NUM­BERS MAT­TER

PC & Tech Authority - - IN THE LABS - BEN MAN­SILL ON THE INDISPUTABLE MATHS OF REA­SON

I s AMD fac­ing a per­cep­tion is­sue? Af­ter a decade in the dol­drums the com­pany has come roar­ing back. There’s no doubt that both Ryzen and Threadripper of­fer per­for­mance and value, and yet I still face questions from friends and col­leagues that look past the price lists and the bencht­est­ing re­sults (both ours and the many oth­ers). They tell me that AMD CPUs run hot, and that they’re be­hind Intel for raw per­for­mance. When nei­ther is true.

It’s telling just who has these mind­sets. It seems to me that the prej­u­dice comes from peo­ple who only oc­ca­sion­ally look closely at the CPU mar­ket and rely too much on the oft-re­peated heat and per­for­mance claims that were valid at var­i­ous points in the last decade pre-Zen. A decade is a very long time in tech, so it’s no sur­prise those cliches have be­come en­trenched. How­ever, in the face of new con­tra­dic­tory data since Ryzen and Threadripper were launched, they are still re­luc­tant to move away from Intel. Does AMD have to prove the worth of its prod­ucts for a longer pe­riod to shake those no­tions?

Most in­ter­est­ingly, the pro­fes­sional Threadripper is tak­ing a good chunk of the HEDT mar­ket. But in con­sumer-land Intel still holds a solid lead. Last month we ap­proached sev­eral sys­tem builders, the peo­ple on the front line that sell PCs. Threadripper is tak­ing up to 40% of pro­fes­sional sales, ac­cord­ing to some, but Ryzen is still dwin­dling at less thatn one tenth of com­par­i­tive Intel PCs be­ing or­dered. Is what we’re see­ing a pure re ec­tion of the types of peo­ple that look only to ROI at the time of pur­chase, be­ing what we can as­sume are typ­i­cal Threadripper cus­tomers? And that peo­ple that buy PCs for home use, per­haps gam­ing too, just feel safer with Intel?

I’m sure the sands will shift over time. Take a look at out B450 mother­board round-up this is­sue. For less than $150 you can have a board that of­fers good fea­tures and per­for­mance, and all this in a world where su­per-pre­mium $800 motherboards seem to be the new trend. That’s value an av­er­age con­sumer can’t ig­nore.

Look at the new Threadripper 2 CPUs, which we’ve re­viewed in this is­sue. It’s a re­mark­able en­gi­neer­ing achieve­ment but I think the big thing here is that AMD hasn’t slowed down. Hav­ing such a mighty CPU fol­low so soon af­ter its rst it­er­a­tion will give many peo­ple the con dence that this isn’t all a mo­men­tary ash in the pan. For pro­fes­sion­als it’s rel­a­tively straight­for­ward to make a buy­ing de­ci­sion and I’m quite cer­tain Threadripper 2 will con­tinue AMD’s mo­men­tum in that space.

Gamers are al­ways per­for­mance-ori­ented, and tend to do good re­search too. But, they’re also a crowd that is swayed by tiny per­for­mance dif­fer­ences, and Intel still of­fers sin­gle-digit per­cent­age leads over Ryzen. There’s next to noth­ing in it, though, and we’re only look­ing at peo­ple that game and only game. Many more want to do more with their ma­chines so un­less Intel comes up with an ex­tror­di­nary set of prod­ucts for its 9th-gen we could be heading for an equi­lib­rium in the con­sumer mar­ket we haven’t seen since the early 2000s.

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