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How to Buy the Right CPU: A Guide for 2021

Choosing the best CPU matters a lot, whether you’re upgrading your existing system or building a new PC. Higher clock speeds and core counts can make a major difference in performance, providing a snappier system, smoother gameplay and faster completion of intensive tasks such as video editing and transcoding. Plus, the CPU you choose will also dictate your motherboard options, as each processor only works with a specific CPU socket and set of chipsets.

Also, like most aspects of consumer tech, you'll have to decide to buy the best processor that's available right now, or wait to see what next-generation chips bring to the table. AMD's Ryzen 5000 CPUs are impressive, finally generally overtaking competing Intel CPUs in single- and multi-core performance. But due to a combination of high demand, limited capacity at TSMC's chip fabs and the ongoing pandemic, AMD's latest CPUs have been very hard to find in stock at or near their MSRPs since launch. 

Meanwhile, Intel is about to finally move away from a Skylake-based architecture, with Rocket Lake-S. Intel's new chips promise solid single-core performance gains of their own, as well as a sift to a platform that finally supports PCI 4.0 -- a feature AMD rolled out in its Ryzen chips nearly two years ago.

If you already know a lot about CPU specs and want recommendations, check out our picks for best CPUs for gaming and best CPUs for workstations and the best cheap CPUs of 2021, tested and ranked. We also have a list of the best chips on the market according to their CPU Benchmarks. But no matter which desktop processor you get, here are some things to keep in mind.

TLDR:

  • AMD has overtaken Intel (for now): These days, you'll often get more for less with an AMD processor, including a nice in-box cooler (although not with the highest-end Ryzen 7 and 9 Ryzen 5000 models) and more cores/threads. Gaming performance has also shifted in favor of AMD for the most part, with the Ryzen 5 5600X overtaking even higher-end Intel CPUs at 1080p and stock settings. And AMD has long handled tasks like video editing faster. But the 1080p gaming performance edge may shift back to Intel once Rocket Lake-S arrives.
  • For many tasks, clock speed is more important than core count: Higher clock speeds translate to snappier performance in simple, common tasks such as gaming, while more cores will help you get through time-consuming workloads faster.

AMD or Intel: Which Should You Get?

Up until 2017, AMD was the clear underdog. But with its Ryzen / Threadripper series chips, the company has moved steadily toward performance parity with Intel. And with Ryzen 5000 and chips like the Ryzen 5 5600X in particular, AMD has in most respects moved past Intel's current offerings, often delivering better performance in both light and heavy workloads that tax many cores. The matchup may change substantially though, once Intel's latest Rocket Lake-S CPUs arrive later in 2021.

All that said, both companies may very capable CPUs. Some fans will have strong opinions, but if you don't have your heart set on one brand or the other, you should be open to either. For much more on this, see our Intel vs AMD: Who Makes the Best CPUs? feature.

What do you want to do with your CPU?

It's tempting to just spend as much as you can afford for a CPU, but you might be better off saving some of your cash for other components. Determine your processor type and max budget based on what you need your computer to do.

  • Basic tasks: $50-$100 range. If you’re only after a chip that will let you watch video, browse the Web, and do basic productivity tasks like word processing and light spreadsheet work, then an entry-level chip with two or four cores might be just what you need. But if you often find yourself doing more than one of those basic tasks at once, it would be better to step up a model or two. Consider a Ryzen 3, like the AMD Ryzen 3 1300X or AMD Ryzen 3 2200G, or Intel Pentium on the high end of this price range and an Intel Celeron or chips like AMD's Athlon 200GE on the low end.
  • Gaming: $200-$300 range. If you’re primarily interested in high-end gaming performance, you should opt for a mid-range Intel Core i5 or AMD Ryzen 5 CPU with high clock speeds. Considering that the graphics card is more important for gaming than the processor, you can save money by not getting a more powerful Core i7 or Ryzen 7 chip.
  • Creative media work or overclocking: $300-$400 range. If you want more cores or speed for things like video editing—or you just want a fast, capable system with extra overhead for future computing tasks, splurge on a Ryzen 7 chip.
  • Workstation muscle: $400+. If you often find yourself waiting minutes or hours for your current system to render your 3D animation or 4K video, or you’re dealing with massive databases and complex math, consider an Intel Core X or AMD Threadripper CPU. These beasts offer massive amounts of physical cores (up to 64 as of this writing) for extreme multitasking (ex: gaming at high settings while streaming and editing) or time-consuming compute tasks. Business users can consider an Intel Xeon (like the recent Xeon W-3175X) or AMD EPYC processor, but those aren't consumer friendly--or reasonably affordable. For those not quite willing to step up to multi-thousand-dollar CPUs and platforms, AMD's 16-core Ryzen 9 5950X or 12-core Ryzen 9 5900X are both excellent alternatives that basically bring workstation-class performance to a mainstream platform.

What generation CPU do you need?

Each year or so, Intel and AMD upgrade their processor lines with a new architecture. Intel is about to launch its "11th Gen Core Series," with the Core i9 11900K at the top end. AMD's latest chips are part of its Ryzen 5000 line, like the AMD Ryzen 5 5600X, Ryzen 7 5800X, and Ryzen 9 3900X. When looking at the model number, you can see the generation as the first digit of the four number (ex: the 8 in Core i7-8400 or the 3 in Ryzen 7 5700X). Note, though, that AMD skipped 4000 branding on its desktop CPUs.

How do you read the model names and numbers?

The jumble of brands and numbers that make up a CPU product name can be confusing. Intel and AMD both break down most of their chips into “good, better, best” categories, starting with Core i3/Ryzen 3, stepping up to Core i5/Ryzen 5, Core i7/Ryzen 7, and Core i9/Ryzen 9. Intel has the Core i9-10900K at the top of its mainstream product stack, as well as extreme/premium tier like the Core i9-10980XE, priced at around $1,000, just as AMD has Threadripper. But for the vast majority of users, these chips are unnecessary and well out of most people’s price ranges.

For users on a tight budget, Intel offers its Celeron and Pentium chips (Pentium is slightly faster) while AMD has its Athlon line. On the extreme high-end, you'll find AMD's Threadripper and Intel's Core X series, along with the Core X/i9 and Xeon W (both mentioned above).

Now, what about the model numbers that come after the 3, 5, or 7? The first digit designates the product generation (Intel’s Core i7-8700 is an 8th Generation Core processor, and AMD’s Ryzen 5 2600 is a 2nd Generation Ryzen processor). The rest of the numbers just mark various models in the line, with higher generally being better (with more cores and/or higher clocks), while a “K” at the end of an Intel chip means it’s unlocked for overclocking. Only a handful of mainstream Intel chips are “K” skus, while nearly all of AMD’s Ryzen processors are unlocked for overclocking (no “K” designation required). An X at the end of AMD model numbers means higher stock clock speeds.

Should you overclock?

Overclocking, the practice of pushing a CPU to its limits by getting it to run at higher-than-specced clock speeds, is an artform that many enthusiasts enjoy practicing. But, if you're not in it for the challenge of seeing just how fast you can get your chip to go without crashing, overclocking may not be worth the time or money for the average user.

In order to make your CPU achieve significantly higher clock speeds than it is rated for out of the box, you'll likely spend extra on an enhanced cooling system and an overclocking-friendly motherboard. While nearly all recent AMD chips are overclockable to some extent, if you want to dial up an Intel chip, you'll have to pay extra for one of its K-series processors (which don't come with coolers). By the time you factor in all these extra costs, if you're not shopping near the top of the CPU stack already, you'd be better off budgeting another $50-$100 (£30-£70) for a CPU that comes with higher clock speeds out of the box. And remember, even if you do get all the right equipment, you could still get a chip that doesn't overclock well. Or worse if you don't know what you're doing, you could damage your CPU or shorten its lifespan by pushing too much voltage through it.

What are the key CPU specs and which should I care about?

If you're looking at a spec sheet for a given CPU, you'll see a lot of numbers. Here's what to look out for.

  • Clock speeds: Measured in gigahertz (GHz), this is the speed at which the chip operates, so higher is faster. Most modern CPUs adjust their clock speeds up or down based on the task and their temperature, so you'll see a base (minimum) clock speed and a turbo (maximum) speed listed.
  • Cores: These are the processors within the processor. Modern CPUs have between two and 64 cores, with most processors containing four to eight. Each one is capable of handling its own tasks. In most cases these days, you'll want at least four cores--or at least four threads (see below).
  • Threads: This is the number of independent processes a chip can handle at once, which in theory would be the same as the number of cores. However, many processors have multithreading capability, which allows a single core to create two threads. Intel calls this Hyper-Threading and AMD calls it SMT (Simultaneous Multithreading). More threads means better multitasking and enhanced performance on heavily-threaded apps such as video editors and transcoders.
  • TDP: The Thermal Design Profile/Power (TDP) is the maximum amount of heat that a chip generates (or should generate) at stock speeds, as measured in watts. By knowing that--for example--the Intel Core i7-8700K has a TDP of 95 watts, you can make sure you have a CPU cooler that can handle that amount of heat dissipation and also that your PSU can provide enough juice. But note that CPUs put out significantly more heat when overclocked. It's good to know what your TDP is so you can get the right cooling and power equipment to support your CPU. Also, a higher TDP usually coincides with faster performance, although things like process node size and general architecture efficiency come into play there as well.
  • Cache: A processor's on-board cache is used to speed up access to data and instructions between your CPU and RAM. There are three types of cache: L1 is the fastest, but cramped, L2 is roomier but slower, and L3 is spacious, but comparatively sluggish. When the data a CPU needs isn’t available in any of these places, it reaches for the RAM, which is much slower--in part because it's physically farther away than a CPU's on-chip cache.

You shouldn't pay too much attention to cache size, because it's hard to equate to real-world performance, and there are more important factors to consider.

  • IPC: Even if you have two CPUs that have the same clock speed and number of threads, if they’re from different companies, or built on different architectures from the same company, they will will deliver different levels of IPC (instructions per clock cycle). IPC is heavily dependent on the CPU's architecture, so chips from newer generations (ex: a Ryzen 5 5600X with Zen 3versus a Ryzen 7 2700X with Zen+) will be better than older ones.

IPC is not usually listed as a spec and is usually measured through benchmark testing, so the best way to learn about it is to read our CPU reviews.

What do you need more: clock speed, cores or threads?

The answer to this question really depends on your regular computing tasks. Higher clocks translate to quicker responsiveness and program load times (though RAM and storage speed is key here as well). Higher clock speeds also mean single-threaded tasks (like audio editing and certain older applications) can happen faster. Many popular games are still lightly threaded.

But many modern programs can take advantage of lots of cores and threads. If you do lots of multitasking or edit high-res videos, or do other complex, time-consuming CPU-heavy tasks, you should prioritize the number of cores. But for the vast majority of gamers and general-purpose computer users, a clock speed ranging from 3-4GHz with four to eight cores is plenty.

What socket does my motherboard need for this CPU?

Different processors require different socket types. If you already own a motherboard and don't want to replace it, you'll need to purchase a CPU that matches your board's socket. Alternatively, you need to make sure that the motherboard you buy is compatible with your new processor.

For help choosing a motherboard, see our 2021 motherboard buying guide.

With its current-generation Ryzen and Athlon parts (barring Threadripper), AMD has adopted a single socket—AM4. That means you should, with a BIOS update, be able to put a current-generation Ryzen chip into prvious-generation Ryzen motherboard, and vice versa. But due to limitations to the size of available data stored inside BIOS chips and the vast numbers of CPUs AMD has released on AM4, this issue has gotten much morecomplicated lately.

Intel, on the other hand, has a tendency in recent years not to support backward compatibility with its new chips and older motherboards, even if the socket is effectively the same. For instance, Intel’s socket LGA 1150 and 1151 differ by a single pin, and the version of 1551 designed specifically for 8th Generation Core chips is physically the same as that made for previous 6th and 7th Generation Core processors. But those older 1151-socket motherboards don’t work with newer 1151-socket CPUs, because (Intel says) the newer chips (which have more cores) have different power delivery subsystem needs. Note that Intel has bucked this trend with socket LGA 1200, which will accept both 10th Gen Intel and upcoming 11th Gen intel CPUs.

Here's a list of all the recent mainstream sockets and their respective chipsets for reference.

Socket and Chipset Table

Intel MainstreamIntel MainstreamAMD MainstreamIntel HEDTAMD HEDT (Threadripper)
Current CPU SocketsLGA 1200LGA 1151AM4LGA 2066TR4
Compatible ChipsetsZ490/Z590, H470/H570, B460/B560, H410/H510Z390, Z370, Z370, Q370, H370, B365, B360, H310X570, X470, X370, B550, B450, B350, B450, A320, X300, A300X299X399

Bottom Line

When choosing a CPU, first ask what you're going to do with it, then see how much you can budget for it after you've figured out how much you're spending on other components. Check our Best SSDs, Best RAM, Best Graphics Cards and Best Power Supplies guides for more details. While processors are important, there's no point in pairing a high-speed chip with weak graphics (unless you aren’t a gamer) or a slow, spinning mechanical hard drive. While reading about specs like clock speed and thread count is helpful, the best measure of a processor's performance comes from objective reviews, like those we write here on Tom's Hardware.

MORE: CPU Benchmarks Hierarchy

MORE: All CPU Reviews

MORE: How to Choose a Motherboard

MORE: How to Sell Your Used PC Components

Matt began piling up computer experience as a child with his Mattel Aquarius. He built his first PC in the late 1990s and ventured into mild PC modding in the early 2000s. He’s spent the last decade covering emerging technology for Smithsonian, Popular Science, and Consumer Reports, while testing components and PCs for Computer Shopper and Digital Trends. When not writing about tech, he’s often walking—through the streets of New York, over the sheep-dotted hills of Scotland, or just at his treadmill desk at home in front of the 50-inch 4K HDR TV that serves as his PC monitor.
Sours: https://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/cpu-buying-guide,5643.html

Best Cheap CPUs of 2021, Tested and Ranked

AMD's Ryzen 3000 and Athlon processors (including the unlocked $49 Athlon 3000G) have shaken up the low-cost landscape and made a splash on our CPU Benchmarks Hierarchy, but crushing shortages of chips has gripped the industry, which impacts the low end of the market in a particularly painful way. So even though quad-core models with gaming-capable integrated graphics have an MSRP for a mere $100, and the Athlon lineup now dips below 50 bucks (although it's not always easy to find the 200GE at the moment), supply is short. Intel's response to AMD's challenge has brought Hyper-threading to its low-end Pentium processors and two additional cores to the Core i3 line, which greatly improves performance for its budget chips even though they're still limited in terms of their graphics.

AMD hasn't released its Ryzen 5000 chips for the low-end yet; the series bottoms out at the Ryzen 5 family. We expect that Ryzen 3 models will come in due course, shaking up our low-end rankings. Intel also has its Rocket Lake processors incoming next month, but these chips will use the refreshed Comet Lake architecture for the Core i3 and below chips, so they probably won't have much impact on our rankings. 

The 200-series AMD chips are surprisingly capable at gaming even without a dedicated card. For more details about how the 200GE stacks up against Intel's comparable budget chip, see our feature AMD Athlon 200GE vs. Intel Pentium Gold G5400: Cheap CPU Showdown.

For those looking for something with a bit more gaming prowess without having to resort to a dedicated graphics card,  AMD's Ryzen 5 3400G is tough to beat. While the Ryzen 4000 APUs are faster, they're not readily available and cost a lot more. The 3400G is a solid option but doesn't offer a big performance boost over previous-generation chips like the Ryzen 5 2400G.

If your budget is a bit more flexible and you're looking to pair your processor with dedicated graphics for gaming, AMD's Ryzen 3 3300X is great if you can find it at retail around the MSRP of $120, and Intel's new Core i5-10600KF is impressive at about twice that amount. But like so many other PC components, both of these processors are hard to find in stock at reasonable prices. Hopefully availability will improve over time, but it probably won't happen until later in 2021, at which time we'll have new processors.

Quick Shopping Tips

When choosing a CPU, consider the following:

  • You can't lose with AMD or Intel: Both companies offer good budget chips, and overall CPU performance between comparative parts is closer than it’s been in years. You can see how the chips stack up in our CPU Benchmarks Hierarchy. That said, if you’re primarily interested in gaming, Intel’s chips will generally deliver slightly better performance (and consume more power) when paired with a graphics card, while AMD’s Raven Ridge models (like the AMD Ryzen 3 2200G) do a better job of delivering gaming-capable performance at modest settings and resolutions without the need for a graphics card.
  • Clock speed is more important than core count: Higher clock speeds translate to snappier performance in simple, common tasks such as gaming, while extra cores will help you get through time-consuming workloads faster.
  • Budget for a full system: Don't pair a strong CPU with weak storage, RAM and/or graphics.
  • Overclocking isn’t for everyone, but the ability to squeeze more performance out of a budget offering is enticing. Intel doesn't have overclocking-capable processors for the sub-$125 market, but AMD's processors allow for tuning, and in most cases the bundled AMD cooler is sufficient for the task. Automated overclocking features in most motherboards make the process easy, so even the least tech-savvy users can enjoy the benefits.

For even more information, check out our CPU Buyer’s Guide, where we discuss how much you should spend for what you’re looking to do, and when cores matter more than high clock speeds. If you can expand your budget and buy a mainstream or high-end processor, check out our lists of Best CPUs for Gaming and Best CPUs for Workstations. Below, you'll see our favorite budget picks.

