If you’ve been keeping up with all the latest AMD and Intel CPU news, you know that this year’s battle is one for the history books. Intel® released their high core count (HCC) processors this past year, signaling their battle call against AMD’s Threadripper. Despite rumors of uninspiring clock speeds and high temperatures, Intel® is back for a rematch. XOTIC PC compares these two CPU champions to determine which is the best CPU for enthusiasts. In this review, we take an in-depth look at how these chips are made, their specifications, overclocking, and gaming performance to help you decide and build your rig with confidence.
GUIDE TO INTEL’S CORE I9 VS. AMD’S THREADRIPPER
Intel’s use of a mesh design clearly gives it the competitive edge to vie with AMD’s Threadripper as more and more cores are added to processing units. AMD built Threadripper by connecting two eight-core dies together with Infinity Fabric, which uses on-die embedded sensors to monitor die temperature, speed, and voltage across all 64 cores. This high-speed mesh network also allows AMD to fully utilize DRAM available to any SoC or GPU.
Overclocking: Instead of an efficient indium-tin solder, Intel® opted to use a standard thermal interface material to join the CPU die to the metal heat spreader. Whilst there is speculation surrounding the premium attached to using solder, Intel’s big switch has its implications. By pairing a huge die and a thermal design power with a relatively high wattage, Intel® users are saddled with CPU thermals that severely limit overclocking and require expensive cooling solutions to counterbalance. Intel® recommends liquid cooling, even at stock speeds. On automatic settings, CPU temperatures hover around 152°F. Threadripper CPUs use solder, and their heat spreaders are large enough that AMD added a set of dummy chips just to structurally support them. Threadripper units come with bracket adapters that work with most liquid cooling solutions. Neither the Core i9 or the Threadripper can be passively cooled, which means a cooling solution will be a necessary investment.
Performance: Gaming continues to be a key motivation for upgrades, and this is where Intel® outshines. Despite the higher clock speeds of the Threadripper, the i9’s cores prove more powerful due to higher boost speeds. The Core i9 can also help graphics cards achieve higher frame rates and handle demanding 3D graphics as well as ultra-graphic settings in 4K resolutions. Intel’s processing power means that users can play much more immersive games. AMD takes the lead in real-time strategy games that can seriously exercise an unsuspecting processor. Someday soon, extra cores will make a big difference in frame rate for high-resolution gaming.
WHO WINS? OUR CPU VERDICT
On paper, the basic specifications of Core i9’s and Threadripper seem to compete on an even keel. However, AMD provides higher base clock frequencies and more CPU memory cache than Intel® does. The Core i9 outperforms Threadripper in boost speeds and power. PCs with i9 processor technology will run cooler, quieter, and cheaper in the long run. If gaming is a concern, the kinds of games you play most often will play a determining factor in your decision. One problem that both Threadripper and Core i9 face is finding apps that scale to their high core counts. Even in this day and age, it’s difficult to find apps, let alone games, that can soak all the threads of last-generation processors. You might just find that your core coasts along with nothing to do.
Purchasing a CPU is one of the most important decisions of any build. We recommend that you take performance and productivity into consideration. Price is also paramount. The high price tag of Intel’s Core i9 might seem like overkill in terms of CPU disparities, but the performance boost of the i9 is a no-brainer for animators, CGI artists, graphic designers, and hardcore gaming enthusiasts. Threadripper’s reasonable price tag makes it an incredibly tempting alternative. If you have any questions about this comparison or would like to learn more about upgrading your CPU, please contact us today for more information.