Disclosure: I only recommend products that I would use myself. This post contains affiliate links so that, as an Amazon and B&H Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases, at no additional cost to you. Prices for B&H as of February 11th 2021. Click on Amazon links to see current prices. Prices and availability are subject to change.

The Best CPUs?

By that, I mean the CPUs that offer the best performance at a given price range. That said, I do realize that not everyone has the time nor knowledge to read detailed reviews.

With 20 years of experience with computer hardware, keeping up with new products and ever-changing prices, I’m here to help you find the best deals. See my About page.

Summary: Skip to the recommendations

Click on any of these links to jump to the section that interests you, or scroll down to see them all, in this order.

  1. Best Entry-level CPUs
  2. Best Lower Mid-range CPUs
  3. Best Upper Mid-range CPUs
  4. Best High-end CPUs
  5. Best Enthusiast CPUs
  6. Best 16-64 Cores CPUs

A worldwide guide!

B&H offers worldwide shipping, while Amazon links should direct you to your local Amazon site (USA, UK, Germany, etc.)

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

 – $119.99 (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
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 Athlon 3 3000G, the Ryzen 3 3200G offers significantly higher performance, thanks to having twice as many cores, a more modern architecture, way more GPU cores (512 versus 192) as well as higher base, Turbo and GPU frequencies.  You now get 3.6/4.0GHz CPU base/Turbo and 1250MHz for the GPU, compared to 3.5/3.5/1100MHz for the Athlon 3000G.

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.

Note that you can overclock the AMD Ryzen 3 3200G, unlike the Intel Core i3-10100.

Note that you want to pair it up with dual-channel (two or four sticks) of DDR4 RAM, preferably high frequencies, such as 3600MHz, 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 one of the three CPU options below, which feature better CPU performance.

Best Entry-Level CPUs:

AMD Ryzen 3 3100

– Click here to see the price on Amazon
– $129.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

– Architecture: Zen 3rd gen – Frequency/Turbo: 3.6/3.9GHz
Cores (Threads): 4 (8) – Integrated GPU: None
– RAM Support: Dual Channel DDR4 – TDP: 65W – Socket: AM4

AMD Ryzen 3 3300X

– Click here to see the price on Amazon
– $129.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

– Architecture: Zen 3rd gen – Frequency/Turbo: 3.8/4.3GHz
Cores (Threads): 4 (8) – Integrated GPU: None
– RAM Support: Dual Channel DDR4 – TDP: 65W – Socket: AM4

Intel Core i3-10100

Get the Intel Core i3-10100 from Amazon
$117.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

– Architecture: Comet Lake – Frequency/Turbo: 3.6/4.3GHz
Cores (Threads): 4 (8) – Integrated GPU: Intel UHD 630
– RAM Support: Dual Channel DDR4 – TDP: 65W – Socket: LGA1200

Ryzen 3 3100 and 3300X: Still unavailable
Recently launched, the Ryzen 3 3100 and 3300X are 4 cores / 8 threads CPUs based on AMD Zen 2 architecture. The main differences between them is the frequency:
The Ryzen 3 3100 runs at 3.6-3.9GHz, while the the Ryzen 3 3300X runs at 3.8-4.3GHz.

The usually lower priced Ryzen 3 3100 offers similar or better overall performance than the older 6 cores Ryzen 5 1600 or Ryzen 5 2600, while offering better gaming performance. It also completely outclasses the previously recommended Intel Core i3-9100F.

The higher-end Ryzen 3 3300X takes performance up a notch or two, outperforming the Intel Core i3-10100 all around, slightly edging it in gaming and greatly outperforming it in heavy multithreaded workloads.

Intel Core i3-10100: Currently recommended
The Core i3-10100 brings a welcome change compared to the previous generation Core i3-9100, that is the addition of Hyper-Threading. So instead of being limited to 4 cores and 4 threads like the Core i3-9100, the Core i3-10100 can handle up to 8 threads at once, doubling the number of threads compared to the previous generation.

That said, it faces tough competition this time around, from the AMD Ryzen 3 3300X. Thanks to its higher single threaded and multithreaded performance, the AMD Ryzen 3 3300X comes out ahead of the Core i3-10100 in the vast majority of scenarios, including gaming.

