The Best CPUs?

By that, I mean the CPUs that offer the best performance at a given price range.

If you have the time or knowledge to do research… but who does in this busy world?
I do realize that not everyone has the time nor knowledge to read detailed CPU reviews.

I write this guide on the best CPUs to help you understand, save your time and money!

Summary: Skip to the recommendations

  1. Best lowest cost CPU
  2. Best Entry-level CPUs
  3. Best Mid-range CPUs: AMD Ryzen 5 vs Intel Core i5
  4. Best High-end CPUs: Intel Core i7-7700K vs AMD Ryzen 7 1700
  5. Best Enthusiasts CPUs: AMD Ryzen 7 1700X vs Intel Core i7-6800K
  6. AMD Ryzen 7 1800X vs Intel Core i7-6850K/6900K
  7. The best of the best: Intel Core i7-6950X 10-core

May 2017 Update: What’s new?

AMD Ryzen 5 CPU launch!

After launching 3 high-end 8-core Ryzen 7 CPUs in March, AMD have launched 4 additional CPUs based on their new Summit Ridge architecture, with the Ryzen 5 brand name.

Two of them, the Ryzen 5 1600X and Ryzen 5 1600 are 6 cores models and the two others, the Ryzen 5 1500X and Ryzen 5 1400 are 4 cores models. All of them have SMT (Simultaneous MultiThreading, similar to Hyper-Threading found on some Intel CPUs), allowing them to handle up to 12 and 8 threads respectively.

The Ryzen 3 CPUs will arrive in the second half of 2017.

The AMD Ryzen 5 change quite a bit my recommendations for the mid-range CPUs, read on to see the changes!

Price drops!

  • The Intel Pentium G4560 price has dropped by roughly $5.
  • The Intel Core i5-7500 price has dropped by $10-15.
  • The Intel Core i5-7600 price has dropped by $15-20.
  • The AMD Ryzen 7 1700 price has dropped by more than $20.
  • The AMD Ryzen 7 1700X price has dropped by $50!

This is an Worldwide Guide!

Do you live in the USA?

Use Amazon, B&H and Newegg for your purchase.

Do you live outside of the USA?

No problem. All the parts can be purchased from B&H, who ships worldwide.

Prices for B&H and Newegg as of May 19th 2017. Put your mouse on Amazon links or click on them to see prices.

Best lowest cost CPU:

Intel Celeron G3930

Get the Intel Celeron G3930 from Amazon
$43.16 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
$44.40 at Newegg

– Architecture: Kaby Lake – Frequency (Turbo): 2.9 (N/A) GHz
Cores (Threads): 2 (2) – Integrated GPU: Intel HD Graphics 610
– RAM Support: Dual Channel DDR4 2400MHz or DDR3L 1600MHz 1.35v
TDP: 51 W – Socket: LGA 1151

If you’re looking for a CPU with a rock bottom price, with a modern CPU architecture and decent performance, the Intel Celeron G3930 is the best option.

That said, if you can afford spending a bit more, the Intel Pentium G4560 recommended below is definitely worth it.

For roughly $20 more, you get a CPU that’s at the very least more than 20% faster, thanks to its higher 3.5GHz frequency and in the best case scenarios, more than twice as fast, thanks to its higher frequency and Hyper-Threading support!

V.S the competition:
The Intel Celeron G3930 is based on Intel’s latest Kaby Lake architecture and it has no problem outperforming the dual-core 4.0GHz AMD A4-7300 at this price range, thanks to:
1. The dual-core design of this Intel processor (two CPU cores, each with its FP/SSE (Floating Point) unit) is superior to two CPU cores with a shared FP/SSE (Floating Point) unit as seen on AMD’s “dual-core” designs.
2. The higher IPC (Instrutions per Clock) of the Skylake architecture.

On top of outperforming the AMD A4-7300, the Celeron G3930 is also more power efficient, consuming less power at idle and load than its direct competitor.

Pros:
– Decent CPU performance (best at this price), fine for web browsing and basic office work.
– Low price
– Integrated video card, so you don’t require a dedicated video card.
– Low power consumption
– Based on the 7th generation of Intel “Core” CPUs, Kaby lake.
– LGA 1151 socket: You can upgrade to an higher-end Pentium/Core i3/i5/i7 CPUs simply by swapping CPUs.

Cons:
– Only a dual-core CPU, with no Hyper-Threading and a rather low 2.8GHz frequency.
– Integrated video card offers limited performance, not adequate for gaming.
– Completely locked, overclocking is not supported nor possible.

Ideal for:
– An entry-level family or Office PC, if all you want to do is browse the Internet, watch some videos, listen to some music, do some Office work and the like.
– NAS, Media Server.