Best cheap processors at a glance:

1. AMD Ryzen 3 3300X
2. AMD Ryzen 3 2200G
3. AMD Athlon 240GE
4. AMD Athlon 200GE

Best Cheap CPUs 2021

1. AMD Ryzen 3 3300X

Best $100-$130 CPU Pick

Specifications

Architecture: Zen 2

Cores/Threads: 4/8

Base/Boost Frequency: 3.8GHz

TDP: 65W

iGPU: ~

Graphics Frequency: ~

Reasons to buy

+Low pricing+Great gaming performance+Solder TIM+Overclocking ceiling+PCIe 4.0 interface+Power efficient

Reasons to avoid

-Lackluster bundled cooler-Almost impossible to find at MSRP

The Ryzen 3 3300X unlocks a new level of performance for budget gamers with four cores and eight threads that can push low- to mid-range graphics cards to their fullest. This new processor wields the Zen 2 architecture paired with the 7nm process to push performance to new heights while enabling new features for low-end processors, like access to the speedy PCIe 4.0 interface. The 3300X's four cores tick at a 3.8 GHz clock rate and boost to 4.3 GHz, providing snappy performance in lightly threaded applications, like games.

AMD includes a bundled Wraith Spire cooler with the processor. Still, you might consider budgeting in a better low-end cooler to unlock the full performance, particularly if you are overclocking. Speaking of which, the Ryzen 3 3300X can overclock to the highest all-core frequencies we've seen with a Ryzen 3000-series processor, making it a great chip for enthusiasts. Unlike AMD's other current-gen Ryzen 3 processors, you'll need to pair this processor with a discrete GPU, but the low price point leaves extra room in the budget for a more capable graphics card.

You can stick with the value theme and drop this capable chip into existing X470 of B450 motherboards, but you'll lose access to the PCIe 4.0 interface in exchange for a lower price point. Better yet, AMD will have its new B550 motherboards on offer in June 2020. These new motherboards support the PCIe 4.0 interface but provide lower entry-level pricing that's a better fit for this class of processor.

Read: AMD Ryzen 3 3300X

2. AMD Ryzen 3 2200G

Best $85-$100 Budget Pick

Specifications

Architecture: Zen

Cores/Threads: 4/4

Base/Boost Frequency: 3.5/3.7 GHz

TDP: 65W

iGPU: Radeon Vega 8

Graphics Frequency: 1100 MHz

Reasons to buy

+Price+Higher frequencies+Solid 720p gaming performance+Unlocked multipliers

Reasons to avoid

-Eight lanes for PCIe slots-Need to ensure motherboard BIOS compatibility-Requires a better heatsink for overclocking

When money is tight, being able to game without a graphics card can lead to serious savings. And with RAM prices continuing to soar, those working with small budgets need to tighten the strings anywhere they can.

That makes the four-core, four-thread Ryzen 3 2200G particularly appealing for budget gaming builders and upgraders. The $99 chip delivers solid 720p performance thanks to its Vega on-chip graphics, decent CPU muscle for mainstream tasks, and can be dropped into an existing inexpensive 300-series motherboard (after a requisite BIOS update), to form the basis of a surprisingly capable low-cost PC. It’s also unlocked, so with proper cooling you can tune the graphics or the CPU to best suit your needs.

Read: AMD Ryzen 3 2200G Review

3. AMD Athlon 240GE

Best $60-$85 Entry-Level Pick

Specifications

Architecture: Zen

Cores/Threads: 2/4

Base/Boost Frequency: 3.5/ ~ GHz

TDP: 35W

iGPU: Radeon Vega 3

Graphics Frequency: 1 GHz

Reasons to buy

+Attractive price+Includes a bundled thermal solution+Overclocking is possible, though officially unsupported+All models provide similar performance after overclocking

Reasons to avoid

-Graphics engine and memory can't be overclocked-Weak single-threaded performance

AMD's Athlon 240GE serves as the flagship of the company's budget lineup, but it still packs a convincing punch for low-end gaming systems. The integrated Radeon Vega 3 graphics facilitate playable frame rates at lower resolutions and quality settings, but the 3.5 GHz base clock is the only differentiating feature between the Athlon 240GE and its counterparts. Due to the unofficial support for overclocking, that means you can tune the Athlon 200GE to the same top performance as the more expensive chips, but at a $20 price savings.

If overclocking isn't in your plans, the Athlon 240GE is the best budget chip in its price band. Intel's competing Pentium lineup lacks the graphical horsepower to be serious contenders for the extreme low-end of the budget gaming market, but they are attractive if gaming isn't your primary goal. That is, of course, if you can find them.

Read: AMD Athlon 240GE Review

4. AMD Athlon 200GE

Best Under $60 Entry-Level Pick

Specifications

Architecture: Zen

Cores/Threads: 2/4

Base/Boost Frequency: 3.2/ ~ GHz

TDP: 35W

iGPU: Radeon Vega 3

Graphics Frequency: 1.1 GHz

Reasons to buy

+Attractive price+Includes a bundled thermal solution+Overclocking is possible, though officially unsupported+All models provide similar performance after overclocking

Reasons to avoid

-Graphics engine and memory can't be overclocked-Weak single-threaded performance

AMD’s sub-$60 Zen-based Athlon is a good all-around value, thanks to its four computing threads and Vega 3 graphics that are capable of light gaming at lower resolutions and settings. Lightly threaded performance isn’t great, but when you’re spending this little on a CPU, you should expect compromises somewhere. And while it isn’t officially supported by AMD, if you have a compatible motherboard, this chip can be overclocked to eke out some extra CPU performance.

If your build budget can swing it, the $100 Ryzen 3 2200G is a much better chip with more cores and beefier graphics. But if you can only spend $60 or less on your CPU and you aren’t adding a dedicated graphics card, the Athlon 200GE is tough to beat. Intel’s competing Pentiums, the Gold G5400 and G4560, deliver better CPU performance. But they have higher MSRPs, and production shortages have made them hard to find unless you’re willing to spend close to $100 or more, making them incomparable in terms of budget CPUs.

Read: AMD Athlon 200GE Review

Integrated Graphics Gaming Performance

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You won't find many game titles that will play well at the popular 1920X1080 resolution on the sub-$80 chips, but there are a few. As we can see, AMD's $100 Ryzen 3 2200G is the undisputed king of the hill for 1080p gaming on integrated graphics, but the Athlon chips also push out playable frame rates in a few titles (if you're willing to tolerate lower graphics quality settings).

Switching over to 1280x720 finds the Athlon processors providing up to 50 FPS at stock settings and experiencing a decent performance boost from overclocking. Remember, all of the Athlon chips will benefit equally from overclocking, meaning the Athlon 200GE and 220GE will achieve the same level of performance as the overclocked Athlon 240GE. That's an amazing value for these low-cost chips. It should go without saying, but the Ryzen 3 2200G's Radeon Vega 8 graphics engine blows through the 1280x720 tests with ease.

Intel's Pentium lineup, and even the Core i3-8100 for that matter, struggle tremendously under the weight of these titles. Gaming at 1920x1080 is a painful experience: You won't find many games that are playable on Pentium processors at that resolution. Switching over to the 1280x720 resolution brings the Core i3-8100 and Pentium G5600 into acceptable territory, but those chips still can't match the Athlon's performance, not to mention the crazy good savings. Intel's Pentium G5400 is particularly disappointing, though, due to its pared-down UHD Graphics 610 engine. We wouldn't recommend this processor for gaming on integrated graphics.

But it's hard to recommend Pentium processors at all right now. Intel is struggling with a shortage of 14nm production capacity, so these chips are extremely hard to find, and when you do find them, they are subject to severe price gouging.

Discrete GPU Gaming Performance

We focus primarily on integrated graphics gaming performance for ultra-budget chips, but these processors are also a great pairing with low-end discrete graphics cards. Below, we've tested the chips paired with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 2080 at the 1920x1080 resolution to remove any GPU limitations from our tests below. We tested with an Nvidia GeForce 1080 FE graphics card to remove graphics-imposed bottlenecks, but the difference between the processors will shrink with the cheaper graphics cards that are commonly found in budget builds. Provided the performance deltas are small, you can select less expensive models and enjoy nearly the same gaming experience with graphics cards on the lower-end of the GPU benchmarks hierarchy.

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Intel’s Coffee Lake Pentium models come with slight frequency improvements, a 3W increase in the TDP rating, and 4MB of L3 cache. These slight adjustments deliver a surprising boost to performance compared to the previous-gen Kaby Lake models. The Coffee Lake Pentium Gold G5600 even beats out the Kaby Lake Core i3-7100 in most of our gaming benchmarks, highlighting the impressive performance gains Intel made within a single generation.

The G5600 grapples with the Ryzen 3 2200G. The Ryzen 3 2200G is relatively simple to overclock with single-click options in the BIOS, and the bundled cooler provides enough headroom for all but the most extreme overclocking efforts. At stock settings, the 2200G trails the Intel Pentium Gold 5600, but the advantage of AMD’s unlocked multipliers is clear: At $99, the tuned Ryzen 3 2200G’s performance nearly matches the $117 Core i3-8100.

The Ryzen 3 2200G also comes with powerful integrated graphics that provide surprisingly strong gaming performance at lower resolutions and quality settings. That’s a feat the Core i3-8100 simply cannot match. If you’re seeking the absolute best gaming performance (when paired with a dedicated card) regardless of price, the Core i3-8100 fits the bill. If you want the most bang for your buck or plan on gaming on integrated graphics, the Ryzen 3 2200G is the clear value winner.

Productivity Performance

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Sours: https://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/best-cheap-cpus,5668.html
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CPU Benchmarks and Hierarchy 2021: Intel and AMD Processors Ranked

Our CPU benchmarks performance hierarchy ranks all the current and previous generation Intel and AMD processors, including all of the Best CPUs for Gaming, based on performance. Your CPU has a huge effect on overall performance and, to many, is a computer's most important component. CPU benchmarks help us sort out the differences, but when it comes time to buy a CPU for your desktop, you'll find a dizzying collection of model numbers and specs from both Intel and AMD

We've listed the best CPUs for gaming and best processors for workstations in other articles, but if you want to know how each chip stacks up against all the others and how we come to our decisions, this CPU benchmarks hierarchy is for you. If you're looking for a broader view of the current state of the market, head to our AMD vs Intel feature. We also have an article covering CPU performance in Cyberpunk 2077.

AMD's Ryzen 5000G 'Cezanne' APUs have arrived, with the Ryzen 7 5700G and Ryzen 5 5600G leading the charge. These chips' strong integrated graphics could be a godsend to gamers looking to sit out the GPU shortage, provided they keep their expectations in check.

We also recently reviewed the Ryzen 3 5300G that isn't available at retail yet, so you can see how it stacks up in our rankings below. We're not sure if AMD will bring this chip to market in the near future, but there is a chance that we could see it on store shelves. We've included the Cezanne chips in both our standard rankings below and also added a new integrated graphics CPU benchmark ranking so you can see how they stack up relative to prior-gen AMD chips and Intel's lineup.

These new chips build on AMD's resounding success with its Zen 3 architecture. We have the full Ryzen 5000 lineup in our CPU benchmarks, including the Ryzen 5 5600X, Ryzen 9 5950X, 5900X, and Ryzen 7 5800X, along with all of the previous-gen Zen 3, Zen+, and Zen 1 versions of those chips.

Intel's 11th-generation Rocket Lake-S CPUs are in the other corner, led by the Intel Core i9-11900K and Core i5-11600K that have improved Intel's competitive standing. As a result of its solid performance and AMD's continued chip shortages, the Core i5-11600K is now our Best CPU for gaming. The Core i5-11400 is the hidden star of Intel's new lineup. AMD has no response for this chip on the lower-end of its price range – in fact, the Core i5-11400 grapples with the two-year-old Ryzen 5 3600. 

If you want to see Intel and AMD's most important models square off head-to-head in our CPU benchmarks, check out these articles:

At Computex 2020, AMD announced that it will bring new Zen 3-powered Ryzen models to market that will come armed with its new 3D V-Cache tech. This technique stacks L3 cache on top of the compute die, enabling up to a mind-boggling 192MB of cache per chip to provide up to 15% more performance in gaming. The first chips enter production at the end of the year.

We'll explain how we ranked the processors under each table. The game testing ranking is first. We also include an application performance metric in our application score tables, which we've split up into single- and multi-threaded measurements (below gaming table). The most powerful chip gets a 100, and all others are scored relative to it. If you want our recommendations for specific price bands, please check out our Best CPUs for Gaming.

We are on the cusp of Windows 11, which presents new challenges for testing. That means we'll be revisiting all of the Windows 11-compatible processors in our CPU benchmark hierarchy with updated testing to reflect the latest performance trends. 

CPU Benchmarks and Performance Hierarchy Charts

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We rank all the Intel and AMD processors in the tables below, but we don't include overclocked performance or 99th percentile fps rankings. You can see all of those numbers in the charts above. We've also added separate charts for integrated graphics testing.

Bear in mind that the charts above use the raw performance numbers, whereas our CPU benchmarks rankings below use a score to rank the chips relative to one another. Admittedly, the charts are getting a bit packed as we expand our rankings pool, but we'll work to separate this out into different classes as our CPU benchmarks database grows.

