AMD has “RYZEN” from the ashes! Facing issues from AMDs previous release of Bulldozer back in 2011 has allowed Intel to dominated the mobile and desktop market for many years. Intel has provided small incremental updates of improvements called “Tick/Tock” and We have not seen an AMD performance part capable of standing up against Intel’s top chips until now.
Today we will be looking at AMDs enthusiasts parts the Ryzen 7 lineup which could provide an impressive comeback. Zen was teased last year and it was promised that we would see performance gains over Intel’s best efforts. Zen also promised to bring a new socket type called AM4 with a new core logic.
Now that Ryzen has been released we will be looking at how to overclock the R7 1700 on an x370 chipset and this should apply to the other R7 parts the 1700x and 1800x as well.
AMD has been working on Zen for over four years. The goal of Zen is to transition to a faster instruction-per-clock throughput and provide a significant boost over their old excavator design choices. The Zen core is what fundamentally makes Ryzen a success story. It takes advantage of SMT ( simultaneous multi threading) support and allows each core to operate in parallel. This is important because it allows more resources for your hardware.
AMDs goal of reaching significant performance gains has been accomplished by Zens new architecture. IPC (instructions per clock) improvements can be seen because of the new branch prediction, larger instruction scheduler, and faster cache times. This has created about a 52% total gain in performance over excavator.
Ryzen 7 Chips
AMD has split up its new CPUs into categories by cores. The Ryzen 7 CPUs provide eight-cores, the Ryzen 5 families offer six, and the soon to be released Ryzen 3 with four cores. These chips provide significantly more core counts than Intel’s current high-end 10 core i7’s parts. The most significant thing is AMD offers more cores at a huge reduction in price over Broadwell-E. kaby lake is a bit cheaper but offers a lot fewer cores.
The new technologies supported by the Ryzen 7 lineup is SenseMI and XFR. This essentially automatically increases clock rates beyond the factory intended specifications. For the 1700 chip we will be overclocking, XFR is supported but has a lower boost clock of 50MHz. The 1700 shown over current benchmarks is even surpassing the 1800x part in some cases.
Update: There is some very confusing information around the internet surrounding XFR. Some say the 1700 doesn’t have XFR, but after some initial digging around; “ALL” Ryzen CPUs include XFR! In my findings, this is true at least for the Ryzen 7 lineup. The difference is the X models support a bigger boost than the non-X 1700.
The Ryzen 7 chips do NOT include any integrated graphics and should be used with a discrete graphics card. All three Ryzen 7 models include eight physical cores, 16MB of shared L3 cache, and unlocked multipliers. In order to achieve overclocking these CPUs, you will need an x370, B350, or X300 motherboard.
Since we will be using the 1700 here for our test system we will be primarily looking at this part in greater detail vs its bigger brother parts the 1800x and 1700x. The 1700 is unique because it offers a lower TDP at 65W making it the lowest powered eight-core desktop CPU available. The 1700 offers a 3 GHz base clock and a precision boost of 3.7 GHz.
What’s AMD SenseMI, XFR, and Neural Net Prediction?
According to AMD, Zen uses 1000 sensors to accurately measure up to 1mA,1Mv, and 1°C. The voltages can provide real-time adjustments based on algorithms. The sensors feed data to adjust the voltage and frequencies for optimal performance.
Precision boost adjusts the power/performance curve and is very similar to Intel’s Turbo Boost. Using the sensors mentioned above provide real-time information that can adjust the boost in 100Mhz increments on X series CPUs. The non-X 1700 model only provides a 50MHz XFR boost.
XFR is AMD’s eXtended Frequency Range technology and essentially allows the processor to dynamically change its clock rate if there is thermal headroom. AMD has said that this feature scales well with air, water, and of course even LN2. There is no tweaking involved and you can get extra performance with adequate cooling.
The last bit of technology that AMD includes with Zen is neural net prediction & Smart Prefetch. This technology is capable of learning application behavior and pre-load instructions before they’re needed. This can really help reduce application load times and provide quicker access over time.
What is AM4?
AM4 is AMDs enthusiasts socket for Zen. AMD pushes integration by taking Southbridge tasks and integrates them into the CPU core logic. The CPU handles more tasks and splits up the performance tasks between the CPU & Southbridge. We may see in the future motherboard vendors only taking advantage of the CPUs built in functions over the x370 southbridge tasks. AM4 add support for DDR4 and current-gen enthusiasts features like NVMe.
