If you’re looking for the best CPUs for Gaming or the best workstation CPU, there are only two choices to pick from – AMD and Intel. That fact has spawned an almost religious following for both camps, and the resulting AMD vs Intel flamewars make it tricky to get unbiased advice about the best choice for your next processor. But in many cases, the answer is actually very clear. In fact, for most users, it’s now a blowout win in Intel’s favor, as you can see in our CPU Benchmarks Hierarchy. That’s a fast reversal of fortunes for the chipmaker after its decade of dominance was completely overturned by AMD’s Ryzen 5000 chips. It also gives Intel a leg up as we head into the Raptor Lake and Zen 4 Ryzen 7000 era.
This article covers the never-ending argument of AMD vs Intel desktop CPUs (we’re not covering laptop or server chips). We judge the chips on seven criteria based on what you plan to do with your PC, pricing, performance, driver support, power consumption, and security, giving us a clear view of the state of the competition. We’ll also discuss the lithographies and architectures that influence the moving goalposts. Overall, there’s a clear winner, but which CPU brand you should buy depends mostly on what kind of features, price, and performance are important to you.
If you’re looking for the fastest overall chips on the market, you should look to Intel’s potent new Alder Lake series. Even though AMD clings to the distinction of having the single fastest gaming chip available, Intel’s Alder Lake chips take the gaming crown from AMD in all of the most important price bands. Alder Lake also rivals or beats AMD in all meaningful performance metrics, like single- and multi-threaded productivity workloads. You can see the disruptive results in our Intel Core i9-12900K and Core i5-12600K review, and we’ve also added both our Windows 10 and 11 testing to our CPU benchmark database. We’ve also thrown in results with both DDR4 and DDR5 memory for good measure.
Intel’s Alder Lake has completely redefined x86 desktop PC chips with a new hybrid architecture that delivers amazing levels of performance. Not to be upstaged, AMD released its Ryzen 7 5800X3D, a new CPU with 3D V-Cache. This chip takes the overall leadership spot for gaming, if only by a slight percentage, courtesy of an almost-unthinkable 96MB of L3 cache bolted onto the souped-up processor.
You can see how all of these processors stack up in our AMD vs Intel CPU Benchmarks Hierarchy, but the landscape had changed in the wake of AMD’s Ryzen 9 5950X and Ryzen 9 5900X, not to mention the Ryzen 5 5600X. At their debut, the Ryzen 5000 series were the highest-performing chips on the market and beat Intel in every metric that matters, including gaming, application performance, power consumption, and thermals, but Intel’s successful Alder Lake counterattack swung the tables in Team Blue’s favor.
AMD recently released six other new Zen 3 chips to shore up its defenses against Alder Lake, but we’ve found that they don’t impact the competitive positioning much. AMD also has its Zen 4 Ryzen 7000 chips coming before the end of September. Intel also has its Raptor Lake chips coming, and they’re expected in October. That means the AMD vs Intel battle could shift very soon, but this is the tale of the tape for the current state of the market.