If you’re choosing a new PC – or even building one yourself – it’s vital to pick the best CPU for the job. If your processor is too basic for your requirements, you’re dooming yourself to sluggish performance and could potentially be missing out on your graphics card’s full potential. Equally, if you splash out on high-end power you don’t need, that’s wasted money that could otherwise go towards a fast SSD, a beefy graphics card or a luxurious display.
Here you’ll find our pick of the best CPUs available today. Note that we’ve stayed away from mobile processors, as that’s a completely different ballgame. When buying a laptop you’re typically restricted to one or two CPU options, anyway, and they’re almost certainly not upgradeable.
In the desktop market, things are much more flexible; within reason, you can choose whichever processor you want. Here’s our pick of the best contenders, to suit all needs and budgets, so you can buy in confidence and enjoy a slick computing experience.
How to choose the best CPU for you
Is Intel better than AMD?
Not always. In fact, depending on your workload, AMD could be the better choice. Before AMD introduced its Ryzen processors in 2017, Intel had a clear lead at every level. Its CPUs were more powerful – and much more popular – than AMD’s, and the only reason to buy an AMD was to cut your costs.
However, AMD’s Ryzen processors have turned that situation around. Now in their third generation, they’re powerful CPUs at a tempting price, arguably offering more bang for your buck when running two or more complex applications at once. While there are areas where Intel still comes out on top, AMD provides some excellent alternatives for every need and at every price point.
What sort of motherboard do I need?
If you’ve chosen an AMD Ryzen processor, you need an AM4 motherboard, except for the premium Ryzen Threadripper chips that need the larger TR4 socket. There are plenty to choose from, using different onboard chipsets to provide different features (such as varying numbers of PCI-E and USB ports). Most Ryzen chips will work…
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