So you are planning on building a gaming PC to play all the latest and upcoming titles but you haven’t decided which road to go down; Intel or AMD. It is fair to say the CPU make is the most important part of a PC build, once picked it filters the rest of the hardware that you can choose from like motherboard, CPU fan/water cooling.
In the past, Intel have always been the better choice for gamers with their range of Core i3, i5 and i7 chips, with AMD having Athlon, Phenom and FX chips. The range of AMD chips before the release of Ryzen never had that “cool” factor that the Intel Cores have had and with the release of Ryzen in early 2017, AMD seems to of finally managed to capture some of that by focusing on what the gaming community wants.
Price vs Performance
Starting at the top, we will compare the best Ryzen AM4 chip against the best Intel Core on socket 1151. We will not be looking at the Intel 2066 chipset and sockets simply because they are still very new which results in the price of the chips being high and the matching boards being far and few between. Currently the best Intel is the i9-9900K and AMD is Ryzen 2700K which is shown in a bench mark below:
Using userbenchmark.com’s comparison we can see that both chips have the same threads and cores with the Ryzen having a slightly higher clock speed. That being said the i9 does come out on top in the benchmarks with a roughly 20% higher user bench mark rating. Price wise the i9 can be picked up for £599 and the Ryzen for £299, of note is that the Ryzen comes packaged with a branded RGB cooler whereas you will need to fork out for a dedicated cooler for Intel.
With all of this information it is clear to see that AMD offering is far superior in value for money vs performance but if you are looking for that extra 15-20% performance you will have to fork over a pretty penny by going down the Intel route.
Socket AM4 is the latest one available for AMD with it being planned to be their dedicated socket till at least 2020 before another socket takes the spotlight. On the Intel side, currently the 1151 socket seems to be their main focus with a flurry of refreshed chips currently being released but the latest socket is 2066 which debuted in 2017, unfortunately the motherboards for this socket at the moment are expensive.
Obviously with a new build you will want to go with the latest socket but as an investment it is always prudent to think years down the line where your current processor is lagging behind the competition and needs a refresh. If you were to invest in a brand new board and chip but the chip is the last that will be made for that socket because the focus has shifted onto another newer socket, you have essentially made it more expensive for yourself to simply upgrade the chip to a later version down the road.
With AMD and AM4, there will undoubtedly be newer and faster chips released for years to come, meaning upgrading now will give you the opportunity to swap a chip in 3-4 years time without the need to swap board.
With Intel’s 1151 socket, there is only a small amount of time left in chip development because of the 2066 socket with released in 2017. It is hard to tell when the socket will stop being developed for but 1-2 years is a good guess which does still give a good amount of time for newer chips to be developed. If you are thinking of doing a socket 1151 build, it is better to do it sooner later.
The Intel socket 2066 was released about 6 months after the AM4 socket which would mean they have roughly the same lifespan. The only issue with socket 2066 is the adoption has been extremely slow and prices are still extremely high for the boards as they are seen as a premium.
Whatever you decide it is always worth thinking ahead, as a gaming PC is essentially an investment, especially seeing as they can go into the thousands for a super high end one.
One thing that people seem to miss when building their PC is integrated graphics on the chip. This doesn’t usually come into play with gaming PCs as a gaming PC by nature will have a dedicated graphics card to handle the latest games but if the chip has graphics you have the possibility to use the video connections on the motherboard either for diagnostics or to power secondary monitors.
As of time of writing, there are only a few chips from Ryzen that have graphics built-in, these are Ryzen chips with Radeon Vega graphics. In contrast all of Intel’s chips have their own proprietary graphics as standard. Integrated graphics are nowhere near as good as dedicated GPUs but if all you want is to play games on lower to mid graphics or dont need gaming capabilities at all they will do the job for sure, and seeing as they are built in there is no need to fork our for expensive graphics card which can run up to £1000 with the release of the new RTX series from Nvidia.
It is a hard to compare one brand to another especially at the moment when they are so closely matched in technical terms; each has their own advantages and disadvantages. Clearly the Intel chips have an advantage in performance but also cost a significant amount more, AMD Ryzen chips are cheaper and also are on the latest AMD socket which future proofs your investment.
Either way the decision is yours and it is mainly down to personal preference. Hopefully this article has helped you pick the processor make you are going with or at least narrowed down the choice.