AMD vs Intel: Which Processor Is Best for You?

Learn the difference between AMD Ryzen and Intel

It stands to reason that choosing or building the best PC to meet your computing needs means picking the right processor that can handle your most important computing tasks, whether it's gaming, video editing, or everyday productivity. In this comparison guide, we'll be taking a deeper look at two of the most popular processor brands today: Intel and AMD Ryzen.

AMD Ryzen vs. Intel: Overall Findings

AMD Ryzen
  • Offers great integrated graphics.

  • Better value for everyday productivity and casual entertainment.

  • Generally costs less.

  • May need a separate graphics card or video card.

  • Generally costs more, but is more powerful and has faster speeds.

  • Can handle more labor intensive tasks, like demanding games or video editing.

When comparing AMD Ryzen and Intel processors, it's important to keep in mind it's not really a question of which one is the best. They're both great processors in their own right, and generally speaking, PCs that use either one tend to perform well.

Close up of person holding an Intel Core i9 processor with the tips of their fingers.
Christian Wiediger/Unsplash

But if you have specific computing needs in mind or if you plan on using your PC mostly for one specific task, then there are real differences in performance between AMD Ryzen processors and Intel processors. Intel tends to shine in more labor-intensive tasks such as video editing and gaming, but AMD Ryzen processors tend to be a better value when it comes to graphics and for those who plan to mostly use their PCs for productivity tasks and not much else.

Best for Gaming: Intel Processors

AMD Ryzen
  • A bit slower than Intel during gameplay.

  • Its best gaming processor offers 12 cores and 24 threads.

  • Can also handle other non-gaming tasks, and is faster at video editing than Intel.

  • Incredibly fast. Speeds can be boosted up to 5.0GHz in its best processor.

  • The Intel Core i9-9900K offers 8 cores and 16 threads.

  • Can multitask with other non-gaming tasks like video editing.

When we put together our list of the best gaming processors, it was clear that we had to give Intel's Core i9-9900K processor the top spot as "Best Overall." And that was because in addition to being "the fastest mainstream CPU available today" it features an 8-core, 16-thread setup that's conducive to multitasking if you plan on playing games and doing other tasks like video editing or streaming. Not to mention Intel's best gaming processor also has a base clock speed of 3.6GHz and 5.0GHz turbo unlocked speeds.

While Intel is the best for gaming, AMD Ryzen did come in at a close second with its best offering, the AMD Ryzen 9 3900X. This processor offers more cores and threads than the Intel Core i9-9900K (12 and 24 respectively), but it's still slightly slower than Intel during gameplay. That said, like the Intel processor, it can handle other non-gaming tasks like video editing. AMD Ryzen is actually 25 percent faster in video editing than Intel and 8 percent slower in gaming.

Best for (Integrated) Graphics: AMD Ryzen Processors

AMD Ryzen
  • Comparable graphics to Intel gaming processors. Can still handle most games.

  • Has its own integrated graphics. Doesn't require separate video card or GPU.

  • Its best processor has 11 graphics processing cores.

  • More expensive upfront with high-end Intel processors and separate GPUs.

  • Faster speeds during gameplay.

  • Can handle more demanding games than AMD Ryzen with a GPU.

Generally speaking, when it comes to gaming, Intel is still the clear winner. But if you're just looking at the graphics aspect of PC gaming, AMD has the victory here due to its integrated graphics.

High-end Intel gaming processors, as great as they are, will still have you spending extra money on a separate video card, GPU, or discrete graphics card in order to support more demanding games. And while those high-end Intel processors usually perform better than AMD when combined with a GPU or video card, as TechRadar notes, AMD's more recent processors with integrated graphics are "closing that gap."

And a great example is the AMD Ryzen 5 3400G. This processor is said to be able to handle the most popular games without a separate video card. This isn't surprising, considering it has 11 graphics processing cores.

Best for Video Editing: Intel

AMD Ryzen
  • AMD Ryzen's best video editing processor has 16 cores and 32 threads.

  • Only has 4.4 GHz max speed.

  • Seems primarily only best for video editing.

  • Intel's best processor for video editing has 8 cores and 16 threads.

  • Max speed is 4.5 GHz.

  • Can also handle web browsing and other productivity tasks.

Our top pick for video editing is an Intel processor, specifically the Intel Core i7-7820X. And while it doesn't have as many cores and threads as AMD's pricier Ryzen Threadripper 2950X, when considering other factors such as price and base clock speed, and the ability to handle other non-video editing tasks, it was clear that Intel won this one, even if by only a slim margin.

Intel is cheaper (hence the smaller number of cores and threads), but it has a slightly faster base clock speed and can max out at 4.5 GHz, during 4K video editing. AMD Ryzen's Threadripper only maxes out at 4.4 GHz.

And when it comes to handling other tasks besides video editing, Intel wins there because it can also handle browsing and other productivity tasks. AMD Ryzen's Threadripper seems to only be best for video editing and content creation.

Best for Productivity: AMD Ryzen

AMD Ryzen
  • Still provides decent performance and speed at lower prices than Intel.

  • Best for students, casual gamers, and those on a budget.

  • Best budget AMD Ryzen processor still offers 6 cores and 12 threads.

  • Generally costs more than AMD Ryzen processors.

  • Usually more powerful and can handle more intense tasks.

  • Has blazing fast clock speeds.

You might not be a gamer or a filmmaker. Sometimes you're just looking for a PC that just helps you with getting your homework done, stream your favorite shows, and do some web browsing. And to be honest, you can get all of that done with either an AMD Ryzen processor or an Intel one.

Both brands are perfectly capable of providing a great casual gaming and productivity-heavy experience, but AMD Ryzen might be the better deal if your main usage goals are casual entertainment and productivity.

According to laptop manufacturer Lenovo (who uses both brands of processors in its own computers), AMD Ryzen is more "cost-effective" and may be more appropriate for "students, budget gamers, and individuals with straight-forward computing needs." This is because you'll still get the performance and speed you need for your tasks and you'll end up spending less on a PC than if you purchased one with an Intel processor.

A great example of a cost-effective AMD Ryzen processor is the AMD Ryzen 5 2600X. This processor is less than $150 and provides a base clock speed of 3.6 GHz, 6 cores, and 12 threads.

Final Verdict: Both Are Great, So It Depends on Your Needs

Both Intel and AMD Ryzen are formidable competitors when it comes to their processors. And, depending on your specific needs, it's possible to find a model of either processor that will work great for any of these categories.

But if we have to choose a brand that wins each category, then the winners are clear. For tasks that require quite a bit of heavy lifting, you can't beat Intel's processors. They tend to be more expensive, but worth it in the long run, if you're a hardcore gamer or you edit videos on the regular.

However, if you need a more cost-effective way to get great graphics or you're a student on a budget, look no further than AMD Ryzen. With AMD's ever-evolving integrated graphics, you just might get close to the graphical quality of a high-end Intel processor and its separate GPU or video card. Plus, AMD provides the performance you need for casual gaming, streaming, and productivity at a much more affordable price.

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