AMD Ryzen CPUs : The Basics

If you watch tech videos regularly on YouTube, you’ll probably have noticed your recommended feed having blown up with videos of the newly announced AMD Ryzen processors over the last 24 hours. Let me give you the lowdown of what this means for all of you PC gamers out there, if you don’t follow CPU politics…

For many years now, Intel has dominated the PC industry with their i-series CPU lineup. The Core series before it was also a huge success, but AMD was able to offer a lot more resistance with CPUs that competed thanks to being the cheaper option. AMD wasn’t able to continue that trend with Intel’s i-series, and many AMD CPUs struggled to match any flagship Intel chipsets for over half a decade.

There were some good attempts by AMD at adding more cores and threads into their CPUs, but games were notorious for not using more than a couple of cores at a time. Even then, they only used multiple cores if the developers specifically designed the game engines to take advantage of them in some way. In recent years this trend in game engines has started gradually changing. With graphical APIs like Vulkan and DirectX12 offering support for using every core/thread a CPU has available, the battle between Intel and AMD over who has the highest clock speeds is no longer a simple battle to be fought.

After all of these years of AMD offering more cores than their Intel rivals, that offering is finally more beneficial to us as gamers, now that games and applications are being designed and developed to be able to detect and take advantage of more than 2 cores at a time. The additional cores also help with things like streaming gameplay to platforms such as Twitch, and for our ever-increasing fascination with things like video editing  and other creative media content that requires rendering off a strong CPU.

This is why AMD’s Ryzen 7 series is so game-changing. Not only do they offer twice the core count of their comparable Intel counterpart chipsets, but they are also cheaper to buy in the process. There are three models: the 1700, 1700x, and the 1800x. What’s great is that their flagship high-end 1800x will retail at $500/£490, which is nearly half the price of the comparable Intel equivalent.

Intel has been overpricing their CPUs for a while; having a monopoly on the CPU market has meant that they’ve been able to dictate the pace as far as pricing and releases go. Ryzen’s lineup is set to change all that, and will “shake up the market” as they’ve put it themselves. Intel now have no choice but to either lower the prices on their current chipsets to stay competitive, or they will have to release something significantly better at a similarly affordable price.

All three Ryzen chipsets have 8 cores and 16 threads, but their clock speeds vary quite significantly as you choose a higher model. The 1700 clocks at 3.0ghz and turbos up to 3.7ghz, the 1700x starts from 3.4ghz (a considerably higher base clock for gaming) and turbos up to 3.8ghz, and finally the 1800x starts at 3.6ghz and turbos up to 4.0ghz. The 1700 has a tdp of 65w, whilst the other two sit at 95w. In simple terms, it means that the 1700 will do wonders for lower-budget gaming/media setups that want low power draw and a stable 8 core CPU clocked at above 3.0ghz, whilst the other two offer a mid-range and higher-tier chipset for the hardcore gamer demographic.

AMD Ryzen will be available on 2nd March, and you can pre-order from Amazon for £320, £390 or £490. You’ll need an AM4 motherboard to support them. For more information, visit the official AMD Ryzen page.