Intel recently unveiled its 10th-generation Core S desktop processors – headlined by the Core i9-10900K – which it called the fastest gaming processor in the world.
Meanwhile, AMD’s Ryzen 3000 series has proved to be a major success for the manufacturer, with high core and thread counts across the range making for powerful multi-threaded performance.
Intel is no longer as untouchable as in previous years, with AMD’s increase in hardware performance and aggressive pricing spurring its sales.
A report by Mercury Research indicated it had grown its share of the desktop CPU market to 18% by, a notable increase of 5% year-over-year.
This gain could have been more substantial had the company not encountered supply issues.
The increased competition is good news for customers, as aggressive price-setting becomes a major consideration for the manufacturers in getting a competitive edge.
This is made evident by the fact that Intel was forced to cut the prices of several of its processors on various occasions in 2019 in order to remain competitive.
With its Ryzen chips, AMD was able to achieve significant gains in performance over its previous products.
This has improved with every new Ryzen generation, and it is now common for AMD’s chips to outperform their Intel rivals in terms of multi-core performance.
Dishing out cores
One of the reasons Ryzen processors are remarkable is the sheer number of physical cores and threads they boast.
While Intel’s top-of-the-line mainstream desktop Core i7 processors from 2017 had four cores and eight threads, AMD’s Ryzen 7 1800X boasted eight cores and sixteen threads.
This trend continued with the 2nd-gen Ryzen 2700X against Intel’s top 8th-gen Core i7 processors.
AMD then pushed even harder with its latest desktop processor range launched in July 2019. At the time, the top-end 3000 series CPU was the Ryzen 9 3900X.
It came with 12 cores and 24 threads, 50% more than all of Intel’s 9th-gen Core i9 desktop processors.
On the server processor front, things are also looking up for AMD.
AMD’s current top-of-the-line Ryzen Threadripper 3990X processor boasts an incredible 64 cores and 128 threads, more than double that of Intel’s Xeon W-3175X.
Comparing the processors
The Intel Core i9-10900K boasts an impressive 5.3GHz rated boost clock speed, which should translate into excellent gaming and overclocking performance.
Although benchmarks have shown it is unable to match the Ryzen 9 3950X’s multi-core performance, it should be noted the i9-10900k comes at a price of $488, substantially less than the 3950X’s $749.
In a value-for-money comparison, it would, therefore, be fairer to compare the 10900K with AMD’s Ryzen 9 3900X, which has a suggested retail price of $499.
Using this price as the starting point, we’ve compared these two top processors, as well as a selection of AMD’s 3000 series and Intel’s 10th-gen mainstream desktop processors to see which manufacturer offers the best value-for-money CPUs.
This left us with a total of five processors each from both companies, shown in the table below.
|CPU||Cores/Threads||Base/Boost Clock||L 3Cache||TDP||Price|
|AMD Ryzen 9 3900X||12/24||3.8GHz / 4.6GHz||64MB||105W||$499|
|Intel Core i9-10900K||10/20||3.7GHz / 5.3GHz||20MB||125W||$488|
|AMD Ryzen 7 3800X||8/16||3.9GHZ / 4.5GHZ||32MB||105W||$399|
|Intel Core i7-10700K||8/16||3.8GHz / 5.1GHz||16MB||125W||$374|
|AMD Ryzen 5 3600X||6/12||3.8GHz / 4.4GHz||32MB||95W||$249|
|Intel Core i5-10600KF||6/12||3.1GHz / 4.5GHz||12MB||125W||$237|
|AMD Ryzen 5 3600||6/12||3.6GHZ / 4.2GHz||32MB||65W||$199|
|Intel Core i5-10500||6/12||4.1GHz / 4.8GHz||12MB||65W||$192|
|AMD Ryzen 3 3300X||4/8||3.8GHz / 4.3GHz||32MB||65W||$120|
|Intel Core i3-10100||4/8||3.6GHz / 4.3GHz||12MB||65W||$122|
For applications that are only capable of using a single core, Intel’s processors generally perform better due to their higher clock speeds. Due to their higher boost clock speeds, they also boast better overclocking capabilities.
AMD’s higher core and thread count means it enjoys an advantage in multi-threaded applications like video editing and 3D design programs or multi-tasking.
In general, these are the benefits of each manufacturer’s products:
|Higher core and thread count||Higher clock speeds|
|7nm architecture||Higher single-threaded performance|
|Larger cache||Better overclocking support|
|Lower power consumption and cooler running temperature||Good memory support|
When comparing the processors based on similar prices, AMD’s big advantage – a higher core and thread count – becomes less relevant.
Whereas the 9th-gen Intel processors typically sport fewer cores and threads than their similarly priced AMD rivals, most of the 10th-gen processors now feature the same number of cores and threads.
The only exception is between the Ryzen 9 3900X and Core i9-10900K, where the former has two more cores and four more threads.
When it comes to base clock speeds, four out of the five AMD processors boast the faster base clock speed.
This is reversed when it comes to boost clock speeds, with Intel’s processors offering higher boost clock speeds for four of the five processors.
At the higher-end, AMD enjoys an advantage in terms of lower thermal design power.
For example, the Ryzen 9 3900X and Ryzen 9 3800X have TDPs of 105W, whereas the Core i9-10900K and Core i7-10700K are rated at 125W.
Motherboard compatibility and coolers
There are several other factors which may influence the total cost of the processor, especially if you are working off a strict budget.
AMD’s current processors are supported on AM4 sockets, which means motherboards capable of holding a Ryzen 1000 or 2000 series are still able to support a 3000-series processor.
This means that an upgrade from one generation of a Ryzen CPU to the next would not require you to upgrade your motherboard.
This is set to change for AMD’s upcoming Ryzen 4000 series, however.