This year, both AMD and Intel are launching their Ryzen 7000 and Raptor Lake processors, respectively, at around the same time. AMD is aiming to take back the single- and multithreaded performance crown from Intel, while Intel is looking to solidify its lead and hang on to the gaming crown it took back with its 12th-generation processors. Yet each company’s approach could not be more different. Although AMD’s Ryzen 7000 CPUs are equipped with a new architecture and process node, they do not feature an increase in core count. Meanwhile, Intel is sticking with its 10nm process for its Raptor Lake CPUs and doesn’t seem to be pursuing major architectural changes; instead, it’s adding more cores.
Both Ryzen 7000 and Raptor Lake have been revealed, but so far, only reviews for AMD’s new chips are out. Still, we can get a pretty good idea of how things will go.
Pricing and availability
Ryzen 7000 launched on September 27, the very day Intel unveiled its Raptor Lake-powered 13th Gen CPUs, which will come out on October 20. Letting AMD have a month to itself might sound pretty bad for Intel, but things get more interesting when you look at the pricing for Ryzen 7000 and 13th Gen.
So far, AMD has announced four different processors for the midrange and high-end:
- Ryzen 9 7950X, $699
- Ryzen 9 7900X, $549
- Ryzen 7 7700X, $399
- Ryzen 7 7600X, $299
Ryzen 7000’s pricing structure is something of an improvement over Ryzen 5000’s, but it still doesn’t offer anything for buyers wanting something a little cheaper. Ryzen 7000 CPUs with 3D V-Cache are also not available yet, but AMD has confirmed they’re on the way. Hopefully, we’ll hear something about cheaper or V-Cache-equipped Ryzen 7000 CPUs at AMD’s CES 2023 presentation in January.
Most of us expected 13th Gen CPUs would be more expensive than 12th Gen Alder Lake chips. Raising prices every single generation is just something Intel has done since 2017, and since Raptor Lake features many more cores than Alder Lake (thus increasing manufacturing costs), another round of price increases seemed likely.
Thankfully, most of us were wrong, and 13th Gen CPUs basically share the same pricing structure as 12th Gen CPUs. Intel, like AMD, has only launched its midrange to high-end CPUs, but we expect new models to come later.
- Core i9-13900K, $589
- Core i7-13700K, $409
- Core i5-13600K, $319
But the thing is, Raptor Lake is adding core counts all across the board, and Intel isn’t skimping out, either. The end result of Intel’s pricing scheme is that the Core i9-13900K undercuts the Ryzen 9 7950X by over $100, and the 13900K could dethrone the 7950X’s short reign. The Core i7-13700K (which seems to be a supercharged Core i9-12900K) looks even more enticing as it’s about the same price as the Ryzen 7 7700X.
AMD is introducing the new Zen 4 architecture with its Ryzen 7000 CPUs, and the big-ticket upgrades are 1MB of L2 cache per core (double from Zen 3), new AI instructions, and the use of TSMC’s new, enhanced 5nm node. Thanks to all those improvements plus several smaller changes, Ryzen 7000 promises a 13% boost in instructions per clock (or IPC) and a massive clock speed boost, from 4.9GHz on Ryzen 5000 to 5.7GHz on the top Zen 4 CPUs.
TSCM’s 5nm is particularly important because, compared to the older 7nm node, it offers up to either a 15% increase in clock speed for no additional power consumption or as much as a 30% reduction in power consumption at the same clock speed. Although these figures are often extremely optimistic, it certainly seems like Zen 4 is able to take full advantage of that potential boosted clock speed, as Ryzen 7000 is confirmed to run at 5.5GHz in moderately threaded applications like games, and potentially higher still when fewer cores are needed. However, Ryzen 7000 consumes much more power than Ryzen 5000 so that it can hit these frequencies.
Outside of the Zen 4 core itself, the IO die features an RDNA2 iGPU, bringing graphics to chiplet Ryzen CPUs for the first time. However, these graphics aren’t designed for gaming and are really aimed toward PC users that don’t want discrete graphics (like business PCs, for example) and also for use in high-end gaming laptops. Ryzen 7000 also supports DDR5 memory and PCIe 5.0 for both graphics and storage.
