3.01.2017

Will AMD Ryze or Fall?

Can AMD Truly Beat Intel at its Own Game?


The computing industry is certainly abuzz lately, and with the looming battle between chip makers Intel and AMD, who can blame them? Last Wednesday, AMD released details for its new processors, including specs and prices, with the release date of March 2. AMD hasn’t been a true competitor to Intel since the late 2000’s, and with so much riding on Ryzen, can AMD’s product match its hype?

First, let’s go over what exactly Ryzen is. The Ryzen series is AMD’s upcoming line of CPUs, formerly known as “Zen”. The reason for the name change is because AMD could not trademark Zen due to there being a lot of Zen-named products on the market.

Key features of the new chips’ architecture are increased power efficiency, simultaneous multithreading and use of the AM4 CPU socket supporting DDR4 RAM. These features are especially attractive to gamers, who like to be on the bleeding edge of technology. Zen is built completely from scratch, and has been made specifically to compete with Intel’s processors.

“Zen is built completely from scratch, and has been made specifically to compete with Intel’s processors.”

Last year, AMD made huge waves in the graphics card market with its Radeon 400 series of graphics cards. Their 8GB $239 Radeon RX 480 closely matched market leader NVIDIA’s GTX 1060, winning in price, but losing from five to twenty percent in performance. 

The new cards weren't enough to topple NVIDIA, but AMD’s share of the discrete graphics market rose to about thirty-five percent in 2016, and they’ve further improved their reputation for providing more bang for your buck.

Last Wednesday, AMD opened the floodgates with plenty of new information on the Ryzen series, detailing their high-end processors. The Ryzen CPUs are x86 processors split into three families. Ryzen 7 for the high-performance and price market, Ryzen 5 for the middle market, and Ryzen 3 for the budget-conscious low end.

Three of the Ryzen 7 series CPUs have been detailed, but details on Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 3 remain scarce for now. In terms of raw specs and price, Ryzen 7 looks great, and compare directly to some of Intel’s better processors.

  • Ryzen 7 1800X: 8 Cores/16 Threads, 3.6 GHz base, 4.0 GHz turbo, $499
  • Ryzen 7 1700X: 8 Cores/16 Threads, 3.4 GHz base, 3.8 GHz turbo, $399
  • Ryzen 7 1700: 8 Cores/16 Thread, 3.0 GHz base, 3.7 GHz turbo, $329

Initial benchmarks seem promising for gamers, with the $499 Ryzen 7 1800X outperforming the $1050 Intel Core i7 6900K by about seven percent in Sniper Elite 4, but this benchmark was curated by AMD during its press event. 

“The Ryzen hype might be well-deserved, but no one can say for sure until the product is released on March 2.”

The Ryzen hype might be well-deserved, but no one can say for sure until the product is released on March 2. For the first time in years, AMD is a good competitor to Intel, and has already forced a few Intel price drops. AMD seems to not only have matched Intel in performance, but completely beaten them in price. Ryzen CPUs are already available for pre-order from retailers and OEMs worldwide, but seem to have sold out at some retailers, including Amazon.