Having a good PC is good. Making sure your processor is on the road in 2019 is even better. And after several hours of research, I finally made my selection of the 5 best processors in 2019 among more than fifteen models available at the moment. My favorite is the Intel Core i7-8700K which is not given, but that is really what is best at present on a high-performance PC.
You will also find at the end of this article a guide to help you make the best choice for your purchase.
The Best Cheap Processors
Two eternal rivals are competing for first place in almost every lineup, starting with the less expensive ones that offer both reliability and performance at very affordable prices.
AMD Ryzen 5 2600: The Best Cheap
Price: 167.77 USD
What I Liked
- Rendering and encoding at the top
- Superior performance
What I Didn’t Like
- Far behind Intel at the game’s level
I’ll be quite frank with you, it took me a long time to convince myself that AMD could still represent a serious competitor to Intel in the performance of their processors, especially for 3D applications (and more specifically everything that revolves around gaming).
But I was wrong. AMD is not only present on the current market with excellent products that compete fairly well with Intel, but they also offer alternatives generally cheaper for prowess very close to their rivals.
The AMD Ryzen range is the one that makes the other American giant sweat, especially with the Ryzen 5 2600, probably one of the best entry-level processors available at the moment.
We are facing a CPU 6 cores / 12 threads clocked at 3.4GHz (3.9 when it switches to turbo mode, if necessary) and 16 MB cache AMD AM4 socket.
In practice, this processor launched in 2017, with the rest of the range, is extremely efficient for an entry-level product and exceeds the average in all points that matter when it comes to evaluating a CPU.
At the energy level first, the Ryzen 5 2600 consumes about 60 watts at rest and 136 full charge, making a product superior to many other models of the same brand. It is nevertheless below what is done at Intel at the same level.
At the level of the general performance index, then, this 2600 is above Intel’s I5-8400, also presented in this selection, but with 6 cores, 12 threads, a turbo, and hyper-threading are rather logical. Nevertheless, we are still below when it comes to encoding for example.
For games, finally, this processor runs most of what is currently done, without special stress and will even be close enough (and even sometimes above) the high-end brand (Threadripper 2950x), but does not at all the weight against the strength of Intel, if we compare it still to 8400 Intel.
This is the curse of AMD, which offers stunning multicore computing performance even in its entry-level but struggling to beat Intel, despite generally lower prices.
Related Reading: Best Gaming Mouse
If we have to summarize the success of this excellent Ryzen 5 2600, we can do it by saying that it is the best entry-level model of all brands for someone who has little interest in video games and for whom the quality/price ratio is the first concern.
Intel Pentium G4560: Low Price, Good Performance
Price: 94.82 USD
What I Liked
- Unbeatable price
- Presence of hyper-threading
What I Didn’t Like
- Not intended to take full advantage of current 3D applications
Intel is a brand that is probably not useful to present in detail since it occupies most preassembled PC sold in the trade.
Many innovations have been made in recent years on the side of AMD to compete with the all-powerful Intel, with varying degrees of success, but the latter still remains generally above in many areas.
The processor selected here is an entry-level model from Intel, which is certainly one of the most affordable at the moment for a desktop PC, but which also holds the road for fun activities, such as video games.
The Intel Pentium G4560, it is him, it is usually proposed for less than 111.55 USD at the moment and beats with this price just about everything that is done in the entry-level, provided that we are not too demanding in pushing our capacities to the extreme.
It is part of what is called in the middle the “microarchitecture” (the logical processor level) Kaby Lake, released in 2016 and is a small improvement of the Skylake engraving process of 2015, found in particular on the very popular I5 6600k and I7 6700k that many players still own at the moment, since still quite powerful.
Despite its age, the G4560 is a socket processor LGA 1151 (check compatibility with your motherboard, always), with 3 MB cache and still 3.5GHz, including already Hyper-threading!
If you consider that it is a GPU with only 2 cores, the emulation of 2 additional is welcome in cases where video renders, for example, are heavier to support.
We can, therefore, congratulate ourselves on its ability to keep up the good work for all things office-related.
Nevertheless, its computing power remains limited compared to what is done in the competition in the entry-level and absolutely cannot be improved by overclocking.
On the other hand, the G4560 is still “in the know” not only in terms of its index of energy consumption, minimal and its performance in games in full
HD 1920×1080 (on graphics cards that precede RTX and disabling anti-aliasing and anti-occlusion, which are far too greedy for a processor of this generation).
