Although the battle between Coffee Lake Refresh and AMD Ryzen 2nd Generation is still raging on, the war between Ryzen 3rd Generation, Ice Lake and Sunny Cove is about to begin. It’s also time for us to dive into the perennial deathmatch: AMD vs Intel. And, right now AMD is on top, selling twice as many processors

Essentially acting as the brain of your computer, the best processors are behind everything your PC does. This is why it’s so important to find the one for your specific needs – you don’t want to pay for features you don’t need. 

If you’ve been following the frantic war of Intel vs AMD as closely as we have over the years, you probably already know that AMD and Intel have traditionally focused on different segments of the CPU market. Where Intel has focused on higher clock speeds and efficiency with low core counts, AMD has focused on upping its core counts and boosting multi-threaded performance.

Still, there’s room for the coexistence of AMD and Intel – they cater to different audiences, with direct competition in the middle. If you’re not quite sure whether to pledge allegiance to either Team Red or Team Blue, continue on to the next slide for a constantly updated look at the AMD vs Intel clash.

Gary Marshall originally contributed to this article

For bargain shoppers on the prowl for the next hottest deal, it used to be assumed that AMD’s processors were cheaper, but that was only because the Red Team did its best work at the entry level.

Now that Ryzen processors have proven AMD’s worth on the high-end, the tide has ostensibly turned. Now Intel reigns supreme in the budget CPU space, with its $64 (about £46, AU$82) MSRP Pentium G4560 offering far better performance than AMD’s $110 (about £80, AU$140) MSRP A12-9800.

Even among mid-range, current-gen chips, Intel is leading the pack by offering 8th-generation Coffee Lake CPUs as low as $117 (about £83, AU$152) for the Core i3-8100T. 

Much of this is due to the Advanced Micro Device company’s reluctance to move beyond simply iterating on its antiquated Bulldozer architecture and onto adopting the current-generation ‘Zen’ standard it’s already introduced with pricier CPUs. 

Still, on the low end, Intel and AMD processors typically retail at about the same price. It’s once you hit that exorbitant $200 (around £142, AU$252) mark where things get trickier. High-end Intel chips now range from 4 up to 18 cores, while AMD chips can now be found with up to 32-cores.

And, thanks to some recent price cuts you can find the AMD Ryzen 5 2400G and the Ryzen 3 2200G for $160 (around £129, AU$208) and $105 (around £84, AU$135), respectively.

While it was long-rumored that AMD’s Ryzen chips would offer cutting-edge performance at a lower price, benchmarks have demonstrated that Intel is remaining strongly competitive.

If you can get your hands on one, the Core i7 9700K is  is $409 (£499, AU$659), while the still more-capable Ryzen 7 2700X is priced at $329 (about £230, AU$420). And, if you’re looking to get your hands on the new hotness, the Intel Core i9-9900K is available for $579 (£599, AU$859.)  

For anyone looking to dip their toes into the realm of the HEDT processors, AMD and Intel are very close right now, especially on the heels of the AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX CPU, at $1,799 (£1,639, AU$2,679). That might seem like a lot, but compared to the $1,999 (£1,649, AU$2,729) Intel Core i9-7980XE, it’s a downright bargain – especially given that AMD’s offering has nearly double the cores. 

If you're building a gaming PC, truthfully you should be using a discrete graphics card, or GPU (graphics processing unit), rather than relying on a CPU’s integrated graphics to run games as demanding as Middle Earth: Shadow of War.

Still, it’s possible to run less graphically intense games on an integrated GPU if your processor has one. In this area, AMD is the clear winner, thanks to the release of the Ryzen 5 2400G that packs powerful discrete Vega graphics that outperforms Intel’s onboard graphic technology by leaps and bounds. 

Yet, as we mentioned before, Intel has officially started shipping its high-end H-series mobile CPU chips with AMD graphics on board. In turn, this means that hardier laptops powered by Intel can now be thinner and their accompanying silicon footprints will be over 50% smaller, according to Intel client computing group vice president Christopher Walker.

