Jeff Ward
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CPU Performance, AMD is MIA

Aug 15, 2013 #ComputerHardware#AMD#Intel#Visualization#Web

So I've been pondering building a new computer, and I've been browsing the charts over at I thought it'd be fun to scatter-plot that data to get a feel for price/performance of today's CPU selection. What I found really surprised me.

The CPU Graph

First, the graph itself is an interactive web widget that allows you to locate CPUs on a price (log scale) vs. performance space. Hover over each point for more detail; I also show both single and multi-core performance, and CPUs highlight on both graphs so you can get a feel for their performance in both spaces. You'll quickly realize that CPUs along the top edge of the pack are the best performance for the price. Try entering search terms (like 4770S, Opteron, or Xeon) in the search box, or multiple search terms separated by commas to compare CPUs.

Interactive CPU scatter plot, price vs performance

Update, May 15, 2014: I've posted the source code on github:

Conclusions... What happened to AMD?

So what did I find out? I've been an AMD fan for a long time since they've typically been the cheaper, more overclockable, more custom-builder-friendly CPU manufacturer. But recently (and as shown clearly in my price/performance scatter plot) - AMD is being soundly beaten. It's crazy - Intel wins at top performance at almost every price point, clearly leads in single-core performance, and totally owns the upper price ranges. And while this graph doesn't show it, if you consider power consumption - a hidden cost of CPUs - the scale tips even further in Intel's favor.

Case in point - the new AMD FX-9370. On the surface, this 4.4GHz eight-core overclockable CPU sounds like a beast. Well, search for 9370,4770 in the the graph. It shows that the similarly-priced Intel Core i7-4770 beats it in single-core performance, multi-core performance, and the 220W 9370 will cost 3 times as much to operate than the 77W Intel. Again, is AMD even puting up a fight these days?

Now, to be fair, benchmarks don't always reflect real life, and these are non-overclocked numbers. Also, there is the $70-$160 price range in the graph where the multi-core performance of AMD processors is on top... still, the single-core performance in these CPUs is typically half to two-thirds that of the Intels. Also, since these are low-to-mid budget CPUs, customers likely lean toward more single-threaded tasks than multi-threaded.

By the way, here's a chart of my picks for best CPUs at a few price points. At a couple price points, I did select an AMD and Intel option. Right now, there's no better CPU for the price than the Intel Core i7 4770S for $310 at Newegg. It's the highest multi-core score in the ~$300 range, and the highest single-core score, period. Plus it sails along at a cool 65 watts, and it was released just a couple months ago, so it'll be good to go for years to come.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy my cpu graph widget. Let me know what you think!

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