The Am4 platform is broken up into five different categories and is designed for mostly enthusiasts. If you’re looking to overclock you will want an x or b series chipset. In this overclocking guide, we will mostly be looking over the x370 chipset and what that provides for enthusiasts.
Overclocking & Parts
Now that we have gone over some of the fundamental technologies built for Zen, let’s look at what parts we will be using for our overclocking tutorial. Extra parts like Power supplies and monitors are not going to be covered here and only the key parts required for Ryzen will be looked at.
The heart of this overclocking tutorial is the R7 1700. We went into a bit of detail about the CPU earlier in the article but essentially this is a 8 core desktop part with only 65W. This CPU has seen some serious spotlight in the overclocking community and we will be trying to at least push the CPU as far as it can go. With the lower TDP and adequate cooling, we should have no trouble overclocking the 1700 to even the 1800x frequencies.
- AMD SenseMI Technology
- Socket AM4
- Max Turbo Frequency 3.7 GHz
- 16MB L3 Cache
- 4MB L2 Cache
- DDR4 Support
- Unlocked Processor
- Thermal Design Power 65W
- AMD Wraith Spire Cooler Included
There is a ton of coverage over what x370 board provides the most in-depth overclocking options. The opinion of mine and a lot of others is the Asus x370 Crosshair VI Hero has the best power delivery and bios options over its competitors. We will be exploring this motherboard and see why it has gotten the most attention with overclocking enthusiasts. One thing I do want to point out is the confusion over UEFI enhancements and the rapid release of updates. Ryzen is brand new and still has a lot of stuff to iron out and mature over time. Memory stability and game performance have been problematic on Ryzen but we will get into that later.
- AMD X370
- Ryzen / Athlon / A-Series
- AMD Ryzen Processors support DDR4 3200(O.C.)/ 2666/ 2400/ 2133
- AMD 7th Gen A-series/Athlon Processors support DDR4 2400/ 2133
The memory being used in this overclocking guide is the Corsair LPX 3000MHz Vengeance ram and has been some of the best since the Ryzen launch. There are more and more Ryzen “Compatible” RAM kits coming out but we will be focusing on this kit for this guide. I also think it’s the most ascetically pleasing RAM currently, but there is still time since there are a ton of kits coming in the future to support Ryzen.
- DDR4 3000 (PC4 24000)
- Timing 15-17-17-35
- Cas Latency 15
- Voltage 1.35V
Another important thing to note about AM4 and ram is that DDR4 is supported and that means “ANY” DDR4 RAM should work, nothing is guaranteed but this is where marketing will confuse people. Ryzen optimized or Ryzen compatible kits are really just RAM ICs that are known to work well with Ryzen and have been tested thoroughly. Specifically selected Samsung ICs are currently known to work well and I believe that is what these kits are including.
There is also a debate over if dual rank or single rank DIMMs are overclocking better. If you don’t know the difference between single or dual rank RAM look here. Like I said earlier Ryzen and AM4 is still new and will take the time to mature. Populating all four slots with ram has seen issues early at launch but with the latest UEFI BIOS updates, this has since been fixed on at least the Crosshair VI BIOS. I saw no difference between testing 4 sticks of DDR4 vs the Dual channel Corsair RAM modules.
Also, keep in mind that DDR4 and I mean all DDR4 out fo the box runs at a default 2133 MHz. Anything above this and you are OVERCLOCKING. DOCP is what AMD calls its optimized memory overclocking feature similar to Intel XMP. It will automatically select the built in Overclocking profiles of your memory configuration.
My test bench is as follows:
- ViewSonic XG2703-GS Monitor
- Motherboard- Asus x370 Crosshair VI Hero
- CPU: Ryzen 1700
- Network Card- Netgear AC 1200 USB
- Cooler- Thermaltake Contact Silent 12 AM4 air cooler
- Memory- Corsair Vengeance DDR4 3000MHz
- Video Card: AMD R9 390
- Storage- OCZ VX 500
- Power Supply- Thermaltake PRO RGB 850W
- OS: Windows 10 x64 Pro
- Mouse- Logitech G403 Wireless Gaming Mouse
- Keyboard- Coolermaster MasterLite Keys Keyboard
- Headphones- Logitech G533 7.1 Surround Sound Wireless Headset
Before you start overclocking the first step is DON’T! You need to make sure that your system is running well before you do any overclocking. The very first thing I do is load the UEFI load defaults and install windows. Once you’re in Windows make sure you either run a few quick stress tests or play a few games to make sure your system is running well. This can really help eliminate or reduce any problems that might occur after overclocking your hardware.
