Finding the best CPU for your computer can be a time-consuming task. There are lots of options out there today, with different specs and price tags that you have to consider. If you’re in the market for a CPU, here are six best options worth considering.
What is a CPU?
A CPU (central processing unit) is a small chip in your computer that is responsible for receiving instructions, performing calculations, and executing actions. Because of this, the CPU is often referred to as the brains of the computer.
If you want a good home computer, you should look for CPUs that have a high frequency or an integrated GPU (graphics processing unit). For a gaming computer, you might want to look for a CPU with a lot of cores and a high frame rate. If you plan on doing a lot of multi-tasking, you might want to look for a CPU with multi-threading or hyper-threading.
To find out more about what a CPU is and which CPU you have, check out our in-depth guide here.
The 6 Best CPUs
The top three best CPUs you can buy today are the AMD Ryzen 5 3600, Intel Core i9-9900K, and the AMD Ryzen 7 3700X. The smaller 7-nanometer Ryen 5 3600 and 3700X have 15% better performance than second-generation Ryzen chips. Meanwhile, the Intel Core i9-9900K boasts of being the fastest mainstream processor in the market for single- and multi-threaded applications.
Intel Core i7-9700K
The Intel Core i7-9700K has been around since 2018, but it is still one of the best CPUs for gamers. It has eight cores, eight threads, and an average frame rate of 163 Efps (effective frames per second), according to UserBenchmark.
While this CPU lacks hyperthreading, it still does well with single-core tasks. Hyperthreading, which is found in most other high-end Intel processors these days, helps with efficiency because one core can do two tasks at the same time. However, it shouldn’t matter too much when you are playing a game, unless you have other applications running in the background.
The Intel Core i7-9700K has a base clock speed of 3.60 GHz, which you can boost to an average of 4.9 GHz. However, if you plan on overclocking this CPU, you should also buy a fan or heatsink, because this CPU does not come with a cooler in the box.
AMD Ryzen 5 2600
The AMD Ryzen 5 2600 is one of the best CPUs geared towards gamers and streamers alike. It has six cores, 12 threads, and an average frame rate of 131 Efps, according to UserBenchmark. This means you shouldn’t experience lag when gamming or buffering when watching Netflix. With this CPU, you can have a gaming rig with decent gaming performance at a friendly price.
The AMD Ryzen 5 2600 has a base clock speed of 3.4GHz, which you can boost to 3.9GHz. And you don’t have to worry about it heating up too much, even if you upgrade the speed. It has the Extended Frequency Range 2 (XFR2) feature, which allows the CPU to perform at higher clock speeds before hitting temperature limits.
This processor supports Windows 10, RHEL x86, and Ubuntu x86 in each of their 64-bit editions. However, if you’re looking for the efficient power consumption that an integrated graphics card brings, you will not find one with this model.
AMD Ryzen 3 2200G
For those who want to build a budget gaming rig, the AMD Ryzen 3 2200G is one of the best CPUs for the price. This four-core, four-thread CPU delivers decent performance, whether for gaming, home entertainment, or for work. But its main draw is the Radeon Vega 8 integrated graphics card, which AMD claims is the “fastest graphics in a desktop processor.”
With a CPU and graphics card in a single chip, you won’t have to spend more money on a dedicated GPU. AMD also throws in a standard Wraith Stealth cooler in the box, making this chip a great value for your money overall.
AMD Ryzen 7 3700X
AMD built the Ryzen 7 3700X using 7-nanometer (nm) technology, which means the transistors are smaller than other CPUs. As a general rule, the smaller the transistors are, the more powerful and energy-efficient the CPU is. As a result, this feature improves CPU performance by 15% over the previous generation of Ryzen CPUs.
This CPU has a gaming cache, giving you faster access to your data when playing games. Take note, though, that the Core i7-9700K’s gaming performance is about 10% better than the Ryzen 7 3700X’s. And with features like PCIe 4.0 support for better graphics and a Wraith Prism RGB cooling system, this chip gives you more bang for your buck.
AMD Ryzen 5 3600
If you want a top-of-the-line CPU at a reasonable price, the AMD Ryzen 5 3600 is your best bet. This six-core, 12-thread chipset has an average frame rate of 143 Efps, according to UserBenchmark. It also offers Precision Boost Overdrive (PBO), which automatically adjusts the speed of your chip to give you the maximum performance based on your motherboard, CPU power, and CPU temperature. According to AMD, this feature boosts multi-thread performance by up to 13%.
One of the key features of third-generation Ryzen 5 chips is PCIe 4.0 support on x570 motherboards. This means that you can double your bandwidth for plugging in multi-gigabit network cards and storage media.
The chip also comes with the Quiet AMD Wraith Stealth cooler out of the box. The Ryzen 5 3600 does require a separate graphics card. However, with the savings you get from this affordable chip, you will be able to afford a nice GPU.
Intel Core i9-9900K
The Intel Core i9-9900K is Intel’s first mainstream eight-core 16-thread processor. This means it can handle multiple tasks without a noticeable decrease in speed. As part of Intel’s ninth-generation processors, this CPU transfers heat more effectively, which makes it better for multi-tasking at increased speeds. For instance, the Core i9-9900K has a base clock rate of 3.6 GHz. However, you can boost this up to 5 GHz without worrying about it overheating.
When it comes to gaming performance, the Core i9-9900K has an average frame rate of 166 Efps, according to UserBenchmark. According to tests, it consistently has the best frame rate of any high-end consumer CPU on the market.
In other tests, it also performed better than the Ryzen 7 2700X and the Threadripper 1920X when exporting 4K video with Adobe Premiere Pro. In other words, the Core i9-9900K does well with single- and multi-threaded applications. If you use CPU-intensive programs, and you don’t mind the higher price tag, this is the best CPU you can get.
If you still can’t decide, and you want to know more about these CPUs, check out our guide on AMD vs Intel here.