What Intel Core Processor Is Best – With a new influx of CPUs from AMD and Intel, and more rumors on the horizon, we wanted to condense our latest tests into a short piece for those looking for recommendations on the best CPU for any task. We’ve published hours of content in the form of reviews, setups, and reviews. So if you want all the detail and depth, check out these pieces. In this video, we focus less on hard recommendations for each category and less on detailed details in our categories: Best Gaming CPU, Best Budget Gaming CPU, Best CPU for Small Business or Hobby Production, and Best Workstation CPU Best, Funniest to look at and the most boring.
This content aims to be an easy buying guide for the best CPUs of 2020. We will not do this with extensive data such as test reports. So if you’re looking for really detailed information and all the schematics and CPU specs, check out the individual reviews. This round-up offers the only kind of shortcut we’ve released to reduce the hours of content we’ve released over the past few months.
What Intel Core Processor Is Best
Current reviews are linked below for more details. CPUs are associated with retailers from whom we may receive a sales commission, which is standard practice at this time. Our ratings and recommendations are not affected by this. A number of charts from different reviews are included, but some may be from older content and there may be a “mismatch” between test methods for a direct chart-to-chart comparison. For that, you should look at the featured reviews.
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If you’d like additional resources on any CPU, including a more in-depth look, we’ve linked the reviews below. Note that some are now video only.
Intel’s new Core i5-10600K is our “Best Gaming” award despite the 10900K’s high performance stock. We have good reasons, the first being that it can run hours at 10900K levels, especially given the inevitable GPU bottlenecks in many games. This isn’t meant to disparage the 10900K, but we’ll get back to that.
The 10600K is a real leap forward for Intel, which has been in unsold i5 CPUs for several generations. It is, in our opinion, the strongest purchase for someone using the i5 line and paying a lot of attention, maybe even a little, to gaming performance, day-to-day video production, 3D modeling or similar. The R5 3600 can be even better, especially at its price where the 10600K is often only 4-5% of the 3600’s performance while potentially handling larger frames. The 3600 is gaming capable, but if you’re really just into gaming and don’t use workstations, the 10600K makes the most sense.
The 10600K pairs well with the Z490 because of its additional support, which will be discussed later, and a fine-tuning base that can achieve levels of performance AMD can’t claim. Regarding the common misconception that AMD Ryzen CPUs are somehow “soft” or “slow”, our data doesn’t support it. The 10600K is higher in average FPS and also outperforms comparable Ryzen CPUs with overall deviations from the n-1 interval. The criteria for the best gaming CPU include the price as well as the absolute performance and customizability. In this regard, the 10600K can beat the 10900K in most games, and both can be tuned to the GPU limit. Until games need more threads, that will largely be the case, and we give the 10600K our nod for best gaming CPU, which is particularly impressive for its price. Intel has done a good job of getting back into the game here, but it’s not without controversy. AMD still has a long way to go to compete with Intel for the gaming crown.
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Next, our pick for the best budget gaming CPU. An Intel i5-10600K for gaming with less budget constraints or a 10900K for the absolute pinnacle of FPS for a really desirable competitive edge, we’d recommend something else for budget gamers. . AMD Ryzen 3 3300X accepts this offer. This $120 MSRP CPU can achieve 80-85% of the performance of high-end CPUs in most games. It’s $3100 better than the $100 3100 because of the 4+0 CCX configuration and not the 2 31 CC 2 configuration where latency through the CCX affects performance. The 3300X, critically, can also be paired with a current generation graphics card on the CPU for higher graphics settings. If you’re more into competitive gaming with low graphics and high FPS, this won’t be the case. At this point, our recommendation would be to switch to the Intel parts. However, if you want more GPU connectivity with graphics settings and potential resolutions in excess of 1080p, the GPU is more limited than the CPU and the 3300X makes sense as a starting point for the platform.
We’ve covered some of our schemes, and you can check out the previous content for more information on what GPUs mean. While we don’t recommend pairing a $1200 2080 Ti with a $120 CPU, you can do it and get at least half the performance in most scenarios. The 2080 Super is the pinnacle of performance, but something cheaper makes more sense since GPUs are easier to upgrade than CPUs. In any case, the 3300X offers plenty of space. If you want to get the most out of it, check out memory tuning and unlimited threading for AMD Ryzen CPUs. This will give you more mileage and increase your FPS headroom.
Honorable Mention: As an honorable mention, we present the Athlon 3000G. If you play simpler games with less graphics, this is a good stopgap. We’ve tested this a lot over the years, so we’ll leave it at an honorable mention and point out that you can check out our previous content to get an idea of ideal use cases. It’s not what we’d call “good,” but if a $100 CPU is out of your reach, you could get away with it.
The second best overall win goes to the Ryzen 5 3600. We gave the 3600 the same honor in our year-end publication, Best CPUs of 2019. The R5 3600 even holds that title in the direct fire of Intel’s new 10600K, the main difference being that the 3600 has some viability in mid-range gaming rigs in 2020. This is for reasons discussed in the Best Gaming section, but the 3600 still retains its price advantage, versatility for production and gaming applications, and moderate leadership in applications like Blender, Premiere, and V-Ray. It’s not as big a deal as it is in the $200-$200 class, but it’s still a leader, and at the time of writing it’s also $100 cheaper at Newegg, where the 10600K will be closer to $280.
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For someone who doesn’t care about peak frames, the 3600 makes the most sense. It’s not tied to a potential core like the 3300X could be in the future, and offers more assurance of longevity. We see the 3600 as the new Sandy Bridge: it’s a CPU that people will be happy to buy in 8 years’ time and will be hard to part with when it’s time to upgrade. Value for money wasn’t beaten at launch, and while it can now consistently be beaten in gaming performance, the gap isn’t always big enough to justify the leap. 3,600 in best price and best balanced performance for another quarter; It’s hard to beat the 3600 for performance and price, even with unbalanced gaming-oriented workloads. The 10400 comes close but falls short when paired with a non-Z490 platform.
Our next category is for the best processors for small businesses and hobbyists, which we defined for the AMD R9 3950X last year. In view of the current releases, nothing has changed. Threadripper still offers value for high-end workstation users, but for those who might be amateur artists, editors, programmers, or run small businesses, the 3950X is warranted as a better way to monetize work. It’s not as financially committed as Threadripper, but offers many of the same benefits. Your main loss, aside from more cores, is in the PCIe lanes, but the higher core count and performance offer plenty for popular workstation applications or workflow users.
In our testing, we’ve seen the 3950X pop up at the top of the table when benchmarked on Windows outside of the more expensive Threadripper series. Recently we’ve also seen the 3950X drop from its introductory price point
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