First get all your appropriate drivers installed and make sure your system is running the way it’s intended to.
Some important information regarding Ryzen and using the latest software. Ryzen will only officially support Windows 10 and above, and you can read more about that here. Windows 10 has been optimized for Intel for some time, and as a result, has caused some launch issues for Ryzen. There has been plenty of speculation why power saving isn’t working correctly or why people’s overclocking would not scale correctly. The original response was to run your Windows power plan on performance, but AMD has officially launched a new AMD power plan that optimizes Windows 10 for Ryzen. These drivers and power plan will help eliminate core parking as an issue with the new architecture. You can read more about core parking here and download the AMD plan. I also noticed that this plan wouldn’t install for anything below the Windows 10 creators update.
Before you overclock your system, I can take no responsibility for any damaged hardware that may result from overclocking. There are risks involved with pushing your system further than its intended and also causes more system heat as a result. You need adequate cooling for overclocking, and decent hardware to achieve anything decent.
Also, keep in mind that overclocking your system will vary across different types of hardware, and even using the same hardware I used may not provide the same results. I would definitely suggest you go through and read the entire AMD Master Overclocking Guide which can be found here. It is long but I will do my best to break it down here in this tutorial.
I will be overclocking using air cooling and using Thermaltake’s Silent 12 CPU air cooler. This is a great out of the box solution that supports AM4 mounting. I also wanted to see if air could still provide some decent overclocking especially since this is new hardware. Ryzen is known to run hot and scales with better cooling; so we will see if a budget air cooler is up to the task of providing decent frequencies.
- AM4 Ready (No Bracket Required) Universal Socket Compatibility for all the latest Intel/AMD CPU Socket
- Supports up to 150W Intel CPUs
- Direct Copper Contac 4x Ø6mm Solid Copper Heat-pipes
- Frustration Free Fan Bracket Installation
- 2 Year Warranty
Before I overclock I also like to adjust my fan curves and profiles. The VI Hero has a great fan control from the UEFI BIOS under “Monitor”. You can manually adjust your CPU Q-Fan curve or just use automatic Q-Fan tuning. This will automatically adjust your fan curve based on the PWM fans and CPU cooler your using. This is great for 4 pin PWM fans for your CPU air cooler or AIO pump.
We will be covering the VI Hero motherboard’s UEFI for overclocking but most of the steps will be very similar concepts to other manufacturers BIOS settings. There are two levels of overclocking I will cover here the simple straight forward approach and the more advanced tweaking. Before we start overclocking make sure you have the LATEST BIOS, always! There has been revisions to microcode and even improved memory overclocking through several BIOS updates. The latest BIOS for the Crosshair VI Hero is version 1002 from 03/29/2017. You can find the download here.
In order to start overclocking, you need to enter the UEFI BIOS. For the VI Hero, it’s hitting F1 or the DEL key on your keyboard. Once you’re in the BIOS head over to “Extreme Tweaker” to begin overclocking your CPU.
Once you’re under “Extreme Tweaker” you can adjust your overclock settings. For my 1700 my goal was to at least hit 3.8, but we will try for higher if possible. I am still limited by air which might not get as high of an overclock as water would give me.
Ryzen has had issues with RAM speeds since launch. From various benchmarks, I have seen Ryzen loves faster RAM but don’t be surprised if you can’t get the rated speed of your modules. For easy overclocking, I just selected one of the presets and chose the 4GHz option. I saved those settings and then rebooted back into the BIOS to make more adjustments. I then went to the memory section labeled “Ai Overclock Tuner” and adjusted my DOCP settings to my RAMS rated speed. Ryzen has a strange way of choosing the BCLK_Divider so don’t be too concerned with the 2933MHZ. This is normal and similar to what most people are seeing when overclocking their memory on their AM4 platform. Just make sure your timings look close and accurate!
