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
  4. Best High-end CPUs
  5. Best 8-16 Core CPUs

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 April 24th 2018. Put your mouse on Amazon links or click on them to see prices.

Best lowest cost CPU:

Intel Celeron G4900

Get the Intel Celeron G4900 from Amazon
$42.62 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
$44.67 at Newegg

– Architecture: Coffee Lake – Frequency (Turbo): 3.1 (N/A) GHz
Cores (Threads): 2 (2) – Integrated GPU: Intel UHD Graphics 610
– RAM Support: Dual Channel DDR4 2400MHz
TDP: 54 W – Socket: LGA 1151 (300 series chipset only)

If you’re looking for a CPU with a rock bottom price, with the latest Intel CPU architecture and decent performance, the Intel Celeron G4900 is the best option.

That said, if you can afford spending a bit more, the Intel Pentium Gold G5400 recommended below is definitely worth it for a modern PC.

For roughly $20-30 more, you get a CPU that’s at the very least more than 20% faster, thanks to its higher 3.7GHz frequency and in the best case scenarios, more than twice as fast, thanks to its higher frequency and Hyper-Threading support!

Don’t waste your money on the Pentium G4920
It only runs at 100MHz more than the Pentium G4900. We’re talking about roughly 3% more performance, at a roughly 20-25% higher cost. Better invest in the Pentium G5400 instead.

V.S the competition:
The Intel Celeron G4900 is based on Intel’s latest 8th gen Coffee Lake architecture and it has no problem outperforming the competition from AMD, seeing as AMD only offers CPUs based on older, lower performance architectures:
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 Coffee Lake architecture.

Pros:
– Amazing value for $40!
– 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 8th generation of Intel “Core” CPUs, Coffee 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
– No turbo, frequency is limited to 3.1GHz
– 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:

Good value!
Intel Pentium Gold G5400

Get the Intel Pentium Gold G5400 from Amazon

– $64.00 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
– $70.76 at Newegg

– Architecture: Coffee Lake – Frequency (Turbo): 3.7 (N/A) GHz
Cores (Threads): 2 (4) – Integrated GPU: Intel UHD 610
– RAM Support: DDR4
TDP: 54 W – Socket: LGA 1151 (300 series chipset only)

The budget CPU king: Outstanding value!

The Intel Pentium G5400 is based on the 8th and latest Intel Coffee Lake architecture and runs at an higher frequency of 3.7GHz.

What makes it so interesting and why it’s recommended over the Pentium G4900, if you can afford it, is the fact that it comes with Hyper-Threading and a much higher frequency.

So instead of a dual-core design, you get a dual-core + Hyper-Threading design for the Pentium G5400, making it far more powerful and easily capable of outperforming the CPUs that I used to recommend at this price point.

Don’t waste your money on the Pentium Gold G5500 or G5600
They only run at 100MHz and 200MHz more, respectively, than the Pentium G5400. We’re talking about less than 2.5% and less than 5% more performance, not enough to make a difference that you’ll feel. This, for a cost increase that’s significantly higher, that your wallet will definitely feel.

Pros:
– Best single-threaded CPU performance at price point.
– Better than ever multi-threaded performance at this price point, thanks to  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 Coffee Lake CPUs simply by swapping out your CPU.
– 54W TDP is lower 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 Ryzen 3 2200G Processor with Radeon Vega 8 Graphics from Amazon

– $99.99 (B&H – Worldwide Shipping)
$100.54 (Newegg)

– Architecture: Zen
Frequency (Turbo): 3.5 (3.7) GHz
Cores (Threads): 4 cores/ 4 threads
Integrated GPU: AMD Radeon Vega 8 512 GPU Cores, 1100MHz
– RAM Support: DDR4 2933MHz Dual Channel
TDP: 65W
Socket: AMD AM4

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

The AMD Ryzen 3 2200G 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 $100, you get a high performance quad-core CPU, that trade blows with the $110 Intel Core i3-8100, along with much better integrated graphic performance than what Intel offers.

