For almost a decade AMD has yielded ground to Intel when it comes to processors, but the new Ryzen 7 chips change all that.
Must read: Has AMD thrown Intel off its chip game?
March 2 is the date that AMD will carry out a hard launch of three new Ryzen 7 chips that not only outperform Intel's high-end silicon, but do so at a fraction of the price.
| Model || Base clock (GHz) || Boost clock (GHz) || TDP (Watts) || Included cooler || Suggested price ($) |
| Ryzen 7 1800X || 3.6 || 4.0 || 95 || N/A || $499 |
| Ryzen 7 1700X || 3.4 || 3.8 || 95 || N/A || $399 |
| Ryzen 7 1700 || 3.0 || 3.7 || 65 || Wraith Spire || $329 |
So why does Intel need to be worried? Here's why.
Put the Ryzen 7 1800X up against Intel's $1,089 Core i7-6900K in a Cinebench benchmark test and the $499 chip outperforms the Intel behemoth by nine percent, according to AMD testing. According to AMD chief executive Dr. Lisa Su, the 1800X "is the fastest eight-core processor on the market."
Think that's impressive?
In the same test the Ryzen 7 1700X also outperformed by four percent. This is truly staggering performance from a chip costing only $400.
"Four years ago we began development of our 'Zen' processor core with the goal to deliver unprecedented generational performance gains and return choice and innovation to the high-performance computing market," said Su. "On March 2, enthusiasts and gamers around the world will experience 'Zen' in action, as we launch our Ryzen 7 family of processors and reinvigorate the desktop computing market."
Ryzen chips will require X370 and B350 chipset motherboard support, and it seems there are going to be a lot of them around soon.
"We deeply appreciate the ways in which our partners and customers came together to build a high-performance ecosystem for Ryzen," said Jim Anderson, senior vice president and general manager, Computing and Graphics Group, AMD. "With an anticipated 82 new motherboards from ODMs worldwide, Ryzen-based designs from top global PC OEMs expected soon, and boutique SIs and OEMs showing extreme-performance PC designs, this will be a launch like no other. Unprecedented pre-order support from etailers globally shows that our ecosystem and partners are fully behind AMD and our commitment to return innovation and competition to high-performance PCs."
If AMD's claims translate into real-world usage -- and based on past experience of AMD being conservative with its claim, I expect that it will -- then that leaves Intel scrabbling for a response, and quite possibly in need of a flagship processor.
How could Intel respond to this? Price cuts are the most obvious solution, but that could leave it vulnerable. Another response would be to just wait for 8th-generation Coffee Lake processors and see how that changes the landscape.
Another possible tactic that Intel could choose is to move the focus away from processor power and focus on other improvements such as Optane.
The processor market just got really interesting.
Best PC hardware list (Winter 2016)
Intel slows the rate of major chip upgrades as Moore's law falters: