Intel Haswell vs AMD Richland head-to-head

We test both sets of architecture to see which is best suited for your needs.

Do you need to upgrade?

Haswell and Richland improve on their predecessors in every department but, in most cases, the leaps forward are incremental. That raises one important question: if you're currently using an Ivy Bridge or Trinity-based PC in your office, is it worth upgrading?

In most cases no. The chips themselves aren't cheap, and the addition of a new processor socket means you'll have to fork out for a new motherboard, too. Instead, wait for another year: Intel's next generation, Broadwell, will make the move to 14nm, and should offer a significant performance gain over Ivy Bridge.

However, for mobile computing the battery life improvements gains shouldn't be sniffed at - and the prospect of 8+ hours on the move with an Ultrabook is realistic with Haswell.

If your work system is based on Sandy Bridge chips or any older parts, Haswell will significantly boost your computing power, and newer chipsets will add more ports and sockets to your PC. The leap forward in graphics will be especially noticeable, and power consumption and electricity bills will be reduced.

The situation is a little different when it comes to AMD. If you've got a Trinity processor then the performance gain isn't a huge leap forward, but the upgrade path is relatively simple: you don't need a new motherboard, so a new APU can just slot into your existing PC.

If you're using a standard AMD processor rather than an APU, chances are you're using a very old, weak part and chances are your PC is struggling. If you're stuck with one of these Athlon or Phenom chips, then we recommend an upgrade. If you've got money to burn and are more interested in processing performance, then it's worth switching to Intel if you want a more balanced experience on a budget, then an APU is ideal.

Conclusion

Haswell generates plenty of column inches for Intel thanks to its dominance at the top of the processor market but, unless you're going to make full use of an expensive Core i7-4770K or i5-4670K, it's worth looking on the other side of the fence.

After all, there's plenty to like about AMD's top-end A10-6800K APU. It's got more graphical power than anything Intel can muster, it's more frugal, and it's much cheaper than Intel's top-end Haswell chips. It can't quite match Haswell when it comes to pure processing power, but that's its only weakness and, for many, it'll be more than good enough.

It's not as one-side as you might think. If you want pure processing power and don't mind the cost then Haswell is for you. If it's a balanced experience you're after and graphics and budget are the priority then a top-end APU is the chip of choice.

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