PC gamers have always been mindful of the gaming CPU they buy for their desktop computers. The introduction of AMD’s Ryzen CPUs a few years ago made the AMD vs Intel gaming debate interesting. Before the introduction of the Ryzen CPUs, the answer was simple and unanimous – Intel for gaming. But AMD’s Ryzen 2000 series changed that. The latest Ryzen 3000 series CPU launch has made matters more intriguing and possibly confusing than ever before in the ‘AMD vs Intel for gaming’ arena.
The AMD vs Intel Gaming Debate – Detailed Comparison
AMD’s Ryzen 2000 series came close to their Intel counterparts in games. Still, Intel CPUs, including the i5 8600, i7 8700, and i7 8700K, maintained a healthy lead in most games when considering average framerate. However, what made the Ryzen 2000 series CPUs enticing was their low price. The Ryzen 2600, 2600X, 2700 and 2700X desktop processors cost significantly less than their Intel counterparts. It spiced up the AMD vs. Intel Gaming discussion. Quite a few CPU buyers were happy to settle for a little less performance in exchange for a significant price reduction.
When Intel announced their 9th Gen CPU lineup, their desktop processors maintained the legacy of their 8th Gen predecessors in gaming. The Intel i5 9600K, i7 9700K and i9 9900K maintained a healthy lead over AMD desktop processors but didn’t stretch it significantly as compared to Intel’s 8th generation of CPUs. While budget-conscious buyers were choosing AMD Ryzen 2000 processors for gaming, individuals who wanted the best gaming performance still chose Intel desktop processors.
Ryzen 3000: Changing The AMD or Intel Gaming Debate Significantly
The latest launch of AMD Ryzen 3000 CPUs has changed the outlook of the ‘AMD or Intel for gaming’ debate. AMD’s new Ryzen 3000 Series CPUs have significantly reduced the performance gap in comparison to their Intel counterparts in games. The AMD Ryzen 5 3600 CPU, for instance, gives a stiff competition to the Intel i5 9600F. The AMD CPU is only 8-to-9% behind than its Intel counterpart in average framerate. The Ryzen 3600 even manages to go toe to toe with the i5 9600F in some games. In the real world, it will be hard to tell the difference between playing games at 120 fps and 132 fps.
The Ryzen 5 3600 CPU outperforms AMD’s 2000 Series CPUs in games. It beats the Ryzen 2600 and Ryzen 2700 by a decent margin. Its improved performance can be attributed to improved IPC gains of the Zen 2 architecture as well as slightly increased clockspeeds. It makes the Ryzen 5 3600 a lucrative offering for playing games given its decent price.
The Answer To AMD vs Intel For Gaming
It has become more confusing for gamers than ever before to choose between AMD and Intel for gaming. If you are looking to buy a new CPU for gaming, then we have got you covered. Here is a definite guide to answer the AMD vs Intel for gaming question based on varying budgets and different resolutions.
Gaming CPU On a Strict Budget: Ryzen 5 2600
If you are on a strict gaming budget and want to optimize every buck available, then the Ryzen 5 2600 is the best gaming CPU for you. Ryzen 2600 is available at a heavily discounted price of US$133 right now. It costs a few more bucks than the Ryzen 2400G which is selling for US$124. You get two additional cores and four more threads. The extra processing power will be handy as some of the latest games have started utilizing more than four cores. It is also ideal if you stream your games or create video content.
A slightly more expensive option is the Intel i5 9400F at US$150. It is a 6-core processor with a turbo boost of up to 4.1GHz but it lacks hyperthreading. The Ryzen 2600 trails the Intel i5 9400F by 9% margin on an average when considering average framerates in games. Neither of the CPUs comes with an integrated GPU, and you will have to buy one separately.
You will probably be purchasing a CPU cooler additionally for the Intel 9400F processor while the Ryzen 2600 comes with the Wraith Stealth Cooler. It will further increase the cost of your CPU setup. You can also upgrade to a newer AM4 processor in future with the Ryzen 2600 which is not possible with the Intel i5 9400F. Therefore, the Ryzen 2600 will be the better option for budget-limited consumers confused between AMD or Intel for gaming. The Ryzen 1600 is an even cheaper option that you can purchase for around a hundred bucks. It is around 10% slower on an average in games as compared to the Ryzen 2600 but saves you quite a bit of money.
AMD vs Intel Gaming CPU For 1080p/Mainstream PC: Ryzen 3600
Most PC builders belong to the casual gaming segment. It is the mainstream segment that will fit the needs of most gamers and regular users alike. The CPUs in consideration for casual gamers or mainstream users are the Intel i5 9400F ($150) and the AMD Ryzen 3600 ($200).
