After many years of incremental upgrades to CPUs, 2017 saw an intense amount of activity in the consumer processor space as AMD introduced their Ryzen lineup of CPUs. Intel was quick to reach and pulled its X299 platform launch ahead to counter the threat of AMD’s multi-core wonder. Then AMD released the HEDT Threadripper to counter Intel’s move and in return, Intel unleashed the 18-ccore Core i9-7980XE, thus taking back the crown. Temporarily, we hope. This kind of competition is simply too exciting for us. And it’s not just the consumer CPU space, the same Zen core architecture made its way into the enterprise segment as EPYC and AMD doubled down with more SKUs being introduced for thin-and-light form factors in the form of the Ryzen 7 2700U and Ryzen 5 2500U. We’ve had the pleasure of testing most of these SKUs except for the Threadripper units which AMD did not send us. So excuse their absence from this year’s Zero1 awards.
2017 zero1 award Winner: Intel Core i9-7980XE
The Intel Core i9-7980XE is the best CPU we’ve tested this year. Before we get into the numbers, let’s just get one thing out there, looking at 36 threads in the Task Manager’s Performance tab had us giggling like school kids over the ridiculousness of the sheer compute power at our disposal. The 7980XE has a lower Base frequency (2.6 GHz) owing to the massive number of cores it packs, however, the 4.2 GHz Turbo frequency shows that it doesn’t play with any handicap. A Cinebench multi-threaded score of 3,281 can leave you feeling a little light in the head. It’s powerful enough to encode a 4K video at nearly 60 FPS! Imagine that, you can have real time transcoding of media into any format under 4K. Moreover, it’s not bad at gaming benchmarks either. With such capability, it ends up being a power hog but HEDT was never about holding back, and rightly so, the Intel Core i9-7980XE wins the Zero1 Award.
Runner up: Intel Core i9-7960X
Coming in just a few positions behind the 7980X E is the Intel Core i9-7960X which ends up as this year’s Zero1 runner-up. It has a Cinebench multi-threaded score of 3,082 which seems a bit distant from the 7980XE but you’d be surprised how close they end up in certain benchmarks. Transcoding is just as quick and the same can be said for most benchmarks. If you wanted an HEDT without spending too much (too much being subjective here), then the 7960X is a great CPU or you can always check out the 7900X.
Best Buy: AMD Ryzen 5 1500X
The 8th Gen launch has been marred by low stocks everywhere in the world, the flagship K-SKUs are very hard to come by but the Core i5 8400 has been seen in plenty, at least, now we do. It faces a strong competition from the Ryzen 5 1600 which is a 6C/12T CPU and the Ryzen 5 1500X (4C/8T) while the 8400 remains a 6C/6T CPU. The problem lies in the pricing. Because of the shortage, the 8400 retails for a higher price than the 1500X or the 1600. Which is why the Ryzen 5 1500X is the better deal.
Editor’s Pick: AMD Ryzen 7 1700X
The Zen architecture is responsible for the disruption that’s spreading in the entire computing space including mobility and enterprise segments. Among the first set of Ryzen CPUs, the 1800X is definitely the flagship, however, for a few bucks less you get the 1700X which performs just as well which is why we’d like to give it a special mention. And now, 2018 appears to be packing in a lot more action.