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The CPU is the brain of a computer. The faster it is, the faster the data is processed. So, AMD or Intel? Single, dual, triple, quad or octa-core? Which one to choose according to your use (gaming, office, photo and video editing).
AMD and Intel offer a fairly wide range of chips. Intel processors are generally slightly better at gaming. AMD, on the other hand, offers processors that are better at multitasking and have a better performance to price ratio. The race for clock frequency and the number of cores was very much in vogue for the last few years, but now it is less important. To win the performance race, the two manufacturers are betting everything on improving and optimizing the internal functioning of their chips, that is to say, their architecture. They are also both working to reduce the power consumption of their CPUs, thus the latest generation of both brands consumes less energy while being overall even faster.
AMD Ryzen 5 3600X: the best mid-range CPU
Since the launch of the first generation Ryzen processors, we have been wondering when AMD will succeed in beating Intel at gaming. In the summer of 2019, we got our answer: the third generation of Ryzen CPUs managed to beat Intel’s processors in the mid-range.
The Ryzen 5 3600X (Check on Amazon.com) is a worthy representative of this new reality. It replaces the Ryzen 5 2600X (Check on Amazon.com), and manages to match the performance of Intel’s Core i5 9600K (Check on Amazon.com) in games, while easily overtaking it in all other applications. It can even beat some Core i7’s in multi-threaded operations!
Its ace in the hole is its ability to take advantage of moderately multi-threaded applications. This ability lets it beat most of its similarly-priced competitors in everyday applications and rank behind the Intel Core i9-9900K (Check on Amazon.com) and the Ryzen 9 3900X (Check on Amazon.com). Yes, you read that right, it sometimes happens that this “small” Ryzen 5 beats the Ryzen 7 3700X (Check on Amazon.com) in performance!
On the other hand, Intel processors still have a slight advantage in gaming, but the difference between the Ryzen 5 3600X and the Core i5 9600K is so small that you will not notice any difference. The 3600X, however, is way more versatile.
AMD Ryzen 7 3700X: best bang for your buck
A step above the Ryzen 5 3600X (Check on Amazon.com) we find the venerable Ryzen 7 3700X. More efficient and with a performance that can trade blows with a certain Core i9-9900K (Check on Amazon.com), it costs “just” (Check on Amazon.com) while including the excellent Wraith Spire cooler. Its aggressive pricing makes it our default recommendation for anyone that wants to create a high-end workstation/gamestation. It cannot match the performance of the Ryzen 9 3900X (Check on Amazon.com) but considering the price, it doesn’t have to.
The greatness of this CPU can be partially explained by its spec sheet: it has 8 cores and 16 threads clocked between 3.6 and 4.4GHz and 32MB of L3 cache. The Intel Core i9 9900K has less cache, but an additional 200MHz boost clock on a single core.
In applications such as photo and video editing, the Ryzen 7 3700X has a slight advantage over the Core i9-9900 (Check on Amazon.com). The latter, however, has the advantage in gaming scenarios, especially once paired to a high-end GPU like the RTX 2080 Ti. The difference in 1080p is about 20 FPS. That’s a lot, although both processors happily manage more than 100 FPS. The Ryzen 7 3700X also consumes up to 25% less than the Core i9.
Thus the real tiebreaker between these two chips is their price where the 3700X is simply unbeatable, period.
So if you want a Core i9 9900K but you are put off by its price, look no further than the Ryzen 7 3700X. The Intel is better for a gaming rig but you can invest the price difference into an even better GPU and that could make a whole lot of a difference.
If you are short on cash, you can also consider the aggressively discounted Ryzen 7 2700X for (Check on Amazon.com). On the other hand, we cannot recommend paying more for the Ryzen 7 3800X (Check on Amazon.com), since both processors are almost equally fast.
AMD Ryzen 9 3900X: AMD’s best CPU
The AMD Ryzen 9 3900X (Check on Amazon.com) is not only the best mainstream processor from AMD but also the king of processors. With a multi-threaded performance that breezes through everything you launch at it, you won’t find a CPU that is more impressive without entering the HEDT market.
With the Ryzen 9 3900X, AMD is offering an AM4 socket chip with twelve cores and 24 threads, that is the definition of future proof. This processor achieves 95.9 percent of the performance of an Intel Core i9-9980XE (Check on Amazon.com) – with the latter costing almost four times as much. If you are a gamer you don’t have to spend that much since the 3900X is only slightly faster in games than the cheaper Ryzen 7 3700X or even the Ryzen 5 3600.
If, on the other hand, you want to also stream (while gaming) or create a productivity workstation (for photo and video editing), the 3900X is a solid choice, and way more energy efficient than you might think.
The newer Ryzen 9 3950X with sixteen cores, on the other hand, is even faster but we cannot recommend it since it is way more expensive at (Check on Amazon.com).
Intel’s top models in this price range come in the form of the Core i9 9900K (Check on Amazon.com) and the limited edition Core i9 9900KS (Check on Amazon.com). They both have four cores less than the Ryzen 9 3900X, which will affect multitasking performance. In games, however, they are currently the fastest processors on the market – albeit at a higher price.
Intel Core i9-9900K: Intel’s best CPU
If a Core i7-9700K (Check on Amazon.com) is no more sufficient for you, you must turn towards the Core i9-9900K (Check on Amazon.com). Launched in autumn 2018, the Core i9-9900K manages to land behind the imposing AMD Ryzen 9 3900X (Check on Amazon.com) in all-around performance. In games, however, Intel’s chip still manages to mop the floor with AMD’s top of the range. It also received a generous price cut compared to its launch.
