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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 save your time and money!

Summary: Skip to the recommendations

  1. Best Entry-level CPUs
  2. Best Lower Mid-range CPUs
  3. Best Upper Mid-range CPUs
  4. Best Lower High-end CPUs
  5. Best Upper High-end CPUs
  6. Best 16-32 Cores CPUs

This is an Worldwide Guide!

Do you live in the USA?

Use Amazon or B&H 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 as of April 1st 2020. Click on Amazon links to see prices. Note that I get commissions for purchases made through links in this post. Prices and availability are subject to change.

Best Entry-level CPUs:

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

Get the AMD Ryzen 3 3200G Processor with Radeon Vega 8 Graphics from Amazon

 – $99.99 (B&H – Worldwide Shipping)

– Architecture: Ryzen 2nd generation
Frequency (Turbo): 3.6 (4.0) GHz
Cores (Threads): 4 cores/ 4 threads
Integrated GPU: AMD Radeon Vega 8 512 GPU Cores, 1250MHz
– RAM Support: DDR4 2933MHz Dual Channel
TDP: 65W
Socket: AMD AM4

Excellent integrated graphic performance, for a gaming PC on a small budget.

Manufactured on a 12nm process as opposed to 14nm for the previous generation Ryzen 3 2200G, the Ryzen 3 3200G offers slightly higher performance, thanks to higher base, Turbo and GPU frequencies.  You now get 3.6/4.0GHz CPU base/Turbo and 1250MHz for the GPU, compared to 3.5/3.7/1100MHz for the Ryzen 3 2200G.

The AMD Ryzen 3 3200G feature the AMD Radeon Vega 8 integrated graphics, which offer gaming performance that is far better than Intel integrated graphics, 2-3x the performance at 1920 x 1080.

For roughly $91, you get a high performance quad-core CPU, that trade blows with the more expensive Intel Core i3-9100, along with much better integrated graphic performance than what Intel offers.

On top of that, you can overclock the AMD Ryzen 3 3200G, unlike the Intel Core i3-9100.

Note that you want to pair it up with dual-channel (two or four sticks) of DDR4 RAM, frequency up to 3200MHz, for the best performance possible in video games. Avoid using a single stick of RAM: It can halve gaming performance.

Gamers with a dedicated graphic card:
Skip AMD’s APUs and go with the Core i3-9100F, an inexpensive option that doesn’t have integrated graphics, which aren’t needed if you have a dedicated graphic card.

CPU performance: AMD Ryzen 3 3200G V.S. Intel Core i3-9100

At stock frequencies, the AMD Ryzen 3 3200G offers competitive performance compared to the Intel Core i3-9100, but still a notch or two lower.

Intel Core i3-9100

Get the Intel Core i3-9100 from Amazon
$142.50 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

Intel Core i3-9100F (No integrated graphics)

Get the Intel Core i3-9100F from Amazon
– $78.00 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

– Architecture: Coffee Lake – Frequency/Turbo: 3.6/4.2GHz
Cores (Threads): 4 (4) – Integrated GPU: Intel UHD 630 (None for i3-9100F)
– RAM Support: Dual Channel DDR4 – TDP: 65W – Socket: LGA1151 (300 series chipset)

The Core i3-9100 brings a welcome change compared to the previous generation Core i3-8100, that is the addition of Turbo. So instead of being limited to its 3.6GHz base frequency like the Core i3-8100, the Core i3-9100 can Boost to 4.2GHz, a 600MHz boost compared to the previous generation!

Note that the Core i3-9100F, which has no integrated graphics, can be found at a significantly lower price, making it an attractive option for a budget gaming PC.

Versus AMD:
For gaming performance, the Core i3-9100 holds a performance advantage, thanks to its Coffee Lake architecture and significantly higher frequencies.

If you care about multi-threaded performance though, the AMD Ryzen 5 2600, a 6 core / 12 thread CPU, will have no problem outperforming it.