On top of that, you can overclock the AMD Ryzen 3 2200G, unlike the Intel Core i3-8100.

Note that you want to pair it up with dual-channel (two or four sticks) of DDR4 RAM, frequency up to 2933MHz, for the best performance possible in video games. Avoid using a single stick of RAM: It can halve gaming performance.

CPU performance: AMD Ryzen 3 2200G V.S. Intel Core i3-8100

At stock frequencies, the AMD Ryzen 3 2200G offers competitve performance compared to the Intel Core i3-8100, but still a notch lower, roughly 10% less, so if you only care about CPU performance, the Intel Core i3-8100 might be a better choice, although keep in mind that its more expensive and motherboards for it are still more expensive too.

Intel Core i3-8100

Get the Intel Core i3-8100 from Amazon
$119.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
$118.90 at Newegg

– Architecture: Coffee Lake – Frequency/Turbo: 3.6GHz, no Boost
Cores (Threads): 4 (4) – Integrated GPU: Intel UHD 630
– RAM Support: Dual Channel DDR4 – TDP: 65W – Socket: LGA1151 (300 series chipset)

If you don’t car about graphic performance and only care about CPU performance, the Intel Core i3-8100 is a notch faster than the AMD Ryzen 3 2200G.

The Core i3-8100 brings some much welcome change to the Intel Core i3 series. For years, I’ve been recommending Intel Core i3 CPUs, with two cores and Hyper-Threading support, so they could only handle four threads. Two cores is highly limiting in 2018, but starting from the 8th generation, Intel Core i3 CPUs now offer four cores!

In other words, you’re getting the performance of the previous generation Intel Core i5 (Quad-Core, 4 threads), at a much lower price!

Best Mid-range CPUs:

High-end APU (CPU + GPU in one):
AMD Ryzen 5 2400G

Get the AMD Ryzen 5 2400G Processor with Radeon RX Vega 11 Graphics from Amazon

– $168.75 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
– $163.00 at Newegg

– Architecture: Zen – Frequency/Turbo: 3.6/3.9 GHz
Cores (Threads): 4 (8) – Integrated GPU: AMD Radeon RX Vega 11 704 GPU Cores, 1250MHz
– RAM Support: Dual Channel DDR4 2933MHz – TDP: 65W – Socket: AM4

Replacing the previously recommended AMD Ryzen 5 1400, the AMD Ryzen 5 2400G offers better CPU performance, with the same 4 cores / 8 threads setup but higher frequencies.

On top of that, you get a powerful integrated graphic solution, the AMD Radeon RX Vega 11, which trade blows with the $100+ dedicated Nvidia Geforce GT 1030 graphic card.

In other words, you can use this APU to play video games. Games will be playable at 1920 x 1080 (Full HD 1080p), although you’ll have to lower graphic settings more or less, depending on the game, to get high enough frame rates. At 1600 x 900, or HD 720p, pretty much any game should run smoothly.

Its multiplier is also unlocked, meaning that it can be overclocked if you wish to do so.

Note that you want to pair it up with dual-channel (two or four sticks) of DDR4 RAM, frequency up to 2933MHz, for the best performance possible in video games. Avoid using a single stick of RAM: It can halve gaming performance.

AMD Ryzen 5 1400/1500X: Not recommended
Both the AMD Ryzen 5 1400 and Ryzen 5 1500X offers 4 cores and 8 threads support, just like the Ryzen 5 2400G recommended above, but with lower frequencies and no integrated graphics, so it makes no sense to recommend them.

Intel Core i3-8350K: Not recommended
In theory, the Intel Core i3-8350K, an unlocked Quad-Core CPU, with an high 4GHz frequency and an unlocked multiplier, is interesting.

What’s the problem? It is priced far too high for it to be really interesting, with the much better 6-core Core i5-8400 available for pretty much the same price.

Even in the best case scenario for the Core i3-8350K, gaming performance, the Core i5-8400 outperforms it now and the performance gap is likely to grow as more and more games take advantage of more cores. Even if you overclock the Core i3-8350K (requiring spending money on a better CPU Cooler), it will only match the i5-8400 in some games.

