Why you shouldn’t buy AMD’s fastest laptop CPU yet

Asus ROG Strix Scar 17 sitting on a table.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

I knew when AMD announced the Ryzen 9 7945HX3D that it would be a great gaming laptop CPU. It was even more clear when AMD announced it would release first in the Asus ROG Strix Scar 17, which is one of the fastest gaming laptops you can buy. I’ve tested it, and it lives up to AMD’s hype. But I still don’t think you should buy it yet. Let me explain.

Between reviewing desktop CPUs like the Ryzen 7 7800X3D and the Asus ROG Strix Scar 17 itself (read our Asus Scar 17 review for more), this new chip didn’t hold any surprises. It’s AMD’s fastest laptop CPU, bolstered by the company’s remarkable 3D V-Cache to boost gaming performance. It’s a known quantity.

Badges on the Asus ROG Strix Scar 17.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

It’s almost identical to the base Ryzen 9 7945HX based on specs, too. You’re getting 16 Zen 4 cores that enable 32 threads, along with a boost clock speed of 5.4GHz. It also carries the same power range of 55 watts up to 75W. The main difference is 128MB of L3 cache on the Ryzen 9 7945HX3D, which is double what the base processor has.

To illustrate that point, you can see just how similar the two are in raw processor performance. We normally see AMD’s 3D V-Cache chips take a performance hit in raw CPU power, but the Ryzen 9 7945HX3D is more in line with the desktop Ryzen 9 7950X3D. You’re not giving up much of anything in raw compute power.

Cinebench R23
for Premiere Pro 
Geekbench 5
Geekbench 6 (single / multi)
Asus ROG Strix 17 (Ryzen 9 7945HX3D / RTX 4090) 43 1,932 / 32,330 932 2,102 / 19,610 2,773 / 16,108
Asus ROG Strix 17 (Ryzen 9 7945HX / RTX 4090) 44 1,940 / 31,661 909 2,112 / 19,205 2,762 / 15,526

In fact, based on my testing, the Ryzen 9 7945HX3D was a little faster in most tests. The margins are too thin to say the 3D V-Cache chip is faster overall, but it’s definitely not struggling to reach the heights of the base Ryzen 9 7945HX.

You buy a processor like the Ryzen 9 7945HX3D for gaming, though, and that’s where it shines. It provided a slight uplift of 8% in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, identical performance in Red Dead Redemption 2, and a massive 28% jump in Cyberpunk 2077. That’s on the low end of what AMD says the chip is capable of in that game, too. I had to run the benchmark half a dozen times just to sanity check. For context, that’s faster than a desktop RTX 4070 Ti and Ryzen 9 7950X.

Asus ROG Strix Scar 17 (Ryzen 9 7945HX3D) Asus ROG Strix Scar 17 (Ryzen 9 7945HX3D)
3DMark Time Spy 19,716 19,009
3DMark Fire Strike 41,135 43,553
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla
(1080p Ultra High)
168 fps 156 fps
Red Dead Redemption 2
(1080p Ultra)
143 fps 143 fps
Cyberpunk 2077
(1080p Ultra)
152 fps 119 fps

So, end of story, right? The Ryzen 9 7945HX3D offers better gaming performance and nearly identical CPU performance, so the case is closed. That’s the problem with “gaming” CPUs, though, especially in a laptop like the Asus ROG Strix Scar 17. Control the testing to see what the processor is doing, and it looks impressive. Once you turn to realistic scenarios, though, it doesn’t look like it’s doing much.

Down to earth

Asus ROG Strix Scar 17 sitting on a table.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

If you saw AMD’s announcement of this processor, it quoted performance numbers that were run at 1080p with the High preset in games. I ran my tests at 1080p with the Ultra preset, but I also ran tests at 1440p. After all, the Asus ROG Strix Scar 17 has a 1440p screen, and it’s packing a mobile RTX 4090. You’re not going to decrease your resolution just to see your CPU kick out extra frames.

Asus ROG Strix Scar 17 (Ryzen 9 7945HX3D) Asus ROG Strix Scar 17 (Ryzen 9 7945HX)
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla
(1440p Ultra High)
136 fps 130 fps
Red Dead Redemption 2
(1440p Ultra)
111 fps 115 fps
Cyberpunk 2077
(1440p Ultra)
100 fps 96 fps

And under those realistic conditions, the Ryzen 9 7945HX3D doesn’t look as impressive. Sure, it offers up a handful of extra frames in Cyberpunk 2077 and Assassin’s Creed Valhalla (4% and 5%, respectively), but it’s actually slower in Red Dead Redemption 2. This isn’t a fluke, either. I ran my numbers by AMD, and it said it also saw a slight drop in this game.

Performance of the Ryzen 9 7945HX3D processors in several games.

In games like DOTA 2, Final Fantasy 14, Total War: Warhammer III, and Borderlands 3 where AMD quotes an uplift between 5% and 10% at 1080p, I wouldn’t be surprised to see those advantages completely disappear at 1440p. Most gaming CPUs only truly shine when you intentionally create a CPU bottleneck, and the Ryzen 9 7945HX3D is no different.

A good illustration of that is Cyberpunk 2077 with ray tracing turned on. This is the crown jewel of the Ryzen 9 7945HX3D’s 1080p gaming performance, but once you turn on ray tracing and Nvidia’s Deep Learning Super Sampling 3 (DLSS 3), the 3D V-Cache version is actually a few frames slower.

  Asus ROG Strix Scar 17 (Ryzen 9 7945HX3D) Asus ROG Strix Scar 17 (Ryzen 9 7945HX)
Cyberpunk 2077 (1440p Ultra RT) 41 fps 43 fps
Cyberpunk (1440p Ultra RT / Performance) 44 fps 45 fps
Cyberpunk 2077 (1440p Ultra RT/ DLSS 3) 132 fps 140 fps

This is a problem because the Ryzen 9 7945HX3D version of the Scar 17 is more expensive. It retails for $3,600 for the model I tested, $100 more than the same configuration with the base Ryzen 9 7945HX. You likely won’t spend list price for the Ryzen 9 7945HX, either; at the time of writing, it’s available across retailers for $3,400, with one offering it on sale at $3,100.

Based on my testing, the battery life was slightly worse, too. The Asus Scar 17 isn’t a beacon of battery life with its desktop replacement status, but the base Ryzen 9 7945HX version still lasted 30 minutes longer than the 3D V-Cache version in my web-browsing test.

Great CPU, wrong venue

Lights on the Asus ROG Strix Scar 17
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

We shouldn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater here. The Ryzen 9 7945HX3D is doing exactly what AMD promised and exactly what the company’s 3D V-Cache has done in the past. The Asus Scar 17 just isn’t the right venue for the processor.

It’s a similar situation with the desktop Ryzen 9 7950X3D. This is a processor that’s going to benefit laptops with weaker graphics cards and 1080p screens the most, and with a 1440p screen and an RTX 4090 in the Scar 17, the advantages almost disappear entirely. And that’s with spending anywhere from $100 to $500 more over the base part.

I suspect AMD will eventually release an eight-core version of this chip, and paired with something like a mobile RTX 4060, it could be extremely potent for 1080p gaming. For now, you’re better off sticking with the base Ryzen 9 7945HX in flagship laptops like the Scar 17. You’re spending more for the 3D V-Cache chip and mostly bypassing everything that makes the tech special.

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