- Beats Intel 7700K in multi-threaded tests
- The cheapest 8-core processor you can buy
- Great value for multi-threaded performance
- Unlocked for easy overclocking
- Whole CPU range fits one motherboard
- Low default power draw
- Intel 7700K much faster in single-thread tests
- High power draw when overclocked
- Quad-core Intel chips better for games
- 8 core/16 thread design
- 14nm manufacturing process
- 65W TDP
- 3.0GHz base clock
- 3.7GHz boost clock
- 16MB L3 cache
- Manufacturer: AMD
- Review Price: £330/$495
WHAT IS THE AMD RYZEN 7 1700?
The AMD Ryzen 7 1700 is the entry option in AMD’s new range of Ryzen 7 CPUs. Priced at just £330/$495, it still offers an identical feature set to the £500/$750 Ryzen 7 1800X and is by far the cheapest eight-core processor you can buy.
However, its clock speed is lower than the 1800X and lower still than its most direct competitor the quad-core Intel Core i7-7700K. Naturally this means it’s less suited to fast, single-threaded applications such as games, but it will happily power through multi-threaded workloads such as video encoding. As such, it’s an intriguing proposition.
DESIGN AND FEATURES
The Ryzen 7 1700 is almost identical to the Ryzen 7 1800X in every way. It looks the same, it has the same number of cores (8), it can deal with the same number of threads (16), it’s unlocked for easy overclocking and it fits in the same motherboards. There are just three differences between it and AMD’s current flagship CPU.
The first is clock speed. The 1700 has a base clock speed of 3.0GHz and can boost its cores to 3.7GHz. The 1800X, on the other hand, starts at 3.6GHz and boosts to 4.0GHz. That may not sound like much of a difference given the similar boost clock speeds, but since boost clocks aren’t guaranteed for any given workload, it’s the base clock that’s more important.
This applies even more so when you compare the 1700 to its nearest price competitor from Intel, the Core i7-7700K. This is only a quad-core chip but it has a base clock of 4.2GHz and boost of 4.5GHz – that’s a huge advantage in raw clock speed.
However, this allows for the second key difference between the 1700 and 1800X, which is that the latter has a TDP of just 65W. That’s an astonishingly low amount of power for an eight-core processor. By comparison, the 7700K has a TDP of 91W, the 1800X’s is 95W and the eight-core Intel Core i7-6900K is 140W.
The final difference between the 1700 and 1800X is that “X” on the end, which signifies that the 1800X can further boost the clock speed of one core by 100MHz, while the 1700 can only do so by 50MHz.
And that’s your lot; this is simply a relatively low clock speed version of the 1800X. So if you’d like to learn more about what makes this processor actually tick then you can read the 1800X’s review, which includes more of an overview of AMD’s new Zen CPU architecture at the heart of the chip.
The upshot is that the 1700 is potentially ideal for those seeking huge eight-core multi-threaded processing power for tasks such as video encoding, batch photo editing, file compression, encryption, professional 3D rendering or scientific calculations – but on the cheap.
However, it’s less suited for what most home users actually need from a CPU: fast, single-threaded performance. Most programs, including the majority of games, still benefit most from having a single-core run as fast as possible, which is the reason that the majority of laptops can still get away with having just dual-core processors.
As such, a potentially crucial aspect of the 1700 is how well it overclocks. If it can be pushed closer to a 4.0GHz base clock speed then potentially it will still be a great option for single-threaded tasks.
Note, however, that when talking about the 1700 not being as good as faster-clocked alternatives, it’s all relative. This processor will still provide close to all the performance that most home users will ever need, even in single-threaded tasks.
For general day-to-day tasks it’s more than powerful enough, while the difference in gaming will only come to light in situations where you’re not otherwise limited by the speed of your graphics card and are running at ludicrous frame rates. In such situations, where you’d achieve 180fps from a higher clocked chip, you’d get “only” 140fps with the 1700.
