After months of anticipation and leaks, the Ryzen 7000 series CPUs are here, bringing with them the latest and greatest AMD has for PC computing and among them is the AMD Ryzen 9 7950X CPU. The Zen 4 series is ushering in a lot of improvements, and it feels like a major leap forward. From the new socket, to the new 5nm process, the 7000 series CPUs are giving a taste of how the future of AMD will look and if the AMD Ryzen 9 7950X CPU is anything to go by, it will be an exciting age for PC gaming indeed.
Before we get underway for this review, we looked at the Ryzen 9 7950X with the perspective of this being a flagship CPU made for the performance-focused buyer be they gamer or creator. While it does cost less than many top-end CPUs have in the past, the overhead needed to run the chip at its top performance is out of the reach of most budget buyers.
This is a chip tailor-made for top creators, video producers or gamers, with most standard gamers simply not needing the extra power the Ryzen 9 7950X CPU provides. For a more reasonable option, please, check out our review of the AMD Ryzen 7 7700X CPU that delivers impressive results but costs almost half as much, and will not push the limits on cooling or other components to such an extent.
The New AMD Platform
While the past iterations of Ryzen and the Zen range of CPUs have all been on the AM4 platform, the 7000 series moves everything over to AM5. The new platform brings some much-needed improvements that AMD needs to compete against Intel.
First and foremost it finally sees AMD usher in the age of DDR5. To bring the best performance possible, you need RAM that can keep up with the increased speeds the CPUs can deliver, so this is a welcome improvement. AM5 also brings with it the ability to use EXPO memory kits that are made to push the limits on RAM latency and speeds, giving further improvements to the experiences you can find in games.
Users of AMD’s AM5 platform can expect to be able to upgrade their systems for at least the next three years without needing to completely change their motherboards. This commitment from AMD will help ensure that users can continue to get the most out of their investment in the platform. It will also bring PCIe 5 with 24-lanes of connectivity for faster speeds and less latency. If that were not enough, AM5 will also see native support for up to 170W, meaning there will be fewer bottlenecks holding the CPU back from incredible performance.
Zen 4 pushes the limits of what clock speeds users can expect. Out of the box, Zen 3 could not push past 5GHz, falling behind Intel in this department, especially against their Flagship i9-12900K or enthusiast i9-12900KS range of CPUs. Things are different when it comes to Zen 4, AMD has gone above and beyond with the boost clocks, with the top-end Ryzen 9 7950X managing a 5.7GHz boost clock, and even the Ryzen 7 7700X delivered a staggering 5.4GHz.
AMD’s Zen 3 CPUs made big waves when they hit the market, with more load/store bandwidth, lower latency, and increased multi-thread performance. Now, the Zen 4 is an entirely different animal. With its new architecture, the Zen 4 promises even more speed and efficiency, making it a force to be reckoned with in the CPU market.
With the 7000 series of processors, you can get up to twice the L2 cache and load/store bandwidth with RDNA2 graphics. Plus, RDNA2 is now available on the core for even better performance. However, all this speed and power does come with higher power requirements and more need for cooling.
Of course, there are always going to be those processors that consume more power than others. For example, the Ryzen 9 7950X can hit up to 230W when under stress. But even so, that’s not quite as much as the Core i9-12900K from Intel, although this is a CPU that will put your cooler to the test, more on that later.
AMD is putting a lot into making Zen 4 a major landmark in computing, and they have done everything right. Looking at the specs, the Ryzen 7000 range is impressive across the board, with even the lower-end CPUs delivering some impressive numbers on paper. So with this all in mind, we were very eager to see what AMD could bring to the table and how the new CPUs would fare against the current king, the Intel i9-12900KS.
Also, for people that have enjoyed the fact you can buy an Intel CPU and have some form of integrated graphics for a lot of the mid to high range, AMD is now using the extra space that the 5nm process allows for the 7000 series to come with integrated RDNS 2 graphics. While it is not made for gaming, it can allow PC builders and users to diagnose issues with a system without a GPU installed. It also can be used to aid with rendering and other tasks, even if a dedicated graphics card is present in a system.
Costs and Specs
Much like any new CPU launch, there is a big investment you will need to put in to get the best of the best. This is no different with the new AMD Ryzen 7000 range, with the top CPU, the Ryzen 9 7950X CPU coming in at $699 USD. The new platform also means you will need to invest in DDR5, since the older DDR4 will not work with AM5 boards.
