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When I reviewed the Ryzen 7 7700X CPU, it was obvious that AMD went above and beyond to deliver their best processor to date. Originally unleashing the ‘Zen’ architecture back in 2017 was like catching lightning in a bottle, so much that even Intel had to take notice of their dominance being challenged again.
We liked what we experienced already with the all-around ‘7’, but is the enthusiast-entry Ryzen 9 7900X Desktop Processor also worthy of the hype? Despite its hierarchy in the lineup his SKU finds itself in a precarious place between the coveted 7950X and already lauded 7700X, does it effectively serve any master?
The CPU: Generation “Raphael”
The long-awaited Zen 4 microarchitecture has some noticeable evolutions to the platform. Enhancements include DDR5 memory utilization, RDNA2 integrated graphics processor with TSMC 6nm at a 2.2GHz throughput, and PCIe5.0 (24+4) lane support for faster and broader connectivity for discrete GPUs and 2×4 compatible lanes M.2 storage drives. Other improvements include double the L2 cache at 1MB per core versus 512KB, AVX-512 instruction set extension for double-pumped 256-bit memory operations, and maximum boosted rate of 5.7GHz. The Ryzen 9 7900X utilizes 12 cores (24 thread), and a base 4.7GHz clock speed with boosted 5.6GHz.
Another major change is the move to the AM5 socket, which is now a land grid array (LGA1718) where the contact pins are now fixed to the motherboard itself—a connecting method that Intel adopted over a decade ago and their owners are well familiar with at this point. This is a departure because this makes 7000-series Ryzen CPUs and accompanying motherboards physically incompatible with older AMD Zen components, so forget about transplanting existing AM4 motherboards and DDR4 modules into your machine. When you upgrade, it’s pretty much an all-or-nothing commitment for X670/X670E chipsets.
The Road to AM5
The latest Ryzen CPUs don’t include a cooling fan but AMD assures us that existing AM4 CPU coolers will work here, only they forgot to mention that fitment carryover greatly varies on whether AIO manufacturers prepared AM5 mounting adapters on launch. As of this writing, all the obtainable coolers we currently have from Thermaltake, Cooler Master, and Deep Cool could not be affixed on the socket mounts by default.
The only tangible solution was to rely on premium options like the air-cooled NH-D15 chromax.black from Noctua, where they had the forethought to provide all the right tools out of the box. Otherwise, you can try to improvise with their NM-AM5/AM4-MP78 mounting kit on your existing setup. It’s a probable workaround considering these Ryzen chips run powerful at 105W TDP and have hotter than expected temperatures wat an average 68-79°C range and reaching its peak of 95°C under considerable load. That maximum reading puts the 7900X right at its default operating limit before throttling occurs, so manual overclocking will be a cautionary liability and guaranteed warranty void for inexperienced users diving into I/O modification.
With those details out of the way, I tested the Ryzen 9 7900X on a ASRock X670E Pro RS ATX motherboard with a 32GB (2x16GB) G.Skill Flare X5 DDR5-5600 dual memory kit. For cooling and efficiency choices I opted for the Noctua NH-D15 CPU cooler mentioned earlier and a Cooler Master XG850 Plus Platinum power supply. On the graphic and storage side, a GIGABYTE GeForce RTX 3070 Gaming OC (REV2.0) GPU and a 1TB Samsung 980 Pro MVMe (PCIe 4×4) SSD were also used during testing.
To be fair, other outlets were provided complete and optimized components by AMD for the best favorable review outcome, which is understandable. However, our setup was independently assembled and purchased with money from our own pockets. This effectively makes it a more indicative example of what buyers can expect to build with a realistic budget in mind.
Let’s start with some benchmarks. If you’re coming from a CPU that’s at least a few generations old or don’t care about graphs and figures, then it’s obvious that the Ryzen 7900X will be an incredible advancement over previous enthusiast-tier Zen2 and Zen3 iterations. When matched against current Intel offerings from 10th-Gen onward, the Ryzen 7000 family is on nearly equal ground for the majority of near-extreme multicore-dependent tasks.
During our testing, the 7900X was surprising to say least. This isn’t so much of a revelation when compared to its Ryzen 9 7950X counterpart but was interesting to see how similar in figures it was to the 7700X, excluding multi-threading performance.
Workloads involving content creation and gaming shows that each of these processors are either close to or have nearly identical performance in their class. The difference in figures are negligible or at least running a few FPS away from each other (in single digits) when equipped with a RTX 3070 GPU. If you’re on a tighter budget and primarily want to create a PC strictly for gaming, some previous-generation CPUs (Ryzen 7 5700X or Intel i9-10900K/i7-11700K) remain viable alternatives. We haven’t got a chance to experiment with the 13th-Gen processors from Intel yet—hence the lack of numbers, but it would be safe to assume that the i7-13700K and i9-13900K will run better overall.
There’s also an onboard RDNA2 IGP for display adapter output but that’s not something meant for gaming, so I can’t recommend using it outside of troubleshooting external graphic component issues or basic computing for office tasks. But it’s there if you absolutely need it.
Conclusion: Gap Filler?
The original Ryzen release was hailed as groundbreaking for AMD in terms of relevancy, and the Ryzen 9 7900X Desktop Processor is another example of high-performing excellence. A lot of the positive things I said about the 7700X will also apply here, but there are some criticisms that make its existence superfluous too. Despite the additional core/thread count, that aspect didn’t exactly come into play during benchmarking, at least not enough for it to matter in single-core productivity and moderate content editing, and certainly not for gaming. Cost is another knock against the 7900X since its $549 MSRP sits unfavorably high for what this processor realistically offers.
Overall, the Ryzen 9 7900X is a fantastic CPU that career creators will appreciate the most. However, its middle status within the Ryzen lineup makes this model an awkward proposition. However, if timing is not an issue on your next AMD PC build, then the 7900X might be more attractive when a inevitable price drop hits.