Eight-core computer processors saw gamers turn away from their previously beloved six-core CPUs, leaving them to the entry-level to mid-range market shoppers. With an additional two cores came a step up in quality that catered to the more experienced, power-hungry gamers and professionals browsing the high-end market instead.
The Ryzen 7 3700X and the Intel Core i7 9700K are two fine examples of what an eight-core processor can do for your gaming, but which one is more deserving of you parting with your cash? Neither are cheap, nor are they extortionately expensive, but for the price you’ll pay you certainly won’t want to rush into making a decision without knowing all the facts first.
That’s where we come in. Here at WePC we know all the questions you’ll want the answers to because they’re the exact same questions we have ourselves. Throughout this article, we’ll review their stats and specifications and compare their benchmarking results after testing them in-house so that we can help you decide which CPU is right for you.
If you’re looking for a new CPU then we’re guessing you have access to the internet, so you should already know about the rivalry between Intel and AMD. For years it’s been a battle of which manufacturer could produce the best CPUs for gaming purposes at every level.
In the beginning, however, you might be surprised to learn that these two companies had a very similar start, both being founded by former Fairchild Semiconductor employees. For a long time, Intel had little competition, but with the release of their Ryzen CPUs, AMD well and truly established itself as a brand that didn’t come to the gaming market just to play.
Today’s market shows that, despite the conflict between them, their shared start is what grew their companies from the same seed, resulting in their being in direct competition with each other for the CPU crown. While the best CPU can be found under AMD’s camp, Intel does manage to hold a majority sway of the market, and with every new release comes a chance for either of these brands to claw further up the gaming industry ladder.
Propping up your CPU are cores and threads, each responsible for interpreting information and carrying out instructions during your game.
Doubling the amount that computer processors originally started out with, 8 is now considered the perfect number of cores for handling your gaming needs, to the point where even the latest consoles are being developed to feature 8-core systems themselves. Basically, if you’re not on board already, then you might find yourself wanting to be soon.
The Ryzen 7 3700X and the Intel Core 17 9700K are both equipped with 8 cores and therefore they’re theoretically equally as capable of delivering a great gaming experience – it’s when it comes to threads that they begin to differ.
Where the i7 9700K has 8 threads to match its 8-core design, the 3700X boasts 16 threads, a total of that thrashes the 9700K due to its lack of hyperthreading. It’s certainly true that the higher the thread count, the better in some cases, for instance, if you’ll be using your PC for video editing, in which case this round would definitely be a point to the Ryzen 7 3700X.
For gaming, however, this might not be such an advantage. The more threads there are, the more information your CPU will be able to process, but this can mean your core performance is slower which could potentially cause problems when playing more demanding games.
In addition to the threads and cores, a CPU’s clock speed determines how fast it will be able to run under load. This is usually what sets two computer processors apart in terms of ability, so let’s see what both the Ryzen 7 3700X and the Intel Core i7 7900K have to offer.
Firstly, both CPUs come clocked at a base clock speed of 3.6 GHz which is more than enough for the average gamer’s needs. The minimum recommendation is 3.4 GHz, as any slower than this will likely lead to game-lag when playing any of the more demanding titles.
Even with those extra cores, the minute you overclock these CPUs the Ryzen 7 3700X becomes no match for the Intel Core i7 9700K. Instead, the latter takes the lead with an impressive 4.9 GHz Turbo compared to the 3700X’s max boost clock speed of 4.4 GHz.
As impressive as this is, it’s more beneficial if you’re going to be using your computer for streaming, rendering, encoding, compression, and running heavily threaded apps. When it comes to gaming, the 9700K isn’t going to let you down or deliver disappointing results.
Another key feature to look out for when comparing CPUs is the architecture on which it is based, as this determines what software you can use, how much support the other components receive, and how powerful the CPU will ultimately be.
The Intel Core i7 9700K features Coffee Lake architecture which is the same as the Core i9 9900K. This variation succeeds Intel’s Skylake and Kaby Lake architecture, but it uses the same 14nm process so there’s not a huge structural upgrade that comes with it.
AMD takes a different approach with their Zen2 architecture, as it builds upon the previous Zen+ variation in order to provide excellent gaming performance and an improvement by up to 15%. It also cuts the manufacturing process down to 7nm for even greater efficiency.
Multi-tasking is one of those areas where you either need it or you don’t. If you need it, then it should pretty much be at the top of your priority list, as nothing else will allow you to run multiple applications with the same ease and efficiency. If you don’t need it, don’t bother.
Gaming, for example, doesn’t really require a huge amount of multi-tasking ability therefore you may want to focus on what kind of single-core performance your CPU can offer. However, if you think you’ll be streaming a lot of running applications in the background whilst you’re gaming, then having more multi-tasking ability will be more of an advantage.
When it comes to the two processors we’re looking at today, the Intel Core i7 9700K takes the lead in terms of single-core gaming performance, whereas the Ryzen 7 3700X offers superior multi-tasking capabilities for those who will need it.
So, is the Ryzen 7 3700X older and wiser than the comparatively younger Intel Core i7 9700K? Unfortunately, trying to determine a winner between these two CPUs is more difficult than you might expect due to similar performance ability in a number of areas.
Feature-wise, AMD is really flexing its specs with this one, as they’ve updated their architecture to provide amazing component support and a noticeable difference in your gaming performance. The fact that it’s backward-compatible only adds to the list of advantages attached to this CPU, but it depends on which features you prioritize.
Overclocking, for example, will see gamers turn towards the Intel Core i7 9700K which offers much more stability in comparison, even when you’re gaming at higher frequencies. It also features a built-in UHD Graphics 360 card which is an added bonus for any gamer. On the other hand, the 3700X has an integrated cooling system that helps to prevent heat damage.
In most of our benchmark tests, the i7 9700K performed at a level that was only just inferior to the pricier Intel Core i9 9900K, making it a bit of a bargain when you consider how the difference in price isn’t reflected in the difference in performance ability and quality. The 3700X also struggled to keep up with the fps rates demonstrated by Intel’s processor, although the gap in performance was only minimal in most games.
Ultimately, either of these 8-core computer processors would be a great addition to your gaming PC setup, but if gaming is your sole focus the Intel Core i7 9700K is the best choice. For anything else, it’s worth investing in the Ryzen 7 3700X, which is the better CPU overall.