It is one of the most complicated decisions we must make, choosing between Intel or AMD processors it’s not as easy as a few years ago, And that’s basically good for users for various reasons. On the one hand, because it means that both companies really compete, from you to you, and on the other hand it also indicates that the two have interesting products in different price ranges.
Think, for a moment, what would happen if there were no real competition to which we have referred. We would have it “easier” when choosing, but because there would be less variety of products, and the price-performance value of these would be much more limited. We do not have to go far to see a real example, remember what happened when AMD did not raise its head with Bulldozer and we had Intel completely dominating the general consumer market, we spent many years stagnant in the four cores and minimal changes occurred.
With the arrival of Zen an important turning point was experienced. Six-core and eight-core processors began to democratize, and Intel had no choice but to start increasing the core count of its general-purpose processors, a move that was also accompanied by a significant drop in prices.
It does not matter that you are a fan of one or the other brand and that you prefer, “just because”, the Intel or AMD processors, the important thing is that thanks to that competition between the two you can buy today fantastic processors at a very good price. For example, you have the Ryzen 5 3600 available for 189.90 euros, and the Core i5 10400F for 172.90 euros, two chips that have a high IPC and that add six cores and twelve threads. Three years ago with that money you could only have bought a quad-core processor, and at very limited frequencies.
We can even look further, and we find solutions that until relatively recently were around 1,000 or even 2,000 euros. For example, the Core i9 6950X, which had 10 cores and 20 threads, was approaching the range of 2,000 euros, and today we can buy models like the Ryzen 9 3900X, which has 12 cores and 24 threads, for about 479 euros, And we also have alternatives such as the Core i9 10900K, with 10 cores and 20 threads, for around 600 euros.
Intel or AMD processors: what differences do they have?
It is a fact, AMD has fully recovered thanks to the Zen architecture, and with the launch of Zen 2 based processors it has shown that Intel no longer has a huge advantage in terms of IPC. However, this does not mean that the Ryzen 3000 are “perfect” and that they completely outperform the Intel Core 10 series.
Both generations of processors present important differences at the architectural level, And of course this affects the performance that both offer, and also other aspects, such as working temperatures, consumption, overclocking capacity, the sale price and the platform on which they are integrated.
Intel processors use a monolithic core design, which means that all its cores are integrated into a single silicon wafer. This architecture represents very important advantages over the MCM architecture that AMD uses in its Ryzen 3000 series processors, based on the Zen 2 architecture:
- They reach higher working frequencies.
- They have more room to overclock.
- Cache latencies are lower.
- Less dependence on the frequency of RAM memory.
The Core i5 10400F is one of the best processors for less than 200 euros that we can buy, and it is also, without a doubt, one of the best exponents of the advantages offered by Intel’s monolithic core architecture compared to the MCM architecture of AMD’s Ryzen 3000, as it is capable of outperforming the Ryzen 5 3600X in many tests even with a slower memory configuration (2,666 MHz vs. 3,200 MHz).
However, this architecture also has major disadvantages that we must bear in mind:
- It hinders manufacturing process jumps with a high core count.
- It has a higher cost at the production level.
- It does not allow the same degree of utilization of faulty chips.
It is not difficult to understand. When we talk about Intel or AMD processors and we refer to the price of both we realize that, in the current generation, there is a very marked difference. This is mainly due to those three reasons that we have given you previously.
We will understand it better with an example. AMD can produce a Ryzen 9 3900X using two faulty chiplets with six out of eight active cores in each, and does not need to reach particularly high frequencies. By cons, Intel plays it all to a card to make a Core i9 10900K as it needs a chip with ten functional cores which also reaches 5.3 GHz stably with an active core, and 4.9 GHz with all active cores.
It is clear that Intel maintains a high profit margin, but we must also understand that the production costs of its processors with a high core count they are higher than that of AMD’s Ryzen processors.
For their part, AMD processors use, as we have said, an MCM design, which stands for multi-chip module. This means that the cores of each processor are divided into chiplets. Each chiplet integrates eight cores, and is made up of two CCX units with four cores each. The different chiplets communicate through an Infinity Fabric system, and the I / O elements have been outsourced to a package that also communicates with all chiplets.
This configuration has important advantages:
- Facilitates process jumps, even on processors with a high core count.
- Improves success rate per wafer and helps reduce production costs.
- It allows a high degree of exploitation of defective chips.
- It makes possible the design of chips with many cores while maintaining a low price.
We could put many examples of those advantages, but I think that the Ryzen 7 1700 is one of the best exponents of the potential that an MCM design offers. This processor has 8 cores and 16 threads, and came to the Spanish market with a price of about 340 euros, approximately. Its Intel equivalent, at the time, the Core i7 6900K, had an average price of 1,200 euros, but in practice it offered almost the same performance.
The price-performance value that can be achieved with an MCM design is beyond question, and we can see it also in the current generation, since the Ryzen 9 3900X has 12 cores and 24 threads and costs 479 euros.
Obvious to say that this architecture is not perfect either, and that It has important disadvantages:
- It reaches lower working frequencies.
- It has a lower overclock margin.
- Cache latencies are higher, forcing more to be integrated.
- Greater dependence on the frequency of RAM memory.
The chiplets are integrated into different silicon pads, which means that there is a small physical distance between them, something that does not happen in monolithic core designs, which integrates all the cores in the same chip, with all that this implies in terms of latency.
On the subject of RAM and its dependence on the speed of work we have already spoken before when quoting the Ryzen 5 3600 and Core i5 10400F, so we are left with the question of the working frequencies. As we have said just above, the Core i9 10900K reaches the 5.3 GHz with an active core, and it can work at 4.9 GHz with all its active nuclei. By cons, the Ryzen 9 3900X only reaches 4.6 GHz with an active core, and is around 4.3 GHz with all its active nuclei.
