If you're looking for the best CPUs for Gaming or the best workstation CPU, 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. In fact, for most users, it's now a blowout win in Intel's favor, as you can see in our CPU Benchmarks Hierarchy. That does come with caveats, but it represents a fast reversal of fortunes for the chipmaker after its PC dominance was completely overturned by AMD's Ryzen processors.
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 lithographies and architectures that influence the moving goalposts. Overall, there's a clear winner, but which CPU brand you should buy depends mostly on what blend of features, price, and performance are important to you.
For now, if you're looking for the fastest overall chips on the market at an accessible price point, you should look to Intel's potent 13th-Gen Raptor Lake series. Intel's Alder Lake completely redefined x86 desktop PC chips with a new hybrid architecture that delivers exceptional levels of performance by combining high-performance and efficiency cores into one package. Raptor Lake builds on that formula to deliver winning performance in gaming and all other types of work, albeit at the cost of higher power consumption than AMD's competing chips. You can see how the Raptor Lake processors stack up in our Core i9-13900K, Core i7-13700K, and Core i5-13600K reviews.
AMD's modern Ryzen 7000 platforms carry a hefty upcharge for the silicon and the platforms, with the latter coming in the form of expensive motherboards and DDR5 memory that scuttles the value proposition. You can see how Ryzen 7000 stacks up against Raptor Lake in our Ryzen 9 7950X, Ryzen 9 7900X, and Ryzen 5 7600X reviews. Even though AMD's previous-gen Ryzen 5000 clings to the distinction of having the single fastest gaming chip available, the Ryzen 7 5800X3D, it is based on an older architecture, so it trails the competition in all other types of work.
You can see how all of these processors stack up in our AMD vs Intel CPU Benchmarks Hierarchy, but we also have a more stringent breakdown below.
AMD vs. Intel: Which CPU is Best?
|CPU Pricing and Value||X|
|Drivers and Software||✗|
|Winner: Intel - Total||7||4|
Here are the results of our analysis and testing. In the following sections, we'll go over the in-depth details of how we came to our conclusions for each category.
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 generation. That only highlighted the company's struggles on the design and fabrication side of its operation.
The AMD vs Intel CPU conversation has changed entirely, as Intel has now undercut AMD's price-to-performance ratio entirely with the Raptor Lake chips. Raptor Lake comes with the most disruptive change to Intel's CPU overall SoC 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-4 advantage in Intel's favor.
|Intel Raptor Lake||AMD Zen 4 Ryzen 7000|
|Node / Design||Intel 7 - Monolithic Die||TSMC 5nm Compute die, 6nm I/O DIe|
|Cores / Threads||Up to 8P + 16E | 24 Cores / 32 Threads||Up to 16 Cores / 32 Threads|
|Peak Clocks||5.8 GHz||5.7 GHz|
|TDP - PBP / MTP||125W / 252W||170W / 230W|
|Memory||DDR4-3200 / DDR5-5600||DDR5-5200 Only (No DDR4)|
|PCIe||PCIe 5.0 x16, PCIe 4.0 x4 (SSD)||PCIe 5.0 - 24 Lanes|
|Graphics||UHD Graphics 770||RDNA 2 iGPU|
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. However, 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.
AMD isn't taking the challenge lying down, though, as it recently released its Ryzen 7 5800X3D, a new CPU with 3D V-Cache. This chip takes the overall leadership spot for gaming courtesy of an incredible 96MB of L3 cache bolted onto the souped-up specialized processor that delivers up to 15% more gaming performance on average. However, it still features the Zen 3 architecture, which lags Intel's processors in all other desktop PC applications.
The situation could change soon with new flagship products. AMD has a 3D V-cache Zen 4D chip slated for release later this year, while Intel has a 6 GHz special edition Raptor Lake waiting in the wings as well. We even spotted an unannounced 34-core Raptor Lake at a tradeshow, suggesting that Intel might create a new high end desktop (HEDT) platform.
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. But for now, if you want the best in gaming or 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. 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 i5-13600K is the exception with a $30 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.
|Threadripper - Xeon W||$2,399- $6,499||$949 - $4,499|
|AMD Ryzen 9 - Intel Core i9||$549 - $699||$538 - $589|
|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. Intel has now 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, but we expect this to be the last hurrah for the 700-series motherboards — future Intel silicon will likely migrate to a new 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. Unfortunately, the first wave of AM5 motherboards has come with surprisingly high pricing, largely due to a few challenges associated with the new platforms.
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.
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 excessively high pricing relative to Intel's 600- and 700-series motherboards, which increases AMD's platform pricing significantly. That combination of factors gives Intel a commanding lead in the pricing department.
