Core i7 vs. Ryzen 5 with Vega 64 & GTX 1080

With the arrival of Ryzen earlier this year, the discussion about desktop performance became interesting again. Ryzen 7 delivered the highest level of productivity at prices never seen before for 8-core / 16-thread CPUs. Since PC gaming is an integral part of the performance equation for many enthusiasts, it was still open to discuss how good gaming was on AMD's new chips, as the initial reviews gave us a less impressive outlook despite all this computing power.

When Ryzen 5 came out about a month later, AMD took a number of important steps to improve the performance and compatibility of the Ryzen platform. Gaming saw remarkable gains, but Ryzen lagged the Core i7-7700K in the vast majority of modern titles.

At this point, countless theories have been put forward to explain Ryzen's weakness in gaming performance, and most of them have proven wrong. However, many noticed early on that Ryzen's DirectX 12 performance was not good, which added to the confusion as we expected the core-heavy AMD CPUs to have an advantage with the more modern API.

After further investigation, AdoredTV staff found that Ryzen's poor performance in some DirectX 12 titles, namely Rise of the Tomb Raider, was actually due to the GeForce graphics card. This discovery sparked an online discussion alleging that Nvidia Ryzen's gaming performance was compromised, and since there were no high-end AMD GPUs on the market, this was more difficult to verify.

However, this alone could not explain Ryzen's poor gaming performance, as the problem only occurred with selected DX12 titles and was not a problem for older DX11 games. DX11 simply prefers higher clock speeds and Intel still has a significant advantage here. When you combine higher clock frequencies with superior IPC performance, it is difficult for Ryzen to perform well with these older titles.

Still, Ryzen should look very capable in games using DirectX 12, and with a GeForce graphics card doing the rendering work, this was the case with Rise of the Tomb Raider, Total War Warhammer, and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, The Division not the case and Hitman to name a few examples. The good news is that with the release of Vega 64, we have a high-end GPU from AMD that we can compare with the GeForce GTX 1080.

Like Ryzen, Vega got off to a rough start in terms of gaming performance, and some even blamed the Intel CPUs, which are often used to test high-end GPUs. So I thought, why not kill two benchmarks at once?

By using the Core i7-7700K and the Ryzen 5 1600 with Vega 64 and GTX 1080 at 1080p and 1440p respectively, we can achieve some very interesting results. In addition, we suspect that these are typical hardware combinations that many consider building a new high-end rig when gaming is an important factor.

For testing, we overclocked both CPUs: the 7700K was pushed to 4.9 GHz, while the Ryzen 5 1600 was at 4 GHz, both quite typical overclocking for these CPUs …

Let's first look at the results of Battlefield 1. I am still testing this title with DX11 as it generally gives the best results. Still, I need to re-examine DX12's performance here, and I will soon. At the moment we have the DX11 numbers.

Here the Ryzen 5 1600 is extremely competitive even at 1080p, although the 1% low results are significantly lower. Nevertheless, the margins between the GTX 1080 and Vega 64 graphics cards remain largely the same for both CPUs.

PlayerUnkonwn's Battlegrounds is not a game we have tested with since it was not released when I launched my first Ryzen vs. Core i7 tests. Given the enormous popularity of the game at the moment, I thought we could still watch it. If we look at the 1080p results first, we see that Vega 64 with the R5 1600 or 7700K delivers exactly the same performance.

The GTX 1080, on the other hand, achieved slightly lower 1% results than the Vega 65 with the R5 1600, although the average is slightly increased. However, the GTX 1080 was miles faster with the 7700K, which is probably due to the fact that we have more headroom here with the faster CPU. This certainly seems to be the case when we switch to 1440p, since the GTX 1080 delivers exactly the same performance with both CPUs.

At 1440p we also noticed something interesting: The Vega 64 is a bit faster with the R5 1600 than with the 7700K. Spoilers … this will not be the last time you see such results.

Keep in mind that all results in this article are based on an average of three runs. However, these results were confirmed days later and I found the exact same margins. As I said before, other games at 1440p showed the same strange behavior.

In fact, DiRT 4 is another game where we can see this. Here Vega 64 was consistently faster with the R5 1600 processor with 1440p. The margins weren't huge, but Vega delivered an average of 7% more frames with the Ryzen CPU. Oddly enough, it was a different story at 1080p, and here the 7700K with Vega delivered 5% more frames.

In an interesting twist, Ryzen was consistently faster than the Core i7 at both resolutions when you compared the 1% low results to the GTX 1080. So DiRT 4 gave us some interesting results.

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