Last updated on September 13th, 2023 at 03:00 am
Intel and AMD have been going at it for over a decade now. Seeing them battle it out is pretty exciting for those who follow the CPU scene closely, but all the new naming conventions and fancy specs make things confusing for those of us simply looking to get the best processors.
Intel’s CPUs offer better single-threaded performance and are more budget-friendly. AMD’s CPUs have better multicore performance and power efficiency but a higher barrier to entry. Intel CPUs generally come out on top in price-to-performance, but AMD has some great options too.
Of course, that’s somewhat of an oversimplification, and the answer has much more nuance to it than that. Let’s find out which of the two tech giants provides us with better CPUs today.
Intel vs. AMD CPUs – Factors to Consider
Let’s first talk about the performance-determining metrics we’ll be using to compare the processors released by both Intel and AMD.
I’ll be using metrics most influential on performance in activities you’re most likely to carry out on an average PC, such as gaming, streaming, content creation, and productivity work.
We’ll also talk about price-to-performance and power efficiency because, of course, when you buy a processor, you want to ensure you’re getting the most bang for your buck.
Modern-day CPUs have multiple cores and threads, allowing the processor a better capacity for running tasks in parallel. How fast each individual core or thread runs is a major influencer of performance in many scenarios.
This is because some applications, with games being the perfect example, can’t fully utilize multiple threads. Their primary processing is carried out on a single or, at most, a couple of threads, whereas the remaining threads are only delegated minor tasks.
Single-thread performance is directly associated with a processor’s clock speeds and GHz.
Intel comes out on top in this category. Their processors tend to have a higher core and boost clock than AMDs, and this has been true historically.
For example, Intel’s current flagship, the i9-13900KS, has an incredible 6GHz boost clock. AMD’s flagship, the Ryzen 9 7950X, has a 5.7GHz boost clock, which is still phenomenal by objective standards, but loses out to its counterpart by 300MHz – a considerable difference that will be felt in CPU-bound games.
A processor’s multicore performance determines its capacity for multitasking. It also greatly speeds up processes that can utilize multiple threads – examples would be 3D rendering, video editing, file compressing and decompressing, etc.
Although it has different applications to single-thread performance, I would say it’s just about as important.
These days, AMD and Intel are pretty much neck and neck in this category with their Raphael and Raptor Lake lineups.
However, not everyone will be buying the newer processors. When it comes to CPUs from previous generations, AMD has generally always had a better multicore performance simply because their processors tend to have more cores and threads.
You should also read: What is AMD Ryzen?
Power Efficiency and Thermals
Power efficiency and thermals are directly tied to the TDP (Thermal Design Power) of a CPU. It’s desirable to have your processor run cool and consume minimal power, all while offering top-notch performance.
AMD wins in this category, but that’s less because AMD’s CPUs are power efficient and more because Intel’s CPUs are absolute monsters in terms of power consumption.
Intel hasn’t held back at all this time. We’re used to seeing processors with standard 65-watt TDPs. Well, the i9-13900KS has a massive 320-watt TDP – this puts most graphics cards to shame!
Even the i5-13400F, Intel’s mid-range budget option, can soak up 148 watts of power under full load.
AMD’s current high-end 7000X CPUs consume 170 watts of power, which is … not great either.
But they’ll be releasing the non-X and the 3DX versions of the 7000 series in February, which have TDPs of 65 watts and 120 watts, respectively, massively outperforming Intel’s current lineup in performance-per-watt.
Budget Friendliness and Price-to-performance
These days, Intel is markedly more budget-friendly, and their 13th-generation CPUs are more competitively priced than AMDs, giving you a better price-to-performance ratio.
Intel’s i9-13900K, for example, was released at $589 and outperformed the Ryzen 9 7950X by a noticeable margin, a $699 release.
We may see things change with the release of the 7000 non-X and 3DX series in February, but we don’t have their official prices yet, so we can’t say for sure.
I should also mention here that if you consider motherboard prices, AMD has a higher barrier to entry and even lower budget-friendliness.
The new Ryzen 7000 CPUs are not compatible with the AM4 socket used by the 5000 series CPUs, so you’ll have to upgrade your motherboard and RAM, which can end up being fairly expensive. You’re practically switching out almost half your PC build.
Intel’s 13000 CPUs, on the other hand, are backward compatible with the LGA1700 socket motherboards used by 12000 series CPUs and the older DDR4 memory, so they’re essentially plug-and-play – after a quick BIOS update.
Are Intel or AMD CPUs better?
As of the time of writing, Intel does seem to have taken the lead. Their CPUs have better single-thread performance, multithread performance equivalent to AMD, excellent budget-friendliness, and compatibility with last-generation motherboards and DDR4 memory. We can’t dismiss these benefits, so we have to give credit where credit’s due.
However, the story doesn’t end here. AMD is expected to fire back, and at CES 2023, they showed us that they won’t be pulling any punches this time around.
Come February, AMD will be releasing their long-awaited 3D V-cache enhanced CPUs – The Ryzen 7 7800X3D, the Ryzen 9 7900X3D, and their next flagship, the Ryzen 9 7950X3D.
We already saw what kind of performance AMD’s innovative 3D V-cache technology can deliver with the Ryzen 7 5800X3D – an older Zen 3 processor that can still go head-to-head against many of the newer high-end CPUs from both Intel and AMD, purely due to its V-cache.
With 16 high-performance cores and 32 threads, we fully expect the Ryzen 9 7950X3D to be capable of taking on Intel’s special edition i9-13900KS, the current fastest desktop processor in the world.
You Might Also Like: “Intel i3 vs AMD Ryzen 3 CPUs”
That’s about it for this article. I hope this gave you an update on who seems to be winning the CPU war between Intel and AMD and helped you figure out what the better purchase option for you is.
While it’s currently Intel that’s ahead, AMD may come out on top again with the Ryzen 70003DX CPUs set for release this February.
If you decided you are going with AMD then you should check out “The Difference Between Ryzen 7 and Ryzen 5”
If you decided you are going with Intel then you should check out “The Difference Between Intel i7 and Intel i5”