Best Processors: Buying Guide

The processor is one of the fundamental components of a computer, be it a desktop or a notebook. In laptops, it is rarely replaceable, seldom in the latest generation, Best Processor For Gaming but in desktop PCs, it is still possible to customize it as you see fit. The processors sold on the market are many and from market segments that can range from a few tens of euros up to highly advanced professional models for even thousands of euros.

But why is a processor (also called a CPU ) so important? For two reasons, mainly the first. Because without a processor. A system does not even pass the POST. That is the sequence of initial operations to verify that the PC. Hardware is functioning correctly the second. Because it is the component delegated to calculate all generic operations. The processor is therefore crucial in choosing the components of a new PC.

Today I will show you which are the best processors you can buy today, starting from the models of a few tens of euros up to the most potent top of the range. But first, it is necessary to make some clarifications so that you can better understand. And in a simple way. How to orient yourself in this complex sector. In short if you don’t know terms like TDP, IPC, cache, or calculation frequency, don’t be afraid: I’ll explain everything below!

How to choose the processor

The first question that is asked when buying a PC processor is:  AMD or Intel? And a clear answer is often expected. In reality, there is no clear-cut answer. The only one I can give you is: “it depends.” In past generations, both manufacturers have had their ups and downs, with processor families doing better than others. On average,  Intel offered the fastest but also the most expensive PC processors, while AMD took care to bring balanced and, on average, more affordable solutions to the market.

With the last few generations, the situation has balanced itself, especially after the arrival of AMD’s Ryzen architecture that has put the company back on track.  How to edit videos Today, you can buy excellent PC processors from both Intel and AMD, and both companies offer solutions capable of unleashing adequate performance according to the price range. Both manufacturers now sell only 64-bit x86 architecture processors. In the past, 16-bit (Intel 8086 or 8088) and 32-bit (Intel 386, 486, and 586) CPUs were also sold. Today these CPUs are anachronistic.

The two manufacturers then use different production processes for the latest CPUs: Intel prints its 9th generation processors with an internal 14-nm production process, AMD instead for its Ryzen 3 uses a 12-nm process with foundries of third parts. Usually, the lower the number of nanometers, the better the efficiency, but this is only true for the same architecture.

Intel processors: Best Processor For Gaming

Instead, I recommend that you study how to recognize the various processors based on their names. The Intel processors, for example, are divided into several prominent families: the cheapest ones and the lower performance are the families Pentium and Celeron, which represent the entry-level processors of the hardware manufacturer, ideal for productivity tasks or multimedia use without too many needs.

Then there is the Core family divided into four main series, differentiated by capacity and performance.

  • Core i3 – is Intel’s family of low-end processors, which can be used in multiple types of tasks while sacrificing performance a little.
  • Core i5 – are ideal for most tasks. They are, in fact, among the most popular processors if we consider the mass market. Excellent with games, especially with a dedicated video card, they are suitable for all productivity tasks and multimedia processing.
  • Core i7 – high-end processors that until recently represented the top of the range of the company. They are ideal for any assignment, even if they consider computationally intensive multimedia operations. They usually have a large number of cores.
  • Core i9 – is a recently born processor family and represents the highest-end Intel processor family, excluding server models. These processors design for “enthusiast” users, those who demand maximum performance in all operational areas.

Intel Core i9-9900

Each Intel processor family also consists of several sub-families whose name is composed of an acronym. Take, for example, the Intel Core i9-9900K processor: the first digit represents the generation of the processor, in this case, the ninth (we reached the tenth today), the other three digits indicate the SKU (Stock Keeping Unit), and the computing power based on the family to which the processor belongs. On the other hand, the final letter indicates the type of CPU: K or X, for example, very powerful CPUs, while U processors with low energy consumption.

AMD processors: Best Processor For Gaming

Instead, the naming of AMD processors, in this case, we have three prominent families: the A and Athlon series represent the lower-end solutions, the first proposal in dual-core and quad-core versions with Radeon GPU, the second only quad-core with Radeon Vega GPU.

