That the fastest processors are currently made by Intel is not really a secret, but what is the best choice when you want to spend up to £ 50, £100 or £150? To answer that question we conducted a megatest of 57 current AMD and Intel CPUs.
From two to eight cores, 2 Ghz through to 5 GHz and a price range from less than £ 30 to over £ 900. If you are looking for a new processor the choice at the moment is ample. In the high end range the only manufacturer of choice is Intel, as is clear by the performance levels of the new i7 processors. If you do not want to spend an arm and a leg on a new CPU however you will find there is a lot of competition in the lower end of the market between AMD and Intel. Intel's biggest advantage is obviously the raw power per CPU core and power consumption, but AMD processors have a very good price/performance ratio and their biggest advantage is the integration of their Radeon graphics. If you are looking for a processor in the lower range the choice can become quite difficult, and to help making the choice a bit clearer we have tested 57 processors in all price ranges, from the Celeron to the Core i7 and the A4 to the FX processors.
On the following pages of this test we will go through all available CPU's in the mentioned price ranges. In this comparison table all specifications and test results are listed. It is also possible to click on the CPU's of your choice in our list of reviewed products and compare only these that way.
When you are shopping around for a new CPU, you will find that Intel's offering is very clear: both the extremely cheap as well as the extremely expensive models are all based on Haswell technology on socket 1150. You can still find the older generation Ivy Bridge and Sandy Bridge processors, but we can see no reason to consider these when you are starting a new build, and have not included those in our test. The models range from the cheapest Celeron (dual core) to Pentium (dual core and higher clock speeds) to Core i3 (dual core and hyperthreading), Core i5 (quad core and turbo) and Core i7 (quad core plus hyperthreading and turbo). Top of the range are the socket 2011 Core i7 CPU's that come in six and eight core varieties.
Easy to choose: Celeron, Pentium, Core i3, Core i5 and Core i7; all Haswell, all Socket 1150
AMD currently has processors in more generations and sockets on the market. There are Socket AM3+ processors that have six or eight cores but no GPU, based on the Vishera chip introduced in 2012. There are also APUs (AMD’s processors with integrated graphics) around with chips from the last three generations of processors, Trinity, Richland and Kaveri. If you are really looking you can even find processors based on technology from four generations back, Llano. Llano and Trinity are not tested in this review, we concentrate mainly on the newer Kaveri chips and have tested some of the older Richland CPUs. This because the Richland offers slightly better CPU performance than the similarly priced Kaveri, however we do prefer the Kaveri as this is based on the more modern GCN-architecture.
We are not impressed with the AMD line up, as it is quite messy. Where Intel is quite clear on what you can expect from a Core i3 or i5, AMD with their choice of A4, A6, A8 and A10 is definitely not. You can normally assume that the higher the number is, the faster the processor will be, but not in all cases. The model number after the type indication does not offer any clue about the architecture on the chip, the A4-7300 is, despite the model number, still based on the Richland architecture.
With three generations of current CPUs AMD's assortment is quite extensive
We have tested all processors running Windows 8 with different kinds of software. For integrated graphics we used 3DMark and three games, and to get a view on CPU performance we ran three different tests; Cinebench, a multithreaded benchmark based on 3D rendering software, Tech Arp x264 benchmark to test how fast the CPU can render H.264 video and benchmarks based on Cyberlink PowerDirector (video editing), Adobe Photoshop (photo editing), Microsoft Excel 2013 (calculations), WinRAR (compression) and TrueCrypt (encryption). With a Radeon HD 7970 added to the systems we did a number of other game benchmarks. In the tables at the end of the article you can find all test results as well as in our comparative table.