Intel vs AMD: Which CPUs Are Better in 2024?

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

If you're looking for the best CPUs for gaming or the best workstation CPU, or just one of the best budget CPUs, there are only two choices: AMD and Intel. That fact has spawned an almost religious following for both camps, and the resulting AMD vs Intel flamewars make it tricky to get unbiased advice about the best choice for your next processor. But in many cases, the answer is actually very clear: Intel's chips win for most users looking for the best balance of performance in both gaming and productivity at a more accessible price point. However, AMD's lineup of specialized X3D CPUs wins for PCs focused on gaming, and recent memory and motherboard price drops have helped the Ryzen processors become more attractive.

This article covers the never-ending argument of AMD vs Intel desktop CPUs (we're not covering laptop or server chips). We judge the chips on seven criteria based on what you plan to do with your PC: pricing, performance, driver support, power consumption, and security, giving us a clear view of the state of the competition. We'll also discuss the process nodes and architectures influencing the moving goalposts. However, each brand has its strengths and weaknesses, so which CPU brand you should buy depends mostly on what blend of features, price, and performance are important to you.

If you're looking for the fastest overall chips on the market at an accessible price point, you should look to Intel's CPUs. The potent 14th-Gen Raptor Lake Refresh series builds on Intel's hybrid architecture formula, which combines high-performance and efficiency cores into one package, to deliver a winning blend of performance in both gaming and productivity workloads for its highest-end Core i9 and i7 processors, but that comes at the cost of higher power consumption than AMD's competing chips.

AMD's answer is its Zen 4 Ryzen 7000 series. AMD has recently reduced the pricing of its chips and rolled out newer non-X models that reduce the price of entry, and recent price declines in AM5 motherboards and DDR5 memory have improved the brand's value proposition for its Ryzen 5 series.

AMD's powerful Ryzen 7000 "X3D" models utilize a breakthrough 3D chip-stacking tech to take the lead in gaming performance, as you can see in our Ryzen 7 7800X3D review that finds the 7800X3D to be the fastest gaming CPU on the planet, bar none. AMD has also leveraged this X3D tech with its older architectures to make incredibly value-centric gaming chips, like the new Ryzen 5 5600X3D. This tech does result in significant performance reductions in productivity applications, so you'll need to be aware of the tradeoffs, but the gains in gaming performance are phenomenal.

For a more detailed look, below you can see how the entire Ryzen 7000 family stacks up against Raptor Lake in a series of categories that also includes benchmarks and pricing.

AMD vs Intel: Which CPU is Best?

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AMD vs Intel CPUs in 2023
Header Cell - Column 0 IntelAMD
CPU Pricing and ValueXRow 0 - Cell 2
Gaming PerformanceXX
Content Creation/ProductivityRow 2 - Cell 2
SpecificationsRow 3 - Cell 2
OverclockingRow 4 - Cell 2
Power ConsumptionRow 5 - Cell 1
Drivers and SoftwareRow 6 - Cell 2
Process NodeRow 7 - Cell 1
SecurityRow 9 - Cell 1
Winner: Intel - Total75

Here are the results of our analysis and testing, with Intel taking a 7-to-5 lead over AMD in the criteria in the table above. In the following sections, we'll go over the in-depth details of how we came to our conclusions for each category.

Intel currently offers the best blend of performance and overall value at an affordable price. AMD's relentless onslaught with its Zen-based processors has redefined our expectations for both the mainstream desktop and the HEDT markets, originally catching Intel flatfooted as it remained mired on the 14nm process and Skylake architectures. The past several years have seen AMD CPUs go from value-focused and power hungry chips to designs that deliver more cores, more performance, and lower power requirements.

Intel fought back by slowly adding features and cores across its product stack, resulting in negative side effects, like more power consumption and heat. That only highlighted the company's struggles on the design and fabrication side of its operation.

The AMD vs Intel CPU conversation has changed recently, as Intel has taken the overall performance crown while undercutting AMD's price-to-performance ratio with the high-end Raptor Lake Refresh chips. Raptor Lake comes with the most disruptive change to Intel's CPU overall chip design methodology, not to mention core architectures, that we've seen in a decade. They also come with the 'Intel 7' process that has proven exceptionally competitive, particularly against AMD's superior 5nm process node from TSMC. That shifted our rankings from a 7-to-4 advantage for AMD to a 7-to-5 advantage in Intel's favor.

AMD isn't taking the challenge lying down, though, as its new lineup of 5nm Ryzen 7000 X3D chips use the company's new second-gen 3D V-Cache tech to impart tremendous gains in gaming performance, giving AMD the lead in terms of sheer gaming performance. That comes with a tradeoff of higher pricing and lower performance in productivity applications, but AMD also has its standard Ryzen 7000 lineup for those looking for a more balanced blend of performance. However, the standard models can't match Raptor Lake Refresh's performance and value for higher-end chips, though they are more competitive against the Core i5 models.

Intel moved forward to PCIe 5.0 and DDR5 technologies first, but AMD also now supports both with its Ryzen 7000 processors. AMD only supports pricey DDR5, which used to be a significant disadvantage due to higher pricing, especially since it doesn't confer meaningful performance advantages. However, those pricing concerns have eased over time. Intel still hasn't eased its draconian segmentation policies that limit features, like overclockability, to pricey chips and motherboards.

Intel's chips also hold the crown on overclockability for both core and memory frequencies, and not by a small margin. If you spend the cash on a Z-series motherboard, you'll attain far more overclocking headroom than you'll get with the Ryzen 7000 chips. You can see an example in our How to Overclock a CPU feature.

Despite AMD's recent refresh, Intel is winning the CPU war overall right now. Of course, an AMD processor could still be the better choice depending on your needs, like if you prize the lowest power consumption or forward compatibility with your motherboard for a few more chip generations. AMD also has amazing gaming performance on tap with its X3D chips, but they aren't as strong in standard workloads. For now, if you want the best blend of gaming and application performance, overclocking, or software support, Team Blue deserves your hard-earned dollars.

