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When if comes to choosing the brand of your processor (CPU), it's never as easy as it seem. You would think it should be simple because there are only two brands to choose from on the market.
Before you read this, make sure you're familiar with the basic technical specifications of a CPU by reading our article on choosing the best processor.
Which is Better?
The problem is that both generally have equivalent offers at any one time. They also both decline each generation of processors into multiple ranges of performance (such as i3, i5 and i7 and even within). This makes a ton of different variations to choose from, but we aim to make it easy for you to filter the good from the bad.
Although both brands have equivalent offers at any time, they emphasis different technical specifications. Have a look at the differences below
CPU technologies are split into generations defined by the size of the dye, in terms of nanometers (nm). According Moore's Law, we can double the amount of transistor into in integrated circuit every two years, by miniaturization. This means that the smaller the dye size, the better the performances, but only in the case of processors (CPU). There is, of course, a theoretical limit after which things are too small to operate properly. This limit is of 2 atoms of height on the sillicon chip inside the processor casing.
So there has been a so-called "Tic-Toc" cycle in the processor market. You will first see the better processors (speed, cores) come out first in high Wattage versions (tic). And thenthey are reduced in size to a lower power consumption and better efficiency version (toc). With different publishing schedules for new products, Intel and AMD may sometime seem to be alternating between leader and runner-up.
You can find out more about electronic lifecycles on our page on finding the optimal prices for electronics.
If you have to compare two different processors, this may be arduous to do because of the different variations available. A simple trick is to quickly add up the speed of each core together, to give you a global idea of the total calculating power (in Ghz). This will give you a good base of comparison, when you don't have access to the internet. For example, a Quad core, 3.0 Ghz CPU would produce approximately the same output as a similar 12 Ghz CPU.
The best is to use benchmarks, such as www.cpubenchmarks.net, to see official testing results. Those benchmarks test the processing power and speed, which is exactly what you need for good 3D renderings performances.
CPU Brand Comparison
Intel Consumer CPU
Intel was generally considered the dominant brand of the CPU in the market today. They have always been able to offer better processors than AMD, until now. But AMD has caught up and todays has a very competitive offer for any 3D rendering computers.
Their offer now is a little more expensive, but it also has some unique advantages that are useful for improved performance in 3D rendering. This is usually our recommend brand, but there sometimes really good deals on AMD processors that justify making an exception.
- More L3 cache: for bigger scenes and faster renders
- Better clock efficiency: for a similar speed compared to AMD.
- Lower power consumption: Lower Wattage for a comparable processor, on the TOC cycle
- Lower temperature
- Better for overclocking
- Lower electricity bill
- Lower cost on the cooling fans and chassis fans of your computer.
Overclocking is a way that experienced users can get better performance out of their existing CPU. It entails boosting specific BIOS voltages to get more speed out of it. Overclocking has the very serious risk of voiding the warranty and burning the equipment altogether.
Recommended Intel CPU
Also available on Newegg.com (US)
The company called AMD used to be the runner up in the processor market. It has caught up to Intel's offer and surpassed it in some ways by offering different specifications.
First of all, in order to compete with the market-dominant competitor, AMD has had to offer better prices. This translates into a better performance for the same price, which offers a better value ratio.
AMD offers a differ style of CPU than Intel. If we were to compare them to vehicules, Intel would be a sleek city vehicle and AMD would be an offroad muscle car.
- AMD usually offer CPUs with more cores and better clock speeds (for similar prices or better)
- However, AMDs are known to be slightly less efficient in precision per clock cycle. Sometimes, they make small errors and have to redo calculations. This will happen in a millisecond and it has no visible impact on the user, but they add up to a performance loss.
- Additionally, AMD CPU's power consumption is higher, in average than similare processors. This translates into a higher heat generation and reduced overclocking capabilities. It's as though they were already, factory overclocked, but they are not.
AMD in Today's Market
AMD's answer to intel's high-performance chips comes in the form of the Ryzen 7 series of CPU.
This series seem to defy all logic with an astonishing eight cores, a whooping 16 Mb of L3 cache and a surprisingly low wattage. Even the introductory price seems to rival any of intel's offering to date as there are some good offerings under 400$. For this season, we do believe the Ryzen 7 beats everything else on the market, in that price range. Looking at it's benchmark statistics, it is certain to be a good investment for quite some time.
But you can expect Intel to have an interesting offer up its sleeve, to compete very soon.
More About Processors
Keep reading about CPU microprocessors with our following articles:
- How to Find the Best CPU for 3D rendering
- Professional High-End CPUs
Recommended AMD CPU
Go back to choosing the best processor for 3D rendering
Compare all CPU performances and prices here
Go to the 'computer hardware' table of contents:
Guide on Finding the Optimal Computer Components
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