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AMD Ryzen 7000 vs. Intel Raptor Lake

Later this year, both AMD and Intel are launching their Ryzen 7000 and Raptor Lake processors 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 won 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.

While Ryzen 7000 and Raptor Lake haven’t been fully revealed, we can get a good idea of how things will turn out based on limited official information and some (hopefully accurate) leaks.

Pricing and availability

Lisa Su showing Zen 4 CPU.

Ryzen 7000 is slated for a fall launch, while Intel is just committing itself to a launch window of anywhere between June and December. Given how little Intel has talked about Raptor Lake, it’s possible we might not see it launch until the year is almost over.

Pricing is one of the last things to be determined with any components, and CPUs are no exception. We won’t know how much Ryzen 7000 or Raptor Lake will cost until AMD and Intel announce the prices.

Looking at last generation prices can give an idea for future costs, though. The recommended retail pricing for AMD’s current lineup is as follows:

  • Ryzen 9 5950X, $799
  • Ryzen 9 5900X, $549
  • Ryzen 7 5800X, $449
  • Ryzen 7 5700X, $299
  • Ryzen 5 5600X, $299
  • Ryzen 5 5600, $200
  • Ryzen 5 5500, $159

Since Ryzen 7000 is not increasing the core count, it’s easy to imagine that Ryzen 7000’s pricing structure will be similar to the Ryzen 5000 CPUs that launched in November 2020, which would be the 5950X, 5900X, 5800X, and 5600X. Considering AMD only just launched its lower-end 5700X, 5600, and 5500 CPUs, we likely won’t see replacements for those until next year at the earliest.

The Intel Core i9-12900KS box sitting in front of a gaming PC.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

Intel’s pricing isn’t too different, but has lower highs and lower lows.

  • Core i9-12900K, $599
  • Core i7-12700K, $419
  • Core i5-12600K, $299
  • Core i5-12400, $192
  • Core i3-12300, $143
  • Core i3-12100, $129

Because Intel is increasing the core count rather than providing a significant architectural or process improvement, we would expect the top-end 24-core Raptor Lake CPU (presumably the Core i9-13900K) to carry a higher price than the Core i9-12900K. This is what happened with the Core i7-8700K and the Core i9-9900K — each CPU had more cores and a higher price tag than the old flagship. Meanwhile, we could expect the price per core to go down, which is what we have seen since 8th Gen.

Architectures

A graphic lists Zen 4 architecture.

AMD is introducing the new Zen 4 architecture with its Ryzen 7000 CPUs. The company hasn’t discussed everything Zen 4 introduces, but the big-ticket items are 1MB of L2 cache per core (double from Zen 3), new AI instructions, and the use of TSMC’s new, enhanced 5nm node.

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.

Outside of the Zen 4 core itself, the IO die features an RDNA2 iGPU, bringing graphics to chiplet Ryzen CPUs for the first time, and supports DDR5 memory and PCIe 5.0. V-Cache is not confirmed at this time for Ryzen 7000, but if it’s anything like the V-Cache seen in the Ryzen 7 5800X3D, it’ll only be available on eight-core CPUs.

A hand holds the Intel Core i9-12900KS.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

As mentioned previously, Raptor Lake seems to be relying more on the addition of eight E-cores than improvements to the CPU cores themselves. The upcoming CPUs are not expected to feature a major architectural improvement over Alder Lake, and the process Raptor Lake uses is Intel’s 10nm, which is nothing new.

A leaked roadmap that dates to 2020 strongly hints Raptor Lake will not feature new efficiency cores, but an improved version of Alder Lake’s Golden Cove performance cores. Also on this roadmap is a reference to “improved CPU cache for gaming,” which could imply more L3 cache. Adding more L3 cache would certainly improve gaming performance, as seen in the Ryzen 7 5800X3D.

We also might see more L2 cache according to another leak, but L2 cache is within the CPU core itself, making this kind of tweak much more architecturally significant. AMD’s Zen 4 brings an increase in L2 cache, and Zen 4 is considered a new architecture, not just a revision of Zen 3. It is possible we will see both an increase in L3 and L2 cache with Raptor Lake, but the latter isn’t quite as likely.

