4K gaming tested: AMD Ryzen and GeForce GTX 1080 Ti for less than Intel's cheapest 8-core chip

And you'll still have enough money left over for a pizza!

IDG

IDG

AMD’s new high-end Ryzen 7 processors kick ass, going toe-to-toe with Intel’s cheapest 8-core chips in productivity tasks at a whopping 50 percent cost savings—or more if you opt anything but the flagship $500 Ryzen 7 1800X.

No, Ryzen chips don’t offer the same raw gaming performance as Intel’s quad-core chips. That’s indisputable. But neither do the high-end Intel Extreme Edition processors that are Ryzen’s true peers. While comparing Ryzen against Intel quad-cores is illuminating for potential upgraders focused solely on gaming, it’s not quite apples-to-apples. A more realistic way to look at it: Intel’s quad-core Core i5 and Core i7 chips are excellent gaming chips with decent productivity chops, while Ryzen and Intel’s Extreme Edition CPUs are killer productivity and content-creation processors that are decent in gaming.

Ryzen’s damned affordable pricing, however, goes a long way toward bridging the gap.

The mammoth price difference between the $1,050 Core i7-6900K and AMD’s processors leave you a lot of budgetary wiggle room to splurge on a GPU. In fact, for the same price as the Core i7-6900K, you could pick up a $330 Ryzen 7 1700 CPU and Nvidia’s beastly new $700 GeForce GTX 1080 Ti and still have $20 left over for a large pizza.

Yes, you read that right. For the same price as Intel’s cheapest 8-core processor, you can pick up a competitive 8-core AMD chip and the most powerful graphics card ever released. That’s an eye-opener.

ryzen 2 Gordon Mah Ung

In response to criticism over Ryzen’s gaming performance, AMD noted that the performance gap shrinks when your pair the processor with a potent graphics card and game at 4K resolution. That’s true! While doing so doesn’t reflect the pure gaming potential of a CPU (which is why in our Ryzen review we tested at 1080p), strenuous 4K gaming shifts the system bottleneck from the processor to the graphics card instead, which can even out the real-world playing field between CPUs of varying gaming-performance chops.

With a Ryzen chip and Nvidia’s monster graphics card in hand, it’s time to put that theory to the test. Here are some brief benchmarks showing how the dynamic duo fares in a handful of games at 4K and 1440p resolutions—for less than the cost of Intel’s cheapest 8-core chip alone.

Testing the Ryzen 7 1700 and GTX 1080 Ti

First, a quick refresher on the hardware we’re using, followed by some test results, before finishing with caveats and the future!

The $330 Ryzen 7 1700 is AMD’s most affordable high-end Ryzen chip, but it still packs 8 cores and 16 threads of power, with a 3GHz base clock speed and 3.7GHz maximum boost clock speed out of the box. You can see its performance in PCWorld’s Ryzen review. Nvidia’s $700 GeForce GTX 1080 Ti, on the other hand, is the most ferocious graphics card ever, with even more performance than the mighty $1,200 Titan X.

geforce gtx 1080 ti 2 Gordon Mah Ung

Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1080 Ti.

The rest of the system is identical to my ultimate AMD gaming PC build. I just swapped out the processor and graphics card. Since I’m trying to keep this as close to an out-of-the-box experience as possible, I haven’t tinkered with RAM speeds or done any of the other tricks AMD suggests to improve gaming performance. (More on that later.) I am running the latest stable BIOS, however, and switched Windows from its default Balanced power plan to High Performance to allow Ryzen’s on-CPU management technology to operate correctly.

Illustrating how the Ryzen 7 1700 and GTX 1080 Ti perform in tandem at 4K resolution games is the main goal of this article. That said, for reference I’m also going to include GTX 1080 Ti performance results from PCWorld’s Intel Core i7-5960X-based GPU testing system in these charts. It’s not quite the controlled apples-to-apples comparison you’d find in a formal review, but the 5960X is also an 8-core, 16-thread part, and the Core i7-6900K’s direct predecessor. It’s also paired with 16GB of DDR4 memory, just like the Ryzen rig.

gtx 1080 ti nvidia 8 Brad Chacos

The GTX 1080 Ti inside the Core i7-5960X machine.

As always, I benchmarked every game using the default graphics settings unless otherwise noted, with all vendor-specific special features—such as Nvidia’s GameWorks effects, AMD’s TressFX, and FreeSync/G-Sync—as well as VSync and frame-rate caps disabled. These four games are among the ones we regularly use for GPU benchmarking, not ones specifically picked to highlight Ryzen strong points. Each was tested until Ryzen’s weaker-than-Intel-CPU gaming performance was revealed.

Got it? Good. Let’s start with The Division, a game that AMD highlighted to the press as having solid performance with Ryzen chips.

ryzn gtx division Brad Chacos

The Ryzen and Intel systems go neck-and-neck at 4K resolution. The gap widens a bit at 1440p, giving the Intel system a slight 7 percent performance advantage, but AMD’s chip still delivers a damned fine gaming experience overall in both average frame rates and overall smoothness.

Next up: Far Cry Primal.

ryzn gtx fcp 4k Brad Chacos
ryzn gtx fcp 1440 Brad Chacos

Again, Ryzen competes flawlessly with the 5960X-based system at 4K, but Ryzen’s performance deficit definitely shows at 1440p—though you still can’t knock those damned playable frame rates.

Finally, let’s take a peek at Rise of the Tomb Raider and Ashes of the Singularity at 4K resolution. Ashes was tested in both DirectX 11 and DirectX 12 modes.

ryzn gtx rotr Brad Chacos
ryzn gtx aots Brad Chacos

The frame rates are still nothing to sneeze at here, but even with the brute force of Nvidia’s monster, Intel’s older 8-core Haswell-based chip clearly delivers more. Ryzen’s choking the GTX 1080 Ti.

But raw gaming performance numbers aren’t the whole story here.

Next page: Cost considerations, performance today and tomorrow

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags AMDnvidia

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Brad Chacos

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?