Intel Core i5-8400/8600K V.S. AMD Ryzen 5 2600/2600X

– Intel Core i5-8400/8600K for gaming performance at a low cost
– AMD Ryzen 5 2600 or 2600X for all around performance, better multi-threaded performance and ECC RAM support

Get the Intel Core i5-8400 from Amazon

$179.00 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
$178.99 at Newegg

– Architecture: Coffee Lake – Frequency/Turbo: 2.8/4.0 GHz
Cores (Threads): 6 (6) – Integrated GPU: Intel UHD Graphics 630
– RAM Support: DDR4 Dual Channel – TDP: 65W – Socket: LGA1151 (300 series chipset)

Get the Intel Core i5-8600K from Amazon

$242.83 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
$249.99 at Newegg

– Architecture: Coffee Lake – Frequency/Turbo: 3.6/4.3 GHz
Cores (Threads): 6 (6) – Integrated GPU: Intel UHD Graphics 630
– RAM Support: DDR4 Dual Channel – TDP: 95W – Socket: LGA1151 (300 series chipset)

Get the AMD Ryzen 5 2600 from Amazon

Coming soon at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
$199.99 at Newegg

– Architecture: Ryzen 2nd generation – Frequency/Turbo: 3.4/3.9 GHz
Cores (Threads): 6 (12) – Integrated GPU: None
– RAM Support: Dual Channel DDR4 – TDP: 65W – Socket: AM4

 

Get the AMD RYZEN 5 2600X from Amazon

Coming soon at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
$229.99 at Newegg

– Architecture: Ryzen 2nd generation – Frequency/Turbo: 3.6/4.2 GHz
Cores (Threads): 6 (12) – Integrated GPU: None
– RAM Support: Dual Channel DDR4 – TDP: 95W – Socket: AM4

For gaming performance only:
The Intel Core i5-8400 and the AMD Ryzen 5 2600X trade blows when it comes to gaming performance, but the Core i5-8400 is less expensive, so if you want great gaming performance at a lower price, the Core i5-8400 offers better value.

The Intel Core i5-8600K, with its higher frequencies, offers the best gaming performance, except for the even higher frequency and more expensive Intel Core i7-8700K. The Core i5-8600K outperforms the Core i5-8400 and the AMD Ryzen 5 2600/2600X when it comes to gaming performance.

All around performance:

The Intel Core i5-8400 and Ryzen 5 2600X trade blows when it comes to single-threaded performance. With its higher frequencies, the Core i5-8600K does offer better single-threaded performance.

However, with support for 12 threads, as opposed to 6 for the Core i5-8400/8600K, the Ryzen 5 2600X has no problem outperforming the Intel Core i5-8400 or Core i5-8600K in multithreaded workloads.

The AMD Ryzen 5 2600 and 2600X offer ECC RAM support, unlike the Core i5-8400 and i5-8600K.

Best High-End CPU:

– Intel Core i7-8700/8700K for gaming only
– AMD Ryzen 7 2700/2700X for all around performance

Get the AMD Ryzen 7 2700 from Amazon

Coming soon at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
$297.33 at Newegg

– Architecture: Ryzen 2nd generation
Frequency Base/Turbo: 3.2/4.1 GHz
Cores (Threads): 8 (16)
Integrated GPU: N/A
– RAM Support: Dual Channel DDR4
TDP: 65W
Socket: AM4

Get the Intel Core i7-8700 from Amazon

$299.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
$301.99 at Newegg

– Architecture: Coffee Lake – Frequency/Turbo: 3.2/4.6 GHz
Cores (Threads): 6 (12) – Integrated GPU: Intel UHD Graphics 630
– RAM Support: Dual Channel DDR4 – TDP: 65W – Socket: LGA1151 (requires 300 series chipset)

Get the AMD Ryzen 2700X from Amazon

Coming soon at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
$329.99 at Newegg

