AMD Ryzen 7 vs Intel Core i7: Which is Better for Gaming?

Ryzen 7 vs Intel i7Trying to decide between an AMD Ryzen 7 processor and an Intel Core i7 processor? In this post, we cover both options and give you a better idea of whether a Ryzen 7 or i7 CPU is the better option for your needs.

AMD Ryzen 7 and Intel Core i7 CPUs aren’t the absolute best value in for gaming. But they’re by no means the worst, and, importantly, they can give you that multi-core performance boost required for more intensive workloads. In other words, they’re some of the best gaming CPUs as long as gaming isn’t your only concern.

If gaming is your only concern, deciding between a Ryzen 5 and Core i5 processor will probably be best, as these ranges offer better value when you’re only concerned with gaming performance. But if you can see yourself undertaking CPU-intensive tasks like video editing and encoding alongside your gaming sessions, Intel Core i7 and AMD Ryzen 7 CPUs are great choices.

This is because these processors host 8 cores and 16 threads – and even more with Intel’s latest 12th Gen offering – which is all the mutli-core grunt you might need for anything other than the most intensive of workloads. And while 6 cores do just fine handling current games for now, this might change. Given that current-gen Xbox and PlayStation consoles host 8-core CPUs, we might start to see games properly utilising this number of cores even on PC. In other words, the age-old ‘Intel vs AMD for gaming’ battle might, before long, take place at the high-end, where the Intel Core i7-11700K, Intel Core i7-12700K, and AMD Ryzen 7 5800X currently take centre stage.

AMD Ryzen 7 Overview

AMD Ryzen 7 5800XIf you’re looking for something with better multi-core performance than a midrange CPU, AMD’s Ryzen 7 5800X should be one of your main considerations. Released in the final quarter of 2020, based on Zen 3 architecture, and built on TSMC’s 7nm process node, AMD’s Ryzen 7 5800X is an 8-core, 16-thread CPU with a base clock of 3.8GHz and a boost clock of 4.7GHz. Providing you can find it in stock given the current chip shortages, it retails online for about $400.

When it comes to gaming performance, there are diminishing returns when you move above Intel’s Core i5 and AMD’s Ryzen 5 ranges, but where the 5800X makes up for this diminishing return is with its multi-core performance. For about $100 more than the Ryzen 5 5600X, you’re getting a CPU that performs comparably in games and significantly better in multi-core workloads.

AMD’s platform also offers a range of advantages over Intel’s 11th generation platform, such as native DDR4-3200 memory support, a backwards- and potentially forwards-compatible AM4 socket, full CPU and chipset PCIe 4.0 support, and Precision Boost Overdrive 2 (PBO2) auto-overclocking capability.

While the Ryzen 7 5800X is the main gaming competitor to Intel’s Core i7 chips, there is another current-gen Ryzen 7 processor on the market: the AMD Ryzen 7 5700G. This APU (accelerated processing unit) is the current best choice for gaming without a graphics card, thanks to its stellar integrated graphics. But, because we assume that most readers will be looking for a CPU to pair with a discrete graphics card, we won’t go into much detail about this APU here.

Intel Core i7 Overview

Intel Core i7-11700KThe story is very much the same for Intel. While CPU gaming performance effectively peaks before the Core i7 range – i.e., in the Core i5 range – Intel’s Core i7-11700K is no slouch when it comes to gaming, and it offers an extra dose of multi-core performance, should you need it.

Released in the first quarter of 2021, based on Rocket Lake architecture, and built on a 14nm process node that’s been upscaled from a 10nm one, Intel’s Core i7-11700K is an 8-core, 16-thread CPU with a base clock of 3.6GHz and a boost clock of 5GHz. It retails online for about $400, just like the AMD Ryzen 7 5800X.

Like the Ryzen 7 5800X, the Core i7-11700K’s main selling point over its midrange alternatives is its two extra cores and four extra threads. Unlike the 5800X it also has integrated graphics, and while it doesn’t offer PCIe 4.0 support from the chipset, it does offer it from the CPU itself, meaning one graphics card and one NVMe SSD can connect using PCIe 4.0. And if you’re certain you won’t need integrated graphics, you can opt for the cheaper Core i7-11700KF, which is the same chip but without integrated graphics.

This CPU also does incredibly well when compared to its bigger sibling, the Intel Core i9-11900K. Compared to the i9-11900K, the i7-11700K is a steal: it hosts the same number of cores and threads and performs almost as well when undertaking any workload because of this. If you want one of the best performing Intel chips of its 11th generation without paying an arm and a leg, the i7-11700K is a great choice.

Intel has just released its new ‘Alder Lake’ processor lineup, too, which includes the Intel Core i7-12700K. Alder Lake CPUs combine ‘big’ P-Cores and ‘little’ E-Cores on a single die in a new architectural design. The Core i7-12700K has eight P-Cores and four E-Cores giving a total of 20 threads, and its P-Cores can boost up to 5GHz.

