Description

UPDATE: I went ahead and overclocked the chip to 3.7GHz with around 1.20V to feed it with. I've seen the voltage sensor cap out at 1.232V, but that only happened during an extended Prime95 stability test.

My frame-rates were only marginally improved at this clock-speed (by around 10% or so), but encoding tasks across all 16 threads were supercharged! I can now CPU-encode a lossless capture-card stream of Splatoon 2 at 1080p60 with the "veryfast" x264 preset, and captures of lighter games like Super Meat Boy can usually be encoded with slower presets! As for capturing games running on the same PC: so long as it isn't too demanding or as motion-heavy as something like Quake, I can usually encode a local 1080p60 recording of any game with the same "veryfast" preset as before.

To say that I'm impressed with Ryzen would be an understatement, Following years of Bulldozer chips with bad IPC ratings, AMD have really got into gear and designed an architecture which seems ready to take on anything. And with seemingly no major architectural breakthroughs imminent, I hope that my 1700 will be able to do just that: take on everything, and not only in theory.

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After six years of some frankly excellent service, my i5-3570K started to develop wrinkles in 2017: I found that I could no longer run some games beyond 60FPS consistently (even with a GTX 1060 on-hand to help), and editing in Vegas started to become a chore as the preview window failed to keep up with unedited footage. I figured that the arrival of the new year heralded the perfect time to send it off and jump to a proper DDR4 platform, so I decided to sell my old components (CPU/RAM/motherboard) together for around £200 and put that towards a long-overdue upgrade covering my gaming and editing needs.

Since I wasn't only interested in gaming, I settled on Ryzen 7 pretty early on. This was my first AMD build after more than ten years of exclusively building Intel systems, and I've got to say: it wasn't easy! Well, installing the CPU itself was, but my first attempt to install the included Wraith Spire cooler ended with a dislodged screw; a cracked motherboard and general disaster. I somehow broke the motherboard's backplate clean off without realising it, so the cooler had no screw-holes to rest on...and my misguided attempt to screw it in anyway saw me spreading thermal paste everywhere as I put far too much pressure on the screw that would eventually become dislodged. This pressure was also offloaded onto the board itself, causing it to crack. Oof!

The build would have ended there (and with me severely out-of-pocket) if Amazon didn't come in clutch and offer to replace both the motherboard and the cooler anyway. They came two days later and I made a second attempt, this time before screwing anything into my case. To my relief, this went easily enough as to make me question how I could have possibly screwed my first attempt up so badly!

Having learned how to install an AMD CPU like a human being, the rest of the build came trivially enough. Corsair's 88R case is rather nice to build in, with ample cutouts for managing cables behind the motherboard tray and a neat drive-cage that can be modified and removed entirely without tools. I did have some trouble re-attaching the back panel once I'd routed all my cables, but it seems to be sturdy enough now that it's back on. I also wish that it came with one or two more pre-installed fans, but it's hard to complain too much given that it costs just £40.

The cooler obviously caused some problems before but it was worth replacing, as it keeps the 1700 extremely cool while also providing visual flair with a customisable RGB LED ring! I set mine to a red colour that matches the motherboard's aesthetic along with AMD's "red team" brand.

As for the chip itself: it's spiffing, thanks. It performs slightly better than my old i5 in games, but it tears through Vegas even before being overclocked! I haven't tried streaming or recording footage with it yet but I hear that it comfortably keeps up with on-the-fly encoding at 1080p60.

So, yeah. Ryzen lives up to the hype, and you should consider it over an Intel chip if you do creative work. Just don't try to install it within a case and you'll be golden.

Part Reviews

CPU

The CPU itself is basically a Swiss Army Knife capable of dealing with whatever you decide to throw at it. Games may run a bit better on Intel's hardware, but this plays games well enough and munches through everything else. The included cooler isn't exactly the easiest thing to install but it stays quiet and cool once it's in. It also has fancy lights! Who doesn't like fancy lights?

Motherboard

A very well-designed motherboard that supports just about everything except for multi-GPU setups. The PCI-E 3.0 X16 slot provides enough bandwidth for any GPU out there, and the two additional PCI-E 2.0 X1 slots leave room for additional peripherals like wireless cards or capture devices. There's also an M.2 slot for on-board SSDs, though I haven't got one to test this with.

Nearly all of the headers are at the bottom of the board, keeping the top half almost entirely free of cables. Within my cutout-plastered Corsair 88R case, this drastically simplified cable-management!

Memory

It's RAM. Nothing more, and nothing less. It's not the fastest or the flashiest RAM out there, but it works and it's relatively cheap in the current price-saturated market.

Storage

Again, this isn't the fastest SSD on the block but it's still a great deal quicker than standard hard-drives. Installing Windows on this cut boot-times to the teeth!

Storage

Like my old i5, I've kept onto this since 2012 and it shows no signs of slowing down yet. Built like a rock and reliable to the end.

Video Card

Before the crypto-mining craze came back with a vengeance, I picked this up in 2016 for little more than £200. Despite being diminutive and bearing only one fan, it's yet to break the 65°C barrier or bottleneck anything that I've played so far.

Case

It isn't going to turn heads, but this understated hunk of metal is probably the best micro-ATX case that I've worked in so far. Build quality is solid enough and the layout of drives; cutouts and the backstage area makes cable-management a doddle. Bonus points for the entirely tool-less drive-cage, though some are negated because it only comes with one pre-installed fan.

Power Supply

Seasonic's PSUs are known for being stable, and this one's no different. Japanese capacitors minimise the threat of bad power-delivery and the entirely modular nature of the unit keeps systems free of useless cables.

Monitor

The 21:9 aspect ratio may be something of a meme to many people, but it still provides appreciable benefits over the standard 16:9 ratio. Multitasking is made that much easier and games feel more immersive than ever when played at [2560 × 1080], though some games (like Overwatch) unfortunately don't support it at all. This patchy support and a glossy finish leave blemishes on a monitor that's otherwise comparable to many 1440p panels while also remaining far cheaper.

Keyboard

Mechanical keyboards? Pfft. What gimmicky nonsense.

Mouse

For what it costs, this is an exceptionally comfortable and accurate mouse. Tracking is lag- and acceleration-free, and this also has fancy RGB LED lights that you can customise should you feel the need to. If you want a mouse that'll get you through most games, this is a stellar contender to consider.

Comments

  • 16 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks for sharing and for the details.

Especially appreciate your comments about the mouse -- that peripheral looks like great bang for the price. Is it in fact the 110 rather than the 100? I ask because the 110 was released some months ago but PCPP hasn't added it to their list yet.

  • 16 months ago
  • 1 point

Apologies for taking so long to reply here!

I just checked my receipts again and yes, it definitely is the Rival 100. It looks like the Rival 110 replaced it just a few months ago if Amazon is anything to go by, though I might well be wrong so don't take my word for it.

The R100 still comes recommended if you can get your hands on one!

  • 16 months ago
  • 1 point

Ahh, thanks very much for finding time to respond. Looks like both versions are goodies.

The info in your overclock update is impressive and exciting. Ryzen is definitely good value!

  • 16 months ago
  • 1 point

Nice build! Appreciated the comments about the 88R because I'm considering it for my build.

To my relief, this went easily enough as to make me question how I could have possibly screwed my first attempt up so badly!

Nice one. =)

  • 16 months ago
  • 2 points

If your cooler is sliding around on thermal paste, something might not be right. You'd think it'd come naturally, but my mental development appears to have been far from natural...

Cheers! Best of luck with your own build ;)