PSA: The AMD Ryzen 7 1800X Is Faster Than It Used to Be

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When AMD launched the Ryzen 7 1800X, it ran into a few rough spots around 1080p gaming performance. The company told gamers to expect that this situation would improve, thanks to a combination of motherboard updates and game-specific/Ryzen-specific optimizations. At the time, this wasn’t surprising — it’s not unusual for a CPU architecture to need software optimizations to hit its full potential. As far as I recall, these discussions were generally confined to games and only relevant at 1080p. It was surprising, therefore, to see a few spots where the Ryzen 7 1800X’s performance had significantly improved. We’ve identified several applications where this has happened.

We found our impacted applications by comparing the performance delta between Ryzen 7 1800X (See on Amazon) and the Ryzen 7 2700X. Because AMD had already told us to expect a consistent 10 percent performance uplift with occasional excursions beyond that point, any sign of a larger jump pointed to reference figures that were no longer up to date. We found three such points in testing, and re-benchmarking the 1800X confirmed it. We’ve split these results out into graphs below:

The Dolphin EMU CPU benchmark is a synthetic test using a popular GameCube emulator that has historically favored Intel microprocessors and high clock speeds. It’s a single-threaded test and it hasn’t historically been a win for AMD. While Intel still wins this test overall, we see a 4 percent performance uplift for the 1800X between its launch and April 2018. Dolphin EMU actually responds well to AMD’s Game Mode optimizations, but we do not test in that mode now or in 2017.

RyzenComp-Benchwell

When Ryzen launched, it became immediately apparent the CPU was a rendering powerhouse. From Cinebench to Blender, Ryzen slugged it out with the Core i7, often sweeping benchmark suites — except for Maxwell Render. Here, Intel retained a significant advantage that AMD could only surpass by leveraging additional cores. The 13.5 percent performance uplift for the Ryzen 7 1800X in Maxwell Render is quite significant, helping the 1800X and 2700X speed ahead and mostly nullifying the advantage Intel once enjoyed in this test.

RyzenComp-HandbrakeH264

Ryzen 7 has always been great at H.264 encoding — moreso than H.265, where it tends to lose out to Intel. Nonetheless, the chip’s performance has strengthened, with encode times dropping 6.7 percent. Stack on further acceleration from the Ryzen 7 2700X’s higher clock speed, and you’ve got a formidable competitor.

I’m not aware of any over-arching issue tying these improvements together, but we’re still using the same DRAM, GPU, and SSDs today that we deployed for the initial Ryzen 7 1800X launch. We used Ryzen Master, AMD’s Ryzen utility, to confirm that we weren’t seeing any issues with clock speeds, either. The combined impact of Windows Updates, proper power profile management, better firmware, and optimized memory support has boosted performance in these applications. Oher tests, like Blender rendering, Cinebench, and 7zip show no impacts beyond those delivered by the Ryzen 7 2700X’s increased clock speeds.

When Ryzen 7 launched, AMD promised that the performance we saw on launch day would continue to improve over time thanks to future UEFI updates and app optimizations. Companies often make these claims, but the long-term improvement rate historically isn’t very good. It’s not surprising that AMD had ground to make up back in 2017 — after six years in the metaphorical wilderness, and with its desktop share in full retreat, plenty of vendors hadn’t had to think about AMD performance optimizations for years. Even vendors that did invest in Bulldozer or Piledriver-specific performance improvements would’ve found those gains ill-suited to Ryzen’s architecture. But at the same time, there was no initial way to know what kind of improvements to expect over Ryzen’s lifetime.

These performance gains won’t rewrite the book on the Ryzen 7 1800X, but they’re proof that AMD was telling the truth when it told users to expect better performance figures over time. While the gains are application-specific, the Ryzen 7 1800X is faster today than it was in 2017.

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