AMD Vs. Intel: Ask me about benefits

April 22, 2017


Every once in a while, someone will ask “Why should I get AMD instead of Intel? What is a benefit?” And of course, the answer is always “AMD is cheaper”.

Then they will go on a tangent, moving the goal posts of their question, insisting that one take into account a specific use case, involving specific, Intel-optimized applications, network load, and planet alignment. Well, no, you don’t get to change your question after it has been answered. That’s a new, different question. I answered your question, and my answer is valid.

The margins are getting narrower, though. Recently, I saw an upgrade AMD FX-8350 CPU/Mobo/RAM combo on sale for the same price as an equivalent Intel i5 quad-core and a cheap Intel motherboard, meaning that you basically get the RAM for free in the combo. Yes, I am comparing sale price to sale price, not full prices. And yes, it’s a high-quality motherboard. In this case, high-quality translates to “manufacturer: MSI, which probably means that they have solid, not liquid capacitors, that will last a good, long while.”.

Real prices: The AMD combo is $290. The equivalent i5 processor, on sale, by itself, is $220. The motherboard is valued at $130, and the AMD combo is $40 less than the individual components. So let’s call the motherboard a value of $90. If you add a merely average-quality motherboard to the Intel i5, that’s easily another $70. So these are equivalent systems. Yeah, you can overclock the Intel chip a lot easier, and without overclocking, the Intel chip runs cooler, but the AMD processor is pre-overclocked.

In reality, you aren’t really going to get a huge boost in performance from overclocking that you can sense. It’s going to make some background processes run better, but other components are more vital to your enjoyment of your computer experience. That’s where the premium MSI motherboard comes in, providing good bus throughput and stability.

So go ahead and use an Intel chip when you need to squeeze the most efficiency out of your equipment or the planets are in alignment, but if you are truly open to the benefits of an alternate processor, consider the AMD for money savings. Really. I use my AMD daily, and I am happy with the performance. (Plus, the AMD FX chip is even better when using digital processing for something like video processing, where shared math co-processors don’t matter.)

On another economic note, the AMD FX-6300 Vishera processor is down to about $70 on sale. When I purchased my FX-6300 processor a couple of years ago, it was $110, on sale. Either my processor is getting old or I am. At least the processor is still useful. I hope to upgrade to a Ryzen AMD processor in about 3 years.

I expected the FX series of processors to price-drop precipitously when the Ryzen processor made its debut, but prices are only steadily dropping a tiny bit. That steady drop should be expected.