Brace Yourselves for the Next AMD & Intel Showdown
Peter Donnell / 2 years ago
There’s a storm brewing between Intel and AMD, and right now from where I’m sitting, I can’t see either team winning. A bit bleak I know, but there’s an arms race on right now (well, another one), but not a lot of weapons. Between stock issues and paper launches, both parties are touting some big hardware, but where is it?
The i9-9900K is a beast of a CPU, delivering some industry-leading performance for gamers. However, it was just too damn hot and required a beastly cooler to get the real big figures out of it; especially while overclocking.
Furthermore, AMD took some serious wind out of Intel’s sails with the Ryzen 3rd Gen launch. AMD saw huge gains in single-core performance, closely matching, but not always beating Intel. Close enough to make Intel uncomfortable given the often much lower prices. The retort? Intel slashed their prices practically in half right across the board for their new and upcoming CPUs. Plus, AMD’s larger core count CPUs still have the advantage in multi-core benchmarks, as we saw clearly in our reviews here.
Intel have cooked up a counter-attack with the Intel Core i9-9900KS. A chip that promises at least 5 GHz on all cores. We’ve seen some pre-binned chips offering 5.2 GHz and even 5.3GHz, but at prices way above $1000, yup, that’ll be a hard-pass from me too.
Increased market share, lower prices than Intel, and massive generational improvements from their new 7nm chips, AMD are in a stronger position now than they have been for a very long time. Their Ryzen 7 and Ryzen 9 CPUs are trading blows with Intel these days, and their prices are good enough to see many consumers jumping from the blue team to the red team.
AMD has also played a smart game with chipsets, offering forwards and backwards compatibility across many motherboards, chipsets, and CPUs. It’s not 100%, but it’s something that’s helping them sell more CPUs. Intel look set to require yet another refresh motherboard some for their upcoming CPUs, further increasing consumer cost to upgrade. With AMD, you can update most of the CPUs on a slightly older board now, and update the motherboard at a later date.
Intel has been preparing to launch of a bunch of CPUs recently, yet, they’re nowhere to be found. Some were recently given a paper launch only. Cascade Lake X, it is “technically out” but they haven’t sent out any stock yet. Furthermore, it seems they won’t be doing that until AMD shows their hand with the Ryzen 3950X and the new Threadripper parts. No doubt, this is so they can fiddle with their prices and marketing right up to the last minute; a sneaky, but effective tactic, but someone has to go first.
While we wait on Intel to release new hardware, the current AMD Ryzen 9 3900X is out of stock or on a massive backlog at many retailers. We’ve spoken to a few who cannot be named, and while there is huge demand, which is great for AMD, there aren’t the huge numbers of CPUs being shipped to come close to meeting it. You’ll find it as out of stock or as “pre-order” at many major retailers. At least on the consumer side of things, we’re unsure if that will also include the Threadripper parts that are due to launch. Furthermore, we hear that the 3950X could be in even shorter supply than the 3900X despite growing demand for pre-orders of both.
No doubt this is a reflection why you won’t be seeing a review from ourselves upon launch day. I suspect many other sites will be twiddling their thumbs too. Intel may have the stock to swoop in and steal the show, at least that’s how I expect round one of this battle to play out.
Well, this is the thing, Intel may think they can steal the thunder. However, their CPU remains to be widely benchmarked and reviewed, and so does AMD. It really is like being on the starting line of a drag race. Both competitors have new flagships, both in the enthusiast price bracket, but it’s anyone’s guess who will come out on top. Intel even threw some heat at AMD about their core counts recently. I suspect Intel will have the single-core advantage (still), AMD will be close, and the multi-core tests will still favour the higher core count of AMD. Of course, that’s a pretty safe and educated guess. Some leaks from Intel have helped with that though.
Now, I guess we wait. It doesn’t look like we’ll have samples and review in time for these launches, but all that can change at any moment. What we can say is that AMD and Intel are squaring up for quite a showdown right now, and it’ll be interesting to see if we consumers are the real winners in the end.