The Intel Core i9-9900K is expensive, but also damn effective. It still stagnates, like other Intel chips, on an architecture dating back to 2015, but the progressive (and aggressive) optimization that the blue team implemented over the years allows it to keep pace with the competition and it is practically the most efficient offer currently available on Intel’s lineup (when also considering the price).
AMD Ryzen 3 2200G: best entry-level CPU for gaming
If you’re assembling a gaming PC while you’re on the tightest budget, the AMD Ryzen 3 2200G (Check on Amazon.com) may be the best investment you’ve ever made. The introduction of integrated graphics makes this APU one of the most affordable ways to experience casual PC gaming, which is enough reason to give it a place in our list of best processors.
This AMD APU can render a dedicated graphics card obsolete if you want to play games like DOTA 2. The impressive thing, however, is that it can even play Overwatch at 4K resolution and “Epic” settings.
For a “gaming PC without a video card”, the price to performance ratio of the AMD Ryzen 3 2200G is simply unbeatable. On the other hand, in order to get the best results out of it, you will have to invest in fast DDR4 dual-channel RAM. Our recommendation: at least 8GB (2×4) at 2933MHz.
AMD Ryzen 5 3600: a great choice
The Ryzen 5 3600 (Check on Amazon.com) is the best mid-range processor in the market and one of the best available today in any price segment.
With its third generation of Ryzen processors, AMD has increased the number of instructions per cycle (IPC) by about 15% and the base frequency from 3.4GHz to 3.6GHz. In addition, this CPU incorporates the new Zen 2 architecture, with a 7nm process.
All this means that the Ryzen 5 3600 offers a gaming performance on par with the Ryzen 7 and Ryzen 9 third-generation CPUs and at a significantly lower price.
The result is a beast of a chip that works like a charm in both single-core and multi-core operations and doesn’t shy away from gaming performance. So much so, that this model is the exception to the rule that Intel chips are better for gaming rigs than AMD’s counterparts.
It is also way better at multi-threaded operations since it boasts 6 cores and 12 threads compared to the 6 cores and 6 threads of Intel’s i5 line up (i5-9600K). This is great if, for example, you want to game and stream at the same time.
Where Intel continues to maintain its advantage is overclocking. The i5-9600K (Check on Amazon.com) has a higher overclocking potential, but it is also more expensive and doesn’t come with an included fan and heatsink (Wraith Stealth cooler).
The even better Ryzen 5 3600X (Check on Amazon.com), has a higher frequency (3.8GHz-4.4GHz) and an even better heatsink, the Wraith Spire. The base 3600 is a better value for money, and with a bit of overclocking, it can practically match the speed of the 3600X.
Intel Core i7-9700K: gaming CPU at a lower price
If you want the very best gaming CPU and have a generous budget, do not look any further than the Intel Core i7-9700K (Check on Amazon.com).
This processor is a true powerhouse: it increased the number of cores of the previous i7-8700K (Check on Amazon.com) to eight, and thus became the go-to option for running really demanding AAA games at high resolutions.
It did, however, lost multi-threading technology, but it is still a better alternative to the i7-8700K since physical cores matter more than virtual ones. In addition, multi-threading usually means higher temperatures, so it is possible to pair this i7-9700K with a fan, without the need for liquid cooling.
Its frequency is also amazing. The base speed is “just” 3.6GHz (which is not bad for having 8 cores), but it can reach up to 4.9GHz in Turbo Mode. It also features an unlocked multiplier for those of you who would like to push it even further.
In benchmarks, it scored close to the i9-9900K (Check on Amazon.com) but sports a much more affordable price.
The i7-8700K is still a good choice if you manage to find one at a discounted price. But if the price difference between the two is small, don’t hesitate to pay more for the 9th generation processor.
There is also a version without the integrated graphics unit, the Core i7-9700KF, which is interesting only if it is noticeably cheaper.
Intel Core i9-9900KS: the fastest
Last but not least, after months of rumors, Intel revealed the Core i9 9900KS during a brief private presentation at IFA 2019 in Berlin and launched it back in October. The difference with the Core i9 9900K (Check on Amazon.com) is tenuous, to say the least, but it could appeal to certain elite fans. Intel has managed to enable 5GHz on all 8 cores of this new chip (against 5GHz on just one core). This is enough to squeeze a few additional FPS in-game and slightly improve performance in some other applications.
For the rest, the Core i9 9900KS is a limited edition and differs only slightly from the “basic” Core i9 9900K. It features the same number of cores and threads (8/16), and the same amount of cache memory (16 MB). The basic frequency is fixed at 4GHz (against 3.60 GHz on the 9900K), while the TDP goes up from 95 Watts to 127 Watts. As for the price, it costs (Check on Amazon.com).
AMD Ryzen 5 2600: best budget CPU
AMD has always been budget conscious and although its latest high-end products can rival and even beat Intel’s counterparts, AMD’s entry-level processors have always been cheaper and faster than Intel’s.
This is particularly true when it comes to a previous-gen solution, like the Ryzen 5 2600 (Check on Amazon.com), which is without a doubt one of the best budget processors available at the moment.
This mid-range CPU launched back in 2017 and has proven extremely effective. It has a better overall performance compared to Intel’s excellent I5-8400 (Check on Amazon.com), lagging behind it only in gaming.
This is true for almost all AMD processors, which as a whole offer impressive multi-threaded performance, but cannot beat Intel in pure speed.
Anywho, the Ryzen 5 2600 is the best entry-level processor you can get at the moment especially if gaming isn’t your only concern.
Its successor, the third generation Ryzen 5 3600 (Check on Amazon.com), is clearly better and highly recommended by us, but if you cannot afford it, the 2600 is a great solution until you will be able to upgrade into something way better, like the 3700X (Check on Amazon.com).
Also read: Processor Buying Guide