But with that, you will find a very impressive list of specs being brought to the table. The Ryzen 9 7950X CPU boasts 16 cores and 32 threads, with a base clock of 4.5GHz, and a boost clock of a staggering 5.7GHz. 80 MB of L2+L3 cache, and a TDP of 170 watts with a max power draw of 230 Watts. On paper, the CPU is incredibly impressive, with it looking to hold its own against any other CPU currently on the market. But to best get a look at the real-world performance of this CPU, we need to dive into our test system and see what you should expect if you decide to dive in.
|Price||Cores / Threads (P+E)||Base / Boost Clock (GHz)||Cache (L2+L3)||TDP / Max||Memory|
|Ryzen 9 7950X||$699||16 / 32||4.5 / 5.7||80MB||170W / 230W||DDR5-5200|
|Ryzen 9 7900X||$549||4.7 / 5.6||76MB||170W / 230W||DDR5-5200|
|Ryzen 7 7700X||$399||8 / 16||4.5 / 5.4||40MB||105W||DDR5-5200|
|Ryzen 5 7600X||$299||6 / 12||4.7 / 5.3||38MB||105W||DDR5-5200|
Our Test System
With a new generation of CPUs, we thought it was time we mixed up our testing build to give everything the best chance possible to show what they could do. We built each of our systems in a Cooler Master H500p case using a 1000 Watt be quiet! power supply, Razer Hanbo 240 mm AIO cooler, and an ASUS ROG Strix RX 6700 XT GPU.
For the AMD Systems, we used an ASRock X670E Taichi main board, and 32 GB G.SKILL EXPO DDR5 6000 RAM. For our Intel test build, we used an ASUS ROG MAXIMUS Z690 HERO, with 32 GB Kingston Fury Beast DDR5-5200. Both builds were running off a Gigabyte NVMe m.2 SSD to keep all load times and performance consistent across both builds.
We at CGMagazine also decided to mix up the games we used for testing, to try and give a range of games that show off a system while still pushing even modern CPUs. While we ran many games while testing, we used the benchmarks from Ashes of Singularity, Fortnite, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, and Hitman 3.
We had planned to also run everything through Middle-earth: Shadow of War, but the game had some issues running on our AMD build, so we had to scrap it due to the time crunch we were under while testing. We do plan to expand the game list we use for testing, with new games being thrown in the mix, but we wanted a solid baseline, especially for a new CPU launch.
For testing, we looked at the AMD Ryzen 9 7950X CPU and compared it against the Intel Core 12900KS, Intel 12900K, and Ryzen 7 7700X to get a good idea of how it compares and what you can expect should you decide to invest in the new AMD range.
Since we at CGMagazine like to game and see what a new piece of hardware will do in some of our favourite titles, we wanted to dive right into the gaming benchmarks to see if the Ryzen 9 7950X could take down our current champion, the i9-12900KS, or its little brother, the i9-12900K.
For all tests, since we were focusing on the CPU, we kept everything at 1080P; we also ran with the highest default settings to push things as much as possible without becoming reliant on the GPU. We are, after all, looking to see how the new chips fair and not looking to push past that and rely only on our GPU for results.
Ashes of Singularity
Our first title we wanted to push through our test systems was classic Ashes of Singularity. While it can push the limits on a GPU, it is a great way to benchmark a CPU too. It might be a game that is getting a little older, but it still manages to show the limits of any CPU you throw in its path.
The Ryzen 9 7950X did well here, scoring a solid 80.4 average after running all our tests, with it narrowly losing to the Intel 12900KS’s impressive 81.7, and beating out the 12900K’s 79.7. The Ryzen 7700X came in fourth with 77.3. All around, this gives a great baseline for how the chips can perform and also gives a taste of how powerful AMD’s new platform really is.
A new game to our slate of tests, Fortnite has 400 million registered players with 83 million people playing at least once a month, so it made sense adding it to the mix to see how it would fare. This is also where we got a glimpse at how much more the 7950X had to offer, with it coming in a solid first place with 125 FPS, well ahead of the 115 seen with the Intel 12900KS, the 110 seen with the 12900K or the 108 seen on the Ryzen 7700X.
While not a demanding game, it does use Unreal to the fullest, and is a great game that can scale up when needed. It is also without a doubt something that most buyers will at least try on their new system, so it is great to see the AMD Ryzen 9 7950X CPU emerging the victor for this round.
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
Next up, we dove right into Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, a game that once again pushes the CPU and GPU, making it a great choice to see how well these new chips can do in the types of games people actually play. Once again, the Ryzen 9 7950X emerged on top of all our tests, seeing an average FPS of 100, with it beating out the Intel 12900KS 97, the 12900K’s 96 and even the Ryzen 7700X’s respectable 98.
The Ryzen 9 7950X is proving to be a very impressive entry for AMD and is hitting hard against the current king of the Intel range. It is also interesting to see how well the Ryzen 7700X is managing to do against CPU’s that boast significantly more cores and threads, but this is all thanks to the incredible base and boost clock AMD has delivered with the Ryzen 7000 series of chips.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider
To make things interesting, we jumped into our Shadow of the Tomb Raider benchmark next, to see how well the Ryzen 9 7950X could manage. Delivering a very solid 244FPS average, it easily won out against the 204FPS on the Ryzen 7700X, and both Intel CPU’s on the testing block. I have to say, I was shocked by how far ahead the Ryzen 9 managed to pull ahead of the other chips being tested, and I was also impressed by how well the Ryzen 7700X fared against the Intel flagships, especially considering it costs considerably less.
