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GPU-equipped Ryzen Pros give AMD what it needs to conquer the corporate desktop (arstechnica.com)
170 points by rbanffy 68 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 72 comments

We recently started to purchase Ryzen 2700 for our office, and us used to be all Intel 4790K and Intel 7700K. These AMD CPUs are pretty great price for what you get and way faster than the similarly priced Intel CPUs for our needs.

We sort of make fun of the multi-colored CPU coolers that come with the CPU though. It seems weird to have these in business machines.

(We have also invested in another 16 AMD Threadrippers, they are just amazing power for the price. It is sort of weird that is less than 6 months, we have become an AMD shop after being Intel for as long as I can remember.)

> We sort of make fun of the multi-colored CPU coolers that come with the CPU though. It seems weird to have these in business machines.

This is also the case for GPU cards, and their "gamer" marketing approach.

I'm both gaming and working on my PC. When I thought about switching to Ryzen, I had a hard time finding cases and GPUs and other things that didn't seem to mainly differentiate from their competitors by the amount, color and controlling options for their fancy blinking lights.

I believe Nvidia is purposely discouraging OEMs from altering their stock clocks. At least that was true for the 1070 Ti.

The big thing I usually look for is if the PCB layout matches the reference layout. Else liquid cooling (mostly for how much quieter it is under load) becomes much more of a pain.

> The big thing I usually look for is if the PCB layout matches the reference layout.

How do you do that?

I mean, where do you look for the PCB layout of a potential card you will be buying? Do you physically open the box and take a picture?

Also, why would the PCB layout make any difference?

I mean, I've been buying 3D cards since the original Voodoo but I just never heard of this metric. Sounds interesting but would be nice to have some more details :)

I was lucky to very early on have one of those Voodoo cards, so it's kind of amazing how far we've come.

Unfortunately, it's a true pain to determine whether or not a card matches reference. The reason is simple: if the layout changes, there's a good chance the water cooling block won't correctly align with the high points on the card. Having that happen means two things: you will have points where the block won't be making contact, or you will have to bend the PCB, or you will have a component not being cooled. All really bad things. This can even be impacted by the thermal pads used by the OEM.

I mostly check to see if they're using the reference cooler design. I haven't bothered with AMD/ATI cards in ages, so this only really applies to Nvidia products. Cards with the blower style coolers with a single fan towards the rear of the card, with an output near the video outputs are almost always reference. Cards with coolers the OEM designs often are, but sometimes are not. That's mostly where things are annoying. Thankfully, water cooling OEMs often have specs from the start as to which cards will match if you're planning on buying day on.

An example: With reference layouts the 980 and 980 Ti ought to be compatible. On some EVGA cards, you have memory mounted on the rear of the card, that makes backplate installation impossible depending on which backplate you use, as it'll teeter: either a 980 backplate, or one meant to be compatible with both the 980 and the 980 Ti. Worse, that can mean having to find a different set of screws to mount the water block you wish to use.

There's no definitive rule for determining whether a card is using rhe reference PCB design or not, but generally, any card using the reference cooler (1) and most card SKUs released on a new GPU family's launch day will use the reference PCB design. As for why you's want the reference PCB for water cooling, well that is easily explained by looking at water cooled GPU heatsinks (2).

A Graphics Card is composed of much more than the GPH itself. They basically stuff all the components of a mini computer (power management, memory, processor) onto a single board and each one of those subcomponents needs cooling in order to achieve optimal performance. A GPU heatsink that neglects the VRMs or memory will not be able to be overclocked as far as a GPU where those parts are actively cooled and in a liquid cooled system, there is typically very little airflow within the case. Slap an all-in-one water cooling system intended for a CPU onto a GPU and you'll often get memory issues right off the bat even with stock clocks and overheated VRMs will lead to throttling after a relatively short time in heavy use. The fans on a GPU provide enough direcf airflow to keep those components within spec, but remove the fans and replace them with nothing and you lose that necessary airflow. Since each card manufacturer uses their own PCB layout (once they figure out what to improve or lower costs on versus the reference design), there is no way to guarantee a heatsink will work with anything but the reference design. Card manufacturers place their VRMs all over the place and sometimes even stray from spec in memory placement so heatsink manufacturers can't standardize on anything but the one design guaranteed to have a market presence which is the OEM reference PCB.

