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Ryzen 7 vs. Intel Core i7 in £1,000 challenge

In an interesting twist on getting the most bang for buck on content creation, professional applications and gaming, we set ourselves roughly a £1,000 budget that had to cover the CPU, motherboard, graphics card and memory, with all other components remaining the same between systems.

On the AMD front, we chose a Ryzen 7 1700 processor (£289), a Gigabyte AB350-Gaming 3 motherboard (£99), 16GB of G.Skill Ripjaws V memory (£125), and an EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 Gaming graphics card (£509), with the grand total coming to £1,022. Incidentally, this is about the price of an Intel Core i7-6900K processor alone.

For Intel, and making sure that components were similar, we used a Core i7-7700 processor (£289) and Gigabyte GA-H270-HD3P motherboard (£99), pushing overall budget up to the same £1,022. The aim is to see which of these systems offers the best combination of performance and energy efficiency across eclectic workloads. Here is how each system fared.

What we see is Ryzen 7 opening up a commanding lead over the price-equivalent Intel processor in CPU-intensive applications, to the tune of 64 and 39 per cent in Cinebench and HandBrake, respectively. The main catalyst for this improvement rests with AMD offering twice the number of cores and threading ability as Intel. However, single-threaded speed, whilst much improved, still doesn't match the competition.

Does this mean that Ryzen 7 is a poor cousin when it comes to gaming? The answer is no, especially when powering a high-end graphics card (GeForce GTX 1080) at a sensible resolution such as 2,560x1,440. There is barely any difference between the systems here. That line of thinking extends to energy efficiency, too. We measured the at-wall power consumption of the Ryzen 7 platform when running HandBrake at 107 watts, compared with 101 watt for Intel. These numbers are in line with the two chips' quoted 65W TDPs. Meanwhile, gaming power consumption is 245W and 240W for AMD and Intel, respectively.

We'd argue that the Core i7-7700 provides an optimum balance of price, performance and power from the Intel stable. However, it is massively bested by the AMD Ryzen 7 1700 in multithreaded benchmarks whilst offering the same gaming performance and energy consumption. You do the math and work out which platform is better for the power user on a relative budget.

AMD Ryzen 7 processors are available at the following retailers:

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