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Grab one of these great CPUs for your next custom PC build or upgrade


AMD Ryzen 7 5800xSource: Windows Central

Best
Processor (CPU) for Your Custom PC
Windows Central
2021

The best processor (CPU) for your custom PC is one that matches your needs, doesn’t bottleneck the rest of your hardware, and doesn’t cost more than what you’ve budgeted. When looking for a new CPU, it’s easy to automatically go for the more expensive option expecting a return in performance, and in most cases you’d be correct in that assumption. However, the question is whether or not you need that kind of power and whether or not you really need to pay that much. For a lot of people, the AMD Ryzen 7 5800X should be an ideal mix of performance and price. This CPU from AMD’s fourth-gen lineup has eight cores for stellar multitasking power, whether you’re working with productivity tasks, specialized design or editing work, or serious gaming. If it’s not quite what you’re looking for, there are plenty of other CPU options that we’ve rounded up here.

Best Overall: AMD Ryzen 7 5800X

Amd Ryzen 7 5800x

Source: Windows Central

AMD’s Ryzen 7 5800X is part of the Zen 3 microarchitecture and uses a 7nm process. This CPU utilizes eight cores and 16 threads for strong multitasking performance, and its base clock of 3.8GHz can be boosted up to 4.7GHz when needed. Its 105W thermal design point (TDP) is higher than the previous gen Ryzen 7 3700X, but the newer CPU puts out a lot more performance no matter the task at hand.

This CPU is unlocked and ready for overclocking. It doesn’t include a stock cooler, so be sure to get something up to the task, especially if you plan on overclocking. Note that this CPU does not include integrated graphics, so you will need to add a dedicated GPU to your PC build. Our collection of the best graphics card options will get you started.

The best motherboards for the AMD Ryzen 7 5800X will land you PCIe 4.0 and Wi-Fi 6 support, though if you’re upgrading a PC that’s still using an X470 or B450 motherboard, rest assured it will be compatible.

If you’re in search of a well-rounded, high-performance CPU for just about any task, the Ryzen 7 5800X should prove to be a wise investment for most people. Our AMD Ryzen 7 5800X review has a lot more information about this CPU.

Pros:

  • Eight cores, 16 threads
  • Awesome gaming power
  • Unlocked for overclocking
  • Zen 3 architecture
  • PCIe 4.0

Cons:

  • No cooler included
  • Ryzen 5 better value
  • Ryzen 9 better performance

Best Overall


Ryzen 7 5800x

AMD Ryzen 7 5800X

The Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 9 CPUs are attractive options, but for a middle-ground the Ryzen 7 5800X excels.

Runner-Up: Intel Core i7-10700K

Intel Core i7-10700K

Source: Rich Edmonds / Windows Central

Intel’s Core i7-10700K is still working with a 14nm process, but that doesn’t mean it’s not an impressive CPU for gaming and work. It boasts eight cores, 16 threads, and it puts out stellar single- and multi-core performance at a 125W TDP. To read more about the performance, be sure to check out our Intel Core i7-10700K review.

It has a base frequency of 3.80GHz, and it can boost up to 5.0GHz when all cores are engaged. Intel has positioned it with the Ryzen 7 5800X on AMD’s side, and pairing it with a powerful GPU will turn your PC into a monster. It’s also overclockable, but be sure to get a sturdy cooler to handle the extra heat.

Considering it’s now dropped down to costing considerably less than the Ryzen 7 5800X, many people will no doubt live with some of the drawbacks, including no PCIe 4.0, higher TDP than our top pick, and incompatibility with older motherboards. Our collection of the best motherboards for Intel’s Core i7-10700K can help you in that regard. And if you’re unsure whether a Core i7 is right for you, our Intel Core i5-10600K vs. Core i7-10700K comparison has much more information.

Pros

  • Eight cores, 16 threads
  • Far more affordable than Ryzen 7 5800X
  • Amazing gaming performance
  • Excels at single- and multi-core workloads
  • Overclockable

Cons

  • No PCIe 4.0
  • Incompatible with older motherboards
  • No cooler included
  • 125W TDP

Runner-Up


Intel Core i7-10700K

Intel Core i7-10700K

Rocking eight cores and 16 threads, the Core i7-10700K from Intel is a serious processor for gamers and content creators.

Best Value: Intel Core i5-10600K

Intel Core i5-10600K review

Source: Harish Jonnalagadda / Windows Central

Intel’s Core i5-10600K actually comes in quite a bit less than AMD’s similar Ryzen 5 5600X. The Core i5 brings six cores, 12 threads, and a base frequency of 4.1GHz, with the ability to climb to 4.50GHz when boosting all cores. It’s based on a 14nm process and has a 125W TDP. AMD’s Ryzen 5 5600X is more impressive with its 7nm process and 65W TDP — and better overall gaming performance in most titles — but for those looking at getting the best value possible, the Core i5-10600K is mighty attractive.

The downsides are that you’ll need to upgrade your motherboard if you’re coming from a previous Intel CPU (the socket is new for the 10600K) and there’s no PCIe 4.0 support. Our guide to the best motherboards for Intel’s Core i5-10600K can help. However, performance beats out AMD Ryzen 3000 CPUs, which are still within this price range.

