PC hardware



Intel or AMD who won the CPU battle for CPUs processors in 2020

In one corner is Intel and the other AMD did you buy a new CPU in 2020?

There is so much enthusiasm surrounding the rivalry between Intel and AMD that it might as well be a presidential election. Don't be surprised if you find people taking their opinions too far, opting to resolve discussions over the two CPUs by insulting each other. This, of course, makes it hard to get an unbiased opinion regarding which CPU to choose.

That said, traditionally, you could always make an easy decision between the two. If you wanted the best gaming experience, you would buy Intel. If you wanted a CPU that could handle video editing, streaming, or any other projects that need a higher core count, AMD was the best choice. In 2020, however, it's different.

The recent announcement of the Zen 3 AMD Ryzen 5000 series, due to be released on November 5th, has given AMD the advantage over Intel. And if we are to believe AMD's benchmarks, the CPU crushes Intel, whether in gaming or productivity. Just a day before the Zen 3 announcement, Intel wrote an article claiming to be the leader in the gaming department. Well, not anymore, apparently. (Embarrassing!)

Let's talk about why AMD's CPU is the overall winner for 2020.



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Value Proposition


The Ryzen CPUs value proposition has always been its main strength. This hasn't changed. For the same price as an Intel CPU, you'll experience better performance in multi-threaded workloads as well as decent results in single-core-oriented tasks like gaming. The Ryzen series also offers other added benefits compared to the competition, such as full overclock capability on all of its models: PCIe Gen 4 and the AM4 socket that supports intergeneration of CPUs.

Gaming performance is arguably the only reason why people still buy Intel CPUs. But that can potentially change at the end of the year. Once AMD releases the new Ryzen CPUs on November 5th, there's virtually no reason why you should favor Intel over AMD. For about the same price, you'll have better performance in almost everything, including gaming and productivity.

Conclusion: AMD wins.

Performance

The Zen 3 5000 series is the all-around best choice for anyone, assuming we can trust the first-party benchmark by AMD. In the history of Ryzen CPUs, AMD never failed to deliver on its promises. So there's no reason they would disappoint us now. Let's compare Intel and AMD's high-end CPUs for perspective: Core i9-10900k versus Ryzen 9 5900x.

The Ryzen 9 5900x has more cores & threads (12C/24T vs 10C/20T), more L3 cache (70 MB vs 20 MB), and more performance compared to the i9-10900k. Furthermore, in gaming, you can enjoy about 20% more FPS in a few e-sport titles, namely League of Legends and CS: GO in 1080p. In most other games, expect the same or slightly better frames. You can argue that comparing the Ryzen 9 5900x against the Core i9-10900k is rather unfair as the former only comes at the end of 2020. Not only that, the AMD CPU is about $20-$50 more expensive. But, the Ryzen 9 5900x is still a 2020 CPU; you'll get so much more from it. In overall productivity, for example, Ryzen CPUs have always been superior to Intel, and this time, the gap will be even bigger.
It will use the record-breaking Cinebench R20 single-core performance and a higher core count. Even if we use the last-gen Ryzen 3000 series as a comparison, the AMD still offers better value. The Zen 2 CPUs might trail behind in gaming, but it still dominates in multi-threaded applications and power-efficiency. Unfortunately for Intel, AMD claims the Ryzen 9 5900x is 2.8 times more power-efficient compared to the Core i9-10900k. Conclusion: AMD wins.

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Lithography and Architecture

If you follow tech news, you might've heard the term "7nm" or "14nm" thrown around. What do these mean?

These terms refer to the size or density of CPU process nodes. Basically, the smaller the process node is, the more performance you will get out of a processor as you can pack more transistors into a CPU die. As you may know, AMD is already advancing into the Zen architecture-based 7nm node for its chips. Intel is still stuck on virtually the same 14nm Skylake architecture from 2015 with relatively minor improvements over the years.
Judging from this, we can safely say AMD wins in this department. The 7nm process node from AMD makes it possible for the company to manufacture denser, faster, and cheaper processors.
As long as the architecture design remains decent, they can also pack more cores into the CPU dies without increasing power consumption. Smaller nodes simply make things more convenient. Intel, on the other hand, is struggling to squeeze more performance out of its 14nm Skylake architecture without increasing power hungriness and heat. Conclusion: AMD wins.

Driver Support

Historically speaking, Intel drivers are better than AMD's, and this truth seemed to hold up until now. It's kind of hard to gauge the exact scores of both companies in terms of driver support (each has its share of software faults). However, AMD users have reported more issues with their drivers compared to Intel users on forums -- but not by much. It makes sense since Intel is a much larger company compared to AMD, so it has better resources. That, or it's simply thanks to their reputation that Intel managed to discourage complaints from users. Conclusion: Inconclusive.

Optimization

Intel has the advantage when it comes to optimizations. Due to its long-standing dominance in the CPU world, software developers are more likely to optimize their apps and games for Intel architectures rather than AMD. AMD CPUs used to have a much lower market share. For example, if you open YouTube and watch video game benchmarks comparing the CPUs from the two companies (excluding Ryzen 5000 series), you would see that Intel CPUs win in most games. With that said, before the 7nm Zen 2 and Zen 3, Intel processors generally had better IPC and clock speed compared to AMD's, so they tend to have better single-core performance anyways. Conclusion: Intel wins.

Verdict

In the crazy year of 2020, AMD beats Intel hands down, no questions asked. AMD offers better price-to-performance value and superior efficiency. If you play video games most of the time, yes, Intel is still a tried and true choice. You can't go wrong! However, with the upcoming Ryzen 5000 series, unless you are an unwavering fan of Intel, there's almost no reason why you wouldn't pick the latest AMD CPUs over Intel.

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