Thanks to AMD’s Ryzen 3000 processors, the consumer CPU market is more competitive than ever. Compared to just a few years back, the core counts have doubled across the board. The entry-level i3s are now essentially the Intel flagships from a couple of generations back while the AMD Ryzen 3000 flagship, the 3950X offers as many as 16 cores and 32 threads, blurring the line between mainstream and HEDT CPUs.
While increased computing power is all well and good, for the average consumer, the Core i9 and Ryzen 9 chips are overkill and will remain underutilized in most scenarios. Therefore, we look at the next best options: The Ryzen 7 3700X/3800X from AMD and Intel’s Core i7-9700K.
|Core i7-9700K||Ryzen 7 3700X||Ryzen 7 3800X|
|Base Clock||3.6 GHz||3.6 GHz||3.9 GHz|
|Boost Clock||4.9 GHz||4.4 GHz||4.5 GHz|
|Cache||12 MB||32 MB||32MB|
The prices of AMD’s Ryzen 3000 CPUs have dipped significantly over the past month. Where the Ryzen 5 3600 is available for just $159, the 3700X and the 3800X are both selling under $300. TheCore i7-9700K, on the other hand, is priced at $349.99 at the very least. Most retailers like Newegg and Amazon are selling it for around $400, making it a hard buy.
- ASRock X570 Taichi (AMD)
- Gigabyte Z390 Aorus Master (Intel)
- G.Skill Trident Z Royal 8GB x 2 @ 3600MHz
- NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti
- WB Black 480GB NVMe
- WD Black 4TB HDD
- Corsair HX1000i
Intel Core i7-9700K vs AMD Ryzen 7 3700X vs 3800X: Gaming Performance
All the games were tested at 1080p using the highest in-game graphics preset:
In Assassins’ Creed and Ashes, the Ryzen 7 3800X comes out on top with the 3700X following shortly behind. The Core i7-9700K manages a decent showing in the latter but AC’s Anvil Engine prefers thread counts over clocks. This leads to a rather rare defeat for the Core i7 in Assassins’ Creed Origins.
The remaining titles from Deus Ex to The Division all benefit from the Core i7-9700K’s high boost clocks while ignoring SMT. The Intel Core i7 seems like the better pick for gaming workloads, but keep in mind that these are all 1080p tests, and even then the deltas don’t cross 10%.
At higher resolutions such as 1440p and 4K, these deficits will mostly be reduced to under 5%. There’s also the price to consider. The Core i7-9700K is a whole $100 more expensive than the Ryzen 7 3700X. You can save those hundred bucks on the CPU and spend them on a better GPU or monitor.
Content Creation: Cinebench, IndigoBench
Moving on to non-gaming workloads, SMT suddenly becomes relevant. Cinebench fully utilizes all the CPU threads SMT or not. Unsurprisingly, the Intel Core i7-9700K is crushed by the Ryzen 3000 parts in both the single-threaded as well as the multi-threaded benchmarks. In the latter, the 3800X manages to one-up even the top-end Core i9-9900K which scores a bit under 4.9K.
In IndigoBench, the 9700K is once again beaten pretty badly by the Ryzen 7 siblings, clearly highlighting AMD’s advantage in multi-threaded workloads like rendering and video editing.
Encoding, Compression & Browsing
7-zip is one of those programs that’ll eat as many threads as you throw at it. It scales well with even 32 core Threadrippers. As expected, AMD once again has a major advantage here.
Kraken is a good indicator of browsing performance. Unlike Jetstream, it’s a more balanced test. In the latter, the Core i9-9900K often performs worse than the 9700K. The reason being that each thread has more L2 cache. Hyperthreading being enabled in the 9900K, each core’s L2 and L1 cache is divided between two threads.
Like 7-zip, Handbrake also benefits from higher core counts and that’s quite obvious here. While the core clocks do have an impact, it’s largely nullified by the presence of SMT on the Ryzen 7 parts.
All three chips are excellent high-end processors. However, with the recent price drops, the Ryzen 7 3700X is a much better value for money CPU. Even if you’re looking to build a gaming-centric PC, it’s better to opt for the Matisse part, avoiding the 9700K.
You’re basically looking at like 5% more FPS in games for an extra $100 and significantly worse content creation performance. Not worth it. I’d suggest investing in the 3700X or the 3800X if you’re into overclocking. Both the chips offer much better performance per dollar and performance per watt. In gaming, they may be slightly behind their Intel rivals, they’re much faster in everything else and cost notably less.