Intel was the undisputed king of the processor, with AMD’s offerings (remember Athlon?) Appealing a lot to the budget-conscious. But how can things change in twenty years! Technologically, AMD has taken a leap forward and its Ryzen chips and their various tricks seem much more fashionable at the moment.
Of course, on the sales front, Intel has and will stay miles ahead (although its over 80% market share is very slowly shrinking), but AMD’s Ryzen chipsets continue to prove value. unbelievable price, forcing Intel to cut prices for its own chips to stay competitive.
Now that AMD and Intel have launched their latest generation processors, it’s a good time to pit AMD against Intel to see which is the best processor in 2021.
To note: We won’t go into too much detail about the meaning of key processor concepts, like threads, cores, and caches. So, if you want a little more detailed CPU advice than “the bigger the better”, head over to our What to look for in a CPU guide.
On a budget
As of 2021, the high-end “budget” offerings from the AMD and Intel sides are the Intel Core i3-10300 “Comet Lake” and Ryzen 5 3600, both of which sell for just under $ 200.
On paper, Intel processors seem to offer better single-core performance, but this is more than offset by the fact that AMD processors typically offer more cores (usually two more at a similar price), which means the modest single-core advantage from Intel is erased. thanks to AMD’s multi-core setup and the fact that AMD chips offer better overclocking capabilities (even on a budget).
AMD therefore seems to have an advantage, but with a major caveat.
If you just want to use your PC for business purposes and don’t want to spend more money on a dedicated GPU, Intel has you covered with its integrated Intel graphics chips. You won’t be doing high-end games on iGPUs like the Intel Graphics UHD 620, but it at least removes the need to buy a dedicated GPU like you will have to do with all modern Ryzen desktop processors (unless ‘they don’t have a “G Suffix”).
The new generation
The mid-to-high-end chipsets released each year are an excellent barometer of where both companies are in terms of the technologies powering their latest chipsets.
AMD’s latest Ryzen 7 and Ryzen 9 chips may have pushed up prices over previous generations, but those price hikes feel well justified by the kind of performance you’re getting.
The Ryzen 5000 series dominates the benchmarks in all areas compared to the previous generation, offering incredible performance and price per core. In terms of power (TDP), you get much more efficiency multitasking with AMD than with Intel.
It’s also worth pointing out that AMD’s toolset like Precision Boost Overdrive and Curve Optimizer (which you’ll find in your motherboard BIOS, assuming it’s been updated to the latest generation) allows you to really fine tune the efficiency of the Ryzen 5000 series processor, helping you get the most out of each individual core (as long as you have time to make the adjustments).
However, the first reviews to come for Intel Rocket Lake processors (such as this highly detailed multi-page piece by Anandtech), suggest that Intel is still heavily involved in the game but can’t quite hold up to AMD’s value proposition at this point.
Interestingly, while AMD is looking to deliver superior value these days (assuming you have a discrete GPU), Intel’s offerings really aren’t far behind, and if you’re on a budget. tight, you can find a good low-end Intel CPU without having to worry about a graphics card. The momentum would be firmly with AMD then, but the massive stock shortages of its latest chips have hampered that a bit, giving Intel’s new Rocket Lake line the chance to grab something back.
The latest AMD processors are great, but they are known to run a bit hot. Check out our guide on how to cool a high CPU temperature. To put your CPU to the test, check out our guide on how to compare your CPU with Cinebench.
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