1* Here's an article covering an old Nvidia reference cooler design: https://techbuyersguru.com/founders-edition-vs-open-air-vide...

2* Here's a GPU water heatsink: http://www.phanteks.com/PH-GB1080.html

I have no numbers to back my gut feeling, but I feel that most people building custom PCs are gamers (which welcome the LED colored fans) and those building high end workstations (the market for Threadripper).

It does leave someone building a "serious" budget PC with Ryzen with the feeling that they're doing something wrong. Maybe that's the intent.

Even among gamers I’m not sure if the bewildering array of random LEDs is well received as a generality. I’ve built all my PCs for 20 years now and my gaming machines have always been as boring as I could buy and build. My computer shouldn’t be so loud and distracting that it takes attention away from what’s in front of me. Additionally, it’s bad enough to be a computer nerd of any variant and a brightly lit PC with a side window that has some half naked woman on the blower fan would repel most women away from that zip code.

Are you building your own PC's?

I'm interested in knowing the answer to this. I thought it was cheaper to buy Dell/HP and let them deal with any support issues. Is it really cheaper to build your own, considering there's no support?

Is it really cheaper to build your own

Depends on what you need. In the general case, No. If however you need something 'special', like the very fastest CPUs, lots of RAM and/or multiple GPUs for example, then Dell/HP etc. tend to greatly overcharge for these configurations.

> I thought it was cheaper to buy Dell/HP and let them deal with any support issues. Is it really cheaper to build your own, considering there's no support?

This has changed somewhat with the decline of Moore's Law. Companies are keeping equipment longer, past the point that OEMs typically provide warranties or even parts.

When you know that's going to happen you want to start with something that uses standard parts rather than vendor-specific ones.

I do not know if it is cheaper, but we build our own desktop machines. We just always have.

It is, especially at large enterprises. Most companies also now make do completely on laptops (or even chromebooks) and have no need for desk machines.

For the small or midsize companies though that need that extra power, building can work if you have the talent in house. Cheaper, more standard, and more powerful parts and everything is very reliable these days so its no longer a major support issue.

Agreed, they're great. If only they weren't so unreliable with Linux. First the segfault bug and then there's still random freezes in idle state:


The thread linked above has a fix in the latter problem that actually seems to point to the power supply, and that is likely why this seems to be hit or miss: "Because your system still freezes, it could be due to cross loading problems which can result in the power supply turning off when a load changes or result in voltages becoming out of specification causing system crashes and hangs. entire CCX or Core complex is taken down."

Setting "typical current idle" in "Power Supply Idle Control" in the BIOS seems to solve the problem here. Comments in the kernel bug report regarding this also show that this apparently solves the problem.


We run Linux on all of 18 of our new AMD machines and it works.

To be fair, the bug is random and your machines are new.

This is still a problem, discussed on the Linux Kernel bug tracker. Some recently introduced BIOS settings that increase idle power draw seem to help, though.


Wow, thanks for that thread. I just hit the "the system just goes out to lunch with no errors" issue again a few days ago on a ryzen server I have at home. This is even after an RMA months ago for the same problem. AMD support has been less-than-stellar, still waiting for their first reply this go-around.

Just how common is this? Three ryzen/linux machines here and they've been rock solid.

I believe only very early silicon was affected. AMD replaced CPUs for people on request. If you google you can find the affected datecode visible on the CPU. I have an early Ryzen from the next date and it doesn't have any issues.

AMD tightened up manufacturing at Week 25 and the incidence rate is significantly reduced after that point, but there is no date range (or factory code) on the 1000-series processors that is guaranteed to be unaffected and I recommend that everyone test their processor just to be sure.

I've seen about a dozen reports of faulty post-week-25 processors crop up in the AMD Community Forum and on Reddit from different users. Which is of course a lot better than pre-week-25 where the overwhelming majority of units are faulty. Of course, most users aren't testing for it in the first place, especially since the newer processors were widely (and incorrectly) reported to be "fixed", so it's hard to say.

