After over a decade of Intel dominance in the desktop CPU market, AMD’s newly released Ryzen 3000 CPUs have provided the competition the market so desperately needs. With its new Zen 2 CPUs, AMD has increased the number of cores, upped the power efficiency, and introduced new features like support for PCIe 4.0. The result, according to initial reviews, is chips that seriously challenge Intel’s CPU dominance, even if they can’t quite beat it entirely in gaming performance.
The reviews agree that the high core and thread counts of AMD’s new CPUs mean that they have a big advantage over similarly priced Intel chips in any applications that scale well across multiple threads, like video editing or 3D rendering programs. “The 3900X essentially has no real competition when it comes to the multi-threaded performance that it’s able to deliver” is Anandtech’s conclusion, and Tom’s Hardware notes that AMD’s chips achieve “impressive wins in heavily-threaded applications.”
However, if you’re looking to buy a new chip primarily for gaming, then the reviews are more split on whether Intel or AMD offers better value overall. That’s because games currently tend to benefit from faster individual cores and scale worse across multiple threads. Some reviews, like those from Hot Hardware and PCWorld, claim that AMD is “roughly on-par” with Intel’s chips, while the likes of Anandtech and Tom’s Hardware think that Intel’s advantage is more decisive.
Outside of raw performance, reviews have also praised the additional features AMD has brought to the table with Ryzen’s third generation. Tom’s Hardware notes that AMD’s overclocking utility is easy to use and only takes a few clicks, and generally reviewers also like the Wraith Prism cooler that AMD has included with its new CPUs. Although all reviews were happy with the inclusion of the new PCIe 4.0 interface (which offers more bandwidth and is particularly useful for connected storage disks), Linus Tech Tips bemoaned the fact that it draws more power, meaning that the new X570 chipset motherboards have a small fan built in to keep components cool. “It’s a real bummer for me to see this cooling trend come back, because tiny proprietary cooling fans tend to be one of the least reliable components in a PC,” he says.
AMD’s latest CPUs have big implications for Intel’s upcoming 10th Gen Ice Lake CPUs. Intel is promising an 18 percent performance boost in performance with Sunny Cove. Regardless of whether AMD’s new chips are the best choice for absolutely every desktop PC user, all the reviews agree that Intel is facing its toughest competition in over a decade. After some glory years with the Athlon 64, AMD is finally back.