The AMD Ryzen 5 3600 processor trades blows with the Intel i5 9400F. In some games, the AMD Ryzen 3600 wins, but in other games, the i5 9400F performs better. Future games will use more than six cores, and the extra threads of the Ryzen 5 3600 will come in handy. It is quite evident from the performance of these two CPUs in Assassin’s Creeds Odyssey. The Ryzen 5 3600 is 20% faster than the i5 9400F in average framerate. This trend is expected to continue in the future as games start using more cores and threads. It gives the Ryzen 3600 an edge over the Intel 9400F in the AMD vs Intel gaming processor comparison.
While the Ryzen 3600 CPU costs 33% more than the Intel i5 9400F, it also comes with a Wraith Stealth Cooler eliminating the need for buying a new one. When adding the cost of an average aftermarket air cooler ($30 for the Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo), the Ryzen 3600 is only 11% more expensive than the Intel i5 9400F. It has twelve threads and also gives you the option of upgrading to a better AM4 processor in the future. For casual gamers confused between AMD vs Intel for gaming, the AMD Ryzen 3600 is the obvious choice.
AMD Ryzen 5 3600 vs i5 9600K For Mainstream Desktop
The Ryzen 3600 CPU is 20% cheaper than the i5 9600K while being slightly behind in performance. This cost-saving can be diverted to buy a better graphics card, especially for building a PC on a limited budget. The extra fifty bucks mean that you can buy an Nvidia GTX 1660Ti over a GTX 1660 or an Nvidia RTX 2060 over an Nvidia GTX 1660Ti. If you are a casual gamer looking to build a new gaming PC, then nothing can beat the value of the AMD Ryzen 3600 CPU. It performs adequately well for casual gaming, both online and offline. It is a better choice than the Intel i5 9600K for game streamers and video creators as it better equipped at handling these tasks due to its 12 threads.
AMD vs Intel Gaming Comparison At 1440p
When considering between AMD vs Intel for gaming at 1440p resolution, the difference in framerate of the CPUs from the red and blue teams reduces significantly. It is because the games are more limited by the GPUs than the CPUs as the resolution increases. Here are the 1440p CPU choices in the AMD vs Intel gaming debate based on budget.
AMD vs Intel For Gaming At 1440p On A Budget: Ryzen 2600
The Ryzen 2600 is the budget choice when considering AMD vs Intel for gaming at 1440p. The CPU is a bang for buck offering considering its current selling price. It will provide decent performance in games at 1440p resolution while saving you quite a bit of money. You can use the money saved for getting a better GPU as well. The Ryzen 2600 has six cores, and twelve threads which will handle most tasks and will be good enough for creating content on a budget. The i5 9400F is slightly ahead of the Ryzen 5 2600 when considering average framerate in games. However, its higher price tag with an additional cost of a CPU cooler makes it an unviable option for budget buyers.
Best Mid-Range CPU For Gaming At 1440p: Ryzen 3600
At 1440p resolution, both the AMD Ryzen 3600 and the Intel i5 9600K are equally viable options. When paired with an Nvidia RTX 2080Ti, the difference in average framerate between these two processors in modern games like Assassins’ Creed Origins and Hitman 2 is 7 to 10 frames at medium video settings. It will be quite hard to tell the difference between 115 frames per second and 124 frames per second.
In a few outliers like GTA V, the difference can be 15 to 20 frames. However, in most modern games the average framerate difference is around 7-8% between the Intel i5 9600K and the Ryzen 5 3600. Remember, if you have a mid-range graphics card, like an Nvidia RTX 2070 or a Radeon RX 5700XT, the framerate difference may be negligible at high settings as the games will be GPU bound. If those few frames are worth the extra 25% expenditure will be up to you to decide. You will also be spending extra bucks for an aftermarket cooler for the i5 9600K. The Ryzen 3600 has hyperthreading, which makes it better for content creators. It also allows you to update to a future AM4 processor. The Ryzen 3600 is the conclusive option in the AMD vs Intel gaming debate for 1440p mid-range gaming.
AMD vs Intel For Gaming At 1440p High-End: Intel i7 9700K
PC gamers looking for a powerful CPU for gaming at 1440p resolution have a choice between the AMD Ryzen 3700X and the Intel i7 9700K desktop processors. The i7 9700K is around 9% more expensive than the Ryzen 3700X. The cost difference increases to 18% when factoring in an aftermarket CPU cooler. The Intel i7 9700K leads the AMD Ryzen 3700X by 10-12% on an average when gaming at 1440p with medium video settings. It beats the AMD Ryzen 3600 by 15% at 1440p with medium settings.