https://community.amd.com/thread/215773?start=1635&tstart=0 (user jcoiner, 1726PGT)

https://community.amd.com/thread/215773?start=1725&tstart=0 (user scorpio810, 2x 1728SUS)

https://community.amd.com/thread/215773?start=1770&tstart=0 (user ryzlin, 1733PGT)

https://community.amd.com/thread/215773?start=1785&tstart=0 (user flyinryzen1700, 1737SUS)

https://community.amd.com/thread/215773?start=1830&tstart=0 (user skimba 1725PGT, user xtronom 1728PGT)

https://community.amd.com/thread/215773?start=1860&tstart=0 (user jc_yang, 1742SUS)

https://community.amd.com/thread/215773?start=1875&tstart=0 (user fedor_s 1726SUS, user karabojkov 1741SUS+1737SUS, user spiffy 1748PGS)

https://www.reddit.com/r/Amd/comments/76q7ne/got_a_defective... (user grosbof 1733SUS)

https://www.reddit.com/r/Amd/comments/7ar15o/psa_amazon_is_s... (user triplesal, 1733PGS)

https://www.reddit.com/r/Amd/comments/7ar15o/psa_amazon_is_s... (user istockporno, 1726PGT)

I am guessing that this was finally squashed for good in the 2000-series stepping.

Incidentally, there have been reports of the latest patch of Battlefield One having strange random crashes on Ryzen 1000-series but not 2000-series or Intel processors, that is reportedly fixed by disabling SMT, and I'm wondering if that's another manifestation of the segfault bug. It's hard to say, and the reality is the first-gen silicon will never be 100% trustworthy. Buy 2000-series processors instead, it's worth it for the peace of mind.

"I recommend that everyone test their processor just to be sure."

How does one do the test?

The classic test needs to be run under Linux but you can use a USB stick.


There is also a Windows variant that may be more sensitive than the Linux variant but fewer people have used it so YMMV.


I have a build using a Ryzen5 1600X + MSI X370 Gaming Plus + Nvidia 1070 GPU with Ubuntu 16.04 installed.

I get lockups once every 2-3 days. I was convinced the lockups were caused by a Logitech wireless keyboard, but the lockups persisted even after trying several different keyboards.

I got my Ryzen 5 soon after release. I really want to love this chip but the lockups are killing me and so painful to debug. I will try disabling C6 and see if this helps!

What coolers did you have on your 4790K/7700K machines before?

I expect they had Intel's stock cooler. For some reason, AMD decided Ryzen's stock coolers should come with RGB LED (at least for Ryzen 7).

Intel stock: https://i.imgur.com/egFD543l.jpg

Ryzen stock: https://i.ytimg.com/vi/Y0efXDSgSPU/maxresdefault.jpg

To be precise, not all AMD Ryzen stock coolers have LEDs. The Wraith Max, Wraith Prism (successor to the Max), and some Wraith Spire coolers have LEDs.

For first-generation Ryzen, the -X models were often sold without a bundled stock cooler, which limited uptake of Wraith Max. Some had Wraith Spires with LEDs, others without.

For second-generation Ryzen, all CPUs come with stock coolers. The Ryzen 7 2700X has Wraith Prism and the 2700 non-X has Wraith Spire w/LED. The stock Wraith Spire and Wraith Stealth coolers for other Ryzen 2000-series CPUs do not have LEDs.

Of course, you can always turn the LEDs off.

The Intel providers coolers fail at high rates unfortunately. We prefer CoolerMaster HYPER 212 EVO. It is awesome and it has never failed for me.

Tangentially related: Does anyone know if there is a NUC-style Ryzen 2700U-based machine, preferably with Thunderbolt 3? That would be a dream machine; one could use it for normal computing, development (4 cores, 32GB RAM), or even as a SteamBox (NVidia 650Ti-level of graphics performance), with the optional eGPU if that's not good enough. I couldn't find anything and I sincerely hope it won't end up as Kaveri, either unavailable or stuffed only into lowest-level notebooks.

You got downvoted, but you are actually quite right. The Hades Canon is not your normal Intel NUC, this packs exactly the gpu power parent is looking for - and the processor is strong as well.

It's 100W, very noisy and much larger than a NUC with typically 15W design. ZOTAC Magnus 1070 seems way better in every aspect comparing to this if you wanted to go more expensive route.

Why? https://www.anandtech.com/show/10921/zotac-zbox-magnus-en108... is the 1080 version, but if I understand that correctly these builds use pretty much a normal gpu. They will eat a lot more power and be louder.

But right, OP was asking only for a 15W cpu and the gpu level of a 650 Ti, which is weaker than this.

