I have been waiting for this day for a long time. Finally, after years of Intel’s dominance in the PC CPU market we have a new contender from an old rival. AMD is here with its brand new RYZEN CPUs! I was more than excited to give them a try but it was not smooth sailing.
When I first started with RYZEN I had few options. It was whatever my local Microcenter had because it was the only place with motherboards in stock. I decided to go with the RYZEN 1700 (because it came with a fan), some Corsair Vengeance LPX 3000 ram, & a matching MSI B350 Tomahawk motherboard. Thus began 3 weeks of trial and tribulation.
I knew what I was getting into. This was a brand new architecture that seemed to be rushed out the door so fast that the motherboard manufacturers could not keep up with production. I gave it a few days, as well as trying different BIOS and was still having issues so I started swapping parts. I swapped the motherboard and then the CPU but still could not get the results I was after. Only then did I realize memory was the culprit.
Turns out RYZEN is particular about the ram it likes and really benefits from faster ram in general. For the best performance consult your motherboards compatibility chart but all in all you want Samsung based single-sided memory modules rated at 3200MHz or above. I could not get my 3000 memory to post above 2400 but as soon as I swapped to the Corsair Vengeance LPX 3200 I was running at 2933 on XMP without issue.
After I had the memory sorted I started seeing real progress on the MSI BIOS but by then I had already decided to swap to the ASRock X370 Gaming K4. I must admit this had much to do with brand loyalty but for the price, the ASRock boards offer the best bang for buck around. I also wanted the 10gbps USB just in case. If you don’t need USB 3.1 Gen 2 or SLI the MSI B350 Tomahawk is THE motherboard to get and at $109.99 its a steal!
The swap over to the ASRock motherboard went mostly OK. Their BIOS was a little behind MSI but it performed about with same with the same settings but now I was going for stability. When I went to the ASRock motherboard I also was able to get the mounting brackets from my Noctua C14, which is my go to for my HTPC case. The stock fan that comes with the 1700 is actually great and cools better than expected. Plenty of people are overclocking on the stock fan but I just wanted the extra breathing room.
All of the RYZEN 7 chips are basically the same. It seems that they just “bin” the chips that come off the assembly line based on performance. They best ones go on to be an 1800X, the slightly less stable ones go one to be the 1700X, then the lesser ones go one to be the 1700s. The clock the 1700’s lower to get that low TDP of 65 watts but they are capable of much more. It’s the luck of the draw.
My particular RYZEN 1700 after a couple weeks of BIOS updates and testing has turned out very much to my liking. I am running rock solid stable at 3.9GHz at 1.381 volts. Well below AMD recommended max of 1.45 volts. This is a 24/7 overclock and I would not recommend going above 1.4 volts in this situation. I was also able to get the memory stable at 2933MHz. I could push it to 3200 but it becomes unstable and has diminishing returns.
Overall I would recommend the AMD RYZEN 1700 over the 1700X and the 1800X, as long as you are willing to put the work in. It takes a bit to find the chips sweet spot but once you do it’s fantastic. Well worth the time put in and come on… it’s fun. I would not be doing it if I did not enjoy it!
If you are only a gamer, The current Intel CPUs like the i7 7700K are still your best bet at this price. If you do more than game, you can’t beat RYZEN for its value. Developers are jumping aboard the RYZEN train as I write this. As more games are optimized for RYZEN we may see those FPS get even better.
I for one am not worried. My system is running faster than ever and the future is looking up! Really 8 cores and 16 threads at 3.9GHz for $329… I don’t really see a downside. This is the shakeup the industry was needing. I’m happy to support AMD this time around.
Be sure to check out my KIT below showing off else is inside my current personal rig and where to get it for yourself.