The launch of AMD’s Ryzen series last year placed AMD firmly back into the top end of the commercial and consumer processor market. This paved the way for the launch of the second generation Ryzen processors in April this year, which provide a number of performance improvements and upgrades.
The first generation did a fantastic job of establishing themselves against Intel’s Kaby Lake processors, offering a much increased core count without sacrificing too much single core power. The second generation further closed the gap against Coffee Lake, making the 2700x the processor of choice if you’re buying a high end system at the time of writing.
We’re going to compare the first generation of Ryzen processors against the second, to see if it’s worth picking up the newer series of chips released this year, or going for the original generation and making a value purchase to get the maximum performance for your money.
We’re specifically going to be comparing the Ryzen 7 1700X vs the Ryzen 7 2700X as the highest end processors of each generation that share a naming convention. While the 1800X exists, it’s not something we’d recommend for reasons we’ll explain later on.
Ryzen 1 vs Ryzen 2
The difference between the first and second Ryzen generations is found, unsurprisingly, within the architecture. The original ‘Zen’ architecture that that powers the first generation went through several improvements which resulted in ‘Zen+’.
Zen vs Zen+ Architecture
Zen+ sees several improvements across the board compared to the original Zen, although nothing particularly earth shaking it’s still considerable. It’s the same architecture, but it’s been enhanced and refined for the new generation.
We’re going to dive into the nitty gritty differences here, so take a deep breath.
Zen+ offers a 10% performance improvement over its original incarnation as well as a 15% improvement in circuit density. These improvements manifest in many ways, including a 6% increase in top clock speeds, all cores being able to overclock at around 4.2GHz and a 50mV core reduction in voltage, all coming from the improved transistor.
Ontop of this, the second generation Ryzen series draws around 11% less power than the original generation, which AMD has claimed results in 16% increased performance with the same amount of power.
Zen+ is essentially the same as Zen, just taken and refined more carefully. The features are laid out slightly differently on the chip itself, as they take up less area there is more dark silicon between the features themselves.
This allows for better thermal performance, as there is physically more dark silicon between each feature, allowing the chip to be that much more efficient. So once again, Zen+ isn’t different to Zen, it’s just more efficiently made which allows for performance increases.
Some additional minor adjustments care the +3% increase in IPC (instructions per cycle), an increase in DRAM Frequency Support up to DDR4-2933, better voltage and frequency curves and thermal response with XFR2, and better boost performance with Precision Boost 2.
If we look at the flagship chip for each generation, The Ryzen 7 1700X retails for £210 ($254) vs The Ryzen 7 2700X sells for around £288 ($319), which is a fairly large price gap.
The 2700X comes with a very impressive stock cooler which helps to justify it's price tag, as you would be wanting to purchase a solid cooling solution anyway and the Wraith Prism air-cooler is more than sufficient unless you're really planning on pushing the overclocking.
The initial Ryzen offering included the 1800x, which is the most powerful first generation chip, however it’s not something that we would recommend buying. For the price, it’s very expensive as it comes with a 200mhz increase in speed for a large jump up in price, and doesn’t include a stock cooler either.
Ryzen 7 1700x vs Ryzen 7 2700x specs and performance comparison
Here come the raw stats!
Below you’ll find a table that compares the specifications of the 1700X and the 2700X and we’ll throw in the 1800X just for reference too.
Ryzen 7 1700x, 1800x and 2700X comparison table
AMD Ryzen 7 1700X AMD Ryzen 7 1800X AMD Ryzen 7 2700X Price£210 £229 £288 Cores/Threads 8/16 8/16 8/16 Base Clock 3.4GHz 3.6GHz 3.7GHz Maximum Boost Clock 3.8GHz 4.0GHz 4.3GHz Cache 16MB 16MB 16MB TDP 95W 95W 105W Cooling Solution None None Wraith Prism Cooler
As you can see there is a fairly predictable progression in specs as you move up the line of processors. However, considering the 2700X also comes with an extremely competent air cooler worth something to the tune of £40 ($50) it’s remarkably close in price considering you’ll be receiving the advantages of the Zen+ architecture.
Should you buy a first or second generation Ryzen processor?
There is actually a very linear progression in terms of price and performance here, which is usually not the norm at all. The more you tend spend on a processor, or indeed anything, the less performance you’re getting per pound as that performance increases.
That is not the case here, as the 2700x out performance the pair by a respectable margin, while gaining all the benefits of the Zen+ architecture, and including a solid air cooler within the price.
Usually there is a case to be made for the older generation chips as they can offer a better price/performance level with the most recent chip charging exponentially more for that extra bit of speed. We’re happy to say that while the previous chips are still very solid and you’ll struggle to find a task that will really test them, the 2700x is still the best choice here.