AMD vs Intel in 2020 – CPU pricing comparison

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

Typical advantages

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:

AMD Intel
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
Included coolers

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.


Now read: AMD reveals Radeon Pro VII graphics card

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AMD vs Intel in 2020 – CPU pricing comparison