We can conclude by saying that this processor is an entry-level still performing for his age and is a great deal if you want to offer something cheap for office and if you’re not a hardcore player.
The Best Midrange Processors
The war is raging between Intel and AMD for midrange processors, and whenever one of the manufacturers seems to have the ascendant, the other comes back with a better product. Here are two of them on which it is good to stop for a moment.
Intel Core i5-8400: The Best Midrange
What I Liked
- Unbeatable value for money
- Unbeatable in-game performance for mid-range
What I Didn’t Like
- No hyper-threading
- No overclocking
The eighth generation of Intel processors continues to seduce.
Coffee Lake, this is already a name that seems nice. But behind this nickname hides an architecture boosted steroids (or rather caffeine for once) which the American manufacturer has the secret and who has gained the upper hand in the market against a AMD that is doing its best (and it’s already very good) to stay competitive.
The new Coffee Lake CPUs came out less than a year after the arrival of their 7th generation Kaby Lake counterparts (which itself was barely superior to the 2015 Skylake).
I understand that we can get lost in this ocean of processors available at the moment, but the idea behind the chip that interests us in this mid-range is very simple: to offer the best experience to players.
Yes, the Intel I5 8400 is thought very particularly for us geek, since this word is now finally rather positive.
We are here on a socket processor LGA 1151 6 cores, 6 threads, 9 MB cache clocked at 2.8GHz for 4.0GHz in turbo mode, all for just 223.11 USD at the moment.
Let’s quickly take stock of what we regret about this CPU, just to be able to focus on all its strengths.
No hyper-threading and that’s a shame. We are therefore limited to 6 threads, no additional emulation. And no possibility of overclocking either of course, since the processor is not accompanied by a small “K” like most of his colleagues.
In addition, if you are part of the resistance to diktat Windows 10, you can immediately remove this chip from your shopping list. It is not compatible with Win 7, what sadness …
Less sad is the energy value of the 8400, which at rest offers a solid 44 watts only, for about 115 encoding load (tested on x265 to be quite accurate), which is one of the best values of everything which is being done right now, certainly even more in the mid-range.
On a more enjoyable side, the chip Intel is very high in computing performance, where even the high-end 8700k struggles to do better (in a single thread, since the hyper-thread is nonexistent, the big brother gets the palm at this level, but we come back in the article dedicated to this processor).
But it’s really in the tests dedicated to 3D applications (via 3DMark for example, a benchmark well known for pushing your CPU and GPU in its entrenchments) and in the practical use in a game that this processor excels.
A concrete example in DX12, probably a little old, but still the way, is Rise of the Tomb Raider, which is in a constant average of 98 FPS with this chip, while the 8700k is about 97.
In short, if you want to raise (or mount yourself) a PC gaming on a budget that does not explode your savings, the I5 8400 is definitely the right choice, since it is offered for just over 200.91 USD!
AMD Ryzen 7 2700X: The Mid-Range Alternative
Price: From 259.35$
What I Liked
- Perfect for heavy calculations (streaming, encoding, video editing, office automation)
What I Didn’t Like
- Price too high compared to the alternative Intel
If we reviewed the best midrange processor elsewhere in this article, I think we also need to present its best alternative to Intel’s main competitor.
You probably guessed it without much effort, we are in the presence of an AMD product that continues to rise with consumers with its new range of Ryzen second generation, and especially here the Ryzen 7 2700x.
To be clear, this processor is expensive when compared to its rival Intel of our selection (and compared to most other options too).
The 2700x is indeed sold by AMD around 384.86 USD. You’ve noticed it’s almost double the I5 8400.
Obviously, for this price, we do not make fun of you. The entry / mid-range series from Ryzen consists of four products which are the 5,200, the 5,200x, the 7,200 and the 7,2700x, making the one that interests us the highest of the range at all levels.
And quite frankly, apart from being tied to a tight budget, but wanting AMD Ryzen in your PC, the 7,200x is clearly above all others.
From the cadence and technical specifics point of view, this chip is at 3.7Ghz, 8 cores and 16 threads, with the presence of Hyper-threading (which they call SMT at AMD, since the HT is in fact, a name proper to Intel, but generally used indiscriminately). 16 MB cache and a boost that rises to 4.35Ghz, all obviously in socket AM4.
Energy efficiency is not the best on the market but is still a good average compared to Intel standards (just below), which is a good thing if you are concerned about the aspect consumption.