AMD vs Intel CPU Pricing and Value

Pricing is the most important consideration for almost everyone, and AMD has generally been hard to beat in the value department. However, that has changed. Intel is fully committed to winning back market share, so Raptor Lake finds the company continuing its bare-knuckle price war with AMD. That's particularly painful for AMD now that Intel's Raptor Lake chips have the performance crown paired with brutally competitive pricing.

The arrival of Intel's Raptor Lake-S models has found the company adding more cores, threads, and features to its mainstream lineup, but without increased gen-on-gen pricing for most models. The Core i5 and under models do carry a gen-on-gen markup, but that comes with increased performance that justifies the extra cost. Overall, Raptor Lake represents a substantial reduction in price-per-core and price-per-thread metrics, allowing the company to steal the value crown from AMD in the Core i5, i7, and i9 ranges. Meanwhile, Intel's previous-gen Alder Lake continues to dominate the Core i3 and below segments.

AMD used to offer a plethora of advantages, like bundled coolers and full overclockability on most models, not to mention complimentary software that includes the innovative Precision Boost Overdrive (PBO) auto-overclocking feature. Paired with aggressive pricing for Ryzen processors, AMD held the value crown for several generations. However, that calculus began to change after AMD hiked pricing significantly and stopped including bundled coolers with its chips, especially now that it has more stringent cooling requirements than in the past.

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Ryzen 7000/5000 vs Intel 13th-Gen Raptor Lake/12th-Gen Alder Lake
Threadripper - Xeon W$2,399- $6,499$949 - $4,499
AMD Ryzen 9 - Intel Core i9$549 - $699$538 - $699
AMD Ryzen 7 - Intel Core i7$299 -$449$298 - $409
AMD Ryzen 5 - Intel Core i5$129 - $299$157 - $319
AMD Ryzen 3 - Intel Core i3$95 - $120$97 - $154

However, AMD still freely allows overclocking on all chip models and all but its A-Series motherboards (see our article on CPU overclocking), which is a boon for enthusiasts. Meanwhile, Intel still charges a premium for its overclockable K-Series chips, but you'll also need to shell out for a pricey Z-Series motherboard for the privilege of overclocking your processor — Intel doesn't allow full overclocking on B- or H-series motherboards, but has enabled memory overclocking on its B560 and H570 chipsets, though.

AMD generally has better coolers than Intel — most of AMD's bundled coolers are suitable for at least moderate overclocking — but the company no longer includes them with any of the 'X' models. Intel also doesn't throw in a cooler for its pricey overclockable K-series SKUs. So be sure to budget for a cooler (and a beefy one, at that) if you plan on overclocking an Intel processor. 

Both Intel and AMD include a bundled cooler with their downstream SKUs (non-K for Intel, non-X for AMD), but Intel's coolers are flimsy and 'good enough' at best. We've even seen cases where Intel's stock coolers don't provide full performance at stock settings. AMD, in contrast, has solid coolers that often even provide a bit of headroom for overclocking. Intel did slightly bulk up its coolers, but the aesthetic and slight thermal improvements aren't enough to match AMD's competent coolers, and they aren't available on all models.

Pricing isn't entirely dictated by what you pay for the chip, though — we also have to factor in platform pricing. Intel's Raptor Lake chips drop into the same LGA 1700 interface as the previous-gen Alder Lake chips, and Intel has one more generation coming to market for this platform. Raptor Lake is backward compatible with previous-gen 600-series boards after a firmware update, which can save you some serious cash (pay attention to the caveats, though).

AMD supported its AM4 socket for five generations of chips, and while that platform will live on for some time with the Ryzen 5000 chips slotting in as value alternatives, the company's new AM5 socket houses its newest Ryzen 7000 chips. AMD says it will support this socket until 2025+, so it is possible that it could enjoy similar longevity to AM4, thus giving enthusiasts a long upgrade path.

Intel moved forward to PCIe 5.0 and DDR5 technologies first, but AMD also now supports both with its Ryzen 7000 processors. DDR5 does add significant cost to motherboards, but Intel gives you the choice of selecting either DDR4 or DDR5 memory, while AMD only supports pricey DDR5 — a significant disadvantage given that it doesn't confer meaningful performance advantages. In the end, high memory and motherboard pricing for AMD's AM5 has given Intel a big platform pricing advantage.

Finally, AMD followed Intel in exiting the high end desktop (HEDT) segment entirely, marking the end of an era. Now you'll have to step up to workstation-class processors from both companies to attain more cores and connectivity, as seen in our Threadripper Pro 5995WX and 5975WX reviews. In either case, AMD owns the performance tier for the best CPUs for workstations, so it can charge eye-watering premiums as a result — and it does. The company even excluded its lowest-priced Threadripper models from retail, creating a $2,399 bar for entry.

Winner: Intel. When comparing Intel vs AMD CPUs, Team Red still has a strong performance story across the full breadth of its product stack, but Intel's Raptor Lake currently offers the best overall performance and value across the full spectrum of price ranges.

However, not only does that apply when we take chip pricing into account, the difference in pricing turns into a chasm when we factor in the other costs associated with building a PC. Both Intel and AMD support PCIe 5.0 and DDR5, which results in a gen-on-gen increase in motherboard pricing. However, Intel's platform also supports DDR4, so you can avoid both the DDR5 memory and motherboard tax.

AMD also has spec'd new requirements into its motherboards that create high pricing relative to Intel's 600- and 700-series motherboards, which increases AMD's platform pricing significantly. That does result in more robust lower-tier motherboards, but it gives Intel a lead in the pricing department. AMD has recently rolled out its A620 motherboards to help address its pricing issues, but Intel also has a robust lineup of value-focused H-series motherboards.  

Intel vs AMD CPU Gaming Performance

In the AMD vs Intel CPU gaming performance battle, Intel holds the lead in all critical price bands. Below we have a wide selection of collective gaming performance measurements for the existing chips in the different price bands. In addition, we have two series of test results below that encapsulate performance in both Windows 10 and Windows 11 because Intel's Raptor and Alder Lake offer more performance in Windows 10 than 11. Regardless, the Blue Team holds the lead in both operating systems. You can see a much more holistic view in our CPU Benchmarks Hierarchy. 

Our first four slides encapsulate Windows 11 gaming performance with the new Raptor Lake and Ryzen 7000 processors included, while the Windows 10 slides show a larger selection of processors.

