Ryzen 7 4700U review: AMD's budget 8-core crushes Intel's 10th-gen chips, again

AMD's budget Ryzen 7 chip easily outpaces Intel's best ultraportable laptop CPUs.

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Ryzen 7 4700U Battery life

Perhaps one metric that overshadows all is battery life. Our video rundown test uses the same Tears of Steel 4K video and loops it using Windows 10’s Movies & TV player (the most efficient one in town). We put the laptop into airplane mode, connect earbuds to minimize the speaker driver impact, and set screen brightness to 250 to 260 nits. 

Note that this chart includes some older test results. We used the official scores from the reviews of both the Dell laptops, as OS and UEFI updates should not affect this test. We also brought in the results from recent Intel-based Swift 3 laptops we’ve tested, with 8th-gen Whiskey Lake and 10th-gen Ice Lake chips.

swift 3 off battery IDG

Most of the Acer Swift 3 laptops we've tested, incuding this new one with Ryzen 7 4700U, have middling battery life.

Here’s the one place where Ryzen 7 4700U stumbles. It posts an unremarkable 8 hours and 10 minutes of runtime, compared to nearly 10 hours for the XPS 13, and nearly 12 hours for the XPS 13 2-in-1. Also note that the XPS 13 we tested features a 4K screen, which consumes far more power than 1080p panels such as the one in the Acer Swift 3. The same XPS 13 with an FHD screen might have lasted an additional three to four hours.

To be fair, the Ryzen-based Swift 3 is mostly in line with two of the three other Core-based Swift 3’s we’ve tested. At this point, we think it’s safe to say that battery life on the Acer Swift 3 is middling across the board, and it may have nothing to do with the Ryzen chip. We’ll wait until we’ve tested seven or eight Ryzen 4000-based laptops to establish a trend for this CPU family. (We should note that the Ryzen 9 4900HS in the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 gave us fantastic video rundown performance).

Ryzen 7 4700U: The chip that won't quit

To wrap it up, we’ll help you visualize the strength of the Ryzen 7 4700U: CPU performance. For that we use the older and lighter Cinebench R15 and run it from 1 thread to the maximum amount. For the Comet Lake U Core i7-10710U, that’s 12. The runs are performed sequentially, with a few minutes’ rest in between.

In the chart below, we see a regression in performance with the Core i7-10710U that is hard to understand. We think it might be our issues with the ambient room temperature. On a cooler morning we’ll rerun this, but remember: We ran the Ryzen 7 under the same conditions.

ryzen 7 4700u vs core i7 10710u threadscaling IDG

We run Cinebench R15 across all of the CPU cores to give you an idea of how the chips perform.

We also graph out the performance difference, below. As you can see, the Ryzen 7 4700U is underwater on those light loads, where the higher boost clocks of the Core i7-10710U have an advantage in Cinebench R15. The Ryzen 7 4700U opens up a big lead down the home stretch. Even though the Core i7-10710U has 12 threads in a test that favors more threads, the 8-core-only Ryzen 7 4700U fights it to a standstill. Overall, we’d say it’s a win for AMD, especially when you consider the Ryzen 7’s better GPU.

ryzen 7 4700u vs core i7 10710u threadscaling percentage IDG

Intel’s most advanced 14nm U-chip, the Core i7-10710U, leads the Ryzen in single-threaded performance. It’s mostly a tie on heavy loads, with the 8-core-only Ryzen 7 offering more interesting performance spikes.

The more interesting battle is between AMD’s 7nm Ryzen 7 4700U and Intel’s 10nm Core i7-1065G7. We’ve already seen how close the two can be at times, even in graphics performance. The main issue for the Intel chip is it doesn’t go beyond 4 cores. When you compare the Ryzen 7 4700U against the Core i7-1065G7, it looks like this.

ryzen 7 4700u vs core i7 1065g7 threadscaling IDG

Multi-core performance on AMD’s new Ryzen 7 4700U (green) vs. Intel’s most advanced 10th-gen Core i7-1065G7 (blue).

That probably doesn’t look like much, so here is the performance difference by percent. Both chips are actually dead even on single-core performance, but as you ramp up, the Ryzen 7 4700U doesn’t look back. It’s basically double digits, with a whopping 22-percent difference at 8 threads. The basic lesson is while Hyper-Threading helps quite a bit, it’s not enough to beat 8 physical cores. This is likely to look even uglier with the Ryzen 7 4800U, which has SMT (AMD’s Hyper-Threading) switched on.

ryzen 7 4700u vs core i7 1065g7 threadscaling percentage IDG

The 4-core, 8-thread Core i7-1065G7 can’t hang with the Ryzen as threads go up.

Ryzen 4000 continues to change the game

Ryzen 4000’s journey is by far not perfect. During our Ryzen 7 4700U testing, we tried to create a workload using Windows 10’s overlooked but awesome Video Editor (yes, that’s its name). We took the 4K Tears of Steel video, added ugly titles, 3D effects, and “denim” filter effect, exporting it to 1080p.

On the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1, the project and export ran as smooth as butter—very impressive for an ultralight laptop. We tried the same with the Swift 3 and Ryzen 7, but the project just hung when hardware acceleration (AMD’s VCE) was enabled. We’re sure this issue will be corrected once Microsoft notices, but we bring this up as a reminder that AMD is moving in to a world that’s been largely focused on Intel CPUs for a long, long time.

Before we end this, we want to help put some perspective on AMD’s Ryzen 7 4700U and Acer’s Swift 3. Remember that this is a budget $650 laptop with 8GB of RAM and 512GB SSD. It’s basically cooled by a single heat pipe and fan, vs. the intricate copper vapor chambers of the XPS 13 2-in-1 or dual fans of the XPS 13. Even so, the Swift 3 was always well-behaved and never the first to offend with fan noise. That’s nearly the same experience we saw on Asus’ ROG Zephyrus G14 on CPU operations. We can’t say the same for most Intel-based laptops when pushed hard.

Yet this modest Swift 3 budgetbook offers performance that actually puts it into the ballpark of Intel’s 9th-gen H-class laptops. You can see that illustrated below, where we drop the Acer Swift 3 into a pack of H-class gaming laptops. The longer red line belongs to the Ryzen 9-powered Asus ROG Zephyrus G14.

acer swift 3 vs h cinebench r20 nt IDG

The Acer Swift 3 can actually perform as well as Intel’s 9th-gen H-class CPUs in CPU operations.

We’ll show it yet again in the more intensive HandBrake test, this time using the older version, where we transcode a 30GB 1080p MKV file using the Android Tablet preset. The workload favors more cores and threads. The Acer Swift 3 with its Ryzen 7 4700U is in line with 6-core, 12-thread Core i7-8750H and Core i7-9750H chips in laptops that weigh five pounds or more, typically. Yes, those H-class gaming laptops would whup the Swift 3 silly in gaming—but in CPU performance, it’s way too close for comfort for Intel fans.

acer swift 3 vs h handbrake 99 IDG

Amazing: A Ryzen 7 4700U without SMT, can just about hang with 8th gen Core i7-8750H and Core i7-9750H chips.

The Ryzen 7 4700U delivers simply stunning performance that raises the bar for what we’ve come to expect of U-class laptops. Only its battery life falls back to earth (and that may change as we see more laptop implementations.) Overall, it’s yet more proof of just how much of a game-changer the Ryzen 4000 CPUs are.

Correction: A previous version of this story included a photo caption that incorrectly stated the amount of RAM. PCWorld regrets the error.

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