Compared to last-generation Alder Lake CPUs, Raptor Lake is essentially bigger and more refined with three key improvements: higher clocked cores, more cores, and more cache. This has all been done without using a brand new process or a brand new architecture like AMD; Intel is still sticking with its Intel 7 process (also known as 10nm) and essentially the same cores we saw in Alder Lake.
When it comes to clock speed, Intel is claiming its Core i9-13900K’s P-cores can hit 5.8GHz out of the box, which is 600MHz more than the 12900K was capable of and 100MHz higher than what the 7950X is rated for. The E-cores, on the other hand, get a smaller boost of 400MHz, which is still pretty decent. This extra clock speed isn’t free, though, as it requires significantly more power, but more performance is more performance.
Raptor Lake also features a big increase in core count, but we’re talking about the smaller E-cores, which are more efficient but also much slower than the larger P-cores. That being said, it makes sense for Intel to add more E-cores since the P-cores are really there for single-threaded tasks; the E-cores are fine for multithreaded workloads.
But perhaps one of the most important changes is the cache, which can speed up several kinds of workloads, particularly games. The 13900K has double the L2 and L3 cache of the 12900K, with most of the additional cache coming from L2. This is very different from how AMD designs its CPUs; Ryzen CPUs have the bulk of their cache in L3, but Raptor Lake’s L2 cache is nearly as large as its L3. It’ll be interesting to see if Intel’s approach here is better than AMD’s.
We can’t be certain about the dynamic between Ryzen 7000 and Raptor Lake yet since the reviews for Intel’s new CPUs aren’t out yet, but we can get a pretty decent idea based on what we know so far.
At the Ryzen 7000 launch event, AMD claimed the Ryzen 9 7950X would have up to 29% higher single-threaded and 44% higher multithreaded performance than the Ryzen 9 5950X. This meant that against the Core i9-12900K, the 7950X would have a similar multithreaded performance advantage but just a 10% higher single-threaded performance. These claims were confusing since the 5950X is generally slower than the 12900K in multithreaded workloads, but it’s likely AMD based these claims off of Blender, which is very favorable to Ryzen 5000 CPUs.
In our review, we found that the 7950X was significantly faster than the 5950X, just like AMD said, but it was a different story with the 12900K. The single-threaded performance between both CPUs was about the same, with the 7950X being at most 6% faster, and the 7950X did win significantly in multithreaded benchmarks but by 30% or so, not 40%.
As for gaming, the 7950X was 13% faster than the 5950X and 8% faster than both the 12900K and the Ryzen 7 5800X3D. That’s lower than what AMD was claiming we should expect (the midrange Ryzen 5 7600X is apparently 11% faster than the 12900K), but in AMD’s defense, even slightly different testing methodologies can produce very different results in games.
Intel is also making some pretty big performance claims, saying the Core i9-13900K has 15% more single-threaded performance and 41% more multithreaded performance than the Core i9-12900K. Intel is basing this claim off of SPEC, though, a benchmark only Intel itself seems to use. However, Intel did show some benchmarks for content-creation applications, which are often multithreaded, and the results are interesting. On average, the 13900K was ~40% faster than the 5950X, which would put Intel’s new flagship up there with the 7950X.
It’s hard to evaluate gaming performance, but Intel claims the 13900K is about 10% to 20% faster than the 12900K on average. Compared to AMD CPUs, Intel says the 13900K has about a 25% lead against the 5950X and is about even with the 5800X3D. If we compare that against our own testing, then that implies the 13900K will be the fastest CPU for gaming, and that’s certainly possible when it has so much cache, but we’ll have to wait for the reviews to say for sure one way or another.
One big caveat with Raptor Lake is the E-cores. Having more is definitely better, but that doesn’t necessarily mean big performance gains. AnandTech tested what it would be like if the Core i9-12900K didn’t have any E-cores at all, and the publication found that Alder Lake’s eight E-cores improve performance by anywhere from 5% to 25% depending on the kind of work. That’s not a ton of extra performance, especially at the lower end, and it only helps for multithreaded workloads.