As you can see, Intel's Raptor Lake chips are faster than AMD's standard Zen 4-powered Ryzen 7000 processors in all areas. However, AMD's new Ryzen 7 7800X3D, Ryzen 9 7950X3D, and Ryzen 9 7900X3D take the overall lead, though that does come with performance tradeoffs in many productivity applications. 

The Core i9-13900K and Core i9-13900KS slot in as Intel's fastest gaming chips, price be damned, but the Core i7-13700K delivers basically the same gaming performance for far less cash, making it the go-to choice for performance addicts. For mainstream gamers, the Core i5-13600K offers a great option, but the Core i5-13400 is the chip to beat at around $200, while the Core i3-12100 is the chip to beat in the ~$110 price class.

The Ryzen 9 7900X slots in as AMD's fastest standard gaming chip, but not by much — the Ryzen 9 7950X and Ryzen 7 7700X offer nearly the same gaming performance. The Ryzen 5 7600X offers less performance at a friendlier $300 price point. However, these chips are significantly slower than Intel's chips, especially if we factor in pricing. AMD also has the lower-priced AMD Ryzen 9 7900, Ryzen 7 7700, and Ryzen 5 7600 on offer, and these chips rival their X-series counterparts after overclocking, thus improving AMD's value proposition.

Kicking your resolution up to 1440p and beyond typically pushes the bottleneck back to the GPU, so you won't gain as much from your CPU's gaming prowess. However, a bit of extra CPU gaming performance could pay off if you plan on updating your graphics card (see our best graphics cards) with a newer generation while keeping the rest of your system intact. We expect most builds in the mid-range to come with lesser GPUs, which generally serve as an equalizer in terms of CPU performance.

In terms of integrated graphics performance, there's no beating AMD. The company's current-gen Cezanne APUs offer the best performance available from integrated graphics with the Ryzen 7 5700G and Ryzen 5 5600G. Hit those reviews for a dedicated breakdown, or head to our CPU Benchmark hierarchy for even more detail.

Winner: Tie. Intel's Raptor Lake chips have wrested the gaming crown from AMD's standard Ryzen 7000 models in the critical price bands, but AMD's new 3D V-Cache models take the lead if you're willing to pay a premium.

AMD's new X3D chips are undoubtedly the fastest on the market, but they do come with tradeoffs in productivity applications. AMD's Ryzen 7 7800X3D is an incredible processor, offering the highest level of gaming performance available on the market and thus earning a spot on our list of best CPUs. However, its $449 price tag places it outside of the traditional $250 to $300 sweet spot for mainstream gamers.

If you're looking for the best blend of performance in both gaming and productivity, Intel's Core i9-13900K is the answer on the high-end. If you're looking for a lower-priced chip that offers the same gaming performance but exchanges some heft in productivity applications for a lower price tag, the Core i7-13700K is your chip. For the vast majority, the Core i5-13400F offers the best blend of price and performance, making it the uncontested best CPU for gaming at its price point.  

AMD vs Intel Productivity and Content Creation Performance

In the non-gaming performance battle of AMD vs Intel CPUs, Intel's Raptor Lake chips have also made great strides against AMD's finest and offer a superior price-to-performance ratio in a broad swath of workloads. That said, AMD's highest-end chip takes the outright win in terms of the ultimate performance in threaded productivity and content creation applications in a few workloads. That comes courtesy of its copious slathering of cores, threads, and cache on its flagship Ryzen 9 7950X. However, those wins come at the expense of a much higher price point, and it isn't enough to justify the premium.

Raptor Lake marks the continuation of using a mixture of two types of cores for the mainstream desktop PC. The big performance cores (P-cores) are best for latency-sensitive work, giving Intel the uncontested lead in single-threaded applications. The efficiency cores (E-cores) step in to add some additional heft in threaded and background applications, which pays big dividends in heavily-threaded content creation and productivity applications. The E-cores have proven to be the unsung hero for Raptor Lake in creativity and productivity workloads, allowing Intel to take the lead from AMD in the most important pricing bands.

Solid performance in single-threaded work equates to faster performance in all manner of workloads, particularly day-to-day applications that rely on snappy responsiveness from the processor. The Raptor Lake Core i9-13900K has taken the uncontested lead in single-threaded performance across the full spate of our benchmarks, but that's Intel's most expensive mainstream CPU. If you're on the hunt for snappy single-threaded performance, the other Raptor Lake processors also take comparatively large leads over competing AMD processors. Overall, Intel's Raptor Lake family holds the single-threaded performance crown. 

Winner: Intel. For professionals on the hunt for performance in content creation and productivity applications, the winner of AMD vs Intel CPUs goes to Intel on the strength of its x86 hybrid architecture. This new design blends two types of cores to create a single powerhouse processor architecture that's just as agile in single-threaded work as it is powerful in threaded applications. 

AMD vs Intel Processor Specifications and Features

AMD has its Ryzen 3, Ryzen 5, Ryzen 7, Ryzen 9, and Threadripper lines, while Intel breaks up its offerings into Core i3, Core i5, Core i7, Core i9, and Cascade Lake-X families. For the sake of brevity, we'll focus on the top chips in the respective families to compare Intel vs AMD CPUs based on specs and features. Be aware that both companies have value options within each tier, but we can get a general sense of the landscape with these (relatively) smaller lists. We're using both vendors' recommended pricing and street pricing.

The high end desktop (HEDT) used to be the land of creative prosumers with fire-breathing multi-core monsters for just about every need. Intel had long enjoyed the uncontested lead in this segment, but AMD's Threadripper lineup eventually pushed Intel out of the segment. AMD literally muscled Intel out of the HEDT market —Intel hasn't released a new HEDT chip since the Cascade Lake-X processors in 2019 — and AMD's decision to abandon the market marks the end of the HEDT era, at least for now (signs have emerged that AMD will make a return to HEDT with its Threadripper 7000 chips). 

Intel's new lineup of HEDT-class chips drops into expensive platforms that require expensive DDR5 ECC memory, so while these chips are overclockable and Intel positions them as HEDT-capable, they are far out of reach of most casual enthusiasts. 

