The launch of AMD’s Ryzen 5000 CPUs (5950X, 5900X, 5800X, and 5600X) brought AMD to the top of the market.
The AMD processors seem to completely outperform their direct competitors in every imaginable task.
In order to assess which is the best choice for a PC build this year, I feel it prudent to evaluate the products provided by these two companies.
We need to answer this hotly debated question – which processor will dominate in 2021? or Intel or AMD Ryzen Processors in 2021?
Intel vs. Ryzen: Recommendations for 2021
With prices still high, and availability problematic, I can’t continue to recommend the 3rd Generation Ryzen processors and the 9th Generation Intel processors when more affordable, faster alternatives are available in some regions.
For those looking for a quick recommendation, here it is:
|Category/Task||No-Compromise Performance||CG Director Best Value||Budget Recommendation|
|Video Editing / Encoding||AMD Threadripper 3970X||AMD Ryzen 9 5900X||AMD Ryzen 5 3600|
|Viewport Performance||AMD Ryzen 9 5950X||AMD Ryzen 5 5600X||AMD Ryzen 5 3600|
|(CPU) Rendering||AMD Threadripper 3990X||AMD Ryzen 9 5950X||AMD Ryzen 5 3600|
|General Productivity||AMD Ryzen 9 5950X||AMD Ryzen 5 5600X||Intel Core i3 10100|
Please take care not to overpay for these products. Read detailed reviews of AMD’s Ryzen 5000 Series CPU, Intel’s HEDT lineup, and Intel’s Xeon processors.
The Ryzen 3000 processors enjoyed a slight but noticeable performance lead in comparison until Ryzen 5000 launched. Not anymore. AMD is now the clear choice for the smoothest viewport performance (for the first time in over a decade).
AMD vs. Intel: A quick history recap
If you’re wondering how we came to these conclusions, keep reading!
The rivalry between AMD and Intel has been going on for nearly half a century now; the rivalry does not appear to be going away any time soon either.
Intel has dominated the CPU market for the past decade, but AMD lagged behind until Ryzen was released in 2017.
With a vast performance difference between Intel and AMD processors, Intel is always the obvious choice for any use case.
If you are building a gaming PC, a workstation, or even an office PC, Intel is the apparent choice. After AMD released its Ryzen 5000 CPUs (5950X, 5900X, 5800X, and 5600X), AMD tore through the competition.
AMD processors are able to surpass their direct competitors in nearly every task imaginable.
This year, I believe it prudent to compare the products provided by these two companies to assess which is the best choice for a PC build.
Intel IPC advantage and AMD Bulldozer
The performance gap can be attributed to the fact that both companies adopted radically different architecture approaches in its CPUs released in 2010 and 2011.
AMD focused on parallelism, whereas Intel focused on IPC improvements. One approach provided processors with fewer, but extremely powerful cores, while the other equipped CPUs with more, albeit far weaker cores.
What is IPC?
IPC is the number of instructions a processor can carry out in a single clock cycle. What does that mean?
So here’s a simple way to see how this works.
Over the past decade, processors have been touching 3 GHz. However, if we directly compare the performance of a modern processor compared to an older one at the same clock rate, we notice the modern processor is much faster.
How? The International Personal Computer.
Newer processors can perform more instructions than older processors did in a single clock cycle.
Since it increases efficiency by a considerable margin, IPC improvement is considered the best kind of improvement in CPUs.
Bulldozer: Plagued by Low IPC
The Bulldozer CPU lineup (the FX series) was launched in 2011 by AMD, and it was a total mess.
Some of the newly launched products are even slower than their older counterparts.
However, it was not until a few months later that Bulldozer (FX 4000 series) was launched, that it could compete with Intel’s amazing Sandy Bridge processors.
As a result, Intel gained a large share of the market.
A similar scenario played out over the following years, with both companies continuing to refine their processors.
As a result – Intel was declared the king of single-threaded workloads and multi-threaded workloads.
Despite the engineering brilliance Intel demonstrated in 2011, it was destined to lose its lead to AMD sooner or later.
This is an outstanding achievement.
1st Generation AMD Ryzen vs. 7th Generation Intel
At the beginning of AMD’s launch of Ryzen, a lot of people were skeptical. Even I was, to be perfectly honest.
Because AMD had previously promised us the moon and we ended up with Bulldozer – an 8-core wreck that couldn’t support heavy multi-threaded workloads even with a 4-core CPU from Intel.
And then there are the operating temperatures that spawned the ‘heater’ memes.
AMD’s Ryzen launched unexpectedly with a 52% improvement in IPC over the Bulldozer core – positions it pretty close to the Intel 7th Generation processors.
More than anything else, this uplift was a manifestation of how far behind Bulldozer was.
Nevertheless, AMD managed to catch up.
