Best CPUs of 2020 So Far (Gaming, Workstation, Overclocking, Budget, & Disappointment)

with the new influx of CPS from both AMD

and Intel we wanted to round up all the

most recent launches from both companies

and one piece for a firm recommendation

on the best CPUs for different use cases

those use cases include best gaming

overall best budget gaming best overall

or all-around CPU best small business or

hobbyist production CPU best workstation

CPU for someone who's really using it to

make money with their computer and then

we'll be looking at most fun to

overclock and of course most

disappointed so all of this is meant to

help people who are just in the market

to buy something and maybe don't want to

consume the literal hours of content

we've released in the past few days on

CP reviews if you want in-depth really

detailed information on each CPU

individually check out the review for

the CPUs as mentioned otherwise this

will help you get a baseline for what's

going on in the market if you're out of

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while reducing our reliance on

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description below the format here is

going to be similar to our end-of-year

roundup so the real goal is to just give

a direct recommendation on the different

types of workloads for each CPU that

means we're going to be leaving out a

lot of the more tactical really deeper

information that we've had in our

reviews so again check the reviews for

that information if any of these CPUs

interests you on an individual level

will link the recent reviews below for

the most relevant recent ones and then

in the article provided alongside this

video we'll also have links to each of

the reviews from when they were

published so this won't be as focused on

numbers but will

still includes some charts for you for

the most pertinent information and well

instead of being focused in on

presenting the data rapidly and for

someone who's interested in a roundup of

just trying to pick something we're

going to start out with some of the

newer stuff from Intel and AMD alike and

then we'll work through a couple of the

other recommendations where it's

remained CPUs from end of year last year

because not that much has changed now of

course there are new CPUs immediately on

the horizon there always are and we

won't be able to include those but at

least for now for a little while this

content will remain a useful starting

point for figuring out what CPU to buy

then you'll have to check back once more

stuff comes out later one final note

before we get started with our choices

for the best of each category some of

the data in here might be from older

reviews like some of the thread Ripper

stuff that's because we're just trying

to pull a bunch of different sources

from different points in time from our

testing from our reviews and so you

might not be able to compare all the

charts in this content to the other

charts in this content but within a

given chart you'll be able to make

direct comparisons then obviously again

the original review would be the source

for the cross comparisons within a

methodology intel's new core i5 10 600 k

is the one that we're giving best gaming

despite the 10 900k running technically

higher performance stock for gaming we

have good reasons though the first of

which is that it can achieve 1090 K

levels of performance with an easy

overclock particularly when considering

the inevitable GPU bottleneck in many

games for people who are playing with

reasonable settings that's not to

discredit the 10900 K but we'll come

back to that in a bit

the 10600 K is a genuine leap for Intel

which has been stuck for multiple

generations on unsellable i5 CPUs this

one we think redeems the i-5 line up

thanks to hyper threading in large part

and is the most compelling buy for

someone heavily focused on gaming

performance maybe even with a minor non

daily focus on things like video

production 3d modeling or similar

applications although there are 5 3600

maybe more well rounded particularly at

its price point as the main compelling

reason for that the 10 600 K is often

within 4 to 5 percent of production

level performance of the 3600 while

managing potentially significantly

higher frame rates the 3600 is plenty

capable to game

but if you really only care about gaming

and don't use workstation applications

the 10 600k makes the most sense the 10

600k combines well let's see 494 its

overclocking support discussed later and

is a good tuning base that can reach

performance levels and II can't yet

claim at least in games further

regarding the common misconception that

a and the horizon CPUs are somehow

smoother or more consistent in frame

time delivery our data doesn't support

that the 10th 600 K is higher than

