There have been some great announcements out of Gamescom in Germany this year. But aside from some software improvements, Intel mostly seems keen to announce it’s still the hardware of choice for gamers in the wake of AMD’s CPU resurgence in 2019.
The wrong focus
In Cologne, one of the biggest gaming events of the year is taking place, with everyone from developers to streamers and hardware manufacturers zerging the German city to show off exactly what they have in store over the next year.
In the Intel programme this year, things have got off to an… interesting start. While many may have expected more information on the Intel Xe GPUs that are in development, or maybe more on the 10th gen Ice Lake processors (which has subsequently come), an early Intel spotlight event spent perhaps a little too much time telling us how, despite AMD’s best efforts, Intel CPUs are better for gaming.
Intel: all talk and no walk?
“When we introduced the i9 9900K, it was dubbed the fastest gaming CPU in the world. And I can honestly say nothing’s changed. It’s still the fastest gaming CPU in the world,” Intel’s Troy Severson said.
This may very well be true, and Intel can hold on to its mantle of having the ‘best’ CPU for gaming. But the reality is that isn’t how Intel is judged. In July, Mindfactory, Germany’s biggest retail outlet, revealed that AMD’s CPU sales beat Intel across the board in the past year. This was not only at the budget level, where AMD has historically done well, but success all the way up to gaming enthusiast level. AMD just provided too much value for gamers to turn down.
The figures for July, following the release of Zen 2, were the most impressive from the year. AMD crushed intel by outselling them roughly 4 to 1. Indeed, the Ryzen r7 3700X, which will typically find its way into all but the most hardcore enthusiast gaming PCs, nearly outsold Intel’s entire range.
For these reasons, many are left scratching their heads as to why Intel would dedicate time to acknowledge AMD’s very successful Zen 2 processors, without so much as a reply but a deflection. Maybe the highest end is better, but for 99% of people, the very highest end isn’t what they will be using.
The rise of Team Red
It wasn’t always like this. For well over a decade, if gamers were looking to buy or build a gaming PC the choice of CPU was easy. If you wanted the best, you got intel. If you couldn’t afford Intel, get AMD. In Q4 of 2016, Intel commanded 81.9% of the CPU market (Cpubenchmark).
In the past few years, however, AMD has come back fighting. In early 2017 it launched its Ryzen 1000 series, which uses a new architecture that promises better performance. In 2018 and 2019, the 2000 and 3000 series respectively made considerable improvements, with a greater core count and much better value than team blue. In fact, throughout the range the AMD chips are shown to more or less match their equivalent Intel model in gaming performance, while providing better value and the functionality and versatility offered by more cores. This makes them attractive for workstations as well as gaming.
With the success of the 3000 series looking to continue as more and more praise is heaped on the product range, AMD is expected to claw back a massive amount of Intel’s market share, which has already decreased to 67.9% in Q1 2019, dropping nearly 10% from the previous year.
End of an era?
AMD appears to be doing a great job of seizing on the low, mid and mid-high markets across both CPU and, to a lesser extent, GPU markets. It may be a genius strategy or a lucky happenstance. But by capitalizing on the overconfidence and lethargy of the market leaders who have coasted for some years with small iterative changes, they have given consumers a viable alternative that doesn’t feel like the cheap option.
The tone of Intel’s event would seem to suggest they’re fully aware of the threat that AMD pose. Although technology is a fast-moving space, the long lead and development times that go into updating hardware means that it will take Intel a few years to fully respond to AMD’s hardware, which is already in full flight with further upgrades already in the pipeline. If the current trends continue we could very well see AMD take top spot in the CPU market before Intel have the opportunity to fight back.
So what can we be sure of? This is great news for us, the consumer. With AMD and Intel seemingly readying up for a fight, we can hope to see better hardware at better prices coming down the line, and we can’t wait to see it unfold.