This benchmark measures Premiere Pro’s Warp Stabilizer effect, which is popularly used to reduce shake/jitter in video footage.
With the Zen microarchitecture, core complexes were connected via the Infinity Fabric. This made it easier and cheaper to add cores without giving up performance or causing too much latency.
Therefore AMD’s offering had the same price as the Intel part, but with 8-cores and 16-threads.
With the combination of great clock speeds and incredible IPC, Ryzen took top honors in multi-threaded workloads easily.
Due to AMD’s aggressive pricing, AMD’s 8-core powerhouse went up against Intel’s 4-core offering. This did not shock anyone.
Intel had refined the architecture and clock speeds of their CPU for years, maintaining a lead in both clock speed and IPC – making it the best choice for either single-threaded or multi-threaded workloads.
Being the top dog in the market for almost a decade does have its advantages. This was confirmed in benchmarks because applications were optimized to run on Intel processors.
Gaming and Viewport performance, even for some production workloads, left Intel a clear winner because Intel had a snappier single-core performance.
Intel vs AMD Ryzen in 2021
Intel Core CPUs still hold the top spot when it comes to snappiness within a viewport, but AMD’s work on IPC has allowed Ryzen processors to surpass them. In our review of Ryzen 5000 parts, we noticed a noticeable improvement in fluidity.
Benchmarks: Intel vs AMD Ryzen
Therefore, I have compiled a list of benchmarks that should help many people, regardless of their purpose, make an informed choice.
The charts below cover video editing, encryption/decryption, rendering, and other applications – with CPU recommendations for these tasks listed at the bottom of the charts.
AMD Ryzen vs. Intel Core CPUs: Performance in Viewport
You see, it is all red. A glance at the viewport benchmark number should tell you the story. If you want to be able to use the viewport as fluidly as possible, you’ll need a Ryzen 5000 processor.
|CPU Name||Cores||Base(Ghz)||Turbo(Ghz)||C4D Version||View Point Score|
|AMD Reyzen 9 5950X||16||3.4||4.9||R21||1382|
|AMD Reyzen 9 5900X||12||3.7||4.8||R21||1378|
|AMD Reyzen 5 5600X||6||3.7||4.6||R21||1373|
|AMD Reyzen 7 5800X||8||3.8||4.7||R21||1353|
|AMD Reyzen 9 5950X||16||3.4||4.9||R20||1286|
|AMD Reyzen 9 5900X||12||3.7||4.8||R23||1280|
|AMD Reyzen 9 5900X||12||3.7||4.8||R20||1277|
|Intel i9 10900K||10||3.7||5.3||R20||1153|
|Intel i9 9900K||8||3.6||5.0||R21||1125|
|AMD Reyzen 7 3700X||8||3.6||4.4||R21||1113|
|Intel i9 9900K||8||4.7OC||4.7OC||R21||1088|
|AMD Reyzen 7 3800X||8||3.9||4.5||R20||1064|
Just remember that this does not suddenly mean that systems based on previous generations of Intel are bad. There’s no reason to upgrade right now. It’ll be a waste of money.
Here is the full list of Viewport benchmarks.
Performance Recommendations for Viewports
- No-Compromise Recommendation:
- Best Value Recommendation:
- Budget Recommendation
AMD Ryzen vs. Intel Core: Cinebench R23
In terms of multi-threaded performance, the new Ryzen parts don’t excite me as much as Intel’s 10th generation. However, the 5950X also outperforms AMD’s second-generation high-end desktop processor — Threadripper 2990WX.
I recommend buying a Ryzen 9 5950X if you do not require access to HEDT features like quad-channel memory, multiple PCI-E lanes, etc.
In spite of an overclock, AMD’s newest processors are still faster than Intel’s latest processors.
That said, we’re all about stability and don’t recommend overclocking generally for professional workloads.
|CPU Name||Cores||Ghz||Single Score||Multi Score|
|AMD Threadripper 3990X||64||2.9||1262||75671|
|AMD Epyc 7702P||64||2,0||993||48959|
|AMD Threadripper 3970X||32||3.7||1308||46874|
|AMD Threadripper 3960X||24||3.8||1307||34932|
|AMD Threadripper 2990WX||32||3.0||1005||29651|
|AMD Ryzen 9 5950X||16||3.4||1684||28782|
|Intel i9 9980XE||18||3.0||1114||27093|
|AMD Ryzen 9 3950X||16||3.5||1406||26375|
|Intel i9 10980XE||18||3.0||1063||25490|
|AMD Ryzen 9 5900X||12||3.7||1670||22046|
|AMD Threadripper 1950X||16||3.4||1027||19635|
|AMD Threadripper 2950X||16||3.5||1135||18797|
|AMD Ryzen 9 3900X||12||3.8||1312||18682|
|Intel i9 10900K||10||3.7||1415||18034|
The full table can be found here.
