When building or upgrading a desktop computer, one of the most important components to consider is the central processing unit (CPU). The two dominant manufacturers of CPUs for desktop computers are AMD and Intel. Choosing between the two brands largely comes down to performance versus price considerations.
In terms of pure performance, AMD CPUs have surpassed Intel in recent years. AMD’s Ryzen series of CPUs consistently match or exceed Intel’s Core series in benchmarks. For example, AMD’s latest Ryzen 9 7950X 16-core flagship CPU edges out Intel’s Core i9-13900K in multi-threaded workloads while matching it closely in single-threaded performance.
Several factors account for AMD’s performance leadership. AMD CPUs are produced on cutting-edge 5nm and 7nm manufacturing processes, allowing them to fit more cores and run at higher frequencies compared to Intel’s 10nm or 14nm processes. AMD also employs an efficient chiplet-based design that allows them to mix-and-match components for optimal configurations. Additionally, AMD includes more cache memory on their CPUs for better performance.
However, Intel retains a slight gaming performance advantage in certain games that favor high single-threaded speed. But with both companies advancing rapidly, the performance gap is negligible for most real-world workloads. Overall, AMD delivers better multi-core performance while roughly matching Intel in single-threaded speed.
AMD CPUs tend to offer better value and pricing versus Intel models with similar performance. For instance, the 16-core AMD Ryzen 9 7950X costs around $550 while the 13-core Intel Core i9-13900K is priced at $700. Even lower-end AMD chips like the 6-core Ryzen 5 5600 cost about $150, compared to the 6-core Intel Core i5-12400 at $180.
AMD’s advantage comes from producing compute-dense chips at an advanced process node. Intel’s difficulties transitioning to 10nm and 7nm processes has impacted their yields and ability to compete on pricing. Consequently, AMD chips have equivalent or higher core counts at every price segment. Gamers, content creators, and power users get more for their money by choosing AMD now.
Both AMD and Intel offer comparable features that will meet the needs of most users. Their CPUs support current technologies like DDR5 memory, PCIe 5.0, Wi-Fi 6E, and Thunderbolt 4. Both also provide unlocked CPUs for overclocking, though AMD has traditionally offered better overclocking support.
AMD does have a slight edge in power efficiency. Their Zen 4 and even older Zen 3 chips can match Intel’s performance at notably lower power consumption and heat output. This translates to lower electricity bills and easier cooling for AMD-based systems. Intel’s emphasis has been more on peak performance than efficiency recently.
Ultimately, neither AMD nor Intel have any glaring feature deficiencies. Your choice will come down to your budget and desired performance level more than specific features. Both companies will provide everything you expect from a modern CPU.
Intel has historically enjoyed a broader platform ecosystem given their long-standing market share lead in CPUs. For example, Intel CPUs support Thunderbolt 4 and offer Optane memory support on more motherboard chipsets. Intel also has a larger pool of optimized software thanks to their dominant position.
However, AMD has largely closed this platform gap with their latest Ryzen 7000 and AM5 platform. AMD CPUs now support next-gen technologies like DDR5, PCIe 5.0, and even Thunderbolt 4. Motherboard selection for AMD is now on par with Intel, giving you adequate options for building an AMD-powered system. Software support is also strong, with AMD working closely with OS and application vendors to optimize performance.
In conclusion, platform support should not be a major deciding factor anymore. Both vendors provide modern connectivity and expandability that will satisfy the majority of users.
Overall, AMD currently provides better performance and value compared to Intel across most market segments and price points. The only area where Intel still holds an edge is 1080p gaming, and even then only slightly. For any multi-threaded productivity workloads, AMD CPUs tend to outperform Intel while costing less.
AMD’s manufacturing and architectural advantages have allowed them to overtake Intel’s performance crown in recent years. Their Ryzen 5000 and Ryzen 7000 series deliver excellent single and multi-threaded speeds at affordable prices. Consequently, AMD is our recommended choice for most users building or upgrading a desktop PC in 2023. Of course, budget and specific workloads should also factor into your CPU decision. But in most cases, AMD CPUs offer the best bang for your buck right now. Going with an AMD Ryzen CPU will result in a powerful yet cost-effective desktop system.