Best processors 2018: top CPUs for your PC

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Back in 2017, when Intel’s Coffee Lake and AMD’s Ryzen CPUs made it out in the wild, the long-standing stagnation in the CPU world ceased overnight. Now, the longstanding competition between these two tech behemoths has been fully reignited, and Intel and AMD are at each other’s throats, competing for your interest. Thankfully, out of this competition, the best processors that have ever existed were born, and there’s never been a better time to upgrade to one of the best chips on the market.

Right now, there’s a chance for everyone to get their hands on one of the best processors, no matter their budget. AMD and Intel both are gearing up to launch a wide range of processors. AMD with its Ryzen 2nd Generation, and Intel with its Core i9 laptop CPUs and low power Coffee Lake desktop CPUs that will fill in the budget segment. However, even if you can’t get your hands on the latest and greatest processors, there are still plenty of fantastic Kaby Lake processors that can still pack a punch. Regardless of what you want to do, this innovation and competition means everyone wins.

Trust us, we get it. You pull up Amazon or Newegg, looking for the best processor for gaming, and immediately you’re flooded with a wave of confusing model numbers. This confusion is natural and is an unfortunate side effect of the booming CPU market. Fortunately, TechRadar has your back – we’ve created this list of the best processors available in 2018. Every single chip on this list was tested and reviewed by us, so you can be confident that they’ll be worth your time and money. So, sit back, relax and get ready to realize PC performance you’ve previously only dreamed of.

Best CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 2700X

AMD’s victory lap

Cores: 8 | Threads: 16 | Base clock: 3.7GHz | Boost clock: 4.3GHz | L3 cache: 16MB | TDP: 105W

 Dramatic performance improvement 
 Reasonable price 
 High energy draw 

For the longest time, AMD has played second fiddle to Intel in many categories but value. Those days are over. With the Ryzen 7 2700X, and Ryzen 2nd Generation in general, AMD introduces the first 12nm CPUs and the performance backs that up, beating Intel in both single and multi-core workloads for the first time in recent history. If you’re looking for a high-performance CPU at a reasonable price, trust us, look no further.

Read the full review: AMD Ryzen 7 2700X 

Best high-end CPU: AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1950X

Ripping threads and breaking records

Cores: 16 | Threads: 32 | Base clock: 3.4GHz | Boost clock: 4.0GHz | L3 cache: 32MB | TDP: 180W

Ready for the ultimate mega-tasking
Easier to install than Intel
More power-hungry than Intel’s rival
Switching profiles requires a full restart

Back in June 2017, when AMD launched its Zen architecture-based Ryzen chips out into the wild, they were promising a price-to-performance ratio that would finally dethrone Intel. However, at least with the initial Ryzen chips, AMD fell short of Intel in sheer horsepower – until the AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1950X. This block of silicon wasn’t just a better value than Intel’s Core i9-7900X, but it was also a lot more versatile – able to easily be anchored into any x399 motherboard. 

Read the full review: AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1950X

Best mid-range CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 2600X

Top performance on a budget

Cores: 6 | Threads: 12 | Base clock: 3.6GHz | Boost clock: 4.32GHz | L3 cache: 16MB | TDP: 95W

 Faster single-core performance 
 Better gaming performance 
 Slightly higher price 

If you’re looking for an affordable CPU for content creation, look no further than the AMD Ryzen 5 2600X. With 6 cores and 12 threads and a base clock of 3.6GHz, you’re getting far better performance than the pricier Intel Core i5-8600K – with a dope RGB CPU cooler included. Sure, the gaming performance increase over the blue team is marginal, but when you start multi-tasking – and who doesn’t like having 100 Chrome tabs open while gaming – the value starts to show itself in spades. 

Read the full review: AMD Ryzen 5 2600X 

Best Entry Level CPU: AMD Ryzen 3 2200G

Integrated graphics on a budget

Cores: 4 | Threads: 4 | Base clock: 3.5GHz | Boost clock: 3.7GHz | L3 cache: 4MB | TDP: 65W

 Playable 1080p gaming 
 Very affordable 
 Finicky drivers 

If you’re looking to put together a gaming PC on the tightest budget, the AMD Ryzen 3 2200G can take you a long way. While it doesn’t feature the hyperthreading capability of its predecessor, the Ryzen 3 1200, the introduction of integrated graphics makes this APU one of the cheapest ways to experience casual PC gaming. We were even able to play Overwatch at 4K Ultra-HD resolution at ‘Epic’ settings.