The other change I made to the 4GHz profile was to lower my speed to 3.8 because I already tried booting with the DOCP settings at 4GHz, but sadly my chip couldn’t do it with the cooling I had. I could try more voltage but I am happy with 3.8 and the RAM speed I successfully dialed in. To adjust your core manually to your desired speed; just change the “CPU Core Ratio” to your multiplier amount times the BCLK Frequency. An example would be 38 x 100MHZ = 3800MHZ, which is 3.8 GHZ. For the 1700 this is an awesome overclock over the stock frequencies.
Setting Voltage in increments is always a good idea when overclocking, the values I used are what worked for me, and are just a starting or reference point for others. Overclocking and voltage will vary from system to system so any values I suggest are just to help others try to achieve their overclocking goals and are not 100% guaranteed.
For adjusting the voltage you have a few options. You can leave this on AUTO but be warned you will use excessively more voltage than what’s required but will most likely be stable, you can select manual and key in what you want your voltage to be, or choose offset mode which will be better for Pstate overclocking. We will get into Pstate overclockIng in the advanced section. Most people and beginners are going to want to choose manual and key in your voltage first to see what voltage your chip is stable at. My 1700 requires about 1.4 to be stable on manual. You will notice that Offset using AUTO conditions goes up to about 1.417 with my Offset numbers. I needed to get around 1.4 to be stable.
For your Vcore, it’s hard to say what will work because it’s different due to the manufacturing of each chip. I would say an easy starting for Ryzen 7 would be 1.35, even for the 1700. Some may get lower or even high ranges in order to be stable. So just keep this in mind when keying in and finding your stable Vcore.
I chose offset for my settings because I am using Pstate overclocking which will allow the chip to idle down voltage and speeds when the PC isn’t doing anything intensive. The offset can still be used if you wish but there isn’t a point unless you are trying to adjust a curve for what auto can’t accomplish. Offset basically takes AUTO and allows you to subtract or add voltage to where AUTO puts your voltage. The reason you’re going to want to know what voltage your chip is stable at is so you can determine how much of an Offset to key in. The voltage adjusted will always be a bit higher here than your keyed number. For example, my offset took my stock voltage and adds the 0.13125 and gives me 1.373. but the actual applied voltage is 1.417. It takes a bit of playing around with to get your number right but as long as your just above your stable voltage you should be fine.
Setting the Voltage to manual and keying in a static value makes the CPU run at that voltage 100% of the time, so later when we look into Pstate overclocking, this is what allows the CPU to adjust lower similar to Intel’s Speedshift and Pstates. The other important thing to consider is that the CPU also constantly stays at your given CPU ratio unless you follow the Pstate overclocking guide later. Even offset voltage just adjusts the voltage statically until you enable the power saving features. These are on by default and set to AUTO in the current BIOS but nothing happens due to how Ryzen interacts with Windows current power settings. This is why using the Ryzen power plan helps reduce any problems from balanced, and why also 100 % is not preferred for some people.
Also, for now, I would leave LLC (Load Line Calibration) alone. AUTO seems to do a decent job of appropriately adjusting the voltage load under the given load conditions. You can mess with this if you want but AUTO for the VI Hero seems to work fine.
Setting voltage in increments is always important when overclocking. Any voltages I suggest are only suggested because they helped with stability or have been known to work for the majority. Other key important tips I can give you is to make sure DRAM voltage is set to 1.35 and set “SOC Voltage” to manual and key in 1.2. These values are the max suggested for possibly stabilizing your overclock. This will help stabilize memory DOCP settings and memory overclocking. Setting SOC voltage above normal is not necessary for the CPU core but may help stabilize your memory if pushing higher frequencies, and is just a suggestion but not required. If DOCP isn’t working right, you can try keying in your desired values and speeds manually.
The last step is to boot into windows and try out your overclock. If you don’t successfully boot into Windows or your overclock fails, you will need to back down your core ratio or try a higher voltage. You may also have to lower your memory speed as Ryzen has had issues with higher rated memory kits. Just because your memory is rated for a certain speed doesn’t guarantee it will run at those settings. Anything above 2133MHz is considered overclocking. If you were able to boot into Windows try some games and run some stress test programs. For Ryzen I have been using Asus RealBench and AIDA64 Extreme. I also recommend running Cinebench to see how well your multi-core setup performs. This is not a stress test but does offer a quick stability test to see if any load can be put on your CPU. This will show you metrics of how well the CPU performs at the rated overclock and memory speeds you dialed in.
