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Ryzen 7 (Review) 
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I've had my new AMD Ryzen 7 based PC for a couple of weeks now and it is running great.

The Ryzen 7 1700 in my PC is an 8 core, 16 thread model, with a nominal clock speed of 3.0 Ghz and a maximum boost of 3.7 Ghz.

The rest of the specifications for the PC are as follows:
Processor : Ryzen 7 1700
Motherboard : Asus Prim B350M-A
Graphics: nVidia 1050Ti (ambient cooling)
RAM : DDR4 2133, 32GB (2 slots used, 2 slots free)
SSD : SanDisk Plus 480GB
HDD : 2TB
Card Reader : USB 3. 0, multi-format
DVD Writer

In addition, I put in the Crucial 525GB SSD from my old PC (for Hyper-V virtual disks) and a Samsung 850 EVO 500GB SSD for data, with the 2TB as a backup.

I initially ran the system with the Hyper-V VDXs and data on the 2TB drive, but Hyper-V was too slow to install and boot. I added the new drive and moved the VDXs to the SSD, which made a huge difference (Windows 2016 Server went from around 40 seconds to boot to desktop to under 6 seconds).

I bought a Ryzen based PC mainly because I wanted to experiment with virtual machines for my new job - a mixture of Windows servers and Linux images. I had experimented with my old company notebook (Lenovo IdeaPad Core i7-6600U + 16GB RAM, with a 500GB SSD). Whilst the notebook was quick enough running one VM, it slowed down a lot, once multiple VMs were up and running. My private PC was a Core i5 Ultrabook, with 8GB and 256GB SSD, so not really man enough for virtual machines. My old PC was a Core2Quad Q6600, with a mainboard limited to SATA and 4GB RAM. Putting the SSD in the old PC had made a huge difference, but, again, 4GB was useless for testing multiple VMs.

The make of the PC is Memory PC, a small builder in Germany. I looked at other manufacturers and putting together a custom PC for myself. The Memory PC worked out the cheapest option with the main features I wanted - the custom build was 400€ more expensive (but had a better mainboard and fan) and the other finished PCs from Lenovo and HP were similarly priced to the Memory PC, but only had 16GB RAM and Windows 10 Home (you need Pro for Hyper-V), so an upgrade license would need to be included in the purchase price... So, even though I didn't know Memory PC from Adam, I went with them.

The PC is well put together and runs very quietly. You can hear the fans a little bit, but even under stress it is very quiet in my office (no other fans and no background noise).

The SSDs are connected via SATA 6Gbps and the Ryzen 7 boots to Windows 10 in under 15 seconds, including BIOS/UEFI screen (10 Seconds). The initial performance is great. When in stand-by, it boots quicker than the Dell monitor comes out of sleep mode! General performance is also exceptionally good.

I use Capture One for managing my photos and I set it up to import the 26 thousand of photos (160GB). At the same time, I set off two Hyper-V installs (Debian and CentOS), both with 2GB RAM and 2 dedicated cores. Whilst that was going, I watched an online video tutorial from ITPro.tv. Everything in the foreground ran smoothly and the 2 installs were finished within a few minutes (the CentOS took a little longer, as I put in a lot of extra packages). Capture One imported the photo catalogue in under 30 minutes. During that time, the PC fans weren't any louder.

The key though was not the processor (having up to 16 threads, with 8 physical cores meant that none of the processes were overloading the system), but having separate SSDs (with the Hyper-V on a separate controller) for each task. The system SSD was not being hampered by the virtual drives and they weren't interfering with the photos. The standard configuration of SSD + HDD would be fine for films or music storage, or putting some of the data on the system SSD, but the virtualisation tests, having a separate SSD just for the virtual drives was the key determining factor for good performance. In reality, the 3rd SSD is overkill, but I had it kicking around as a spare, so I slung it in the machine.

For anyone looking at virtualisation for testing purposes (i.e. not a proper server infrastructure), the new Ryzen 7 chip makes a great compromise, without user load, it is quicker than the dual Xeon servers we have a work, but they are connected to a HDD based SAN and the two processors only have 4 cores each. The SAN is quicker than the Ryzen PC + SSDs would be, when providing data for 2 dozen VMs and over 100 concurrent users, but you are also talking about a machine that is well over 15 times the price.

The Core i9 and Threadripper would offer even more performance for virtualisation, but they will more than double the price. I think I can safely say, that the Ryzen 7 provides a very good price / performance ratio for developers and administrators testing out different virtual configurations. The nice advantage of Hyper-V under Windows 10 Pro / Windows Server is that it is free and, IMHO, easier to configure and use than Xen or KVM (Linux) and more powerful than VirtualBox (Windows, Linux) and is a proper hypervisor based virtualisation. I would put it on a par with VMWare ESXi and vCenter, but they are expensive overkill for development / testing and the VMWare Workstation is also on the pricy side and not a native hypervisor under Windows.

For single tasking machines or for software that only uses a few threads, the Ryzen 7 and Threadripper are overkill and you will get better performance from an Intel Core i5 or Core i7 for similar money. If you are doing virtualisation or using highly parallel software, I think the Ryzen 7 is hard to beat at the moment and if you really need heavy parallel processing or more than 64GB RAM, Threadripper will probably work out better than a Core i9.

The only minor downside to the Ryzen is that is isn't quite as economical as the current 8th generation Core processors. But unless you are running them 24/7 under load, it probably won't make much of a difference to the electricity bill.

I hope this helps those who are thinking of a Ryzen or looking to test virtualisation. If you have any questions, I'll try and provide some answers. Oh, and Jon's game runs great on this machine. ;)

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Mon Jan 01, 2018 4:23 pm
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I too built a Ryzen 1700 system for much the same reason and largely similar spec. Then I bunged it up to 64GB ram to test some stuff for work.... which is where I ran into a minor snafu to do with virtualisation. I wasn't at the time able to run nested virtualisation in either VMWare workstation or Hyper-V as the extensions necessary were Intel only (somewhere I saw that MS has plans to deal with this some time). It wasn't a major issue for me as my old Intel based desktop handled that stuff for me.

So if the plan is to run a hyper-V server on top of another in order to set up hyper converged labs or some of the fancier Docker stuff, it's possible that you want to go with Intel.


Mon Jan 01, 2018 11:43 pm
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Thanks for that. I haven't got that far with my plans so far. But given that Microsoft are starting to use AMD Epyc processors, I think the drivers should come along soon.

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Executive Producer No Agenda Show 246


Tue Jan 02, 2018 5:36 am
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I'm looking forward to seeing the results of Intel/Vega APU's vs Ryzen/Vega APU's for laptops.

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