Avoid for:
– Any demanding workload
– Heavy multitasking
– Audio/photo/video editing
– Gaming PCs

Best Entry-level CPUs:

Outstanding value!
Intel Pentium G4560

Get the Intel Pentium G4560 from Amazon

$59.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
$69.99 at Newegg

– Architecture: Kaby Lake – Frequency (Turbo): 3.5 (N/A) GHz
Cores (Threads): 2 (4) – Integrated GPU: Intel HD 610
– RAM Support: DDR4/DDR3L Dual Channel
TDP: 54 W – Socket: LGA 1151

The budget CPU king: Outstanding value!

The Intel Pentium G4560 is based on the 7th and latest Intel Kaby Lake architecture and runs at an higher frequency of 3.5GHz.

What makes it so interesting and why it’s replacing the AMD Athlon X4 845/860, Pentium G3258 and G4400 is the fact that the Intel Pentium CPUs based on the 7th gen Kaby Lake architecture now comes with Hyper-Threading, unlike previous generation of desktop Intel Pentium CPUs.

So instead of a dual-core design, you get a dual-core + Hyper-Threading design for the Pentium G4560, making it far more powerful and easily capable of outperforming the CPUs that I used to recommend at this price point.

As a matter of a fact, it now offers performance far closer to the more expensive Intel Core i3, but at a significantly lower price! You’re nearly getting the performance of the older dual-core+Hyper-Threading 3.7GHz Core i3-6100!

Avoid: Intel Core i3-7100
The Intel Core i3-7100 is basically a Pentium G4560 with a frequency that’s 400MHz higher, but at twice the price.

Pros:
– Best single-threaded CPU performance at price point.
– Better than ever multi-threaded performance at this price point, thanks to the introduction of Hyper-Threading
– Integrated video card, so you don’t require a dedicated video card.
– LGA 1151 socket: You can upgrade to an higher-end Core i3/i5/i7 latest gen Skylake CPUs simply by swapping out your CPU.
– 54W TDP is lower than previous recommendations and than the competition.

Cons:
– Completely locked, overclocking is not supported nor possible.
– The integrated video card is underwhelming, very weak performance, far from a Gaming PC required performance level.

Ideal for:
– A family PC
– Budget Gaming PC
– Budget Office PCs
– NAS, Streaming PC, Media server

Avoid for:
– Heavy multitasking
– Heavy Audio/photo/video editing

Best Entry-Level APU (CPU + GPU in one):

Get the AMD A8-7600 from Amazon

$65.89 (B&H – Worldwide Shipping)
$64.99 (Newegg)

– Architecture: Kaveri
Frequency (Turbo): 3.1 (3.8) GHz
Cores (Threads): 2 modules/ 4 cores
Integrated GPU: AMD Radeon R7 384 GPU Cores, 720MHz
– RAM Support: DDR3 Dual Channel
TDP: 65W
Socket: AMD FM2+

2 modules / 4 cores

From a CPU performance point of view, the Pentium G4560 offers far higher performance, so I only recommend the AMD A8-7600 if you want better integrated graphic performance for a gaming PC on a very tight budget.

The quad-core design of this AMD processor looks like this: Four CPU cores, with two shared FP/SSE (Floating Point) units.

If you want an APU with an integrated GPU that offers good entry-level integrated gaming performance, the A8-7600 is an excellent choice.

This is why I recommend it for the entry-level Tier of the Budget Gaming PC article (How to easily build your Budget Gaming PC: Worldwide Edition!)

According to AnandTech’s review of the A8-7600, the A8-7600 outperforms the older A10-5800K and A10-6800K when it comes to the integrated video card performance.

Note that you want to pair it up with dual-channel (two or four sticks) DDR3 2133MHz RAM for the best performance possible in video games.

Avoid mid-range/high-end APUs

I no longer recommend AMD’s higher-end APUs because they are too expensive compared to an entry-level CPU (Pentium G4560) and entry-level graphic card (See The Best Graphic Cards article) solution, which will offer tremendously higher gaming performance, to be worth recommending at this point in time.

Best Mid-range CPUs:

Intel Core i3-7350K V.S. AMD Ryzen 5 1400
Recommendation: AMD Ryzen 5 1400

Get the AMD RYZEN 5 1400 from Amazon

$168.72 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
$169.99 at Newegg

– Architecture: Summit Ridge – Frequency/Turbo: 3.2/3.4 GHz
Cores (Threads): 4 (8) – Integrated GPU: None
– RAM Support: Dual Channel DDR4 – TDP: 65W – Socket: AM4

The AMD Ryzen 5 1400 offers unprecedented value at this price point. For years, I’ve been recommending Intel Core i5 CPUs, with four cores but no Hyper-Threading support, so they could only handle four threads. The interesting models were also priced higher, ranging from $200 to $250.