However, the Ryzen 3 3300X is still unavailable and the Core i3-10100 is less expensive, so it is what I recommend here and for the Budget Gaming PCs builds.

The only reason that I’d recommend the Core i3-10100 would be for office PCs, where the integrated graphics offer sufficient performance and help lower the total cost of the PC.

Don’t waste your money on the Core i3-10300 or i3-10320
These offer the same quad-core/8 threads design, simply with slightly higher Turbo frequencies. Which is a good thing. What’s bad is their price, which is too close to the much better 6 cores/12 threads Intel Core i5-10400 or AMD Ryzen 5 3600, If you want a CPU that offers both great gaming and overall performance, see the Ryzen 5 3600 below.

Consider the 6 cores Core i5-10400F for not that much more money
For not that much more money, you can get the 6 cores Core i5-10400F instead of the 4 cores Core i3-10100. In other words, you get up to 50% more performance for roughly $35 more, or 30% more money ($150 vs $115). Considering the overall cost of a PC, this is a worthwhile investment in my opinion.

Best Lower Mid-range CPUs:

Recommended: Intel Core i5-10400F for the best gaming performance and great overall performance, at a significantly lower cost

Get the Intel Core i5-10400F from Amazon

$155.00 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

– Architecture: Comet Lake – Frequency/Turbo: 2.9/4.3 GHz
Cores (Threads): 6 (12) – Integrated GPU: None
– RAM Support: Dual Channel – TDP: 65W – Socket: LGA1200

Get the AMD Ryzen 5 3600 from Amazon

$199.99 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

AMD Ryzen 5 3600 V.S. Intel Core i5-10400F

For gaming performance only:

The main competition to the $200 AMD Ryzen 5 3600 is the $150 Intel Core i5-10400.

When it comes to strictly 1080p gaming performance, both CPUs trade blows, but the Core i5-10400 holds a very slight performance advantage, offering overall a few % more performance than the Ryzen 5 3600, while costing less.

Note that if you game at 1440p or 4K, then all CPUs offer similar performance, as the GPU becomes the bottleneck.

Multithreaded performance:

Under heavier, multithreaded, workloads, the Ryzen 5 3600 holds an advantage against the Core i5-10400.

Worth noting:
The Ryzen 5 3600 also offers ECC RAM support, unlike the Core i5-10400.

The Ryzen 5 3600 supports PCIe 4.0, unlike the Core i5-10400.

The Ryzen 5 3600/3600X is unlocked, allowing you to overclock it, unlike the Core i5-10400.

Which one would I pick?
You can’t go wrong with either CPU.

That said, considering the current prices, the Core i5-10400F is the way to go for most users.

Best Upper Mid-range CPUs:

Intel Core i7-10700F V.S. AMD Ryzen 5 5600X

– Intel Core i7-10700F for good gaming performance, slightly better multithreaded performance and excellent overall performance at a much lower price
– AMD Ryzen 5 5600X for the best gaming performance, single threaded performance, nearly as good multithreaded performance and lower power usage

Intel Core i7-10700F

– Click here to see the price of the Intel Core i7-10700F on Amazon
– $284.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

– Architecture: Zen 3 – Frequency/Turbo: 2.9/4.8 GHz
Cores (Threads): 8(16) – Integrated GPU: None
– RAM Support: Dual Channel DDR4 – Socket: LGA1200 (400 series chipset)

AMD Ryzen 5 5600X

Get the AMD Ryzen 5 5600X from Amazon
– $299.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

– Architecture: Zen 3 – Frequency/Turbo: 3.7/4.6 GHz
Cores (Threads): 6(12) – Integrated GPU: None
– RAM Support: Dual Channel DDR4 – TDP: 65W – Socket: AM4

Gaming performance:
The Intel Core i7-10700F offers good gaming performance, but the Ryzen 5 5600X does offer higher gaming performance overall, when the GPU isn’t the bottleneck obviously. If you play at 1440p or 4K, both CPUs should offer similar performance.

Single thread performance:
The Ryzen 5600X holds a significant advantage over the Intel Core i7-10700F, roughly 20%.

