With AMD’s 2nd Generation Ryzen processors now released and tested, I figured it was worth reviewing the Completely Silent Computer article and seeing if I would have done anything differently if I were building the system today. The short answer is ‘yes’.
In 2017 AMD released the 1st Generation of Ryzen CPUs with the codename “Summit Ridge”, based on the 14nm Zen microarchitecture:
- Ryzen 3 1200, 1300X
- Ryzen 5 1400, 1500X, 1600, 1600X
- Ryzen 7 1700, 1700X, 1800X
I chose a Ryzen 5 1600 for my system because it has adequate performance for my needs, good performance per Watt, and runs quite cool (65W TDP).
In 2018-02 AMD released the 1st Generation of Ryzen APUs with the codename “Raven Ridge”, also based on the 14mm Zen microarchitecture:
- Ryzen 3 2200G
- Ryzen 5 2400G
Just recently, in 2018-04, AMD released the 2nd Generation of Ryzen CPUs with the codename “Pinnacle Ridge”, based on the 12mm Zen+ microarchitecture:
- Ryzen 5 2600, 2600X
- Ryzen 7 2700, 2700X
The Ryzen 5 2600 is the natural successor to the 1600 and delivers a minor (~8%) performance boost whilst still staying within the 65W TDP.
Like the 1600, the 2600 has its Integrated Heat Spreader (IHS) soldered onto the die, so the thermal conductivity will not degrade over time as it does with Thermal Interface Material (TIM, which is basically thermal paste) — a good thing if you plan on keeping your CPU for a long time.
The 2600 offers a little bit of upside, with no downside, so yeah — if I were building the system today a 2600 would definitely have gone in.
That’s about the only change I would have made.
PS: Selecting components and upgrades is always a process of elimination. For those that are curious, here’s some of the thinking that goes on ‘behind the scenes’…
Both Summit Ridge and Pinnacle Ridge Ryzen 7s are overkill for my needs:
- This computer simply doesn’t need eight cores — I don’t generate enough work to keep them all busy.
- Idle cores still consume power and produce heat — both of which are undesirable in an energy-efficient and passively-cooled system with a relatively small (240W) PSU.
- A (hypothetical) R7 2700X + GTX 1050 Ti GPU combination could draw as much as (105+75=) 180W of power from a 12V rail that can only supply 168W (14A) max… so would not even be electrically stable.
The Raven Ridge APUs are interesting but had/have issues:
- They didn’t exist when I purchased my system.
- Linux support for APU graphics was likely to be patchy in the first few months — something I just didn’t want to have to deal with.
- They use TIM between the IHS and the die — not solder.
- They won’t cool as easily to start with.
- Cooling will actually get worse over time as the TIM degrades — resulting in higher temps, thermal throttling, and possibly even a shortened lifespan.
- Their GPU performance is on-par with a GT 1030. I was rocking a GTX 1060 prior to the Intel Meltdown/Spectre debacle and — based on that reference point — predicted that even R5 2400G graphics performance (Vega 11) would be inadequate for my needs.
- With 4 Cores and 4 Threads the R3 2200G simply isn’t powerful enough, but with 4 Cores and 8 Threads the R5 2400G is borderline acceptable (SMT matters for the computation I do).
I’m confident that eventually AMD’s APUs will offer the performance I need for this system. I like the idea of having an APU in the DB4 — I really do — but it needs to be performant. Currently they aren’t capable of replacing my DGPU. It will be interesting to see how things develop on this front.