The AMD Ryzen 5 1400 offers four cores and 8 threads support for less than $170. Its multiplier is also unlocked, meaning that it can be overclocked if you wish to do so.

Avoid the Core i3-7350K:
In theory, the Intel Core i3-7350K, an unlocked dual-Core + Hyper-Threading CPU, is interesting because it’s the first Intel Core i3 that has an unlocked multiplier for overclocking.

Its default frequency of 4.2GHz is pretty impressive for a Core i3 as well.

What’s the problem? It is priced far too high for it to be interesting. Remember that this is a dual-core CPU, with half the cores of the AMD Ryzen 5 1400.

Sure, you could argue that its single threaded performance is better, which is true. I’ll argue that a dual-core CPU in 2017 is not a great choice and that it’s not going to age well. Not to mention that more and more programs, as well as games, are taking advantage of 4 or more cores.

If it was available at $120 price point, it might be slightly interesting, but at its current $150 price point, you’re far better off spending $20 more to get the quad-core, 8 threads AMD Ryzen 5 1400 instead. This is why I recommend the AMD Ryzen 5 1400 instead, it’s an easy choice for me.

Intel Core i5-7500 V.S. AMD Ryzen 5 1500X

– AMD Ryzen 5 1500X for overall performance, workstation, multitasking and overclocking potential
– Intel Core i5-7500 for gaming performance and web browsing
– Consider the 6 cores and 12 threads AMD Ryzen 5 1600 for roughly $30 more.

Get the Intel Core i5-7500 from Amazon

$195.00 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
$199.99 at Newegg

– Architecture: Kaby Lake – Frequency/Turbo: 3.4/3.8 GHz
Cores (Threads): 4 (4) – Integrated GPU: Intel HD Graphics 630
– RAM Support: DDR4 Dual Channel – TDP: 65W – Socket: LGA1151

Get the AMD RYZEN 5 1500X from Amazon

$189.00 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
$189.99 at Newegg

– Architecture: Summit Ridge – Frequency/Turbo: 3.5/3.7 GHz
Cores (Threads): 4 (8) – Integrated GPU: None
– RAM Support: Dual Channel DDR4 – TDP: 65W – Socket: AM4

For gaming performance only:
The Intel Core i5-7500, with its Kaby Lake architecture that offers slightly higher single-threaded performance than the AMD Summit Ridge architecture found in the AMD Ryzen 5 1500X, and 4 cores running at 3.4-3.8GHz, currently offers the best gaming performance. But seeing as games start using more than 4 cores, the AMD Ryzen 5 1500X, which is capable of handling 8 threads at once, unlike the Core i5-7500 which is limited to 4 threads, will most likely age better than the Core i5-7500.

All around performance:

The AMD Ryzen 5 1500X, being capable of handling 8 threads at once, unlike the Intel Core i5-7500, offers better overall performance, especially in workstation type of workloads.

Intel Core i5-7600 V.S. AMD Ryzen 5 1600:
Recommendation for most: AMD Ryzen 5 1600

Get the AMD RYZEN 5 1600 from Amazon

$219.00 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
$219.99 at Newegg

– Architecture: Summit Ridge – Frequency/Turbo: 3.2/3.6 GHz
Cores (Threads): 6 (12) – Integrated GPU: None
– RAM Support: Dual Channel DDR4 – TDP: 65W – Socket: AM4

While the Intel Core i5-7600 might currently offer slightly better performance in some games at 1920 x 1080, the Ryzen 5 1600 isn’t far behind. The Intel Core i5-7600, with its 4 cores and 4 thread setup is slowly but surely becoming a bottleneck with newer games and that CPU isn’t going to age too well. For gaming at 2560 x 1440 or 4K (3840 x 2160) resolutions, the graphic card is all that matters.

Overall, the AMD Ryzen 5 1600 offers far better performance, especially in workstation type of workload, thanks to its 2 additional cores (6 vs 4) and being capable of handling three times the number of threads at once (12 vs 4). Basically, the AMD Ryzen 5 1600 clearly offers better overall performance and value than the Core i5-7600.

This makes it easy for me to recommend the AMD Ryzen 5 1600 over the Intel Core i5-7600.