That being said, the clock speed and extra cache will definitely come in handy for all sorts of tasks, even if the E-cores don’t. Even in a worst-case scenario, the 13900K probably won’t be too far behind a 7950X in multithreaded performance and definitely has good odds for winning in single-thread, which is not as relevant as it used to be, but it’s still something.
AMD has announced three new chipsets to launch alongside Ryzen 7000: X670E, X670, and B650. The X670E chipset is for hardcore overclockers, X670 is for the typical high-end user, and B650 is for lower-end to midrange users. AMD hasn’t yet announced a successor to the A520 chipset, but A520 was a late addition to the 500 series, so that may come post-Ryzen 7000 release. For simplicity’s sake, since Intel’s current-generation boards are also the 600 series, we’re going to use socket names, so AM5 for AMD and LGA1700 for Intel.
All AM5 motherboards support DDR5, PCIe 5.0, up to 14 USB ports each at 20Gbps, Wi-Fi 6E, and Bluetooth 5.2. The maximum number of displays from the motherboard is also increased, from two on the 500 series to four on AM5. Overclocking support has not changed, and AM5 owners will be able to overclock on B650, X670, and X670E motherboards. AM5 motherboards are also compatible with AM4 coolers, which is great for any AMD user wanting to upgrade when Ryzen 7000 launches.
AMD is also introducing its EXPO memory overclocking feature, which is basically a fancy version of XMP. Unlike XMP, however, not all DDR5 kits will have support for EXPO, which is more of a feature for enthusiasts and overclockers than a new standard.
Raptor Lake will be compatible with last-generation Alder Lake motherboards and also next-generation motherboards using the Z790 chipset, but at the moment, the new chipset appears to just offer more PCIe 4.0 lanes and faster USB ports. Intel’s LGA 1700 motherboards (new or old) support DDR5 (and DDR4, unlike AM5), PCIe 5.0, Wi-Fi 6E, and Bluetooth 5.2, just like AMD’s Ryzen 7000 boards. On a feature level, neither AMD nor Intel has a particularly large advantage.
One point for Intel is that all of its chipsets and motherboards support PCIe 5.0 on the x16 slot for graphics. Even the lowest-end LGA1700 board can support a next-generation PCIe 5.0 GPU. Meanwhile, PCIe 5.0 graphics on AMD’s AM5 motherboards is exclusive to higher-end models.
AMD does have better support for PCIe 5.0 solid-state drives (SSDs), however. All the AM5 chipsets that AMD has announced so far support at least one PCIe 5.0 NVMe SSD, whereas no current Intel motherboards support PCIe 5.0 SSDs. Intel could launch new motherboards that support PCIe 5.0 SSDs with its Raptor Lake chips, however, so we’ll have to wait and see what happens there.
Intel’s LGA1700 motherboards support DDR4, though, which means Alder Lake (and presumably Raptor Lake) users don’t have to buy expensive DDR5 memory if they choose not to. Meanwhile, AMD’s AM5 motherboards don’t support DDR4, so users will have to buy DDR5 RAM.
Generally, both AMD’s and Intel’s 600 boards offer similar features. Intel does have an advantage over AMD in that you can already buy Raptor Lake-compatible boards, but that’s only relevant to people who already have an Alder Lake CPU or are planning to buy one in the near future.
Before anything was officially known about Ryzen 7000 and Raptor Lake, it seemed possible that AMD might regain the multithreaded crown despite Raptor Lake having eight additional cores, while Intel could retain the single-threaded crown despite Ryzen 7000 coming with significant IPC gains and increased clock speeds. This seems to be exactly what’s happening, and you really have to enjoy the irony here.
But raw performance is just half the story; value is also really interesting. AMD’s brand new flagship might be unassailable, but the Core i7-13700K and the Core i5-13600K have the potential to make people wonder if the Ryzen 5 7600X and the Ryzen 7 7700X are really worth the money.