AMD vs Intel 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 Zen 4-powered Ryzen 7000 processors in all areas but one — the Ryzen 7 5800X3D that takes the overall lead in gaming. However, you have to be aware of the tradeoffs with this highly-specialized chip — the 3D V-Cache doesn't boost performance in all games, though we found that it impacted nearly every single game we tested. Additionally, the Ryzen 7 5800X3D is optimized specifically for gaming, but as you'll see below, it can't keep pace with similarly-priced chips in productivity applications.
That said, while the Core i9-13900K is faster than the Ryzen 7 5800X3D, most users would be hard-pressed to notice the difference between the two in real-world gaming sessions unless they're doing multiple other tasks at the same time, like streaming. In those types of situations, the 13900K would provide an even larger advantage.
The Core i9-13900K slots 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 the best blend of price and performance that you can find on the market, bar none.
If you're stepping down to the lower end, you'll need to look to the previous-gen Alder Lake chips. The Core i5-12400 offers stellar performance for its price, and 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.
We have in-depth head-to-head comparisons for Alder Lake against Ryzen 5000 in each of the key price brackets in the following articles, and we're working on adding Ryzen 7000 and Raptor Lake faceoffs as well:
- Ryzen 7 5800X3D vs Core i7-12700K and Core i9-12900K Face-Off: The Rise of 3D V-Cache
- Intel Core i9-12900K vs Ryzen 9 5900X and 5950X: Alder Lake and Ryzen 5000 Face Off
- Intel Core i5-12600K vs AMD Ryzen 5 5600X and 5800X Face Off: Ryzen Has Fallen
- Intel Core i7-12700K vs AMD Ryzen 9 5900X and 5800X Face Off: Intel Rising
- Intel Core i5-12400 vs AMD Ryzen 5 5600X Face-Off: The Gaming Value Showdown
Typically we'd warn that you'd be hard-pressed to notice the small differences in gaming performance, but Intel's Raptor Lake does hold quite an advantage, especially in pricing.
|Tom's Hardware||1080p Game Benchmarks||1440p Game Benchmarks|
|$589 — Core i9-13900K||100%||100%|
|$430 — Ryzen 7 5800X3D||96.3%||97.4%|
|$409 — Core i7-13700K||95.4%||96.7%|
|$319 — Core i5-13600K||89.2%||91.4%|
|$549 — Ryzen 9 7900X||87.9%||90.2%|
|$399 — Ryzen 7 7700X||87.8%||90.8%|
|$699 — Ryzen 9 7950X||87.2%||90%|
|$299 — Ryzen 5 7600X||83.7%||88.3%|
For instance, the Core i5-13600K is faster than AMD's entire Ryzen 7000 lineup at stock settings, but it is only $319. After overclocking, it essentially ties AMD's exotic 3D V-Cache model but offers far better performance in standard applications. We see even larger deltas as we move to Intel's pricier models, with the stock 13700K being ~8% faster than the Ryzen 7000 lineup, and the 13900K extends that to 14%. Naturally, overclocking pushes those deltas even further.
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: Intel. Intel's Raptor Lake chips have wrested the gaming crown from AMD in the critical price bands. AMD has the overall lead with the Ryzen 7 5800X3D, but that chip comes with a string of caveats that you should be aware of if you plan on the upgrade — the cache doesn't accelerate all games, and it also doesn't impact performance in applications.
If you're a gaming fanatic that prizes every single last frame you can squeeze out in the broadest range of titles, 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 i5-13600K 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. To compare Intel vs AMD CPUs based on specs and features, we could chart the entire product stacks, but for the sake of brevity, we'll focus on the top chips in the respective families. Be aware that both companies have value options within each tier, but we can get a general sense of the current competitive landscape with these (relatively) short lists. We're using both vendors' recommended pricing and street pricing to give you a sense of the current state of the market.
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 took over entirely.
However, AMD introduced a Threadripper Pro 3000WX-series lineup with professional-class amenities and performance, and they came with the eye-watering price tags to match. With the Threadripper Pro 5000WX series, AMD decided that it would put an end to the HEDT era by 'unifying' the consumer and professional lineup under the 'Pro' brand. 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.