Intel Core i5-7600K V.S. AMD Ryzen 5 1600X:

Recommendation: AMD Ryzen 5 1600X

Get the AMD RYZEN 5 1600X from Amazon

$249.00 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
$249.99 at Newegg

– Architecture: Summit Ridge – Frequency/Turbo: 3.6/4.0 GHz
Cores (Threads): 6 (12) – Integrated GPU: None
– RAM Support: Dual Channel DDR4 – TDP: 95W – Socket: AM4

The story repeats itself here: While the Intel Core i5-7600K might currently offer slightly better performance in some games at 1920 x 1080, the Ryzen 5 1600X isn’t far behind. The Intel Core i5-7600K, with its 4 cores and 4 thread setup is slowly but surely becoming a bottleneck with newer games and that CPU isn’t going to age too well. For gaming at 2560 x 1440 or 4K (3840 x 2160) resolutions, the graphic card is all that matters.

Overall, the AMD Ryzen 5 1600X offers far better performance, especially in workstation type of workload, thanks to its 2 additional cores (6 vs 4) and being capable of handling three times the number of threads at once (12 vs 4). Basically, the AMD Ryzen 5 1600X clearly offers better overall performance and value than the Core i5-7600K.

This makes it easy for me to recommend the AMD Ryzen 5 1600X over the Intel Core i5-7600K.

Don’t tell me that you can overclock the Intel Core i5-7600K: The AMD Ryzen 5 1600X can be overclocked as well.

Best High-End CPU:

– Intel Core i7-7700K for gaming, web browsing and overall system responsiveness
– AMD Ryzen 7 1700 for a Workstation and for overclocking potential

Get the Intel Core i7-7700K from Amazon

$337.00 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
$339.99 at Newegg

– Architecture: Kaby Lake – Frequency/Turbo: 4.2/4.5 GHz
Cores (Threads): 4 (8) – Integrated GPU: Intel HD Graphics 630
– RAM Support: Dual Channel DDR4 – TDP: 91W – Socket: LGA1151

 

Get the AMD RYZEN 7 1700 from Amazon

$307.75 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
$314.99 at Newegg

– Architecture: Summit Ridge – Frequency/Turbo: 3.0/3.7 GHz
Cores (Threads): 8 (16) – Integrated GPU: None
– RAM Support: Dual Channel DDR4 – TDP: 65W – Socket: AM4

Intel Core i7-7700K V.S. AMD RYZEN 7 1700:

Summary:

They are both great CPUs, but each one excels at different tasks
With its higher single-threaded performance and very high frequencies, the Intel Core i7-7700K is what you want for the best gaming performance, web browsing and overall system responsiveness.

With its 8 cores, the AMD Ryzen 7 1700 is the better choice for a workstation and it has a lot of performance to gain from overclocking.

Single threaded performance:
Performance per core: System responsiveness, web browsing, gaming

Clear win for the Intel Core i7-7700K
While the AMD Ryzen architecture have far better single-threaded than their previous FX series of CPUs, it doesn’t quite match up the Intel 7th gen Kaby Lake architecture single-threaded performance, which generally have a 10-15% advantage at the same frequency.

At the same frequency, the single threaded performance of AMD Ryzen is generally around Intel 4th generation Haswell, which is still very good and a massive improvement compared to the previous gen AMD FX series of CPUs.

In this case, you have to consider that the Intel Core i7-7700K runs at 4.2-4.5GHz, compared to 3.0-3.7GHz for the AMD Ryzen 7 1700.

With a better single threaded performance at the same frequency and far higher frequencies, the Intel Core i7-7700K offer significantly higher single-threaded performance.

What this means is that your PC will definitely feel more responsive with the Core i7-7700K, same goes with web browsing.

Gaming Performance:

– Clear win for the Intel Core i7-7700K at 1080p
– More or less the same at 1440p/4K and on multiple monitors

This is not a good match-up for AMD, when it comes to gaming performance. Games like high single-threaded performance and high frequencies.
So obviously, the 4.2-4.5GHz high single-threaded performance quad-core Core i7-7700K CPU will clearly outperform the lower single-threaded performance 3.0-3.7GHz 8 core AMD Ryzen 7 1700 CPU.

Due to its lower single-threaded performance and lower frequencies, the AMD Ryzen 7 1700 can’t be expected to match the Core i7-7700K when it comes to gaming performance.

That said, many reviewers have found that even the top-end Ryzen 7 1800X CPU sometimes significantly trails behind the Core i7-7700K, by 30% in some odd games.

AMD’s answer to this is that some games have yet to be optimized for their new CPU architecture, and I’d add that there’s probably still some bugs to be fixed and a some updates to be applied to the new AM4 platform to get better and more consistent performance out of AMD Ryzen CPUs. While this won’t close the normal performance gap in gaming at 1080p, it should fix the odd results in some games.

The Ryzen 7 1700 is still miles ahead of the old AMD FX series, but it is no match for what is the currently the best CPU for gaming, the Intel Core i7-7700K.

