Today's Hard|Forum Post
Today's Hard|Forum Post

AMD's Ryzen Master Overclocking Software Overview

AMD has been stepping up its game in the CPU and motherboard arena for the last year. Its Ryzen Master software is an overclocking utility that is motherboard agnostic, which allows overclocking and performance tuning from within Windows. With new chipsets comes a new iteration of this software. We take it for a test drive and let you know what we thought of it.

Introduction

Advanced Micro Devices or "AMD" as it’s generally known, is a company that all of our readers are familiar with. AMD was founded in 1969 and is the only company that’s ever gone up against Intel and stood the test of time. Cyrix and many others have tried to compete with Intel and were eventually forced out of the x86 processor market or worse. I’ve been involved with building PCs as a hobby and as a profession for the last two decades in various capacities. For the bulk of that time, AMD hasn’t really challenged Intel to any significant degree from a sales perspective. From a pure performance standpoint, or even a bang for your buck standpoint, AMD has been a viable and desirable alternative to Intel at times. AMD’s Bulldozer and its derivatives were a bleak era which trailed the lackluster Phenom era. That all changed with AMD’s introduction of its Ryzen series processors last year. AMD, like Intel's XTU, offers a tuning utility of its own that’s motherboard agnostic and serves to provide some monitoring and overclocking capabilities. As Ryzen was updated recently with a newer iteration marked by the 2xxx model numbering scheme, AMD’s Ryzen Master software was updated as well.

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AMD’s Ryzen Master software is a reasonably simple and relatively straight forward application used for tuning your Ryzen or Threadripper CPU. It is compatible with all X300 series and X400 series chipsets and variants. The software is very simple at its core. In a way, reminds me of Intel’s XTU software but only in that the two packages provide the same type of functionality. These each have very different approaches to the interface design and have many of the same limitations. For example; memory tuning can be done from the application, but a reboot is required for those settings to be applied and thus, take effect. There is a lot to tune on that front if you wish, although there aren’t as many options as I’ve seen in some other tuning software packages from motherboard vendors. You do get some more unusual tuning options relating to memory such as memory access mode which can be set if using Threadripper CPUs. This is grayed out for Ryzen. My only gripe here is that some of the memory and voltage settings use a up or down arrow to increment or decrement the setting. I don’t like that you can’t enter a value in manually or choose from a submenu or drop-down style selection box which is much faster if you know what you need to set.

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Naturally, overclocking voids your warranty and can cause damage to your hardware so AMD starts things off with a disclaimer. Motherboard manufacturers and Intel do the same thing so it's hardly a surprise here. Once you get done with ignoring all the legalese, you can get on with your life and the business of tuning your processor and RAM if desired. The interface works on a profile type setup where you can configure each of the profile presets. You can also copy one profile over another if need be. You can adjust RAM speeds, timings, and voltages from within each profile.

On the processor side you’ve got SMT (simultaneous multi-threading) and control over things like the precision boost clocks and frequency adjustments per core. The interface is pretty slick and aside from the profile system its very user friendly. I found the profile system to be a little clunky as it took me a few minutes to figure it out. That said, once you do its easy enough to use. It effectively gives you four profiles to work with. I’d have preferred something a little less static, so I could create as many profiles as I want, but four seems like enough for most people. You have the ability to enable or disable cores and set their speeds individually. The plus and minus key system for your CPU cores shows above and below the CPU core speed meters which is intuitive as is the all cores button. The software also allows for parking individual CPU cores should you wish to do that for some reason.

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As I said, the software is simple, basic and easy to use. It’s a nice alternative to tuning with motherboard specific software packages like AI Suite III or MSI Command Center. Its not that those utilities are bad, but they are brand specific and in some cases the interfaces leave a lot to be desired. The only thing that’s really lacking with Ryzen Master is an auto-tuning feature, but I can understand why this was omitted from the application. AMD has no idea what the quality of your motherboard is or anything about how its cooled. Settings that work well for one motherboard aren’t necessarily viable for another model or brand of board. Because of that simple fact, auto-tuning may pose more of a risk than AMD is willing to take. That said, there is a "apply and test" function in the software allows some control over the stability testing built into the application. This part of the application isn’t unlike Realbench or Prime95 in the options offered for this purpose. By that, I mean that it offers CPU and memory tests with blending options as well as a time frame for the stability test which is similar to ASUS’ offering with AI Suite III. Effectively, it’s like AI Suite III without automation. This is high praise as I think ASUS has probably the best of the motherboard software suites for automated overclocking out there.

