This is how I decide what my next gaming CPU, why is Ryzen 7 a better choice, and where is the data coming from.
Let’s start with the spec:
- i5-8600k – 6 cores 6 threads @ 3.6 GHz base, 4.3 GHz turbo, 12M Cache
- i7-8700k – 6 cores 12 threads @ 3.7 GHz base, 4.7 GHz turbo, 12M Cache
- R7 – 1700 8 cores 16 threads @ 3.0 GHz base, 3.7 GHz turbo, 20M Cache
Note : I’m choosing R7-1700 because, according to silicon lottery, all Ryzen 7 chips have a more or less same overclockable range. However, due to most motherboard manufacturers recommend to have at most 1.35V for best hardware life, the safe level of overclocking of these Ryzen 7 CPUs are going to be capped at 3.7 – 3.8 GHz anyway.
Let’s move on to the primary deciding factors:
- The significance of threads. From all 3 CPUs, i5-8600k has the least threads of 6, whereas i7-8700k has 12 threads and Ryzen 7 has 16 threads. These number of threads a CPU has plays a big role in terms of efficiencies. Rule of thumb is, higher threads = better efficiencies. However, especially in gaming, this efficiencies also comes with a cost, which is less FPS. This is due to more IPC (inter process communication) required. This is NOT a bottleneck, but more of a drawback of multi-threaded processing in general. A youtuber make a good video that can help me explain this. He is comparing 4 Intel Coffee Lake CPUs clocked to the same level of clockspeed, 4.5 GHz. In this video, you’ll see that i5-8600k (6c/6t @ 4.5GHz) will have a little bit more FPS but much less efficient (much higher CPU usage) compared to i7-8700k (6c/12t @ 4.5 GHz). Another youtube video compares R7-1700 with i5-8600k, in this you would see an even more extreme differences of efficiencies from a 6 threads vs 16 threads CPU. On these video, you will also see some stuttering in the witcher scene with i5-8600k CPU. It is most probably caused by the streaming process which peaks the CPU to 100% state, in which it starts to affect the games and produce stuttering. In the future, games will be even more demanding with UltraHD resolution, higher amount of units in RTS/4X/MMORPG games, complex AI etc. If current games are forcing your CPU to be at 70%+ usage, I don’t think your CPU is gonna last long before it will reach it’s peak, and starts producing stutters, lags, and in most extreme cases, crashes.
- Price per performance ratio. If you’ve read from a lot of other websites comparing Ryzen vs Coffee Lake, you would probably see a lot of fps per price ratio. Those comparisons are no good, and misleading to say the very least because they do not take efficiencies into consideration. For example, this article forgot mention that the i5-8600k utilize 70% of it’s CPU to reach 160 fps where as the Ryzen 7 only uses 20% to reach 120 fps. (this is a random number, just mentioning so that everyone can understand the gist of it). The best, most demanding gaming system benchmark I would trust to be both cpu-bound and gpu-bound, which illustrates what current & future gaming would be, is 3DMark & VRMark. This article and this article specifies some Ryzen 7 and Coffee Lake benchmark scores. For VRMark, it is better to use Orange Room scores for now, as the Blue Room’s benchmark is a little bit too extreme in requirement, most system cannot perform reliably on there, which results in strange scores. I’m not gonna post the price of each CPUs here, nor performing price per performance ratio table in this post, as prices are varied on every countries. For example, in my country, R7 1700 is slightly cheaper than i5-8600k (contrary to pricing on US). For this reason, my advise is for you to do the price per performance ratio calculation yourself, based on the prices available at your local dealer.
The R7 1700 can perform reliably on the most demanding games (check this youtube video), 1440p/144hz, check. 2160p/60fps, check. As for VR gaming, with 2160 x 1200 @ 90hz, R7 1700 can easily reach 90 fps (check this video). As for 2160p/144hz, it is pretty much unknown for now, I haven’t seen a triple / quad 1080 ti SLI combined with 2160p/144hz benchmark with Ryzen 7. But if I have to make an educated guess, I’m sure it should be fine as well as most of the hard work is done by the GPU.
On my country, R7 1700 is 60% the price of i7-8700k. Of course, it’s price per performance ratio is through the roof. Plus the addition of lower TDP, more threads/efficiencies, it’s great stock heatsink, it’s an absolute CPU of choice.