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AMD vs Intel CPUs HEDT Specs and Pricing
High End Desktop (HEDT)MSRP / RetailCores / ThreadsBase / Boost GHzL3 CacheTDPPCIeMemory
Threadripper Pro 5995WX$6,49964 / 1282.7 / 4.5256 (8CCD + I/OD)280W128Gen4Eight-Channel DDR4-3200
Threadripper 3990X$3,990 / $3,75064 / 1282.9 / 4.3256280W72 Usable Gen4Quad DDR4-3200
Xeon w9-3495X$5,88956 / 1121.9 / 4.8105350W1128-Channel DDR5-4800
Xeon w9-3475X$3,73936 / 722.2 / 4.882.5300W1128-Channel DDR5-4800
Intel W-3175X $2,999 / N/A28 / 563.1 / 4.838.5255W48 Gen3Six-Channel DDR4-2666
Threadripper Pro 5975WX$3,29932 / 643.6 / 4.5128 (4CCD + I/OD)280W128 Gen4Eight-Channel DDR4-3200
Threadripper 3970X$1,999 / $1,89932 / 643.7 / 4.5*128280W72 Usable Gen4Quad DDR4-3200
Xeon w7-3455$2,48924 / 482.5 / 4.875270W1128-Channel DDR5-4800
Threadripper Pro 5965WX$2,39924 / 483.8 / 4.5128 (4CCD + I/OD)280W128 Gen4Eight-Channel DDR4-3200
Threadripper 3960X$1,399 / $1,39924 / 483.8 / 4.5*128280W72 Usable Gen4Quad DDR4-3200
Xeon W-3265$3,349 / N/A24 / 482.7 / 4.633205W64 Gen3Six-Channel DDR4-2933
Core i9-10980XE$979 / $1,09918 / 363.0 / 4.824.75165W48 Gen3 Quad DDR4-2933

Here we can see that when it comes to AMD vs Intel HEDT/workstation CPUs, AMD's final HEDT-only lineup holds the uncontested lead with 64 cores and 128 threads in its flagship Threadripper 3990X, and the 32- and 24-core Threadripper 3970X and 3960X models cemented the overwhelming lead over Intel's chips. AMD's 64-core AMD Threadripper Pro 5995WX, 32-core Threadripper Pro 5975WX, and 24-core Threadripper Pro 5965WX slot in for the workstation market. 

Intel splits its highest-end lineup into two classes, with the Xeon W9-3945X dropping into exotic LGA4677 motherboards that carry eye-watering price tags to match the chips' high pricing.

You'll get more cores and cache with AMD's Threadripper lineup, but they do come with higher price tags befitting such monstrous processors. However, when we boil it down to per-core pricing, or how much you pay for each CPU core, AMD offers a compelling value story.

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AMD vs Intel High End Specs and Pricing
Row 0 - Cell 0 Street/MSRPCores / Threads (P+E)P-Core Base/Boost (GHz)E-Core Base/Boost (GHz)Cache (L2/L3)TDP-PBP / MTPMemory
Core i9-13900K / KF$589 (K) - $564 (KF)24 / 32 (8+16)3.0 / 5.82.2 / 4.368MB (32+36)125W / 253WDDR4-3200 / DDR5-5600
Ryzen 9 7950X$569 ($699)16 / 324.5 / 5.7-80MB (16+64)170W / 230WDDR5-5200
Ryzen 9 7950X3D$69916 / 324.2 / 5.7-144MB (16+128)120W / 162W DDR5-5200
Ryzen 9 7900X$419 ($549)12 / 244.7 / 5.6-76MB (12+64)170W / 230WDDR5-5200
Ryzen 9 7900X3D$59912 / 244.4 / 5.6-140MB (12+128)120W / 162W DDR5-5200
Ryzen 7 5800X3D$323 ($449)8 / 163.4 / 4.5-96MB105WDDR4-3200
Core i7-13700K / KF$409 (K) - $384 (KF)16 / 24 (8+8) 3.4 / 5.42.5 / 4.254MB (24+30)125W / 253WDDR4-3200 / DDR5-5600
Ryzen 7 7700X$349 ($399)8 / 164.5 / 5.4-40MB (8+32)105W / 142WDDR5-5200
Ryzen 5 7600X$249 ($299)6 / 124.7 / 5.3-38MB (6+32)105W / 142WDDR5-5200
Core i5-13600K / KF$319 (K) - $294 (KF)14 / 20 (6+8)3.5 / 5.12.6 / 3.944MB (20+24)125W / 181WDDR4-3200 / DDR5-5600
Ryzen 7 5700G (APU)$2958 / 163.8 / 4.6-32MB65WDDR4-3200

In the battle of high-end AMD vs Intel CPUs, AMD's Ryzen 9 and Ryzen 7 families square off against Intel's Core i9 and Core i7 lineup.

The Ryzen 9 7950X3D is the uncontested fastest gaming chip on the market, and the Ryzen 9 7900X3D isn't far behind. As mentioned, these chips do carry a premium, though. The Core i9-13900K holds the throne as the best all-around processor for gaming, single- and multi-threaded work, while the Ryzen 9 7950X takes a few scant leads in some types of multi-threaded work. However, that comes at a big tradeoff in performance in the other categories.

