The age-old question for new and old gaming pc builders alike — which is better, an Intel CPU or AMD CPU for gaming? There usually isn’t a clear-cut answer to this question, and there are several reasons for this.
The most obvious being, there are many variations of CPUs within each of these companies, and with the many variations, there are different specifications that can refer to things like unlocked or locked, CPU frequency, CPU cores, CPU threads etc. And it is due to these specifications that a particular CPU may be better at a particular task, for example, gaming versus single-threaded application office use.
So which is better for gaming in 2021 — AMD Ryzen 5000 or Intel 11th Gen CPUs?
I asked this very question on the Newb Computer Build TikTok — asking “PC Gamers, Which CPU do you Prefer Right Now? Intel 11th Gen or Ryzen 5000?
And the answers were actually fairly split, which if asked a year ago, I would have been very surprised. However, within the last few months or so there has been a bit of disruption (and about time) in the gaming CPU space.
Now, the answers were fairly generic, with answers such as “Intel!!! AMD is Straight Trash”, to “Intel is better for gaming” and people just stating straight-up “Intel” or “AMD”.
The Release of Ryzen 5000
Before the Intel 11th Gen, codenamed Rocket Lake was released, AMD Ryzen reigned supreme for quite some time in the gaming PC consumer space. Specifically, since 2017, when Ryzen was released.
I remember when I started primarily building PCs many millennia ago, Intel was seen as the ‘premium’ brand and AMD as the budget-conscious brand — and this really was 100% the case.
When Ryzen hit the market (early 2017), things started to shift, as Ryzen was able to grasp the gaming market with still a budget-oriented CPU, that was able to wipe the Intel competition in most benchmarks. Not to mention, Ryzen also typically came with a competent CPU cooler, while Intel has been nefarious for included basically a pointless brick of a cooler that needs replacing right away.
Just check out this AnandTech article from 2016 on the battle of the CPU Stock Coolers, where the stock AMD Wraith does very well. It makes me laugh when individuals spread a broad brush on all stock coolers because of this because it wasn’t long ago that AMD took the lead and included a usable cooler with their CPUs. I used my stock Wraith Prism to this day, because of it.
And once the third generation of AMD Ryzen, Ryzen 3000 was eventually released in 2019 featured significant design improved, and took an even stronger hold of the gaming CPU market. For the full history see the Wikipedia article on Ryzen here.
Now Comes in Rocket Lake / Intel 11th Gen
In March of 2021, Intel finally released its 11th Gen CPU Codenamed Rocket Lake, its first new CPU architecture in nearly 6 years. This CPU is based on the new Cypress Cove microarchitecture. And Rocket Lake CPUs contain significantly more transistors than its previous Skylake derived Comet Lake cores (See Rocket lake, Wikipedia).
With this release, Intel claimed an up to 19% increase in IPC (instructions per clock) and a few other improvements and this is what started to close the gap in the AMD versus Intel CPU performance.
And before Intel released its Rocket Lake CPUs, the Ryzen 5000 processors had a very commendable release claiming the fastest Gaming CPUs on the market — with its 19% increase in IPC proving correct (see the Toms Hardware review of the Ryzen 5000).
This was quickly challenged with the release of Intel’s Rocket Lake though, as the performance gap between Ryzen and Intel shrunk, making most of the comparable chips very close in terms of gaming and desktop performance.
Then the question becomes more of a question of cost.
The Real Question: Cost Per Performance Ryzen 5000 Versus Intel 11th Gen CPU
Overall, I can generally say that Intel’s 11th Gen and Ryzen 5000 series CPUs perform very similarly, especially when considering gaming or desktop use — that is when you compare comparable CPUs, such as the mainstream Ryzen 5 5600X and Intel Core i5-11600K.
There is one differentiator though, as Intel did release the Core i5-11400, which can be seen as a direct competitor to Ryzens 3600, however, the Ryzen 3600 is now 2 years old and can’t keep up with the newer Rocket Lake Core i5-11400.