The margin may reduce between these processors when playing games at the high or ultra quality video settings. If you use a high refresh rate 1440p monitor and need to build a high-end desktop computer, then buy the Intel i7 9700K processor. The AMD Ryzen 3700X makes more sense if you also create videos or run thread-dependent tasks. But gamers who want the maximum framerate at 1440p will find the Intel i7 9700K to be the better processor among the AMD vs Intel for gaming options.
AMD vs Intel Gaming Comparison At 4K Resolution
When playing games at 4K resolution, games become even more GPU bound as compared to 1440p resolution. The maximum framerate while playing games will depend mostly on the GPU. For playing games at 4K resolution, you need to have an Nvidia GTX 1080Ti, Nvidia RTX 2080, Nvidia RTX 2080 Super or Nvidia RTX 2080Ti. The difference in framerate of comparable AMD and Intel processors will be negligible in the real world at 4K resolution. AMD vs Intel gaming options for 4K can be classified based on the budget.
If you are gaming at 4K resolution, then it is quite possible that you run productivity applications as well. Therefore, a multi-threaded processor will be the better overall option for you!
Best Desktop CPU for 4K Budget Gaming: Ryzen 2600
The Ryzen 2600 is the best budget 4K gaming CPU as long as it is available for under 135 bucks. It has six cores and twelve threads and is heavily discounted. An alternative is the Intel i5 9400F available for around 160 bucks. Buying the Ryzen 5 2600 is the better option because it performs close to the Intel 9400F, is cheaper, and comes with a better cooler. Its twelve threads make it ideal for content creation and multithreaded tasks. Ryzen 2600 is our recommendation when considering AMD vs Intel for gaming at 4K resolution on a budget.
AMD vs Intel Gaming CPU For 4K Mid-Range: Ryzen 3600
The options for a mid-range CPU for 4K gaming include the i5 9600K and the Ryzen 3600. The framerate difference between the two CPUs is negligible at 4K resolution in most modern games. The Ryzen 3600 is cheaper and supports hyperthreading. It also provides a future upgrade path (AM4 socket) without requiring you to change your motherboard. Therefore, for 4K mid-range CPU, the Ryzen 3600 is the obvious answer to the AMD vs Intel for gaming question.
Best 4K High-End Gaming Processor: Ryzen 3700X
If you want to build a high-end, 4K-capable gaming rig, then the choice is between the AMD Ryzen 7 3700X, Intel i7 9700K, and the i9 9900K. You can consider the Ryzen 3700X for 4K gaming over the Intel i7 9700K and i9 9900K. It will give you comparable performance at 4K, with same threads and cores as its Intel counterparts. You also save a few bucks which can help you get an Nvidia RTX 2080 Super instead of an Nvidia RTX 2070. AMD Ryzen 7 3700X also allows you to stream and create videos faster, which makes it a better option than the i7 9700K. If you need to save money for a graphics card (GPU), buy a Ryzen 3600 instead. Ryzen 7 2700 and 2700X CPUs are out of contention for gaming PCs because of their higher price tags as compared to the Ryzen 5 3600.
The Ryzen 3900X is primarily a productivity CPU and as this guide is focused on gaming, we won’t recommend it over the Ryzen 3700X. However, if your primary purpose is to run productivity applications that love threads, then go ahead and pick a Ryzen 3900X.
AMD vs Intel Gaming CPU For E-Sports Players
Competitive gamers and E-sports players play at 1080p resolution with high refresh rate monitors (144Hz, 165Hz, or 240Hz). They need a CPU for gaming that can provide maximum framerate. Here are the choices among the AMD vs Intel gaming CPUs for E-sports players.
When it comes to competitive gaming, nothing can beat an Intel CPU outright! At least not yet.
AMD vs Intel For Gaming High Refresh Rate: Intel i7 9700K
If you are an e-sports player or a professional competitive gamer to whom every last frame matters, then Intel’s i7 9700K is your answer to the AMD vs Intel for gaming debate. At 1080p resolution, the Intel i7 9700K yields the highest framerate as compared to its Intel and Ryzen counterparts. The i7 9700K’s performance in games is comparable to the performance of the i9 9900K in most games. In a few games, it even surpasses the latter in average framerate while being 27.6% cheaper. The i7 9700K is the best gaming processor on the market today. Gamers who need to create video content or run applications that utilize hyperthreading can consider the i9 9900K. Its extra threads will be handy for additional performance.
AMD vs Intel For Gaming Budget E-Sports: Intel i5 9600K
Gamers who want a budget CPU for competitive gaming can opt for the Intel i5 9600K. The CPU costs around $250 and will provide a higher average framerate as compared to the Ryzen 5 3600 and Ryzen 3700X. Paying the extra $50 will be worth it in the competitive gaming landscape. The i5 9600K is ideal for budding e-sports players confused between AMD vs Intel for gaming.