When we recently updated our Best CPUs feature, we found that accessing affordable, first-generation Ryzen processors remains an attractive option for many. The Ryzen 7 1700 is a standout option as this 8-core / 16-thread part sells for $ 160. So you can buy either the R7 1700 or the R5 2600. So today we have a classic head-to-head CPU comparison for you.
For new buyers, the Ryzen 5 2600X is our best choice in this price range. It's currently only $ 20 more than the non-X model and comes with a better, cooler, and more aggressive clock speed. In this scenario, we think the small price premium is worthwhile. However, some of you wondered if it was worth buying the Ryzen 7 1700 over the 2600X. Of course, you get two extra cores, but the downside is that you miss out on these Zen + optimizations, making the 2nd generation parts a little more responsive, if you like, a little faster.
For productivity workloads that require many cores, the R7 1700 is a more obvious choice. The clock rate disadvantage and higher memory latency are generally overcome by the 33% increase in cores. However, if your workload doesn't require eight cores, the 2600X is faster.
For those of you who prioritize gaming, which one is better? Based on our coverage on the first day, you would have to choose the 2600X, but did something change a year later? Are today's games more challenging?
We used the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti in all tests to minimize GPU bottlenecks. However, before some of you disapprove of using such an extreme GPU, please note that all tests take place at 1080p, 1440p and 4K. For example, the 4K Ultra results are comparable to a mid-range graphics card with 1080p. In addition, those using lower quality settings will see higher frame rates with a lower graphics card.
Since the integrated memory controller of the 2nd generation Ryzen processors has been significantly improved, we have not hindered the 2600X in terms of memory. Instead, we combined it with a 16 GB DDR4-3400 CL16 kit. The R7 1700 was limited to 16 GB DDR4-2933 memory with CL15 timings.
Both CPUs were tested on the Gigabyte X470 Aorus Gaming 7 WiFi with the standard box coolers. We're not concerned with overclocking (we covered this when we released it) and the focus is on game performance, although we ended up testing some application workloads to get a more complete picture in the end.
First we have Vermintide 2 and this is a good example of a title that is not particularly CPU intensive, at least not when comparing 6 and 8 core processors. We see identical performance at 1700 and 2600X, although the RTX 2080 Ti appears to be CPU-bound at 1080p. There's not much to report here, so let's move on to Assassin's Creed: Odyssey.
The results here are a little more interesting. The Ryzen 7 1700 limits performance at 1080p, which is pretty strong given the 1% low result. The 2600X offered a 26% increase in performance and kept the frame rate above 60 fps at all times.
If we switch to 1440p and are now tied to the GPU, the average frame rate when using the 2600X was still 10% higher. Once we hit 4K, we're largely confined to the GPU, but even here, the 2600X's improved latency and support for faster storage made a small difference.
Although Fortnite has no particular CPU requirements when discussing 12- and 16-thread processors, we see a significant increase in performance with the 2600X. The clock speed advantage and the improved storage performance play a key role here.
The 2600X was up to 20% faster at 1080p and offered up to 17% more power at 1440p. When we reach 4K, the margin is reduced to zero and at this point we see the same performance regardless of which CPU is used.
Apex Legends sees a performance advantage of up to 10% over the 2600X at 1080p. This margin is reduced to 7% at 1440p and then completely eliminated at 4K. Given that the GPU-free results are all over 140 fps, the difference doesn't matter much.
In Resident Evil 2, the 2600X has released a few additional frames with 1080p, offering around 9% more performance. This margin was halved at 1440p and then completely eliminated at 4K. Depending on the quality setting and resolution, you may see a difference of up to 10%, but most likely you will see little or no difference with this title.
Next we have Just Cause 4 and this time we see a performance advantage of up to 15% with the 2600X. Even at 1440p, the 2600X was 8% faster. Not a huge margin, but still a decent performance boost with this GPU-demanding resolution.
Hitman 2 is always a strange title. Here you can see that the R7 1700 causes a bottleneck in the three resolutions, since it limits the RTX 2080 Ti to 72 fps. However, we saw a constant decrease in 1% low power as the resolution increased and the 4K result is quite unusual. The 2600X enabled a performance increase of up to 10% and offered a more constant performance of 1%.
In Project Cars 2, the 2600X delivers up to 10% more power at 1080p and 12% more at 1440p. The 2600X appears to be limited to 1080p and 1440p GPU, while this only applies to the R7 1700 with 1080p. By the time we hit 4K, both CPUs are heavily GPU limited, so the performance is largely the same.
