Intel and AMD have been around for years. Both companies deliver excellent solutions when it comes to computer hardware. They are each other’s biggest competitors, and every year they release new hardware, including CPUs. Each and every time, they try to surpass one another.
If you’re at all interested in the desktop PC scene, you likely have heard the arguments before. Both Intel and AMD have very dedicated fanbases consisting of happy users that swear by their chosen brand. At the same time, the brands themselves have been competing for years with various results.
It’s an endless battle between Intel and AMD, and it’s hard to know who is currently winning. If you’re looking for upgrades, you should do your best to compare CPUs. AMD vs Intel? We’re here to settle the score and tell you all about AMD vs Intel CPUs. Keep reading to make the best choice for your PC!
Intel vs AMD — How Did It All Begin?
For many years, Intel was perceived as the “superior” CPU manufacturer. With some really great releases in the last decade, the brand has dominated the market for years. Most gamers, as well as simply demanding PC users, chose Intel over AMD.
Intel used to provide (as it still does to this day), a wide range of CPUs at different prices and performance levels. You could build a run-of-the-mill office PC based on an Intel chipset, or you could build a high-end gaming beast, also using an Intel. The difference? Miles and miles in performance & several hundred bucks out of your wallet. However, many users were willing to pay the extra price for Intel, because the brand guaranteed stability & superior performance.
AMD vs Intel over the years
While Intel was getting cozy up on the top of all possible CPU benchmarks, AMD was the much less popular choice for years. The brand mostly provided budget solutions that saved you money, but also didn’t offer the power that most Intel CPUs had. Some AMD processors had unfortunate issues with cooling and were generally rumored to be unstable. As such, the battle of AMD vs Intel was not really a battle at all.
One thing that AMD has always beaten Intel at was the ability to overclock. While Intel has entire lines of high-end CPUs that cannot be unlocked, AMD usually allowed for overclocking on most of their models. However, this still didn’t bring them up to par when faced with a standard Intel in an Intel vs AMD comparison.
Three years ago, as AMD was teetering on the verge of bankruptcy, things took an unexpected turn for the better. With the introduction and great success of AMD Ryzen, Intel has slowly begun to lose their #1 spot on every respectable benchmark for CPU.
As AMD continued to make a surprising comeback, it started developing quite the fanbase. These days, with PC lovers split between favoring Intel vs AMD, it’s harder than ever to get an unbiased opinion on the subject.
We don’t play favorites — we serve cold, hard facts. If you want to choose what’s best for your computer, you’ve come to the right place. What’s better? A Comet Lake Intel Core processor? Or perhaps a high-end Intel Core i9-10900K? What about AMD Ryzen 9? We’re here to talk about all of these fantastic CPUs at length.
Intel vs AMD Ryzen — A General Description
Before you’ll be able to make your mind up on which CPU suits you best, it’s important to know all the particulars. We want to fully introduce you to Intel’s 8th and 9th gen of CPUs as well as the AMD Ryzen line. Let us begin with Intel.
Intel’s 8th, 9th, And 10th Generation Of Processors
When it comes to Intel, the fastest CPUs right now are Intel’s latest generation processors. They are referred to as Coffee Lake and they represent the 8th and 9th generation of Intel CPUs. 8th Gen started appearing on the market back in late 2017, with the 9th Gen following back near the end of 2018. As such, even the older 8th Gen models still hold up pretty well three years later.
Aside from 8 and 9, Intel has already released their 10th Generation of processors, referred to as Cascade Lake or Comet Lake. While 9th Gen remains the top right now, 10th Gen is gaining popularity. Comet Lake has introduced some great new CPUs, such as the Intel Core i9-10900K.
Intel’s clock speeds tend to vary wildly at first glance. Many models oscillate the 3.6-3.8 GHz range without overclocking, going as far as 5.0 GHz when in turbo mode. On the other hand, when paired with a modern motherboard, these CPUs will naturally run at higher speeds than what is promised on the box.
As mentioned, one of Intel’s downsides is that not all of their processors can be overclocked. Only the K-suffix Intel processors are unlocked and capable of using turbo mode. As such, if you buy a CPU from Intel without a K-suffix in its name, it’s not overclockable.
All these processors share the same LGA1151 socket, so a matching motherboard is required for them.
As far as specific models go, right now in 2020, the best Intel processors are the Core i9-9900K, the i9-10900X, and the cheaper, but older i7-9700K. Keep in mind that for these new processors you will need an LGA1151 motherboard with a 300-series chipset. The older models with 100-series or 200-series chipsets were meant for the Intel 6th and 7th Gen of processors.