Performance

AMD Ryzen 7000 benchmark in Blender.

Until the chips are in the hands of independent reviewers, we won’t know for sure how fast they are, but AMD has at least given us some first-party numbers, and leaks and rumors give us a hint at what Raptor Lake might be capable of.

At its Computex keynote, AMD said Ryzen 7000 had at least 15% higher single-threaded performance than the Ryzen 9 5950X in Cinebench R23, and took 31% less time to render than the Core i9-12900K in Blender, making it about 46% faster. Many reviews have the 5950X rendering in around 90% of the time the 12900K takes, which means in Blender the Ryzen 7000 16-core could be about 30% faster than the 5950X.

But Ryzen 7000 might improve things even more than that. In an interview with HotHardware, AMD’s Robert Hallock confirmed that although Ryzen 7000 would not feature more than 16 cores, it would be up to over 40% faster than Ryzen 5000, though presumably he specifically meant in multithreaded tasks, not single-threaded. However, he also said the 15% figure was “deliberately conservative” in another interview.

The increased TDP on Ryzen 7000, which has been pushed up to 170 watts, is one of the most likely reasons for better multithreaded performance, as more power benefits multithreaded workloads the most. It’s also possible that DDR5 memory will improve multithreaded performance scaling. DDR5 memory certainly helps the Core i9-12900K in multithreaded benchmarks thanks to higher memory bandwidth, which might not be as helpful in a single-threaded task.

The most important takeaway here is that AMD is talking up its multithreaded performance much more than its single-threaded performance, so we should expect Ryzen 7000 to improve more on multithread rather than single-thread, even if the leaps in both are impressive.

Raptor Lake may have eight more E-cores than top Alder Lake chips, but is this enough to win against Ryzen 7000? Intel says its new CPUs will have “double-digit” performance improvements, which means at least 10%, but that’s pretty vague. 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 5-25%, depending on the kind of work. Assuming perfect scaling, we might get another 5-25% more performance, though that will be very application specific and likely wouldn’t do much for games.

Since it seems like Ryzen 7000 will deliver a substantial improvement in multithreaded performance, it’s possible Intel will be unable to maintain its lead here, even if Raptor Lake has 24 cores at the top end. The battle for single-threaded performance will be interesting, though. AMD may finally have closed the distance on clock speed, which could bring it to parity where Intel has traditionally been much stronger.

Motherboards

AMD announces 600 series chipsets.
AMD

Although Ryzen 7000 isn’t due until this fall, companies have already begun announcing AM5 motherboards. So far, AMD has announced three new chipsets: 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 mid-range 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.

All AM5 motherboards support DDR5, PCIe 5.0, up to 14 USB ports each at 20 Gbps, 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 700 launches.

A lineup of Z690 motherboards.

Although Intel hasn’t announced new motherboards for Raptor Lake, it has said Raptor Lake is “socket-compatible” with Alder Lake boards, so we can assume current LGA1700 boards will receive BIOS updates that enable them to use Raptor Lake CPUs.

Intel’s LGA 1700 motherboards, much like AMD’s AM5 motherboards, support DDR5 (and DDR4), PCIe 5.0, Wi-Fi 6E, and Bluetooth 5.2. 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 modern 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 SSDs, however. All the AM5 chipsets that AMD has announced so far support at least one PCIe 5.0 NVMe SSD, whereas no Intel motherboards support PCIe 5.0 SSDs. Of course, Intel could launch new motherboards that support PCIe 5.0 SSDs.

Intel’s LGA1700 motherboards support DDR4, which means Alder Lake (and presumably Raptor Lake) users don’t have to buy expensive DDR5 memory. 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.

It’s a draw

When it comes to CPU performance and motherboard features, Ryzen 7000 and Raptor Lake seem like they’ll be pretty even. Barring any major surprises, we expect Raptor Lake to lead Ryzen 7000 in single-threaded performance, while Ryzen 7000 will likely be a little faster than Raptor Lake in multithreaded scenarios.

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