While not a brand-new title, Hitman 3 is a great game to test the CPU on based on the way it utilizes it while playing. While it is not an intensive game per se, due to the way it is optimized, it will show the limits of a CPU, even with a solid GPU in a system. So with this in mind, the Ryzen 7959X came out solidly on top with an average score of 173.5 FPS. The Intel 12900KS and 12900K CPU’s come in second and third with a 158.27 and 157.31 respectively, and the impressive mid-range 7700X came in fourth with a score of 153.59.
Synthetic and Real World Benchmarks
With gaming out of the way, it is safe to say that the AMD Ryzen 9 7950X CPU is a force to be reckoned with. It delivers solid performance in a range of games, and even games we tested that were not part of our benchmark suite delivered fantastic results. The next interesting thing to note is how well the 7700X managed to fair against very capable flagship CPUs.
While it is not fair to compare a $399 CPU against one that costs almost double that, we wanted to get a feel for how well the Ryzen 7000 series could manage, and if a chip with fewer cores and threads could stand against pricier options and still be something worth investing in. But with that out of the way, let’s dive into some non-gaming benchmarks to see how well AMD’s new range will look when in day-to-day use.
“…it is safe to say that the AMD Ryzen 9 7950X CPU is a force to be reckoned with.”
We tested the CPU against a range of applications we use at CGMagazine, including Photoshop, InDesign, BlackMagic‘s DaVinci Resolve, along with applications like Handbrake, Audition and everything in between. The Ryzen 9 7950X showed incredible performance in all our tests, doing better than Intel on everything we were able to try in the time we had with the CPU.
In synthetic tests, the Ryzen 9 7950X was the top performer in everything from Cinebench R23, Geekbench, PCMark, 3D Mark, and CPU-Z. Even the Ryzen 7700X managed to impress, scoring lower than the Intel 12900KS and 12900K, but significantly better than the lower number of cores would suggest. There is a lot going on here, but the raw horsepower under the hood of the new Ryzen 7000 range is giving Intel a run for its money.
One thing to keep in mind is the fact that, while the Ryzen 7000 series is impressive across the board, it does come at a cost of power consumption and heat. While testing, we had to put work into reducing the heat from the CPU, with the Ryzen 9 7950X dancing on the knife of 95 degrees Celsius consistently.
The CPU is made to run this hot, and can do so without hurting the lifespan of the chip, but it does mean we ran into thermal throttling and had to mitigate it to deliver consistent results. The Razer Hanbo 240 mm AIO cooler was more than capable of cooling Alder Lake, even under heavy load, but the Ryzen 7000 series pushed it so much that we had to run the fans at full speed to mitigate throttling.
There are plenty of coolers currently on the market that can manage these CPUs, and the fact the AM5 boards can take coolers made for AM4 makes it less a major issue, but for anyone diving into Ryzen 7000, you will want to consider cooling as part of any system, and while some air coolers may be able to manage the heat, we would advise an AIO or other liquid cooling solutions to ensure you don’t hit a wall with your system and what it can deliver.
“AMD is onto something with the latest iteration of Ryzen.”
It should also be noted that while the Ryzen 9 7950X is made to push the limits on performance, AMD has also included an ECO mode, that reduces the TDP of a chip making it more efficient while still delivering acceptable performance. We tested this, and I was generally impressed with how well the Ryzen 9 7950X was able to deliver in benchmarks, managing to do better than even the 5950X at a lower TDP of 65 Watts.
While I do think this is a great thing to include, considering how many options there are to overclock, I would have liked to see this mode easier to access. Currently, you are limited to the overclocking tools to take advantage of ECO mode, and for many this is a scary prospect. AMD has mentioned there are plans to make this easier in the future, and I welcome that.
I walked in skeptical if the AMD Ryzen 7000 series would be as big a leap as was rumoured, and I walked away convinced. There are areas I would like to see improved, especially in terms of taking advantage of some of the more interesting features, but the speeds and scores we achieved are very convincing. AMD is onto something with the latest iteration of Ryzen. These are some incredibly powerful CPUs, and they manage to deliver incredible results at a price that makes them hard to ignore.
The AMD Ryzen 9 7950X is a beast of a CPU, and it managed to take down the flagship Intel chips in almost every test we threw at it. The incredibly impressive base and boost clocks and the new 5nm process mean Intel will have to work to stay ahead of what AMD is throwing down. From gaming to creative and productivity, there is no getting around just how powerful this chip truly is.
With the potential to overclock it even further, for someone that is looking for the most bang for their buck on a new PC build, the AMD Ryzen 9 7950X CPU is the new flagship CPU to beat. With an MSRP of $699, if you are looking to build a new gaming PC, there is nothing on the market that can compare. Just be prepared to invest in cooling to get the most of your new investment.