Putting 7nm to the Test: Do Matisse and Navi Live Up to the Hype?

12 Sep

Putting 7nm to the Test: Do Matisse and Navi Live Up to the Hype?

LIAM HALL (Senior Research Analyst)
MOHAMED HEFNY (Program Manager)
JAMES BALL (Research Analyst)

The 7th of July 2019 was a big day for AMD, and the gaming industry at large, as we saw the release of Ryzen 3rd Gen CPU’s (codenamed Matisse) along with Radeon 5700 GPU’s (popularly known as Navi).  We were lucky enough to test out how these new components stack up against previous generations and the current market competition.

The Desktop Arrives

The build that AMD sent over to us was stock full of some of the most up to date (and colourful) components on the market. The components that were of most interest were, of course, the Ryzen 9 3900X and the Radeon RX 5700 XT. Coming in at $499 and $399 respectively, both announced launch price points are very attractive against the current competition.

The third-generation Ryzen 9 3900X 12-core processor has a range of improvements from its previous generations, such as the first-to-market 7nm process technology, a new chiplet design moving the memory controller to a separate I/O die and the fourth generation of PCIe compatibility. AMD claims it offers up to a 34% improvement on popular game titles and a 21% YoY single thread improvement. The CPU is also equipped with a wraith prism RGB tower cooler as standard.

Like the Ryzen 9 series, the Radeon 5700 XT is a powerful new addition to the AMD lineup. Powered by RDNA architecture, AMD claims that this 7nm gaming GPU can deliver 25% increased performance per clock compared with its previous 14nm processors, armed with GDDR6 memory, along with the new PCIe 4.0 support, it offers twice the bandwidth and can get 1.67X fps while playing an 8K clip compared with the previous generation.

The rest of the components sit comfortably in an ASUS ROG Crosshair VIII Hero (WiFi) motherboard, alongside 2x sticks of 8GB Trident Z Royal DDR4 RAM with a base clock of 2133MHz and a 2TB Aorus NVMe Gen4 SSD (only 8cm long), all encased in an NZXT H500i mid-tower to complete the build.

Overclocking

The overclocking process was quick and simple, only requiring an understanding of the right section of the BIOS to reach. From there the wizard took care of the rest — a few selections to choose the correct setup, and that was it, boosting the CPU clock by 8% from 3.8MHz to 4.1MHZ. After the process, benchmarking saw a degree temperature increase, but all well within the range of suitable levels.

When overclocking the RAM, XMP profiles were configured to significantly increase the base clock up to 3914MHz from 2133MHz. As this is an AMD setup, the DCOP needed to be enabled to first allow the conversion from XMP. The third-generation Ryzen chipset also has improvements to suit this higher RAM overclocking, including a new memory controller that can handle higher-speed memories up to 128GB, with some AMD partners claiming to have achieved speeds of up to 5100MHz.

Productivity Performance

From a performance perspective, the Ryzen 3900X with Radeon 5700 XT heavily outclasses its 14nm predecessors and rivals the market competition.

To give some sense of progress, in a not-apples-to-apples comparison, in the RealBench 2.56 benchmark test the overall 7nm-based system score was 184,146 — 46% higher than the Ryzen 1700 (@3.925GHz) with RX Vega 56, with a 43% improvement on image editing and 68% improvement on heavy multitasking.

Synthetic Benchmark

Running the 3DMark Time Spy benchmark, we were able to achieve a system score of 9075 — 34% higher than the 14nm-based system, with a 33% improvement on the GPU and a 41% improvement on the CPU. What’s more, the overall system ranked better than 82% of all other results, which include several trials of the same systems and crazy LNG overclocking.

Next-Gen Gaming

We put the 7nm system to the test against some of the latest triple-A titles.

Far Cry 5, running on maximum settings, posted average frame rates of 113fps, maxing out at 149fps and dropping only to 90fps during the most graphically intense moments. Gameplay felt smooth and fluid from start to finish.

While running Shadow of the Tomb Raider at maximum graphical settings, we were able to achieve an average frame rate of 108fps — 26% better than the fps achieved by the Ryzen 1700 with 14nm RX Vega 56.

The aforementioned benchmarks were performed on our 1080p monitor, so to kick it up a notch, we tweaked the driver and enabled VSR (virtual super resolution) to benchmark gaming performance against a 1440p resolution. VSR enables games to render at higher resolutions and then rescales them down to a lower native display resolution.

Forza Horizon 4, on ultra for all graphical and rendering settings, ran with an average of 156.4fps with a maximum of 188.7fps and a minimum of 138.2fps when benchmarked at 1080p. When we enabled VSR and benchmarked at 1440p, there was an unmistakeable graphical improvement, while still achieving an average of 115.8fps with a maximum of 136.5fps and a minimum of 102.0fps.

While there is no support for real-time ray tracing, the Radeon 5700 XT provides a more than satisfactory experience for all of the triple-A titles we tested. Looking towards the major games coming out later this year, such as Borderlands 3 and Doom Eternal, we would expect a consistently strong performance of 100fps+ at 1080p and 1440p.

Conclusion

AMD offers a competitive CPU-GPU option, with which you neither have to compromise in gaming performance nor have to sell a kidney to afford! In fact, the new RDNA graphics architecture with features like FidelityFX and Intelligent Image Sharpening would have meant nothing if the gaming performance struggled and the experience was unpleasant. The same goes to the third-generation processor with its crazy number of cores and size of L3 cache.

AMD also offers excellent upgradability options, justified by a noticeable increase in performance for high-end gamers who have already invested in a top-notch X370 or X470 motherboard and a low latency 3200+ MHz RAM kit, just by updating bios and plugging in the new processor or graphics card.

So, yes, Matisse and Navi live up to our expectations — and the hype.

 

If you want to learn more about this topic or have any questions, please contact Liam Hall, Mohamed Hefny or James Ball, or head over to https://uk.idc.com and drop your details in the form on the top right.

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