Categories Computer

The Best CPUs

In our list of the best CPUs, we've included a range of options for different needs and budgets. From powerful gaming CPUs to budget-friendly options for everyday use, there's something for everyone. 

Our Top Picks

Buying Guide

• Processor architecture – The CPU architecture, such as Intel x86 or AMD Ryzen, determines which motherboards and software the CPU will be compatible with. Make sure the CPU's architecture matches the rest of your components.

• Processor generation – Newer CPU generations often provide better performance, power efficiency, and smaller transistors. But they also tend to cost more. You need to weigh the performance gains versus the higher price.

• Number of cores – More cores means the CPU can do more tasks simultaneously, which benefits tasks like video editing, 3D modeling, and gaming. But the additional cores also increase the price.

• Processor clock speed – A higher clock speed, expressed as GHz, allows the CPU to execute instructions faster. But clock speed is not the only determinant of real-world performance. Other factors like core count and architecture also matter.

AMD Epyc 64 CORE Processor 7773X 2.2GHZ 768MB L3 Cache TDP 280W SP3 Socket (3RD GEN) OEM Tray 100-000000504

• Memory compatibility – Ensure the CPU supports compatible memory modules for your needs in terms of size (voltage, GHz), module type (DIMM, SO-DIMM), and slots available. Supported memory size and speed also affect performance.

• Integrated graphics – If you need basic graphics for light tasks, a CPU with integrated graphics (iGPU) can save you the cost and space of a dedicated graphics card. But iGPU performance is limited compared to a dedicated GPU.

• Power efficiency – Choose a CPU with power features that meet your needs for reducing energy usage and heat generation while still delivering good performance. Things like idle states, power gating, and thermal design help with power efficiency.

• Budget – Set a maximum budget for your CPU purchase based on the performance needs for your specific usage scenario. That will help guide your selection of CPU architectures, generations, core counts, clock speeds, and other features.

• Reviews – Check expert reviews of CPUs that meet your criteria to determine real-world performance differences for tasks like gaming, streaming, content creation, and productivity workloads. Reviews can help you find the sweet spot for performance and value.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is a CPU core? 

A CPU core is like a miniature CPU on its own. It can execute instructions independently. Many CPUs have multiple cores which allow them to do more tasks simultaneously. More cores often mean better performance for multi-tasking and multi-threaded workloads.

2. What is CPU cache? 

CPU cache is a small amount of high-speed memory built onto the CPU chip. It acts as a temporary buffer, storing frequently accessed instructions and data. CPU cache speeds up the CPU by allowing it to access information faster than from main system memory. Larger cache sizes typically improve performance.

AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3970X 32-Core, 64-Thread Unlocked Desktop Processor

3. How long do CPUs last? 

On average, CPUs will last 3 to 5 years before becoming outdated for demanding tasks. Higher-end CPUs tend to have slightly shorter lifespans as newer generations quickly surpass them. 

However, CPUs can continue functioning for many years with a limited set of needs. And older CPUs can still work just fine for basic tasks like browsing the web, using office software, or playing casual games.

CPUs also develop more gradually than other PC components, so they do not necessarily need frequent upgrades to continue meeting your needs. As long as the CPU can adequately handle your important software and workloads at an acceptable level of performance, it does not necessarily need replacement.

Final Thought

Investing in a high-quality CPU is essential for getting the most out of your computer. Whether you're a gamer, content creator, or just looking for a reliable CPU for everyday use, our list of the best CPUs has you covered.

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