Intel and AMD Gaming CPU Benchmarks Hierarchy 

1080p Gaming Score1440p Gaming ScoreCPUCores/ThreadsBase/Boost GHzTDPBuy
AMD Ryzen 9 5900X100%98.5%Zen 312 / 243.7 / 4.8105WRyzen 9 5900X
AMD Ryzen 9 5950X99.94%97.27%Zen 316 / 323.4 / 4.9105WRyzen 9 3950X
Intel Core i9-11900K98.65%100%Rocket Lake8 / 163.5 / 5.3125WCore i9-11900K
AMD Ryzen 7 5800X96.71%96.54%Zen 38 / 163.8 / 4.7105WRyzen 7 5800X
AMD Ryzen 5 5600X96.49%96.23%Zen 36 / 123.7 / 4.665WRyzen 5 5600X
Intel Core i7-11700K92.06%94.60%Rocket Lake8 / 163.6 / 5.0125WCore i7-11700K
Intel Core i9-10900K90.69%94.08%Comet Lake10 / 203.7 / 5.3125WCore i9-9900K
Intel Core i9-10850K90.25%93.64%Comet Lake10 / 203.6 / 5.295WCore i9-10850K
Intel Core i5-11600K89.66%92.98%Rocket Lake6 / 123.9 / 4.9125WCore i5-11600K
Intel Core i5-1140086.37%90.25%Rocket Lake6 / 122.6 / 4.465WCore i5-11400
Intel Core i7-10700K86.04%90.36%Comet Lake8 / 163.8 / 5.1125WCore i7-10700K
Intel Core i9-10980XE83.25%86.41%Cascade Lake-X18 / 363.0 / 4.8165WCore i9-10980XE
Intel W-3175X82.06%84.91%Skylake28 / 563.1 / 4.3225W@Newegg
Ryzen 7 5700G*81.72%85.45%Zen 38 / 163.8 / 4.665WN/A
Intel Core i9-9900KS81.20%87.25%Coffee Lake-R8 / 164.0 / 5.0127W Intel Core i9-9900KS
Intel Core i7-10700/F~~Comet Lake8 / 162.9 / 4.865WIntel Core i7-10700
Intel Core i5-10600K80.45%84.90%Comet Lake6 / 124.1 / 4.8125W@Newegg
Intel Core i7-9700K78.53%%83.41%Coffee Lake-R8 / 83.6 / 4.995W@Amazon
Intel Core i9-9900K / F78.31%83.66%Coffee Lake-R8 / 163.6 / 5.095WCore i9-9900K
AMD Ryzen 9 3950X77.47%80.80%Zen 216 / 323.5 / 4.7105W@Amazon
AMD Threadripper 3970X77.27%80.19%Zen 232 / 643.7 / 4.5280WAMD Threadripper 3970X
AMD Threadripper 3960X76.88%79.30%Zen 224 / 483.8 / 4.5280WAMD Ryzen Threadripper 3960X
AMD Ryzen 7 3800XT76.57%81.51%Zen 28 / 163.9 / 4.7105W@Newegg
AMD Threadripper 3990X76.47%80.14%Zen 264 / 1282.9 / 4.3280WAMD Ryzen Threadripper 3990X
AMD Ryzen 9 3900XT76.45%80.77%Zen 212 / 243.8 / 4.7105WRyzen 9 3900XT
AMD Ryzen 9 3900X~~Zen 212 / 243.8 / 4.6105W@Amazon
Intel Core i9-9980XE ~~Skylake18 / 364.4 / 4.5165W@B&HPhoto
AMD Ryzen 9 3900~~Zen 212 / 243.1 / 4.3105WOEM only
AMD Ryzen 7 3700X76.91%81.32%Zen 28 / 163.6 / 4.465W@Newegg
AMD Ryzen 5 5600G76.79%78.92%Zen 36 / 123.9 / 4.465W
AMD Ryzen 7 3800X76.05%80.88%Zen 28 / 163.9 / 4.5105W@Amazon
AMD Ryzen 5 3600XT75.33%79.95%Zen 26 / 123.8 / 4.595W@Newegg
AMD Ryzen 5 360073.21%77.72%Zen 26 / 123.6 / 4.265W@Amazon
Intel Core i9-7960X~~Skylake16 / 322.8 / 4.2165W@Newegg
Intel Core i7-8700K73.04%78.56%Coffee Lake6 / 123.7 / 4.795W@Amazon
AMD Ryzen 5 3600X72.98%77.73%Zen 26 / 123.8 / 4.495W@Newegg
AMD Ryzen 3 3300X71.99%76.70%Zen 24 / 83.8 / 4.365W@Newegg
Intel Core i5-9600K71.54%77.24%Coffee Lake-R6 / 63.7 / 4.695W@Newegg
AMD Threadripper Pro 3995WX70.59%71.24%Zen 264 / 1282.7 / 4.2280WThreadripper Pro 3995WX
Intel Core i5-8600K70.23%75.46%Coffee Lake6 / 63.6 / 4.395W@Newegg
Intel Core i7-870069.95%75.74%Coffee Lake6 / 123.2 / 4.665WCore i7-8700
Intel Core i7-8086K69.39%75.57%Coffee Lake6 / 124.0 / 5.095WCore i7-8086K
Intel Core i5-9400 / i5-9400F69.20%74.12%Coffee Lake6 / 62.9 / 4.165W@Amazon
Intel Core i5-840068.23%74.02%Coffee Lake6 / 62.8 / 4.065W@Newegg
AMD Ryzen 5 3500X~~Zen 26 / 63.6 / 4.165W@Newegg
Core i3-1010066.00%71.03%Comet Lake4 / 83.6 / 4.365WCore i3-10100
AMD Ryzen 7 2700X63.14%68.43%Zen+8 / 163.7 / 4.3105W@Newegg
Ryzen 7 4750G*62.33%68.33%Zen 28 / 163.8 / 4.665WRyzen 7 4750G
AMD Ryzen 3 310061.60%66.02%Zen 24 / 83.8 / 3.965W@Newegg
Intel Core i9-7980XE~~Skylake18 / 362.6 / 4.2165W@Amazon
Intel Core i9-7900X~~Skylake10 / 203.3 / 4.3140W@Newegg
AMD Ryzen 5 2600X61.39%67.17%Zen+6 / 123.6 / 4.295W@Amazon
Intel Core i7-7700K~~Kaby Lake4 / 84.2 / 4.591W@Amazon
AMD Threadripper 2990WX (GM)~~Zen+32 / 643.0 / 4.2250W@Newegg
Intel Core i7-7820X~~Skylake8 / 163.6 / 4.3140W@Amazon
AMD Threadripper 2950X (GM)~~Zen +16 / 323.5 / 4.4180W@Amazon
AMD Threadripper 2970WX~~Zen +24 / 483.0 / 4.2250W@Amazon
AMD Ryzen 7 2700~~Zen+8 / 163.2 / 4.165W@Amazon
AMD Threadripper 1900X (GM)~~Zen8 / 163.8 / 4.0180W@Amazon
Intel Core i7-7700~~Kaby Lake4 / 83.6 / 4.265W@Amazon
AMD Ryzen 5 2600~~Zen+6 / 123.4 / 3.965W@Newegg
Intel Core i7-7800X~~Skylake6 / 123.5 / 4.0140W@Newegg
Intel Core i5-7600K~~Kaby Lake4 / 43.8 / 4.291W@Amazon
AMD Threadripper 1950X (GM)~~Zen16 / 323.4 / 4.0180W@Newegg
AMD Threadripper 1920X (GM)~~Zen12 / 243.5 / 4.0180W@Amazon
Intel Core i3-9350KF60.18%67.03%Coffee Lake4 / 44.0 / 4.691W@Amazon
AMD Ryzen 3 5300G59.24%64.45%Zen 34 / 84.0 / 4.265WOEM Only
AMD Ryzen 7 1800X57.45%62.55%Zen8 / 163.6 / 4.095W@Newegg
Intel Core i5-7600~~Kaby Lake4 / 43.5 / 4.165W@Amazon
Intel Core i3-8100~~Coffee Lake4 / 43.6 / -65W@Amazon
Intel Core i5-7500~~Kaby Lake4 / 43.4 / 3.865W@Amazon
Intel Core i5-7400~~Kaby Lake4 / 43.0 / 3.565W@Amazon
AMD Ryzen 7 1700X~~Zen8 / 163.8 / 3.995W@Amazon
AMD Ryzen 5 1600AF~~Zen +6 / 123.2 / 3.665W@Amazon
AMD Ryzen 7 1700~~Zen8 / 163.0 / 3.865W@Newegg
Intel Core i3-8350K57.44%63.56%Coffee Lake4 / 44.0 / -91WCore i3 i3-8350K
Intel Core i3-910055.43%61.80%Coffee Lake-R4 / 43.6 / 4.265W@Newegg
AMD Ryzen 5 1600X53.32%58.90%Zen6 / 123.6 / 4.095W@Amazon
AMD Ryzen 5 1600~~Zen6 / 123.2 / 3.665W@Amazon
AMD Ryzen 5 3400G52.07%57.31%Zen +4 / 83.7 / 4.265W@Amazon
Intel Core i5-7400~~Kaby Lake4 / 4 3.0 / 3.565W@Newegg
Intel Core i3-810051.66%61.38%Coffee Lake4 / 43.6 / -65W@Amazon
AMD Ryzen 3 3200G49.03%54.48%Zen +4 / 43.6 / 4.065W@Amazon
AMD Ryzen 5 2400G47.83%52.10%Zen+4 / 83.6 / 3.965W@Newegg
AMD Ryzen 5 1500X~~Zen4 / 83.5 / 3.765W@Newegg
Intel Core i3-7350K~~Kaby Lake2 / 44.2 / -60W@Newegg
Intel Pentium G5600~~Coffee Lake2 / 43.9 / -54W@Newegg
AMD Ryzen 3 2200G44.97%49.93%Zen+4 / 43.5 / 3.765W@Amazon
AMD Ryzen 3 1300X~~Zen4 / 43.5 / 3.765W@Amazon
Intel Core i3-7300~~Kaby Lake2 / 44.0 / -51W@BH&Photo
Intel Pentium G560040.03%45.96%Coffee Lake2 / 43.9 / -54W@Intel
Intel Pentium G540039.01%44.53%Coffee Lake2 / 43.7 / -54W@Amazon
Intel Core i3-7100~~Kaby Lake2 / 43.9 / -51W@Amazon
AMD Ryzen 5 1400~~Zen4 / 83.2 / 3.465W@Amazon
Intel Pentium G4620~~Kaby Lake2 / 43.7 / -54W@Newegg
Intel Pentium G4560~~Kaby Lake2 / 43.5 / -54W@Newegg
AMD Athlon 3000G~~Zen+2 / 43.5 / -35W@Amazon
AMD Athlon 240GE~~Zen2 / 43.5 / -35W@Amazon
AMD Athlon 220GE~~Zen2 / 43.4 / -35W@Amazon
AMD Athlon 200GE~~Zen2 / 43.2 / -35W@Amazon
AMD Ryzen 3 1200~~Zen4 / 43.1 / 3.265W@Amazon
Zhaoxin KaiXian KX-U6780A~~LuJiaZui 8 / 82.7 / -70WN/A
AMD A10-9700~~Bristol Ridge4 / 43.5 / 3.865W@Newegg

*indicates an APU tested with a discrete GPU. Note: These types of processors are geared for performance with integrated graphics - please see individual reviews or our section below for those performance rankings.

We've ranked all the consumer Intel 11th, 10th, 9th, 8th, and 7th Gen processors, along with AMD's Ryzen and Threadripper chips from all four generations. We have two rankings for each chip, based on 1080p and 1440p CPU gaming benchmarks, but the chart is aligned sequentially based on the 1080p game results. The 1440p listings aren't listed in sequential order due to the unfortunate limitations with our tables. Pay attention to the 1440p rankings: Some faster chips at 1440p CPU benchmarks may be listed below slower chips simply because of the 1080p results.

We measured performance for the 1080p CPU gaming benchmarks with a geometric mean of Borderlands 3, Hitman 2, Far Cry 5, Project CARS 3, Red Dead Redemption 2, and Shadow of the Tomb Raider. We measured performance for the 1440p CPU gaming benchmarks with a geometric mean of Borderlands 3, Project CARS 3, Far Cry 5, Red Dead Redemption 2, and Shadow of the Tomb Raider.

As you can see, AMD's Ryzen 9 5950X and Ryzen 9 5900X take the slimmest of leads over Intel's flagship Core i9-11900K in 1080p, but the Core i9-11900K takes the lead at 11440p, meaning these chips are very closely matched. Also, check out those CPU benchmarks performance deltas between the previous-gen Ryzen processors and the 5000 series, and between the 10th-Gen Comet Lake and 11th-Gen Rocket Lake. That's impressive and comes as the byproduct of a heated competition for gaming supremacy. Enthusiasts are surely benefiting.

Most folks overlook the incredible power efficiency of the Zen 3 processors, but that equates to a faster, cooler, and quieter system that doesn't require super-expensive cooling solutions. Take note of the TDP divide in our charts - it's surprising. Check out our review for more in-depth power testing.     

Intel and AMD Integrated Graphics Gaming CPU Benchmarks Hierarchy 

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1280x7201920x1080
Ryzen 7 5700G B550-E 100%100%
Ryzen 5 5600G96.3%96%
Ryzen 7 4750G92.9%94.1%
Ryzen 3 5300G85.8%87.2%
Ryzen 5 3400G83.5%84.1%
Ryzen 3 3200G77.1%78.1%
Intel UHD Graphics 750 32 EU (11600K, 11700K)58.3%~48.9%
Intel UHD Graphics 730 24 EU (i5-11400)51.7%42.9%
Intel UHD Graphics 630 24 EU (10600K)36.0%34.4%

Here's our list of gaming performance with integrated graphics on several of the leading APUs available. We've split this into two different price ranges, so be sure to flip through all of the performance charts. For a bit of commentary and analysis of these results, head to our recent Ryzen 7 5700G, Ryzen 5 5600G and Ryzen 3 5300G reviews. 

Intel and AMD Single-Threaded CPU Benchmarks Performance Hierarchy

Single-Threaded App ScoreArchitectureCores/ThreadsBase/Boost GHzTDP
Intel Core i9-11900K (ABT off/on)100% / 99.57%Rocket Lake8 / 163.5 / 5.3125W
AMD Ryzen 9 5950X95.31%Zen 316 / 323.4 / 4.9105W
Core i7-11700K94.29%Rocket Lake8 / 163.6 / 5.095W
AMD Ryzen 9 5900X93.69%Zen 312 / 243.7 / 4.8105W
AMD Ryzen 7 5800X92.84%Zen 38 / 163.8 / 4.7105W
Intel Core i5-11600K92.56%Rocket Lake8 / 163.9 / 4.9125W
AMD Ryzen 5 5600X89.19%Zen 36 / 123.7 / 4.665W
Ryzen 7 5700G88.92%Zen 38 / 163.9 / 4.465W
Intel Core i9-10900K86.68%Comet Lake10 / 203.7 / 5.3125W
AMD Ryzen 5 5600G85.75%Zen 36 / 123.9 / 4.465W
Intel Core i9-10850K84.87%Comet Lake10 / 203.6 / 5.295W
Intel Core i9-9900KS83.13%Coffee Lake-R8 / 164.0 / 5.0127W
Intel Core i5-1140083.09%Rocket Lake6 / 122.6 / 4.465W
Intel Core i9-9900K82.63%Coffee Lake-R8 / 163.6 / 5.095W
Intel Core i7-10700K82.31%Comet Lake8 / 163.8 / 5.1125W
AMD Ryzen 3 5300G81.51%Zen 34 / 8 4.0 / 4.265W
Intel Core i7-9700K80.36%Coffee Lake-R8 / 83.6 / 4.995W
AMD Ryzen 7 3800XT79.75%Zen 28 / 163.9 / 4.7105W
AMD Ryzen 5 3600XT79.11%Zen 26 / 123.8 / 4.595W
AMD Ryzen 9 3900XT78.86%Zen 212 / 243.8 / 4.7105W
Intel Core i5-10600K78.79%Comet Lake6 / 124.1 / 4.125W
AMD Ryzen 7 3800X78.37%Zen 28 / 163.9 / 4.5105W
AMD Ryzen 9 3950X78.18%Zen 216 / 323.5 / 4.7105W
AMD Ryzen 9 3900X77.68%Zen 212 / 243.8 / 4.6105W
Intel Core i7-10700/F~Comet Lake8 / 162.9 / 4.865W
Ryzen 7 4750G77.2%Zen 38 /163.6 / 4.465W
AMD Threadripper 3970X76.52%Zen 232 / 643.7 / 4.5280W
AMD Threadripper 3960X76.42%Zen 224 / 483.8 / 4.5280W
Intel Core i7-8700K76.32%Coffee Lake6 / 123.7 / 4.795W
AMD Ryzen 7 3700X76.29%Zen 28 / 163.6 / 4.465W
Intel Core i7-8086K76.21%Coffee Lake6 / 124.0 / 5.095W
AMD Ryzen 5 3600X75.85%Zen 26 / 123.8 / 4.495W
Intel Core i3-9350KF75.72%Coffee Lake4 / 44.0 / 4.691W
AMD Ryzen 3 3300X75.62%Zen 24 / 83.8 / 4.365W
Intel Core i5-9600K75.41%Coffee Lake-R6 / 63.7 / 4.695W
Intel Core i9-10980XE75.24%Cascade Lake-X18 / 363.0 / 4.8165W
AMD Threadripper 3990X75.10%Zen 264 / 1282.9 / 4.3280W
Intel Core i7-870074.66%Coffee Lake6 / 123.2 / 4.665W
AMD Threadripper Pro 3995WX74.20%Zen 264 / 1282.7 / 4.2280W
AMD Ryzen 5 360073.02%Zen 26 / 123.6 / 4.265W
Intel Core i9-9980XE~Skylake18 / 364.4 / 4.5165W
Intel Core i7-7700K~Kaby Lake4 / 84.2 / 4.591W
Intel Core i5-8600K71.08%Coffee Lake6 / 63.6 / 4.395W
Core i3-1010070.80%Coffee Lake4 / 83.6 / 4.365W
AMD Ryzen 7 2700X69.53%Zen+8 / 163.7 / 4.3105W
Intel Core i3-910069.20%Coffee Lake-R4 / 43.6 / 4.265W
AMD Ryzen 3 310067.74%Zen 24 / 83.8 / 3.965W
Intel Core i5-9400 / -9400F67.67%Coffee Lake6 / 62.9 / 4.165W
Intel Xeon W-3175X67.51%Skylake28 / 563.1 / 3.8225W
AMD Ryzen 5 2600X66.78%Zen+6 / 123.6 / 4.295W
Intel Core i3-8350K / -8350KF66.71%Coffee Lake4 / 44.0 / -91W
Intel Core i5-840066.03%Coffee Lake6 / 62.8 / 4.065W
AMD Ryzen 5 3500X~Zen 26 / 63.6 / 4.165W
AMD Ryzen 9 3900~Zen 212 / 243.1 / 4.365W
Intel Core i3-7100~Kaby Lake2 / 43.9 / -51W
AMD Threadripper 2950X~Zen +16 / 323.5 / 4.4180W
AMD Threadripper 2990WX~Zen+32 / 643.0 / 4.2250W
AMD Threadripper 2970WX~Zen +24 / 483.0 / 4.2250W
AMD Ryzen 5 3400G64.86%Zen +4 / 83.7 / 4.265W
AMD Ryzen 5 1600X63.62%Zen6 / 123.6 / 4.095W
AMD Ryzen 7 1800X61.99%Zen8 / 163.6 / 4.095W
Intel Core i5-7400~Kaby Lake4 / 4 3.0 / 3.565W
AMD Ryzen 3 3200G60.90%Zen +4 / 43.6 / 4.065W
AMD Ryzen 5 2400G60.79%Zen+4 / 83.6 / 3.965W
AMD Ryzen 3 1300X~Zen4 / 43.5 / 3.765W
AMD Ryzen 5 1600AF~Zen6 / 123.2 / 3.665W
Intel Pentium G560060.13%Coffee Lake2 / 43.9 / -54W
Intel Core i3-810060.12%Coffee Lake4 / 43.6 / -65W
AMD Ryzen 3 2200G57.09%Zen4 / 43.5 / 3.765W
Intel Pentium G540056.79%Coffee Lake2 / 43.7 / -54W
AMD Athlon 3000G~Zen+2 / 43.5 / -35W
AMD Athlon 220GE~Zen2 / 43.4 / -35W
Intel Pentium G4560~Kaby Lake2 / 43.5 / -54W
AMD Athlon 200GE~Zen2 / 43.2 / -35W
AMD A10-9700~Bristol Ridge4 / 43.5 / 3.865W
Zhaoxin KaiXian KX-U6780A~LuJiaZui 8 / 82.7 / -70W

We calculate the above single-threaded CPU benchmarks rankings based on a geometric mean of Cinebench, POV-Ray, and LAME. The latter consists of two tests: One short duration test and one extended-duration test to measure performance once Intel's boost duration limits have been exceeded.

Single-threaded performance is often tied directly to the responsiveness and snappiness of your PC in any number of daily applications, like loading an operating system or surfing the web. This metric largely depends upon a mixture of instruction per cycle (IPC) throughput (the number of operations the chip can execute in one clock cycle) and frequency, which is the speed at which the transistors switch between on and off states.

However, a whole host of other considerations, such as cache, architecture, and interconnects (like rings, meshes, and infinity fabric) impact this measure of per-core performance, so these results do not align perfectly based upon clock frequency. Instead, performance varies with each application and how well it is tuned for the respective architectures.

