AMD Ryzen 5 2500U vs Intel Core i5 8250U: Intel is no longer the only option

By Hardik Singh | Published on 22 Mar 2018
AMD Ryzen 5 2500U vs Intel Core i5 8250U: Intel is no longer the only option

The new AMD Ryzen 5 2500U processor matches the Intel Core i5 in CPU performance but outsmarts it in graphical performance.

After giving Intel a run for its money on the desktop side of things last year, AMD announced it's Ryzen laptop processors, promising laptops powered by the same chipsets in early 2018. Acer was one of the first companies to bring these new chips to its existing lineups and Acer’s new Ryzen powered laptops are finally here in India. We took a look at the new Acer Swift 3 laptop, which is powered by the AMD Ryzen 5 2500U processor. This four core, eight thread chip is now a direct competitor to Acer’s own 8th gen Intel Core i5 powered laptop, we reviewed recently. Can the red team finally deliver on the laptop front? We found out. 

Test systems
The reason you don’t see these CPU performance comparisons in the laptop category that often is because of its hard to get your hands on similarly specced laptops running AMD chipsets. For this test as well, the two units we are testing are not entirely same, but quite similar. The Ryzen 5 powered machine is the 15.6-inch Acer Swift 3, featuring an 8GB RAM and a 1TB HDD. In comparison, the Intel Core i5-8250U powered Acer Swift 3 features a 14-inch display, a 4GB RAM and 256GB SSD storage. Both machines feature a similar all-metal build and come equipped with a 1080p display.

While the screen size should be an issue here as the resolutions of the two laptops are the same, there might be minor differences in terms of performance, if any, due to the slower HDD on the AMD system. Anyway, the Ryzen 5 powered laptop currently costs Rs. 42,990 and the Intel-powered system comes at Rs. 59,999

On paper, both seem to be at par
While the laptops used in the test are good machines for the price, we are far more interested in how the two CPUs compare. 

  Intel Coer i5 8250U AMD Ryzen 5 2500U
CPU cores 4 cores 4 cores
Simeltaneous threads 8 threads 8 threads
Boost clock speed 3.4GHz 3.6GHz
cTDP 15W 15W
DRAM support DDR4-2400 DDR4-2400
GPU UHD 620 Vega 8
GPU cores 10 8
GPU speed 300MHz 1100MHz
L2/L3 Cache 6MB 6MB

As you can see both processors are four core parts with 8 simultaneous threads in each. Both come with integrated graphics, but AMD has an upper hand here as the company has a rich history of making better-integrated GPUs than its Intel counterparts. Hence, it is expected that the Integrated Radeon Vega GPU, will do a better job than the Intel UHD 620 GPUs. 

CPU Performance test
To deduct the performance differences between the two machines, we ran two popular synthetic benchmarks - Cinebench R15 and the PCMark 8 Creative Accelerated Benchmark. While Cinebench is a more core performance focused test, PCMark 8 is a complete test with multiple sub-tests.

Cinebench R15: Performance scores from tests such as Cinebench R15 are almost similar between the two laptops. The test measures overall performance by rendering a 3D scene. Here AMD which has a CPU score of 568 beats Intel by a small margin which ends up at 524 points.

PCMark 8 Creative Accelerated Benchmark: PCMark 8 is another very popular synthetic performance benchmark, which we ran on both the machines. Here the Intel-powered laptop takes the lead offering a good 500 point over the AMD powered machine. This benchmark performs a series of demanding computational tasks and is generally designed to test mid and high-end laptops.

Graphics test
For graphics, 3DMark is a really good test to deduct the performance difference between the integrated GPUs. We ran the Fire Strike test as well as the Sky diver test on both the machines.

3DMark Fire Strike: While there are plenty graphical tests available today, 3DMark Fire Strike is a synthetic benchmark more focused towards gaming laptops. It is a combination of physics test and a combined stress test of the CPU and the GPU. In this test, one can easily see how AMD’s Vega core churn out a better performance over the UHD 620 on the Intel chip.

3DMark Sky Diver: This is a more mainstream test for laptop and a recommended test for laptops using integrated graphics. Like Fire Strike, this is also a combination test and AMD comes out on the top in here as well.

Gaming benchmarks
We were not able to play multiple games on the two laptops simultaneously, but we did manage to run the Sniper Elite benchmark on both the laptops. The Radeon Vega GPU enabled Ryzen laptop averaged 17.55fps and with UHD 620, the Intel powered machine averaged at 14.45fps.

Real world tests
All things said and done, it is the real world usage which matters and here the two machine are barely different from each other. We opened multiple tabs in Chrome on both the machines, streamed video as well as audio, and even tried our hands at some video conversion and both laptops passed all the tasks with flying colours. There is a slight delay on the AMD-powered Acer Swift 3, but that is more due to the slower HDD than the processor itself. All-in-all both processors are equally capable of handling day to day tasks.

The best part is that we didn't encounter any out of ordinary heat issues with the AMD Ryzen powered machine. In fact, both the Acer Swift 3 laptops recorded a similar exterior heat reading, but still maintaining temperatures below 40-degree celsius. Both laptops do get somewhat warm, but not exceptionally uncomfortable.

While we were a bit skeptical at first, it seems AMD has finally made a worthy line of mobile processors, which will end Intel’s monopoly in the laptop space. If we take this performance comparison as an example, we are likely to see a healthy competition in the laptop space in the coming years. The Ryzen mobile processor comes at par with its 8th gen counterpart and performs much better in the graphics department. However, the graphical performance is still not that powerful that you can do without a dedicated GPU to enjoy newer games. 

All said and done, in a market like India, I believe it will all come down to price and now you can walk either way, and you won’t regret your decision.

Hardik Singh

Light at the top, this odd looking creature lives under the heavy medication of video games.

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