A similar story plays out in the decidedly more mainstream Ryzen 7 and Core i7 markets. Honestly, these are the chips the majority of gamers should buy if they have enough cash, though the Core i5 and Ryzen 5 models in the next category are even better for that task. Here Intel's Core i7-13700K offers nearly the same gaming performance as the Core i9-13900K, albeit at the expense of some threaded horsepower in productivity applications, but at a far lower price point. It also beats the price-comparable Ryzen 9 7900X. However, AMD has its Ryzen 7 7800X3D coming soon, so gamers should keep their eye out for this disruptive new chip

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AMD Ryzen 7000 Specifications and Pricing
Row 0 - Cell 0 PriceCores / Threads (P+E)Base / Boost Clock (GHz)Cache (L2/L3)TDP-PBP / MTPMemory
Ryzen 5 5600X3D$2296 / 123.3 / 4.499MB (3+96)105WRow 1 - Cell 6
Ryzen 5 7600X$2996 / 124.7 / 5.338MB (6+32)105W / 142WDDR5-5200
Core i5-13600K / KF$319 (K) - $294 (KF)14 / 20 (6+8)3.5 / 5.144MB (20+24)125W / 181WDDR4-3200 / DDR5-5600
Core i5-12600K / KF$289 (K) - $264 (KF)10 / 16 (6+4)3.7 / 4.929.5MB (9.5+20)125W / 150WDDR4-3200 / DDR5-4800
Ryzen 5 5600G (APU)$2206 / 123.9 / 4.4-65W DDR4-3200
Core i5-13400 / F$221 - $196 (F)10 / 16 (6+4)2.5 / 4.61.8 / 3.365W /148WDDR4-3200 / DDR5-4800
Core i5-12400 / F$192 - $167 (F)6 / 0 (6P+0E)4.4 / 2.5-65WDDR4-3200
Ryzen 5 5600$1996 / 123.5 / 4.4-65WDDR4-3200
Ryzen 5 5500$1596 / 123.6 / 4.2-65WDDR4-3200
Ryzen 5 4600G (APU)$1546 / 123.7 / 4.2-65WDDR4-3200

When it comes to AMD vs Intel mid-range and budget CPUs, the Core i5 and i3 families do battle with AMD's Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 3 processors. This market segment comprises the most substantial portion of AMD and Intel's sales, so pricing and value here are paramount. Both Intel and AMD have recently launched the first salvos of their newest architectures, Raptor Lake and Ryzen 7000, and as per usual, those only included the high-end models for each category. As such, some of the lower-end models in the Ryzen 5 and Core i5 tiers, along with all Core i3 and Ryzen 3, are previous-gen models.

The Core i5-13600K provides class-leading performance in gaming, single- and multi-threaded applications at the $300 price range, while Intel's Core i5-13400 leads the ~$200 price range.  

If you're looking for pure gaming performance, though, AMD's Ryzen 5 5600X3D is the king of the value hill at $229. The 5600X3D delivers 95% of the 5800X3D’s gaming performance for 20% less cash, and is also faster in gaming than the entire standard Ryzen 7000 lineup — including the $599 Ryzen 9 7950X. That’s because even though the Ryzen 5 5600X3D comes with two fewer cores and slightly lower clock speeds than its pricier 5800X3D counterpart, it still wields the same 96MB of game-boosting L3 cache. Unfortunately, this limited-edition CPU is only available in-store for a limited time at Micro Center, but its the best value hands-down in gaming. 

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AMD and Intel Low-End Specs and Pricing
Row 0 - Cell 0 Price Street/MSRPDesign - Arch.E/P – Core|ThreadP-Core Base/Boost (GHz)TDP / PBP / MTPMemory SupportL3 Cache
Ryzen 5 5500$100Zen 3 - Cezanne6P | 12T3.6 / 4.265WDDR4-320016MB
Ryzen 5 4600G (APU)$100Zen 2 - Renoir6P | 12T3.7 / 4.265WDDR4-32008MB
Core i3-13100 (F)$134 - $139 (F)Raptor Lake4 / 8 (4+0)3.4 / 4.560W / 89WDDR4-3200 / DDR5-4800Row 3 - Cell 7
Core i3-12100 / F$122 - $97 (F)Alder Lake4P+0E | 4C/8T3.3 / 4.360W / 89WDDR4/5-3200/480012MB
Ryzen 5 4500$80Zen 2 - Renoir6P | 12T3.6 / 4.165WDDR4-32008MB
Ryzen 3 4100$70Zen 2 - Renoir4P | 8T3.8 / 4.065WDDR4-32004MB

AMD leans on its prior-gen Zen 2 APUs, like the Ryzen 5 4600G, to fend off Intel's lower-end chips. However, if you're looking for a sub-$200 chip for gaming, Intel wins by a vast margin. That said, AMD's APUs come with potent Vega graphics units that enable low-end gaming across a broad spate of titles. Intel's chips can't hold a candle there—you'll need a discrete GPU if you plan to do any meaningful gaming with the Intel contenders.

Intel's chips have an integrated GPU (iGPU) available for all of its SKUs, but it also sells its graphics-less F-Series chips for a discount. AMD finally added an RDNA 2 iGPU to its Ryzen 7000 chips, marking a first for its mainstream Ryzen models. Like the iGPU present on Intel's chips, these graphics units aren't suitable for gaming — you'll need to select an APU If you want gaming from a desktop CPU.

Winner: Intel. When you compare AMD vs Intel CPU specifications, you can see that Intel offers options with lower pricing and more performance. Intel's chips also provide support for DDR4, an important consideration in these early days of DDR5 adoption. 

AMD vs Intel CPU Power Consumption and Heat

When comparing AMD vs Intel CPU power and heat, the former's 7nm process node makes a big difference. Power consumption comes as a byproduct of design choices, like lithography and architecture, which we'll discuss below. However, higher power consumption often correlates to more heat generation, so you'll need beefier coolers to offset the heat output of greedier chips.

Overall, Intel has reduced its power consumption from meme-worthy to an acceptable level, but it still consumes more power than Ryzen. However, Raptor Lake is much faster than other chips, earning it some forgiveness.

Intel became known as a notorious power guzzler as it struggled with its 14nm process, but that has improved with its last two gens. Paired with the x86 hybrid architecture, the debut of the 'Intel 7' process has brought big improvements to Intel's power consumption and efficiency metrics.

Yes, the Intel Raptor Lake chips still suck more power than AMD's Ryzen 7000 series chips, but pairing the Intel 7 process with the hybrid architecture brings big improvements, particularly in threaded work.

Still, in aggregate, AMD's 5nm chips either consume less power or provide much better power-to-performance efficiency. As a result, you'll get more work done per watt of energy consumed, which is a win-win, and AMD's cooling requirements aren't nearly as overbearing.

Winner: AMD. In judging AMD vs Intel CPU performance per watt, It's impossible to overstate the importance of having the densest process node paired with an efficient microarchitecture, and TSMC's 5nm and AMD's Zen 4 are the winning combination. The latest Ryzen processors consume less power than Intel on a power-vs-performance basis.