With all that said, the CPU benchmarks delta between Intel's flagship Core i9-10900K and the Ryzen 5000 processors was incredible - at worst, Ryzen 5000 was 10% faster in single-threaded performance. The paradigm has changed, though, as the Core i9-11900K takes a convincing 5% lead over AMD's Ryzen 9 5950X to take the lead in our single-threaded hierarchy. Rocket Lake's Cypress Cove architecture has proven to be beastly in single-threaded work, but we don't see those same gains translate over to gaming performance.

Intel and AMD Multi-Threaded CPU Benchmarks Performance

Multi-Threaded App ScoreArchitectureCores/ThreadsBase/Boost GHzTDP
AMD Threadripper 3990X100.0%Zen 264 / 1282.9 / 4.3280W
AMD Threadripper Pro 3995WX97.59%Zen 264 / 1282.7 / 4.2280W
AMD Threadripper 3970X75.74%Zen 232 / 643.7 / 4.5280W
AMD Threadripper 3960X64.76%Zen 224 / 483.8 / 4.5280W
Intel Xeon W-3175X59.95%Skylake28 / 563.1 / 4.3225W
AMD Ryzen 9 5950X53.58%Zen 316 / 323.4 / 4.9105W
AMD Ryzen 9 3950X47.32%Zen 216 / 323.5 / 4.7105W
AMD Ryzen 9 5900X45.89%Zen 312 / 243.7 / 4.8105W
Intel Core i9-10980XE43.06%Cascade Lake-X18 / 363.0 / 4.8165W
Intel Core i9-9980XE~Skylake18 / 364.4 / 4.5165W
AMD Threadripper 2990WX~Zen+32 / 643.0 / 4.2250W
AMD Ryzen 9 3900X38.69%Zen 212 / 243.8 / 4.6105W
AMD Ryzen 9 3900XT38.66%Zen 212 / 243.8 / 4.7105W
Intel Core i9-11900K (ABT off/on)36.01% / 37.07%Rocket Lake8 / 163.5 / 5.3125W
AMD Threadripper 2970WX~Zen +24 / 483.0 / 4.2250W
Core i7-11700K34.26%Rocket Lake8 / 163.6 / 5.0125W
Intel Core i9-10900K33.79%Comet Lake10 / 203.7 / 5.3125W
AMD Ryzen 7 5800X33.48%Zen 38 / 163.8 / 4.7105W
Intel Core i9-10850K33.38%Comet Lake10 / 203.6 / 5.295W
AMD Threadripper 2950X~Zen +16 / 323.5 / 4.4180W
AMD Ryzen 9 3900~Zen 212 / 243.1 / 4.365W
Ryzen 7 5700G29.73%Zen 38 / 163.8 / 4.665W
Intel Core i9-9900KS29.11%Coffee Lake-R8 / 164.0 / 5.0127W
AMD Ryzen 7 3800XT28.49%Zen 28 / 163.9 / 4.7105W
AMD Ryzen 7 3800X28.25%Zen 28 / 163.9 / 4.5105W
Intel Core i7-10700K28.17%Comet Lake8 / 163.8 / 5.1125W
Intel Core i9-9900K27.78%Coffee Lake-R8 / 163.6 / 5.095W
AMD Ryzen 7 3700X27.47%Zen 28 / 163.6 / 4.465W
Intel Core i5-11600K26.79%Rocket Lake8 / 163.9 / 4.9125W
AMD Ryzen 5 5600X26.15%Zen 36 / 123.7 / 4.665W
AMD Ryzen 7 4750G26.06%Zen 38 / 163.6 / 4.465W
Intel Core i7-10700/F~Comet Lake8 / 162.9 / 4.865W
Intel Core i5-1140024.46%Rocket Lake6 / 122.6 / 4.465W
AMD Ryzen 5 5600G23.33%Zen 36 / 123.9 / 4.465W
Intel Core i7-9700K22.81%Coffee Lake-R8 / 83.6 / 4.995W
AMD Ryzen 5 3600XT22.28%Zen 26 / 123.8 / 4.595W
AMD Ryzen 5 3600X21.76%Zen 26 / 123.8 / 4.495W
AMD Ryzen 5 360021.41%Zen 26 / 123.6 / 4.265W
AMD Ryzen 7 2700X21.59%Zen+8 / 163.7 / 4.3105W
Intel Core i5-10600K20.83%Comet Lake6 / 124.1 / 4.8125W
Intel Core i7-8700K20.23%Coffee Lake6 / 123.7 / 4.795W
Core i7-870020.04%Coffee Lake6 / 123.2 / 4.665W
Core i7-8086K19.30%Coffee Lake6 / 124.0 / 5.095W
AMD Ryzen 7 1800X19.17%Zen8 / 163.6 / 4.095W
AMD Ryzen 5 2600X16.96%Zen+6 / 123.6 / 4.295W
Intel Core i5-9600K16.60%Coffee Lake-R6 / 63.7 / 4.695W
AMD Ryzen 5 3500X~Zen 26 / 63.6 / 4.165W
Intel Core i7-7700K~Kaby Lake4 / 84.2 / 4.591W
Intel Core i5-8600K15.93%Coffee Lake6 / 63.6 / 4.395W
AMD Ryzen 3 5300G15.83%Zen 34 / 84.0 / 4.265W
AMD Ryzen 3 3300X15.55%Zen 24 / 83.8 / 4.365W
AMD Ryzen 5 1600AF~Zen6 / 123.2 / 3.665W
Sours: https://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/cpu-hierarchy,4312.html

Best Workstation CPUs for 2021

If you're after the best processor for work, a lot of the decision boils down to just what your work is. Most processors can handle just about any workload you throw at them, given enough time. But faster CPUs (with more cores and/or faster clock speeds) chew through tough workloads in much less time, making them great CPUs for productivity. This list focuses on performance in productivity applications for workstations, while our Best CPUs for Gaming article will give you a better picture of gaming performance. For an even more in-depth look, our CPU Benchmarks Hierarchy has all the processors ranked based on performance in gaming, single- and multi-threaded workloads.

A processor that excels at gaming isn't always the best CPU if your workload is productivity-focused. In fact, as highly threaded CPUs become more common, gaming CPUs and work CPUs are increasingly different silicon beasts, making it tougher to choose which CPU is the best for your workload. So we've compiled a list of processors representing the best bang for your buck in common productivity tasks, based on our years of benchmarking and testing data.

As for recent releases, the workstation CPU market is in a lull as we await the arrival of AMD's next-gen Threadripper processors. Those processors should shake up our rankings when they come to market before the end of 2021.

For now, AMD's Threadripper Pro 3995WX remains the most powerful workstation processor on the market. This fire-breathing 64-core 128-thread processor is aimed right at the meat of the OEM workstation market, but now it's available through retail channels, too. This chip comes armed with eight memory channels and 128 lanes of PCIe 4.0 connectivity, marking a big advantage over the consumer-class Threadripper processors described below. However, in most workloads, its high price point might not be worth the slim performance advantages over the consumer models, meaning that its higher number of memory channels is the primary draw. 

Luckily, supply has improved for workstation processors, and now you can find most of these chips at retail near or below recommended pricing. However, there are still pockets of reduced supply, so we've included alternate recommendations as well. 

Quick Shopping Tips

When choosing a non-gaming-focused CPU, consider the following:

  • Know the apps you use: If your apps take advantage of superior core counts or memory channels, you might want to get an AMD chip. But if you're using lightly-threaded apps or want the broadest spate of officially supported software, Intel tends to perform better.
  • Get the latest gen: You usually won't save a lot by going with an older chip, and you may limit your upgrade options down the road.
  • Keep the motherboard in mind: The priciest CPUs require more expensive motherboards than cheaper chips.

For even more information, check out our 2020 CPU Buyer’s Guide, where we discuss how much you should spend for what you’re looking to do, and when cores matter more than high clock speeds.

Best processors for productivity at a glance:

1. AMD Threadripper 3995WX
2. AMD Threadripper 3970X
3. AMD Ryzen 9 5950X
4. AMD Ryzen 7 5900X
5. AMD Ryzen 5 5600X
6. AMD Ryzen 5 3600

Best Desktop CPUs for Work 2021

1. AMD Threadripper 3995WX

Best Highest-End Workstation CPU

Specifications

Architecture: Zen 2

Socket: sTRX4

Cores/Threads: 64/128

Base Frequency: 2.7 GHz

Top Boost Frequency: 4.2 GHz

TDP: 280W

Reasons to buy

+Excellent rendering performance+Competitive performance in GPU-accelerated applications+Eight-Channel memory interface+128 Lanes of PCIe 4.0+Fully-validated ECC memory support

Reasons to avoid

-Benefits a narrow cross-section of workloads

Intel's seemingly endless delay in transitioning to the 10nm node and a new architecture has left the industry ripe for disruption. As a result, AMD's Threadripper 3000 processors rule the upper segment of the HEDT market uncontested. The Threadripper 3990X established itself as the fire-breathing standard-bearer for the entire consumer market, but AMD has brought a very similar model to retail that's specifically designed for workstations.

AMD's Threadripper 3995WX slots in as the workstation market's uncontested leader in multi-threaded work with 64 cores, 128 threads, and supports up to 2TB of memory spread out among eight memory channels, not to mention 128 lanes of PCIe 4.0 connectivity. AMD also has less-pricey downstream WX models, too. 

The Zen 3-powered Threadripper 3995WX is pretty much exactly what AMD says it is: A highly specialized processor that provides incredible performance in a narrow cross-section of workloads, but at an extremely attractive price point given its capabilities.

AMD's decision to pair 64 cores and 128 threads with higher boost frequencies pays big dividends in VFX, 3D animation, and ray tracing workloads with more performance than you would expect from any comparable workstation-class solution, not to mention even some dual-socket servers. The higher boost frequencies provide snappy performance in everyday lightly-threaded applications and devastating threaded performance in workloads that scale well. 

The $5,489 price tag is eye-watering, but for professionals that can benefit from the 3995WX's hefty allotment of cores and threads, it's worth every penny. If you are looking for a more price-conscious model and don't need support for eight memory channels or 128 lanes of PCIe 4.0 connectivity, then the consumer-oriented 64-Core Threadripper 3990X makes for a nice alternative. 

Read:AMD Threadripper Pro 3995WX Review

2. AMD Threadripper 3970X

Best High-End Workstation CPU

Specifications

Architecture: Zen 2

Socket: sTRX4

Cores/Threads: 32/64

Base Frequency: 3.7GHz

Top Boost Frequency: 4.5GHz

TDP: 280W

Reasons to buy

+Excellent single and multithreaded performance+Competitive per-core pricing+Power efficient+Indium solder

Reasons to avoid

-Lack of backward compatibility

While the Threadripper 3990X/3995WX brings the utmost performance possible to bear, the exotic design does result in slower performance in some common workloads, leaving room for the Threadripper 3970X to serve as the more reasonable option for the productivity-minded. 

The 32-core, 64-thread Threadripper 3970X delivers devastating threaded performance in its price range, often trouncing Intel's most exotic silicon. Intel's Xeon W-3175X is ill-suited to take on the comparatively power-sipping Threadripper processors on a power efficiency basis, not to mention pricing. Threadripper 3000 also brings a solid gain on the single-threaded performance front, too. 

AMD's forward-thinking adoption of the PCIe 4.0 interface is another attraction that will help win over the semi-professional crowd. While the faster interface isn't as useful on the mainstream desktop, the ability to stack up throughput-craving devices behind the chipset without the radical throughput restrictions we see with Intel's DMI is another big win.

Read: AMD Threadripper 3970X Review

3. Intel Core i9-10980XE

Alternate Pick - Best High-End Desktop (HEDT) CPU

Specifications

Architecture: Cascade Lake-X (Skylake)

Socket: LGA 2066

Cores/Threads: 18/36

Base Frequency: 3.0GHz

Top Boost Frequency: 4.8GHz

TDP: 165W

Reasons to buy

+Incremental performance improvements+Lower power consumption+Overclockability+Backward compatibility

Reasons to avoid

-Price-Dead-end platform-PCIe3.0

The Core i9-10980XE is a solid alternative pick, just be aware that you'll sacrifice quite a bit of threaded horsepower by selecting the Core i9-10980XE. 

For streamers and professionals who can make use of the extra I/O of and quad-channel memory, Intel’s Cascade Lake-X flagship earns its niche, but the Ryzen 5950X and 3950X are a better value for most productivity workloads where the more-robust HEDT platform is less important.  

That leaves a preciously slim slice of the market where Intel has an advantage in this price bracket (users that need quad-channel memory or more PCIe lanes). Overclocking performance is a factor if you're willing to spend the cash. You can drop the -10980XE into an existing X299 board if you're willing to sacrifice a few PCIe lanes, but be aware that this is the end of the line for the X299 platform.

The 14nm process equates to faster clock speeds, and thus performance, at lower overall power consumption. The Core i9-10980XE also has much higher overclocking headroom than its predecessor. But the 10980XE’s advantage after tuning over the AMD Ryzen 5950X comes at a $280 premium and requires more robust cooling and power delivery, so you should factor that into your purchasing decision. In most cases, the Ryzen 9 5950X and 3950X, both listed below, remain the better choice if you can find those chips on shelves. 

Read: Intel Core i9-10980XE Review

4. AMD Ryzen 9 5950X

Best High Performance Value

Specifications

Architecture: Zen 3

Socket: AM4

Cores/Threads: 16/32

Base Frequency: 3.4GHz

Top Boost Frequency: 4.9GHz

TDP: 105W

Reasons to buy

+Class-leading 16 cores & 32 threads+Overclockable+Higher boost frequencies+Reasonable price-per-core+Power efficiency+PCIe Gen 4.0

Reasons to avoid

-Requires beefy cooling-No bundled cooler-Higher gen-on-gen pricing-No integrated graphics

High end desktop (HEDT) processors have long offered the ultimate in performance, as long as you were willing to pay the price. Aside from high pricing, HEDT chips also require expensive accommodations, like beefy motherboards and the added cost of fully populating quad-channel memory controllers. Add in the inevitable trade-offs, like reduced performance in lightly-threaded applications and games, and any cost-conscious users who could benefit from the threaded horsepower of a HEDT chip just settle for mainstream offerings.

AMD's Ryzen 9 5950X, with 16 cores and 32 threads, expands on its predecessors' mission of bringing HEDT-class performance to mainstream motherboards, lowering the bar for entry. The 5950X carries a $799 price tag, but that’s downright affordable compared to competing HEDT processors that don't offer the same class of performance. You can even find it for as low as $750. 

The Ryzen 9 5950X's healthy slathering of cores and threads are incredibly adept at productivity workloads. Still, it does come with a dual-channel memory controller that can restrict performance in workloads constrained by memory throughput. However, outside of that notable restriction, if you're after a chip and platform that can do serious work seriously fast, but still be nimble enough to deliver high-refresh gameplay at the end of the day, the Ryzen 9 5950X fits the bill like no other CPU before it, blurring the lines between HEDT and mainstream platforms. 

Read: AMD Ryzen 9 3950X Review

5. AMD Ryzen 9 3950X

Alternate Pick - Best High Performance Value

Specifications

Architecture: Zen 2

Socket: AM4

Cores/Threads: 16/32

Base Frequency: 3.5GHz

Top Boost Frequency: 4.7GHz

TDP: 105W

Reasons to buy

+Class-leading 16 cores & 32 threads+Overclockable+Higher boost frequencies+Reasonable price-per-core+Power efficiency+Compatible with most AM4 boards+PCIe Gen 4.0

Reasons to avoid

-Requires beefy cooling-Limited overclocking headroom

The Ryzen 9 3950X is a previous-gen processor, and we typically don't recommend investing in older chips for productivity-focused builds. However, given sporadic chip shortages, the Ryzen 9 3950X might be the only option at times if you're looking for a 16-core 32-thread processor to drop into a mainstream motherboard. 

AMD's 16-core 32-thread Ryzen 9 3950X brings HEDT-class performance to mainstream motherboards, lowering the bar for entry. The 3950X carries a $749 MSRP, but you can find this nimble chip for ~$715 at retail. 

Read: AMD Ryzen 9 3950X Review

6. AMD Ryzen 9 5900X

Best Overall Value

Specifications

Architecture: Zen 3

Socket: AM4

Cores/Threads: 12/24

Base Frequency: 3.7GHz

Top Boost Frequency: 4.8GHz

TDP: 65W

Reasons to buy

+Support for PCIe 4.0+Unlocked multiplier+Compatible with 500-series motherboards+Excellent gaming performance +Excellent single- and multi-threaded performance

Reasons to avoid

-No bundled cooler-Higher gen-on-gen pricing-No integrated graphics

If you’re truly only concerned about the best gaming CPU and basic productivity tasks, you should go with the Ryzen 5 5600X and save yourself some money. However, if you prize a brutal mix of performance in all aspects, like single- and multi-threaded work and gaming, the Ryzen 9 5900X is your chip – it delivers in all facets. 

The 12-core 24-thread Ryzen 9 5900X is rated for a 3.7 GHz base and 4.8 GHz boost, but we clocked it in at 5.0 GHz during our own testing. Not only is the 5900X incredibly potent in threaded applications given its price point - it is also the uncontested fastest gaming chip on the market, so you'll get the best of both worlds. 

