As a gaming enthusiast, the most important decision you have to make is choosing the ideal central processing unit. The difference between enjoying your gaming experience and having a terrible experience may be made by the type of CPU that you settle for. Choosing hardware components for your pc determines the type of motherboard that you will need. Consequently, your choice has an impact on the compatibility of all the other components. If you are looking to enhance your gaming experience, then choosing the best brand comes first before settling on any CPU model.
Currently the two main rivals for gamers are Intel and AMD. Over the past few years, AMD seems to have been pushing back and giving serious competition to a seemingly dominant Intel. AMD developers have ensured that the brand takes up high end performance as well as the value per dollar that users can enjoy.
Before the first Ryzen product was released, Intel had enjoyed a continuously growing market share as a result of its Tick-tock enhancement cycle of their core series of microprocessors. In 2011, AMD released its Bulldozer microarchitecture which saw the brand significantly fall behind their competitor Intel. This continued until when AMD redesigned their products to see a superior Zen+ microarchitecture that was able to compete with Intel products. Since then the market share for AMDs CPUs has significantly increased while Intel seems to have remained stagnant.
The first major improvement was the Ryzen CPUs that came with 8 core and 16 threads alongside price superiority. The second wave of advanced CPUs were the Ryzen powered Threadripper 2 that came with an impressive 32 core and 64 threads. The third generation of the Ryzen model was recently launched and features more improved designs and a shrink to the 7nm process. This article is designed to help you learn a little more about both brands i.e. Intel and AMD Ryzen and hopefully help you choose the best brand for your gaming needs.
Factors to look out for when comparing Intel and AMD
- Overclocking: Check out which processor is unlocked or locked for overclocking and what action you need to take
- Value: Which brand offers the best terms in terms of value for your money
- Specs: The specifications of each processor
- Upgradability: There a motherboards and processors that can be used by single generations while others can accommodate multiple generations if upgraded.
- Gaming: This is the main aspect. Be on the lookout which processor is likely to give you the best gaming experience across a wide variety of games.
Acronyms that you will come across in this article include:
- Clock speed. This refers to the number of cycles that your preferred processor runs and is measured in Gigahertz (GHz). Higher clock speeds automatically translates to better performance
- Threads and cores. These are the components of a processor. The core handle tasks and the higher the cores, the more commands that can be simultaneously handles. Threads basically help in handling more data
- Socket. This is the simplest aspect of a processor. It works like regular sockets. CPUs fit into motherboards supporting their type of socket.
- Thermal Design Power. Measures the amount of heat that is expected from this component, it will help you in knowing the amount of cooling that is needed by your device.
What is AMD Ryzen?
Ryzen is a brand of CPUs developed by Advance Micro Devices Inc. (AMD) for embedded and mobile platforms as well as for desktops. The Ryzen is a class of x86-64 microprocessors that are targeted at enthusiast, mainstream and workstation segments as well as Accelerated Processing Units (APU) that are meant for entry-level and mainstream segments as well as the embedded applications.
The first generation of the 14nm Ryzen products were announced in December 2016 during AMDs Horizon Summit. They were then introduced to the market the following February. The next generation of this model was introduced in April 2018 and featured the Zen+ microarchitecture that was built on 12nm process technology. The most recent generation was introduced in July this year and is based on a reduced TSMCs 7nm process technology and has significantly more design enhancements.
AMD has added a range of high core processors for desktops that are meant for the workstation market with their Ryzen Threadripper branding. While most of the Ryzen products operate with the Socket AM4 platform, these new high range processors operate using the TR4 Socket platform which is larger than the previously mentioned platform. They do support more PCI Express lanes as well extra memory channels.
The extra cores offered by the current Ryzen processor models facilitates quick running of certain tasks. If you are interested in mostly 3D video games, then these models with multiple cores are worth investing in.
Things to look out for in AMD Ryzen for gaming.
