Last month, we tested the gaming performance of AMD's Ryzen 7 processors by pairing them with a Titan X Pascal and playing 16 new games at 1080p and 1440p. These results were reasonable, but not quite where you'd expect them to deliver the incredible productivity performance of the latest AMD architecture.
Since then, we've looked at Ryzen from different angles and examined the impact of memory scaling, CCX performance, and software / firmware updates. By far the greatest winnings were made by game developers at this point.
AMD recently worked with the Stardock and Oxide Games teams for a few weeks to improve Ryzen's performance in Ashes of the Singularity. The resulting update offers up to 30% more power for the Ryzen 7 1800X. We also saw that the minimum frame rate of Dota 2 for the 1800X was increased by approximately 15%, and optimizations are also coming for other games.
That's exciting stuff, and while we can't wait to see more games to take full advantage of Ryzen, we've decided to test a rumor in the meantime.
It has recently been claimed that Ryzen's gaming performance is actually better than we think, but that it is limited by Nvidia's GeForce graphics cards. Armed with this claim, the red team's fans were up and running and spreading what may be misinformation.
Curious whether the story is true, we grabbed a test system and installed a GeForce GTX 1060 and a Radeon RX 480. Both were equipped with the latest display drivers and were only compared to low quality settings at 720p in order to eliminate GPU bottlenecks.
We compared a total of 13 games, five of which were tested with DirectX 11 and DirectX 12.
We configured both the 7700K and 1800X to run at 4.0 GHz, but you can ignore the Kaby Lake downclock as I am not trying to show which processor is faster. Both chips were also paired with DDR4-3200 memory (we now have some new G.Skill CL14 things that work great with Ryzen).
This determines the scene. So let's start with the titles that support both versions of DirectX and check whether Ryzen processors are better equipped with a graphics card from AMD or Nvidia.
Rise of the Tomb Raider (DX11 & DX12)
When we first look at Rise of the Tomb Raider, we see that the 7700K was only 5% faster than the 1800X when both were paired with the GTX 1060. However, when we compare the minimum frame rates, the 7700K is 14% faster.
When switching to the RX 480, the 7700K is now 9% faster on average than the 1800X, while its lead is increased to 18% with minimal frames.
When testing Tomb Raider with DX11, Ryzen actually does worse compared to the 7700K with the RX 480.
It looks different when testing with DX12. Based on the results of the GTX 1060, we find that the 7700K is 14% faster compared to the average frame rate, while the 7700K is only 7% faster after switching to the RX 480.
You could argue that we could encounter a GPU bottleneck here at 172fps with the 7700K. The fact that the minimum frame rate performance varies by 18% for the RX 480 and only 15% for the GTX 1060 suggests this.
For those wondering, these results are based on the canned benchmark, but the Geothermal Valley level numbers match what I saw from the custom PresentMon pass. I can add these results later if necessary, but I will probably wait for Vega before speaking to you again.