For Gaming Intel or AMD

For Gaming Intel or AMD

While Intel is the clear leader in performance, over the last 2 years, AMD has crafted a remarkable product lineup with high-end Ryzen 3000 series processors and budget-friendly Threadripper Y300. They've started to cannibalize Intel's market share, and it feels like they're setting their sights on the top few percent.

If you're still a bit skeptical about the benefits of working with Threadripper, you might want to stick with Intel – they've been carefully aligned with the motherboard manufacturer to maximize product placement for tons of top-end motherboards and other tech accessories. If you use a fairly recent laptop, you may see some performance bumps as a result. However, if you're on an older machine, it's going to show you great payback over the next decade.


With an Intel-based Core i5 processor, you may only get 5–10% higher performance than a Threadripper 3200, 8-core, 45W integrated chip. However, if you opt for the top-end platform, you can get an absurd 35% higher performance per dollar than it would if you were using a similarly configured Intel 7350H.

I don't recommend one processor for all-purpose, as you'll need a mix of both to achieve perfect balance (even Intel can bake 1–2 core deficits into certain designs for performance boost purposes – think of Stoney Mac in the "Buried" video, where the dual-core processor that kills him runs at roughly 10% faster than the dual-core processor that allows him to lift a chunk of expenditure off the table). Alternatively, picking one processor over the other doesn't necessarily mean you should go up in price, as you can cross-train using the best CPU for specific application nuances – for example, if you're a videographer or editor that uses a program that relies heavily on computational intensive operations like Premiere CS5, you may choose M1 as your CPU over an Intel processor.


For Gaming Intel or AMD

To help determine whether a Threadripper 3200 is a worthwhile upgrade, we ran a downloadable statistical test over 40 games, 12 GPU processes, and one application. The results, as they relate to performance, are in line with what you'll see from standard Intel and AMD CPUs. Since this is a new product, we can still provide our usual disclaimer: As with any ongoing performance test, don't overload your system and forget to test stability — chip vendors tend to not provide suitable temperatures and timing options on their own.

The chart below shows Intel's 7-core, 45W 7200U, which was the processor used in the Intel 9-hour benchmark test (the 7200U actually performed better than the Intel 5500U used in the 9-hour benchmark test, but still fell short of the 9-hour Intel 5500BM).

This makes them the two most popular choices for computer builders. AMD is currently leading the way when it comes to terms and conditions for consumers. However, for desktop users with high-end machines to work with it makes sense to go with Intel. PCMag.com recently spoke with Christopher Reno-Wilson, Editor-in-Chief at Tom’s Hardware, about the future of PC hardware.

Read our full interview with Chris here:

PCMag.com: Let’s begin by talking about the latest Intel and AMD CPUs. Why wait another four or five years before you choose one of those two?

Christopher Reno-Wilson: We’ve seen [the release of] AMD Threadripper, and anyone can now buy it. So what we are seeing now is the general announcement that Intel is going to release some CPUs towards the end of 2021, and of course, we can expect AMD to have some things as well. And now we’re going to get the actual desktop CPUs coming out towards the end of this year. The whole point behind the whole “Intel vs. AMD” thing is simply because AMD is going to have desktop CPUs. Whereas Intel is just going to have what the consumers are going to have access to before the end of this year, which is the consumer-grade parts.

The thing that really gets me is people turning on Twitter and going “Oh, I’m buying an AMD Threadripper!” And then I go “Well, what you’re doing can directly compete with what we’re doing right now if you want to have desktop performance.’ It’s just not practical for somebody who’s using their desktops day in and day out for their job to go out and buy a Threadripper CPU and have to use it day in and day out. That might be one of their jobs, their job is actually programming the applications that run on these machines and putting in hours of work all day, and then all of a sudden you need a CPU to run that. And then if you needed that CPU for the throughput you needed for whatever it is you were doing in your program, you were back to using a high-end CPU and power consumption.


For Gaming Intel or AMD

And if you’re just doing some gaming, then again you don’t need a Threadripper CPU, and again you can use a better alternative for your price. It’s just not worth it. Just because you want that Threadripper CPU to run your game doesn’t mean you buying high-end equipment. So sooner or later both companies are going to catch up, get more manufacturers in, and optimize for their own products that are better for their users and better for their workstations.

It’s important to keep this distinction in mind as the choices for laptops tend to exclude AMD from the equation, which leaves Intel’s line-up as the only option for laptops and gaming systems.

If you’re spending money on a laptop, you probably know what type of CPU will give you maximum performance at the minimum price. There are thousands of laptop CPU manufacturers, but for the most part, those all use the same basic components.

The processing units (CPUs) in laptops consist of an AMD (or Intel) chipset with a high-performance memory controller, and high-efficiency silicon (AMD GPU) for graphics processing. Each of those items brings its own set of performance characteristics and capabilities, which helps manufacturers make solid builds for each model.

According to the data published by AnandTech, the new Intel cluster on the 14" MacBook Pro and Intel i9–9880HK on the 2019 iPad Pro have the best score in CPU Geekbench, with an overall score of 3615. Intel’s top cluster on Macs, which is available in the 13" MBA, Mac Mini, and Mac Pro is a close second at 3596. The Mac Pro’s score, by contrast, is mostly unchanged from what it was two years ago at 3813 on a 13" model and 3800 on its top-of-the-line desktop 5G variants.

A prime example of Apple’s focus on efficiency is found on the MacBook Air 12" in the first graph. While the 2017 Intel Core i7–9700HQ model performed inferiorly in comparison to the respective future-proof versions available in the second and third graphs, the 2016 Intel Core i5–9600H model was already performing considerably better at that time. Apple also added Turbo Boost speeds of up to 3.9GHz to IBMs and boosted the frequency of its highest-end CPU (Core i9–9980HK) five-fold.

Looking at the performance of the new Intel CPU portfolio on an apples-to-apples basis, the new 14" MacBook Pro and iPad Pro still have the edge over their Intel predecessors. The MacBook Air, likewise, even a year after the release of the Intel Z2760 chips, still has some room to run. Its scores for CPU Geekbench and CPU & GPU (with GPU acceleration) are exactly the same as the Intel Core i7–9700HQ and i9–9980HK in 2019 laptops, and just two points behind the MacBook Air 2020 with Intel Iris Plus Graphics. With cheaper pricing, it’s easy to see how Apple’s 2020 MacBook lineup is still fast enough to satisfy those who run light and fast code without greatly increasing power consumption.

The i9–9880HK in the “2019 iPad Pro” shows this isn’t the case, though.