Ryzen 7 vs i7: Which high-end CPU is best in 2021?

The AMD Ryzen 7 and the Intel Core i7 processors stand neck to neck. They’re both for performance computers. And they’re both great for overclocking. But some stark differences must be addressed. So, here’s a complete comparison between the Ryzen 7 vs i7 processors

Ryzen 7 vs i7

Ryzen and Intel stand neck-to-neck when it comes to making processors. Both have been in the industry for generations. And both feature powerful performance CPUs. But there are some stark differences between the AMD Ryzen 7 vs Intel i7. 

Particularly, Ryzen 7 uses a superior cache method with a better TDP and a higher clock speed. However, the Intel Core i7 does not lack behind. On the contrary, it’s a lot faster and features a superior architecture with more core options. 

To summarize, here’s how the processors compare against each other:

Ryzen 7Core i7
Cores4, 84, 6, 8
Threads8, 168, 12, 16
MicroarchitectureZenKaby Lake, Comet Lake, Coffee Lake, Rocket Lake, etc.
Base Frequency1.7 GHz-4.4 GHz1.40 GHz-3.60 GHz
CacheL3Intel Smart Cache (L2)
Integrated GraphicsRadeon VegaIntel UHD Graphics, Intel Iris Xe
RAM CompatibilityDDR4, LPDDR4DDR4-3200, LPDDR4x-4267
Socket(s)AM4, FP5, FP6FCBGA1787, FCBGA1449, FCLGA1200, FCBGA1598

Ryzen 7

AMD Ryzen 7 2700X
AMD Ryzen 7

Pros

  • 3-level cache
  • Better automated overclocking
  • Better video processing
  • Without GPU options available

Cons

  • Inferior microarchitecture
  • No Hexa-core option

Core i7

Intel Core i7 7th Gen
Intel Core i7

Pros

  • Hexa-core option
  • More powerful
  • All processors have GPUs
  • Hyperthreaded

Cons

  • Higher TDP
  • 2-level cache

Key Specifications

Cores

The cores are subdivisions of the microprocessor that can act independently. Designers usually connect up to 10 of these cores to form a single microprocessor. But single-core processors do exist. This is because each core can perform all of the tasks that the other cores can. 

Most Ryzen 7 processors have 8 cores, except for some older mobile versions, which only have 4 cores. Some newer mobile processors feature an octa-core build. This choice of cores is perfect as it fits the bill for a performative processor. They are for those who love gaming and want to take their experience up several notches. 

As for Intel’s i7 processors, they have more core options. They are available as quad-core, octa-core, and even a Hexa-core processor. However, most are quad-core. Considering this is Intel’s performance microprocessor line, it’s not a surprise. And you get to choose the number of cores you want. So, there are more customization options. 

Clock Speed

Every computer has an internal clock. Without getting too technical, it shows the number of tasks a processor can perform every second. As such, the clock speed or base frequency dictates how fast the CPU will run.

With the Ryzen 7 processors, the base frequency ranges from 1.7 GHz to 4.4 GHz. Nominal values for laptops are in the 2.0 GHz to 4.0 GHz range. And those of mobiles are as low as 1.7 GHz. But recent mobile models feature up to 4.4 GHz of frequency, a major leap for Ryzen. 

This frequency range is suitable for performance laptops. Ryzen also has special features like Precision Boost Overdrive (PBO) and Extended Frequency Range (XFR). Models that feature these technologies can usually run as fast as 4.9 GHz. We’ll talk more about these technologies later. 

On the Intel i7, the processor base frequencies range from 1.40 GHz to 3.60 GHz. There’s a lot of variety here. The lower end of the range is perfect for running low-power applications.

And the higher-end clock speeds are recommended for gaming and intensive programs. 

In addition to that, each processor has a Max Turbo Frequency, which is the max frequency that can be attained. The i7 processors usually attain this frequency when needed, though it’s not recommended to do so. This frequency ranges from 5.00 GHz on some processors to 4.40 GHz. 

Threads

The threads are the virtual core divisions within each core. Thus, one core can have as many as two threads. 

In the Ryzen 7, you can find 16 threads on the octa-core models and 8 on the quad-core models. This is because Ryzen uses a technique called “hyperthreading,” Each core has two threads. This technology doubles the processing power and speed of the processor. 

This same technology is found in Intel’s i7 laptops. It uses 2 threads on each core. Or in other words, 16 threads on octa-core, 8 threads on quad-core, and 12 threads on Hexa-core models. 

Socket

When you’re installing the processor onto the motherboard, directly soldering it would be a significant pain. That’s why we use a microprocessor socket that enables the processor to be temporarily removed or replaced. 

