Intel took the crown on desktop CPU performance last year with its Core i9-12900K processor. And now, nearly a year later, AMD is poised to strike again with its next-generation Ryzen Zen 4 CPUs. Manufactured on TSMC’s 5nm process node, AMD has promised big gains for its latest Ryzen 7000 chips over its previous Zen 3 (Ryzen 5000 series) desktop generation.

The flagship Ryzen 9 7950X chip costs $699 and has 16 cores, 32 threads and a boost clock of up to 5.7GHz. We won’t review that flagship chip just yet, as AMD only shipped the Ryzen 9 7900X in time for review, which comes with 12 cores, 24 threads, and a 5.6GHz boost for $549. AMD promises a 13 percent increase instructions per clock cycle (IPC) over the Ryzen 5000 series and up to 29 percent increase in single-threaded performance.

All these promises sound good on paper, but will AMD’s improvements suffice with the launch of Intel’s 13th generation and the potential for an Intel chip to hit 6GHz out of the box? I’ve been testing AMD’s Ryzen 9 7900X against Intel’s Core i9-12900K for the past week to find out.

AMD is wiping the floor with Intel over the maker’s workloads and apps with the 7900X, but gaming is more of a mixed bag.

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AMD’s new Zen 4 processors come with the first major change to AMD’s sockets in six years. The new AM5 platform moves these latest Ryzen chips to DDR5 memory and up to 24 PCIe 5.0 lanes. Support for PCIe 5.0 is currently largely future-proof, as even the latest RTX 40-series GPUs do not support this standard, simply because we have not yet reached the limits of PCIe 4.0 in the GPU space. We are also still waiting for the first PCIe 5.0 SSDs to appear, but Corsair has teased Sequential read speeds of 10,000 MB/s, so drives should be out soon.

For now, AM5 means you need a new motherboard and DDR5 memory for these new Ryzen chips. You probably don’t need a new cooler. I was able to run Corsair’s H150 Elite LCD with no changes required, and that should be the same for most coolers that already support AM4.

AMD will have four flavors of socket AM5 motherboards: X670E, X670, B650E and B650. AMD says its X-series chipsets support overclocking, and previous B-series boards had a more limited number of PCIe lanes. The flagship X670E and X670 chipsets will be available immediately at launch, but the cheaper B650E and B650 series boards won’t be available until early October. ASRock, Asus, Biostar, Gigabyte and MSI will all have high-end boards available for the new Ryzen 7000 chips.

  • CPU Cooler: Corsair H150 Elite LCD
  • Motherboard: MSI
  • RAM: 32GB G.Skill DDR5 6000
  • GPU: Nvidia RTX 3080 Ti Founders Edition
  • Storage: Samsung 980 Pro 1TB
  • Case: Corsair Crystal 570X
  • Power supply: Corsair HX1000W

I tested MSI’s Meg X670E Ace paired with AMD’s Ryzen 9 7900X processor, 32GB G.Skill DDR5 6000 RAM, and Nvidia’s RTX 3080 Ti. This motherboard contains one PCIe 5.0 M.2 slot and three PCIe 4.0 M2. slots, so there’s plenty of room for the latest storage.

While I haven’t noticed any performance-related issues with MSI’s Meg X670E, the introduction of DDR5 support on AM5 chipsets has clearly added some early issues that motherboard manufacturers need to fix with BIOS updates. A memory training process occurs at startup and adds approximately 30 seconds to the startup time. AMD says this will be addressed in upcoming BIOS updates, but it’s an annoying wrinkle for early adopters.

Likewise, it causes issues with putting the AMD machine to sleep. I was also unable to quickly resume from sleep. AMD says it is also working on a solution for this, which will hopefully be available very soon.

  • CPU Cooler: Corsair H150 Elite LCD
  • Motherboard: MSI MAG Z690 Carbon Wi-Fi
  • RAM: 32GB Corsair Dominator Platinum DDR5 5600
  • GPU: Nvidia RTX 3080 Ti Founders Edition
  • Storage: Western Digital SN850 1TB
  • Case: Corsair Crystal 570X
  • Power supply: Corsair HX1000W

The edge doesn’t rate processors in the traditional sense, so we don’t have dedicated hardware test rigs or multiple CPUs and systems to provide all the benchmarks and comparisons you normally find in CPU reviews. We are going to recommend it Eurogamers Digital Foundry, Tom’s hardwareand PC gamer for that.

I’ve tested various workloads, synthetic benchmarks, and games on both AMD’s Ryzen 9 7900X and Intel’s Core i9 12900K. All testing was performed on the latest Windows 11 2022 update with VBS security disabled and Resizable BAR enabled.

AMD’s Ryzen 9 7900X wipes the floor with Intel’s Core i9 12900K in most of the creative tasks I threw at it. The only exception was PugetBench for Premiere Pro, where Intel has a clear advantage. I haven’t seen that advantage of video processing in tests of our own standard video export test that we use on The edge, although. We are exporting a 5 minute 4K video using Adobe Premiere Pro. This happened in three minutes and 14 seconds on the 7900X, exactly the same as the 12900K.

In gaming it was more of a mixed bag. AMD won in tests on Metro Exodus, Shadow of the Tomb Raiderand Assassin’s Creed Valhallabut Intel’s 12900K beat AMD’s 7900X in Gears 5 and Watch Dogs: Legion. Both chips went up cyberpunk 2077, but in our limited testing, it looks like AMD’s 7900X will just outperform Intel’s 12900K in 1080p gaming.

Since PCIe 5.0 M.2 drives are not yet available, I instead tested Samsung’s 980 Pro (1GB) with AMD’s Ryzen 9 7900X. It is a PCIe 4.0 M.2 with a read speed of 7,000 MB/s and a write speed of 5,000 MB/s. I came close to writing speeds of 4,962 MB/s, but reading speeds were only 6,288 MB/s, less than the 6,706 MB/s I recorded when testing the 12900K with this drive.

The introduction of a single PCIe 5.0 M.2 slot on the MSI Meg X670E will go unused until these drives are available, but it’s great future-proofing as they should hit the market before the end of the year. Still, only the most demanding workloads need PCIe 5.0 storage, and we’re still waiting for DirectStorage games to appear in Windows 11 that really take advantage of the current generation of PCIe 4.0 drives.

AMD’s 7900X launches today for $549.
Image: AMD

So AMD has solid boosts for creative tasks with its Ryzen 9 7900X and a small gaming advantage. The real question is how long this will last. Intel’s 12900K is almost a year old and AMD’s Ryzen 7 5800X3D has already held its own in gaming duties. Intel is expected to unveil its 13900K tomorrow. The timing is impeccable, but it’s worth noting that none of the Ryzen 7000 chips use AMD’s new 3D stacking V-Cache technology like the Ryzen 7 5800X3D did, so there could be potential for a 7900X3D to really boost gaming performance. again.

AMD is launching its Ryzen 9 7900X for just $549, which is already $40 off the $589 for which Intel’s 12900K can still be found at retail. And this is just a price for the 7900X. AMD didn’t deliver the $699 7950X in time for review, but it’s easy to assume that the flagship Zen 4 chip should beat Intel’s 12900K even more convincingly with more cores and a higher boost clock.

Intel’s response will come in the form of a processor capable of ramping up to 6GHz, but pricing and power consumption will be key. Intel announced earlier this year that it will be raising the prices of its flagship CPUs, so we could be looking at a battle for your wallet as much as a battle for performance in the coming months. AMD is definitely back to challenge Intel with its next-gen Zen 4 architecture, but this year’s CPU battle has only just begun.

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