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But isnt there always a period at the front end when Intel leads the pack?

Sigh! Once upon a time, x86 CPUs were underpowered compared to what Windows needed. Of course, you were usually better off getting enough memory rather than a faster CPU--but if you could afford both, go for it.

That was a decade ago. Today, even fairly anemic x64 (x86 chips are all 64 bit now), can do just about anything you want a CPU to do, and in real time. The few chores for desktop or laptop machines where speed still matters tend to involve 3d graphics, 3d games, and video transcoding. Buying the extra memory is still a good idea, but now the trade-offs, if you do need 3d capabilities, are between number of CPUs, discrete GPU power, etc.

For everyone else, weight, power, and for laptops/tablets, battery life--as well as price--all matter. Yes, Intel chips are often the best available by those criteria, but the fast, high-priced power hogs often don't make the cut. For graphics systems, including workstations, Intel CPUs are almost always used with AMD or nVidia graphics cards. When it comes to integrated graphics, Intel is still way behind.

Incidently, I think that right now, AMD sells the highest clock speed chips, and Intel sells the chips that perform best with single-threaded loads. When you get into (server) loads that can spread over many CPU cores, AMD and Intel offer different sized mixes. Which is better? Contact me with your requirements and I'll quote a price to run benchmarks for you. (Just kidding. I'm retired now, and still end up with more commitments than time.)
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