Intel vs AMD CPU Overclocking

There's no debate when you compare Intel vs AMD CPU overclocking. Intel offers the most overclocking headroom, meaning you can gain more performance over the baseline speed with Intel chips than you can with AMD's Ryzen processors. To learn more about overclocking, head to our How to Overclock a CPU guide.

Above you can see that in chart form, and here's that same data in table form, showing that Intel's Alder Lake offers far more overclocking headroom than Ryzen 5000:

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Alder Lake vs Ryzen 5000 Overclock Uplift - Stock configuration used as baseline - Windows 11
Tom's Hardware - %age Change1080p GamingSingle-ThreadMulti-Thread
Core i9-12900K DDR4/ DDR5+9.7% / +5.2%+1.6% / +3.2%+3.3% / +7%
Ryzen 9 5950X+5%-2.3%+5.7%
Core i7-12700K DDR4/ DDR5+9.8% / +7.1%+2.3% / +2.1%+3.9% / +6.4%
Ryzen 9 5900X+3.7%-0.6%+2.1%
Core i5-12600K DDR4/ DDR5+15.2% / +12.9%+4% / +4.2%+8.8% / +11.3%
Ryzen 5 5600X+6.7%+3.8%+2.7%

As mentioned, you'll have to pay a premium for Intel's K-Series chips and purchase a pricey Z-Series motherboard, not to mention splurge on a capable aftermarket cooler (preferably liquid), to unlock the best of Intel's overclocking prowess. However, Intel's chips are relatively easy to push to their max, which peaks at 6.0 to 6.2 GHz with the 13th-Gen Raptor Lake processors. 

Intel doesn't allow full overclocking on B- or H-series motherboards, but it has infused memory overclocking into its B560 and H570 chipsets, and that works with any chip that is compatible with the platform. That can provide a big boost to locked chips, like the Core i5-13400 we recently reviewed.

AMD doesn't have as much room for manual tuning. In fact, the maximum achievable all-core overclocks often fall a few hundred MHz beneath the chips' maximum single-core boost. That means all-core overclocking can actually result in losing performance in lightly-threaded applications, albeit a minor amount.

Part of this disparity stems from AMD's tactic of binning its chips to allow some cores to boost much higher than others. In tandem with AMD's Precision Boost and innovative thread-targeting technique that pegs lightly-threaded workloads to the fastest cores, AMD exposes near-overlocked performance right out of the box. That results in less overclocking headroom.

However, AMD offers its Precision Boost Overdrive, a one-click auto-overclocking feature that will wring some extra performance out of your chip based on its capabilities, your motherboard's power delivery subsystem, and your CPU cooling. AMD's approach provides the best performance possible with your choice of components and is generally hassle-free. In either case, you still won't achieve the high frequencies you'll see with Intel processors, but you do get a free performance boost. AMD has also vastly improved its memory overclocking capabilities with the Ryzen 7000 series. 

Winner: Intel. When it comes to AMD vs Intel CPU overclocking, Team Blue has far more headroom and much higher attainable frequencies. Just be prepared to pay for the privilege – you'll have to buy a K-series processor. Intel has added memory overclocking to the newest B- and H-series motherboards, which is an improvement.

AMD's approach is friendlier to entry-level users, rewarding them with hassle-free overclocking based on their system's capabilities, but you don't gain as much performance. 

AMD vs Intel CPU Lithography

There are a few major underlying technologies that dictate the potency of any chip. The most fundamental rule of processors still holds true: The densest process nodes, provided they have decent power, performance, and area (PPA) characteristics, will often win the battle if paired with a solid microarchitecture. When you judge AMD vs Intel CPUs based on these criteria, AMD has the lead in lithography.

But whether or not AMD actually owns the process lead is a topic of debate: Unlike Intel, AMD doesn't produce its processors. Instead, the company designs its processors and then contracts with outside fabs that actually produce the chips. In the case of AMD's current-gen Ryzen processors, the company uses a combination of TSMC's 6nm and 5nm nodes for its chips, with the latter being the most important.

TSMC's 5nm node is used by the likes of Apple and Nvidia, among many others, so it benefits from industry-wide funding and collaborative engineering. In contrast, Intel itself says its process tech won't retake the leadership crown until it releases its 'Intel 20A' node (2024 time frame). 

The benefits of TSMC's 5nm node mean AMD can build denser chips with more performance cores, all within a relatively low power consumption envelope. However, the economics of semiconductor manufacturing dictate that the cost-per-transistor is increasing as we move to smaller nodes, so the 5nm chips are more expensive to produce than their forbearers. 

Intel has seen a bit of a resurgence with its new Alder and Raptor Lake lineups. Intel etches those cores on its 'Intel 7' process, finally ending the misery of the 14nm node after six long years that ultimately cost the company its performance lead over AMD in desktop PCs. We previously knew this 'Intel 7' manufacturing tech as 10nm Enhanced SuperFin, but Intel recently renamed its process nodes to match industry nomenclature. 

(Image credit: Fritchenz Frinz)

The new 'Intel 7' node brings the company into much closer competition with AMD on the process node front. Yes, Raptor Lake still sucks more power than AMD's Ryzen 7000 series chips, but the Intel 7 process is a big improvement. Overall, Raptor Lake has vastly improved power efficiency metrics.

Winner: AMD (TSMC). The 'Intel 7' process does bring Team Blue back into closer competition with AMD than it has been over the last several years, but AMD still holds the overall power efficiency and transistor density crown due to the virtues of TSMC's 5nm process.

Intel vs AMD CPU Architecture

When comparing AMD vs Intel CPUs, we must consider that two design decisions have a big impact on performance, scalability, and performance-per-dollar: Interconnects and microarchitecture.

AMD's Infinity Fabric allows the company to tie together multiple dies into one cohesive processor. Think of this as numerous pieces of a puzzle that come together to form one larger picture. The approach allows the company to use many small dies instead of one large die, and this technique improves yields and reduces cost. It also grants a level of scalability that Intel might not be able to match with its new mesh interconnect inside its HEDT chips, and it undoubtedly takes the lead over Intel's aging ring bus in its desktop processors.