There’s also support for PCIe 4.0 and overclockability to consider. The Ryzen 9 5900X drops into existing 500-series and some 400-series motherboards (be sure to assure compatibility). You'll need to bring your own cooler, and the bigger, the better — cooling definitely has an impact on performance with the higher-end Ryzen 5000 processors. However, if you're looking for a chip with a great mixture of both single- and heavily-threaded performance, the Ryzen 9 5900X is a great option. 

Read:AMD Ryzen 9 5900X Review

8. AMD Ryzen 5 5600X

Best Budget CPU

Specifications

Architecture: Zen 3

Socket: AM4

Cores/Threads: 6 / 12

Base Frequency: 4.1GHz

Top Boost Frequency: 4.8GHz

TDP: 65W

Reasons to buy

+Strong gaming performance+Strong in single- and multi-threaded workloads+Relatively easy to cool+PCIe 4.0+Bundled cooler+Power efficiency+Works with existing 500-series motherboards

Reasons to avoid

-Higher gen-on-gen pricing

The AMD Ryzen 5 5600X offers a compelling blend of pricing and performance in its price range, but the six-core 12-thread chip lands at $299, a $50 price hike over its previous-gen counterpart. However, the 5600X brings more than enough extra application performance to justify the premium, not to mention that it's the most power-efficient desktop PC processor we've ever tested. That means it is easier to cool than competing chips in its price range, ultimately resulting in a quieter system.

AMD's Zen 3 microarchitecture results in a stunning 19% increase in IPC, which floats all boats in terms of performance in gaming, single-threaded, and multi-threaded applications. The 5600X serves up more than enough performance for day-to-day application workloads, but you'll need to align your expectations with the fact that this is a six-core processor. That said, you won't find this level of performance from any other six-core chip on the market. If entertainment is also on the menu, the 5600X is an incredibly well-rounded chip that can handle any type of gaming, from competitive-class performance with high refresh rate monitors to streaming.

The Ryzen 5 5600X has a 3.7 GHz base and 4.6 GHz boost clock, but with the right cooling and motherboard, you can expect higher short-term boosts. The chip also has a 65W TDP rating, meaning it runs exceptionally cool and quiet given its capabilities (the previous-gen model was 95W). 

Existing AMD owners with a 500-series motherboard will breathe a sigh of relief as the 5600X drops right into existing 500-series motherboards, and some 400-series models (be sure to check compatibility lists). If you need a new motherboard to support the chip, both 400- and 500-series motherboards are plentiful and relatively affordable, with the B550 lineup offering the best overall value for this class of chip. 

Read: AMD Ryzen 5 5600X Review: The Mainstream Knockout

4. Intel Core i5-11400

Best Mid-Range CPU

Specifications

Architecture: Rocket Lake

Socket: LGA 1200

Cores/Threads: 6/12

Base Frequency: 2.6GHz

Top Boost Frequency: 4.4GHz

TDP: 65W

Reasons to buy

+Solid gaming and application performance+PCIe 4.0+Bundled cooler+Memory overclocking

Reasons to avoid

-Power consumption

The Core i5-11400 represents the lowest-end processor we'd recommend for a productivity-focused machine. The 11400 is the best budget chip on the market, largely because AMD's only competing chip comes in the form of the two-year-old Ryzen 5 3600 that can't compete with the more modern 11400. You can also pick up the graphics-less Core i5-11400F for $157, which is a steal given its performance. (Remember, the 11400F will perform the same as the non-F model, but you lose QuickSync.) 

Taken as a whole, the Core i5-11400 has a better blend of performance than the Ryzen 5 3600 throughout our full suite of application tests. The 11400's large lead in single-threaded work is impressive, and its only deficiencies in threaded work come when it is topped with its stock cooler. The 11400 roughly matches the 3600 in threaded work with a better cooler, even with the power limits strictly enforced, while removing those limits gives the 11400 uncontested lead.

The Core i5-11400 supports the PCIe 4.0 interface. Additionally, B-series motherboards, which make the best pairing with this chip, support both memory overclocking and lifting the power limits, both of which yield huge dividends.  You'll have to overlook the higher power consumption if you go with the Core i5-11400, especially if you remove the power limits. Intel's stock cooler is also largely worthless, so you should budget for a better cooler. 

 Read: Intel Core i5-11400 Review

MORE: Best Gaming CPUs
MORE:
Best Cheap CPUs

Discounts on the Best Desktop CPUs

Whether you're buying one of the best CPUs we listed above or one that didn't quite make the cut, you may find some savings by checking our list of coupon codes, especially our lists of Newegg promo codes and Micro Center coupons.

Paul Alcorn is the Deputy Managing Editor for Tom's Hardware US. He writes news and reviews on CPUs, storage and enterprise hardware.

Sours: https://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/best-performance-cpus,5683.html

Cpu benchmarks tomshardware

Best CPU for Gaming in 2021

When shopping for the best gaming CPU, you'll want to balance performance and features with your PC budget. Our tips and picks below will help you choose the best CPU for gaming. You can also see how all of these processors stack up in our CPU Benchmarks Hierarchy. But for detailed help on picking the best processor for your gaming rig, you can check out our 2021 CPU Buying Guide. And if you're on the fence about which CPU company to go with, our AMD vs. Intel feature dives deep and comes up with a winner.

AMD's Ryzen 7 5700G and Ryzen 5 5600G APUs came to market recently, shaking up the entry-level graphics scene. We found that the duo has the fastest integrated GPU on the market, offering nearly twice the performance of Intel's integrated graphics. The Ryzen 5000G series is now the uncontested champ for extreme budget gaming, small form factor, and HTPC rigs. The 5000G could also slot in as a temporary solution for enthusiasts that can't find a graphics card at reasonable pricing during these times of severe graphics cards shortages.

However, the Ryzen 5 5600G, which now joins our list of Best CPUs for Gaming, is the best pick for that task. The $259 Ryzen 5 5600G's iGPU performance lands within 4% of the $359 Ryzen 7 5700G but for 30% less cash, making it the best value APU for gaming on the market. We also recently tested the Ryzen 3 5300G, but that chip remains OEM-exclusive, meaning that you can't buy it at retail. 

At launch, AMD's Zen 3-powered Ryzen 5000 processors took the lead as the fastest gaming CPUs on the market, but Intel's Rocket Lake chips tightened the race and actually took the lead in the mid-range, as you can see with the Core i5-11400.

Our AMD Zen 3 Ryzen 5000 article has all the details on AMD's new CPUs, but you can check our full lineup of detailed reviews of each model, like the Ryzen 9 5950X and Ryzen 9 5900X, Ryzen 7 5800X, and Ryzen 5 5600X for the detailed rundown.

Intel's Rocket Lake processors have arrived, too, as you can see in our Core i9-11900K and Core i5-11600K, Core i5-11400 and Core i7-11700K reviews. Rocket Lake comes with Intel's first new architecture in the last six years, albeit with the caveat that the company still uses the 14nm process, and the chips top out at eight cores. 

Intel has its Alder Lake processors waiting in the wings for later this year, portending even bigger shakeups to our list of best CPUs for gaming, especially given the extremely promising early test results we've seen crop up.

AMD also has its new CPUs with 3D V-Cache headed to production later this year. Those chips will bring up to 15% more gaming performance courtesy of up to an almost-unthinkable 192MB of L3 cache bolted onto a souped-up Zen 3 processor. So as you can imagine, it won't be long before we have the full scoop on performance.  

Best CPUs for Gaming at a glance (more info below):

Overall Best CPU for Gaming:
AMD Ryzen 5 5600X
Alternate: Intel Core i5-11600K

High Performance Value Best CPU for Gaming:
AMD Ryzen 9 5950X
Alternate: AMD Ryzen 7 5800X

Overall Value Best CPU for Gaming:
AMD Ryzen 9 5900X

Mid-Range Best CPU for Gaming:
Intel Core i5-11400

Budget Best CPU for Gaming:
AMD Ryzen 3 3300X

Entry-Level Best CPU for Gaming:

AMD Ryzen 5 5600G

Choosing the Best Gaming CPU for You

For a list of all processors by performance, check out our CPU Benchmarks Hierarchy for CPU comparisons backed by processor benchmarks. We also maintain a list of best CPUs for workstations, for those who frequently tackle high-end content creation, or other tasks that benefit from high core counts. Higher-end chips benefit the most from the best thermal paste, so check out our guide if you're shopping for a new processor. But if you're after the best gaming CPU, you're in the right place.

If your main goal is gaming, you of course can't forget about the graphics card. Getting the best possible gaming CPU won't help you much if your GPU is under-powered and/or out of date. So be sure to check out Best Graphics Cards page, as well as our GPU Benchmarks Hierarchy to make sure you have the right card for the level of gaming you're looking to achieve.      

CPU Gaming Benchmarks

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We rank all the Intel and AMD processors based on our in-depth CPU benchmarks. You can see some of those numbers in the charts above, including overclocked performance results (marked as PBO for AMD processors). 

This group of results comprises only the chips that have passed through our newest test suite, while the tables in our CPU benchmark hierarchy include rankings based on past CPU benchmarks, and also include breakdowns of single- and multi-threaded performance across a broad spate of processors. Finally, the pricing in the charts above represents MSRPs. Given the current state of chip shortages, you likely won't find many of these chips at these prices at retail.

Quick Shopping Tips

When choosing a CPU in 2021, consider the following:

  • You can't lose with AMD or Intel: We recently pointed out that AMD makes better CPUs overall these days in our AMD vs. Intel feature. But so long as you’re considering current-generation parts, the performance debate is basically a wash, particularly when it comes to gaming. Some of the most-expensive mainstream Intel processors do slightly better on gaming, and AMD handles tasks like video editing quicker (thanks largely to extra cores and threads). 
  • For gaming, clock speed is more important than the number of cores: Higher CPU clock speeds translate to snappier performance in simple, common tasks such as gaming, while more cores will help you get through time-consuming workloads faster. In the end, the fastest CPUs of any family of processors have the highest clock speeds. 
  • Budget for a full system: Don't pair a strong CPU with weak storage, RAM and graphics.
  • Overclocking isn’t for everyone: If you want to just get to gaming, it might make more sense to spend $20-$60 more and buy a higher-end chip, rather than spending money on a higher-end cooler.

Best Gaming CPUs for 2021

1. AMD Ryzen 5 5600X

Overall Best CPU for Gaming

Specifications

Architecture: Zen 3

Socket: AM4

Cores/Threads: 6 / 12

Base Frequency: 4.1GHz

Top Boost Frequency: 4.8GHz

TDP: 65W

Reasons to buy

+Strong gaming performance+Strong in single- and multi-threaded workloads+Relatively easy to cool+PCIe 4.0+Bundled cooler+Power efficiency+Works with existing 500-series motherboards

Reasons to avoid

-Higher gen-on-gen pricing

The AMD Ryzen 5 5600X takes the top spot in the gaming PC market with a solid blend of Intel-beating performance in both gaming and application workloads. The six-core 12-thread chip lands at $299, a $50 price hike over its previous-gen counterpart, but brings more than enough extra gaming and application performance to justify the premium. The Ryzen 5 5600X even beats the Intel Core i9-10900K at gaming, which is an incredible feat given its price point. Not to mention that it's the most power-efficient desktop PC processor we've ever tested. 

AMD's Zen 3 microarchitecture results in a stunning 19% increase in IPC, which floats all boats in terms of performance in gaming, single-threaded, and multi-threaded applications. In fact, the chip generally matches the gaming performance of its more expensive sibling, the $449 Ryzen 7 5800X. That makes the 5600X an incredibly well-rounded chip that can handle any type of gaming, from competitive-class performance with high refresh rate monitors to streaming, while also serving up more than enough performance for day-to-day application workloads.    

The Ryzen 5 5600X has a 3.7 GHz base and 4.6 GHz boost clock, but with the right cooling and motherboard, you can expect higher short-term boosts. The chip also has a 65W TDP rating, meaning it runs exceptionally cool and quiet given its capabilities (the previous-gen model was 95W). Existing AMD owners with a 500-series motherboard will breathe a sigh of relief as the 5600X drops right into existing 500-series motherboards. You can also drop the chips right into 400-series motherboards. If you need a new motherboard to support the chip, both 400- and 500-series motherboards are plentiful and relatively affordable, with the B550 lineup offering the best overall value for this class of chip. 

Read: AMD Ryzen 5 5600X Review

Intel Core i5-11600K

Overall Best CPU for Gaming - Alternate Pick

Specifications

Architecture: Rocket Lake

Socket: LGA 1200

Cores/Threads: 6 / 12

Base Frequency: 3.9GHz

Top Boost Frequency: 4.9GHz

TDP: 125W

Reasons to buy

+Competitive price-to-performance ratio+Solid gaming performance+Excellent performance in threaded applications+Snappy single-threaded performance+Overclockable

Reasons to avoid

-No bundled cooler-Comparatively high power consumption

At $270, Intel's speedy Core i5-11600K doesn't claim outright benchmark supremacy over the Ryzen 5 5600X. Still, you probably won't notice the relatively slight differences in gaming when you pair the chip with a mid-range GPU or play at heightened fidelity settings.

The Core i5-11600K is incredibly competitive in both gaming and multi-threaded work and comes with a friendly price tag. Also, keep your eye out for the $237 version, the Core i5-11600KF, which comes without integrated graphics. If you plan to use a discrete GPU, the KF model is your chip, as it is functionally the same as the standard model but comes at an absolute steal at $237. That is if you can't find a Ryzen 5 5600X in stock, of course.

The 11600K boosts to a peak of 4.9 GHz on two cores and can maintain a 4.6 GHz all-core frequency. The chip drops readily into either Z490 or 500-series motherboards and comes with an unlocked multiplier, meaning you are free to overclock. In fact, after tuning, the 11600K matches the Ryzen 5 5600X in gaming. It also supports PCIe 4.0 for the graphics card and a single M.2 slot.

The catch? The 11600K comes with a 125W PL1 (power Limit 1) rating, the same as the previous-gen 10600K, but has a 251W PL2, a whopping 69W increase compared to the previous 182W limit. That means you'll need a capable cooler to deal with the extra heat. Intel's K-series chips don't come with a cooler, so you'll have to budget one in if you pick the 11600K and also be willing to overlook its comparatively high power consumption.

Read: Intel Core i5-11600K Review

2. AMD Ryzen 9 5950X

High Performance Value Best CPU for Gaming

Specifications

Architecture: Zen 3

Socket: AM4

Cores/Threads: 16/32

Base Frequency: 3.4GHz

Top Boost Frequency: 4.9GHz

TDP: 105W

Reasons to buy

+Class-leading 16 cores & 32 threads+Overclockable+Higher boost frequencies+Reasonable price-per-core+Power efficiency+PCIe Gen 4.0

Reasons to avoid

-Requires beefy cooling-No bundled cooler-Higher gen-on-gen pricing-No integrated graphics

High end desktop processors have long offered the ultimate in performance, as long as you were willing to pay the price. Aside from high MSRPs, the chips also require expensive accommodations, like beefy motherboards and the added cost of fully populating quad-channel memory controllers. Add in the inevitable trade-offs, like reduced performance in lightly-threaded applications and games, and any cost-conscious users who could benefit from the threaded horsepower of a HEDT chip just settle for mainstream offerings.

AMD's Ryzen 9 5950X, with 16 cores and 32 threads, expands on its predecessors' mission of bringing HEDT-class performance to mainstream motherboards, lowering the bar for entry. The 5950X carries a $799 price tag, but that’s downright affordable compared to competing HEDT processors that don't offer the same class of performance.

We generally don't recommend HEDT processors for enthusiasts that are only interested in gaming. Gamers are best served by mainstream processors (with fewer cores and higher clocks) that are often faster in games; the Ryzen 9 5950X also falls into the same category - AMD's lesser 5000-series models are a better value for gamers. However, if you're after a chip and platform that can do serious work seriously fast, but still be nimble enough to deliver high-refresh gameplay at the end of the day, the Ryzen 9 5950X fits the bill like no other CPU before it.

Read: AMD Ryzen 9 3950X Review

AMD Ryzen 7 5800X

High Performance Value Best CPU for Gaming - Alternate Pick

Specifications

Architecture: Zen 3

Socket: AM4

Cores/Threads: 8 / 16

Base Frequency: 3.8GHz

Top Boost Frequency: 4.7GHz

TDP: 105W

Reasons to buy

+Strong gaming performance+Solid single- and multi-threaded performance+IPC gain, boost frequencies+Power efficiency+Overclockable+PCIe Gen4 support+400/500-series compatible

Reasons to avoid

-Price-No bundled cooler-No integrated graphics

The Ryzen 7 5800X provides a great blend of both gaming and application performance, but our initial concerns with the chip centered around shortage-induced pricing concerns. The Ryzen 7 5800X has been reliably in stock for nearly a month now and retails for $25 less than the official $450 suggested pricing. That reduction goes a long way to addressing our pricing concerns.

The Ryzen 7 5800X offers the same level of gaming performance as the Ryzen 5 5600X. If gaming is your primary intention, the Ryzen 5 5600X is a much better value and remains our top pick for gaming. However, if you're looking for more of an all-rounder that offers a bit more grunt power for applications, the Ryzen 7 5800X is your chip.