All of this is accomplished using Embedded Multi-Die Interconnect Bridge (EMIB) technology, along with a newly contrived framework that enables power sharing between Intel’s first-party processors and third-party graphics chips with dedicated graphics memory. Even so, it’s too early to tell whether this is a better solution than the purebred AMD notebooks slated for the end of this year.

Intel might be aiming to shake things up though as it has announced that it’s planning on releasing a GPU aimed at gamers by 2020. And, if we could see Intel putting some of that effort into improving integrated graphics.

Still, if all you're looking to do is play League of Legends at modest settings or relive your childhood with a hard drive full of emulators (it's okay, we won't tell), the latest Intel Kaby Lake, Coffee Lake or AMD A-Series APU processors for desktops will likely fare just as well as any forthcoming portable graphics solution.

On the high-end, especially in cases where you don’t need to worry about on-board graphics, Intel’s processors are typically on top – its Core i9-9900K handily beats out the workstation-class Ryzen Threadripper 2970WX for less than half the price. 

AMD typically provides better multi-threading performance, as a result of higher core and thread counts. Ryzen CPUs also offer more PCIe lanes, which come in handy if you want multiple NVMe SSDs alongside  SLI and CrossFire multi-GPU performance.

While there is no clear winner in the graphics department, survey says AMD is the better option for integrated graphics, while hardcore gamers who don’t mind shelling out the extra cash for a GPU will find that Intel is better for gaming alone – although with Ryzen 2nd Generation AMD is closing that gap. Meanwhile, AMD is superior for carrying out numerous tasks at once.

If you're building a gaming PC, truthfully you should be using a discrete graphics card, or GPU (graphics processing unit), rather than relying on a CPU’s integrated graphics to run games as demanding as Middle Earth: Shadow of War.

Still, it’s possible to run less graphically intense games on an integrated GPU if your processor has one. In this area, AMD is the clear winner, thanks to the release of the Ryzen 5 2400G that packs powerful discrete Vega graphics that outperforms Intel’s onboard graphic technology by leaps and bounds. AMD has also launched an updated driver for its mobile Ryzen chips, which leads to up to 20% better performance in games like CS:GO and Fortnite.

Yet, as we mentioned before, Intel has officially started shipping its high-end H-series mobile CPU chips with AMD graphics on board. In turn, this means that hardier laptops powered by Intel can now be thinner and their accompanying silicon footprints will be over 50% smaller, according to Intel client computing group vice president Christopher Walker.

All of this is accomplished using Embedded Multi-Die Interconnect Bridge (EMIB) technology, along with a newly contrived framework that enables power sharing between Intel’s first-party processors and third-party graphics chips with dedicated graphics memory. Even so, it’s too early to tell whether this is a better solution than the purebred AMD notebooks.

Still, if all you're looking to do is play League of Legends at modest settings or relive your childhood with a hard drive full of emulators (it's okay, we won't tell), the latest Intel Kaby Lake, Coffee Lake or AMD A-Series APU processors for desktops will likely fare just as well as any forthcoming portable graphics solution.

On the high end, such as in cases where you'll be pairing your CPU with a powerful AMD or Nvidia GPU, Intel’s processors are typically better for gaming due to their higher base and boost clock speeds. At the same time, though, AMD provides better CPUs for multi-tasking as a result of their higher core and thread counts.

While there is no clear winner in the graphics department, survey says AMD is the better option for integrated graphics, especially on mobile with its Ryzen chips for laptops.However, Intel is working on improving its own integrated graphics in 2019, with its Gen11 graphics – we’ll have to see how well they work when they actually ship. 

Hardcore gamers who don’t mind shelling out the extra cash for a GPU will find that Intel is better for gaming alone. Meanwhile, AMD is superior for carrying out numerous tasks at once.

When you buy a new computer or even just a CPU by itself, it's typically locked at a specific clock speed as indicated on the box. Some processors ship unlocked, allowing for higher clock speeds than recommended by the manufacturer, giving users more control over how they use their components (though, it does require you know how to overclock).