The last bit of software I would recommend downloading is the Ryzen Master software. The program is buggy but there are not a whole lot of programs available right now that can accurately monitor Ryzen temperatures. This is the only one I know of that can offer accurate temps for your Ryzen CPUs. Ryzen CPUs run extremely hot due to the nature of how the CPU was designed. This isn’t an Intel part so having an idle temperature of around 40°C is not abnormal. I had my load temps while stress testing at 63.75°C. Adequate cooling is Always recommended when overclocking to achieve the best speeds and temperatures. I wouldn’t recommend overclocking using this software since it has its own set of issues and bugs. It’s always better to overclock in the UEFI.
This is the section that will help you achieve variable frequency conditions. These settings will allow the CPU to adjust your voltage and Core Ratio to lower when in an idle state. You are going to want to figure out Offset voltage for this part of the tutorial as it will be required to achieve these Pstates. It’s also important to know that there is a setting called EPU mode which can allow the voltage to adjust to lower states using just Offset. The Core Ratio will be static to what you set it to, so this can cause system instability and is suggested to leave disabled when manually overclocking. Using Pstates though, we are going to want to enable all power-saving settings including this one. If you find serious issues from this you can disable it but the system won’t idle properly.
To start Pstate overclocking you need to head to “Advanced” >”AMD CBS”>”Zen Common Options”>”Custom Core”
You’re going to want to read this carefully and click accept if you agree to the terms. This can and might cause serious stability issues if you don’t understand Pstates.
This is CRITICAL to pay attention because you only need at this current time to change Pstate 0 for the desired power saving effect. Altering any of the other Pstates will cause issues until they fix these settings in future BIOS updates.
Update: I have been contacted by ASUS and you can now alter other Pstates with the current BIOS.
Each Pstate has three inputs and is used to calculate the frequency and voltage of each state.
- FID – Frequency ID in Hex
- VID – Voltage ID in Hex
- DID – Divisor ID in Hex
Hex is used here so you have to use a conversion chart or Hex calculator to get your desired values. I will link a nifty tool that can help with this later.
Pay attention to the VID because you need to select the right values for the right CPU.
- 1800x and 1700x uses hexadecimal 20, which is about 1.35V, the 1700 is 3A which is 1.1875V
- Use Offset under ” Extreme Tweaker” To change the voltage use + or – offset values so you are not stuck with the default Voltages
To calculate the FID you need to use a calculated formula which is FID=(CPU Ratio/.25) x (DID x .125). You need to calculate your decimal value for your given ratio to hex for the FID value in the BIOS.
The easy way to do this is to take VID and DID and leave them alone. You should only need to change the FID value for P0! There is a nifty cheat sheet that was created by another forum member named noko on hardforum. You can use this to calculate your given CPU Ratio and voltages in hex.
If you’re successful with this you will notice your CPU idles correctly with voltage and speed. For my Overclock I used 98 which is 3.8GHz. Also, make sure that “global C-state Control” is set to enabled for the chip to reduce the Pstate properly.
The next step is to make sure Windows is using the Ryzen Power plan to accurately set Pstates for your CPU. If you use the performance plan the CPU will stay at the maximum speed 100% of the time. The Ryzen plan has been optimized and is a much better solution than the Windows balanced power plan.
I hope this guide helps anyone in the overclocking community to at least try and overclock your Ryzen CPU. It is a new architecture but it isn’t any more complicated than overclocking your Intel CPU. There is the Pstate overclocking which can be a little intimidating but I feel with more time and guides it will become easier.
AMD has come a long way but it’s still hard to compare these chip against Intel’s cheaper quad-core parts, especially when it comes to gaming. If you are a content creator or someone who can take advantage of all the extra cores then this chip is fantastic for you. It performs decently in games and excellent at compute tasks. This is very similar to Broadwell-E and Kaby lake CPUs. It’s evident from testing and BIOS issues that Ryzen was rushed at launch. I hope with time to mature this platform will iron out some of the bugs during its infant state. We have seen several BIOS updates which have yielded better memory overclocking and several microcode updates that have improved performance in even games. You can buy the Ryzen from any major retailer and the 1700 used here is $319.99 on Amazon & the Asus Crosshair VI Hero is $254.99 on Amazon.