Ryzen processors are the most interesting ones from AMD, especially if you aspire to perform operations that require a medium or high level of computational load. Here’s how to recognize the various models of the family.

  • Ryzen 3 – represents the entry-level processors of the Ryzen family but are much more powerful and efficient than the A-series and Athlon series. They can compare to Intel’s Core i3s for the same generation. Ryzen 3 CPUs usually have four cores.
  • Ryzen 5 – they relate directly to the Intel Core i5 CPUs. Therefore they have an excellent quality-price ratio and can use in almost all areas with discrete satisfaction. The performances are pretty high but not as high as those of the “enthusiast” processors.
  • Ryzen 7 – this family includes high-performance PC processors comparable to Intel’s counterparts in the Core i7 family. They can also use on professional PCs or PCs that require operating on very high loads for long periods.
  • Ryzen 9 – is AMD’s enthusiast family, directly comparable to Intel’s Core i9 series. Ryzen 9 processors have the highest number of cores and the most extreme operating frequency and design for users who want maximum performance. They are, of course, very expensive.

AMD Ryzen Threadripper processors.

Then there are the AMD Ryzen Threadripper processors. Still, they are mainly designed for cumbersome tasks of a particular type (management of heavy servers or databases, multimedia processing of the highest level).

To understand how the “branding” of Ryzen CPUs works, let’s take the AMD Ryzen 5 3600X model as a reference. I have already explained to you the meaning of Ryzen 5, but the numbers below also make sense: the 3 represents the generation, therefore the third and currently the last; the six an index of the performance level within the family (including 4, 5, 6, for standard performance, 7 and 8 for very high performance). The last two digits can represent an additional performance boost or a new SKU.

The letters of the AMD Ryzen processors indicate different types of models, such as those we have seen on Intel: for example, we have the X, as in our case, which indicates a high-performance processor; while the G indicates the processors which, within the package, also implement all the video card circuitry. In this case, the GPU integrates and you don’t have to buy one separately.


Technical features

You can analyze the capabilities of a processor by analyzing its technical characteristics. This is a complex topic – not the greatest of fun, I admit – but with a bit of patience, you can very well manage to wriggle out of the essential terms such as clock frequency, L1 or L2 cache, or even L3. Core, TDP, and IPC.

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Before getting into the technical terms, however, you need to know that the processor is also called CPU, which stands for Central Processing Unit. It is a fundamental component of the system as its delegates to perform all the computational calculations required by the software. If you hastily choose a processor, you may experience performance that is not in line with your expectations, unsatisfactory stability. If you do the wrong combination with the motherboard, your new computer may not even turn on!

Compatibility with motherboard

I certainly didn’t want to scare you, so I’ll tell you what I meant right away. In its lower part, each PC processor has pins used to communicate with the motherboard socket. Usually, Intel processors of the same generation are compatible with the same socket and those from AMD.

However, the two manufacturers never use compatible technologies with each other, so for an Intel processor, you need a motherboard compatible with Intel processors. For an AMD CPU, a motherboard compatible with AMD CPUs. So far, everything is clear regarding compatibility with the motherboard. But that’s not enough.

As I have already explained to you in the buying guide on the best motherboards, each manufacturer has used several sockets in the past. The most modern sockets are the ones that I report below.

  • LGA 1200 – intended for 10th Generation Intel Core i3, Core i5, Core i7, and Core i9 CPUs and will be used for future 11th Generation models.
  • LGA 1151 – dedicated to 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th generation CPUs with Core i3, Core i5, Core i7, and Core i9 families.
  • AM4 – dedicated to the latest AMD CPUs from the Ryzen, Ryzen 5, Ryzen 7 and Ryzen 9 families.
  • FCBGA 1526 – is not widely used to date and is only supported by the 10th generation Intel Core Ice Lake.

Each motherboard also has a chipset, which defines support for memory features and controllers. The most popular Intel chipsets are, in ascending order of market range: B360, B365, H370, Q370, and Z390. The most popular AMD ones are B350, X370, B450, X470, and X570, with the latter being the best.