AMD processor brackets
- Ryzen 3- has quad core processors
- Ryzen 5- has quad and hexacore processors
- Ryzen 7- hexacore processors
- Ryzen 9-this one has 16 and 12 core processers
- Threadripper- this one may have either 8, 12,and or 16 core processors
In each of the above brackets, processors are named using the model number. That is to say that the higher the number of the model, the more powerful and faster your CPU is Putting it into context you can say that a Ryzen 3 12000 is weaker than the Ryzen 3 1300X. The suffix X indicates that the particular model is a little fast than the previous version of the model. It is therefore indicative of a small increase in the factory clocking speed.
How to select the best Ryzen model for your PC
Depending on a few factors such as budget and you computer’s adaptability you can settle for either of the following Ryzen series.
This particular model is ideal for low budget PCs and for a consumer who does not work with intensive applications. The Ryzen 3 has quad core processors and sports four physical cores that do not slouch, therefore enabling you to build a gaming rig that is capable of handling bug games. For example the Ryzen 3 2200G can facilitate integrated processing of graphics. For this series, you will require an external graphics processing machine. The cost of this model is: Check it on Amazon.
This particular CPU models are aggressively priced in order to effectively compete with the Intel core 5 series. The Ryzen 5 series are incredibly good for gaming. They are a combination of hexacore and quad core processors that have more power packed for intense workloads as well as video editing. The best series for you as a gamer, in this series, is the Ryzen 53600. It is a mid-range processor. The 3600X series, however has a higher TDP and better factory clocking speeds. Check Current Price on Amazon.
This model may be a little bit of an overkill for you, it does however provide advanced computing at a reasonable price. For a gamer with a capable GPU, the Ryzen 7 series will be the best selection for you. The AMD Ryzen 7 3700X is an impressive combination of 8 cores and 16 threads and eases work seeing that majority of the tasks are performed by the CPU. This series is unlocked for overclocking thus providing extra headroom for adequate cooling. The AMD Ryzen goes for about $$ at Amazon.
This is the latest Ryzen series and holds up to 12 cores and 24 threads. This series is very much ideal for handling intense workloads and retails for approximately $$$ on Amazon.
While this series may not be as necessary to you, having one can be quite convenient. If you want to push your system beyond limits then the threadripper with its 32 cores and 64 threads will definitely do that for you. A good example is the AMD Threadripper 2920X which is the highest range amongst are AMD CPUs series. It is an entry process and is conveniently priced at $$$.
Your choice of the particular series to relies on the kind activities you need to perform, games as well as your budget. While the more expensive a component is, the better the performance, it is not necessary mandatory. You need to put into considerations some aspects such as the price and the ability of your computer to accommodate these components.
The Zen+ processors have speeds of 4.0 GHz and above hence making the ideal choice for you as a gamer. Another positive aspect of the series is that they still use am4 Sockets that are more adaptable as they allow backwards and forwards compatibility. This particular aspect of the model, allows you to upgrade your motherboard and or your processor independently rather than having to upgrade them at the same time in order to match the sockets.
What is Intel core?
The Intel core is a brand of mid-range to high-range workstation, enthusiast and consumer Central Processing Units developed by the Intel Corporation. This particular brand displaced the previously available mid to high-range Pentium Processors. By the year 2017, the series of Intel Core processors that were available included; Intel Core i9, Intel Core i7, Intel Core I5 and the Intel Core i3.
Reports indicate that some security flaws such as the meltdown and spectre aspects were found in practically all Intel Core processors. These flaws meant that fixes within windows would be required as well as in other operating systems such as Linux and MacOS. Similarly, still in 2018, another defect known as the Foreshadow was detected, this type of flaw undermines the Software Guard Extensions aspect of the processor.
The first Intel Core processor for desktops originated from the Conroe Iteration. This design was a 65nm dual core that was launched in July 2006. It was based on a new Intel Core Microarchitecture that had significant enhancements in its micro architectural performance and efficiency. It outdid the Pentium 4 in all aspects while utilising very low clocking rates. The model maintained a high rate of instructions per cycle on a highly resourced and pipelined out of order execution.