Mind you, if you game at 2560 x 1440, 4K or on multiple displays, the performance gap shrinks and you’re unlikely to perceive a difference: At that point, it’s mostly all about the graphic card(s).

Multi threaded performance:
Performance when all cores are working: Rendering, video/photo editing, 3D, other programs that use many cores.

Clear win for the AMD Ryzen 7 1700

While the Intel Core i7-7700K offers better single-threaded performance and higher frequencies, it only features 4 cores and it is no match for the AMD Ryzen 7 1700 with its 8 cores, when it comes to multi threaded performance.

So if you plan on using your computer as a workstation, for rendering, video/photo editing, 3D or other highly multi-threaded programs, the AMD Ryzen 7 1700 is a better choice than the Core i7-7700K at this price point.

Power consumption:

Advantage: AMD Ryzen 7 1700
At idle, both consume roughly the same power. At load, depending the application, the AMD Ryzen 1700 uses 15 to 30W less than the Intel Core i7-7700K.

Overclocking

Advantage: AMD Ryzen 7 1700
Both CPUs have an unlocked multiplier, so you can easily overclock them (raise their frequency) to raise their performance.

That said, the AMD Ryzen 7 1700, being the lowest Tier model in its Ryzen 7 family of CPUs, unlike the Core i7-7700K, has more to gain from overclocking. You get the same 8 core CPU as the Ryzen 7 1700X or 1800X, only with lower frequencies, so by overclocking the Ryzen 7, you can get the same kind of performance at a significantly lower price! Many report reaching 4GHz+ on all 8 cores, which is 1000MHz/1GHz over the base frequency of the R7 1700! Of course, make sure to have a solid power supply and a good CPU Cooler, preferably water cooling, to handle the additional power consumption and heat from overclocking.

Cost:

Tie: Depends on your situation
The Core i7-7700K cost slightly more and also does not include a heatsink/fan CPU Cooler, so it will cost more there.

The AMD Ryzen 7 1700 includes an AMD Wraith Stealth 65W near silent design, a fine CPU Cooler.

Of course, if you overclock, you’ll want a better CPU Cooler for the best results.

On the flip side, note that the AMD Ryzen 7 1700 doesn’t have an integrated graphic card, so you need to buy a dedicated graphic card, which will drive costs up if you weren’t planning on using a dedicated graphic card.

Best Enthusiast CPUs:
Best CPU for $350:
AMD Ryzen R7 1700X

Get the AMD Ryzen 1700X from Amazon

$349.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
$349.99 at Newegg

– Architecture: Summit Ridge – Frequency (Turbo): 3.4 (3.8) GHz
Cores (Threads): 8 (16) – Integrated GPU: N/A
– RAM Support: Dual Channel DDR4 – TDP: 95W – Socket: AM4

Intel Core i7-6800K V.S. AMD RYZEN 7 1700X:

Summary:

I’d argue that the AMD Ryzen 7 1700X has the edge over the Core i7-6800K overall.

While the Intel Core i7-6800K has a very slight advantage in single-threaded performance, a small advantage in some games at 1080p, both unlikely to be perceived, the AMD Ryzen 7 1700X has a significant advantage in multi-threaded performance (unless you run applications that benefit from more RAM bandwidth), consumes less power at idle and offers better value, when you consider the platform and CPU cooler cost.

Single threaded performance:
Performance per core: System responsiveness, web browsing, gaming

Very slight advantage to the Core i7-6800K
At the same frequency, the single threaded performance of AMD Ryzen is usually around Intel 4th generation Haswell, while the Broadwell-E cores of the Core i7-6800K are based on the 5th generation Broadwell architecture.

So at the same frequency, the Core i7-6800K generally has more or less a 5-10% performance advantage in single-threaded performance.

However, the Ryzen 7 1700X can Turbo at up to 3.8GHz, while the Core i7-6800K can only Turbo at up to 3.6GHz, so the Core i7-6800K and AMD Ryzen 7 1700X end up trading blows, but the Intel Core i7-6800K ultimately has a very slight advantage.

Realistically, you’re unlikely the perceive the difference between both.

Gaming Performance:

– Slight advantage to the Intel Core i7-6800K at 1080p; unlikely to be perceived in most cases
– More or less the same at 1440p/4K and on multiple monitors

Although performance is similar in some cases, overall the AMD Ryzen 7 1700X slightly trails the Core i7-6800K when it comes to gaming performance at 1920 x 1080. However, the difference is much smaller than between the slower Ryzen 1700 and best for gaming Core i7-7700K and you’re unlikely to perceive a difference in most cases.

I say in most cases because many reviewers have found that even the top-end Ryzen 7 1800X CPU sometimes significantly trails behind Intel Broadwell-E CPUS (Core i7-6800K, i7-6850K, i7-6900K and Core i7-6950X), by 30% in some odd games.