Clock frequency

The clock frequency is one of the parameters that determine the speed of a processor, but be careful: it is not the only one. It is measured in hertz ( Hz ): one million Hertz equals one megahertz ( MHz ), while one billion Hertz equals one gigahertz ( GHz ). One GHz, therefore, is 1,000 MHz. Since today’s computers are potent, the only entries you will find will be related to gigahertz, very rarely to megahertz , never to single hertz.

Manufacturers often release two clock frequency values, the maximum base when all cores are used and the “boost” or “turbo” when selectively using fewer cores. When the processor is idle, it can reduce the clock frequency to save on power consumption and decrease the temperature.

Together with voltage (V), the clock frequency can affect processor temperatures. The operation of increasing the clock rate of a CPU is also referred to as overclocking and can sometimes be done in conjunction with overvolting. These are very delicate procedures, which I do not recommend performing if you do not have the appropriate skills because you risk damaging various components of the PC!

Core and Thread

Having more cores available within a PC processor allows you to increase performance by n times (where n stands for the number of cores), especially with software supporting “multi-threading.” The processors with multiple cores are also excellent in all activities that involve parallel calculations (video processing, for example, but not only) and in the management of multi-tasking. However, applications do not always “scale” linearly, and, rarely, a quad-core processor (with four cores) can increase performance by four times compared to a single-core twin.

But what is the core, then? We can define it as a processor in the processor, in which all scores are interconnected with each other and perform the same functions. Modern CPUs can also have 16 or 32 cores. However, the practice is four, six, or at most eight cores for the most popular processors in the mass market. Then there are the threads, which represent the number of independent processes that each core can calculate at any given time. In the most common processors, each core can perform only one “task,” while in the more advanced ones, thanks to the support of multi-threading, they can process two or more tasks.

In Intel CPUs, this technology is called Hyper-Threading, in AMD CPUs instead SMT (Simultaneous Multithreading). Multi-threading is very effective in some tasks, but obviously, the benefits are not comparable to those obtainable with multiple physical cores.

TDP: Best Processor For Gaming

This abbreviation, TDP, stands for Thermal Design Profile / Power. If you are wondering what it is. I’ll explain it to you right away. It is, in short, the maximum heat that a chip generates measured in Watts. Obviously at its “stock” frequency. How to build a pc Best Processor For Gaming Therefore at the factory. This value is also helpful in identifying consumption. Of one CPU compared to another and for choosing the heatsink to match if it not include. In the scope of supply. A heatsink almost always includes with modern CPUs. But if you have to buy it separately. Before making the purchase. Check if it can adequately cool your CPU.

Cache: Best Processor For Gaming

The cache is the internal memory of a processor. It isn’t easy to understand from this data how strong a processor is, given that the variables involved are so many and often much more decisive. There are typically three types of cache: L1 cache, the fastest and the smallest; L2 cache, a little larger but also slower; L3 cache, even more significant in size but slower in performance. The cache of a processor still has lightning-fast performance and, Best Processor For Gaming when the data needed by the CPU is not available in these “spaces,” it requests from the RAM. However powerful the system memory may be, however, it is always slower than the cache integrated into a processor.

IPC: Best Processor For Gaming

With IPC identifies the concept of Instructions for Clock Cycle and indicates the overall performance and efficiency of a CPU with certain conditions. Even if you know the clock frequency and the number of cores. It is impossible to evaluate. The actual performance because the architecture of the PC processor itself takes over. Intel and AMD use different architectures for their processors. So you can’t determine the performance differences by comparing the technical data.

IPC is a key technical term for evaluating the real performance of a processor. It often not declared by manufacturers. And can only measure through tests called “benchmarks.” Various online publishing companies carry out these tests to measure it. Best Processor For Gaming So if you want to get an idea of ​​how strong a CPU goes. I suggest you read the reviews available on the Internet of specialized sites.