average fps and also in almost all cases

out matches similarly priced rise in

CPUs for frame time consistency with

overall few excursions from the interval

and -1 our criteria for the best gaming

CPU includes price but also absolute

performance and ability to tune in this

regard the 10 600 K can achieve 10900 K

stock performance in games and it can be

tuned until both of them hit a GPU limit

so although it's always an arms race and

the 10900 k could also be overclocked at

some point for most users but not all

you'll probably hit a GPU bottleneck and

we'll talk about that more in a little

bit because there are some redeeming

factors that time 900 K anyway until

more threads are needed in games this

will be true in most cases or until the

30 atti comes out but for now we're

giving the 10 600 K our not for the best

gaming CPU particularly or especially

considering its price Intel did well to

get back in the game here but it's not

uncontested and these still has a long

way to go to compete head-to-head with

Intel for the gaming crown and it's

definitely catching up with that

regeneration so Intel's gotta really get

moving on 10 nanometer or whatever it's

next true iteration on processes in

order to try and keep the lead that it's

been able to stop gap hold for the last

few releases next up our recommendation

for best budget gaming CPU where we

might recommend the Intel i5 10 600 K

for gaming with less restrictive of a

budget or the 10900 K for the absolute

peak of FPS for the few competitively

privileged enough to really need it and

notice it we'd recommend something else

for more budget-conscious gamers the am

the horizon 330 300 X gets that

recommendation this CPU with its pricing

at $120 MSRP

is able to achieve 80 to 85% of the

performance of higher-end CPUs in most

games it's significantly better than the

$100 3100 thanks to its 4 +0 CCX

configuration rather than the 2+2 CCX

configuration of the 3100 where Kross

CCX latency affects performance so much

so that even tuning infinity fabric and

throw in better memory at the 3100 can't

make up the gap against the 3300 acts in

most of the tests that we published

previously the 3300 acts critically can

be coupled with nearly any current

generation video card without

significant bottlenecking on the cpu for

higher graphics settings this does

become less true if you care more about

low graphics high FPS competitive gaming

at which point our recommendation would

shift toward the intel parts instead if

you want more of a GPU bines though

meaning you prefer higher graphics

settings potentially higher resolutions

than 1080p although high enough graphics

at 1080p is still a bind or if you want

something where the GPU is rapidly going

to become more limiting than CPU the

3300 X makes a lot of sense as a

starting point for that approach

especially on a platform that has become

mature enough now that you're no longer

dealing with first gen rise and adopts

or BIOS challenges we've been flashing

through some of our bottleneck charts by

this point but you can check the

previous content on that for more

information on which GPUs make the most

sense to pair with a 3300 X although we

absolutely do not recommend coupling a

$1,250 xx atti with a $120 CPU

technically you could do it and get at

least half the performance in the worst

case scenarios the 2080 super is about

the peak for full performance in all the

tests that we've done so far but

something more reasonably priced makes a

lot more sense particularly because GPS

are often easier to upgrade than CPUs

anyway either way the 3300 X offers

plenty of room if you want to get more

out of it then look into our coverage on

memory tuning and Infinity fabric

overclocking for AMD Rison cpus some of

its from before the 3300 x launch but it

all applies that will get you more

mileage and increase FPS Headroom as

preparing a card with it although you

could go all the way up the stack and be

mostly fine something more price

appropriate to the $120 part probably

makes more sense just to make sure

you're not overspending on one part and


too much of an imbalance as an honorable

mention will point out that the Athlon

3000 G at roughly $60 is another good

consideration for ultra budget gaming

this is mostly a stopgap measure if

you're playing simpler games with less

of a graphics slant or if you're

planning to upgrade later we've tested

this one a lot over the years so we'll

leave it as an honorable mention and

just note that you can watch our

previous content to get an idea of ideal

use cases for AMD Athlon cpus the 200 GE

wasn't interesting one in a similar spot

and the 3000 G is - it's not what we'd

call good but it can certainly get you

by if $100 is out of reach for now next

up is best overall which goes again to

the rise in 536 hundred we awarded the

