Well, I set out to take a more in-depth look at gaming performance between the two similarly priced CPUs compared to the lowly three games tested in our CPU reviews and I can say without a doubt that I did that. I spent two days getting games downloaded on both test benches and another two full days of just benchmarking and documenting. That doesn’t even count the insanity of trying to get all of the results together in a readable format. There are a lot of numbers and even right now my eyes are still burning from looking at them all but I hope they help.
So what did we learn? Well in my initial Ryzen review and in the follow up with the R7 1700 I found that they were extremely capable in just about anything you throw at them but when it came to gaming the higher IPC (Instructions per cycle) of the Kaby Lake i7-7700K helped it perform better in games. So I tested again with 18 games and added in 4k and 1440p to get a better look at what to expect. The end result, well not every game performs badly on Ryzen and even when I say bad it's only relative to the i7-7700K’s performance. Both CPUs are going to be enough when paired with a great video card like the GTX 1080 Ti to play anything. That said there are still big gaps in performance in a surprising number of titles including some of the most popular games on the market.
You are left with the decision to pick from raw gaming performance with the 7700K or good gaming performance with better performance in encoding and other production tasks. Really, it's almost like deciding if you want to go with Peter Pan and be a kid forever or make sacrifices in your gaming performance by being an adult.
Now Ryzen performance is very likely to improve and I might have to revisit some results later on. I noticed in my testing that some games only use a portion of the threads. The photo below was from Battlefield 1 for example.
So what CPU should you go with? Honestly, for the first time in a long time, I can recommend both. The i7-7700K may not have had the huge jump in performance like AMD did with Ryzen but it is still the fastest gaming CPU you can pick up today. AMD didn’t manage a win in gaming but it does lead in other areas. Beyond the gaming performance, Intel also stands out currently in motherboard availability. I’m not mentioning this because right now getting higher end AMD boards is hard. I am actually referencing overall options. As a big SFF fan ITX boards aren’t available at all on AM4 yet with only rumors and a few photos to go by even. With Z270 there are a few established options available. Given I will be picking between AMD and Intel on my wife's upcoming ITX build, this might end up being the determining factor if AM4 ITX options don’t come out soon.