|High End Desktop (HEDT)||MSRP / Retail||Cores / Threads||Base / Boost GHz||L3 Cache||TDP||PCIe||Memory|
|Threadripper Pro 5995WX||$6,499||64 / 128||2.7 / 4.5||256 (8CCD + I/OD)||280W||128Gen4||Eight-Channel DDR4-3200|
|Threadripper 3990X||$3,990 / $3,750||64 / 128||2.9 / 4.3||256||280W||72 Usable Gen4||Quad DDR4-3200|
|Intel W-3175X||$2,999 / N/A||28 / 56||3.1 / 4.8||38.5||255W||48 Gen3||Six-Channel DDR4-2666|
|Threadripper Pro 5975WX||$3,299||32 / 64||3.6 / 4.5||128 (4CCD + I/OD)||280W||128 Gen4||Eight-Channel DDR4-3200|
|Threadripper 3970X||$1,999 / $1,899||32 / 64||3.7 / 4.5||*128||280W||72 Usable Gen4||Quad DDR4-3200|
|Threadripper Pro 5965WX||$2,399||24 / 48||3.8 / 4.5||128 (4CCD + I/OD)||280W||128 Gen4||Eight-Channel DDR4-3200|
|Threadripper 3960X||$1,399 / $1,399||24 / 48||3.8 / 4.5||*128||280W||72 Usable Gen4||Quad DDR4-3200|
|Xeon W-3265||$3,349 / N/A||24 / 48||2.7 / 4.6||33||205W||64 Gen3||Six-Channel DDR4-2933|
|Core i9-10980XE||$979 / $1,099||18 / 36||3.0 / 4.8||24.75||165W||48 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 W-3175X and W-3265 dropping into exotic LGA3647 motherboards that carry eye-watering price tags to match the chips' high pricing. These aren't really enthusiast-class systems, though; think of these as more for the professional workstation market.
Intel's HEDT lineup ended with its 18-core Cascade Lake-X Core i9-10980XE that dropped into LGA2066 motherboards. That chip was powerful given its price point, but Threadripper's 3.5X advantage in core counts was impossible to beat, so Intel ceded the HEDT market to AMD.
You'll get more cores, cache, and faster PCIe 4.0 connectivity 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 does offer a compelling value story.
|Price||Cores / Threads (P+E)||P-Core Base/Boost (GHz)||E-Core Base/Boost (GHz)||Cache (L2/L3)||TDP-PBP / MTP||Memory|
|Core i9-13900K / KF||$589 (K) - $564 (KF)||24 / 32 (8+16)||3.0 / 5.8||2.2 / 4.3||68MB (32+36)||125W / 253W||DDR4-3200 / DDR5-5600|
|Ryzen 9 7950X||$699||16 / 32||4.5 / 5.7||-||80MB (16+64)||170W / 230W||DDR5-5200|
|Ryzen 9 7900X||$549||12 / 24||4.7 / 5.6||-||76MB (12+64)||170W / 230W||DDR5-5200|
|Ryzen 7 5800X3D||$449||8 / 16||3.4 / 4.5||-||96MB||105W||DDR4-3200|
|Core i7-13700K / KF||$409 (K) - $384 (KF)||16 / 24 (8+8)||3.4 / 5.4||2.5 / 4.2||54MB (24+30)||125W / 253W||DDR4-3200 / DDR5-5600|
|Ryzen 7 7700X||$399||8 / 16||4.5 / 5.4||-||40MB (8+32)||105W / 142W||DDR5-5200|
|Ryzen 5 7600X||$299||6 / 12||4.7 / 5.3||-||38MB (6+32)||105W / 142W||DDR5-5200|
|Core i5-13600K / KF||$319 (K) - $294 (KF)||14 / 20 (6+8)||3.5 / 5.1||2.6 / 3.9||44MB (20+24)||125W / 181W||DDR4-3200 / DDR5-5600|
|Ryzen 7 5700G (APU)||$295||8 / 16||3.8 / 4.6||-||32MB||65W||DDR4-3200|
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 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. Technically the 13900K falls into the same price bracket as the Ryzen 9 7900X, but that isn't a fair fight — the 13900K wins hands down.
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.
Without a doubt, the Core i7-13700K dominates its price point as it easily beats the price-comparable Ryzen 9 7700X and offers a far better blend of performance than the Ryzen 9 7900X.
|Price||Cores / Threads (P+E)||Base / Boost Clock (GHz)||Cache (L2/L3)||TDP-PBP / MTP||Memory|
|Ryzen 5 7600X||$299||6 / 12||4.7 / 5.3||38MB (6+32)||105W / 142W||DDR5-5200|
|Core i5-13600K / KF||?||14 / 20 (6+8)||3.5 / 5.1||44MB (20+24)||125W / 181W||DDR4-3200 / DDR5-5600|
|Core i5-12600K / KF||$289 (K) - $264 (KF)||10 / 16 (6+4)||3.7 / 4.9||29.5MB (9.5+20)||125W / 150W||DDR4-3200 / DDR5-4800|
|Ryzen 5 5600G (APU)||$220||6 / 12||3.9 / 4.4||-||65W||DDR4-3200|
|Core i5-12400 / F||$192 - $167 (F)||6 / 0 (6P+0E)||4.4 / 2.5||-||65W||DDR4-3200|
|Ryzen 5 5600||$199||6 / 12||3.5 / 4.4||-||65W||DDR4-3200|
|Ryzen 5 5500||$159||6 / 12||3.6 / 4.2||-||65W||DDR4-3200|
|Ryzen 5 4600G (APU)||$154||6 / 12||3.7 / 4.2||-||65W||DDR4-3200|
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 all facets, including gaming, single- and multi-threaded applications. In fact, the Core i5-13600K is an even better value than the more expensive Ryzen 7 7800X that resides in a higher pricing tier.