Intel or AMD processors: things to keep in mind
Everything we have said so far serves as a starting point to decide whether we should choose Intel or AMD processors, but it is important to finish developing all that information to draw concrete conclusions that help us define stronger selection criteria to help us better understand the advantages that chips from different brands offer.
As you may have imagined, these differences at the architectural level highlight that when choosing Intel or AMD processors We will win in some things, but we will lose in othersSince neither of them is imposed on the other in all the key aspects that should guide the purchase of a processor. However, if we focus on the price-performance value it is clear that AMD is the undisputed winner.
That said, we will continue to break down and develop that idea of Intel or AMD processors seeing their concrete advantages and disadvantages. Before launching ourselves fully, an important point is that choosing Intel or AMD processors has, today, an important consequence at the platform level and with advanced functions.
AMD has opted to offer greater longevity on their AM4 motherboards, in fact the B350 and X370 series, which arrived in 2017, are compatible with many of the Ryzen 3000 processors, released last year. This leaves us with a three-year life cycle, while Intel typically limits the life cycle of its motherboards to two generations, that is, two years.
Choosing Intel or AMD processors determines the useful life of the platform we are going to mount, but also its next-generation features. Overall AMD offers stronger value through standard integration PCIE Gen4, available on motherboards with B550 and X570 chipset, and at democratization of overclocking, a feature that is not limited to high-end motherboards, as in the case of Intel.
We have already finished with the question of the platform and we have seen, in a summarized way, its most important keys, so we are ready to fully appreciate the advantages and disadvantages that we will have when choosing Intel or AMD processors.
Advantages of Intel processors
One of the most important is that they offer higher performance per core, thanks to their high working frequencies and their greater overclock margin. This means that they outperform AMD Ryzen 3000 in those applications that depend more on single-wire performance, among which are games, for example.
Another advantage to keep in mind is that your gross return less dependent on RAM, which facilitates the assembly of fairly inexpensive configurations. If we let ourselves be carried away by the price-performance value, the Core i5 10400F is still the best that Intel has right now in its catalog.
Finally I want to remember another advantage that, although it is true that it does not depend on anything related to performance or architecture, it is interesting and we must bear it in mind, and that is that in most cases Intel processors have maintained a higher residual value in the second-hand market. This can help us upgrade with a lower investment as we will get more money back by selling the processor on the second hand market.
Disadvantages of Intel processors
The most important is that they offer a value in relation price-performance which is clearly below the majority of Ryzen 3000 processors. If we are going to choose between Intel or AMD processors, the general value they offer must always guide, as the main pillar, our choice, and in this sense Intel loses the game.
In case anyone doubts it, let’s go with a simple example. The Core i5 10600K, which has 6 cores and 12 threads, costs 306 euros, while the Ryzen 7 3700X, which has 8 cores and 16 threads, has an average price of 310 euros. The second has a much higher value, as we have said, since they offer greater gross power for what it costs.
Another important disadvantage is found in its consumption and its working temperatures, since both values are, in most cases, higher than those of their AMD counterparts. Without going any further, the Core i9 10900K, which has 10 cores and 20 threads, consumes more and reaches higher temperatures than the Ryzen 9 3950X, which has 16 cores and 32 threads.
We must also add that in order to optimally use the most advanced models, we need to a very powerful cooling system, especially if we are going to overclock.
Advantages of AMD processors
Undoubtedly the most interesting is the excellent price-performance ratio they offer. In terms of return per euro invested have a very solid value, and they are able to work without problems offering a fantastic experience with any current application, including games.
Another of its main advantages we have in your working temperatures, which are quite contained, which allows us to use them without problem even with cooling systems that bring from home. In fact, even the Ryzen 9 3900X, which has 12 cores and 24 threads, works smoothly with the Wraith Prism RGB, and the only real exception to this rule is found in the Ryzen 9 3950X, a “beast” that adds up, like we know, 16 cores and 32 threads.
Its consumption is also much less, they come with quite adjusted working frequencies that we can increase effortlessly through Ryzen Master tool, and without having to invest a large amount of money in buying a high-end motherboard, since the B350 and higher models already support overclocking.
Disadvantages of AMD processors
The most relevant is its lower performance in single-wire applications, due, as we have indicated previously, that its working frequencies are not as high as those found in Intel’s Core processors. It is not serious, since they compensate it with a better value-price-performance, as we have said, but if you are looking for maximum performance in Intel games, keep holding “the crown”.
They have one increased dependence on memory speed, and for them to develop their full potential, we must seek a balance between frequencies and latencies, also taking care that the price does not skyrocket. From 3,200 MHz and CL16 latencies we are already moving at an optimal and balanced level.
Its residual value is much lower. For example, Ryzen 7 1700 processors, which hit the market at a price of 340 euros, can currently be found for around 100 euros, and have less overclock margin.
Intel or AMD processors: endnotes
Today choosing Intel or AMD processors is a decision that depends, to a large extent, not only from the budget, but also what you plan to do with your PC
If gaming is the most important thing for you and you want to make sure you can get the most out of that 1080p or 1440p monitor with a high refresh rate, don’t hesitate, an Intel Core series 10 will allow you to scratch some extra FPS, but you will have to assume, in most cases, a higher price than that of AMD equivalents.
By cons, if you are looking the best value in price-performance ratio and you do not mind accepting a small difference in gaming performance and in certain applications the thing is quite clear, when deciding between Intel or AMD processors the Ryzen 3000 they are your best choice.
That is the general approach that would allow us to resolve that duality of Intel or AMD processors, although are not absolute maximums todayAs Intel has significant value in the mid-range, the Core i5 10400F, it competes clearly and very effectively with the Ryzen 5 3600.