AMD is normally more generous than Intel in this regard. With an AMD system, you can expect overclocking capabilities from even the $129 (about £110, AU$172) Ryzen 3 1300X. Meanwhile, you can only overclock an Intel processor if it's graced with the “K” series stamp of approval. Then again, the cheapest of these is the $180 (£160, AU$240) Intel Core i3-8350K.

Both companies will void your warranty if you brick your processor as the result of overclocking, though, so it’s important to watch out for that. Excessive amounts of heat can be generated if you’re not careful, thereby neutralizing the CPU as a result. With that in mind, you’ll be missing out on a few hundred stock megahertz if you skip out on one of the K models.

Intel’s more extravagant K-stamped chips are pretty impressive, too. The i9-9900K, for instance, is capable of maintaining a whopping 5.0GHz turbo frequency in comparison to the 4.3GHz boost frequency of the Ryzen 7 2700X. If you’ve access to liquid nitrogen cooling, you may even be able to reach upwards of 6.1GHz using Intel’s monstrous, 18-core i9-7980XE.  

In the end, the biggest problem with AMD’s desktop processors is the lack of compatibility with other components. Specifically, motherboard (mobo) and cooler options are limited as a result of the differing sockets between AMD and Intel chips.

While a lot of CPU coolers demand that you special order an AM4 bracket to be used with Ryzen, only a handful of the best motherboards are compatible with the AM4 chipset. In that regard, Intel parts are slightly more commonplace and are often accompanied by lower starting costs, too, as a result of the wide variety of kit to choose from.

That said, AMD's chips make a little more sense from a hardware design perspective. With an AMD motherboard, rather than having metal connector pins on the CPU socket, you'll notice those pins are instead on the underside of the CPU itself. In turn, the mobo is less likely to malfunction due to its own faulty pins.

When it comes to availability in the latter half of 2018, it gets complicated. While both Coffee Lake and AMD Ryzen 2nd Generation processors are widely available, Intel is going through supply shortages, and AMD is starting to catch up to Team Blue’s titanic market share. In fact, financial analysts have downgraded Intel’s stock in the face of both 14nm shortages and Cannon Lake’s constant delays, according to a report from CNBC. AMD really has a chance to steal the crown here.

Still, you can pick up processors from both companies today, though Intel chips like the Intel Core i7-8700K might have some increased pricing. AMD APUs like the AMD Ryzen 3 2200G are still great options for anyone on a budget, though.

Future speculation 

It really shouldn’t come as a surprise that AMD had a great year in 2017 with its Ryzen processors – especially the high-end Threadripper processors. And, now that the Ryzen 2nd Generation CPUs have been released, AMD is claiming more and more of Intel’s market share, up to 50% at the time of writing.  And, if AMD keeps putting out processors as good as the Ryzen 5 2600X and the Ryzen 7 2700X, we think this trend will only continue.

As for Intel, it continues to struggle with 10nm production, which has seen its Cannon Lake processors pushed back again and again. We’re not sure when Cannon Lake is going to come out at all as Intel recently announced its 10nm Sunny Cove architecture, which will be behind whatever Ice Lake, Lakefield and a host of other chips we hope Intel will launch in 2019. 

The first of these appears to be Ice Lake, rather than Cannon Lake. Ice Lake will be behind the next generation of Ultrabooks, and will feature built-in Thunderbolt 3, WiFi and Gen11 graphics. Intel is making some promising claims for Ice Lake, like that it will be able to search for images twice as fast as Whiskey Lake. As with all Intel’s on-stage demonstrations, take that with a grain of salt though. 

We’ve also finally seen some evidence of Intel’s graphics cards beyond some vague gesturing. At GDC 2019, Intel showed off renders, giving us a tease of what its first graphics card would look like. Little short graphics cards with a single fan in a blower configuration. It’ll be interesting to see if they can compete with AMD’s higher-end GPUs.

AMD, on the other hand, has announced its Zen 2 microarchitecture, which will be behind the AMD Ryzen 3000 series chips. And, while we don’t know any specifics beyond the nameless 8-core processor it showed off at CES 2019, word on the street is that it’ll appear at Computex 2019. As for what these chips will be capable of, we’ve seen a 12-core, 24-thread chip show up in a leaked UserBenchmark result.