Best Lower Mid-range CPUs:

AMD Ryzen 5 3600

– AMD Ryzen 5 3600 for the best gaming performance, all-around performance and PCIe 4.0

Get the AMD Ryzen 5 3600 from Amazon

$174.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

– Architecture: Ryzen 3rd generation – Frequency/Turbo: 3.6/4.2 GHz
Cores (Threads): 6 (12) – Integrated GPU: None
– RAM Support: Dual Channel DDR4 3200MHz – TDP: 65W – Socket: AM4

What about the Intel Core i5-9400F, AMD Ryzen 5 2600/2600X and Ryzen 5 3400G?
– Core i5-9400F:
You can get the Ryzen 5 3600, which offers significantly higher gaming and overall performance, for only $25 more.
– AMD Ryzen 5 2600/2600X:
At $120-130, they are interesting choices, but with their current availability is low, with higher prices than lately, hence why I don’t currently recommend them.
– Ryzen 5 3400G:
Current price is too high to recommend it. Better get an Intel Core i3-9100F with a dedicated graphic card for hardly more money and better performance.

For gaming performance only:

The main competition to the $175 AMD Ryzen 5 3600 is the $150 Intel Core i5-9400F. While the AMD Ryzen 5 3600 is slightly more expensive, it outperforms the Core i5-9400F in gaming performance and completely outclasses it in productivity workloads, according to Techspot.

You can also choose to upgrade to a more powerful Ryzen 5, 7 or 9 down the road.

All around performance:

Thanks to Multi-threading support, the Ryzen 5 3600 can handle up to 12 threads, unlike the Core i5-9400F which is limited to 6 threads, so the Ryzen 5 3600 holds the advantage when it comes to multi-threaded performance.

The Ryzen 5 3600 also offers ECC RAM support, unlike the Core i5-9400F

The Ryzen 5 3600, with a newer X570 chipset equipped motherboard, supports PCIe 4.0, unlike the Core i5-9400F.

Best Upper Mid-range CPUs:

Intel Core i5-9600K V.S. AMD Ryzen 5 3600X

– AMD Ryzen 5 3600X for all around performance

Get the AMD Ryzen 5 3600X from Amazon

$199.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

– Architecture: Ryzen 3rd generation – Frequency/Turbo: 3.8/4.4 GHz
Cores (Threads): 6 (12) – Integrated GPU: None
– RAM Support: Dual Channel DDR4 – TDP: 95W – Socket: AM4

For gaming performance only:
The Intel Core i5-9600K and the AMD Ryzen 5 3600X trade blows when it comes to gaming performance. However, with more and more games supporting 8 cores CPUs, the Intel Core i5-9600K, with support for only 6 threads, is slowly but surely becoming a limiting factor for gaming performance, while the Ryzen 5 3600X can handle 12 threads and doesn’t have that issue.

In the long run, for gaming and overall performance, the Ryzen 5 3600X is a wiser choice.

All around performance:

The Ryzen 5 3600X is a very well balanced CPU, offering both great gaming and all around performance.  The Core i5-9600K does offer very slightly better single-threaded performance though, thanks to its higher Turbo frequency but no where enough to counter-balance its performance deficit in multithreaded workloads.

With support for 12 threads, as opposed to 6 for the Core 9600K, the Ryzen 5 3600X have no problem outperforming the Core i5-9600K in multithreaded workloads.

Note that the AMD Ryzen CPU offers ECC RAM support, unlike the Core i5-9600K.
The Ryzen CPU, with a newer X570 chipset equipped motherboard, support PCIe 4.0, allowing you to use new, higher-performance SSDs.

Also worth noting, the Intel Core i5-9600K does not included a CPU Cooler, so you must get an aftermarket one.

Which one would I pick?
The AMD Ryzen 3600X is an easy recommendation, offering better performance at a lower price for the CPU, even more so when you take into account cooling.

Best Lower High-End CPU:

Intel Core i7-9700K V.S. AMD Ryzen 7 3700X V.S. AMD Ryzen 7 3800X

– The AMD Ryzen 7 3700X offers great value, with all around performance at a great price
– The AMD Ryzen 7 3800X takes all around performance up a notch
– The Intel Core i7-9700K holds a slight single-threaded performance advantage and very slight edge for gaming at 1080p only

Get the AMD Ryzen 7 3700X from Amazon

$298.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

– Architecture: Ryzen 3rd generation – Frequency/Turbo: 3.6/4.4 GHz
Cores (Threads): 8(16) – Integrated GPU: None
– RAM Support: Dual Channel DDR4 – TDP: 65W – Socket: AM4