Choosing the best Intel Core CPU
There are various series from the Intel Core family that you need to learn about for you to be able to make a better choice from amongst them
The Core i3 is a dual core processor that can be used both in a desktop and a laptop. It is available in multiple speeds ranging from 1.30GHz to 3.50GHz. The Intel Corei3 features a Cache capacity of 3-4 MB. While most are dual core, there are a few i3 processors that are quad-core. The core i3 processor is commonly paired with a DDR3 1333 or DDR3 1600 RAM.
Core i3 processors with slow speeds of between 1.30GHz and 1.80GHz can use either 11.5W, 15W or 25W of power. The medium paced Core i3s require between 28, 35 or 37W of power to efficiently run. On the other hand fast paced i3 processors i.e. 2.90GHz-3.50GHz require a minimum of 35-54 W of power to run smoothly. This series of Intel processors are mostly used for laptops since they generate moderately lower heat.
The core i5 is also quad core and can be used in both a desktop and a laptop. Speeds of the i5 range from 1.90GHz to 3.80GHz. The Cache capacity ranges from 3 to 4 to 6MB. This Intel Core series utilizes the LGA 1155 or LGA 1150 socket on a motherboard. They are mostly quad core though there some high range i5 processors that have 6 cores. The component is commonly paired with the DDR3 1333 or DDR3 1600 RAM. You can upgrade the RAM if the devices motherboard is capable of supporting a higher RAM.
Slow paced i5 processors, 1.60GHz to 2.30GHz, require a minimum of 15W of power while the medium paced, 2.60GHz to 3.10 GHz, require between 15w, 25w, 28W and 37W of power. The fast speed i5 processors may require between 35W to 84 W of power for them to run smoothly.
This particular series is most suitable for desktops as they require high performance processors. When at a lower speed, the battery can go for up to five hours. On the other hand high speeds contribute to higher battery usage.
The i7 processor has both the dual and quad core features. Its Cache can support up to 4-8 MBs. It features a turbo boost of up to 4.30GHz frequency. This series allows you to multitask and therefore it is very convenient for gaming as it supports processing of intensive data and or tasks. The Intel Core i7 is suitable mostly for your desktop and can easily run applications that need more horsepower.
Reading Intel’s model numbers
Most model numbers are usually followed by one or combination of the letters below
U; Ultra Low Power. The U is only meant for laptop processors. They tend to use less power compared to other series.
Y; Low Power. Mostly found in older laptops and mobile accessories
T; Power Optimized this is meant for desktop processors.
Q; Quad core. The rating is only for Intel processors with 4 physical cores
H: High-Performance Graphics. The chipset has one of Intel’s better graphics units in it.
G: Includes Discrete Graphics. Typically found on laptops, this means there is a dedicated GPU with the processor.
K: Unlocked. This means you can overclock the processor above its rating.
Once you understand the numbering system and the letters, you will be able to know the specific features of a processor without having to read them. It will help you in choosing the right processor for your gaming needs.
If you decide you want to go with Intel Core CPU, there are some few technical terms that are necessary for you to grasp as they will help you determine which Intel Core series to settle on.
This Intel technology helps your processor to dynamically increase the clocking speed if need be. The maximum amount of turbo boost that is capable of increasing the clocking speed depends on the estimated consumption of power, processor temperature, estimated current consumption as well as the number of active cores.
For example for a core i5-4570T, the maximum processor frequency allowed is 3.6GHz. Since the core i3s do not have a turbo boost, the i5 series can easily outrun them whenever need arises. All Core i5 processors are equipped with the latest turbo boost technology i.e. turbo boost 2.0 and thus can outrun any Core i3.
Once a CPU registers that it often use a similar data set over and over, it saves it in its cache. The cache is similar to the RAM but quite faster since it is built into the CPU. Both the Cache and RAM serve as holding components of frequently used data. Without these two the central processing unit would have to always read data from the hard drive which would be more time consuming.
The RAM minimises interactions with the hard disk while the Cache minimises interactions with the RAM. The larger the Cache, the more the data that can be quickly accessed. Haswell 4th generation Core i3 processors have 4MB or 3MB of Cache. Haswell Core i5 processors have either 6MB or 4MB of Cache while all the Core i7 CPUs contain 8MB of Cache with the exception of the i7-4770R with 6MB.
