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Close to the Metal ep. 33: Ryzen is here, but is AMD really back?

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AMD’s Ryzen is here, and ready to destroy any hopes Intel had for world domination — or at least, that’s what they tell us. In fact, we heard this same rhetoric come out for the last big architecture change, Bulldozer, only to be sorely disappointed when it landed. Even in the Radeon RX Series cards couldn’t keep up with Intel’s latest and great. Is this the chip that finally puts AMD back in mainstream systems?

Probably not. While the highest-end Ryzen chips compete very well with Intel’s CPUs when the core count surpasses four, the instructions per clock still can’t keep up with the most popular chips from Intel, such as the Core i7-6600K, which remains our top pick for gaming machines.

It’s not all bad news for the red team. The Ryzen chips fight up a weight class when it comes to prosumer and home workstation systems, particularly with the R7 1800 X, which boasts performance not seen with even upgraded X99 Intel processors, depending on the workload. We ran the processors through the ringer of not just performance tests and stress tests, but overclock testing too, for those who like to erk out extra performance.

So is it worth making the jump to AMD’s brand new platform? We’ll dig into the performance results and pricing structure to decide who exactly needs Ryzen, and who should stick with the status quo and choose an Intel chip. All that and more on this week’s Close to the Metal.

Close to the Metal is a podcast from Digital Trends that focuses on the geekier side of life. It tackles the topics PC enthusiasts argue over in language everyone can understand. Please subscribe, share, and send your questions to podcast@digitaltrends.com. We broadcast the show live on YouTube every Tuesday at 1pm EST/10am PST.