High clock speeds. Overclockable. Inexpensive. Cooling system is included.
No integrated GPU.
- Bottom Line
Thanks to an incremental improvement over the first-generation Zen architecture, AMD's Ryzen 7 2700X desktop CPU looks like it will be even better for gamers and PC-building enthusiasts.
With eight cores, 16 threads, and an included cooling system, among other improvements, AMD's second-generation Ryzen 7 2700X ($329) desktop CPU is a small but important update to the Ryzen chips introduced last year. The low price, compared with an equivalent Intel CPU, means it's an excellent choice to power custom PCs that enthusiasts build. It could also show up in a few mainstream desktops and all-in-ones, such as the Ryzen-powered Dell Inspiron 27 7000
Breaking Intel's Dominance
AMD broke Intel's more-than-decade-long dominance in the consumer CPU market in February 2017, when it unveiled the first chips from its new Zen architecture. With a few notable exceptions, such as sometimes-disappointing gaming performance at 1080p resolution, the first-generation Ryzen 7 lineup, including its flagship Ryzen 7 1800X, became a reasonable alternative for enthusiasts who wanted a better price-to-performance ratio than the Intel Core i7.
The Ryzen 7 2700X continues this trend. It's got a clock speed of 3.7GHz that can be boosted to a maximum 4.3GHz, and it comes with the sorts of improvements that you'd expect from an incremental CPU upgrade. It isn't based on an entirely new architecture—AMD says the update is more like "Zen-plus" instead of, say, "Zen 2.0." Still, there is a new 12nm production process used to create the chips' integrated circuits, which could mean better performance, including less latency and reduced cooling requirements. We don't know for sure, since we haven't yet tested the new CPU at PC Labs.
A Wraith Spire cooling system from AMD is included with every chip with no meaningful price increase, making the Ryzen 7 2700X an even better value than both the 1800X and the 1700X. AMD is also selling a Ryzen 7 2700 with identical specs except for a slightly lower 3.2GHz clock speed for $299.
Ryzen Has No Locks
While you could build a very capable system with the Ryzen 7 2700X's default clock speed and stock cooler, one of the benefits of going with AMD over Intel is that the entire lineup is overclockable, so you can always get the maximum amount of power that your build allows if you're willing to tinker and troubleshoot. It gets even better with chips that have an "X" at the end of their name, since those can clock even higher than the top boost-clock speed (4.3GHz in this case) assuming you've got an adequate cooling system.
The downside with the first round of Ryzen 7 chips is that the XFR boost is locked at an extra 100MHz. So the Ryzen 7 1800X can clock as high as 4.1GHz with a large cooler installed, rather than the 4GHz top stock speed with a more modest cooler installed. It remains to be seen if the 2700X can go higher.
The new CPU also comes with a new AMD X470 chipset, although the CPU is also backward-compatible with motherboards that support the first-generation Ryzen lineup. Other than enabling new motherboard designs, perhaps the most intriguing feature of the X470 is AMD's new StoreMI technology, which lets you combine multiple SSDs and conventional hard drives into a single virtual volume and automatically assign files based on their storage speed requirements. In AMD's internal testing with StoreMI enabled on a combination of a HDD and NVMe SSD, app loading was nearly three times as fast, suggesting that it offers similar benefits to Apple's Fusion Drive.
Bring Your Own GPU
Like its predecessors, the Ryzen 2700X has no integrated graphics processor, which means you'll have to install your own discrete GPU alongside it. That won't be much of a problem for most enthusiasts, who typically need extra graphics horsepower for gaming or content creation, but it further confirms that the chip isn't a good choice to power a mainstream PC. If you're looking for an AMD chip with integrated graphics, you'll want to check out a Ryzen 5 or a Ryzen 3 model with Vega GPUs included.
We'll have a full review of the Ryzen 7 2700X soon, so check back for performance benchmark results and our recommendations.
About the Author
As a hardware analyst, Tom tests and reviews laptops, peripherals, and much more at PC Labs in New York City. He previously covered the consumer tech beat as a news reporter for PCMag in San Francisco and Silicon Valley, where he rode in several self-driving cars and witnessed the rise and fall of many startups. Before that, he worked for PCMag's s… See Full Bio
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