The Ryzen 7 processors use the AM4, FP5, and FP6 sockets. And the Intel i7 processors use the FCBGA1787, FCBGA1449, FCLGA1200, and FCBGA1598 sockets. Each specific processor has its unique socket. So, it’s important to buy the motherboard that has the correct socket. Or you can match the processor to the socket you already have. 

Cache

When your computer needs to access data immediately, it stores it in the cache. As a result, the cache memory helps web pages load faster, and images buffer quicker. The cache is available in 3 levels L1, L2, and L3. 

All Ryzen 7 processors use a 3-level cache. So, you can buy in variations of 4 MB, 8 MB, 16 MB, and 32 MB. A 3-level cache enables higher performance and quicker loading speeds.

The way it works is that it has three levels: L1, L2, and L3. L1 is the smallest cache and stores data the processor needs. L2 is slightly larger and stores more information not available in L1. And L3 is the largest, which stores more information than any other cache. Additionally, L3 cache is shared by all the cores, whereas each core has its own L1 and L2 cache. 

Unfortunately, Intel lags behind in that respect. It only features an L2 cache, called the Intel Smart Cache. Now, that isn’t to say that it’s inefficient. But comparatively, a multi-level cache would have improved performance by a major factor. 

In Intel’s Core i7 processors, the cache can be found with 12 MB, 16 MB, 18 MB, and 24 MB of storage. Thus, the range is quite close to what the Ryzen 7 offers. However, it’s not available in the lower 4 and 8 MB variants and the higher 32 MB version.

Integrated Graphics

Graphics? Don’t you have a GPU for that? Well, yes. But many CPUs come with integrated graphics. This makes it so that you don’t necessarily need a discrete graphics card. The better the integrated graphics, the more you can save on an expensive GPU. 

In this regard, Ryzen takes the lead. Being a pioneer of its GPU line, most Ryzen 7 processors use AMD Radeon graphics. But, Ryzen does not have integrated graphics on all of its processors. Instead, only the Desktop and Mobile APUs have integrated GPUs. And many standalone CPUs do not feature graphics.

Those that do have one, however, almost always use AMD Radeon Vega graphics. And some newer models feature Vega RX. Initially, the decision to remove the GPU on some CPUs may seem counterintuitive. But it allows you to buy a CPU without the integrated graphics. This will help cut costs if you already have a discrete GPU and just need the CPU. 

As for the Intel Core i7, all of the processors have integrated graphics. Intel also has its line of GPUs, which is a bit lesser-known. Most of the i7 processors either use the Intel Iris Xe Graphics or the Intel UHD Graphics for 11th Gen Intel Processors. Some also use Intel UHD Graphics 750. 

In addition to that, Intel also employs a special technology called Intel InTru 3D Technology. Through this technology, video creators can create videos directly compatible with 3D viewing. Such 3D videos can be displayed almost anywhere, even in high-end 3D theaters. 

Aside from that, Intel also features the Intel Clear Video Technology on all its i7 processors. It’s a semiconductor technology that operates to perfect video playback and reduce noise. And the best part is that it’s completely customizable through the Intel HD Graphics Control Panel software. 

RAM Compatibility

When buying any new CPU, RAM compatibility is one of the biggest concerns. Unfortunately, CPUs don’t have inbuilt RAM. But they label how much and what types of RAM they are compatible with. This is crucial since the bigger and better the RAM, the smoother the computer’s operation. 

In that regard, Ryzen 7 processors all work with DDR4 dual-channel memory. DDR4 is the most advanced RAM. And newer models use DDR4-3200, a solid choice for performance CPUs. In addition to that, the mobile Ryzen 7 processors use LPDDR4-4266. This is a lower-power version of DDR4 memory, and it’s the best choice for laptops. 

As for the Intel Core i7 processors, they all work with DDR4-3200 memory. So, you don’t get a lower-quality option, which is fine considering this CPU’s purpose. Additionally, some processors feature a lower-power version of the DDR4 RAM. 

TDP

The Thermal Design Power (TDP) is the amount of heat the CPU’s cooling system will dissipate. Various companies have different methods of calculating it. So, it’s not set in stone. But generally, lower TDP is ideal. However, higher TDP usually signifies a more powerful processor. So there is some trade-off between TDP and performance. 

On older Ryzen 7 processors, the TDP can go as high as 95 W, a whopping number for any processor. But newer models usually have a TDP ranging from 35 to 54 watts. There is one 3rd Gen model that has a TDP of an incredible 108 W. Now, obviously, a performance CPU will get hot. But the lower the TDP, the better. 