3600 the same honor in our best CPUs of

2019 PS that we published friend of year

the r5 3600 maintains this title even

under direct fire from Intel's new 10

600k with the key distinction being that

the 3600 in 2020 has had some of its

viability in the mid-range gaming

installations eroded by Intel's part

that's her reasons discussed in the best

gaming section and even the best budget

game in section because the 3300 acts

takes some of the 3600 performance marks

in games where the single ccac's

configuration benefits it either way the

3600 still maintains its price and

advantage against the Intel 10 600 K it

still maintains its versatility and

production and gaming applications and

it maintains an average lead in

applications like blender premier v-ray

and similar it's not as big of a lead as

once existed in the two hundred to two

hundred and sixty dollar class but it's

still elite and it's also about $100

cheaper at $180 at the time of writing

on new AG anyway where the 10 600 K is

closer or should be closer to 280 for

anyone not as concerned about the

highest frame rates the 3600 makes the

most sense we think for saving some

money but maintaining the production

capabilities that you would lose with

the 3,300 X it's not as potentially Korb

out as the 3300 X might become in the

future and so it provides some more

reassurance for a longer lifespan that

said trying to guess at the future or

trying to future-proof a system is

mostly a fool's errand we view the 3600

as the news

any bridge this is the CPU people will

be happy to have bought in six years and

people will have a hard time parting

with it when it's time to upgrade the

price to performance was unbeatable at

launch and although it can now be beaten

in gaming performance more consistently

at a more reasonable configuration

having hyper-threading on the intel part

the gap isn't always wide enough to

justify the cost jump with a 9600 K it

was easy to recommend the 3600 instead

even though the 9600 K often held a lead

in gaming and that's because the 3600

maintained better overall frame time

consistency because specifically of its

threat advantage in some games the 3600

hangs on for another quarter and overall

best value and best all-around and it's

got the most balanced performance even

for imbalanced workloads that are gaming

oriented it's hard to beat the 3600 in

price to performance at least up until

intel's newer stuff the 10 400 came

close but it misses when paired with a

non 0 90 platform based on our knowledge

today the 10 600 K does win but it's

about $100 more expensive at the time of

writing and that's a big jump our next

category is for the best small business

and hobbyist production which we

assigned last year to the Andy our 939

50 X in light of current releases that

hasn't changed

thread rivers still offers value for the

high-end workstation users but for

people who might be hobbyist artists

editors or coders or maybe on small

businesses that work with CPU intensive

applications the 3950 X is justifiable

as a means to better enable making money

off of your work it's not as full-on of

a financial commitment as threader fur

is but it still provides a lot of the

benefits your major loss other than more

cores is in PCIe lanes and maybe in

memory bandwidth with the difference in

channeling but the high core count and

performance offers a lot for users of

popular workstation applications or

workflows at our testing we've seen the

3950 acts show expressive performance

and code compiling and windows achieving

the top ranked on the chart outside of

these significantly more expensive

threader 4 series recently we've also

noticed that the 1350 acts has dropped

from its launch price of $750 to

normally about $700

which further strengthens the argument

and nearly every other

production application we tested the

3950 access come out on top of the

processors near it in price class it's

the top and handbrake it's at the top

and compression and decompression of

workloads near price class anyway other

than threaded fur it's tied with a 10

980 axion v-ray or very close to it in

applications like Premiere and rendering

tasks and it's also the 3950 axe a firm

chart leader again behind the 3970 axe

in blender 4 cycles rendering on the cpu

with heavy scenes as a bonus the 3950

axe is capable of gaming unlike Andy's

original 16 core threaded for CPU the

3950 axe has solved many of the latency

related issues that caused problems

where some games just didn't work you

definitely shouldn't buy it for a gaming

system but if you do mostly work on a

machine and then sometimes play games

the 3950 axe is a capable performer we

see this as a good CPU choice for people

who use or hope to use their computers

to make money our next one is a natural

transition into best high-end

