AMD Ryzen vs Intel is one of the most debated topics in PC gaming. Which CPU should you buy? The answer depends on what you’re looking for and how much you want to spend.
AMD Ryzen CPUs offer more cores and threads than Intel processors, which means they can handle heavy workloads better. They also have a lower price point, making them a contender for budget builds or those who don’t mind spending money on performance upgrades down the line. But if you only play games, then an Intel processor might be your best bet because it will get higher frame rates than AMD’s latest offerings. And while AMD claims their new chips are optimized for gaming, there’s no denying that even with its high core count and low price tag, this CPU is still much slower than Intel’s CPUs when it comes to gaming.
AMD Ryzen has more cores and threads than the competition, so in heavy workloads, they will rock – but if you only game, Intel may be quicker.
To help you decide which CPU brand to buy, we’ve created this guide with all the important information about AMD Ryzen vs Intel processors.
AMD Ryzen vs Intel: Basic Specs
AMD Ryzen was released in 2017 as AMD’s return to high-performance processors after years of focusing on mobile devices and low-power CPUs for smaller form factor PCs. Unlike previous products, it wasn’t just another rebrand of old architecture, but rather a completely new CPU generation. Even though Ryzen chips are based on AMD’s latest Zen microarchitecture, they’re still built with the same 14nm manufacturing process Intel has been using for years in most of its products.
On the other hand, Ryzen is not the only high-end CPU line from AMD this year. In March, the company also released the Ryzen Threadripper line, which consists of massive CPUs with more cores and sockets than regular Ryzen chips, aimed at enthusiasts who want to have as much processing power as possible in a desktop PC that they can take anywhere.
Intel responded with several new Coffee Lake processors based on its latest 14nm++ architecture, which brings more cores to its mainstream desktop PC processors than ever before. But unlike AMD, it didn’t release the new chips as a new generation. Instead, it added more cores to existing products and called them 8th-gen CPUs. So even if they’re manufactured with an updated process, Coffee Lake chips are still based on Kaby Lake and Skylake microarchitectures.
And while Intel is still offering the 7th-gen Kaby Lake processors, they only make sense if you’re building a budget PC because of their lower core count (and not much better performance than Ryzen chips). And for anyone looking for high-performance CPUs, Coffee Lake will be your only option until the 9th-gen chips are released next year.
AMD Ryzen vs Intel: Price and Availability
Ryzen CPUs started trickling in stores by early March 2017, but they were only officially available worldwide in late March after several delays due to manufacturing problems. So if you wanted one of AMD’s new processors at launch, then your only option was to pre-order one of the few CPUs that were available. And they weren’t cheap either, with some models priced higher than Intel’s offerings.
But that wasn’t the case when Coffee Lake chips arrived in stores in October 2017. At first, only the low-powered U-series processors were released for thin and light notebooks, but they were followed by desktop processors at the start of November. However, availability wasn’t as great (even six months after launch), and many models still take a long time to be delivered because Intel can’t produce them in high enough quantities.
AMD vs Intel: Design and Architecture
Even though both brands offer CPUs for desktops, notebooks, and servers, their product lines are quite different. AMD only has one processor line with several price points, but Intel is divided into three families that cover the entire market.
AMD Ryzen CPUs are built with the latest Zen microarchitecture, which brings several improvements over Excavator (the last microarchitecture used in AMD’s processors before Zen).
For starters, it’s the first CPU from AMD built using the 14nm manufacturing process. And instead of simply adapting an existing architecture for that or another process, AMD completely redesigned it to reduce latency and increase throughput. On top of that, Ryzen has more cache memory (8MB), support for faster DDR4 memory, and a completely unlocked multiplier, which means that you can overclock it as high as possible.
Intel’s CPUs are divided into several families, with the latest 8th-generation chips being based on Kaby Lake and Coffee Lake microarchitectures. Unfortunately, those aren’t much different from Skylake and Kaby Lake because Intel didn’t make any significant changes to its core design to adapt it for the latest manufacturing processes.
So what are the main differences between those three microarchitectures? For starters, Coffee Lake brings higher core counts, which is something that Intel didn’t offer in Kaby Lake. However, all mainstream 8th-gen processors are limited to six computing cores (the same as Ryzen 7), which means that they didn’t adopt AMD’s high-core-count design (which is reserved for the enthusiast-grade HEDT chips).
On top of that, Coffee Lake also brings more cache memory (up to 12MB), support for quad-channel DDR4 memory, an improved media engine, and other minor improvements. And while Coffee Lake processors are compatible with LGA 1151 sockets (and the B250, Q150, and H110 chipsets), they’re only compatible with Z370 motherboards if you want to take advantage of their full capabilities.
AMD Ryzen vs Intel: Microarchitecture
AMD’s decision to go all out on high-performance computing is clearly visible in its Ryzen chips. The latest processors from the red team have up to eight cores and sixteen threads, which allow them to be more versatile than Intel’s mainstream CPUs (which generally offer four cores without HT). And while you can still find several models with higher core/thread counts (like AMD’s upcoming 24-core behemoth ), those processors are meant for PC enthusiasts that use workstations and servers.