Get the Intel Core i7-9700K from Amazon

$379.89 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

Intel Core i7-9700KF (No integrated graphics)

Get the Intel Core i7-9700KF from Amazon
– $369.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

– Architecture: Coffee Lake – Frequency/Turbo: 3.6/4.9 GHz
Cores (Threads): 8(8) – Integrated GPU: Intel UHD Graphics 630
– RAM Support: Dual Channel DDR4 – TDP: 95W – Socket: LGA1151 (requires 300 series chipset)

Get the AMD Ryzen 7 3800X from Amazon

$334.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

– Architecture: Ryzen 3rd generation – Frequency/Turbo: 3.9/4.5 GHz
Cores (Threads): 8(16) – Integrated GPU: None
– RAM Support: Dual Channel DDR4 – TDP: 95W – Socket: AM4

Intel Core i7-9700K V.S. AMD RYZEN 7 3700X and 3800X:

With its higher Turbo frequency, the Intel Core i7-9700K just holds on to the single-threaded performance crown and has a very slight edge in 1080p gaming performance.

However, the Ryzen 7 3700X and 3800X have a significant advantage in multithreaded performance, while performance in gaming at 1080p is close enough to not perceive a difference and at 1440p/4K, the graphic card is the bottleneck.

For all around performance, I’d recommend the AMD Ryzen 7 3700X or 3800X.

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

Very slight advantage: Intel Core i7-9700K
With the AMD 3rd generation Ryzen architecture offering much improved IPC than the second generation of AMD Ryzen CPUs, it just edges the Intel 9th gen Coffee Lake architecture IPC. That is, at the same frequency, the AMD 3rd gen Ryzen offers just a hair better performance.

That said, the Intel Core i7-9700K runs at higher Turbo frequencies (4.9GHz) than the AMD Ryzen 7 3700X (4.4GHz) and 3800X (4.5GHz), allowing it to keep a very slight advantage for single threaded performance.

That said, that advantage has greatly narrowed and is difficult to perceive.

Gaming Performance:

– Slight win for the Intel Core i7-9700K at 1080p
– Similar at 1440p/4K and on multiple monitors

Thanks to its higher Turbo frequencies, the Intel Core i7-9700K has a very slight edge in 1080p gaming performance. Hardly enough to be perceivable.

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.

Best: Ryzen 7 3800X
Great value: Ryzen 7 3700X
Least good: Core i7-9700K

The AMD Ryzen 3700X and 3800X offer 8 cores and can handle 16 threads.

The Intel Core i7-9700K, with 8 cores but no Hyper-Threading, is limited to 8 threads and thus is no match for the AMD Ryzen 7 3700X and 3800X CPUs which can handle 16 threads.

Note that both AMD Ryzen CPUs offer ECC RAM support, unlike the Intel Core CPU.
The Ryzen CPUs, with a newer X570 chipset equipped motherboard, support PCIe 4.0, allowing you to use new, higher-performance SSDs.

Also worth noting, the Intel Core i7-9700K does not included a CPU Cooler, so you must get an aftermarket one.

Best Upper High-End CPU:

Intel Core i9-9900K V.S. i9-9900KS V.S. AMD Ryzen 9 3900X

– The AMD Ryzen 9 3900X with 12 cores/24 threads, easily wins in multithreaded performance, while offering nearly as good 1080p gaming performance and single-threaded performance.
– The Intel Core i7-9900K holds a very slight edge for gaming at 1080p only and still a slight edge in single-threaded performance, but is no match in multithreaded performance.
– The Intel Core i7-9900KS offers the best gaming performance for competitive gamers at 1080p and similar single-threaded performance to the Core i9-9900K.

Get the AMD Ryzen 9 3900X from Amazon

$447.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

– Architecture: Ryzen 3rd generation – Frequency/Turbo: 3.8/4.6 GHz
Cores (Threads): 12(24) – Integrated GPU: None
– RAM Support: Dual Channel DDR4 – TDP: 105W – Socket: AM4

Get the Intel Core i9-9900K from Amazon

$528.00 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

Intel Core i9-9900KF (No integrated graphics)

Get the Intel Core i9-9900KF from Amazon
$499.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

– Architecture: Coffee Lake – Frequency/Turbo: 3.6/5.0 GHz (2 cores)
Cores (Threads): 8(16) – Integrated GPU: Intel UHD Graphics 630
– RAM Support: Dual Channel DDR4 – TDP: 95W – Socket: LGA1151 (requires 300 series chipset)

We have a similar story here: With its higher Turbo frequency, the Intel Core i9-9900K just holds on to the single-threaded performance crown and has a very slight edge in 1080p gaming performance.

