Picking a CPU (Intel vs AMD) can get tricky when gaming comes. Every Intel processor had its own integrated graphics, but the performance isn’t up to par with discrete, stand-alone graphics chips or add-in graphics cards. Meanwhile, most AMD desktop processors don’t include integrated graphics. people who do are called Accelerated Processing Units, or APUs.
These chips combine Ryzen CPU cores with Radeon graphics cores on an equivalent die. They typically have better graphics capabilities than Intel’s onboard GPU cores, but weaker general processing. Intel’s Ice Lake changed that pattern, however, with its new Iris Plus graphics. Whether you go Intel or AMD, you’ll expect to spend between $200 and $350 for mid-level gaming processors and $500+ if you would like a top-tier chip for top frame rates, or streaming and gaming at an equivalent time.
Serious gamers use an add-in graphics card or a discrete GPU instead of integrated graphics (these are the simplest ones). In those scenarios, Intel typically dominates in gaming performance thanks to how the 2 chip giants build their processors. Its 9900K is arguably the foremost powerful gaming CPU available at this point albeit early benchmarks were a touch suspicious. Specifically, AMD’s latest Ryzen CPUs are excellent contenders, however. The Ryzen 9 3900X and Ryzen 7 3800X give the 9900K a run its money in most games.
Multithreading…: Intel vs AMD
They also decimate Intel in additional multi-threaded scenarios and are great at running applications that support multiple cores. AMD introduced the Ryzen 9 3950X 16-core processor for $749 in November 2019. AMD’s chip outperforms every Core i9 CPU in multi-core workloads and is that the best gaming CPU AMD has ever made, albeit it’s only by a percentage point or two. That’s not its focus, because it acts as an HEDT-lite chip, but it’s still a tremendous achievement to pack numerous cores during a single die, but not lose any single-threaded performance. AMD’s CPU momentum makes recommending Intel for gaming harder now than within the past.
If you simply game, then Intel’s 9700K, 9900K, and 9900KS are the simplest CPUs you’ll buy. If you are doing anything alongside or once you aren’t gaming, however, Ryzen 3000 chips are a far better bet. They’re sold at similar prices, deliver comparable performance in games, and offer far better performance elsewhere. Mid-range Ryzen processors are well worth considering too.
The Ryzen 3600 and 3600X offer the best value while being very capable among gaming chips. Even at the very low end, AMD’s Ryzen CPUs with Vega graphics offer decent gaming performance which is worth considering. But their weaker processing capabilities mean they aren’t the simplest value future unless you propose to upgrade down the road. Unless you’re trying to play at very high frame rates or are locked to lower resolutions, like 1080p, the CPU is never the limiting think about games. Springing for a more powerful graphics card will usually yield better results than dispensing cash for a more powerful processor.
Syncing Technology: Intel vs AMD
And don’t forget that syncing technology like FreeSync and G-Sync also can make an enormous difference in gaming appearance, with or without optimizing your processor. In some cases, you’d choose the simplest of both worlds. Intel and AMD partnered to make combination chips with Intel CPU cores and AMD GPU cores on an equivalent die with the likes of the Core i7-8809G. In our testing of the 8809G-equipped “Hades Canyon” NUC, we found it to be a solid gaming machine, so it might be that this partnership results in much greater hardware options within the future.
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