THE AM4 PLATFORM
The Ryzen 7 1700 is, along with the rest of the Ryzen 7 lineup and the upcoming Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 3 processors, meant to fit in motherboards with the new AM4 socket. Although this will mean having to buy a new motherboard now, AMD has committed to continuing to support the platform with future CPUs.
In addition, when Ryzen 5 (quad and six-core) and Ryzen 3 chips launch later this year, you’ll be able to buy a motherboard and entry-level dual or quad-core processor safe in the knowledge that you can upgrade all the way to an eight-core chip without having to change the rest of your system.
This isn’t possible with Intel’s current CPU lineup; its six- and eight-core chips are only available if you buy more expensive LGA 2011 motherboards.
AM4 is supported by five new chipsets: the X370, B350, A320, X300 and A300. All will support the range of Ryzen processors but only the X370, X300 and B350 will support overclocking; and only the X370 and X300 will support SLI/Crossfire. There are currently only X370 and B350 boards available and they range in price from £80-100/$120-150 for a B350 board to £150-£300/$225-$450 for X370 boards.
The Ryzen 7 1700 is based on AMD’s new Zen CPU architecture, which replaces the Bulldozer architecture that the company has relied on for the past several years. The main focus of its development has been to improve power efficiency and instructions per clock (IPC) – the number of calculations the chip can do with each core for each tick of the processors clock.
The results – as seen in our 1800X review – are pretty spectacular, with the company improving IPC by 52% and hugely reducing power consumption. The new architecture also introduces simultaneous multi-threading, which is a similar technology to Intel’s Hyper-Threading, which allows each core of the processor to handle two workloads/threads at a time.
As a result, and thanks to moving to the latest 14nm manufacturing, the 1800X was the first CPU from AMD that could truly claim performance parity with the competition from Intel – and, in turn, the first we’ve been able to outright recommend in the past ten years or so.
In our tests, the Ryzen 7 1700 performed exactly as we expected. That is, it was super-impressive in multi-threaded workloads but struggled in single-threaded ones.
AMD Ryzen 7 test system:
- AMD Ryzen 7 1700
- MSI X370 Xpower Gaming Titanium
- 2 x 8GB Corsair Vengeance LPX 3000MHz RAM
- 480GB SanDisk Extreme Pro SSD
- Asus Strix Gaming GeForce GTX 1070
Starting with Cinebench R15, in this benchmark’s single-threaded test the Ryzen 7 1700 was 44% slower than the 7700K; in the multi-threaded test it was 42% faster.
Similarly, in POV-Ray, the 7700K established a 50% lead in the single-threaded test but then dropped all the way back to trail the 1700 by 35% in the multi-threaded test.
Moving on to a real-world example, using the Handbrake video-conversion tool to change a 1080p video to 720p, the 1700 managed this in just 81 seconds, while the 7700K took 95 seconds. The faster-clocked 1800X took just 70 seconds. The results were far closer in this test, but it’s a relatively short and simple transcode operation so doesn’t fully tax the CPU for long.
Overall, the picture really is as clear as the two processor’s specs would suggests. If you have £330/$495 to spend on a CPU, the 7700K is far better for single-threaded applications and the 1700 for multi-threaded tasks.
In terms of gaming, it’s here we really see the advantage of the extra clock speed of the 7700K and also that single-threaded speed isn’t necessarily an advantage.
Starting with the least challenging test for CPU usage, The Witcher 3 is the most representative game of our tests when it comes to modern, graphically rich FPS/RPG titles. At 1080p with detail set to Medium and at 1440p with detail set to Ultra, all our test CPUs are limited by graphics card speed so provide identical performance.
However, as we switch to a more CPU-intensive title such as Battlefield 1, we see two things. First, that this game is just generally better-optimised to run on Intel processors, as demonstrated by the 6900K being faster than the 1800X. Hopefully, this will be addressed with an update.
