Will AMD Ryzen 7000 prices limit the first "Zen 4" processors?

Will AMD Ryzen 7000 prices limit the first “Zen 4” processors?

On paper, AMD’s upcoming Ryzen 7000 series CPU family looks like the company’s most robust desktop processors to date. At first glance, their prices cause some concern.

The four new Ryzen 7000 chips range in price from $699 for the high-end 16-core Ryzen 9 7950X to $299 for the mid-range six-core Ryzen 5 7600X. Indeed, these chips pretty much match the launch prices of their predecessors. But the world has changed since the debut of the Ryzen 5000, as that world now includes Intel’s 12th Gen “Alder Lake” silicon in its geography.

With these new chips, AMD’s Ryzen 7000 prices look higher than some competing Intel chips in three out of four cases. And that premium could end up costing AMD if the performance of these CPUs doesn’t make up the difference in the long run.

Of course, it’s difficult to compare processors based on price alone without knowing how these chips perform in controlled benchmark testing. AMD has been teasing the tech press with a few numbers to indicate how much faster its Ryzen 7000 series chips are. But we can’t know for sure until we get to play with these processors ourselves. However, based on the prices alone, AMD would seem to be at a significant advantage with its top-end chip, while the lower-end chips could face stiffer competition.

Recap: Ryzen 7000 pricing

Let’s revisit the confirmed specs for the first Ryzen 7000 silicon quartet…

The AMD Ryzen 9 7950X and AMD Ryzen 9 7900X come with 16 and 12 CPU cores, respectively. In a head-to-head comparison, Intel really doesn’t have anything that’s a perfect match for the consumer market. The Intel Core i9-12900K also has 16 cores, but half of them are more energy-efficient cores that Intel refers to as E-Cores.

We need to do the tests again to know how things will turn out for sure. But AMD should have the edge here in terms of raw performance. AMD’s last-gen Ryzen 9 5950X already comes close to matching the Core i9-12900K in many tests, and AMD’s claimed performance boost would be more than enough to beat the Ryzen 9 7950X. AMD also has the advantage here in terms of price, as the Core i9-12900K retails for $739 versus the Ryzen 9 7950X for $699. The 5950X actually debuted at a list price of $799, so the new flagship chip cuts costs right off the bat. All good news if you’re AMD.

The further, the more worries

Now let’s look one step down from the 7950X. The AMD Ryzen 9 7900X is likely to face a lot more competition than the 7950X, based on the lay of the land today. (Of course, Intel’s 13th Gen Core “Raptor Lake” chips are reportedly not that far off either.)

Consider Intel’s Core i9-12900: This chip without the “K” can’t be overclocked, but it has the same number of cores as the Core i9-12900K and goes up to 5.1GHz at boot. Its price is 489 dollars. Compare that to the Ryzen 9 7900X’s 12-core design and $549 list price, and the Core i9-12900 starts to look more attractive. The only saving grace the Ryzen 9 7900X might have is its higher 5.6GHz clock frequency, which could give it a performance advantage under certain conditions.

AMD performance claims

AMD’s Ryzen 7 7700X and Ryzen 5 7600X are in a similar situation to the Ryzen 9 7900X. They rank high in terms of clocks, but have fewer cores than their closest Intel competitors. This is certainly a reversal of the trends of recent years.

Their prices are also not good for them. The Ryzen 7 7700X is priced just $10 below the Intel Core i7-12700K, which retails for $409. The Ryzen 5 7600X is priced $10 more than the Intel Core i5-12600K, which comes in at $289 MSRP.

At this point, we feel the need to reiterate: We can’t say anything definitive about the pricing dynamics at play here until we test these new Ryzens. But based purely on core count, clock speed and price, we can’t help but feel that the lower three of these chips will be a harder sell for their MSRP than the Ryzen 9 7950X. Or at least it will be a performance battle in these price ranges.

The prices AMD set aren’t particularly surprising, as they are (with the exception of the $699 7950X) close to the prices AMD set on equivalent Ryzen 5000 series chips at launch. For example, the Ryzen 7 5800X launched for $449, making the Ryzen 7 7700X arguably a better buy at launch than its predecessor.

The problem when it comes to AMD is Intel’s resurgence and price aggression over the past year. Intel’s 12th Gen Alder Lake processors have been quite competitive in price, and this will definitely cause some trouble for AMD, even if the chip maker can show significantly better performance in some areas.

AMD will also have to worry about its competition own latest generation Ryzen processors. AM4 chips and motherboards will continue for some time (there are no true low-end AM5 processors yet), and many of these Ryzen 3000 to 5000 series processors are selling for remarkably low prices. And they could lure away some bargain-hunting tech enthusiasts who won’t or can’t make the big jump to AM5 yet, especially if the introduction of AM5 pushes the prices of the older technology down further.

Premiums on a new platform: AMD’s turn to outlast them

With AMD’s latest lineup, one must keep in mind the peripheral costs associated with adopting a new platform. Where Intel Alder Lake pulled loyal Intel buyers and early adopters into new motherboards and possibly DDR5 memory (if they opted for a DDR5 vs. DDR4 motherboard), AMD will be with the Ryzen 7000. The new AM5 chipset marks the end of a long compatibility honeymoon AM4 sockets and Ryzen 7000 motherboards will require you to buy a DDR5 RAM DIMM, period. (Maybe even one of the new AMD EXPO compatible kits.)

AMD AM5 platform

That is the key point. AMD believers would have no reason to own any DDR5 memory until this point. Bottom line: The cost of getting on the Ryzen 7000 train far exceeds the cost of the CPU itself. You’re almost certainly thinking about buying a set of DIMMs. And you are definitely purchase of a new motherboard in the form of an AM5 board. And if you want to jump right in, that means a premium X670 or X670E-based AM5 board; these will be launched first, with the first B650 and B650 Extreme boards not being launched until October.

We can only hope that the prices of the upcoming Radeon RX 7000 graphics cards will be clearly better. Of course, stay tuned for our reviews of the first Ryzen 7000 chips ahead of the September 27th launch date. Only hard numbers determine whether MSRPs are truly padded or competitive. These new chips look promising, but AMD faces a significantly rebounding Intel and its own platform refresh challenges.

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