Multithreaded performance:

Despite the Ryzen 5 5600X being limited to 6 cores versus Intel 8 cores, both trade blows when it comes to multithreaded performance. In the end, the Intel Core i7-10700F holds a slight edge.

Power usage:
No competition here. The Core i7-10700F uses much more power than the Ryzen 5 5600X, up to 140W more at peak usage.

If you plan on building a smaller PC, if you care about power consumption and noise, go with the Ryzen 5 5600X, which will cost less to run, power bill wise, should be less noisy and run cooler.

Worth noting:
Both the i7-10700F and Ryzen 5 5600X don’t offer integrated graphics

The Ryzen 5 5600X also offers ECC RAM support, unlike the Core i7-10700F.

The Ryzen 5 5600X supports PCIe 4.0, unlike the Core Core i7-10700F.

The Ryzen 5 5600X is unlocked, allowing you to overclock it, unlike the Core i7-10700F.

Both CPUs included a CPU Cooler.

Which one would I pick?
Based on value, availability, bang for the buck, performance per $, the Core i7-10700F is the clear winner at current prices.

At similar prices and if it was readily available, the AMD Ryzen 5 5600X would be the obvious choice with higher single threaded performance and lower power usage.

Best High-End CPU:

Intel Core i7-10700K/KF V.S. AMD Ryzen 7 5800X

– Intel Core i7-10700K/KF if you only care about gaming performance and/or want to spend less for great overall performance
– AMD Ryzen 7 5800X for similar gaming performance, higher multithreaded performance and lower power usage

Intel Core i7-10700K

Get the Intel Core i7-10700K from Amazon
– $329.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

Intel Core i7-10700KF (No integrated graphics)

Get the Intel Core i7-10700KF from Amazon
– $329.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

– Architecture: Comet Lake – Frequency/Turbo: 3.8/5.1 GHz
Cores (Threads): 8(16) – Integrated GPU: Intel UHD Graphics 630 (KF variant: None)
– RAM Support: Dual Channel DDR4 – TDP: 125W – Socket: LGA1200


AMD Ryzen 7 5800X

Get the AMD Ryzen 7 5800X from Amazon
– $449.00 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

– Architecture: Zen 3 – Frequency/Turbo: 3.8/4.7 GHz
Cores (Threads): 8(16) – Integrated GPU: None
– RAM Support: Dual Channel DDR4 – TDP: 105W – Socket: AM4

Intel Core i7-10700K V.S. AMD RYZEN 7 5800X:

The AMD Ryzen 7 5800X offers higher single and multi threaded performance, as well as similar gaming performance, while consuming less power than the Intel Core i7-10700K.

That said, the Ryzen 7 5800X MSRP is $449, while the Intel Core i7-10700K is currently selling for around $365.

Surprinsly, the Intel Core i7-10700K is the better value here, offering similar gaming performance and still great multithreaded performance at much lower price.

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

Slight advantage: AMD Ryzen 7 5800X
With the AMD Zen 3 architecture offering much improved IPC than the Zen 2 architecture, it has a signifcantly edge over the Intel 10th gen Comet Lake architecture IPC.

Gaming Performance:

– Similar, varies from one game to another, within the margin of error
– Similar at 1440p/4K and on multiple monitors

Thanks to its improved architecture, the AMD Ryzen 7 5800X now trade blows with the Intel Core i7-10700K at 1080p. Some games run better on AMD, some better on Intel, but overall performance is pretty much on par, within the margin of error.

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.

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

Both CPUs offer 8 cores and can handle 16 threads.

Overall, the Ryzen 7 5800X offers higher multithreaded performance, roughly 13% higher.

Also worth noting, both CPUs do not include a CPU Cooler, so you must get an aftermarket one.

Best Enthusiast CPU:

Intel Core i9-10900K V.S. AMD Ryzen 9 5900X

– The AMD Ryzen 9 5900X, with 12 cores/24 threads, offers similar single-threaded and gaming performance, higher multithreaded performance while using less power and costing less.