In terms of performance in computing, the 2700x is easily placed in the top of the ranking (8 hearts, 16 threads it is recalled), beaten on this point only by the high-end Intel, including the I7 8700k, in tests video encoding, for example.
Finally, on the scale of performance at stake, the AMD chip is excellent, promises long sessions without any breathlessness or warming on the latest news or the most demanding programs (The Witcher 3, Battlefield 5, it’s you that I take as references).
Unfortunately, we are still behind what is done at Intel and the I5 8400, also present in our selection, is positioned above the above, with an average of almost 20 fps extra in test on similar machines.
This is disappointing, but not surprising, as it is the case on the whole of this second generation Ryzen and more generally AMD tends to always be behind Intel for everything related to 3D applications and games.
Nevertheless, if you are a fan of AMD (usually we only like one of the two manufacturers, but I do not judge) the Ryzen 7 2700x is certainly a good pick, with no other fault than to be hurt on its price and its strength in use in gaming.
Related Reading: Gaming Motherboard 2019
The Best High-End Processors
The battle is currently won by Intel, which offers here the best processor all ranges, no offense to their main competitor.
Intel Core i7-8700K: The Best High-End
What I Liked:
- Top for games
- Top in calculations requiring Hyper-Threading
- Interesting price for high end
What I Didn’t Like:
- Below Ryzen for calculations
AMD and Intel, throughout this selection, have demonstrated their strengths and weaknesses and have come to blows in their ability to be the market leaders.
I am sure that the following analysis will probably annoy the absolute fans of AMD, but in fact, it is hard to prove otherwise: the Intel I7 8700k is the best processor currently available for sale.
I said it, that’s it. And I do not feel guilty, since this processor IS the best at all levels, even if yes, there are still higher ranges and much, much more expensive at Intel, but in addition, it is my favorite for this selection.
I know what I’m talking about, I’m currently using it on the computer that I use to write what you’re reading right now, having used a lot of it in my life since I was about 15 years old.
Let’s first look at the technical specifics of this chip. 4.7GHz boosted at 4.7GHz, 6 cores and 12 threads (hyper-threading at the rendezvous), 12 MB cache on LGA 1151 socket.
Did you say powerful? Yes, this processor is very powerful, since its Cache without blinking video encoding, compilation, compression and all that you can imagine as an application that can undermine its ability to operate.
I must admit that it is below the processors developed by AMD in the second generation Ryzen (and even sometimes the first is vexing), but apart if your requirement is very special at this level, it does everything the case.
Moreover, if that’s the case, I suggest you take a look in our brand selection AMD and especially the Ryzen 7 2700x which is probably your best option quality/price ratio.
We go quickly on the consumer aspect, which is very good, but fairly standard for a high-end processor brand. We are used to this quality.
Again, it is at the level of 3D applications and games that Intel is unbeatable and the 8700k is superior to almost everything available on the market at the moment. With the right graphics card, you’re ready for any future release for a long time.
Obviously, in 2019 we can also find the I7 9700k or the I9 9900k which are the new models with 8 cores of Intel, but the first offer almost similar skills and without Hyper-Threading. The second costs between 111.55 and 223.11 USD more for a negligible performance difference, unless you are an expert in the field and you want absolutely everything new!
Personally, I told you, I use this processor after going through the 7700k and I’m delighted with what he offers me, since it is never harmed, that I’m working , stream, edit, or play Battlefield 5 or R6 Siege, which are some of the coolest games on the PC right now.
Therefore, if you want to get the best high-end processor possible for a price that is really affordable (you can find it for less than 390.43 USD if you look good), do not wait, you’re sure to have found your happiness with the I7 8700k.
How To Choose Your Processor?
I know how difficult it can be to make a definitive choice when you want to buy a new processor.
There are many choices, products that look alike and technical jargon confusing.
Processors, it’s a bit like smartphones, as soon as we seem to have bought the most recent and powerful, another has already taken its place and it is difficult to determine the reason for the arrival of a new product sometimes a few months after his predecessor.
That’s why we’ll take a look at the essential criteria to consider if you’re about to buy a new processor.
This is not a very complicated criterion since there are mainly two brands that we could see and review throughout this article: Intel and AMD.
Both brands are excellent and I can only recommend one over another depending on the context of the other criteria of this little buying guide.
Be aware that both brands are undeniable quality and that they are unbeatable references.