workstation this is for people with

thread intensive heavy production

workloads especially those who might be

more established in their money-making

endeavors the 3990 axe comes out between

our previous best CPUs piece and this

one and so it's a newcomer to the

roundup in terms of best overall value

for a production machine the 3970 axe

makes more sense

definitely but the 3990 axe does get

crown for quote best in the purest sense

of the word in a lot of the tests

although not all of them the 10 9 8 exe

and the 3125 axe were Intel's attempts

with the 3175 axe coming out much before

but our recent revisit of the Intel W 30

175 X showed it against parts like the

3990 X and we'll put that on the screen

it was rare that Intel could out match

the 3990 X and even rarer that the Intel

part and a motherboard could be bought

for anywhere near the combined price of

the thread River combination in Blattner

the 39 ND act scales cleanly and holds a

significant lead even over the 3970 X of

about 39 percent in the GN logo render

it's not as advantaged in premiere where

the cores aren't fully leveraged so it

wouldn't be our go-to choice for a video

editing machine the 3950 X splits the

difference and makes a lot more sense

there the hundred 960 X is also

in this application and is one that we

use for our video editing machines it's

also the 3990 acts somewhat truncated in

performance in the compression and

decompression 7-zip testing where the

3990 exit needs more memory bandwidth to

really make full use of its course the

CPU does however directly benefit in

applications like Kaos groups v-ray

encode compiling with chromium and a few

other tests that we've published the

biggest note is that you'll want to buy

more RAM with the threader for 3990 X

the amount will depend on your projects

and what you're doing but an hour code

compile we saw a huge hit to performance

where it fell to 200 minutes to render

when coupled with 32 gigabytes of RAM

while the 64 gigabyte solution allowed

it to finish in 22 minutes that

difference is thanks to paging out to

the drive which hurts performance the

3990 X really needs to be partnered with

other high-end parts so the CPU cost

alone isn't the only thing you're

looking at in greasing here you also

need more or faster memory depending on

your applications that you're using and

you might potentially need a faster SSD

or i/o solution if you are in a scenario

where you're going to be paging out

every now and then the best balance

would be the 39 70 X as you aren't

overspending for constrained scenarios

but the 3950 acts would be the best

price conscious fallback that still

achieves most the performance in

specific applications like premiere as I

mentioned will note that Intel's

high-frequency parts like the 9700 K and

9900 K are among the best performers in

Photoshop that specific application

still seems to like frequencies so heavy

Photoshop users might want to look

elsewhere next is most fun to overclock

the Intel Core i 9/10 900k gets our

recommendation has the most fun

overclocking CPU until Z 490 platform is

completely insane for overclocking it

has overclocking features an abundant

builds IDE has called the platform the

easiest to overclock and we've heard

similar accolades from Joe of bearded

hardware in our own experience we'd

agree with the caveat that it's not only

the easiest to tune but also the most

scalable to user experience you don't

have to be a pro like these guys to

leverage the ease of overclocking

features in Z 490 if you want something

that's good out of the box but can also

be treated like a tuning project for

days off of work we can highly recommend

the Intel eye 910 900

okay and a z4 90 bored with it we've

overclocked the ten nine hundred K both

with standard coolant and with extreme

cooling like in our video with hi cookie

where we were reaching about seven

gigahertz and the boards are supportive

of both approaches z4 ninety earmark

features include the following one is

per core hyper-threading which allows

tuning for applications that may have an

optimal count of threads for peak

performance or might enable you to

better do core binning DMI and PG

overclocking for i/o performance

increases are also present in this

version of the Intel chipset for point

number three extremely capable memory

overclocking support is a major one with

tuning upwards and beyond five thousand

megahertz for the best kits and skilled

overclockers although bios overall

depends on the vendor the z4 90 core

feature set of OC knobs is replete with

tools to research and tweak making it a

great combination for enthusiasts who

are more interested in the tuning aspect

than the baseline performance this is

sort of like a project car except it's a

project car that came fully complete and

functioning our next one is for biggest

