Shortly before AMD’s Zen 3 event on 8 October, big rival Intel confirmed that its 11th-gen ‘Rocket Lake’ processors would be launched in January 2021. On first impressions, that would seem logical. It was only last month that new ‘Tiger Lake’ laptop chips were launched, and Intel tends to spread its launches throughout the year.
However, given the strength of AMD’s event, Intel may be rethinking that strategy. While it was billed as the launch of the company’s new CPU architecture, a far more interesting announcement was the first desktop processors that will run on it.
It was by no means a surprise to see the Ryzen 5000 series, particularly as it has been 15 months since its predecessor debuted. However, the more eyebrow-raising development was just how much better they appear to perform than Intel’s Comet Lake desktop processors, which were only launched in April.
The 19% improvement in instructions per cycle (IPC) on the previous generation allows each core to carry out more tasks in each cycle. In the Cinebench 1T test, the Ryzen 9 5900X scored 631, becoming the first-ever desktop processor to surpass 600. That same processor is also considered 2.8x more efficient than the equivalent Core i9 processor with regards to performance per watt.
Even 1080p gaming, considered one of the last bastions of Intel desktop superiority, is expected to be playable at a higher frame rate on the Ryzen 5000 series.
I’m always wary of the bold claims manufacturers make at launch events, but these performance indicators are almost universally sought after in desktop PCs for gaming and content creation. The enhancements are less noticeable on the Ryzen 7 5800X and Ryzen 7 5600X, but crucially there are improvements across the board.
Can Intel come back from this? Of course. The company has been making computer processors for almost half a century, and there’s no reason why it can’t go one better by the time January comes around.
However, it will no doubt be wary of the threat posed by AMD and the subsequent dilemma that will face manufacturers and consumers going into 2021. The 5 November release date for the Ryzen 5000 series gives AMD a full two-month head start on its big rival, assuming the Rocket Lake chips are available soon after unveiling.
AMD has plenty of justification for calling the new Ryzen 9 5900X “the world’s best gaming CPU”. Do these claims hold up in real-world usage, or could Intel be theoretically saying the same thing in 3 months? Only time will tell.
Read our guide to AMD Zen 3 to learn more, including details of the upcoming Ryzen 5000 series.