Intel vs AMD

Intel vs AMD

My take on Intel vs AMD in 2017

(a PC gamers perspective)

AMD v Intel, the eternal question of the PC gaming community. The endless civil war that has raged for over a decade, or at least since PC gaming became popular and widely accessible.

It’s a debate that has produced die hard fanboys and bloodthirsty zealots on both sides of the microprocessor battlefield. Nothing makes me laugh more than reading through Intel/AMD comment or forum threads. Some of the comments are outrageous and borderline psycho.

Rather than make an attempt to answer this question I am just going to give my personal view-point on this and how I see the processor market in 2017.


What side am I on

In regards to what side I’m on the answer is none. Intel and AMD are just corporations whose objective is to take our money and make profits. They are not our friends and they are not there to do what is best for us as the consumer. They do what they need to do to make money!

I believe that the best, as subjective as that is, product should “win” so I don’t like supporting companies that use shady practices to get ahead. With that being said don’t ever believe that if the roles were reversed in the microprocessor world that AMD would be any different to Intel and vise versa. Companies are companies and will do what they need to do to make their money. I do have to admit I have a natural inclination to support the underdog but not at the expense of fulfilling my requirements. Right now AMD is the underdog, if tomorrow the roles were reversed I would support Intel.

To round off my personal position on Intel/AMD I have owned both Intel and AMD systems. My first PC in 1999 was Intel, which remained Intel through the various upgrades over the years. I then went AMD in 2007, although I have to admit I really do regret buying the FX-6300 when I upgraded. As a consumer we should buy what makes economic sense. Whatever processor and platform fulfills my use case at an acceptable price. These are the type of questions I ask myself when it comes to buying a CPU:

Question: What do I do on my PC?
. Gaming and general internet use
Question: What games do I play?
. Primarily Command & Conquer and other RTS games
Question:. What monitor do I have?
. 75hz 1080p monitor
Question: What graphics card do I have?
. R9 290
Question: What graphics preset and frame rate am I happy with?
. High @ 60 FPS
Question: Looking at the benchmarks on reputable sites, what processor and platform meets my requirements?
. The processor and platform that fulfills my requirements at the best price

So whichever brand of processor meets the above requirements is who gets my money. I won’t buy products that can not perform the tasks I want out of loyalty or bias.


My opinion on AMD/Intel in 2017

Up until March 2017 Intel had an iron grip on the PC industry. For the last decade they had the better performance, better technology and most importantly the brand. Intel had the mind share and the brand recognition. In stark contrast AMD had worse performance, worse technology and a poor brand. You could argue that since the Thuban (Phenom series) architecture they have struggled to stay afloat as a company.

For most of you reading this post I doubt I need to go into depth on the history, scandal, success and failure of the respective companies, but for those of you who may not know there are plenty of youtube videos and articles all over the internet. I will cover three aspects Performance, Pricing and Competition.

Performance:

In 2017, March specifically, the landscape was changed. The launch of AMD Ryzen finally saw a return to competition. Consumers now had a real choice to make that was not based on bias. The gap in performance between Intel and AMD is now at a place where for the average PC gamer either an Intel or AMD CPU is fine, and before the fanboys and trolls get ready to tear me apart I’m not referring to enthusiasts or tech heads. I am talking about the average PC gamer who is not an enthusiast and not clued up on hardware.

For your average gamer who probably has a 75hz 1080p monitor and a GTX 1060 (or equivalent) getting a Core i5 or Ryzen 5 processor will make no real world difference to their gaming experience. This is only my opinion, but a difference of 2-8 frames per second between the two is not going to make a difference to the gaming experience. Most games on GTX 1060 can run high details @ 60fps whether you have a Core i5 or Ryzen 5.

In most cases the limiting factor in PC gaming now is the GPU and monitor you are using. Unless you are rocking a 100hz+ monitor and a GTX 1070 or higher an AMD CPU is a perfectly suitable option. If you are rocking the aforementioned hardware then chances are you are not the average PC gamer.

To put it simply if you want the best possible performance, and you are using hardware capable of delivering a top tier gaming experience then you should be buying the best and fastest Intel CPU. Let’s not be silly, Intel still has performance crown when it comes to high end gaming. If you are a normal PC gamer with more modest hardware then realistically getting any processor from either Intel or AMD is a viable option. Just be smart and buy the best CPU and platform at a reasonable price. As long as you are getting the performance you need does it matter what company you buy?

Pricing:

AMD Ryzen was close enough in performance to Intel for Intel to have to do something. They had to drop prices of existing products to stay competitive, which is good for all of us. When one company has a near monopoly in an industry they have no need to price competitively as they have no competition. Whilst AMD were stuck on the Bulldozer architecture Intel had no competition at any price point. Therefore they charged a premium as there was no viable alternative. With Ryzen, AMD closed the performance delta enough to become a viable alternative to Intel. This stopped Intel being able to charge as much of a premium as consumers finally had a choice without out sacrificing much performance. Like I said above for your average PC gamer the difference between an Intel or AMD CPU is little to none. Looking back at 2017 there are some great CPU deals on both the Intel and AMD side, so it’s a great time for new builds or upgrades.

Competition:

The CPU industry in 2017 has well and truly been shaken up! I can’t remember a time in recent memory where there has been so much focus on CPU performance, core counts and development road maps. We have had AMD Ryzen, Intel Coffee lake, Threadripper and Intel core i9  and extreme editions all battling it out to claim supremacy in some aspect of PC performance. I don’t remember a time where gamers have had such a wide range of, in my opinion, great products to choose from.

The return to relevance of AMD has been great for the CPU industry, that can’t be understated. It was quite clear that the Zen architecture caught Intel off guard. Coffee lake and the Core i9 series of processors were launched as a direct response to Ryzen and Threadripper. Which is the beauty of competition. When companies are forced to offer the best they have to ensure they extract the most money then can from consumers, the consumer wins.

Conclusion

This may not sit well with AMD fans, but the reality is Intel are still the dominant force in the CPU industry. From a gaming perspective an Intel CPU in most cases is the better processor at any given price point, albeit to a much lesser extent than before. What AMD has done this year is finally provide a real alternative to Intel. They have offered 85-90% the performance of an Intel CPU at a very competitive price, not only for the CPU itself but the platform too. As mentioned previously, if you have a 75hz refresh rate 1080p screen does it matter if an Intel CPU gets you 85fps and an AMD CPU gets you 79fps? For me the answer is NO, I will just get the best value for money CPU, but I can’t speak for everyone.

At the end of the day whatever your opinion, whatever side you support we are all the real winners here. CPU prices are lower, CPU performance is higher, and both companies are in the process of delivering better performance (and hopefully price competition) in 2018. My hope is that AMD can stay competitive for the long haul and balance the overwhelming power Intel has in the CPU industry. Why? So that I can continue to enjoy being a PC gamer without either feeling ripped off buying Intel or disappointed buying AMD. I look forward to better performing and better value CPUs from both companies. The more Intel and AMD are competitive the more they push CPU technology forward. This in turn enables better software, better PC hardware and best of all better GAMES in the future.

I know this was very much an “on the fence” perspective but like I said at the beginning these are corporations, not my friends. I’m not emotionally invested. I just want the best quality for a fair price regardless of who makes it.


Leave me a comment on your thoughts, different perspectives are always a great thing!

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