Nevertheless, the choice for many people is often limited to the brand they have heard the most or that they have always used and it’s a shame because it does not necessarily meet the specificities that are best for you.
I repeat both brands are excellent and the preference of one of the competitors over the other depends entirely on the following criteria.
I see you saying “but … the budget is essential for everything you buy”.
And you are right, of course. But now, we discuss the essential criteria for the purchase of a processor and your budget can greatly influence the performance of the processor you get compared to what you want to do (which is one of the following criteria).
First of all, the general consensus is that AMD is generally, at least with the output of the two Ryzen generations, significantly cheaper than Intel.
Once we notice that, we can assume that we get what we paid for.
A processor such as the Intel G4560 costs less than 111.55 USD, certainly, but clearly limits you to office automation activities. Do not expect to play in good conditions, for example.
A high-end processor, on the other hand, will not only allow you to do everything you need but also to do it for a long time, even if other new processors may be released in the next few months.
I simply advise not to buy a processor that does not meet your expectations and to be rather demanding at this level, even if you need to review your budget a bit and wait for it to be a little higher if needed is, so as not to be disappointed by performances that are not at all what you hope for.
This is a fairly simple, straightforward and very important criterion.
The processors require that the rest of the equipment and especially the motherboard, I pointed out in our selection, be compatible with them.
This is divided first by brand.
The latest generation Coffee Lake depends on the LGA 1151 socket,
so you have to own or buy a motherboard that offers socket, it is not the case for all, but it is always written on the box or in the descriptions.
For the second generation, Ryzen presented in our selection, you must have an AM4 motherboard.
Be sure to check that you have the right motherboard and other compatible items. This is easily done online by typing the references of the different components or by asking your local IT specialist.
And it may be useful to point out that Intel sockets are not AMD compatible and vice versa.
If you want to change the processor, you may also have to change the rest of your entire system (I am thinking in particular of the RAM that has changed from DDR3 to DDR4).
As I mentioned before, the context of using your computer can very clearly completely change the processor model you need and therefore all the other criteria mentioned in this article.
Therefore, I will try to go to the simplest.
If you’re someone who does only classic office work, word processing, tables, watching videos, using social networks and other emails, a poorly performing processor is what you must, like for example the Intel G4560.
If you use your computer for encoding, editing, compression, so in short a job a little more related to the performance of your PC and you do not play or little, an AMD processor is I think more appropriate with its excellent range of Ryzen.
Entry, middle or high-end, it depends entirely on your requirements and your financial means.
On the other hand if you want a balance of all these tasks but/and that you claim you as being an enthusiastic or passionate gamer, Intel currently produces the best chips that can be found for these occupations and the 8400 or 8700k are the best representatives of the brand in the matter, according to your budget.
To summarize, there is a processor made for each of us and if you follow these small recommendations, I am convinced that the Intel or the AMD of your dreams is in this selection.
Related Q & A
Q1. Which is the most powerful processor?
Answer: The most powerful processor in the new lineup is the Intel Core i9-8950HK, Intel’s first mobile chip with six cores (two more than the previous generation) and 12 threads.
Q2. Which i7 processor?
Answer: That said, the best in terms of performance is to opt for a Quad Core i5 processor or higher (Quad Core i7, Hexa Core i7 / i9), a non-low power model.
Q3. What is the GHz of a processor?
Answer: Processor frequency. Expressed in gigahertz (GHz) now, the frequency of the processor refers to the number of operations performed in one second by the processor. A clock defines his pace. A processor clocked at 3 GHz performs a trifle of 3 billion operations per second.
Q4. What is Core i7?
Answer: The Intel Core i7 brand is used for its high-end consumer microprocessors since November 2008. … Core i7s have two to ten cores depending on the range and generation.
Q5. How to enable processor cores?
Answer: Click Start Enter msconfig in the search box Press the Enter key Accept privilege elevation request Select the Start tab Click the Advanced button Check the Number of processors box In the drop-down list, select the number of cores highest processor
Q6. What is the role of the graphics card?
Answer: Powerful graphics cards also have the role of managing 3D displays (video games). The main manufacturers of graphics cards are Nvidia and ATI. The graphics card is there to take care of everything related to the display on the screen, and to lighten the load of the processor.
Q7. What is the role of a processor in a computer?
Answer: The Central Processing Unit (CPU) is the component of your computer that executes the instructions given to it by your operating system (Windows).