AMD’s answer to this is that some games have yet to be optimized for their new CPU architecture, and I’d add that there’s probably still some bugs to be fixed and a some updates to be applied to the new AM4 platform to get better and more consistent performance out of AMD Ryzen CPUs. While this won’t close the small performance gap in gaming at 1080p, it should fix the odd results in some games.

Mind you, if you game at 2560 x 1440, 4K or on multiple displays, the performance gap shrinks and you’re unlikely to perceive a difference: At that point, it’s mostly all about the graphic card(s).

Multi threaded performance:
Performance when all cores are working: Rendering, video/photo editing, 3D, other programs that use many cores.

Clear win for the AMD Ryzen 7 1700X

While the Intel Core i7-6800K offers ever so slightly better single-threaded performance, it only features 6 cores and it is no match for the AMD Ryzen 7 1700X with its 8 cores, when it comes to multi threaded performance.

So if you plan on using your computer as a workstation, for rendering, video/photo editing, 3D or other highly multi-threaded programs, the AMD Ryzen 7 1700X is generally the better choice than the Core i7-6800K at this price point.

I say generally, because if you run a professional application that takes advantage of more RAM bandwidth, the Core i7-6800K, with its quad-channel platform, has the edge over the AMD AM4 dual-channel platform.

While this doesn’t apply to 99% of users, if you need more than 64GB of RAM (maximum supported on AM4 platform), you can have 128GB of RAM on the X99 platform of the Core i7-6800K.

Power consumption:

Advantage: AMD Ryzen 7 1700X
According to PC Perspective, at idle the higher-end AMD Ryzen 7 1800X uses 32.3W less power than the Core i7-6800K but 26.5W more power at load (Cinebench R15). Now, the AMD Ryzen 7 1700X runs at slightly lower frequencies than the Ryzen 7 1800X, so it’s most likely going to consume a bit less power at load than the Ryzen 7 1800X. Also, considering that a PC usually spends far more time at idle than at load, the AMD Ryzen 7 1700X should use less power overall than the Core i7-6800K.

Overclocking

Both CPUs have an unlocked multiplier, so you can easily overclock them (raise their frequency) to raise their performance. Of course, make sure to have a solid power supply and a good CPU Cooler, preferably water cooling, to handle the additional power consumption and heat from overclocking.

Cost:

Clear win: AMD Ryzen 7 1700X

Both CPUs cost roughly the same, but the Intel Core i7-6800K runs on the X99 platform, with motherboards starting around $200 and performing best with a more expensive quad-channel RAM kit, while AM4 motherboard for the Ryzen 7 1700X start around $100 and a dual-channel RAM kit will cost a bit less.

The Core i7-6800K also does not include a heatsink/fan CPU Cooler, so you have to spend even more, while the AMD Ryzen 7 1700X includes an AMD Wraith Spire 95W near silent design, a fine CPU Cooler.

Of course, if you overclock, you’ll want a better CPU Cooler for the best results.

Note that both CPUs don’t have an integrated graphic card, so you need to buy a dedicated graphic card.

Quad-channel RAM with up to 128GB RAM alternative

Get the Intel i7-6800K from Amazon

$438.89 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
$439.99 at Newegg

– Architecture: Broadwell-E – Frequency (Turbo): 3.4 (3.6) GHz
Cores (Threads): 6 (12) – Integrated GPU: N/A
– RAM Support: Quad Channel DDR4 – TDP: 140W – Socket: LGA2011

If you run applications that benefit from the quad-channel RAM additional bandwidth and/or want to be able to install 128GB of RAM, the Core i7-6800K and its quad-channel RAM X99 platform is the better choice at the $400 price point.

Keep in mind that the Core i7-6900K and Core i7-6950X will offer more performance with respectively 8 and 10 cores, compared to 6 cores on the Core i7-6800K.

Remember that you need an after-market CPU Cooler and a dedicated graphic card.

Best CPUs for $500 to $1050:
AMD Ryzen 1800X vs Intel Core i7-6850K and Core i7-6900K

Get the AMD Ryzen 1800X from Amazon

$459.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
$459.99 at Newegg

– Architecture: Summit Ridge – Frequency (Turbo): 3.6 (4.0) GHz
Cores (Threads): 8 (16) – Integrated GPU: N/A
– RAM Support: Dual Channel DDR4 – TDP: 95W – Socket: AM4

AMD RYZEN 7 1800X V.S. Intel Core i7-6850K and i7-6900K:

Summary:

1. The AMD Ryzen 7 1800X has the edge over the Core i7-6900K overall, offering competitive performance at a much lower price

While the Intel Core i7-6900K has a slight edge with gaming at 1080p, unlikely to be perceived in most cases, the AMD Ryzen 7 1800X offers similar gaming performance at 1440P/4K, trade blows or even comes ahead in multi-threaded performance (unless you run applications that benefit from more RAM bandwidth) and cost significantly less, even more so when you consider the platform and CPU cooler cost.

