Does it really matter if AMD's Zen can't beat Intel's processors? Nope, not a bit. | PCGamesN

Does it really matter if AMD's Zen can't beat Intel's processors? Nope, not a bit.

AMD Zen vs Intel Core

There’s a real feeling we’re on the cusp of something we’ve not had in PC gaming hardware for a long while: genuine competition. AMD are back. But they don’t need to actually beat Intel or Nvidia to win back the hearts of our gaming rigs, they just need to be competitive enough to swallow up the underdog protest votes.

Read more: we’ve got the full lowdown on the upcoming AMD Zen CPUs

AMD have been keeping in touch with Nvidia on the graphics front, despite the fact the last few generations have seen the green team dominate in terms of both performance and in market share. As their new Polaris graphics cards have launched, and with their high-end Vega GPUs potentially taking on the very best of GeForce, AMD have announced their first rise in graphics card market share in four years.

In the wake of the Polaris-based cards releasing, AMD's Q2 numbers show that market share (by unit volume) has risen to 34.2% with regards to total discrete graphics. It's an impressive bump, but the fact they’ve arrested and reversed a steady decline is even more important.

Nvidia still have a massive market share - and top our pick of the best video cards around - but AMD have been able to stay close enough to their rivals to keep them pushing GPU technology with every new generation of graphics card.

AMD vs Nvidia

But on the CPU side of the business AMD have been so far adrift of their processing rivals that Intel have just been able to laze about, kicking their heels for years, releasing barely iterative performance improvements with successive CPU generations and sticking resolutely to four cores for their mainstream products.

Enter Zen. A brand new processor design which has thrown out pretty much all the missteps the company took with their Bulldozer CPUs. Those chips were supposed to be the processors to bring AMD into competition again with Intel, back in 2011, after the Core architecture pulled ahead of AMD’s Phenom chips. Only Bulldozer fell flat, putting all its eggs in the multi-threading basket, gambling that would offset its relatively low single-core performance compared with Intel’s Core design. 

Fast forward five years and the AMD Zen architecture is promising to deliver both a surfeit of cores and threads as well as the serious single core performance necessary for both last-gen, current and future game engines.

We’ve seen a whole lot of leaked and official benchmark numbers. All have been specially selected to make the new AMD chips look as good as possible, and we won’t know exactly how competitive the AMD Zen CPUs are when put up against their Intel Kaby Lake rivals until we get the final silicon from both camps into our test bench. 

But AMD doesn’t need to beat Intel in the benchmarks to deliver them a bloody nose. 

AMD Zen specs

There is such a huge appetite for genuine competition in the PC gaming world that AMD will get a whole lot of the protest votes from people looking to build and buy a new gaming PC who don’t want to be forced down the Intel route. The underdog syndrome alone would be enough for gamers to flock towards AMD should Zen be able to deliver the same gaming performance from a given graphics card as Intel’s chips can. But with Zen potentially offering the sort of processor performance to take on even Intel’s latest high-performance computing (HPC) chips in a straight core vs core challenge it’s not just going to be just the contrary public who jump on board the good ship AMD.

There is also the frustration of PC gamers long having to buy an Intel CPU no matter how they feel about their alleged historic anti-competitive practices simply because there was no real alternative. It’s not a question of AMD fanboys vs. Intel fanboys, it’s a question of genuine choice.

Intel Skylake CPU 

The likelihood is that Intel will still be able to deliver processor performance that’s faster than AMD’s Zen CPUs - they’ve got the scale and technology to be able to drop a lightning fast six-core into their mainstream range if they needed to - and Nvidia’s got a tangible lead in graphics performance which is liable to remain in place too. But the thing is that it doesn’t matter if AMD is a little behind the big boys, if they can claw back market share in both the CPU and GPU world the momentum that generates could seriously change the hardware landscape of the future.

And we all benefit if there is fierce but fair competition between the main component manufacturers in the PC world. Even if you’re a card-carrying Intel fan, with AMD pushing the big blue chip maker, it will force them to work harder to maintain their lead, and that’s only going to make our gaming PCs that much better.

Is AMD going to get your vote when their high-end CPUs and GPUs roll around or are you sticking with Intel and Nvidia? Let us know what you think.

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B0GiE-uk- avatarDave James avatarDibola avatartheerealist avatarJaniashvili© avatarproject17 avatar+5
B0GiE-uk- Avatar
111
1 Year ago

If AMD can beat the Core i7 6700k or Kabylake equivalent then i'll buy it.

Still waiting to upgrade from my 3770k as there has been no reason to.

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Dave James Avatar
591
1 Year ago

And that's kinda what I'm talking about. I understand CPU isn't the biggest game-changer for our rigs, but Intel also haven't given you any reason to budge from the Ivy Bridge 3770K.

Even if Zen can't top the 7700K Zen+ might and that might encourage Intel to push harder with Cannonlake to ensure it stays ahead.

Win win!

3
Janiashvili© Avatar
3
1 Year ago

That's wrong, 4 gen i7s had double or triple real-world performance even over top end e5 v2 xeons..

On software that utilized AVX2 though

2
Dibola Avatar
2
1 Year ago

The performance difference between Haswell and Skylake are so marginal that it's laughable and non-innovative. I have a hunch to expect near or above Haswell performance with Zen, which if be, will be pretty good and a must buy for any budget builder which is where the money is.

2
Firerod Avatar
17
1 Year ago

i have a i5-2500 and my friend has a i5-6600, its about a 20-25% increase in speed across the board SC, QC, MC speeds. Its not terrible for a 4 1/2 year difference in age.

1
project17 Avatar
6
1 Year ago

Got my i7 6700k last year after amd having heat problems fx8320 amd replaced cpu then did it again with a water-cooled cooler but I have only used Intel 3 time q6600 q6700 and 17 6700k so will never go back to amd don't get my wrong had lots of amd cpus and only fx 8 core had problems with so I am Intel and nvida all the way

1
UltimatePOPCORNS Avatar
1
1 Year ago

I only upgraded to 6700k because I was still running a wolfdale Celeron E3300, if I was using Sandy bridge or anything newer than that I won't even think about it, lol.

1
zachymullen Avatar
1
1 Year ago

heres the thing most ppl miss when talking about new and high end. Most of us dont have the expendable funds to throw into the top of the line intel processors. But AMD competes with near performance but far from near prices. I am running an FX 8350 and have no issues with any game out there with no overclocking. To get the same performance from intel i would have had to spend at least $130 more on just the processor not to mention the more expensive motherboard. If zen can get close at the same price difference intel is in trouble

1
rommysoeli Avatar
1
1 Year ago

Nice, Competition will accelerate the technology growth, Intel no longer on safe zone ( I believe Intel hold some of their innovation for next generation processor ), they will need to release more innovation on their line , or AMD will win the market.

1
theerealist Avatar
2
1 Year ago

If doesn't outright beat a 7700k in real world gaming it won't be going in my rig period. I'm not buying a lesser product just because they're an underdog. Intel needs COMPETITION. If AMD can't 1up Intel is that really competition?

0
Kurutta Neko Avatar
4
1 Year ago

You should take into account the pricing, too. If Zen is as expensive as Kabylake and has worse performance then of course Intel has nothing to worry about. But if Zen can deliver performance close to Kabylake at cheaper price then that's enough to make Intel get their act together.

3
Firerod Avatar
17
1 Year ago

Its going to be broadwell performance which raises the speed significantly over their current crop (FX9590 = i5 2500 in SC speed) and users who choose AMD alike will be happy that they will have something somewhat competitive.

1