For the 1800X there’s no difference at 1440p with Ultra detail settings, since its speed still results in the GPU being the bottleneck. But the Ryzen 7 1700’s clock speed is slow enough that it shows a noticeable drop in performance, even at these settings.
At 1080p and medium detail settings the Intel chips really pull away. Again, a good portion of this is the game being poorly optimised for the AMD processors, but clearly there remains an advantage with higher clock speed. Although it’s interesting to note that the much faster clock speed of the 7700K over the 6900K was of little benefit. Instead, the game seemed to prefer the extra cores of Intel’s eight-core processor.
Finally, we come to Ashes of the Singularity, a game that has hundreds of units on screen at once, making for a stern test for CPUs. Again, the picture was similar, with the higher-detail, higher-resolution scenario resulting in consistently GPU-limited performance across all the test CPUs. In fact, the 1700 came out fastest.
However, at 1080p with low detail settings, the 7700K and 6900K pull out big leads. Again, this game appears to be optimised for Intel processors and it’s likely that an update will bring better performance for AMD’s chips. Right here and now, however, if you’re prioritising frame rate over graphical fidelity then Intel is your best bet.
We expected the Ryzen 7 1700 to offer impressive power consumption figures given its low TDP, but its rate of power-sipping was remarkable. With power measurements taken for the whole system at the wall, the 1700 consumed just 113W when under load, compared to the 7700K’s 112W. For an eight-core chip in the process of delivering 42% faster performance that’s highly impressive.
At idle there’s little to choose between them, although technically the 7700K takes the victory.
In some ways, it’s the chip’s overclocking potential that is its make-or-break moment. For those who consider its single-threaded performance just a little too low, the ability to easily boost this could tip the balance in its favour.
Sure enough, our review sample overclocked quite well, reaching 3.9GHz with only a little extra voltage. This resulted in a leap of 16% and 19% in single- and multi-threaded performance, putting it essentially at the same level as the 1800X.
The downside is power consumption. This leapt from 113W to 193W when under load. This remains close enough to the default levels of the 1800X and 6900K to be reasonable, but that is a massive increase.
What’s more, while I managed to push the CPU one step further to 4.0GHz before the system began to becoe unstable, the extra performance was minimal while power consumption jumped up even more, to 228W.
Then there’s the fact that the 7700K, too, is easy to overclock. It can be pushed to 4.8GHz, opening up its performance advantage once again, with a jump in power consumption to only 152W. Although, notably, when overclocked the 1700 actually extended its advantage in multi-threaded performance. The 1700 hit 1666 while the 7700K managed only 1059 – that’s a 57% advantage.
SHOULD I BUY THE AMD RYZEN 1700?
The Ryzen 7 1700 sits in a very odd position in the CPU market. On the one hand, it’s clearly the multi-threaded performance champion for its price, making it ideal for those for whom power is categorically the priority. However, its single-threaded performance trails far behind the Intel Core i7-7700K.
On the surface this suggests the 7700K is still the better buy for most home users and, in particular, gamers; most programs and games are still single-threaded (or only lightly multi-threaded).
However, in the real world there are actually very few single-threaded applications that would be slowed down by the Ryzen 7 1700. In fact, since all your day-to-day apps such as Outlook, Word, Chrome, Excel, iTunes and Dropbox use so little CPU power, to a certain degree it makes no difference which processor you have.
As such, there’s a strong case for saying that the Ryzen 7 1700 is the better option, even if you very rarely use heavily multi-threaded applications, simply because it will offer better performance when those really heavy-duty tasks come along.
This leaves gaming as the only crucial consideration for why you’d choose the faster-clocked 7700K, and it makes a very good case for itself. In short, the R7 1700 has toppled Intel for video editing at this price, but not for gaming.
For those who regularly run CPU-heavy tasks – such as video encoding, 3D rendering or decryption – on their PC, the Ryzen 7 1700 is the ideal CPU at its price. For the gaming-focused, however, the Intel Core i7-7700K remains the better choice.