After four years of development and amidst the building speculation of gamers and PC enthusiasts, AMD today announced that its Ryzen CPUs are now available for pre-order and will ship on March 2.
Like their chief competition—Intel’s Core i7 processors—Ryzen will come in several flavors, which you can pre-order starting at $329. That price gets you the base model, the Ryzen 7 1700, an eight-core, 16-thread processor with a base clock speed of 3GHz that can be boosted to 3.7GHz.
The next step up is the $399 Ryzen 7 1700X, which increases the clock speed to 3.4GHz with a 3.8GHz boost. Finally, there’s the top-of-the-line $499 1800X, which runs at 3.6GHz and can be boosted to 4.0GHz. Like the 1700, the 1700X and 1800X both have eight cores and 16 threads.
As for what kind of performance you can expect, that remains uncertain. Independent benchmarking tests for the Ryzen 7 trio aren’t available yet, although AMD offered numbers based on its own internal testing at a press event in San Francisco this week. The 1800x beat its closest competitor—the Intel Core i7 6900k—on the industry-standard Cinebench performance benchmark and Handbrake encoding tests that AMD performed. But the Core i7 slightly outperformed it on another standard benchmark, PCMark 8, which measures the overall performance of common tasks that users perform in a typical day.
Meanwhile, the Ryzen 7 1700 offers improvements over its closest competitor—the Intel Core i7 7700k—on several tests important to creative professionals, including manipulating files in Photoshop and exporting video from Premiere Pro.
While AMD’s results suggest that Ryzen chips beat the Intel competition in some cases, perhaps the most head-turning number is the 1800X’s price. At $499, it’s approximately half the MSRP of the Core i7 6900k (also an eight-core processor) and just $100 more than the 1700X. That price point signals that AMD wants the Ryzen to appeal as much to PC gamers, tinkerers, and creative professionals as to data center operators.
“We want to make eight-core processors accessible to everyone,” AMD CEO Lisa Su said at the press event. “We wanted to build a CPU that serves all applications, everything from PCs through cloud data centers.”
Should Intel be worried? Perhaps, although it’s worth noting that the Ryzen 7 1800X won’t be competitive with the 10-core Intel Core i7 6950x Extreme Edition, which is the most powerful consumer CPU available, clock speeds notwithstanding. Neither is the Ryzen 7 a suitable alternative for the midrange Core i5 and budget Core i3—AMD is rumored to be planning more versions of the Ryzen to compete with those models, although the company hasn’t announced anything publicly.
Meanwhile, you can pre-order all three Ryzen 7 models starting today from retailers like Amazon, Newegg, and Microcenter. The processors start shipping on March 2, and AMD says Ryzen 7-based systems will be available from more than 19 boutique PC makers by that date, including one from Origin (pictured above).