– Architecture: Ryzen 2nd generation
Frequency Base/Turbo: 3.7/4.3 GHz
Cores (Threads): 8 (16)
Integrated GPU: N/A
– RAM Support: Dual Channel DDR4
TDP: 105W
Socket: AM4

Get the Intel Core i7-8700K from Amazon

$347.89 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
$349.99 at Newegg

– Architecture: Coffee Lake – Frequency/Turbo: 3.7/4.7 GHz
Cores (Threads): 6 (12) – Integrated GPU: Intel UHD Graphics 630
– RAM Support: Dual Channel DDR4 – TDP: 95W – Socket: LGA1151 (requires 300 series chipset)

Intel Core i7-8700/8700K V.S. AMD RYZEN 7 2700/2700X:

Summary:

– For gaming only, the Core i7-8700/8700K are the best choices.
– For all around performance, go with the AMD Ryzen 7 2700 or 2700X

With its higher single-threaded performance and very high frequencies, the Intel Core i7-8700 and 8700K are what you want for the best gaming performance.

For all around performance or ECC RAM support, the AMD Ryzen 7 2700 or 2700X are the best choices.

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

Advantage: Intel Core i7-8700 and Core i7-8700K
While the AMD 2nd generation Ryzen architecture offers better IPC than the first generation of AMD Ryzen CPUs, it’s still no match for the Intel 8th gen Coffee Lake architecture single-threaded performance.

On top of that, you have to consider that the Intel Core i7-8700 and 8700K run at higher Turbo frequencies than the AMD Ryzen 7 2700 and 2700X

With a better single threaded performance at the same frequency andhigher frequencies, the Intel Core i7-8700K offer significantly higher single-threaded performance.

What this means is that your PC will definitely feel more responsive with the Core i7-8700K, same goes with web browsing.

Gaming Performance:

– Win for the Intel Core i7-8700K 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 3.7-4.7GHz high single-threaded performance six-core Core i7-8700K CPU does outperform the lower single-threaded performance 3.7-4.3GHz 8 core AMD Ryzen 7 2700X CPU.

Due to its lower single-threaded performance and lower frequencies, the AMD Ryzen 7 2700X can’t be expected to match the Core i7-8700K when it comes to gaming performance.

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.

Advantage AMD

The Intel Core i7-8700/8700K only offer 6 cores, compared to AMD Ryzen 2700/2700X 8 cores, meaning that when it comes to multithreaded performance, the AMD Ryzen 7 2700 and 2700X have a clear advantage.

Best 8-18 cores CPUs:

– High performance 8 cores Core i7-7820X: Ideal for photo editing
– Best value: AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1920X: High performance for the price
– Lightly threaded and single-thread performance: Intel Core i7/i9: Best per core performance, better gaming performance, web browsing and overall system responsiveness
– Value Multithreaded performance: Get the AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1950X, for rendering, video/photo editing, 3D and other programs that use as many cores as available.
– Best all around performance: Intel Core i7/i9 series: Number of cores scales up as you go into higher end models that are more expensive
– Note that none of those CPUs include integrated graphic card, so you need to buy a dedicated graphic card.

Get the Intel Core i7-7820X from Amazon

$469.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
$469.99 at Newegg

– Architecture: Skylake-X
Frequency Base/Turbo/Max: 3.6/4.3/4.5 GHz
Cores (Threads): 8 (16)
Integrated GPU: N/A
– RAM Support: Quad Channel DDR4
TDP: 140W
Socket: LGA 2066

Get the AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1920X from Amazon

$749.89 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
$749.99 at Newegg

– Architecture: Zen
Frequency Base/Turbo/XFR: 3.5/4.0/4.2 GHz
Cores (Threads): 12 (24)
Integrated GPU: N/A
– RAM Support: Quad Channel DDR4
TDP: 180W
Socket: sTR4

Get the AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1950X from Amazon

$946.55 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
$944.99 at Newegg

– Architecture: Zen
Frequency Base/Turbo/XFR: 3.4/4.0/4.2 GHz
Cores (Threads): 16 (32)
Integrated GPU: N/A
– RAM Support: Quad Channel DDR4
TDP: 180W
Socket: sTR4