Magnus EN1070K is a leaner build, like they did with the original Steam Box NEN (basically the Magnus EN970 on the charts you linked):


It's smaller than Mac Mini, yet you can do serious gaming, Deep Learning and cryptomining with it; that's not possible with Hades Canyon. It's quiet as well. Power consumption should be quite a bit lower than 1080 version as well.

Not sure why you're being downvoted as the NUC 8 handles all these issues better than dealing with eGPUs and other hassles. Its an incredible little box. My only criticism is price is high-ish, but its clear the Intel/AMD combo hits quite the sweet spot and its odd to think this little box outperforms my 970-based gaming tower PC.

Hades Canyon on average scores in between 1050 and 1060, in some games much better in other much worse (GTA V). Your 970 should be much faster unless there is something wrong with your tower (970 often beats 1060). In VR Hades is going to be way faster though.

I believe, correct me if I am wrong. You need Intel machine to get Thunderbolt. This isn't really a technical issue, just Intel won't sell Thunderbolt Chipset to non Intel Platform. And even if some MB manufacturer tried, they were pushed back by Intel.

But Thunderbolt is going to become an open standard. So hopefully that means lot of people will be design or selling IP for SoC. And I hope it would be in time for AMD to include it in their Zen 2 products.

Thunderbolt should be now open to anybody. E.g. 3rd party manufacturers should be able to integrate it with AMD/VIA/etc. if needed.

"On 24 May 2017, Intel announced that Thunderbolt 3 would become a royalty-free standard to OEMs and chip manufacturers in 2018, as part of an effort to boost the adoption of the protocol."

I was looking for one a few months ago, but no luck. You're best bet is to go with mini-itx system (which is about 4x as big as NUC, but still compact when compared to mATX).

If you gonna get one of those, go for 35W TDP CPU as I had some issues with overheating on Ryzen 2400G using this case -- https://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=9SIA93K72F62...

This is a complete part list of my build -- https://ca.pcpartpicker.com/user/avolkov/saved/#view=mYmM8d

2400G is 65W, 2700U is 15W. I'd really like NUC-style, I have 3 already and they are great, just graphics is lagging. Having an average GPU (i.e. gaming in 720p) in 15W and small NUC dimensions would be perfect! mITX is too large already.

> just graphics is lagging

When do you see the lag? While playing games?? development work??? I am looking forward to buy an NUC, I do lots of photo editing and development.

Anything 3D over 720p. 2-year old games are barely playable at 720p low settings. Even faster memory doesn't help much. But for photo/video editing it should be totally fine ;-) For HTPC in 1080p even the BayTrail-based NUC 2820 is totally sufficient (e.g. Kodi).

I would appreciate Intel NUC-style box with GPU equipped Ryzen Pro. I know about NUCs with Intel CPU and Vega M GPU but they seem to be too expensive.

Recently build a (close to) NUC size box for an arcade cabinet:

- Morex 557 Universal Mini-ITX Case

- Mini Box PicoPSU-150-XT 12V

- ASRock Mini-ITX Motherboard - AB350 GAMING-ITX/AC

- AMD Ryzen 3 2200G

- Noctua NH-L9a-AM4 low-profile

- 12V/10A power supply with a 5mmx2.5mm plug

- your choice of DDR4 and M.2 SSD

Amazing performance to say the least, the GPU makes a huge difference.

You should be able to make very similar one yourself. Example: https://pcpartpicker.com/b/TQKBD3

That isn't a mini PC unfortunately like the NUCs, that a mini-tower. Also having official NUCs ensures there is good driver support via standardization.

It’s not a mini tower, here’s the case: https://www.inwin-style.com/en/gaming-chassis/Chopin The case size is 9.6" x 3.3" x 8.6". Modern NUCs are 8.7” x 1.5" x 5.5" but unlike that inwin they require external 19V 100W power adapter.

About driver support, based on my experience it’s the other way. Custom designed hardware decreases reliability. I have never encountered issues caused by driver support in the desktop PCs I’ve built from commodity components. But I remember issues caused by non-standard hardware design in e.g. sony vaio laptops.

Zotac might do it; they already have their ZBOX Magnus lineup with Ryzen 5-1400.

Looking forward to the Zotac MA551:


They said 2nd quarter but there has been nothing but silence since CES.

2200G/2400G only. Nothing with 15W 2700U.

This would be amazing. If it could handle >= 32GB of RAM and 2 SSDs and run two 4K monitors at once, this would be so amazing and replace most of our desktops.

