell-E machines.

The X370 is ideal for enthusiasts, but other chipsets still have plenty to offer. The B350 mainstream chipset still has six PCI lanes and support for AMD Crossfire, and its four SATA ports and numerous USB connectors will sate most users. Gamers won’t want to look beyond this, though: the A320 and X300 chipsets don’t support any dual-graphics, and the former has no overclocking support.

The Ryzen ecosystem also includes new software. The key app is AMD Ryzen Master, which is used for tweaking and overclocking – something that would usually only be done in the BIOS. It’s relatively easy to use, with sliders and obvious indicators for clock speeds, boost levels and memory speeds. It’s similar to the WattMan tool that AMD introduced with its most recent graphics cards, and it’s very easy to use.

The Ryzen ecosystem is impressive, but buying in to AMD’s new range can get expensive. If you want the 1800X, for instance, it’s not just going to cost £500 – you’ll need a new motherboard, too, and perhaps new memory. That said, anyone who wants to upgrade to Intel Kaby Lake faces the same issue.

Test System

Gigabyte GA-AX370-Gaming 5
Corsair Force MP500 SSD
16GB Corsair Vengeance 3,000MHz DDR4
Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070
GeForce driver 378.78


Benchmarks reveal that Ryzen follows certain patterns: it lags behind Intel chips in single-core tests but batters the competition in multi-threaded benchmarks. It falls behind when gaming at lower resolutions but catches up at 4K – and it’s far more efficient than older AMD chips.

The pattern is immediately obvious. The 1800X’s single-core Cinebench score of 161cb, for instance, is behind the i7-7700K’s 191cb – but the Ryzen chip’s multi-core result of 1,631cb is miles ahead of the the i7-7700K. It even matches the expensive i7-6900K, which scored 1,670 in that multi-core test.

That pattern is corroborated elsewhere. The AMD chips scored 4,426 in Geekbench 4’s single-core benchmark, which was behind the i7-7700K’s result of 5,503 – but the Ryzen part’s multi-core result of 21,405 is around 3,000 points beyond anything that Intel’s mainstream i7 silicon could manage. It’s also barely behind the i7-6900K.

The Ryzen chip’s superior multi-core performance indicates that this part is better suited for work, and several of SiSoft Sandra’s specific task tests give credence to this theory. Its arithmetic multi-core score of 233.64GOPS trounces the i7-7700K’s 151.24GOPS, and the AMD chip opened up a similar lead in the financial analysis test.

There wasn’t much between the two chips in the scientific analysis test, and Intel’s silicon proved quicker in most of SiSoft Sandra’s single-core test. As if to demonstrate that, the Ryzen chip’s multi-core efficiency score of 44.72GB/s handily beat the i7-7700K’s result of 39GB/s.

The Ryzen chip beats the i7-7700K in most multi-threaded runs, then, and even keeps pace with the i7-6900K in many of those benchmarks. There are few areas where Intel’s pricier parts pull ahead, although memory bandwidth is one worth mentioning: the dual-channel DDR4 with Ryzen topped out at 34.12GB/s, but the i7-6900K managed 53.68GB/s thanks to its quad-channel setup.

AMD’s latest chip continued to trade blows with Intel in gaming benchmarks.

At 1440p the AMD chip was slower, with its 91fps average in Shadow of Mordor seven frames behind Intel – and its 49fps average in Fallout 4 a mammoth fourteen frames behind. At 4K, though, the tables turned, with the 1800X a frame quicker in Witcher 3 and ten frames faster in Shadow of Mordor.

Interesting conclusions can be drawn from 3D Mark. The Ryzen chip’s Fire Strike score of 14,987 was behind Intel, but in the Fire Strike Extreme test the 1800X scored 8,619 – a couple of hundred points better than the Intel part. That lends more credence to Ryzen’s ability to excel when tasked with tougher workloads and higher resolutions.

The breakdown of those Fire Strike tests was also interesting: the Ryzen part was always a little slower in the pure graphics portion of the benchmark, but noticeably quicker in the CPU-intensive physics section.

AMD’s new architecture has made good progress in the thermal and power departments. The 1800X’s peak temperature of 62°C was better than the 68°C of the Intel machine – an impressive result when AMD’s previous processors have been infamously toasty, although these figures always come with a caveat: different coolers will yield different results.

Intel took back the advantage in power consumption: the 1800X machine drew 81W from the mains when idling and 326W when stress-tested, while the i7-7700K rig required 52W and 298W. It’s no surprise the peak figures are quite close: the 1800X’s 95W TDP is only four Watts more than the i7-7700K.

Overclocking on Ryzen is easy, with simple Windows software and pleasingly straightforward BIOS options. We were able to up the 1800X to 4.2GHz with barely any voltage adjustments, which gave us some modest boosts in multi-threaded tests – but saw a slight decline in single-core benchmarks because some of Ryzen’s features are disabled when manual overclocks are applied.

It’s easy to overclock Ryzen, but it’s a similar story to Intel – these chips already offer ample speed, and tweaking only delivers diminishing returns.

Currently, Ryzen’s biggest weaknesses are its single-core application and lower-resolution gaming performance. It’s crucial to remember that Ryzen is never bad in these situations – rather, it can’t quite keep up with Intel.

On the gaming front, AMD says it’s working with developers to improve performance, and a patch has already delivered improvements of between 17% and 31% in Ashes of the Singularity – so while nothing is guaranteed, it’s heartening that AMD is working on these weaknesses. That’s something we can’t see Intel doing, either.

Ryzen excels in multi-threaded tasks, frequently beating the i7-7700K and matching the expensive i7-6900K in a variety of tough work tests. It’s good when gaming at high resolutions, too, matching the pace served up by Intel Kaby Lake.




It’s tricky to make a straightforward recommendation about buying the Ryzen 7 1800X, but we can conclude that AMD is back in the high-end processor market in an important and meaningful way.

The 1800X is better than almost anything that Intel can offer in multi-threaded tests, and it matches Intel chips in high-resolution gaming tasks – and it does this while being competitive in thermal tests, too.

The 1800X’s more underwhelming single-threaded pace and low-resolution gaming results mean that this chip isn’t worth buying if you’re planning on undertaking these less intensive tasks – but if that’s the case then you’re likely not looking at £500 processors anyway.

If you run workstation applications or other intensive productivity tools, though, the 1800X is a stunner – handily beating anything Intel can offer at this price and squaring up to pricier parts thanks to its eight-core design. It’s a handy high-resolution gaming chip, too.

AMD is back – and Intel should be worried.


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AMD Ryzen 7 1800X
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Mike Jennings

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