Here’s a summary of all of the newer Intel 11th Gen (RKL) — including refreshed/ higher clocked Comet Lake CPUs (CML-R), Rocket Lake 5000 chips and their cost in terms of MSRP (chart source: Toms Hardware):
|Product Identifier||Suggested Price||Cores / Threads||Base (GHz)||Peak Boost (Dual/All Core)||TDP||iGPU||L3|
|Ryzen 9 5950X||$799||16 / 32||3.4||4.9||105W||None||64MB (2×32)|
|Ryzen 9 5900X||$549||12 / 24||3.7||4.8||105W||None||64MB (2×32)|
|Ryzen 7 5800X||$449||8 / 16||3.8||4.7||105W||None||32MB (1×32)|
|RKL-S Core i9-11900K (KF)||$539 (K) – $513 (KF)||8 / 16||3.5||5.3 / 4.8 (TVB)||125W||UHD Graphics 750 Xe 32EU||16MB|
|CML-S Core i9-10900K (KF)||$488 (K) / $472 (KF)||10 / 20||3.7||5.3 / 4.8 (TVB)||125W||UHD Graphics 630||20MB|
|CML-S Core i9-10850K||$453||10 / 20||3.6||5.2 / 4.8 (TVB)||125W||UHD Graphics 630||20MB|
|RKL-S Core i9-11900 (F)||$439 – $422 (F)||8 / 16||2.5||5.2 (TVB) / 4.7||65W||UHD Graphics 750 Xe 32EU||16MB|
|RKL-S Core i7-11700K (KF)||$399 (K) – $374 (KF)||8 / 16||3.6||5.0 (TB3) / 4.6||125W||UHD Graphics 750 Xe 32EU||16MB|
|CML-S Core i7-10700K (KF)||$374 (K) / $349 (KF)||8 / 16||3.8||5.1 (TB3) / 4.7||125W||UHD Graphics 630||16 MB|
|RKL-S Core i7-11700 (F)||$323 -$298 (F)||8 / 16||2.5||4.9 (TB3) / 4.4||65W||UHD Graphics 750 Xe 32EU||16MB|
|Ryzen 5 5600X||$299||6 / 12||3.7||4.6||65W||None||32MB (1×32)|
|RKL-S Core i5-11600K (KF)||$262 (K) – $237(KF)||6 / 12||3.9||4.9 (TB2) / 4.6||125W||UHD Graphics 750 Xe 32EU||12MB|
|CML-S Core i5-10600K (KF)||$262 (K) / $237 (KF)||6 / 12||4.1||4.8 (TB2) / 4.5||125W||UHD Graphics 630||12MB|
|RKL-S Core i5-11400 (F)||$182 – $157||6 / 12||2.6||4.4 (TB2) / 4.2||65W||UHD Graphics 750 Xe 24EU||12MB|
And in the chart above, you could probably roughly get by simply by knowing your budget and selecting the CPU that fits your budget. Mind you, there are always other factors that come into play. Such as, whether or not a CPU includes a stock cooler as this could add a minimum of $30 or more to your overall PC Builds cost. Or, with the newer gen CPUs also come newer gen motherboards — which may be more expensive than previous-gen boards.
In terms of including the stock cooler into the overall cost, well I would generalize here as well and assume if you are getting Intel, that stock cooling has been said to not be the greatest and that you will have to purchase cooling anyhow. Most of the Ryzen 5000 CPUs should technically be ok with their stock cooling as well, however, I would caveat that if you are planning on overclocking, a better air cooler doesn’t hurt or a better AIO of some sort.
Another thing to note is that Intel only includes cooling on their non-overclocking chips (the on “K” chips seen above), and in Ryzen 5000, only the Ryzen 5 5600X actually comes with a stock cooler — the Wraith Stealth, which is a low profile version of the AMDs Wraith Series of stock coolers that came with previous-gen Ryzen’s.
Finally — Which is Better: The Ryzen 5000 or Intel 11th Gen CPUs?
Here’s how I currently think about it — I would start with a budget and go from there. If you look at the table above, you’ll see all of the Ryzen 5000 and Intell 11th Gen CPUs listed in the order they should be selling at with regards to suggested pricing from the manufacturers, and see which falls within your budget.
In terms of gaming, you most likely will not have too much of a discernible difference in the choice of CPU you choose whether it be AMD Ryzen 5000 or Intel 11th Gen Rocket Lake with each comparable CPU (included below for a side by side comparison) and if you do more than gaming, you still probably won’t notice much of a difference.
So whether you are an AMD or Intel fanboy or fangirl, it really doesn’t matter too much at the point in time, but it’s always fun to nitpick anyhow.
Comparable CPUs Ryzen 5000 vs Intel 11th Gen – What CPU are you going to choose?
Below are the equivalent CPUs that you should be comparing when purchasing a CPU, what you should be doing is a cost comparison, comparing current costs and then factoring that into your decision after you cost out what a compatible motherboard and a cooling solution will cost you.
*Note: All processors are linked to Amazon.
|AMD Ryzen 9 OR Intel Core i9||Ryzen 9 5950X or Ryzen 9 5900X||Intel Core i9-11900K (too expensive compared to the Ryzen 9 5900X)|
|AMD Ryzen 7 OR Intel Core i7||Ryzen 7 5800X (comparable)||Intel Core i7 11700K (comparable)|
|AMD Ryzen 5 OR Intel Core i5||AMD Ryzen 5 5600X (comparable to i5-11600K)|
Ryzen 5 3600 (non-Ryzen 5000, 2 years old and less performance than the Intel 11th Gen i5 11400)
|Intel Core i5-11600K Processor (comparable to i5-11600K)|
Intel i5 11400 (integrated graphics) or 11400F (both better choices than the Ryzen 3600)
|AMD Ryzen 3 OR Intel Core i3||No Ryzen 5000||Not released yet for Intel 11th Gen|