The Ryzen 5 5800X's suggested pricing lands at a $50 premium over the competing 11700K, but it has sold for ~$25 below that mark for the last month, and it's available now. This chip consumes much less power than the 11700K, resulting in more forgiving cooling requirements and the ability to run the chip on less expensive motherboards that don't require the full-fledged power circuitry needed to extract the best performance from the 11700K. Both of these factors reduce the 5800X's overall platform costs. Additionally, you can step up to 12- or 16-core Ryzen 5000 models in the future with 400- and 500-series motherboards.

Read: AMD Ryzen 7 5800X Review

3. AMD Ryzen 9 5900X

Overall Value Best CPU for Gaming

Specifications

Architecture: Zen 3

Socket: AM4

Cores/Threads: 12/24

Base Frequency: 3.7GHz

Top Boost Frequency: 4.8GHz

TDP: 65W

Reasons to buy

+Support for PCIe 4.0+Unlocked multiplier+Compatible with 500-series motherboards+Excellent gaming performance +Excellent single- and multi-threaded performance

Reasons to avoid

-No bundled cooler-Higher gen-on-gen pricing-No integrated graphics

If you’re truly only concerned about the best gaming CPU and basic productivity tasks, you should go with the Ryzen 5 5600X and save yourself some money. But if you’re looking for the uncontested fastest gaming chip on the market, or thinking of getting into game streaming, occasionally edit video, or just like the idea of having more threads available when you need them, AMD’s Ryzen 9 5900X is an incredible value.

The 12-core 24-thread Ryzen 9 5900X is rated for a 3.7 GHz base and 4.8 GHz boost, but we clocked it in at 5.0 GHz during our own testing. The 5900X offers the ultimate in gaming performance - it is the uncontested gaming chip on the market, but it is a bit overkill if gaming is all you do. However, if you feel the need for speed in productivity workloads, this chip's 12 cores will chew through those workloads with aplomb. 

There’s also support for PCIe 4.0 and overclockability to consider. The Ryzen 9 5900X drops into existing 500-series and 400-series motherboards. You'll need to bring your own cooler, and the bigger the better - cooling definitely has an impact on performance with the higher-end Ryzen 5000 processors. However, if you're looking at the no-compromise chip for gaming, this is your chip.

Read:AMD Ryzen 9 5900X Review

4. Intel Core i5-11400

Mid-Range Best CPU for Gaming

Specifications

Architecture: Rocket Lake

Socket: LGA 1200

Cores/Threads: 6/12

Base Frequency: 2.6GHz

Top Boost Frequency: 4.4GHz

TDP: 65W

Reasons to buy

+Solid gaming and application performance+PCIe 4.0+Bundled cooler+Memory overclocking

Reasons to avoid

-Power consumption

The Core i5-11400 is the best budget chip on the market, largely because AMD's only competing chip comes in the form of the two-year-old Ryzen 5 3600 that can't compete with the more modern 11400. In gaming, the $182 Core i5-11400 delivers a blowout victory over the Ryzen 5 3600 that often retails for $200 or more. In fact, you can pick up the graphics-less Core i5-11400F for $157, which is a steal given this level of gaming performance. (Remember, the 11400F will perform the same as the non-F model, but you lose QuickSync.) 

Taken as a whole, the Core i5-11400 has a better blend of performance throughout our full suite of application tests, too. The 11400's large lead in single-threaded work is impressive, and its only deficiencies in threaded work come when it is topped with its stock cooler. The 11400 roughly matches the 3600 in threaded work with a better cooler, even with the power limits strictly enforced, while removing those limits gives the 11400 uncontested lead.

The Core i5-11400 supports the PCIe 4.0 interface. Additionally, B-series motherboards, which make the best pairing with this chip, support both memory overclocking and lifting the power limits, both of which yield huge dividends with this chip while also giving enthusiasts room to tinker.  You'll have to overlook the higher power consumption if you go with the Core i5-11400, especially if you remove the power limits. Intel's stock cooler is also largely worthless for enthusiasts, so you should budget for a better cooler. 

 Read: Intel Core i5-11400 Review

5. AMD Ryzen 3 3300X

Budget Best CPU for Gaming

Specifications

Architecture: Zen 2

Socket: AM4

Cores/Threads: 4/8

Base Frequency: 3.8GHz

Top Boost Frequency: 4.3GHz

TDP: 65W

Reasons to buy

+Low pricing+Great gaming performance+Solder TIM+Overclocking ceiling+PCIe 4.0 interface+Power efficient

Reasons to avoid

-Lackluster bundle cooler

The Ryzen 3 3300X is a hard chip to find because it is simply such a great deal. But if you do manage to nab one anywhere near its $120 MSRP, it's impossible to beat at its price point. The chip unlocks a new level of performance for budget gamers with four cores and eight threads that can push low- to mid-range graphics cards to their fullest. This new processor wields the Zen 2 architecture paired with the 7nm process to push performance to new heights while enabling new features for low-end processors, like access to the speedy PCIe 4.0 interface. The 3300X's four cores tick at a 3.8 GHz clock rate and boost to 4.3 GHz, providing snappy performance in lightly threaded applications, like games.

AMD includes a bundled Wraith Spire cooler with the processor. Still, you might consider budgeting in a better low-end cooler to unlock the full performance, particularly if you are overclocking. Speaking of which, the Ryzen 3 3300X can overclock to the highest all-core frequencies we've seen with a Ryzen 3000-series processor, making it a great chip for enthusiasts. Unlike AMD's other current-gen Ryzen 3 processors, you'll need to pair this processor with a discrete GPU, but the low price point leaves extra room in the budget for a more capable graphics card.

You can stick with the value theme and drop this capable chip into existing X470 of B450 motherboards, but you'll lose access to the PCIe 4.0 interface in exchange for a lower price point. Better yet, AMD has its new B550 motherboards on offer. These new motherboards support the PCIe 4.0 interface but provide lower entry-level pricing that's a better fit for this class of processor.

Read: AMD Ryzen 3 3300X Review

6. AMD Ryzen 5 5600G

Entry-Level Best CPU for Gaming

Specifications

Architecture: Zen 3

Socket: AM4

Cores/Threads: 6/12

Base Frequency: 3.9GHz

Top Boost Frequency: 4.4GHz

TDP: 65W

Reasons to buy

+Stellar price-to-performance ratio+Faster Zen 3 CPU cores+Passable 1080p, solid 720p+Excellent power consumption and efficiency+Great overclocking headroom+Bundled cooler+Compatible with some AM4 motherboards

Reasons to avoid

-PCIe 3.0 connectivity

The Ryzen 5 5600G comes to market during the worst GPU shortage in history, so many users will upgrade to this chip and use its potent integrated graphics for gaming until GPU pricing improves. The Ryzen 5 5600G lives up to that bill, too, stepping into the arena as the new value champ for APUs, which are chips that come with strong enough integrated graphics that they don't require a discrete GPU for light gaming, albeit at lowered quality settings.

At $259, the Ryzen 5 5600G gives you 96% of the gaming performance on integrated graphics than its more expensive sibling, the $359 Ryzen 7 5700G, but for 30% less cash. That makes it the best value  APU on the market. As long as you're willing to sacrifice fidelity and resolution, and keep your expectations in check, the Ryzen 5 5600G's Vega graphics have surprisingly good performance in gaming. The 5600G's Vega graphics served up comparatively great 1280x720 gaming across numerous titles, but options become more restricted at 1080p. Of course, you can get away with 1080p gaming, but you'll need to severely limit the fidelity settings with most titles.

With eight cores and 16 threads that operate at a 3.9 GHz base and boost up to 4.4 GHz, the Ryzen 5 5600G also offers solid performance for its price point in standard desktop PC applications. The chip also comes with a bundled Wraith Stealth cooler, sweetening the value prop, and drops into existing 500-series and some 400-series motherboards, though support on the latter will vary by vendor.

Read: AMD Ryzen 5 5600G Review

If your budget is tight and you're looking to build a system for modest gaming, you should check out our Best Cheap CPUs feature. Some of those chips can deliver passable gaming performance without a graphics card, and their prices start at just $55 (£40).

Deals on the Best CPUs

Whether you're buying one of the best CPUs we listed above or one that didn't quite make the cut, you may find some savings by checking our list of coupon codes, especially our lists of Newegg promo codes and Micro Center coupons.

Sours: https://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/best-cpus,3986.html
CPU Cooling with Liquid Nitrogen at -196°C / -321°F : World Record 2003 - Tom's Hardware

Tested: AMD CPU Cache Latency Up to 6x Slower in Windows 11

We put a few of the leading AMD Ryzen chips from our Best CPUs for gaming list through several gaming benchmarks and targeted tests to see the extent of the newly-announced Windows 11 bug that reduces performance on AMD's processors.

As you'll see in our extensive CPU Benchmarks below, we found that AMD's L3 latency can be as much as six times higher in Windows 11 compared to Windows 10, and that L3 bandwidth can be up to 12X higher in Windows 10. We didn't see such severe impacts in our gaming tests, with our biggest Windows 10 vs 11 differences weighing in at 7% in one game title, while others are far more muted. Notably, we tested with the first Windows 11 update that actually made the bug worse.

AMD's announcement last week that it and Microsoft were jointly investigating two performance-sapping bugs in Windows 11 was an eye-opener, especially since AMD says they impact all Windows 11-compatible AMD processors and can reduce gaming performance by up to 15% in some eSports titles and 3-5% in desktop PC applications. The bug impacts chips with more than eight cores the most, so we also put the 12-core Ryzen 9 5900X that dominates our CPU Benchmark hierarchy to the test.

Frankly, the bugs couldn't come at a worse time: Intel is on the cusp of launching its seemingly-potent Alder Lake chips that could swing the advantage back in its favor. Making things worse for AMD, Windows 11 has new scheduler optimizations specifically for Alder Lake, so reviewers will use the new operating system for testing. That raises concerns that the bug could possibly result in unfair comparisons.

It's surprising that two severe bugs squeezed past both AMD and Microsoft's QA teams — the first reports of the L3 bug popped up in forums several months ago as enthusiasts tested the pre-release Windows 11 builds. 

Additionally, AMD reports that its UEFI CPPC2 (Collaborative Power and Performance Control 2) feature, a technology that helps to steer lightly-threaded work to the fastest cores on the chip, also has issues that can impact lightly-threaded applications (like games). AMD says this bug is more detectable in chips with more than eight cores and >65W TDP.

AMD and Microsoft are jointly investigating, and a software update to fix the CPPC2 issue and a Windows Update to remediate L3 latency problems are in the works. AMD says both should arrive in October 2021 (this month). (Notably, these issues are separate from the performance issues surrounding Microsoft's recommended VBS and HVCI security settings that have caused an outcry. We put those issues to the test last week.)

Basic versions of the fixes are already in current preview builds of Windows, but they aren't final yet. We're putting the Windows 11 issues to the test, and we'll follow up with post-fix tests when the patches come to the general public.

We can see dramatic changes in our cache latency and bandwidth measurements below, but we didn't see as profound of an impact in the selection of games we tested. However, it is noteworthy that AMD's advisory states that the bug impacts both the "measured and functional L3 cache latency," meaning that the results we measure with microbenchmarks are also indicative of the performance received by some applications. Naturally, the higher latency will impact some AMD processors and games/applications more than others.

AMD is coy with the details of just which applications and games are impacted, and the company even adjusted its advisory to remove its original mention of eSports titles. That makes it a bit tough to narrow down our tests to the impacted games, but we still have plenty of game testing to examine, not to mention cache and Infinity Fabric testing. In either case, we'll examine where things stand right now, and we'll reevaluate after AMD and Microsoft issue the patches. 

Windows 10 vs Windows 11 Gaming Performance Benchmarks

We tested with Windows 11 Pro 23000.258 and the Windows 11-compatible Nvidia 472.12 graphics driver (the latest driver arrived after testing was complete). As always for CPU testing, we used an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 to minimize the graphics bottleneck. We also stuck with a 1920x1080 resolution, so be aware that the impact of the bug will vary with different resolutions and graphics cards.

We used a Core i7-11700K as a comparison point to give us a general idea of the expected variances from the operating system change. However, be aware that game code and drivers respond differently to the respective CPU architectures, making the 11700K a crooked measuring stick, at best.

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We don't have a great baseline for game testing. All of AMD's Windows 11-compatible processors are impacted and we can't toggle the bugs on or off, making it hard to tell how much of the performance deltas we should simply chalk up to the differences between operating system revisions, or to the bugs. Be aware that 1% variances generally fall into the expected standard deviation, so they don't represent a meaningful change.

AMD points out that the CPPC2 bug (boosting) impacts chips with more than eight cores the most, but that does mean that smaller chips are impacted, too. Additionally, as you'll see in the cache testing below, the L3 issues impact every AMD chip we've tested.

AMD specifically called out eSports titles in the original version of its advisory, but Project Cars 3 suffered the biggest performance regression in the move from Windows 10 to 11. Here we can see that the Ryzen 9 5900X is 7.5% slower in Windows 11, while the Ryzen 7 5800X is 5.3% slower. Meanwhile, the 11700K only drops 1.9%.

The 5900X also dropped 3.9% in the Far Cry 5 benchmark, but the 5800X offered roughly the same level of performance with both Windows 10 and 11. We also threw in DOTA 2 to see the impact in an eSports title, and Strange Brigade to measure performance in a game that pushes out ridiculous frame rates. The 5900X was 2.9% and 2% slower, respectively, but you probably won't notice that with the graphics card blasting out more than 200 fps.

Tom's HardwareRyzen 9 5900XRyzen 7 5800XCore i7-11700K
Project Cars 3-7.3%-5.3%-1.9%
Shadow of the Tomb Raider+4.8%--0.8%
Dota 2-2.9%-1.4%+1.9%
Strange Brigade-2.0%-1.2%-
Red Dead Redemption 2+2.9%--
Far Cry 5-3.9%--1.7%
Grand Theft Auto V0.3%-0.5%-0.2%

Above you can see the tally of the performance deltas. The 5900X does lose the most performance among the tested games, but most of the variances are very small. AMD's original advisory pointed out that some eSports games can suffer 10 to 15%, but we didn't see that in any of our tests. That doesn't mean such deltas don't exist, as different games and applications are impacted differently, so your mileage will vary.

Now let's move on for a closer look at the L3 cache bug. 

AMD Windows 11 L3 Cache Bug — Latency

Tom's Hardware — L3 LatencyWindows 10Windows 11
Ryzen 9 5900X10.5429.23
Ryzen 7 5800X10.7230.18
Ryzen 7 3800X9.5835.34
Core i7-11700K 11.7811.78

Microsoft recently issued its first Windows 11 patch, and as you'll see clearly in the slides below, it actually made latency worse. We recorded the latency measurements above with the AIDA utility and the latest version of Windows 11. We saw a roughly 3X increase for all of the AMD chips, while the Intel chip returned identical L3 readings in both Windows 10 and 11. 

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The basic idea behind any on-chip cache is to keep frequently accessed data as close to the execution cores as possible, thus improving performance. The L3 cache is slower than other caches (like L1 and L2), but its higher capacity means it can store more data, thus improving the hit rate (the number of times useful data is held in the cache). There's a reason AMD calls it "Game Cache" — L3 cache is very important to performance, and games in particular can suffer from either high L3 latency or reduced cache capacity.

The first four slides above outline our cache and memory latency benchmarks with the AMD Ryzen 5900X, 5800X, 3800X and the Intel Core i7-11700K using the Memory Latency tool from the Chips and Cheese team. These tests measure cache latency with varying sizes of data chunks, and we can clearly see the much higher L3 latency near the center of the chart. In fact, the recent Windows 11 update made the issue even more severe, as we can see with the black lines in the first two slides.

These more in-depth tests measured a ~5X increase in L3 latency for the Ryzen 5000 chips and a 6X increase for the Ryzen 7 3800X. Meanwhile, the Core i7-11700K enjoys a slightly better cache and memory latency profile with Windows 11.

Be aware that different benchmark utilities test with unique measurement methodologies, algorithms, and cache strides, so results can and do vary. As such, we turned to SiSoftware's Sandra is used to measure cache and memory latency with three different access patterns, giving us more granularity than a single test and helping to sanity check the results we recorded with the other tools. The last three slides show the results with the 5900X with three different data patterns and generally align with what we've seen in other tests. 

  • Sequential access: Almost entirely prefetched into the TLB, making it a good measure of prefetcher performance.
  • In-page random: Measures random accesses within the same memory page. It also measures TLB performance and represents best-case random performance.
  • Full random: A mix of TLB hits and misses, with a strong likelihood of misses, so it quantifies worst-case latency.

AMD Windows 11 L3 Cache Bug — Bandwidth

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Our first tests of L3 cache bandwidth were quite surprising. AIDA measured 7.5X more L3 read bandwidth, 15X more write bandwidth, and 12X more copy bandwidth for the Ryzen 7 5900X in Windows 10, and similar results with the Ryzen 7 5800X and 3800X. Notably, copy bandwidth is the only measurement of the three that's indicative of application performance.

Again, different utilities use different methodologies, so we also tested with SiSoft Sandra to get a different take on bandwidth. The fourth and fifth slides show that the 5900X delivers roughly the same bandwidth as Windows 11, highlighting the difference in methodologies. Likewise, different games and applications will suffer to varying degrees based upon their access patterns.

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Finally, we used SiSoft Sandra's core-to-core latency and bandwidth test (best pair match) to measure Infinity Fabric throughput with varying data types. For the 5800X, this test measured drastically reduced throughput with some data types, and it's reproducible. Oddly enough, counter to our expectations given that it has more than eight cores, the Ryzen 9 5900X didn't suffer from the same inconsistent performance trend.