2. The AMD Ryzen 7 1800X outperforms the Core i7-6850K in most cases, while costing less and consuming less power.

Again, the Intel Core i7-6850K has a slight edge with gaming at 1080p, unlikely to be perceived in most cases, the AMD Ryzen 7 1800X offers similar gaming performance at 1440P/4K, offers significantly better performance in multi-threaded applications (unless you run applications that benefit from more RAM bandwidth) and cost less, even more so when you consider the platform and CPU cooler cost.

Single threaded performance:
Performance per core: System responsiveness, web browsing, gaming

V.S. the Core i7-6850K: Slight advantage for the Core i7-6850K
V.S. the Core i7-6900K: Even smaller advantage for the Core i7-6900K

At the same frequency, the single threaded performance of AMD Ryzen is roughly around Intel 4th generation Haswell, while the Broadwell-E cores of the Core i7-6850K/6900K are based on the 5th generation Broadwell architecture.

So at the same frequency, the Core i7-6850/6900K have more or less a 5-10% performance advantage in single-threaded performance.

The Ryzen 7 1800X can Turbo at up to 4.0GHz, the Core i7-6850K up to 3.8GHz and the Core i7-6900K at up to 3.7GHz.

The Core i7-6850K/i7-6900K and AMD Ryzen 7 1800X end up trading blows, but the Intel Core i7-6850K/6900K ultimately have a very slight advantage.

Realistically, you’re unlikely the perceive the difference between any of them.

Gaming Performance:

– Slight advantage to the Intel Core i7-6850K-6900K at 1080p; unlikely to be perceived
– More or less the same at 1440p/4K and on multiple monitors

Although performance is similar in some cases, overall the AMD Ryzen 7 1800X slightly trails the Core i7-6850K/6900K when it comes to gaming performance at 1920 x 1080. The difference is small enough that you’re unlikely to perceive a difference, in most cases.

I say in most cases because many reviewers have found that the Ryzen 7 CPUs sometimes significantly trails behind Intel Broadwell-E CPUS (Core i7-6800K, i7-6850K, i7-6900K and Core i7-6950X), by 30% in some odd games.

AMD’s answer to this is that some games have yet to be optimized for their new CPU architecture, and I’d add that there’s probably still some bugs to be fixed and a some updates to be applied to the new AM4 platform to get better and more consistent performance out of AMD Ryzen CPUs. While this won’t close the small performance gap in gaming at 1080p, it should fix the odd results in some games.

Mind you, if you game at 2560 x 1440, 4K or on multiple displays, the performance gap shrinks and you’re unlikely to perceive a difference: At that point, it’s mostly all about the graphic card(s).

Multi threaded performance:
Performance when all cores are working: Rendering, video/photo editing, 3D, other programs that use many cores.

V.S. the Core i7-6850K: Clear win for the AMD Ryzen 7 1800X
V.S. the Core i7-6900K: Advantage for the AMD Ryzen 7 1800X

While the Intel Core i7-6850K offers ever so slightly better single-threaded performance, it only features 6 cores and it is no match for the AMD Ryzen 7 1800X with its 8 cores, when it comes to multi threaded performance.

The Intel Core i7-6900K also offers ever so slightly better single-threaded performance and features 8 cores, but AMD Ryzen 7 1800X still manages to outperform the Core i7-6900K, when it comes to overall multi threaded performance.

So if you plan on using your computer as a workstation, for rendering, video/photo editing, 3D or other highly multi-threaded programs, the AMD Ryzen 7 1800X is generally the better choice.

I say generally, because if you run a professional application that takes advantage of more RAM bandwidth, the Core i7-6850K and i7-6900K, with their quad-channel platform, has the edge over the AMD AM4 dual-channel platform.

While this doesn’t apply to 99% of users, if you need more than 64GB of RAM (maximum supported on AM4 platform), you can have 128GB of RAM on the X99 platform of the Core i7-6850K and i7-6900K.

Power consumption:

V.S. the Core i7-6850K: Advantage for the AMD Ryzen 7 1800X
V.S. the Core i7-6900K: Clear win for the AMD Ryzen 7 1800X

I couldn’t find power consumption comparison between the Core i7-6950K and Ryzen 7 1800X, but the Core i7-6850K is basically the Core i7-6800K with an extra 200MHz and more PCI-Express lanes, so I’d expect it to consume a bit more power than the Core i7-6800K.