However, the Ryzen 9 3900X has a massive advantage in multithreaded performance, with 50% more cores/threads, while performance in gaming at 1080p is close enough to not perceive a difference and at 1440p/4K, the graphic card is the bottleneck.

For all around performance, I’d recommend the AMD Ryzen 9 3900X.

Best 16-32 cores CPUs:

Summary: 7 new CPUs!

AMD Ryzen 9 3950X:
AMD launched the 16 cores/ 32 threads Ryzen 9 3950X, based on the Zen 2 architecture, at a price of $749.

AMD new 3rd generation Threadrippers:
AMD launched their 3rd generations Threadripper CPUs, based on the Zen 2 architecture, with two models:
– Threadripper 3960X: 24 cores / 48 threads 3.8-4.5GHz $1399
– Threadripper 3970X: 32 cores / 64 threads 3.7-4.5GHz $1999

AMD also announced that they will be launching the Threadripper 3990X, a 64 cores / 128 threads monster, in 2020.

New Intel Cascade Lake-X CPUs
Intel launched their Cascade Lake-X CPUs. They are based on the same architecture as the previous generation, with small frequency bumps and lower prices. Four models are available:
– Core i9-10900X: 10 cores / 20 threads 3.7-4.7GHz $590
– Core i9-10920X: 12 cores / 24 threads 3.5-4.8GHz $689
– Core i9-10940X: 14 cores / 28 threads 3.3-4.8GHz $784
– Core i9-10980XE: 18 cores / 36 threads 3.0-4.8GHz $979

My recommendations:

AMD is simply outperforming Intel at this level:
Versus the $590 and $689 Intel 10 cores i9-10900X and 12 cores i9-10920X, the AMD Ryzen 3900X 12 cores offers better performance at a lower price.
Versus the $784 and $979 Intel 14 cores i9-10940X and 18 cores i9-10980XE, the AMD Ryzen 3950X 16 cores offers better performance at a lower price.

Intel has nothing to counter the 24 cores Threadripper 3960X nor the 32 cores Threadripper 3970X.

Simply put, depending on your needs and budget, opt for the 12 cores AMD Ryzen 9 3900X, 16 cores AMD Ryzen 9 3950X, 24 cores Threadripper 3960X or 32 cores Threadripper 3970X.

Click here to see the price of the AMD Ryzen 3950X on Amazon

$738.89 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

– Architecture: Zen 2 (3rd generation)
Frequency Base/Max Turbo: 3.5/4.7 GHz
Cores (Threads): 16 (32)
Integrated GPU: N/A
– RAM Support: Dual Channel DDR4 3200MHz
TDP: 105W
Socket: AM4

Click here to see the price of the AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3960X on Amazon

$1449.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

– Architecture: Zen 2 (3rd generation)
Frequency Base/Max Turbo: 3.8/4.5 GHz
Cores (Threads): 24(48)
Integrated GPU: N/A
– RAM Support: Quad Channel DDR4 3200MHz
TDP: 280W
Socket: sTRX4

Click here to see the price of the AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3970X on Amazon

$1899.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

– Architecture:Zen 2 (3rd generation)
Frequency Base/Max Turbo: 3.7/4.5 GHz
Cores (Threads): 32 (64)
Integrated GPU: N/A
– RAM Support: Quad Channel DDR4 3200MHz
TDP: 280W
Socket: sTRX4

No CPU cooler, no integrated graphics, high power consumption and heat dissipation
Note that the Threadripper CPUs do not include a CPU cooler, nor an integrated graphic card, so you need to also purchase a CPU Cooler and a dedicated graphic card.

Both Threadripper CPUs have high power consumption, so make sure that the CPU cooler and case cooling can handle them, especially if you intend to overclock them!

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.