The results of these synthetic tests paint a dire picture, but we have to view them in the correct light — the issues had a limited impact on the games that we've tested thus far. AMD says that the fix for both the L3 and CPPC2 bugs will come this month, and we'll follow up with another round of testing to gauge the impact. Stay tuned.

Paul Alcorn is the Deputy Managing Editor for Tom's Hardware US. He writes news and reviews on CPUs, storage and enterprise hardware.

Sours: https://www.tomshardware.com/news/amd-ryzen-windows-11-gaming-benchmarks-L3-cache-bug

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AMD vs Intel: Which CPUs Are Better in 2021?

If you're looking for the best CPUs for Gaming or the best workstation CPU, there are only two choices to pick from – AMD and Intel. That fact has spawned an almost religious following for both camps, and the resulting AMD vs Intel flamewars, making it tricky to get unbiased advice about the best choice for your next processor. But in many cases, the answer is actually very clear. In fact, for most users, it's a blowout win in AMD's favor, as you can see in our CPU Benchmarks Hierarchy. That's an amazing reversal of fortunes for the chipmaker after it teetered on the edge of bankruptcy a mere four years ago, making its turnaround all the more impressive as it continues to upset the entrenched Intel after it enjoyed a decade of dominance.

This article covers the never-ending argument of AMD vs Intel desktop CPUs (we're not covering laptop or server chips). We judge the chips on seven criteria based on what you plan to do with your PC, pricing, performance, driver support, power consumption, and security, giving us a clear view of the state of the competition. We'll also discuss the lithographies and architectures that influence the moving goalposts. Overall, there's a clear winner, but which CPU brand you should buy depends mostly on what kind of features, price, and performance are important to you.

You can see how all of these processors stack up in our AMD vs Intel CPU Benchmarks Hierarchy, but the landscape has changed in the wake of AMD's Ryzen 5000 launch. AMD's newest processors, the Ryzen 9 5950X and Ryzen 9 5900X, not to mention the Ryzen 5 5600X, upset the entire mainstream desktop lineup. For more info, you can head to our expansive in-depth coverage of the Ryzen 5000 series, including pricing, benchmarks, and availability. At their debut, the Ryzen 5000 series were the highest-performing chips on the market and beat Intel in every metric that matters, including gaming, application performance, power consumption, and thermals.

Intel fired back with its Rocket Lake processors, and they certainly put pressure on the Ryzen 5000 lineup. Rocket Lake brings a 19% IPC improvement and high clock speeds that stretch up to 5.3 GHz with the flagship Core i9-11900K, but the chips still come etched on the aging 14nm process. That means the new chips top out at eight cores instead of the ten cores found with Intel's previous-gen chips. Surprisingly, the Willow Cove architecture's explosive IPC gains helped Intel shrink the performance gap with AMD. In some cases, Intel even wrests away key wins in important price brackets, particularly mainstream gaming chips.

Intel also has its Alder Lake chips coming to market later this year, completely redefining x86 desktop PC chips with a new hybrid architecture. Not to be upstaged, AMD has its new CPUs with 3D V-Cache headed to production later this year. Those chips will bring up to 15% more gaming performance courtesy of up to an almost-unthinkable 192MB of L3 cache bolted onto a souped-up Zen 3 processor. That means the AMD vs Intel battle could shift towards the tail end of the year, but this is the tale of the tape for the current state of the market. 

AMD vs. Intel: Which CPU is Best?

IntelAMD
CPU Pricing and Value
Gaming PerformanceXX
Content Creation/Productivity
Specifications
Overclocking
Power Consumption
Drivers and Software
Process Node
Architecture
Security
Winner: AMD - Total37

Here are the results of our analysis and testing. Below, we'll go over the in-depth details of how we came to our conclusions for each category.

AMD's relentless onslaught with its Zen-based processors has redefined our expectations for both the mainstream desktop and the HEDT markets, catching Intel flatfooted as it remained mired on the 14nm process and Skylake architectures. The past several years have seen AMD CPUs go from value-focused and power hungry chips to leading-end designs that deliver more cores, more performance, and lower power requirements.

Intel fought back by slowly adding features and cores across its product stack, but that has also resulted in negative side effects, like more power consumption and heat generation. These only serve to highlight the company's struggles on the design and fabrication side of its operation. The move to the Cypress Cove microarchitecture helped Intel wring more power from fewer cores, but the design suffers from limitations because it was designed for 10nm, but etched on the now-ancient 14nm process. That restricts the number of cores and results in excessive power consumption, particularly for the flagship models. 

The AMD vs Intel CPU conversation is changing as Intel lowers pricing on its mainstream lineup. However, Intel still hasn't eased its draconian segmentation policies that limit features, like overclockability, to pricey chips and motherboards. Intel's tactic of squeezing every penny out of every feature has allowed AMD to offer a more compelling value story across the full breadth of the consumer desktop CPU market. 

That's an amazing reversal of fortunes for a company that teetered on the brink of bankruptcy a few years ago. AMD still has some work to do as it expands its ecosystem of OEM partners and works with the community to broaden software optimizations for its chips. Still, given the great mix of price, performance, and value, AMD is already in a good spot.

Intel still holds sway with the innumerable customers that don't use a discrete GPU, especially in the high-volume OEM market, so it has some time to try to wrest back the crown. The company's Rocket Lake processors helped shore up Intel's defenses in the critical mid-range, but, as we've seen, AMD isn't sitting still. Ryzen 5000 has changed the AMD vs Intel paradigm entirely, and Rocket Lake can't convincingly unseat AMD's fastest processors. 

AMD wins the CPU war overall right now, but an Intel processor could still be the better choice depending on your needs. If you want the best in overclocking or software support, or if you want productivity performance without buying a discrete GPU, Team Blue has the advantage. But if you want the best balance of price and performance in the Intel vs AMD lineup, or just the plain old fastest performance possible, but in a power-efficient package, Team Red deserves your money.         

AMD vs Intel CPU Pricing and Value

Pricing is the most important consideration for almost everyone, and AMD has generally been hard to beat in the value department. The company's Ryzen 5000 series processors mark an across-the-board $50 price hike, but the faster chips earn their higher price tags. The company offers a plethora of advantages, like full overclockability on most models, not to mention complimentary software that includes the innovative Precision Boost Overdrive auto-overclocking feature.

You also benefit from the broad compatibility of motherboards with the AM4 CPU socket that supports both forward and backward compatibility, ensuring that not only do you get the most bang for your processor buck, but also your motherboard investment (there are caveats with the 5000 series). AMD also allows overclocking on all but its A-Series motherboards (see our article on how to overclock AMD Ryzen), which is a boon for enthusiasts. And, in this battle of AMD vs Intel CPUs, we haven't even discussed the actual silicon yet. 

Processor Pricing by FamilyAMDIntel
Threadripper - Cascade Lake-X$900- $3,750$800 - $1,000 ($2,999)
AMD Ryzen 9 - Intel Core i9$434 - $799$422 - $549
AMD Ryzen 7 - Intel Core i7$294 -$449$298 - $409
AMD Ryzen 5 - Intel Core i5$149 - $299$157 - $272
AMD Ryzen 3 - Intel Core i3$95 - $120$97 - $154

The arrival of Intel's Comet Lake-S models has found the company adding more cores, threads, and features to its mainstream lineup, but without increased gen-on-gen pricing. That equated to a substantial reduction in price-per-core and price-per-thread metrics, but AMD reduced pricing in response to keep Intel on its toes. AMD currently holds the price-per-core advantage in the Ryzen 9 and 7 range (compared to Core i9 and i7), while Intel holds the lead in the Core i5 and i3 range (vs Ryzen 5 and 3).

Intel includes bundled coolers with its non-overclocking SKUs (you have to pay more to overclock), but they are flimsy and 'good enough,' at best. We've even seen cases where Intel's stock coolers don't provide full performance at stock settings. Intel did slightly bulk up its bundled coolers for several Rocket Lake-S models, but the aesthetic and slight thermal improvements aren't enough to match AMD's competent coolers, and they aren't available on all models. However, the company reportedly has newer coolers in the works for its next line of chips, including models with RGB.

Intel also doesn't throw in a cooler at all for its pricey overclockable K-series SKUs (see our article on how to overclock an Intel CPU). Be sure to budget in a cooler (and a beefy one at that) if you plan on overclocking an Intel processor. Meanwhile, most of AMD's bundled coolers are suitable for at least moderate overclocking. Still, those only came as a standard add-in with the previous-gen Ryzen 3000 series, most of which haven't been supplanted with new Ryzen 5000 equivalents yet. Only three of the first seven AMD Ryzen 5000 processors, the Ryzen 5 5600X, Ryzen 7 5700G, and Ryzen 5 5600G comes with a bundled cooler.

Intel not only charges a premium for its overclockable K-Series chips, but you'll also need to shell out for a pricey Z-Series motherboard for the privilege of overclocking your processor—Intel doesn't allow full overclocking on B- or H-series motherboards. Intel has now enabled memory overclocking on its B560 and H570 chipsets, and that works with any chip that is compatible with the platform, meaning all 10th-Gen Comet Lake, 11th-Gen Rocket Lake, and 11th-Gen Comet Lake Refresh processors. However, these changes only apply to 500-series models.

Intel also has a long history of rapid socket transitions, meaning the odds of dropping a new chip into your existing motherboard, or taking the older processor over to a newer board, aren't as high. Plan for limited forward and backward compatibility on the Intel side. Intel's Rocket Lake does finally bring support for PCIe 4.0 connectivity, but Intel's 500 series chipset doesn't support PCIe 4.0 like AMD's chipsets. That means you get 20 lanes from the processor only — 16 lanes for graphics and four lanes for a single M.2 port, limiting connectivity options. 

While AMD offers the most bang for your hard-earned dollar, as with any product, you can expect to pay a premium for the utmost performance, particularly the Ryzen 9 5950X. AMD's Ryzen 5000 series is the end of the line for the tried-and-true AM4 socket, so you shouldn't expect those chips to work in future AMD platforms.

However, AMD has its new CPUs with 3D V-Cache headed to production later this year. Those chips will bring up to 15% more gaming performance courtesy of up to an almost-unthinkable 192MB of L3 cache bolted onto a souped-up Zen 3 processor, and that means they may come to the AM4 socket. Only time will tell.

AMD's new Ryzen 5000 processors also come without bundled coolers for the Ryzen 9 and 7 families, but AMD says the increased performance offsets the lack of coolers and higher pricing. Our reviews back up that assertion - the Ryzen 5000 chips still offer a compelling blend of pricing and performance, provided you can find them at retail near their recommended pricing. 

Win: AMD. When you're comparing Intel vs AMD CPUs, Team Red has a compelling value story across the full breadth of its product stack, especially when we take performance-per-dollar into account. However, if you're looking for integrated graphics paired with a processor with more than four cores, Intel is currently your only choice for chips at retail, though AMD does have its Cezanne APUs coming in August. Not that we'd recommend integrated graphics for most users, particularly if you're interested in gaming—check out our recent comparison of integrated graphics on AMD and Intel processors for more detail. 

AMD vs Intel CPU Gaming Performance

In the AMD vs Intel CPU battle, AMD holds the lead in the critical price bands, particularly right in the middle and high-end of its stack, but our benchmarks show the Intel's gaming performance is no slouch, either. Below we have a wide selection of collective gaming performance measurements for the existing chips in the different price bands. You can see a much more holistic view in our CPU Benchmarks Hierarchy. 

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Our first four slides encapsulate performance with the new Rocket Lake and Ryzen 5000 processors included, while the remainder of the test results gives historical context to other previous-gen processors. As you can see, AMD largely leads the gaming landscape with its Zen 3-powered Ryzen 5000 processors, which now hold the advantage in both 1080p and 1440p gaming, but Intel has shrunk the gap to make gaming a closely-contested affair. The Ryzen 9 5900X slots in as the fastest gaming chip on the market, price be damned, but the Ryzen 5 5600X offers nearly the same level of performance but at a more amenable $300 price point, making it our uncontested top pick for gaming.

Intel's Core i9-11900K is nearly as fast as the vaunted Ryzen 9 5900X, particularly after overclocking, and you'd be hard-pressed to notice the difference between the two in real-world gaming sessions. The Core i7-11700K is hard to justify for gaming, but its little brother, the Core i5-11600K, is a solid chip for affordable high-performance gaming rigs. The Core i5-11400 is perhaps the most impressive Rocket Lake gaming chip – its blend of price and performance absolutely dominates the sub-$200 market and will continue to do so until AMD fields new chips.

We have in-depth head-to-head comparisons in each of the key price brackets in the following articles: 

However, bear in mind that the performance delta between Intel and AMD's comparably-priced chips often isn't worth paying a huge premium, at least for the vast majority of enthusiasts. You'd be hard-pressed to notice the small differences in gaming performance at the top of the AMD vs Intel stack, but things are more complicated in the mid-range.

You'll need a fire-breathing high-end GPU and one of the best gaming monitors with a high refresh rate to get the most out of a small performance advantage, and you'll need to game at the mundane 1080p resolution, too. Kicking your resolution up to 1440p and beyond typically pushes the bottleneck back to the GPU, so you won't gain as much from your CPU's gaming prowess. However, a bit of extra CPU gaming performance could pay off if you plan on updating your graphics card with a newer generation while keeping the rest of your system intact. We expect most builds in the mid-range to come with lesser GPUs, which generally serve as an equalizer in terms of CPU performance.

In terms of integrated graphics performance, there's no beating AMD. The company's current-gen Picasso APUs offer the best performance available from integrated graphics, and the Renoir series builds on that advantage. Unfortunately, the Renoir chips aren't available at retail (here's a look at the Ryzen 7 4750G, though), but AMD's hotly-anticipated Cezanne APUs come in August.

Winner: Tie Both companies win this round of the Intel vs AMD CPU showdown. AMD's relentless pressure has forced a renaissance in terms of CPU performance for desktop PC gaming, spurring Intel to respond with more powerful processors of its own. Taken as a whole, both companies have extremely competitive chips in the respective price ranges — you'll often be hard-pressed to notice a difference between them in real-world gaming.

If you're a gaming fanatic that prizes every single last frame you can squeeze out, particularly if you're into overclocking, AMD's Ryzen 9 5900X is the answer on the high-end, and that leading-edge performance will also pay off if you plan to upgrade your GPU soon. Just plan to pay for the privilege.

You'll find that AMD is also often the best option in the mid-range. Unless you're running a tricked-out rig with the fastest GPUs paired with low-resolution high-refresh monitors, you won't miss the slim gaming performance deltas to be had with AMD CPUs, though. At that point, either an AMD or Intel chip will provide a more than acceptable level of gaming performance. However, it's always good to have a little extra gas in the tank for future GPU upgrades, so make sure to examine our closer head-to-head matchups for each price range before you pull the trigger. 

AMD vs Intel Productivity and Content Creation Performance

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In the non-gaming performance battle of AMD vs Intel CPUs, the picture is a lot clearer. AMD's highest-end chips take the outright win in terms of the ultimate performance in threaded productivity and content creation applications. AMD's copious slathering of cores, threads, and cache on its flagship Ryzen 9 5950X and 5900X processors also equates to a big win in the performance-per-dollar category.

Intel's trouble moving forward to denser process nodes has left it behind in the core count race, and now AMD has offerings on both the HEDT and mainstream desktop that Intel simply can't match. Consider this: AMD has a 16-core Ryzen 9 5950X for the mainstream desktop that offers twice the cores and threads as Intel's most powerful Core i9-11900K. Meanwhile, AMD's Ryzen Threadripper 3990X comes with an insane 64 cores and 128 threads for HEDT. That's a 3.5X advantage in core counts over Intel's halo HEDT models.

However, Intel has made things a bit more interesting with its Core i7 and i5 models. These chips go toe-to-toe with AMD's Ryzen 7 and 5 models, offering nearly the same level of performance at lower price points. That makes Intel's sub-$400 Rocket Lake chips incredibly attractive if all you're looking for is performance in heavily threaded content creation applications.

Solid performance in single-threaded work equates to faster performance in all manner of workloads, particularly day-to-day applications that rely on snappy responsiveness from the processor. The Rocket Lake Core i9-11900K has taken the uncontested lead in single-threaded performance across the full spate of our benchmarks, but that's Intel's most expensive mainstream CPU. We see a more pitched battle throughout the rest of both product stacks. Each chip has comparable performance against competing chips in its price range, making this largely a wash for most users. 

Winner: AMD. For professionals on the hunt for performance in content creation and productivity applications, the winner of AMD vs Intel CPUs goes to AMD on the strength of its higher core counts. AMD's lack of integrated graphics on its 8-core and above CPUs (for now) means you'll have to stick with Intel if you want to build a rig without dedicated graphics. Still, most professionals will want a dedicated graphics card regardless.

AMD vs Intel Processor Specifications and Features

AMD has its Ryzen 3, Ryzen 5, Ryzen 7, Ryzen 9, and Threadripper lines, while Intel breaks its offerings up into the Core i3, Core i5, Core i7, Core i9, and Cascade Lake-X families. To compare Intel vs AMD CPUs based on specs and features, we could chart the entire product stacks, but for the sake of brevity, we'll focus on the top chips in the respective families. Be aware that both companies have value options within each tier, but we can get a general sense of the current competitive landscape with these (relatively) short lists. We're using both vendors' recommended pricing and street pricing to give you a sense of the current state of the market.