disappointment a tradition for GN round

ups we were torn between the 10 400 and

the 10 700 K for reasons that you can

check our reviews for ultimately we

decided to give the honour to the 10 700

K that's because the 10 7rk is

positioned in a way that doesn't give it

much selling room for workstation tasks

and these now same priced 3900 X gets

you up to 12 cores instead and it

manages to win and nearly every

production workload we test it because

cores aren't everything for gaming tasks

although the 10 7rk is objectively

superior to a.m. these offerings Intel's

I own 10 600 K roughly matches it or can

be made to outmatch it meanwhile $100

higher anyone looking for the highest

framerate possible without any

compromise should be looking at the 10

900k instead the 10-7 RK fails to prove

much value as flanked between Intel's

10900 K and 10 600 K and as similarly

contested by AMD is 3900 X now finally

as we always like to do with these

pieces we also have a worst trend and

that one's going to be tone-deaf

marketing which seems like you could

mostly set phrase for just about any

worst trend at any point in time

AMD and Intel

both been guilty of tone-deaf marketing

lately AMD's side there was the sort of

almost playing a victim card in regard

to the be 550 X 570 fiasco and the whole

fracas around not supporting the 400

series motherboards for his m3 parts but

at the same time Andy put itself in that

position and he had some legitimate

technical excuses that were valid but

also and these marketing is what caused

the whole problem to begin with and

that's because Andy whether it meant to

or not and through its partners whether

they meant to or not did sort of lead

people along thinking that they'd be

able to upgrade later so that's just

what you get for taking shots at the

other guy in this case that'd be Intel

for doing something that you will

eventually do and we have a whole series

on all that if you want to learn more

about it

and they had many technical reasons that

were valid it ended up walking it back

and has new technical issues that will

emerge but at the end of the day it was

all caused by tone-deaf marketing on

Intel side Intel is so focused on having

six times more soldiers in total war

that it has also overlooked some of its

own poor marketing one of those was the

phrase that we sort of went off on on

our Intel 10 series specifications

roundup where we talked about how in top

presented that X percent of games are

single threaded doors optimized for

single thread is specifically what the

marketing text said optimized for single

thread when we pushed on that matter it

proved that it wasn't defensible and so

Intel struck that line from its PDF and

re-released a revised version so this is

another instance where marketing if not

for being challenged by technical press

or users will obviously just try to say

whatever it wants and in both scenarios

Intel and AMD have demonstrated that

they apparently seem to have maybe

numbers to back it up but they seem to

think that just marketing the product on

its merits alone isn't good enough and

both companies have to sort of tweak the

wording one way or the other to be maybe

a little bit gray area as to whether

what they're saying is even possible

for being true not just if it's true

which is normal marketing but if there's

any possibility that what they've said

can be reinforced with data and then

that I mean that's just it's just where

we are with the sort of tribal mentality

of picking a brand and defending it in

any case the the end result hopefully

will that be that both companies can

learn from their respective experiences

in the last month and hopefully focus on

revising to market instead on the

actually very strong independent merits

of each of their products in an

objective sense rather than trying to

tweak the dialogue to mislead people and

that'll bring us to the end so hopefully

that helps out with getting a handle on

the cpu situation right now there's a

ton of stuff out there we've released I

think at least some of our highest

quality content in a long time with

back-to-back really in-depth reviews of

each of the new CPUs we have follow-up

coverage we have overclocking coverage

we have live streams with liquid

nitrogen if that interests you and then

we've got recaps of those if you want

the short version so if it's been a

little while you're building the first

system and a couple of years or

something each of those content pieces

would be a great place to go once you

think you've found a CPU for maybe from

this list and want to learn more about

it and we'll point you that way so that

you can learn more about the CPU you're

potentially choosing including things

like power thermals all that stuff

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