Integrated GPU

Several processors now have the GPU already integrated inside the chip. In the past, AMD’s integrated GPUs were much better performing than Intel’s counterparts, Best Processor For Gaming but the situation has balanced out over the last few generations. As a rule, integrated GPUs are great for playing multimedia content, even at 4K Ultra HD resolution if specified, but they don’t do very well with the latest generation games. If the processor has an integrated GPU, you do not have to buy a dedicated video card since it does everything in its place. On the other hand, if gaming is your passion, I recommend that you buy the component separately.

Which processors to buy

Now that you know everything about processors and are ready to face the purchase, I recommend the models of AMD processors and Intel processors worth buying in this last period. Remember to combine a compatible motherboard: if you want, you can choose it, following all my advice, in my guide to buying the best motherboards. But stop the chatter and move on to the best processors to buy today!

Best inexpensive processors (under $ 150)

Intel Pentium Gold G5420

The Intel Pentium Gold G5420 is a low-end processor for essential computers comparable to AMD in the same price range. In this case, we support the LGA1151 socket and a processor base frequency of 3.8GHz: there are two cores, four threads supported for a declared TDP of 54W. 14-nm lithography use for manufacturing.


AMD Athlon 3000G

The AMD Athlon 3000G is slightly faster, but it is still an entry-level CPU with an integrated Radeon Vega GPU. We find two cores, but the frequency goes up to 3.5GHz, and there is multi-threading with support for up to four simultaneous tasks. It uses Zen architecture and can mount on AM4 motherboards. The TDP is 35W.


Intel Core i3-9100F

Intel Core i3-9100F is a low-end processor from Intel, which you can easily find under $ 100. It installs on a motherboard with an LGA1151 socket and can reach the operating frequency of 4.2GHz in boost mode. This processor normally operates at 3.6GHz on four cores (there is no multi-threading support). The declared TDP is 65W. Best Processor For Gaming I recommend it if you don’t want to replace your old LGA 1151 socket motherboard, but today it overtakes by the Intel Core i3-10100 model (which still boasts very similar features.


Intel Core i3-10100

This model is an evolution of the Intel Core i3-9100F but boasts some additions such as support for multi-threading (up to 8 threads on 4 native cores) and a turbo operating frequency 4.30GHz. Excellent in terms of value for money, while the TDP remains unchanged at 65W. I recommend it if you plan a new computer, as it needs an LGA 1200 socket motherboard.


AMD Ryzen 3 3200G

The AMD Ryzen 3 3200G is a second-generation Zen architecture processor with a Radeon Vega video card integrated into the package. This is a good low-end processor. Best Processor For Gaming Especially if you intend to play simple graphics games. But don’t want a dedicated GPU or if you’re building a Mini-PC. This processor implements four cores with four threads, with a maximum operating frequency of 4.0GHz in turbo (3.6GHz base). The TDP is 65W.


Best mid-range processors (€ 150 to € 300)

Intel Core i5-9400F

The Intel Core i5-9400F is another excellent 9th generation Intel processor, characterized by a TDP of 65W and good performance in all areas, even in gaming. This model uses 6 cores and 6 threads. So it does not support multi-threading and can go as fast as 2.90GHz. It can install on LGA 1151 socket. So if you have a compatible motherboard. Best Processor For Gaming It can still be a great buy for an unpretentious gaming PC today.


Intel Core i5-10400F: Best Processor For Gaming

If, on the other hand. You are building a new PC. I suggest its successor, the Intel Core i5-10400F , with six cores and support for hyper-threading and the possibility of running up to 12 threads simultaneously. It also consumes up to 65W but supports the new LGA 1200 socket. The maximum operating frequency is 4.3GHz.

AMD Ryzen 5 3600: Best Processor For Gaming

The AMD Ryzen 5 3600 is one of the most affordable processors these days in terms of performance and energy efficiency. Best Processor For Gaming The performance is very high in gaming. (The next generation makes more but also costs much more). And in other advanced areas. And the TDP contains only 65W like a low-end CPU. Despite this we have a 12-thread Hexa-core. With 3.6GHz operating frequency. Support for AM4 motherboards. And a heatsink included.