Now, according to PC Perspective, at idle the AMD Ryzen 7 1800X uses 32.3W less power than the Core i7-6800K but 26.5W more power at load (Cinebench R15). Considering that a PC usually spends far more time at idle than at load, the AMD Ryzen 7 1700X should use less power overall.

Again, according to PC Perspective, at idle the AMD Ryzen 7 1800X uses 32.6W less power than the Core i7-6900K and 5.4W less power at load (Cinebench R15).

Overclocking

All 3 CPUs have an unlocked multiplier, so you can easily overclock them (raise their frequency) to raise their performance. Of course, make sure to have a solid power supply and a good CPU Cooler, preferably water cooling, to handle the additional power consumption and heat from overclocking.

Cost:

Clear win: AMD Ryzen 7 1800X

The AMD Ryzen 7 1800X cost less than the Core i7-6850K and a lot less than the Core i7-6900K.

On top of that, the Intel Core i7-6850K and Core i7-6900K run on the X99 platform, with motherboards starting around $200 and performing best with a more expensive quad-channel RAM kit, while AM4 motherboard for the Ryzen 7 1800X start around $100 and a dual-channel RAM kit will cost a bit less.

The Core i7-6850K/6900K also don’t include a heatsink/fan CPU Cooler, so you have to spend even more, while the AMD Ryzen 7 1800X includes an AMD Wraith Spire 95W near silent design, a fine CPU Cooler.

Of course, if you overclock, you’ll want a better CPU Cooler for the best results.

Note that all 3 CPUs don’t have an integrated graphic card, so you need to buy a dedicated graphic card.

Quad-channel RAM with up to 128GB RAM alternatives

Get the Intel Core i7-6850K from Amazon

$599.00 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
$609.99 at Newegg

– Architecture: Broadwell-E – Frequency (Turbo): 3.6 (3.8) GHz
Cores (Threads): 6 (12) – Integrated GPU: N/A
– RAM Support: Quad Channel DDR4 – TDP: 140W – Socket: LGA2011

Get the Intel i7-6900K from Amazon

$1,022.85 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
$1,049.99 at Newegg

– Architecture: Broadwell-E – Frequency (Turbo): 3.2 (3.7) GHz
Cores (Threads): 8 (16) – Integrated GPU: N/A
– RAM Support: Quad Channel DDR4 – TDP: 140W – Socket: LGA2011

If you run applications that benefit from the quad-channel RAM additional bandwidth and/or want to be able to install 128GB of RAM, the Core i7-6850K or the Core i7-6900K and their quad-channel RAM X99 platform are the better choices at the $580-$1050 price point.

Compared to the Core i7-6800K, the Core i7-6850K runs at a base and Turbo frequency 200MHz higher.

The main difference between the Core i7-6850K and Core i7-6900K: Other than the obvious price difference, the Core i7-6900K features 8 cores, compared to 6 cores on the Core i7-6850K.

Keep in mind that the Core i7-6950X, recommended below, will offer even more performance with 10 cores.

Remember that you need an after-market CPU Cooler and a dedicated graphic card with thse CPUs.

The best of the best

Get the Intel i7-6950X from Amazon

$1,649.89 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
$1,649.99 at Newegg

Simply put, this is THE most powerful desktop CPU available on the market.

– Architecture: Broadwell-E
Frequency (Turbo): 3.0 (3.5) GHz
Cores (Threads): 10 (20)
Integrated GPU: N/A
– RAM Support: Quad Channel DDR4
TDP: 140W
Socket: LGA2011

The only 10 core/20 thread consumer CPU, the Core i7-6950X offers unmatched multi-threaded processing power, although at a very high price.

Then again, if the applications that you run don’t benefit from the additional bandwidth from quad-channel RAM, if you don’t need 128GB of RAM and don’t mind slightly lower performance to save more than $1100, the AMD Ryzen 7 1800X is a much better value proposal.

Pros:
– Outstanding CPU performance, capable of handling pretty much anything.
– Unlocked multiplier for easy overclocking.
– Support for quad-channel DDR4 RAM and up to 128GB of RAM

Cons:
Does not include a CPU Cooler, you must buy your own.
– No integrated video card: You must use a dedicated video card.
– Higher power consumption
– Extremely expensive, compared to the competition.

Ideal for:
1. An High-End Workstation.

Avoid for:
– NAS, Streaming PC and other workloads requiring a low power consumption.

Conclusion

I hope that you’ve enjoyed this latest edition of the Best CPUs article.

With this being such a long article with many recommendations and alternatives, you may find some typos.

Alternatively, you may disagree with me and believe that there’s a better option than my recommendation.

Or you may have some questions.

If that happens, leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you.