The 2600X was up to 15% faster in Rainbow Six Siege and even offered a bit more power at 1440p. With both CPUs with a speed of over 120 fps, however, one has to ask how important this scope is.
We have to say that we were surprised that the 2600X in Battlefield V delivers up to 20% more frames even at 1080p. Basically, the Ryzen 7 1700 limited the RTX 2080 Ti to about 100 fps in our test, which resulted in a bottleneck at 1080p, which resulted in similar performance at 1440p. At 1440p, we're still mostly limited to the GPU, and of course this applies even more to 4K.
World of Tanks may use Ryzen CPUs better today, but it's still not CPU intensive. The 2600X was slightly ahead at 1080p and 1440p with an insignificant lead, and then, as usual, we were GPU limited to 4K resolution.
Metro Exodus is another title that, at least for a modern processor, has no special CPU requirements. Even though the 2600X was faster with 1080p and 1440p, the R7 1700 still delivered strong frame rates.
Ryzen CPUs were always a bit strange in the Far Cry series, the Primal results were always very strange. The game seems to be very sensitive to memory latency, and even though the CPU is limited to 1080p, the Ryzen 5 processor was 12% faster even with the 2600X at that resolution and 1440p.
The faster memory and lower latency of the 2600X must account for this difference. What is really strange here is that we continued to see the R7 1700 fall off at 4K resolution. We should be fully bound to the GPU at this point, but that wasn't the case with the Ryzen 7 processor.
Later we see exactly the same problem when testing with Shadow of the Tomb Raider. Here you can see that the Ryzen 7 1700 limits the performance at 1080p and 1440p to 83 fps. In the meantime, the 2600X limited performance to around 87 fps, making it about 5% faster.
The frame rates when testing with Monster Hunter: World were similar. The R5 2600X offered a little boost, but overall the experience with both CPUs was no different.
Strange Brigade has no CPU requirements and is a good example of what things look like in a typical game title or when the GPU is bound.
Star Wars Battlefront II places high demands on both the CPU and the GPU. However, if you have 12 or more threads to play with the CPU side, this is less of a problem. Both CPUs showed similar performance in this game.
Finally we have The Division 2 and see similar performance with both CPUs …
Summary: evenly coordinated
It's fair to say that Ryzen 5 2600X and Ryzen 7 1700 are very similar overall in terms of gaming performance. When we saw a difference, the 2600X was the leader in every case, although the delta was usually limited to a margin of 5 to 10%. We believe for most players that no difference will be made.
However, if you just want to play games, the 2600X is the better CPU. You now benefit more from the lower latency and higher clocked memory, while the additional cores of the R7 1700 may never prove useful for the life of the CPU. As already mentioned, the Ryzen 7 1700 could prove more attractive if you can use these two additional cores for productivity apps … How much more attractive? It is not massively faster and requires some handicraft work to really move in front of a 2600X share.
For those of you who aren't interested in overclocking, the Ryzen 7 1700 in Blender is only 4% faster. For content creators, the 2600X could actually be a better choice, as its clock speed and lower latency advantage improve editing. Even with rendering tasks, the R7 1700 was only 6% faster, as seen in Corona. So it's not like the 2600X is blown out of the water despite only six cores.
If you need further evidence, here are some Cinebench R15 results. The 1700 is only 3% faster when comparing multithreaded performance. It is important to note, however, that the 1700 will be around 15% slower on single thread or even light thread workloads. This was found in our gaming benchmarks.
You've probably noticed the Ryzen 7 1800X results in the previous application charts and they were up to 20% faster than the 2600X. This can be achieved with the R7 1700 by overclocking. The Ryzen 7 1700 has a lot of overclocking scope, unless you get a dud chip. Because of our purchases – and we bought some of them – your chances of getting a dud are slim.
If you're not interested in overclocking and can choose one of the two CPUs for the same price, we'll get the Ryzen 5 2600X every time. The Zen + refinements weren't groundbreaking, but the latency improvements are there and overall, the 2600X is the slightly faster CPU. Honestly, you won't go wrong in either case if the alternative is to purchase an 8-core 16-thread CPU for $ 160.
With Zen 2 just around the corner, it's a difficult choice for those who want to upgrade now. Do you hold out a little longer or are you snatching a dirt-cheap Ryzen processor of the first or second generation? We leave this decision up to you.