Get the Intel Core i9-7900X from Amazon

$922.34 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
$921.99 at Newegg

– Architecture: Skylake-X
Frequency Base/Turbo/Max: 3.3/4.3/4.5 GHz
Cores (Threads): 10 (20)
Integrated GPU: N/A
– RAM Support: Quad Channel DDR4
TDP: 140W
Socket: LGA 2066

Get the Intel Core i9-7920X from Amazon

$1089.89 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
$1101.01 at Newegg

– Architecture: Skylake-X
Frequency Base/Turbo/Max: 2.9/4.3/4.4 GHz
Cores (Threads): 12 (24)
Integrated GPU: N/A
– RAM Support: Quad Channel DDR4
TDP: 140W
Socket: LGA 2066

Get the Intel Core i9-7940X from Amazon

$1369.89 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
$1366.93 at Newegg

– Architecture: Skylake-X
Frequency Base/Turbo/Max: 3.1/4.3/4.4 GHz
Cores (Threads): 14 (28)
Integrated GPU: N/A
– RAM Support: Quad Channel DDR4
TDP: 140W
Socket: LGA 2066

Get the Intel Core i9-7960X from Amazon

$1599.89 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
$1564.14 at Newegg

– Architecture: Skylake-X
Frequency Base/Turbo/Max: 2.8/4.2/4.4 GHz
Cores (Threads): 16 (32)
Integrated GPU: N/A
– RAM Support: Quad Channel DDR4
TDP: 140W
Socket: LGA 2066

Get the Intel Core i9-7980XE from Amazon

$1891.37 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
$1890.87 at Newegg

– Architecture: Skylake-X
Frequency Base/Turbo/Max: 2.6/4.2/4.4 GHz
Cores (Threads): 18 (36)
Integrated GPU: N/A
– RAM Support: Quad Channel DDR4
TDP: 140W
Socket: LGA 2066

Intel Core i9 strengths: Lightly threaded and single-threaded performance
The Intel Core i7/i9 series feature an architecture with higher IPC or in other words, higher single-threaded performance at the same frequency and on top of that its Turbo and Turbo Max frequencies are higher. This mean that for single-threaded and lightly threaded programs, which don’t scale well to many cores, the Core i7/i9 series will offer higher performance than the AMD Threadripper 1920X and 1950X.

AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1920X/1950X strengths: Best value with its lower cost for an high number of cores
If you run rendering, video editing, 3D, other programs that use as many cores as available and want a lot of cores without spending too much, the AMD Ryzen Threadripper CPUs are

Intel Core i9-7920X strengths: High light and single threaded performance with high multithreaded performance
While the Core i9-7920X won’t keep up with the AMD Threadripper 1950X in applications that can take advantage of 16 cores, it will still offer competitive performance. In applications that can’t saturate 16 cores, the Intel Core i9-7920X will have no problem keeping up or outperforming the AMD Threadripper 1950X. When it comes to lightly or single threaded performance, the Intel Core i9-7920X has no problem outperforming the AMD Threadripper 1950X.

Core i9-7940X/i9-7960X/i9-7980XE: High single-threaded performance, with 14, 16 or 18 cores!
If content creation is your job and that time is money, the Core i9-7940X, i9-7960X and i9-7980XE offer the best of both worlds: high single-threaded performance with many cores, resulting in the highest multithreaded performance currently available on the market.

PCI-Express lanes:

Advantage: AMD
If you need a lot of PCI-Express lanes on your PC platform, for multiple graphic cards, PCIe drives, etc., then the AMD X399 platform has the edge over the Intel X299 platform
You get 44 PCI-Express lanes with the Core i9 CPUs
You get 64 PCI-Express lanes with the AMD Threadripper CPUs.

No CPU cooler, no integrated graphics, high power consumption and heat dissipation
Note that none of the four CPUs include a CPU cooler, nor an integrated graphic card, so you need to also purchase a CPU Cooler and a dedicated graphic card.

All 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.