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Ryzen Master also provides a system information tab which has some useful processor and motherboard information. This is the kind of stuff you can access via the software that comes with your motherboard but let’s be honest; Much of that software is bloated and has a bunch of crap in it you probably don’t need or necessarily want. In this regard, Ryzen Master, like Intel’s XTU are a welcome sight. When we cover the topic of software in motherboard reviews we effectively speak about such software in a vacuum with the only comparison made being that of other similar software packages bundled with motherboards. Frankly, there aren’t enough agnostic standalone utilities that would work just as well on any motherboard. While Ryzen Master, like XTU is more processor based than motherboard based, its still very much welcome and in many ways far superior in my eyes to that of any motherboard utilities. Sure, the latter software can often do more, but their interfaces can be clunky, less than intuitive and the software is bloated and often causes DPC latency issues and a host of other issues. You can end up with annoying tray icons or other gimmicks that I don’t actually want on my own personal systems.

Now, you might be wondering what we can achieve with this software package, and that’s the $64,000 question. So far, my experience with the Ryzen 2700X is limited to this one CPU and motherboard As, a result, I am unsure what its actual limits are. This is the standard setup we use for all AMD socket AM4 testing going forward. We used the ASUS Rampage VII Crosshair Hero (Wi-Fi), which I’m in the process of reviewing as I type this. You will be hearing all about this motherboard shortly.

NOTE: For all Testing, an AMD Ryzen 2700X (3.7GHz / 4.3GHz Boost) and 2x 8GB (16GB total) Corsair Vengeance LPX (4000MHz DDR4 18-19-19-39, 2T@1.35v) memory modules running at DDR4 2666MHz speeds (stock testing, up to 3600MHz overclocked) were used. For power, I used the an XFX XTR 850watt unit. Our discreet graphics card needs were handled by an MSI Windforce NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980Ti card. The CPU was cooled with a Koolance Exos 2.5 system and an Bykski Ice Dragon A-Ryzen-Th-X waterblock.

However, achieving a result of 4.1GHz across all cores was virtually effortless. To achieve any result, all I had to do was set the RAM speed, CPU voltage and CPU multiplier to achieve a result. If you’ll recall, the apply and test feature gives us a brief stability test as we apply the new settings. At 4.3GHz on all cores, the system locked up in around 5 seconds or so. This was obviously not the result we are looking for. At 4.2GHz, everything seemed to work fine. It successfully passed Ryzen Master’s stability test. The first image was during a test run set to run for an hour. The second image is a test after completing the Realbench runs.

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I was able to achieve a clock speed of 4.2GHz despite ambient temperatures of 80F at night in my office due to my air conditioning being out while this article was written. I was able to get the system to pass stress tests without doing anything special, I never saw CPU temperatures beyond about 78c. We will do more in depth testing with both this software and more motherboards in the future, but for now, the goal of this article is to give you guys a look at the Ryzen Master software and what you might be able to expect from it should your motherboard and CPU be up to the task. Given what I’ve seen here,

Another interesting feature in Ryzen Master is that it marks your "best" cores with gold and silver stars inside the application. Should you be looking to get the highest possible frequencies in single or per-core overclocking, you would be best to start with these.

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Also now exposed, depending on motherboard support is DC Current amp, and watts for 2000 series Ryzen CPUs. AMD has quite an extensive guide on Ryzen Master in PDF form.

The Bottom Line

All said and done, I really liked working with the Ryzen Master software. I would easily choose it over the motherboard manufacturer's software for overclocking my CPU. That's not the major point of this article, but it's something I would opt to do over the more complex and less intuitive software packages I could use. Ryzen Master doesn't care what board it runs on and works with all AMD's current CPU's. It provides a simple interface that doesn't bog you down with motherboard specific features. while I don't think it's necessarily up to the standards set by Intel's XTU, I think its getting there. This is some of the best software I've ever seen AMD put out and it's a pleasure to use. If you bailed out on using Ryzen Master in its previous iterations, it is certainly worth giving a go once again to see if it fits your needs.

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