We are going to skip the big long AMD history lesson for this one, but if you have hours to spare and want to read about that:
- We watched the birth of weak-sauce Zen 1.
- We saw how it grew much stronger in Zen 2.
- Then it overtook Intel with the excellent Zen 3.
- But last year Intel came back with a vengeance.
Today, we take a look at where AMD lands with its Zen 4 launch.
The Good of Zen 4
The new CPUs from AMD are:
- Ryzen 5 7600X (6-cores/12-threads for $300)
- Ryzen 7 7700X (8-cores/16-threads for $400)
- Ryzen 9 7900X (12-cores/24-threads for $550)
- Ryzen 9 7950X (16-cores/32-threads for $700)
All four of these CPUs perform excellently, beating the target competition from Intel. On average, the performance increase from the last AMD generation is around 15%, clock-for-clock. But these new CPUs are clocked a lot higher, leading to a total performance increase that is roughly 30%! Yes, these new CPUs are real monsters!
These CPUs slot into a new AM5 socket. AM5 and AM4 CPUs are not compatible, but AM5’s socket brackets are fully backward compatible with AM4 brackets, so your AM4 coolers are AM5 coolers.
The Meh of Zen 4
The new CPUs are the same (launch) price as the CPUs they are replacing, with the same core count. For new builders, or people with very old PCs, these new CPUs are great.
However, if your system is from the last couple of years, you are probably fine keeping it and not upgrading yet.
The Bad of Zen 4
AMD’s AM5 platform is a pure DDR5 system, standing in contrast to Intel’s option to build with DDR4 or DDR5 using the same CPUs. DDR5 is better, but the improvement is small, and the price of DDR5 is still disproportionately high.
AMD’s CPU launch was accompanied by purely high-end motherboards. These are priced much higher than similar Intel-compatible motherboards, or even when compared to Zen3-launch motherboards. Cheaper motherboards are expected later this month, but buyers who do not want to wait will suffer the double-whammy price increase of more expensive RAM and pricier motherboards!
And that’s not all:
The new CPUs run hot. Very hot! That is too damned hot, AMD! The smaller two CPUs are fine, but if you are going for the more powerful options from this new Zen4 family, AMD themselves are officially recommending strong cooling solutions. Maybe Zen4+ will bring some power management improvements and better thermals?
We are adding all four of the new CPUs to our charts, meaning that AMD now dominates the high-end!
- R5 7600X is added to Outstanding, replacing the i5-12600K
- R7 7700X is added to both Exceptional and Enthusiast, replacing the i7-12700K
- R9 7900X and R9 7950X are added to Extremist, replacing the i9-12900K and i9-12900KS
- Compatible AM5 motherboards in all of those four tiers
- Compatible DDR5 RAM in all of those four tiers
These changes are already live for the USA table, and will roll out to other counties as availability dictates.