Some of the older Coffee Lake models are of the Intel Core i5 series and they still hold up quite well. If you’re on a tight budget, a Core i5 processor might still be acceptable. Alternatively, Core i7 processors are a step up that has already dropped in price.
Intel Core i9-9900K
|Intel Core i9-9900K Desktop Processor 8 Cores up to 5.0 GHz Turbo...||4,192 Reviews||$406.95||Check on Amazon|
This is one of the best Intel CPUs available in 2020. It features a mix of 8 cores and 16 threads as well as a base clock speed of 3.60 GHz with a 16 MB cache. This is one of Intel’s unlocked processors and it can be overclocked up to a whopping 5.0 GHz.
It supports Intel Optane Memory and has an integrated graphics card: Intel UHD Graphics 630. However, most people that choose to spend money on this processor are likely to invest in a good GPU as well.
The i9-9900K consistently performs very well in CPU comparisons. It has a great temperature regulation, a whole lot of power, and a reliable speed that is sure to satisfy even demanding users.
Intel Core i9-10900X
|Intel Core i9-10900X Desktop Processor 10 Cores up to 4.7GHz Unlocked...||70 Reviews||$562.00||Check on Amazon|
As this processor is a 10th Gen processor, it runs on a different socket and chipset than the other Intel CPUs. For i9-10900X as well as the unlocked version i9-10900K, you’ll need a motherboard with an LGA2066 socket and x299 chipset.
Due to the ongoing AMD vs Intel debate, this processor hasn’t yet taken off as well as it could have. Even so, it’s a powerful processor with an astounding 10 cores. It’s solid for gaming, but it’s especially favored by content creators and streamers.
It has a clock speed of up to 4.7GHz and it’s designed to support running many different programs all at once. It doesn’t come with an integrated graphics card, so it will require a dedicated GPU. It is quite similar to its overclockable sibling, the Core i9-10900K.
Intel Core i7-9700K
|Intel Core i7-9700K Desktop Processor 8 Cores up to 4.9 GHz Turbo...||5,029 Reviews||$259.99||Check on Amazon|
The i7-9700K represents an older generation of CPUs, but it remains one of the Intel favorites to this day. It’s supported by an LGA1151 socket. One downside of this CPU is that it doesn’t come with a cooler — you need to buy a cooler separately. On the other hand, a lot of people like to invest in extra cooling solutions & wouldn’t use the out-of-the-box cooler regardless.
With its 8 cores and 8 threads, this is an efficient CPU fit for both gamers and content creators. You can use it for streaming, 3D modeling, and other taxing tasks.
Unlike the 10th Gen model, this one has a built-in integrated graphics card. It’s compatible with motherboards based on Intel 300 series chipsets and it has a processor speed of up to 4.9 GHz (3.60 GHz standard).
Intel’s processors still remain solid and are preferred by die-hard fans of the brand, but how do they fare in a CPUs comparison? Are they still better than AMD? Let’s find out by getting to know the other brand more.
AMD Ryzen CPUs
Ryzen processors were the company’s saving grace. Just as most people gave up on the brand & assumed the race is over and a victor has been crowned, AMD rose from the ashes and took the market by storm.
After AMD’s disappointing FX and XT series, many fans left the brand behind and wrote it off as inferior, budget, and worst of all, poor quality. This kind of mindset only contributes to the hype Ryzen continues to generate to this day.
Ryzen’s per-core CPU performance is over 50% better than in the previous FX-series processors. It’s also thanks to the core and thread composition that these CPUs began to take the lead away from Intel.
Back when Intel advertised 4-core/8-thread processors as the best on the market, AMD charged in with their Ryzen series that had 8-core/16-thread CPUs in its line-up. This wasn’t that new for AMD, as XT and FX processors also sometimes had more cores than Intel models. However, this time around, these processors offered great performance. They also had a wider price range than before, including both budget and premium models.
As far as the clock speed goes, AMD doesn’t have quite the same speeds as Intel achieves. The first generation of Ryzen caps at 4GHz, the second at 4.3GHz, and the third at 4.7GHz. On the other hand, all AMD CPUs can be overclocked, which is something that cannot be said about Intel. For the majority of them, however, you won’t be able to OC them too much.
As of right now, the best AMD processors you can buy are Ryzen 9 3900X, Ryzen 9 3950X, and Ryzen 7 3700X.