On the Intel Core i7, however, the TDP is not fixed. Some microprocessors have their TDPs as low as 15 W, while others as high as 128 watts. Indeed, higher TDP does signify a more robust system. But you’ll need to install some relatively intricate cooling systems to counter the heat production. 

It should be noted that TDP values are not set in stone, and every company has its way of measuring TDP. Often, the TDP is measured at its average and not its highest. 

Manufacturing Process

Many users couldn’t care less about the intricacies that go behind making a microprocessor. And they’d be right. Of course, you can rely on engineers to design the best processor for your needs. But considering the microarchitecture behind the processor can make all the difference. 

Ryzen 7 processors use Ryzen’s microarchitecture called the Zen architecture. It gets improved with each generation, but the name stays the same. This architecture is the basis of all Ryzen microprocessors and has some characteristic features. The 4th generation, for instance, introduces better cache utilization. And the 3rd generation introduced an IO die, which was separated from the cores and handled the peripherals. 

As for Intel i7, each generation has a separate microarchitecture. And in each generation, there are several different versions of the microarchitectures. The most recent architectures are those featured on the 9th, 10th, and 11th generations. They’re called Coffee Lake, Comet Lake, and Rocket Lake, respectively. Each subsequent generation is fabricated on a smaller chip than the previous one. And numerous advancements are made, including more efficient power utilization and a lower TDP. 

Standout Features

Despite the many differences between the AMD Ryzen 7 vs i7, a few features stand out the most.

Ryzen’s PBO Technology

PBO stands for Precision Boost Overdrive. It is an automated overclocking mechanism that lets the microprocessor safely run above the base frequency. It is an extension to the Precision Boost technology that is already offered on the chip. PBO provides more power headroom for the Precision Boost to act more aggressively. In other words, it raises power limits to make for efficient overclocking. 

Ryzen’s XFR Technology

Another technology featured on the Ryzen is the XFR technology. Short for Extended Frequency Range, this too is an automated overclocking mechanism. It has been updated to XFR 2 in recent processor models. But, again, this is a simple mechanism that boosts the base frequency of the processor, thereby allowing for better overclocking. 

XFR 2 is an upgraded version that operates across all the cores. This enables a higher frequency for the cores. And both the XFR and XFR 2 do so within certain thermal limits. 

Intel’s Clear Video Technology

One technology featured on the Intel that’s not there on the Ryzen is the Intel Clear Video Technology. It’s a relatively simple yet powerful technology that enables better video playback. It helps in reducing noise and making the overall video experience a lot better. And the best part is it can be manually controlled.

Intel’s InTru3D Technology

Another one of Intel’s proprietary technologies is the InTru3D. It’s a technology that allows video authors to encode their movies for 3D viewing directly. Not a lot of people will find a use for this. And the technology needs a lot of improvement as of now. But it’s still a great feature to have, especially for professional filmmakers. 

Example Comparison: AMD Ryzen 7 2700X vs i7 7700K

Comparing two processor families without any examples would be completely unfair. That’s why we chose to compare the AMD Ryzen 7 2700X vs i7 7700K. 

AMD Ryzen 7 2700x

The Ryzen 7 2700X is an octa-core hyperthreaded microprocessor with a base frequency of 3.7 GHz. For a performance CPU, those specs aren’t short of exceptional. This features the fastest clock speed in the Ryzen 7 2700 family. And it has a 3-level cache system, with up to 16 MB of storage on the L3 cache. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have integrated graphics. And it has the highest TDP (105 W), which calls for a powerful cooling mechanism. 

Intel Core i7 7700k

The Core i7 7700K is the 7th generation Kaby Lake Core i7 processor with 4 cores and 8 threads. Admittedly, the core count is half of that on the Ryzen. But it has a faster clock speed of an incredible 4.20 GHz base and 4.50 GHz max. However, it lags behind in cache, featuring an inferior L2 cache with only 8 MB of storage. Regardless, it has a slightly lower TDP of 95 W. 

Conclusion

And that concludes our Ryzen 7 vs i7 comparison! Looking back at it, it’s not easy to make a final decision. Both processors have intense operating speeds and offer quite a few options for users. 

But if we were to conclude, we would say that the AMD Ryzen 7 is undoubtedly a good choice for everyday tasks. And it’s highly recommended for encoding video and rendering multimedia. 

If you’re more of a power user and have an intense workflow, the Intel i7 is highly suggested. Nothing beats Intel’s superior microarchitecture and frugal power consumption.

About Jon

Hey, I'm Jon. I'm an engineer by trade, so it makes sense that I'm obsessed with anything technology related! On the weekends, you can find me playing around with my computers or fixing something around the house. Feel free to leave a comment if you want to get in touch.

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