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The State of the Current Desktop CPU Market


Aug 29th 2019

By Robert Kirchner JR


An in depth look at the current market, performance, and features of desktop CPUs




Flagship CPUs


Intel Core i7

It took quite some time for Intel finally released their latest generation of Core CPUs. Due to scandal and manufacturing technology delays, Intel has released the first iteration of CPUs in more than a year.

Core i7-9700K

Intel Core i7-9700K

The Coffee Lake 8-core LGA 1151 CPU clocks in at 3.6GHz(4.9GHz Turbo) and features the Intel UHD Graphics 630 embedded GPU and an unlocked CPU multiplier.

This 95 Watt processor requires a motherboard upgrade to the Intel 300 series chipset. Which is a big disappointment for current Intel users. With Turbo Boost 2.0, the 9700K increases the frequency when less cores are in use, up to 4.9GHz when one core is in use. The K model offers an unlocked CPU multiplier, which allows you to raise the CPU frequency much higher than the 3.6GHz stock speed.

8 Cores and 8 Threads?

An interesting and mostly unpopular move by Intel, no Hyper-threading. This forces you to buy the Xtreme(More on this later) edition if you require HT. Intel for the better part of the past five years had virtually no competition, making the CPU market pretty stale with very little innovation. Since AMD's release of the Ryzen(More on this later) line, competition now exists, and forces Intel to do something new.

Since Intel is stepping up their game, and the whole market are stepping up their price. Forcing PC enthusiast and gamers alike to shovel out more cash to get into the game. You could expect to get your hands on one of these for the usual K model price of $350.


Intel Core i7 9800X

Intel Core i7-9800X

This 8 Core 16 Thread LGA2066 CPU clocks in at 3.8GHZ(4.4GHz Turbo) and supports up to 4 channels of DDR4 memory.

The 9800X uses up to a whopping 165 Watts. The LGA 2066 socket is quite new and requires a more expensive motherboard than the LGA 1151 socket. On the bright side, the 9800X offers 44 PCIE lanes, wich is good news if you plan to run multiple NVMe drives. You will find with limited PCIE bandwith of the lower grade CPUs, just one NVMe can be hard to pull off if you plan on using PCIE expansions.

This CPU is more geared to a workstation that needs lots of heavy duty multitasking and computing. Selling for a hefty $600, it is out of the question for most.

At 165 Watts, you can expect to need a heavy duty thermal solution. A very good application for liquid cooling.


AMD Ryzen

Ryzen 7 3800X

AMD Ryzen 3800X

This latest AMD 8 Core 16 Thread AM4 CPU clocks in at 3.9GHz, with an unlocked CPU multiplier, and a remarkably low TDP of 65 Watts. Unlike Intel CPUs, this processor has no integrated GPU.

AMD has done a good job at making their CPUs backwards compatible, not requiring a motherboard upgrade. But as you are about to see, you are going to want a new motherboard for this one.


PCIE 4.0

AMD is breaking some ground with the new generation of PCI Express. This technology is brand new, and the rest the industry has some work to do. But this has exciting potential.

Since most graphics cards barely use half of the bandwidth of their 16 PCIE lanes, we can hope to see PCIE lanes freed up. But one of the most exciting things we can expect to see not only faster NVMe drives, but true NVMe RAID arrays. You might see dual NVMe RAID cards out there, but they only provide each drive 2 of their required 4 PCI lanes. These cards typically make your NVMe drive much slower, watch out for these. This also has potential for laptop gamers, combined most likely with the latest Thunderbolt connections, to have quality and inexpensive external graphics cards. Which would offer the ability to do serious gaming at home, and still unplug and take their machine on the go.

With a $390 price tag, these units are certainly a product you might want to consider.




Performance

Benchmarks

We will be using userbenchmark.com to write this article. If you are not familiar with them, you should check them out. They have a large collection of system benchmarks that you can use to see performance from a head to head perspective. It is a tremendous tool when shopping for an upgrade.




Intel Core i7-9800X VS AMD Ryzen 7 3800X


Effective CPU Speed

Userbenchmark's Effective Speed is a measure of desktop and gaming performance, distilling hundreds of measurments into a single number.

The i7 is rated at 90.5%, slightly bested by AMD at 95.7%.


Average User Bench

Userbenchmark's Average User Bench is a mixed multi-core score measuring desktop and gaming performance, ranging from 1 to 64 core benchmarks, it is a distillation of hundreds of data points into one number. Across the board, the Ryzen 7 comes out on top with this one by an average of six percent. These results are troubling, I expected much better from Intel.


Overclocked Bench

Userbenchmark's Overclocked Bench is the same benchmarks as above, but at overclocked speeds, ranging from 1 to 64 core bench scores. Across the board, the i7 slightly out performs the Ryzen by an average of 2 percent.


Value

Market Share

The Ryzen 7 has an insanely higher market share, 1,033% higher than the i7. This very different from what you would of seen five years ago. This is no surprise given that the $600 i7-9800X under performs the $390 Ryzen.


Value for Price

Userbenchmark's Value for Price measures real world performance per unit cost. It is the quotient of real speed and the 2nd root of price multiplied by a factor of scale.

I find it suprising that the Ryzen at Value per Price is only 19% above the 9800X. Scoring 87% and 73% respectively


User Rating

The 9800X is rated at 52%, while the 3800X comes in at 74%. Not suprising the i7 is 42% less popular than Ryzen




Core i7-9800X VS Core i7-9700K


Effective CPU Speed

Userbenchmarks Effective Speed

The 9800X is rated at 90.5%, and is bested by the much cheaper 9700K by 10%.


Average User Bench

The 9700K comes out ahead by a whopping margin of 10%.


Overclocked Bench

Once again the 9700K bests the 9800X across the board by an average of 7%.


Value

Market Share

As you can imagine, given the previous results, the 9700K has exponentially higher market share, 4,233% higher than its much more costly sibling.


Value for Price

As you can see, the 9700K is a much better value than it's sibling, leading by a margin of 17%


User Rating

The 9800X has an extremely low user rating, scoring in at 52%. Which by no surprise the 9700K is 27% much more popular, coming in at 118%




Ryzen 7 3800X VS Core i7-9700K


Effective CPU Speed

Userbenchmarks Effective Speed

The 9700K comes out at an even 100%, performing much better as a daily driver and gaming machine than a work station. not far behind is the AMD at 96%, performing evenly all around, and scoring 8% higher as a work station than the Intel competitor.


Average User Bench

The 9700K comes out slightly behind the 3800X by a margin of 3%


Overclocked Bench

The i7 barely out does the Ryzen by 2%


Value

Market Share

The 9700K enjoys 165% more market share than AMD's flagship model.


Value for Price

As you can see, the 9700K is a slightly better value than it's competitor leading by a margin of 8%.


User Rating

The Core i7 enjoys much higher popularity than the Ryzen, coming at 126%, while the 3800X hangs on at 74%.




Conclusion


The Competition is Pretty Fierce

After a long time of producing only budget OEM desktop and laptop CPUs, AMD's newest CEO has taken the company in a direction of not only challenging Intel with high core count hyper threaded products, but they no longer are a budget brand with prices sometimes higher than the Intel equivalent.


Not surprisingly, the 9700K goes toe to toe with the Ryzen. Intel has a long history of better single core performance. But the decision to make Hyper-Threading exclusive to the very expensive Xtreme line makes the difference that took the previous generation's significantly higher performance rating over that of the previous Ryzen generations.

It is alarming that Intel's twice as expensive workstation line, underperformed their flagship desktop model.


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