Ryzen 9 3900X
|AMD Ryzen 9 3900X 12-core, 24-thread unlocked desktop processor with...||7,357 Reviews||$499.00||Check on Amazon|
Ryzen 3900X is one of the most popular processors for gamers and other users who require flawless performance. This is a 12-core, 24-thread CPU that rivals the best Intel CPUs in terms of value for money ratio.
It has been tested to deliver upwards of 100+ FPS in the world’s most demanding games. Of course, this only applies when you pair it with a good graphics card.
It can be boosted up to 4.6 GHz and it is unlocked for overclocking. Ryzen 9 3900X supports DDR 3200 RAM and it comes with AMD’s signature Wraith Prism cooler, saving you an additional expense.
Ryzen 9 3950X
|AMD Ryzen 9 3950X 16-Core, 32-Thread Unlocked Desktop Processor,...||1,457 Reviews||$709.99||Check on Amazon|
If a premium product is what you’re after, you’re going to pay some extra attention to this high-end Ryzen 9 3950X CPU. It offers the most processing power currently available, with a mindblowing 16 cores and 32 threads.
The clock speed is also impressive and it can almost rival most Intel 9th Gen models. You can expect speeds up to 4.7 GHz here, DDR 3200 support, and 72 MB of game cache. The base clock is set to 3.5 GHz. Unfortunately, this CPU does not come with a cooler, so you’ll need to get one yourself.
This CPU fits the advanced AM4 socket and can withstand really high temperatures of up to 95 degrees Celsius. This guarantees reliable, steady performance.
Ryzen 7 3700X
|AMD Ryzen 7 3700X 8-Core, 16-Thread Unlocked Desktop Processor with...||12,176 Reviews||$352.49||Check on Amazon|
This is yet another success by AMD, and by now, it falls into the budget end of the price spectrum. With its 8 cores and 16 threads, this is still a very respectable CPU that will satisfy most users, gamers and streamers included.
It may seem pretty unimpressive when faced with Ryzen 9 or Intel’s 9th Gen, but keep in mind the much, much-reduced price tag. You can expect to pay about 50% of the price for this CPU in comparison to Ryzen 9.
Unlike some AMD models, this one does feature a cooler, saving you even more money. Despite not being the latest model, it still has a clock speed of 4.4 GHz when overclocked. If you’re not building a top-notch gaming rig, you’ll be more than happy with this model.
Why is AMD Cheaper Than Intel?
There are multiple reasons why Intel can afford to charge more for their processors. Here are just some of the causes behind this.
- Intel, as a brand, has an established name all over the planet. AMD is definitely popular in the PC fan circles, but since the reputation of the brand has taken a hit over the last decade, Intel reigns supreme in that regard.
- AMD Ryzen has a smaller market share. That alone forces the company to sell at a lower margin for people to want to buy their products.
- Intel tends to make the most of their market power. They know they can charge more for their products, so they do. It’s a simple rule of the market.
- AMD Ryzen chips tend to be cheaper to manufacture than the processors Intel offers.
In the past, the cheaper prices had little effect on sales for AMD. This was because their products were generally inferior to Intel, so you wouldn’t have wanted to buy them anyway. These days, it’s a whole different story. The fact that you can get a very good AMD Ryzen processor for a fraction of the cost of Intel contributes to the rising popularity of AMD.
Which is Better: AMD Ryzen or Intel?
Now that you’ve gotten to know these two brands better, it’s time for the verdict. In a battle of AMD vs Intel, which one is better? In some ways, the jury is still in.
Based on several different benchmarks, AMD comes out on top in more ways than one. AMD Ryzen provides a better cost-to-effectiveness ratio, basically offering you the best bang for your buck. On the other hand, Intel still holds the upper hand in terms of clock speeds and gaming performance.
What is Intel better at?
- Drivers/software availability
What is AMD better at?
- Price to performance ratio
- Productivity/content creation
- Power consumption
- Price ranges (budget and premium models)
Overall, this puts AMD Ryzen at a winning position as of 2020. Even so, many people still choose Intel, if only for the well-known brand name.
Are you still unsure which CPU to choose? A general rule of thumb will be that you might as well go with AMD. The few things these CPUs are worse at are next-to-invisible to regular users. Bonus? AMD is usually cheaper.
While at this moment, AMD seems to be winning the fight, we know that Intel is not giving up. With the release of their 10th gen CPUs, we expect that things are about to get even more interesting.
Whether you’re a fan of AMD or Intel, or perhaps neither, it’s important that you pick the best processor for your computer. Consider the factors that matter the most to you and take your pick — now is the best time to shop for a new CPU!