AMD Ryzen vs. Intel for Video Editing and Encoding
Previously, AMD had been great for video production and was able to compete against Intel’s offerings. With the launch of AMD’s Ryzen 5000 chip, AMD has taken the first position even on the mainstream AM4 platform.
AMD’s new processors clearly outperform Intel’s top-tier Core i9 10900K, which has 12 cores and edges out even AMD’s 8-core Ryzen 7 5800X by a small margin.
New AMD processors are obviously better than Intel’s counterparts, with the Ryzen 9 5900X in comparison almost being as good as its top-tier competitor Intel’s Core i9 10900K. It is no wonder AMD’s 8-core Ryzen 7 5800X edged out Intel’s 10-core Core i9 10900K by mere milliseconds. Oh, what a turntable.
Recommendations for Video Editing and Media Encoding
- Best Value:
- Budget Recommendation:
Formerly, Intel held the lead on several video encoding tasks. Now, except for QuickSync Acceleration tasks, AMD Ryzen 5000 parts are leading Intel.
Intel vs AMD Ryzen in Microsoft Office 2019 (Excel and Word)
AMD’s offerings now dominate all office and productivity charts, even after years of lagged behind Intel. The AMD Ryzen 5000 processors are faster than Intel’s top-tier Core i9-10900K and are cheaper than AMD’s Ryzen 5 5600X.
Recommendations for Microsoft Office
- No-Compromise Recommendation:
- Best Value Recommendation:
- Budget Recommendation:
Because of AMD’s insane stock issues, there aren’t a whole lot of alternatives available under the $100 price point. The Intel Core i3 10100 processor has four cores and eight threads. It is an excellent choice for an office PC.
It’s definitely worth the uptime to get a Ryzen 5 3600 / Core i5 10400F if your budget allows.
AMD Ryzen vs Intel for CPU & GPU Rendering
With the use of V-ray NEXT for renders, AMD’s Threadripper processors still continue to dominate. However, AMD’s Ryzen 9 5950X beats Intel’s most powerful HEDT offering, the Core i9 10980XE!
For some render engines, such as Blender’s Cycles, CPU-only rendering tests are meaningless. Despite the fact that GPU+CPU hybrid rendering tests are often unauthorized, you still can get some idea of what performance you may get from your processor. That said, we still highly recommend a mid-range graphics card for the best experience.
Recommendations For Rendering Performance
- No-Compromise Performance Recommendation:
- Value Recommendation:
- Budget Recommendation:
Any CPU rendering workstation like a render node should go with an AMD offering. I cannot see a reason to use an Intel CPU renderer.
You can decide to wait for a Threadripper build now if you don’t need it right now. The parts in Threadripper 5000 are sure to be amazing, but availability might be a problem.
Need a benchmark that I didn’t identify? Please make sure to comment below and let me know.
AMD Ryzen vs. Intel: Price and Platforms
When building a workstation, it’s important to consider price, platform support, and upgradability.
Is Intel more ‘Future-Proof’ than Ryzen when it comes to upgradability?
Now in 2021: AMD has only promised support for the AM4 socket through 2020. They can deviate from the platform and use a newer platform for their next release.
Despite the fact that the upcoming Intel 11th generation processor will work with Intel’s Z490 platform, the product itself does not seem to be exciting for professional use. It suggests Intel is looking to raise game performance while sacrificing a core or two on the upper end.
If you’re going for an Intel processor, get a Z490 motherboard so you can overclock your DDR4 memory. For AMD Ryzen processors, an X570 or B550 motherboard should work. Pick based on your preferences, features, and looks.
Should you buy AMD Ryzen or Intel in 2021?
Workstation PCs based on Ryzen are the best choice for anyone not working with Adobe Premiere Pro in 2019.
I anticipate Ryzen to catch up with the high-end Ryzen 9 3950X – coming out in September 2019 – even with Adobe Premiere Pro. Of course, Intel may still be better for some niche use cases.
Be sure to consult chart benchmarks pertinent to your workload before making a decision.
On most workstation tasks, AMD is ahead and has made significant gains in areas where it had been lagging earlier.
Further, users building PCs on the AM4 platform can also upgrade to the 16-core Ryzen processor due out soon, and also the Zen 3 CPUs due out sometime next year, all without changing their motherboard!”
These are the words I used around two years ago.
It is clear that AMD’s Ryzen 5000 processors will destroy Intel’s offerings at most price points in 2021, making Intel unrecommended.
Despite this, at the very bottom of the product stack, Intel remains competitive with an Intel Core i5 10400F and an Intel Core i3 10100. AMD Ryzen 5 3600 still remains a fantastic choice but is now significantly less expensive than it was before.