And ECC too.

By breaking Intel's hold on the NUC form factor, it should bring prices down as well.

All Raven Ridge processors have ECC support[1], but it additionally requires motherboard support. Would be great if some laptop manufacturer would undercut prices of current ECC laptops by >1k$ by pairing Raven Ridge with ECC or we get at least a µATX or ITX board.

[1] https://forums.anandtech.com/threads/amd-ama-starts-at-12pm-...

edit: As AMD is already throttling DRAM speed dynamically for Ryzen Mobile to conserve power, it would be an interesting experiment to see if they could throttle ECC DRAM even lower, so that it consumes less power than normal DRAM.

It'd be truly amazing if they had 32 GB of DRAM integrated on the silicon interposer, the way Intel does on the Xeon Phi. That would make manufacture of the machines much easier. Since the memory is not on the same die as the CPU, multiple SKUs can be assembled by just by combining different parts.

I wonder if these will be capable of working with ECC memory. I can't see OEM's pushing that as it's not supported by AMD but it could be a niche for custom builds.

It is supported by AMD, the OEMs just have to support it on the motherboard site too: https://forums.anandtech.com/threads/amd-ama-starts-at-12pm-...

I've had ~300 A8 7600(ish) APU desktops now and been very pleased. Mostly we've built them ourselves because nothing got into that price/performance bracket and no supplier would sell AMD. Great fit for the education market that's mostly office with some CAD.

I'm waiting for more Dell laptops with Ryzen APUs.

Just how big is the corporate desktop market? I haven't seen desktop computers at work in at least 7 years.

Quite large, especially if you're including "all in one" and SFF type desktops. Plenty of typical office workers have a fixed desk/workstation/cube and don't need a portable computer.

If you don't need or want your employees to have a portable machine, it offers all the traditional benefits. Specifically:

- Lower purchase price/higher performance for a given price.

- Lower failure rate/easier to repair. They have to make far fewer design compromises. They don't have to worry about battery size/life, they have plenty of space for proper cooling and don't have to be pushing the limits thermally, and with all the space they can design for easy servicing. Open up a modern corporate desktop machine and it's probably not going to require any tools to swap out anything but the PSU or CPU/Motherboard. It's also not going to have much in proprietary parts hard to find or purchase for a reasonable price.

- Upgradeable. No soldered on RAM or Flash/SSD, expansion slots, etc. Plenty of places don't have the budgets for "ideal" upgrade cycles and so that can become important to keep what they have tolerable for longer.

Still very big, I would say. You are correct about startups, but just go to any enterprise and you will find desktops everywhere. Enterprises generally don’t like the idea of company laptops with sensitive information being stolen, and - from what I can see - thin clients + datacenters is very popular there.

I work at a fairly large civil engineering company (~12k employees) and we're going 100% laptop starting this year. Personally I and many of my colleagues think it's a bad decisions.

OK. For the record, I worked at a government agency, at a GSE (both as a contractor, my company and the client both provided laptops only), and at a Fortune 100 company in the timeframe I quoted.

The sensitive information leakage thing is protected via full disk encryption in all those cases.

Same for us, and we're just 100 heads.

At least once a year I have to explain to the auditors that no, we do not clamp our desktop boxes down. Every system is set up with full-disk encryption.

Auditor: "What happens if someone steals one of those boxes?"

Me: "We lose perhaps 1k worth of kit. An annoyance. Someone has to spend time reinstalling their setup. But the data on the disk is illegible garbage. Useless."

Auditor: "Have you documented that as an accepted risk?"

Still, some organizations are concerned enough with their data that they'll not risk having it outside the building regardless of how well encrypted it is when the machine is turned off.

It's just a bad headline: AMD is releasing both desktop and mobile Ryzen Pros.

Mobile chips make great power-efficient desktops.

Not everyone (as in "almost nobody") has demands that stress any modern processor. I'm a developer and the small laptop I carry to hackathons is a Celeron-based Acer. Emacs runs fine on it and it's very unlikely I'll ever do more running Python web apps and a browser with one or two tabs open.

98 million desktop PCs were shipped in 2017 versus 161 million mobile PCs.

To put that in context, one desktop PC was shipped for each 2.2 iPhones. That's pretty impressive.

I'd hazard a guess of several hundred million.

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