|Price Street/MSRP||Design - Arch.||E/P – Core|Thread||P-Core Base/Boost (GHz)||TDP / PBP / MTP||Memory Support||L3 Cache|
|Ryzen 5 5500||$199||Zen 3 - Cezanne||6P | 12T||3.6 / 4.2||65W||DDR4-3200||16MB|
|Ryzen 5 4600G (APU)||$154||Zen 2 - Renoir||6P | 12T||3.7 / 4.2||65W||DDR4-3200||8MB|
|Core i3-12100 / F||$122 - $97 (F)||Alder Lake||4P+0E | 4C/8T||3.3 / 4.3||60W / 89W||DDR4/5-3200/4800||12MB|
|Ryzen 5 4500||$129||Zen 2 - Renoir||6P | 12T||3.6 / 4.1||65W||DDR4-3200||8MB|
|Ryzen 3 4100||$99||Zen 2 - Renoir||4P | 8T||3.8 / 4.0||65W||DDR4-3200||4MB|
AMD also 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.
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 had improved its 14nm processes to strengthen its power-to-performance ratio by more than 70% in the five long years it's been on the market, but Intel's later 14nm generations were known for high power consumption and heat than AMD's Ryzen. That's because Intel has had to turn the power dial up further with each generation of chips to provide more performance as it attempted to fend off the resurgent AMD.
That made Intel a notorious power guzzler, but that has changed with Alder Lake. 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 performance-vs-power basis.
AMD vs Intel 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:
|Tom's Hardware - %age Change||1080p Gaming||Single-Thread||Multi-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, once you have the necessary parts, Intel's chips are relatively easy to push to their max, which often tops out at over 5 GHz on all cores with the 11th-Gen Rocket Lake and 12th-Gen Alder 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, meaning all 10th-Gen Comet Lake, 11th-Gen Rocket Lake, and 11th-Gen Comet Lake Refresh processors. However, these changes only apply to 500-series models. That can provide a big boost to locked chips, like the Core i5-11400 we recently reviewed, and we expect those gains to carry over to Intel's forthcoming lower-end Alder Lake chips.
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 (5.0 GHz is still unheard of with an AMD chip without liquid nitrogen cooling), but you do get a free performance boost.
AMD has also vastly improved its memory overclocking capabilities with the Ryzen 5000 series, which comes as a byproduct of the improved fabric overclocking capabilities. That allows AMD memory to clock higher than before while still retaining the low-latency attributes that boost gaming performance.
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 node 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. Technically, this was the second generation of Intel's 10nm process, but it's a first for desktop PCs.
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 5000 series chips, but the arrival of the Intel 7 process does mark a big improvement. Overall, Intel has reduced its power consumption from meme-worthy to an acceptable level. Alder Lake is also much faster than its predecessor, which lends itself to vastly improved power efficiency metrics.
AMD's only concern is production capacity: While AMD has access to 5nm production, the company can't source enough silicon from TSMC, at least in the near term, to match the power of Intel's captive fabs.
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 adds 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.
The move to the Zen 2 architecture brought AMD's processors to near-parity with Intel's finest in terms of per-core performance. That's largely because Intel is stuck on 14nm, and its architectures are designed specifically for the nodes they are built on. That means promising new Intel microarchitectures can only ride on smaller processes, like 10nm, leaving the company woefully unprepared for its prolonged issues productizing 10nm products.
Zen 3 gave AMD a sizable lead in per-core performance, an incredibly important metric that quantifies the speed of the most important building block in a chip design. Intel's Rocket Lake chips take huge steps forward in per-core performance, leaving both companies on a relatively even playing field in terms of per-core performance.
Intel's 12th-Gen Alder 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 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 Alder's 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 Alder Lake 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.
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 3 architecture is a marvel that allows for enhanced scalability, and due to the efficiency-minded design paired with the TSMC 7 node, it delivers superior power consumption metrics. On the other hand, Intel's Alder 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.
AMD vs Intel 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.
In terms of its established products, Intel's graphics drivers have become much better lately as the company ramps up to bring its dedicated Xe Graphics cards to market. Day-zero game drivers have become the norm for the chip producer.
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.
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 Ryzen 5000 processors, thus lowering its exposure to the vulnerabilities.
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.
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