The AMD Ryzen 9 7950X3D and Intel Core i9-13900K are undoubtedly two of the best processors you can buy, but they aren’t equal. We threw both of the CPUs on the test bench to answer the age-old question: is AMD or Intel better?
Based on our testing, the Ryzen 9 7950X3D wins this bout, mostly on the back of the excellent gaming performance AMD’s 3D V-Cache technology brings. Intel’s Core i9-13900K still holds up, particularly in productivity apps, but Team Red takes the win this time around.
Pricing and availability
First announced in September 2022, Intel’s Core i9-13900K hit shelves on October 20, 2022, initially priced at $590. Now, you can find it for a little less, with most retailers selling it for between $530 and $570.
For Intel, the Core i9-13900K was among the first Raptor Lake processors to arrive. For AMD, the Ryzen 9 7950X3D comes after several other chips have already made it to the market.
AMD initially launched the Ryzen 7000 lineup in September 2022, ushering in chips like the Ryzen 9 7950X. Announced during CES 2023, the Ryzen 9 7950X3D arrived on February 28, 2023, priced at $700. It will be joined by the Ryzen 9 7900X3D the same day, while the Ryzen 7 7800X3D will arrive in April.
You can expect AMD’s processor to run around $100 more than Intel’s. The Core i9-13900K has been available for several months, so it frequently goes on sale below $600, giving Intel the edge when it comes to overall value.
|Intel Core i9-13900K||Ryzen 9 7950X3D|
|Cores/threads||24/32 (8 P-cores, 16 E-cores)||16/32|
|Base clock||3GHz (P-cores), 2.2GHz (E-cores)||4.2GHz|
|Boost clock||5.8GHz (single core)||5.7GHz|
|Cache (L2 + L3)||68MB||144MB|
|TDP||125W (253W boost)||120W|
Looking at the specifications of both CPUs reveals a fair number of differences between the two.
For one, the Intel Core i9-13900K sports Intel’s hybrid core architecture, meaning it has a mix of performance (P) and efficiency (E) cores. Ultimately, it has a higher core count than the Ryzen 9 7950X3D, but the same number of threads.
AMD’s CPU has a significantly higher base clock and a slightly lower boost clock than the Intel chip. The processors are very similar in terms of power consumption, but the Core i9-13900K can be boosted to a whopping 253 watts.
Lastly, there’s the difference in cache size. Intel boosted the cache on Raptor Lake CPUs by a large amount, but it’s still no match for the 3D V-Cache-powered Ryzen 9 7950X3D. The AMD chip has a massive 144MB of combined cache, all thanks to the architecture of AMD’s 3D chips.
We tested the Core i9-13900K and Ryzen 9 7950X3D in a variety of benchmarks, and you can see our results below. All tests were run with 32GB of DDR5-6000 memory, along with Nvidia’s RTX 4080 GPU.
|AMD Ryzen 9 7950X3D||Intel Core i9-13900K|
|Cinebench R23 multi-core||36,335||40,191|
|Cinebench R23 single core||2,045||2,259|
|Handbrake (seconds, lower is better)||38||37|
|PugetBench for Photoshop||1,590||1,634|
|Y-Cruncher multi-core (seconds, lower is better)||8.87||9.93|
|Y-Cruncher single core (seconds, lower is better)||77.19||89.19|
Overall, the Core i9-13900K has a lead in productivity performance. Cinebench shows it ahead in single-core and multi-core speed, which is further backed up by real-world benchmarks such as PugetBench for Photoshop and faster transcoding times in Handbrake. Content creators are better off with the Core i9-13900K, mostly due to its higher overall boost clock speeds (it can easily reach 6GHz) and its higher core count.
It’s not a flat-out win for Intel’s processor, though. The Ryzen 9 7950X3D held a slight lead in Blender, for example, largely on the back of having more powerful cores. Remember, the Core i9-13900K has more cores than the Ryzen 9 7950X3D, but AMD’s chip has performant cores.
Similarly, AMD took the lead in Y-Cruncher, where we leveraged the processors to calculate 500 million digits of Pi. This boost could come from the additional cache on the Ryzen 9 7950X3D, as calculating Pi is an intensive task for RAM. Although the applications are slim, AMD’s 3D V-Cache can go beyond gaming.
Still, Intel holds the lead in raw productivity performance. It slips slightly to AMD in a few tasks, but the Core i9-13900K is anywhere from $100 to $150 cheaper as well. The Ryzen 9 7950X3D holds up well, but the extra cost mostly comes down to gaming performance, not productivity.
If AMD’s last-gen Ryzen 7 5800X3D taught us anything, it’s that 3D V-Cache is built for gaming. The Ryzen 9 7950X3D proves that, vastly outpacing the Core i9-13900K in basically every game we tested. You can see our results below, using the same test bench as the above section.
|AMD Ryzen 9 7950X3D||Intel Core i9-13900K|
|F1 2022||379.8 fps||368.2 fps|
|Far Cry 6||196.1 fps||145.7 fps|
|Gears Tactics||273.5 fps||255.3 fps|
|Hitman 3 (Dartmoor)||234.6 fps||203.8 fps|
|Red Dead Redemption 2||164.8 fps||162.7 fps|
|Time Spy CPU||16,116||18,516|
There are some minor gains in games like Red Dead Redemption 2, but CPU-limited games vastly favor AMD’s processor. The worst boost we saw was in F1 2022, with a 3% lead for AMD’s processor. On the other end, the Ryzen 9 7950X3D was nearly 35% ahead in Far Cry 6.
Our benchmark suite is built to show differences between processors, so don’t expect these gains to extend out to every game. All of our tests were run at 1080p with high settings, and as you scale up resolutions, your GPU will become the bottleneck in performance. There’s no doubt that the Ryzen 9 7950X3D is the best gaming CPU you can buy, but the Core i9-13900K isn’t far behind.
Gaming is the flip side of productivity. AMD is in the lead and Intel is trailing, but neither processor is significantly behind. The Ryzen 9 7950X3D is more expensive, but if you primarily play games, that extra cost is justified.
A tale of two CPUs
There isn’t a bad choice between the Ryzen 9 7950X3D and Core i9-13900K. Both hold up well in productivity and gaming tasks, but there’s clearly a better option here overall.
The Ryzen 9 7950X3D may be more expensive, but it tangos with the Core i9-13900K in productivity performance while sometimes offering upwards of a 35% boost in gaming performance. The Core i9-13900K may win when it comes to value, but when you’re spending $600 or $700 on a CPU alone, value goes out the window.
There are a few other considerations here as well. Overall, you’ll spend more on upgrading to AMD’s platform than you will with Intel. AMD only supports DDR5 on the Ryzen 9 7950X3D, as well as costly 600-series motherboards. On the other hand, AMD says it will continue to support the AM5 socket that the Ryzen 9 7950X3D will use, while the LGA1200 socket that the Core i9-13900K uses will be retired when Intel’s next-gen processors arrive. The Ryzen 9 7950X3D is more expensive upfront, but it’ll likely be cheaper in the long run.
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