At any given time, a single core can only be served by one thread. Therefore if your CPU is dual core, then it means that two threads can be served simultaneously. The Intel Core CPUs have a technology known as Hyperthreading that enables multiple threads to be served by a single core.
For example a Core i3 (dual core) is able to serve two threads per core. Therefore there will be a total of four threads being run simultaneously. Most Core i5 are dual core and do not support hyperthreading with the exception of the i5-4570T, the maximum number of threads that they can run is similar to those served by the Core i3 models.
The aspects of hyperthreading makes the Core i7 processors superior and more efficient than their counterparts. They are quad core processors that also support hyperthreading. They therefore can run a total of 8 threads simultaneously. Combined with the features of the Turbo Boost Technology and 8MB Cache, the Core i7 is distinctively set apart from other Intel Core processors.
The core i5 and i7 are suitable for you if you spend a lot of time gaming. More programmes are being released with the ability to multithread and hence can execute a single task using more than one CPU thread. Some of the video editing and photo editor programmes support multithreading hence making the core i5 and core i7 the more suitable choice.
Intel has three major graphic levels i.e. HD, IRIS PLUS, and IRIS. Since the developer integrated the graphics on to the processor it is important that you review the different graphic models available before settling for any processor. Since it might not be easy to interpret the naming system the best thing is to rely on the letters at the end of the numbering system. If it ends with an H, then you know it is a high graphic performance and that that ends with a G has a dedicated GPU.
Important tips to keep in mind
Now that you know a little about both Intel Core Processors and AMD processors, here are a few factors that you might need to consider before settling on any device.
- The clocking speed is more important than the core number of your processor. Generally, it is the clocking speed that determines timely performance when it comes to gaming, more cores only help with time consuming workloads
- Ensure your budget caters for a full system. A strong CPU paired with weak storage and or RAM, will not quite give you the desired effect. Therefore consider having enough money to invest in the whole system for better performance as well as enhancing your gaming experience.
- Consider purchasing latest generation components to get value for your money.
- More expensive devices do not necessary translate to best performance. For example Intel 9900k being highly priced does not offer better performance compared to other models such as the 8700k.
- Consider whether you want to use your device for both play and work. In the event that you want your device for be multi-purpose, the AMD model is likely to give you a better performance with its extra threads and cores that provide a significant improvement in performance.
- Consider the Thermal Design Profile (TDP), which is the highest heat amount that is generated by the chip. This will help you get a cooler that is able to handle the heat. Keep in mind that overclocked CPU’s are able to put out more heat compared to those that are not overclocked.
- Device being used, if you are using a laptop choose a processor that draws less power to promote a longer battery life.
The AMD Ryzen seemingly has more edge over Intel processors. If using a desktop, the Ryzen X is able to match the Core i3K from Intel but is has more efficiency when it comes to power usage and supports a faster memory module. As a gamer you need a processor that is quite fact and efficient to enjoy a smooth gaming experience as well as increase your reaction speeds.
Intel Core i5 (8th generation) vs Ryzen 5
The Ryzen 5 is quite inferior compared to the Intel Core i5 since it does not hold the same level of power efficiency. The Ryzen processor does however give a higher thread count, sometimes a higher clocking speed and larger Cache capacity. While the Ryzen processor supports a faster memory module, it unfortunately can only support a maximum of 64 GB while the intel processor can hold up to 128GB memory.
Intel Core i7 (8th Gen) vs Ryzen 7
In this category, the Intel Core processor does better compared to the Ryzen processor. The latter is quite power hungry and cannot attain the same clocking speeds that the Intel Core chips are capable of attaining. It is important that you note, when it comes to the thread and core count, Intel Core i7 processors scale better compared to the Ryzen counterparts. The core and thread count are very important for a gamer since most graphic intensive games require the additional components to run efficiently.
Intel Core i9 (9th Gen) vs Ryzen Threadripper
For this category the only consideration you would have to make is which between the Ryzen’s higher Cache sizes, thread count and memory capacity and the Intel’s higher clocking speeds. On this one the determining factor can be the power consumption since even the lowest level Threadripper can consume two times the power an Intel Core i9 consumes.