If you’re looking for which CPU is better intel or AMD or the best workstation CPU, there are only two choices to pick from – AMD and Intel.
That fact has spawned an almost religious following for both camps, and the resulting AMD vs Intel flamewars, making it tricky to get unbiased advice about the best choice for your next processor.
But in many cases, the answer is 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’s an amazing reversal of fortunes for the chipmaker after its decade of dominance was completely overturned by AMD’s Ryzen 5000 chips.
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 kind of features, price, and performance are important to you.
If you’re looking for the fastest chip on the market, you should look to Intel’s potent new Alder Lake series. Intel’s Alder Lake chips take the gaming crown from AMD, and also rival or beat AMD in all meaningful performance metrics, like single- and multi-threaded productivity workloads.
You can see the disruptive results in our Intel Core i9-12900K and Core i5-12600K review, and we’ve also added both our Windows 10 and 11 testing to our CPU benchmark database. We’ve also thrown in results with both DDR4 and DDR5 memory for good measure.
You can see how all of these processors stack up in our AMD vs Intel CPU Benchmarks Hierarchy, but the landscape had changed in the wake of AMD’s newest processors, the Ryzen 9 5950X and Ryzen 9 5900X, not to mention the Ryzen 5 5600X.
At their debut, the Ryzen 5000 series were the highest-performing chips on the market and beat Intel in every metric that matters, including gaming, application performance, power consumption, and thermals. Intel now has the edge with the Alder Lake chips, but AMD’s Ryzen lineup certainly remains competitive in a few key areas.
For more info, you can head to our expansive in-depth coverage of the Ryzen 5000 series, including pricing, benchmarks, and availability.
Intel’s Alder Lake has completely redefined x86 desktop PC chips with a new hybrid architecture that delivers amazing levels of performance. Not to be upstaged, AMD has its new CPUs with 3D V-Cache headed to production later this year.
Those chips will bring up to 15% more gaming performance courtesy of up to an almost-unthinkable 192MB of L3 cache bolted onto a souped-up Zen 3 processor. That means the AMD vs Intel battle could shift towards the tail end of the year, but this is the tale of the tape for the current state of the market
AMD vs. Intel: Which Cpu Is Better Intel Or Amd
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 leading-end designs that deliver more cores, more performance, and lower power requirements.
Intel fought back by slowly adding features and cores across its product stack, but that also resulted in negative side effects, like more power consumption and heat generation. That only served to highlight the company’s struggles on the design and fabrication side of its operation.
The AMD vs Intel CPU conversation has changed entirely, though, as Intel has now undercut AMD’s price-to-performance ratio entirely with the Alder Lake chips. Additionally, Alder 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 new ‘Intel 7’ process that has proven to be exceptionally competitive. That shifted our rankings from a 7-to-4 advantage for AMD to a 7-to-5 advantage in Intel’s favor.
Intel even moved forward to PCIe 5.0 and DDR5 technologies, leaving AMD’s PCIe 4.0 and DDR4 support looking rather dated. DDR5 does add significant cost to motherboards, but Alder Lake also supports DDR4 memory. However, Intel still hasn’t eased its draconian segmentation policies that limit features, like overclockability, to pricey chips and motherboards.
Intel’s tactic of squeezing every penny out of every feature had allowed AMD to offer a more compelling value story across the full breadth of the consumer desktop CPU market.
Alder Lake’s low chip pricing and performance advantages now offset those upcharges, but Intel’s decision to only bring its pricey Z-series motherboards to market at first does mean those lower chip prices will still be hampered by a ‘motherboard tax’ — at least until the cheaper B- and H- 600-series boards launch in the coming months.
Intel’s Alder Lake also holds the crown on overclockability. If you spend the cash on a Z690 motherboard, you’ll attain far more overclocking headroom than you’ll get with the Ryzen 5000 chips. You can see our head-to-head testing in our How to Overclock 12th Gen Intel Alder Lake CPUs feature.
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. The company offers a plethora of advantages, like full overclockability on most models, not to mention complimentary software that includes the innovative Precision Boost Overdrive auto-overclocking feature.
The company’s Ryzen 5000 series processors mark an across-the-board $50 price hike, but the faster chips earned their higher price tags. That calculus has changed now that Intel’s Alder Lake chips have retaken the performance crown and have brutally competitive pricing — AMD will need to reduce its Ryzen 5000 pricing to remain competitive.
You also benefit from the broad compatibility of motherboards with the AM4 CPU socket that supports both forward and backward compatibility, ensuring that not only do you get the most bang for your processor buck, but also your motherboard investment (there are caveats with the 5000 series).
However, AMD’s long-lived support for the AM4 socket now finds it trailing in connectivity options while Intel’s chipsets have more modern amenities.
AMD also allows overclocking on all but its A-Series motherboards (see our article on how to overclock AMD Ryzen), which is a boon for enthusiasts. And, in this battle of AMD vs Intel CPUs, we haven’t even discussed the actual silicon yet.
AMD vs Intel CPU Gaming Performance
In the AMD vs Intel CPU 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 Alder Lake offers 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 Alder Lake and Ryzen 5000 processors included, while the Windows 10 slides show a larger selection of processors.
AMD vs Intel Productivity and Content Creation Performance
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 5950X. However, those wins come at the expense of a much higher price point, and it isn’t enough to justify the premium.
Alder Lake marks the debut of 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 Alder 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 Alder Lake Core i9-12900K 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 Alder Lake processors also take comparatively large leads over competing AMD processors. That means Intel’s Alder Lake family holds the single-threaded performance crown.
AMD vs Intel Processor Specifications and Features
AMD has its Ryzen 3, Ryzen 5, Ryzen 7, Ryzen 9, and Threadripper lines, while Intel breaks its offerings up into the 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) shortlists. 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) is the land of creative prosumers with fire-breathing multi-core monsters for just about every need. Intel has long enjoyed being the uncontested leader in this segment, but while AMD’s first-gen Threadripper lineup disrupted the status quo, the Threadripper 3000 lineup destroyed it.
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 huge 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.
AMD vs Intel — How it will go from here and which one you should buy
AMD vs Intel is a fight that is nowhere close to finishing. As we have seen in the past, AMD has a pattern of flip-flopping, where after a stint of industry successes, it loses its way for a few years. On the other hand, Intel has pretty much always held the fort and only recently shown weaknesses that have aligned with AMD’s current rise in the market.
Intel has had troubles with its fabrication processes for a few years now, and those troubles seem far from over. The 11th generation chipsets have seen a backport from the 10nm process that Intel had finally managed to hit. The 12th generation chips are back to a 10nm process. This limits Intel to somewhere between 10nm and 14nm, while AMD will continue going with the most efficient process they can find.
AMD’s acquisition of Xilinx will also give it opportunities to go beyond its regular offering of consumer CPUs. While it will take a long time for it to get to Intel’s size, it doesn’t seem like the colossal impossibility it looked like a few years ago.
As far as your current purchase decisions go, if you can get your hands on it — go for an AMD chip. AMD offers superior value for money across all of its offerings.
Intel’s latest 12th generation upgrades are quite interesting and seem to offer solid performance, but it will take a while before we can be sure that they’re better offerings than what AMD has to offer currently. Intel is now a choice for those on a specific budget that AMD cannot fulfill well or those who need to pick a CPU without hunting for stocks.