The high end desktop (HEDT) is the land of creative prosumers with fire-breathing multi-core monsters for just about every need. Intel has long enjoyed the uncontested lead in this segment, but while AMD's first-gen Threadripper lineup disrupted the status quo, the Threadripper 3000 lineup destroyed it.

High End Desktop (HEDT)MSRP / RetailCores / ThreadsBase / Boost GHzL3 CacheTDPPCIeMemory
Threadripper 3990X$3,990 / $3,75064 / 1282.9 / 4.3256280W72 Usable Gen4Quad DDR4-3200
Intel W-3175X $2,999 / N/A28 / 563.1 / 4.838.5255W48 Gen3Six-Channel DDR4-2666
Threadripper 3970X$1,999 / $1,89932 / 643.7 / 4.5*128280W72 Usable Gen4Quad DDR4-3200
Threadripper 3960X$1,399 / $1,39924 / 483.8 / 4.5*128280W72 Usable Gen4Quad DDR4-3200
Xeon W-3265$3,349 / N/A24 / 482.7 / 4.633205W64 Gen3Six-Channel DDR4-2933
Core i9-10980XE$979 / $1,09918 / 363.0 / 4.824.75165W48 Gen3 Quad DDR4-2933

Here we can see that when it comes to AMD vs Intel HEDT CPUs, AMD holds the uncontested lead with 64 cores and 128 threads in its flagship Threadripper 3990X, and the 32- and 24-core Threadripper 3970X and 3960X models cement the overwhelming lead over Intel's chips.

Intel splits its highest-end lineup into two classes, with the Xeon W-3175X and W-3265 dropping into exotic LGA3647 motherboards that carry eye-watering price tags to match the chips' insane pricing. These aren't really enthusiast-class systems, though; think of these as more for the professional workstation market. 

Intel's HEDT lineup truly begins with its 18-core Cascade Lake-X Core i9-10980XE that drops into existing LGA2066 motherboards. The chip is powerful given its price point, but Threadripper's 3.5X advantage in core counts is impossible to beat, so Intel has basically ceded the top of the HEDT stack to AMD. 

You'll get more cores, cache, and faster PCIe 4.0 connectivity with AMD's Threadripper lineup, but they do come with higher price tags befitting such monstrous processors. However, when we boil it down to per-core pricing, or how much you pay for each CPU core, AMD does offer a compelling value story.

High End Mainstream MSRP/RetailCores / ThreadsBase / Boost GHz$-Per-Core (MSRP)L3 CacheTDPPCIeMemoryGraphics
Ryzen 9 5950X$79916 / 323.4 / 4.9$5064105W24 Gen4Dual DDR4-3200N/A
Ryzen 9 5900X$54912 / 243.7 / 4.8$4664105W24 Gen4Dual DDR4-3200N/A
Core i9-11900K / KF$549 (K) / $524 (KF)8 / 163.5 / 5.3~$68 / ~$6516125W20 Gen4Dual DDR4-3200UHD Graphics 750 Xe 32EU - 1.3 GHz (non-F only)
Core i9-10850K$45310 / 203.6 / 5.2~$432095W16 Gen3Dual DDR4-2933UHD 630 - 1.2 GHz
Core i9-11900 / F$449 / $432 (F)8 / 162.5 / 5.2~$56 / $541665W20 Gen4Dual DDR4-3200UHD Graphics 750 Xe 32EU - 1.3 GHz (non-F only)
Core i7-11700K / KF$409 (K) / $384 (KF)8 / 163.6 / 5.0~$51 / ~$4816125W20 Gen4Dual DDR4-3200UHD Graphics 750 Xe 32EU - 1.3 GHz (non-F only)
Ryzen 7 5800X$4498 / 163.8 / 4.7$5632105W24 Gen4Dual DDR4-3200N/A
Core i7-11700 / F$333 / $308 (F)8 / 162.5 / 4.9~$42 / ~$391665W20 Gen4Dual DDR4-3200UHD Graphics 750 Xe 32EU - 1.3 GHz (non-F only)
Ryzen 7 5700G$3588 / 163.8 / 4.6~$4520MB65W8 Gen3Dual DDR4-3200RX Vega 8 (8 CU) - 2.1 GHz

In the battle of high-end AMD vs Intel CPUs, AMD's Ryzen 9 and Ryzen 7 families square off against Intel's Core i9 and Core i7 lineup. Again, AMD holds the absolute lead with the 16-core 32-thread Ryzen 9 5950X that sets the high watermark for the mainstream desktop both in terms of core counts and performance—and price, not including a cooler. The 5950X is hard to find in stock, but the Ryzen 9 3950X is equally impressive in most facets. Although it isn't as responsive in single-threaded work or gaming as the 5950X, it's still a good fit for most users.

Intel's eight-core 16-thread Core i9-11900K pales in comparison, but based on pricing, it actually battles the Ryzen 9 5900X. We analyzed these two processors head-to-head in our Ryzen 9 5900X vs Core i9-11900K showdown, with the 5900X coming away with the win.

Here we see that AMD has both the core count and price-per-core advantage in this price bracket. The 11900K does offer impressive gaming performance and fast performance in lightly-threaded workloads, but its power consumption and thermal generation can create a bit of extra cost due to the need for a motherboard with robust power circuitry and a capable cooler.

A similar story plays out in the decidedly more mainstream Ryzen 7 and Core i7 markets. Honestly, these are the chips the majority of gamers should buy. Here AMD's Ryzen 7 5800X matches Intel's Core i7-11700K thread-for-thread, but the Ryzen 7 5800X offers a better blend of performance and future upgradeability. 

MainstreamMSRP/RetailCores / ThreadsBase / Boost GHz$-Per-Core(MSRP)L3 CacheTDPPCIeMemoryGraphics
Ryzen 5 5600X$2996 / 123.7 / 4.6$503265W24 Gen4Dual DDR4-3200N/A
Core i5-11600K / KF$272 (K) / $247 (KF)6 / 123.9 / 4.9~$45 / ~$411295W20 Gen4Dual DDR4-3200UHD Graphics 750 Xe 32EU - 1.3 GHz (non-F only)
Ryzen 5 5600G$2596 / 123.9 / 4.4~$431965W8 PCIe 3.0Dual DDR4-3200RX Vega 7 (7 CU) - 1.9 GHz
Core i5-11600$2246 / 122.8 / 4.8~$381265W20 Gen4Dual DDR4-3200UHD Graphics 750 Xe 32EU - 1.3 GHz
Ryzen 5 3600$199 / $1756 / 123.6 / 4.2~$333265W24 Gen4Dual DDR4-3200N/A
Core i5-11500$2026 / 122.7 / 4.6~$341265W20 Gen4Dual DDR4-3200UHD Graphics 750 Xe 32EU - 1.3 GHz
Core i5-11400 / F$182 / $157 (F)6 / 122.6 / 4.4~$30 / ~$261265W20 Gen4Dual DDR4-3200UHD Graphics 730 Xe 24EU - 1.3 GHz (non-F only)
Ryzen 3 3300X$1204 / 83.8 / 4.3Not Available16MB65W16+4 Gen4Dual DDR4-3200N/A
Ryzen 3 3100$994 / 83.8 / 3.9Not Available16MB65W16+4 Gen4Dual DDR4-3200N/A
Ryzen 5 3400G$150 / $2074 / 83.7 / 4.2 Not Available4MB65W16 Gen3Dual DDR4-2933Vega 11
Ryzen 3 3200G$99 / $954 /43.6 / 4.0Not Available4MB65W8 Gen3Dual DDR4-2933Vega 8

When it comes to AMD vs Intel mid-range and budget CPUs, the Core i5 and i3 families do battle with AMD's Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 3 processors. This market segment comprises the most substantial portion of AMD and Intel's sales, so pricing and value here are paramount.

AMD's Ryzen 5 5600Xmatches Intel core-for-core and thread-for-thread to challenge the Core i5-11600K's clock speed and overclocking advantage. The Ryzen 5 5600X vs Core i5-11600K battle is close, but the 5600X takes the edge due to its superior gaming performance. 

AMD also shored up its defenses with a new line of graphics-less $120 Ryzen 3 3300X and $99 Ryzen 3 3100 models, too. Three years ago, Intel's flagship chips cost roughly $350 and came with four cores and eight threads, but now AMD's Ryzen 3 lineup offers the same number of cores and threads for as low as $99. The Ryzen 3 3300X also offers more performance than the 7700K and beats all of Intel's chips in the same price range. Good luck finding one, though, as these chips are rare at retail.

AMD also leans on its Ryzen 5 3600 along with the Ryzen 5 3400G and Ryzen 3 3200G APUs to fend off Intel's Core i5-11500 and i5-11400, but that's a no contest, as you can see in our Intel Core i5-11400 vs AMD Ryzen 5600 showdown. If you're looking for a sub-$200 chip for gaming, Intel wins by a vast margin. That said, AMD's APUs come with potent Vega graphics units that enable low-end gaming across a broad spate of titles. Intel's chips can't hold a candle there—you'll need a discrete GPU if you plan to do any meaningful gaming.

AMD has made its new eight-core 16-thread Ryzen 5000 "Cezanne" APUs available to OEMs and SIs for pre-built systems, but you can't buy them at retail yet. However, there is good news - the Cezanne APUs come to retail in August 2021.

Neither vendor offers integrated graphics units (iGPU) with their HEDT chips. Still, even though Intel sells its graphics-less F-Series chips for a discount, it holds the advantage of having a graphics option across the full breadth of its mainstream product stack.

In contrast, AMD only offers integrated graphics on its APU models, which means you'll need a discrete graphics card (GPU) for any retail chip that has more than four cores (or costs more than ~$150). That's a significant disadvantage for most mainstream users who aren't interested in gaming and eliminates a big chunk of the professional/OEM markets. Intel's iGPUs are mostly useless for gaming but are useful for display and QuickSync purposes, while AMD's iGPUs offer the best gaming experience, hands down. However, AMD's limited selection cuts it out a significant portion of the market.

Winner: AMD. When you compare AMD vs Intel CPU specifications, you can see that AMD offers options with more cores and/or threads, more cache, and robust PCIe 4.0 support for the mid-range and high end. From the top of the HEDT market to the high-end and mid-range, AMD has a capable Ryzen processor that offers more value than comparable Intel models. Conversely, Intel now rules the budget segment, but we could see that change with the arrival of AMD's potent APUs in the coming months. 

AMD vs Intel CPU Power Consumption and Heat

When comparing AMD vs Intel CPU power and heat, the former's 7nm process node makes a huge difference. Power consumption comes as a byproduct of design choices, like lithography and architecture, which we'll discuss below. However, higher power consumption often correlates to more heat generation, so you'll need beefier coolers to offset the heat output of greedier chips.

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Intel has improved its 14nm processes to strengthen its power-to-performance ratio by more than 70% in the five long years it's been on the market, but it's no coincidence that Intel's latest chips are known for high power consumption and heat. That's because Intel has had to turn the power dial up further with each generation of chips to provide more performance as it fends off the resurgent AMD. That leads to problems with some stock coolers and also requires robust power delivery on your motherboard. Those factors combine to make Intel a notorious power guzzler.

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In contrast, AMD has the benefit of TSMC's 7nm node, which is more efficient than Intel's 14nm. AMD does lose some of that advantage in its Ryzen 3000 and 5000 series processors due to a large central 14nm I/O die that comes as part of the package. Still, in aggregate, AMD's 7nm chips either consume less power or provide much better power-to-performance efficiency. As a result, you'll get more work done per watt of energy consumed, which is a win-win, and AMD's cooling requirements aren't nearly as overbearing.

In fact, the Ryzen 5000 series chips are the most power-efficient desktop PC chips we've ever tested, with the Ryzen 5 5600X offering the best efficiency. 

Winner: AMD. In judging AMD vs Intel CPU performance per watt, It's impossible to overstate the importance of having the densest process node paired with an efficient microarchitecture, and TSMC's 7nm and AMD's Zen 3 are the winning combination. The latest Ryzen processors consume less power on a performance-vs-power basis, which equates to less heat generation. That eases cooling requirements.

AMD vs Intel CPU Overclocking

There's no debate when you compare Intel vs AMD CPU overclocking. Intel offers the most overclocking headroom, meaning you can gain more performance over the baseline speed with Intel chips than you can with AMD's Ryzen processors. 

As mentioned, you'll have to pay a premium for Intel's K-Series chips and purchase a pricey Z-Series motherboard, not to mention splurge on a capable aftermarket cooler (preferably liquid), to unlock the best of Intel's overclocking prowess. However, once you have the necessary parts, Intel's chips are relatively easy to push to their max, which often tops out at over 5 GHz on all cores with the 11th-Gen Rocket Lake processors.

Intel doesn't allow full overclocking on B- or H-series motherboards, but it has infused memory overclocking into its B560 and H570 chipsets, and that works with any chip that is compatible with the platform, meaning all 10th-Gen Comet Lake, 11th-Gen Rocket Lake, and 11th-Gen Comet Lake Refresh processors. However, these changes only apply to 500-series models. That can provide a big boost to locked chips, like the Core i5-11400 we recently reviewed.

AMD doesn't have as much room for manual tuning. In fact, the maximum achievable all-core overclocks often fall a few hundred MHz beneath the chips' maximum single-core boost. That means all-core overclocking can actually result in losing performance in lightly-threaded applications, albeit a minor amount.

Part of this disparity stems from AMD's tactic of binning its chips to allow some cores to boost much higher than others. In tandem with AMD's Precision Boost and innovative thread-targeting technique that pegs lightly-threaded workloads to the fastest cores, AMD exposes near-overlocked performance right out of the box. That results in less overclocking headroom.

However, AMD offers its Precision Boost Overdrive, a one-click auto-overclocking feature that will wring some extra performance out of your chip based on its capabilities, your motherboard's power delivery subsystem, and your CPU cooling. AMD's approach provides the best performance possible with your choice of components and is generally hassle-free. In either case, you still won't achieve the high frequencies you'll see with Intel processors (5.0 GHz is still unheard of with an AMD chip without liquid nitrogen cooling), but you do get a free performance boost.

AMD has also vastly improved its memory overclocking capabilities with the Ryzen 5000 series, which comes as a byproduct of the improved fabric overclocking capabilities. That allows AMD memory to clock higher than before while still retaining the low-latency attributes that boost gaming performance. 

Winner: Intel. When it comes to AMD vs Intel CPU overclocking, Team Blue has far more headroom and much higher attainable frequencies. Just be prepared to pay for the privilege – you'll have to buy a K-series processor. Intel has added memory overclocking to the newest B- and H-series motherboards, which is an improvement.

AMD's approach is friendlier to entry-level users, rewarding them with hassle-free overclocking based on their system's capabilities, but you don't gain as much performance. 

AMD vs Intel CPU Lithography

There are a few major underlying technologies that dictate the potency of any chip. The most fundamental rule of processors still holds true: The densest process nodes, provided they have decent power, performance, and area (PPA) characteristics, will often win the battle if paired with a solid microarchitecture. When you judge AMD vs Intel CPUs based on these criteria, AMD has the lead in both lithography and architecture.

But whether or not AMD actually owns the process lead is a topic of debate: Unlike Intel, AMD doesn't produce its processors. Instead, the company designs its processors and then contracts with outside fabs that actually produce the chips. In the case of AMD's current-gen Ryzen processors, the company uses a combination of GlobalFoundries 12nm process and TSMC's 7nm node for its chips, with the latter being the most important.

TSMC's 7nm node is used by the likes of Apple and Huawei, among many others, so it benefits from industry-wide funding and collaborative engineering. The result is what Intel itself calls a superior 7nm process compared to Intel's 10nm and 14nm chips. Intel says its process tech won't achieve parity with the industry again until 2021, and it won't retake leadership until it releases 5nm at an undefined time. 

The benefits of TSMC's 7nm node mean AMD can build cheaper, faster, and denser chips with more cores, and all within a relatively low power consumption envelope. That lends the designs a comfortable lead, provided they're combined with a decent design.

We don't have to focus on Intel's 10nm for this article: Intel has been stuck for six long years on the 14nm process for its desktop chips, which isn't changing any time soon, and its 10nm chips that have debuted in laptops are constrained by the thermal and power limitations of a laptop chassis. 

Regardless of whether AMD can lay claim to developing the 7nm node to wrest the lead from Intel, the company had the foresight to contract with TSMC to gain access to a superior process node technology. That bedrock advantage gives AMD a wonderful silicon canvas to paint its microarchitectures on, a combination that Intel is finding impossible to beat with its 14nm chips.

AMD's only concern is production capacity: While AMD has access to 7nm production, the company can't source enough silicon from TSMC, at least in the near term, to match the power of Intel's captive fabs. That leaves AMD exposed to shortages and potentially restricts market penetration. We've seen the most painful example of that weakness in the wake of AMD's Ryzen 5000 and Radeon 6000 launches. AMD's CPUs and GPUs are often almost impossible to find at retail, and even the company's older models have fallen prey to the shortages. Meanwhile, Intel has plenty of processors available. 

Winner: AMD (TSMC). Intel has been stuck on 14nm for desktop processors for six years. The company has wrung an amazing amount of performance from its aging design through a series of "+" optimizations. Still, those enhancements aren't enough to help Team Blue win the battle of AMD vs Intel CPU process nodes. Intel needs a good 10nm or 7nm desktop chip; the sooner, the better.

Sours: https://www.tomshardware.com/features/amd-vs-intel-cpus


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