On the other hand, Intel has been less committed to high core counts as it has focused on improving single-core performance with each new processor generation for several years now. And even though there were rumours about a 10-core mainstream CPU from the blue team, it would only appear at the end of 2018.
On top of that, AMD’s Ryzen CPUs support simultaneous multi-threading (SMT), which is basically an advanced version of Intel’s Hyper-Threading. This allows them to offer twice as many computing threads as their rivals. Of course, this also means that they’re limited to four physical cores (the same as Intel’s mainstream CPUs), but they can still have up to eight computing cores.
AMD Ryzen vs Intel: Benchmarks and Specs
While benchmarks are important for comparisons between two different CPUs, many people don’t realize that they’re not the best way to determine their performance.
For example, AMD offered several Ryzen-based APUs over the last year, and they performed similarly to budget Intel Kaby Lake chips. However, because people wanted to compare them to Intel’s more expensive Core processors, you’ll probably find several numbers that make AMD’s latest SoCs look like complete garbage.
Of course, these are synthetic tests rather than games (which are usually the most demanding applications), but even in games, there are situations when a Ryzen APU can’t offer a comparable experience to an Intel Core-based system. This is mostly due to the fact that many modern titles don’t scale well with multiple threads, and Ryzen CPUs have more of them than contemporary Intel chips.
As you can see in the charts below, the Ryzen 5 2400G that was released over a year ago is just as fast as Intel’s Core i5-8400 in games, but its performance drops dramatically in some titles. However, this doesn’t mean that AMD’s APU is underpowered because most people who use an iGPU don’t play demanding games (where it would be bottlenecked).
AMD Ryzen vs Intel: 4C/8T CPUs
In terms of their gaming performance, Intel’s mainstream chips are weaker than AMD’s APUs in games because most titles rely heavily on single-core performance. This is why their quad-cores can’t offer a better gaming experience than AMD’s higher core/thread count CPUs. Luckily, this will change as developers begin to optimize their games for more than four cores. For example, Ryzen CPUs offer much better framerates in strategy titles like Civilization VI because they’re able to leverage the processing power of multiple physical and computing cores.
And while we can’t speak about future games, Intel’s latest Coffee Lake CPUs boast an impressive single-core performance that can significantly boost the speed of its mainstream Core processors. For example, the Core i5-8400 has a base clock of 2.8GHz and Turbo Boost speeds up to 4GHz compared to the Ryzen 5 2400G’s 3.6GHz base frequency and 3.9GHz maximum Turbo frequency.
As you can see in the chart above, this means that Intel’s six-core CPU is faster than AMD’s top Ryzen 5 model when it comes to single-threaded tasks. It even outperforms the Ryzen 7 2700X in most games, despite its low clock speeds. Of course, AMD’s eight-core Ryzen CPUs are a better choice if you want a CPU for gaming, but it’s hard to ignore Intel’s strong single-core performance.
AMD Ryzen vs Intel: 12C/24T CPUs
In terms of price/performance, AMD has been offering better solutions than Intel for several years now. In fact, it’s Ryzen 7 1800X flagship was as fast as the Core i7-5960X in most applications, but it was much cheaper. In fact, you could build a PC with an AMD Ryzen 7 1800X and a mainstream GPU for almost half of what it would cost to get an Intel Core i7-5960X and a high-end GPU.
However, this situation changed dramatically with the Coffee Lake launch. Although it didn’t offer many improvements over Kaby Lake, Intel’s new CPUs increased their core/thread counts and managed to outperform AMD’s Ryzen CPUs in multi-threaded tasks. For example, its Core i9-9900K flagship packs eight cores and 16 threads compared to AMD’s second-gen Ryzen 7 2700X that has only 8C/16T.
This means that with a proper motherboard and high-speed memory, Intel’s Coffee Lake CPUs offer much better multi-threaded performance than AMD’s Ryzen processors. Of course, this is only true if we’re talking about pure CPU performance as AMD’s second-gen Ryzen CPUs can deliver similar results in most games (even when we compare the Ryzen 7 2700X and Core i9-9900K).
Even though Intel’s Coffee Lake CPUs offer better multi-threading performance, AMD does have a proper response to their flagship chips. Its second-gen Ryzen Threadripper CPUs pack up to 16 cores and 32 threads and they outperform Intel’s i9-9900K in some applications.
In conclusion, AMD’s Ryzen CPUs are a better choice than its APUs if you only want a gaming PC. On the other hand, Coffee Lake CPUs can deliver better multi-threading performance for multi-core applications. Despite this fact, our tests suggest that Ryzen CPUs aren’t that much slower than Coffee Lake CPUs in games (for example, their performance is pretty close in most titles with the GTX 1080 Ti). This means that you can build a decent gaming PC with either AMD’s new APUs or Intel’s high-end mainstream processors.
What do you think about AMD Ryzen? Which processor would you choose for your new gaming PC? Let us know in the comments section below.