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. 

Anyone who has followed the frantic battle of Intel vs AMD will probably already know that AMD and Intel have traditionally existed in different lanes. Where Intel has focused on higher clock speeds and efficiency, AMD is all about high 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 and Michelle Rae Uy have also 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 Team Red 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. The $99 (£89, AU$139) AMD Ryzen 3 2200G wipes the floor with Intel’s $64 (about £46, AU$82) Pentium G4560. And, now that the G4560 has been replaced with the newly-announced Intel Pentium G5620 launches for $86 (about £65, AU$120), the entry level desktop market should heat up. 

Among mid-range, current-gen chips, Intel is leading the pack by offering 9th-generation Coffee Lake CPUs as low as $122 (about £93, AU$170) for the Core i3-9100T. 

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.

If you can get your hands on one, the Core i7-9700K is $409 (£499, AU$659), while the still more-capable Ryzen 7 2700X is priced at $329 (about £230, AU$420).

With the AMD Ryzen 3000 processors, which will hit the streets on July 7, the tide will turn once again. The manufacturer recently revealed the prices for its five 7nm Zen 2 CPUs, and they are definitely at a much lower price point. The AMD Ryzen 9 3900X is supposed to compete with the $1,199 (£1,115, about AU$1,713) Intel Core i9-9920X at only $499 (about £390, AU$720), while the AMD Ryzen 7 3800X will offer identical performance to the $479 (£469, AU$684) Intel Core i9-9900K at only $399 (about £310, AU$580).

It was long-rumored that AMD’s Ryzen chips would offer cutting-edge performance at a lower price, and AMD’s 3rd-generation processors might – might being the operative word as Intel is also rumored to refresh its desktop processors to compete – just seal the deal.

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, at $1,799 (£1,639, AU$2,679). That might seem like a lot, but compared to the $1,999 (£1,859, AU$2,999) Intel Core i9-9980XE, it’s a downright bargain – especially given that AMD’s offering has nearly double the cores. Word is still out on whether or not Intel’s long-speculated Cascade Lake-X will change that.

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. But, early leaked benchmarks make Intel’s next generation of integrated graphics look appealing, indeed.

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 (£84, AU$145) Ryzen 3 2200G. 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 $173 (about £130, AU$240) Intel Core i3-9350K.

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 2019, it gets complicated. While both Coffee Lake Refresh and AMD Ryzen 2nd Generation processors are widely available, Intel is going through supply shortages. 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. And, thanks to this mass confusion and increased prices from Team Blue, AMD has stolen the sales crown

Still, you can pick up processors from both companies today, though Intel chips like the Intel Core i9-9900K 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 2018 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. 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.

In fact, things are already looking promising – 2019 might just be AMD’s year – what with AMD slated to release its 3rd-generation processors to bring the 7nm Zen 2 architecture to mainstream processors for the first time and compete with Intel’s fastest processors.

Behind the AMD Ryzen 3000 series chips is AMD’s Zen 2 microarchitecture, and they’re touting up to 12-cores and 24-threads, as well as massive performance improvements. As for what these chips will be capable of, AMD pit the considerably cheaper AMD Ryzen 9 3900X against the Intel Core i9-9920X in Blender, and it proved 18% faster – though that was just on stage. Additionally, AMD Ryzen 7 3800X boasted identical performance to the Intel Core i9-9900K.

As for Intel, while it did struggle with the Cannon Lake release, it’s full steam ahead for its 10nm Ice Lake processors. These are shipping right now, and will be in laptops before the end of the year. Ice Lake will be behind the next generation of Ultrabooks, and will feature built-in Thunderbolt 3, WiFi connectivity and Gen11 graphics, among other things.

Additionally, Sunny Cove, Intel’s next-generation 10nm CPU microarchitecture, is due to arrive in the second half of 2019. The manufacturer is also expected to refresh its desktop processors, after it announced the Intel Core i9-9900KS, which is essentially a Core i9-9900K that has an all-core 5GHz boost clock, to better compete with Ryzen 3rd Generation processors.

Finally, we’ve 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.

E3 2019 is right around the corner, and both manufacturers might have a few more aces to reveal.