AMD first paired that advantage with its Zen microarchitecture, designed from the ground up for scalability, yielding an explosive 52% increase in instructions per clock (IPC) throughput over AMD's previous-gen 'Bulldozer' chips. The Zen 2 microarchitecture added another 15% improvement to IPC. Paired with the 7nm process, AMD lunged forward another (up to) 31% in per-core performance (a mixture of frequency and IPC). Zen 3 brings another 19% jump in IPC, giving AMD its largest single step forward in the post-Bulldozer era. Zen 4 and its 5nm node matched that with another 14% jump.

Intel's 13th-gen Alder Lake and 13th-Gen Raptor Lake chips bring the company's hybrid x86 architecture, which combines a mix of larger high-performance cores paired with smaller high-efficiency cores, to desktop x86 PCs for the first time. The Golden Cove architecture powers Alder and Raptor Lake's 'big' high-performance cores, while the 'little' Atom efficiency cores come with the Gracemont architecture. Intel etches the cores on its 'Intel 7' process, marking the company's first truly new node for the desktop since 14nm debuted six long years ago. 

Intel's new Thread Director is the sleeper tech that enables the huge performance gains we've seen with Alder Lake. However, due to the use of both faster and slower cores that are optimized for different voltage/frequency profiles, unlocking the maximum performance and efficiency requires the operating system and applications to have an awareness of the chip topology to ensure workloads (threads) land in the correct core based on the type of application. 

Overall, the x86 hybrid architecture has proven to be a big win for Intel, with class-leading performance in gaming, not to mention in both single- and multi-threaded workloads in standard applications. However, while the hybrid x86 architecture hails from a similar ethos as the big.LITTLE designs pioneered by Arm, it doesn't have the same tuning for power efficiency. Instead, Intel unabashedly tunes its design for performance at any cost, so AMD still holds the power efficiency crown in most types of workloads. 

AMD has also now told us that it will embrace a hybrid CPU design with a mixture of high-performance and efficiency cores. However, AMD CTO Mark Papermaster was coy when he told us about the company's shift, so we don't know when those chips are slated to come to market. As such, for now, Intel is the only company with an x86 hybrid architecture for PCs. 

Winner: Tie. In judging AMD vs Intel CPU architecture, it's clear that the competition is now far closer than it has been over the last few years. AMD's Zen 4 architecture is a marvel that allows for enhanced scalability, and due to the efficiency-minded design paired with the TSMC 5 node, it delivers superior power consumption metrics.

On the other hand, Intel's Raptor Lake architecture is also a marvel in its own right, bringing the first pairing of small efficient cores with large performance cores to x86 desktop PCs for the first time. That lends it the performance advantage, but it still trails in power efficiency metrics, resulting in a tie in this category. 

Intel vs AMD CPU Drivers and Software

When we look at AMD vs Intel CPU software support, Team Blue has a stronger reputation. AMD has suffered plenty of issues with its CPU and chipset drivers, a natural byproduct of its limited resources compared to its much-larger rivals. Intel isn't without its missteps on the driver front, but its reputation for stability helped earn it the top spot in the processor market, particularly with OEMs.

You might be a little more cautious when approaching Intel's more exotic solutions, though. In the past, the company has developed innovative new products that have been relegated to the dustbin of history due to pricing and market forces, and long-term support for those products might not always be clear-cut.

AMD still has its work cut out for it. The company has had several issues with BIOS releases that failed to expose its chips' full performance, though AMD has mostly solved those issues after a long string of updates. As a side effect of being the smaller challenger, AMD also faces a daunting challenge in offsetting the industry's incessant optimization for Intel's architectures above all others.

Upsetting the semiconductor industry is hard, particularly when you're fighting an entrenched and much-larger rival, and sometimes things get broken when you're redefining an industry. In AMD's case, those broken things consist of operating systems and applications that weren't tuned to extract the full performance of its fledgling first-gen Zen architecture, let alone the core-heavy designs of Zen 3. We still see vestiges of those challenges on multi-CCD Zen 4 models in gaming, but most of the disparities have been ironed out over the years.

Intel also continues to face challenges, though. The company's Alder Lake architecture is the first hybrid x86 design and uses large performance cores (P-cores) and small efficiency cores (E-cores) for different types of tasks. Placing the correct workloads on the correct cores requires a new Intel Thread Director technology, but that's only supported in Windows 11. That means some programs might need extra handholding to extract the best performance in Windows 10. 

Winner: Intel wins the battle of AMD vs Intel CPU drivers and software. Over the last year, Intel has addressed its laggardly driver updates for its integrated graphics, and the company has an army of software developers at its disposal that help ensure its products get relatively timely support with the latest software. AMD has made amazing progress convincing the developer ecosystem to optimize for its new Zen architectures. However, there's still plenty of work to be done as the company moves forward. 

AMD vs Intel CPU Security

The last few years have found security researchers poking and prodding at the speculative execution engine that's one of the key performance-boosting features behind all modern chips. The resulting research has spawned an almost never-ending onslaught of new vulnerabilities that threaten the safety of your system and private data. Unfortunately, these types of vulnerabilities are incredibly dangerous because they are undetectable—these tactics steal data by using the processor exactly as it was designed; thus, they are undetectable by any known anti-virus program.

The rash of fixes required to plug these holes also continues to grow, and many of them result in reduced performance. That's particularly painful for Intel because it suffers from more of these vulnerabilities than other vendors. The company has developed in-silicon mitigations with newer processors that can reduce or eliminate the performance overhead, but some older processors are subject to drastic reductions in performance. 

Intel has now suffered a new round of Spectre v2-variant attacks, too, that has reduced its performance further. These new Spectre Branch History Injection (BHI) vulnerabilities can result in substantial performance losses that vary by workload. 

AMD isn't immune to vulnerabilities, though. It's hard to ascertain if the initially limited discoveries in AMD processors were due to a security-first approach to hardened processor design, or if researchers and attackers merely focused on Intel's processors due to their commanding market share: Attackers almost always focus on the broadest cross-section possible. We see a similar trend with malware being designed for Windows systems, by far the predominant desktop OS, much more frequently than MacOS, though that does appear to be changing.