If you’re interested in a budget build and still want enough power to enjoy modern games, this might be the CPU for you. Our Intel Core i5-10600K review has much more information to read before you buy.

Pros:

  • Six cores, 12 threads
  • Includes integrated graphics
  • Outstanding performance for price
  • Strong single- and multi-core speeds
  • Decent overclocking potential

Cons:

  • Not compatible with older motherboards
  • No PCIe 4.0
  • No cooler included

Best Value


Intel Core i5-10600K

Intel Core i5-10600K

If you’re building a budget PC, the Core i5-10600K offers incredible value at the current price point.

Best AMD Performance: AMD Ryzen 9 5950X

AMD Ryzen 9 5950X

Source: Rich Edmonds / Windows Central

Without getting into the truly overpowered Threadripper CPUs, the AMD Ryzen 9 5950X is the company’s most powerful offering to date. If you’re going all-out on a new PC and want to stick with Team Red, this is where you should spend your money. Sure, the Ryzen 9 5900X is a better value for a lot of people, but it won’t match up to the performance here.

This Zen 3 CPU has a whopping 16 cores, 32 threads, and a boost speed up to 4.9GHz from the base 3.4GHz. All this at a 105W TDP. To compare, Intel’s Core i9-10900K has 10 cores and 20 threads at a 125W TDP. The Ryzen 9 5950X is expensive, but if you have the budget it’s certainly a great way to go. Pair it up with the best motherboard for the Ryzen 9 5950X for best results, including PCIe 4.0 and Wi-Fi 6.

If you want to learn more, our AMD Ryzen 9 5950X review has way more information about this impressive CPU.

Pros:

  • 16 cores, 32 threads
  • PCIe 4.0
  • Can be overclocked
  • Insane performance
  • Zen 3 with 105W TDP

Cons:

  • No cooler included
  • Pricey

Best AMD Performance


AMD Ryzen 9 5950X SE Crop

AMD Ryzen 9 5950X

AMD’s Ryzen 9 5950X is ridiculously fast with plenty of headroom for gaming and enthusiast applications.

Best Intel Performance: Intel Core i9-10900K

Intel Core i9-10900K review

Source: Harish Jonnalagadda / Windows Central

Intel’s Core i9-10900K is another CPU that will fit right into a high-end custom PC build. It costs considerably less than the Ryzen 9 5950X, but it also doesn’t put out nearly as much power. Does that matter for most people? Probably not, as it’s still going to handle AAA gaming without compromise. It has 10 cores, 20 threads, and a 3.7GHz base frequency that can hit up to 4.8GHz when boosting all cores. It uses a 14nm process and has a 125W TDP, about 20W higher than the Ryzen 9 5900X and 5950X.

This is an incredibly potent CPU for anyone with an Intel build in mind, but consider you will need a new motherboard for the LGA1200 socket. There’s also no PCIe 4.0 support. In any case, this processor puts up impressive single- and multi-core performance and has plenty of overhead for overclocking.

If you have this CPU on your shortlist, be sure to read our Intel Core i9-10900K review for a deep dive into what makes it so great.

Pros:

  • 10 cores, 20 threads
  • Overclockable
  • Unreal gaming performance
  • Excels at single- and multi-threaded workloads

Cons:

  • LGA1200 socket requires new motherboard
  • No PCIe 4.0
  • High power consumption
  • No cooler included

Best Intel Performance


Intel Core i9-10900K

Intel Core i9-10900K

The Core i9-10900K delivers outstanding gaming performance and holds its own in single-core workloads.

Bottom line

When building a custom PC, most people aren’t going to need (or want) to spend the money on overkill CPUs like Intel’s Core i9-10900K or AMD’s Ryzen 9 5950X.

That’s why we recommend overall the AMD Ryzen 7 5800X as the top pick for most people. It delivers eight cores, 16 threads, and a clock speed that can boost up to 4.7GHz. Thanks to AMD’s Zen 3 microarchitecture and a 7nm process, the TDP sits at just 105W despite the impressive specs.

Paired up with the right motherboard, this CPU will introduce PCIe 4.0 and Wi-Fi 6 connectivity to your custom build to keep it relevant long into the future. Overall this is a well-rounded chip that will handle just about anything you throw its way, including gaming, design, and productivity.

Those looking for some less-expensive hardware can check out our picks for best budget CPUs.

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

Author:

Cale Hunt is a staff writer at Windows Central. He focuses mainly on PC, laptop, and accessory coverage, as well as the emerging world of VR. He is an avid PC gamer and multi-platform user and spends most of his time either tinkering with or writing about tech.

Author:

Rich Edmonds is a staff reviewer at Windows Central, which means he tests out more software and hardware than he cares to remember. Joining Mobile Nations in 2010, you can usually find him inside a PC case tinkering around when not at a screen fighting with Grammarly to use British words. Hit him up on Twitter: @RichEdmonds.

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This post was written by Cale Hunt and was first posted to WindowsCentral



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