Intel Core i5-9600K

An excellent high-performance processor, a favorite of gamers: the Intel Core i5-9600K offers a 6-core and 6-thread architecture, therefore without support for multi-threading, and has a clock frequency 3.7GHz, boost to 4.6GHz in boost. It implements an integrated video card (Intel UHD 630). But I seriously recommend buying a dedicated one. Video card if you want to play games. The declared TDP is much higher than that of the Ryzen 5 3600. But the performance is not that much higher. On the contrary, You can find some small advantages with video games.


Intel Core i5-10600K: Best Processor For Gaming

The successor to the i5-9600K for LGA 1200 socket and hyper-threading support. The Intel Core i5-10600K is the choice of all gamers who want to save on the processor and offers good performance even in multi-threading computing. Best Processor For Gaming It compares with the Ryzen 3600 but has a significantly higher TDP (125W) due to the less advanced production process. However, it can unleash a base frequency of 4.10GHz (4.80GHz in turbo), which helps a lot with some games and in some areas that favor single-threading.

Intel Core i7-9700K: Best Processor For Gaming

The Intel Core i7-9700K is another high-level processor for the mass market chosen by enthusiast users, gamers, and professionals and belonging to the 9th generation of Intel Core processors. It uses 8 cores and 8 threads, and a base frequency of 3.60GHz can boost up to 4.90GHz. Best Processor For Gaming The TDP is 95W, and the GPU integrate (Intel UHD 630).  Free mp3 music download Compatible with motherboards with an LGA1151 socket. It is one of the best processors ever for the mass audience. Although it replaces by the 10700K (which requires a more modern socket).


Best high-end processors (over $ 300)

AMD Ryzen 7 3700X

The AMD Ryzen 7 3700X is an excellent processor in all areas: it consists of 8 cores and supports up to 16 threads for a CPU that can be used with satisfaction, Best Processor For Gaming even for semi-professional tasks. It offers great performance even with the latest generation of video games. Obviously with a dedicated video card. And has an incredibly low TDP is only 65W. In other words, it consumes very little about the services provided! The operating frequency is 3.6GHz with a boost of up to 4.4GHz.


Intel Core i7-10700K

The most convenient 10th generation Intel Core for enthusiast users is reaching a Turbo frequency of 5.10GHz. The highest base frequency is 3.80GHz, for a processor that implements eight logical cores and 16 threads maximum. It print at 14-nm and has a TDP of 125W.


AMD Ryzen 5 5600X: Best Processor For Gaming

If you’re interested in the high-end and don’t want to overdo it, the AMD Ryzen 5600X is a buy with your eyes closed. It does not cost very little but boasts a new architecture. That offers very high performance with the latest generation games and more. Best Processor For Gaming It implements 6 cores and 12 threads. With a TDP of 65W and up to 4.6GHz of frequency in Boost (3.7GHz base). It prints at 7-nm and uses the AM4 socket.


AMD Ryzen 7 5800X

The AMD Ryzen 7 5800X offers great gaming performance, just like the 5600X, but has two more cores and supports 16 threads simultaneously. Best Processor For Gaming All with a base frequency of 3.8GHz and up to 4.7GHz in Boost. It is a processor design to give the best in parallel calculations, among the best in advanced productivity. The cost is significantly higher than the younger brother.


Intel Core i9-10900K

The Core i9-10900K is one of the most powerful processors that Intel has in its portfolio , and offers a total of 10 cores with 20 threads, Best Processor For Gaming configured with a base frequency of 3.70GHz and a maximum of 5.30GHz in Boost. It print at 14-nm and declare with a TDP of 125W. Excellent with video games and also extraordinary in parallel calculations.


AMD Ryzen 9 5900X: Best Processor For Gaming

Among the models designed for the consumer market, to date in my opinion the best you can buy is the AMD Ryzen 9 5900X , strong with its 12 cores and 24 threads, Best Processor For Gaming and its 7-nm production process that allows you to have extraordinarily high power with a claimed TDP of only 105W. This processor configure to default at 3.7GHz, but in Boost it can go up to 4.8GHz. It’s not cheap, but if you need maximum power, even in parallel, it can make a difference.


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