In productivity tasks the Core i7-12700K performs in-line with or sometimes even better than high-end CPUs like the AMD Ryzen 9 5900X. It also tops the gaming charts, sitting only slightly behind the Core i9-12900K in many cases, and only falling behind AMD chips in select games like CSGO. However, because this chip is so new, its pricing might be unstable, it might run into stock issues, and there are few compatible motherboards currently on the market, so it’s difficult to give a final verdict about this CPU at this stage.

AMD Ryzen 7 vs Intel Core i7

So, how do these processors stack up against each other? Because games are very GPU-bound, gaming performance deltas are always slim when comparing powerful CPUs. This means that, for gaming, buying one of the best graphics cards is usually a better upgrade than buying a new CPU. But there’s still room for comparison between these processors, especially if we consider factors other than just gaming performance.

AMD Ryzen 7 5800X: Best for Gaming

AMD’s Ryzen 7 5800X performs better than Intel’s Core i7-11700K for gaming. Sure, the difference isn’t massive, but it’s consistent enough that the 5800X is the clear winner. While there will undoubtedly be games where the i7-11700K performs better, most games seem to consistently favour the 5800X, both when these processors are at stock settings and when they’re overclocked. It’s also much more power efficient than the i7-11700K.

What dampens this win somewhat is the fact that the AMD Ryzen 5 5600X exists. The 5600X is about $100 cheaper than the 5800X, and yet it performs the same or sometimes even better when gaming, making it a better choice of gaming CPU. And what’s more, the AMD Ryzen 9 5900X offers the real multi-core horsepower this AMD generation, leaving the 5800X sitting between a rock and a hard place. Still, if 8 cores is all you need and you want that slight gaming edge, the Ryzen 7 5800X is a great choice.

Saying this, we should keep our eye on the new Intel Core i7-12700K, because once its price settles and more 12th Gen motherboards hit the market, this chip will likely dethrone the 5800X given its stellar benchmarks. That is, unless AMD decides to drop the price of the 5800X to keep it competitive.

Intel Core i7-11700K: Best in Stock

While chip shortages are affecting all manufacturers, they seem to have hit AMD harder than Intel in 2021, probably because Intel builds its chips in its own fabs, whereas AMD offloads its production to TSMC. This has meant that for much of 2021 we’ve been more likely to see an Intel chip in stock at a reasonable price than an AMD one.

Even though the i7-11700K is somewhat competitive at around $400 thanks to its integrated graphics – which the 5800X lacks – it doesn’t have much else to edge it in front of the 5800X. Both CPUs perform too similarly in both single-threaded and multi-threaded workloads for these metrics to be much of a factor, and these differences are very much app-dependent, meaning you should compare benchmarks for any specific apps that you’ll be using.

In sum, the i7-11700K – and especially the i7-11700KF if you can find it in stock at its MSRP – is great if you need something that’s likely to be in stock which also has integrated graphics. Otherwise, the 5800X, which performs better for gaming and is more power efficient, is a better choice.

AMD Ryzen 7 5700G: Best APU

We haven’t spoken much about AMD’s Ryzen 7 5700G, because most readers will likely be looking for a high-end CPU to pair with a discrete graphics card. The main reason one buys a 5700G is to run an APU that can handle multi-core workloads and still play games on low-to-medium settings with very playable framerates.

Make no mistake, this is as good as you can get for a consumer-grade gaming APU. So, if you’re in the market for a gaming PC and current graphics card prices are giving you a headache, the Ryzen 7 5700G might be your saviour and deserves an honourable mention for that reason.

Intel Core i7-12700K: Most Promising

It’s too soon to say just how the Intel Core i7-12700K and AMD Ryzen 7 5800X will compare on the price-performance scale, because the i7-12700K’s prices haven’t yet settled and AMD might decide to reduce the price of the Ryzen 7 5800X to keep it competitive. And that’s not to mention the promise of new, cheaper Intel 12th Gen motherboards hitting the market next year, or the potential for stock issues to have an impact.

Nevertheless, the Core i7-12700K holds a lot of promise, and, based on the benchmark results we’ve seen so far, it will likely dethrone the AMD Ryzen 7 5800X and the Intel Core i7-11700K both for gaming and productivity tasks. Its platform also offers a great deal with DDR5, PCIe 5.0, and XMP 3.0 support. If you’re looking for a Core-i7 or Ryzen 7 CPU, it might be best to hold fire and see what the i7-12700K offers in terms of price-performance once the market matures, because it looks very promising.

Jacob Fox

Jacob's been tinkering with computer hardware for over a decade, and he's written hardware articles for various PC gaming websites. Outside of the wonderful world of PC hardware, he's currently undertaking a PhD in philosophy, with a focus on topics surrounding the meaning of life.

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