In the course of the research into the new class of Spectre vulnerabilities, Intel actually discovered that AMD's existing Spectre mitigation is broken, which has resulted in AMD using a different, slower approach to addressing the issue.

However, AMD has also had several other new vulnerability disclosures in the recent past, including a Meltdown-esque variant that requires software re-coding. Like Intel, AMD has made a few targeted in-silicon fixes for its newer Ryzen processors, thus lowering its exposure to vulnerabilities.

However, newer vulnerabilities and hacks continue to present issues for chipmakers. For instance, computer motherboard maker MSI was recently hacked, leading to its OEM private keys, used for verifying firmware to a computer's secure boot mechanisms, being released to the public. This puts an untold number of PCs at risk from fake drivers and firmwares. Additionally, it was recently revealed that AMD's TPM implementation can be hacked, thus giving nefarious actors the cryptographic keys to a system if they can get physical control of the system. 

Winner: AMD. The AMD vs Intel CPU security debate continues to evolve as researchers and nefarious actors alike turn more of an eye towards AMD's newer architectures. As things stand, Intel still suffers from more known vulnerabilities than AMD, and the impact of the Spectre mitigations on previous-gen Intel processors leads to larger performance losses (at times equivalent to a few generational gains worth of improvement) than the fixes we've seen from AMD, granting Team Red the win.

Paul Alcorn
Managing Editor: News and Emerging Tech

Paul Alcorn is the Managing Editor: News and Emerging Tech for Tom's Hardware US. He also writes news and reviews on CPUs, storage, and enterprise hardware.

  • maestro0428
    Lotsa info and no graphs?! I need my graphs.
  • Alvar "Miles" Udell
    I disagree with the overclocking section, and I would say it's either a tie or a win for AMD.

    Just because Intel sets base speeds so much lower than actually achievable speeds so they can slap on a ridiculously low TDP doesn't mean they're better overclockers, it just means Intel wants a low number to mislead people as to their efficiency.

    With AMD and Intel having all core boost speeds within a couple hundred megahertz, depending on cooling, of their single core boosts, and with both able to be manually overclocked to or past their all core boost clocks, often using less voltage than the boost voltage, it's pretty even there.
  • mangaman
    AMD currently makes the best processor for the value. You can buy a Ryzen 5 1600 on Amazon right now for $85 brand new, which is a 6 core 12 thread processor and fully unlocked. The core i3-9100f for comparison, is $10 less than the 1600 on Amazon, but only has 4 cores, 4 threads.

    For the value of the Ryzen 5 1600 and with games and programs using more cores, it's obvious the Ryzen series is a much better value than Intel. However, with Intel finally realizing the competition from AMD, they will be making better and more affordable CPU's for consumers.

    In the end, competition is great for us!
  • tiggers97
    maestro0428 said:
    Lotsa info and no graphs?! I need my graphs.
    With lots of RGB borders!
  • Jim90
    Alvar Miles Udell said:
    I disagree with the overclocking section, and I would say it's either a tie or a win for AMD.

    Just because Intel sets base speeds so much lower than actually achievable speeds so they can slap on a ridiculously low TDP doesn't mean they're better overclockers, it just means Intel wants a low number to mislead people as to their efficiency.

    With AMD and Intel having all core boost speeds within a couple hundred megahertz, depending on cooling, of their single core boosts, and with both able to be manually overclocked to or past their all core boost clocks, often using less voltage than the boost voltage, it's pretty even there.

    AMD -now- ships their latest CPU's (Zen2) PRE-OVERCLOCKED.
    Intel DOES NOT.
    Guess which CPU 'APPARENTLY"!!! has more overclocking headroom???

    If you do insist on pushing marketing crap, remember to do the following...
    Now link Intel's "high" overclock with wall-socket power draw: HOW DOES THAT COMPARE WITH AMD???
  • Math Geek
    intel is stuck where amd was with its fx series of chips. nothing new to offer, so you just keep cranking up the spped/power and relabel it as something new.

    at least what intel is doing it with started out as a much better cpu than the fx series ever was.

    but i do agree that their listed speeds and power consumption is downright misleading. to claim "stock" speeds so low just to claim low power usage is outright fraud. they don't need to list them at 5 ghz but obviously closer in speed and power the average user can expect would go along way to not be so misleading.
  • mattkiss
    mangaman said:
    You can buy a Ryzen 5 1600 on Amazon right now for $85 brand new, which is a 6 core 12 thread processor and fully unlocked.

    Cheapest one I see is $115.
  • mangaman
    mattkiss said:
    Cheapest one I see is $115.
    Try this link:
  • Walter Smith
    Math Geek said:
    intel is stuck where amd was with its fx series of chips. nothing new to offer, so you just keep cranking up the spped/power and relabel it as something new.

    at least what intel is doing it with started out as a much better cpu than the fx series ever was.

    but i do agree that their listed speeds and power consumption is downright misleading. to claim "stock" speeds so low just to claim low power usage is outright fraud. they don't need to list them at 5 ghz but obviously closer in speed and power the average user can expect would go along way to not be so misleading.
    Intel actually has another reason for what they do with their low base speeds. Ever got an i5 that just wouldn't over clock? If you do one of the cores will crash? They get to sell a certain percentage of silicon this way that otherwise would go to a lower product stack or the garbage bin.
  • Walter Smith
    I understand the reasoning of why all reviews are done on a clean install. Only way to compare apples to apples. However, no one games or does anything this way. So, a useless case scenario where someone is going to spend thousands on a top CPU, GPU, Whole system. And pair it with a 1080p monitor. And a clean install everytime they fire up a game, is misleading at best. But, let's assume this system exists. This gamer will be watching youtube and twitch, using discord, probably office, a HW monitoring suite, steam client, maybe streaming his awesomeness. etc. Not to mention all the other crap and registry stuff that happens to windows PC's over time. What happens to the numbers on a dirty system? Impossible to compare apples to apples in this scenario. But, an educated guess says that Ryzen with its multitasking advantages would really shine while intels CPU's would bog down. Taking away Intels one advantage it has left. Other than the one that matters most of all of course. Name recognition, and an unlimited horde of fanboys.