Enlarge (credit: Mark Walton)
“It can’t just be that we’re the cheaper solution,” said AMD in 2015, back when Ryzen was little more than a handful of hopeful slides in a press deck.

But as AMD and the wider tech press knew, competing with Intel on performance as well as price was always going to be an uphill battle.

The Bulldozer architecture was a bust, and Intel had cornered the market on high-end desktop and server CPUs.
If you were at all interested in media creation, or gaming with a discrete GPU, Intel was the best option.
Then came a trickle of tech specs. Ryzen would be an eight-core, 16-thread chip.
It would be a dramatic rethinking of AMD’s CPU architecture.
It would boost instructions-per-clock by an unthinkable 40 percent over Bulldozer (ultimately, as the Ryzen reviews rolled in, the actual IPC gains were as high as 52 percent).

There was a hope, perhaps a naive one, that after months of riding the hype train, AMD would do the extraordinary and not only catch up with Intel, it might even beat it.
The reality proved more complex. Ryzen 7, the range which comprises AMD’s top-end 8C/16T chips, was an absolute number-crunching monster in multithreaded tasks—much to the delight of content creators stuck paying Intel’s absurd prices for Extreme Edition and highly clocked Xeon chips.

But raw IPC remained just shy of Broadwell-E, and some way behind the mainstream Kaby Lake architecture. More importantly, gaming performance was oddly mixed. Ramped up to 4K, Ryzen largely holds its own against Intel.

Dropped down to 1440p or 1080p, frame rates—including those all-important 99th percentile minimums—lag behind.
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