AMD Ryzen 9 5900X

Get the AMD Ryzen 9 5900X from Amazon
– $549.00 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

– Architecture: Zen 3 – Frequency/Turbo: 3.7/4.8 GHz
Cores (Threads): 12(24) – Integrated GPU: None
– RAM Support: Dual Channel DDR4 – TDP: 105W – Socket: AM4

The AMD Ryzen 9 5900X offers similar single-threaded and gaming performance, higher multithreaded performance while using less power and costing less.

Unless the Core i9-10900K comes down in price, I see no reason to recommended it.

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

Similar
While the AMD Zen 3 architecture offering much improved IPC, the Intel Core i9-10900K can still competes in single threaded performance thanks to its higher 5.3GHz maximum Turbo frequency.

Gaming Performance:

– Similar, varies from one game to another, within the margin of error
– Similar at 1440p/4K and on multiple monitors

Thanks to its improved architecture, the AMD Ryzen 7 5900X now trade blows with the Intel Core i9-10900K at 1080p. Some games run better on AMD, some better on Intel, but overall performance is pretty much on par, within the margin of error.

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.

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

The Ryzen 7 5900X offers 12 cores / 24 threads, while the i9-10900K only offers 10 cores and can handle 20 threads.

Needless to say, the Ryzen 7 5900X offers significantly higher multithreaded performance, roughly 13% higher.

Which one would I pick?
Considering current prices, the AMD Ryzen 7 5900X is an easy pick, offering similar single-threaded and gaming performance and higher multithreaded performance at a lower price and lower power consumption.

Also worth noting, both CPUs do not include a CPU Cooler, so you must get an aftermarket one.

Best 16-64 cores CPUs:

Summary: 8 CPUs!

AMD Ryzen 9 5950X:
AMD launched the 16 cores/ 32 threads Ryzen 9 5950X, based on its new Zen 3 architecture, on November 5th at a price of $799.

AMD 3rd generation Threadrippers:
AMD offers their 3rd generations Threadripper CPUs, based on the Zen 2 architecture, with three models:
– Threadripper 3960X: 24 cores / 48 threads 3.8-4.5GHz
– Threadripper 3970X: 32 cores / 64 threads 3.7-4.5GHz
– Threadripper 3990X: 64 cores / 128 threads 2.9-4.3GHz

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 ~$470
– Core i9-10920X: 12 cores / 24 threads 3.5-4.8GHz ~$670
– Core i9-10940X: 14 cores / 28 threads 3.3-4.8GHz ~$835
– Core i9-10980XE: 18 cores / 36 threads 3.0-4.8GHz ~$1060

My recommendations:

AMD is simply outperforming Intel at this level:
The Intel Cascade Lake CPUs are based on an older architecture and couldn’t match the AMD 3000 series CPUs, let alone the newer 5000 series. Versus the newer Ryzen 7 5800X, the Core i9-10900X is completely outclassed, while the i9-10920X is also outclassed and more expensive!

Versus the $800+ and $1000+ Intel 14 cores i9-10940X and 18 cores i9-10980XE, the AMD Ryzen 5950X 16 cores offers significantly better performance at a lower price, while using less power.

Intel has nothing to counter the 24 cores Threadripper 3960X, the 32 cores Threadripper 3970X, not to mention the 64 cores 3990X.

Simply put, depending on your needs and budget, opt for the 12 cores AMD Ryzen 9 5900X, 16 cores AMD Ryzen 9 5950X, 24 cores Threadripper 3960X, 32 cores Threadripper 3970X or 64 cores Threadripper 3990X.

Get the AMD Ryzen 9 5900X from Amazon
– $799.00 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

– Architecture: Zen 3
Frequency Base/Max Turbo: 3.4/4.9 GHz
Cores (Threads): 16 (32)
Integrated GPU: N/A
– RAM Support: Dual Channel DDR4
TDP: 105W
Socket: AM4

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

$1424.00 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

$2114.99 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

Click here to see the price of the AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3990X on Amazon

$3989.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

– Architecture: Zen 2 (3rd generation)
Frequency Base/Max Turbo: 2.9/4.3 GHz
Cores (Threads): 64 (128)
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.

All three Threadripper CPUs have high power consumption (280W TDP), 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.