Read the full review: AMD Ryzen 3 2200G 

Best gaming CPU: Intel Core i5-7600K

“K” series Core processing at an i5 cost

Cores: 4 | Threads: 4 | Base clock: 3.8GHz | Boost clock: 4.2GHz | L3 cache: 6MB | TDP: 91W

Easy to overclock
OC approaches i7-6700K stock speeds
Negligible upgrade over Skylake

Like the 7700K that preceded it on this list, the Intel Core i5-7600K is an unlocked, overclockable quad-core processor from Intel. However, it also suffers from the same integral shortcoming; that is that it’s barely an upgrade over the i5-6600K. Be that as it may, squeezing out only 300MHz over its precursor brings it nearly in line with the last-gen Core i7-6700K when overclocked. All the while, it won’t put too much of a dent in your budget either.

Best VR CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 1800X

Ryzen to the occasion and VR-ready to rumble

Cores: 8 | Threads: 16 | Base clock: 3.6GHz | Boost clock: 4GHz | L3 cache: 16MB | TDP: 95W

Stunning multi-core performance
Insane price
Overclocking is touch and go
Temperatures are ‘unique’

The primary contender to Intel’s Core i7-7700K, the AMD Ryzen 7 1800X poses a convincing threat to Intel’s flagship. While it’s unfortunately more expensive than the 7700K, uncharacteristic for the oft value-focused Red Team, the Ryzen 7 1800X most certainly keeps up with some of Intel’s older chips. Plus, unlike the Core i7-5960X and -6700K it most intimately rivals, the AMD Ryzen 7 1800X is much more qualified for VR now and into the future.

Read the full review: AMD Ryzen 7 1800X

Best video editing CPU: Intel Core i7-7820X

X gon’ give it to ya

Cores: 8 | Threads: 16 | Base clock: 3.6GHz | Boost clock: 4.3GHz | L3 cache: 11MB | TDP: 140W

Solid multi-core performance
Best value for an eight-core Intel chip
Little benefit over cheaper Ryzen 1800X
Threadripper is cheaper

The naming convention is confusing, given that the Intel Core i7-7820X is part of Intel’s “Skylake-X” series rather than the X-class chips built on the 14nm Kaby Lake node, but semantics matter very little when you get to go hands-on with an Intel CPU boasting this many cores. Although the fact that you’ll need a new motherboard to use this octa-core monster might be enough to scare some users off to Ryzen, Intel loyalists shan’t mind the upgrade. 

Best performance processor: Intel Core i9-7980XE

This 18-core processor dominates all

Cores: 18 | Threads: 36 | Base clock: 2.6GHz | Boost clock: 4.4GHz | L3 cache: 24.75MB | TDP: 165W

Exceptional performance
Single-core results are incredible 
Price, price, price
Monstrous overclocking power draw 

Intel's 18-core processor is all about brute force. With the ability to kick up all of its cores to 4.8GHz (by our testing at least), this monstrous CPU brings performance to a new level of insanity. The only caveats are this processor power draw and price are equally beastly.

Read the full review: Intel Core i9-7980XE

Best budget CPU: Intel Pentium G4560

Intel Core i3 power at a Pentium price tag

Cores: 2 | Threads: 4 | Base clock: 3.5GHz | L3 cache: 3MB | TDP: 54W

Closely tails Core i3-7100
Supports hyper-threading
Limited to DDR4-2400 memory
Inferior performance to Intel Pentium G4560

With the amount of money you’ll save by purchasing the Intel Pentium G4560 over a Core i3 chip, we promise you won’t mind the ever-so-slight loss in performance you can expect from this hardy value chip. As the first Pentium processor in quite some time to feature hyper-threading, the G4560 goes out of its way to show us all what we’ve been missing. And, in benchmarks, it proves itself eerily adjacent to the more expensive Intel Core i3-7100.

Best HTPC CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 2400G

Ryzen and Vega finally meet

Cores: 4 | Threads: 8 | Base clock: 3.6GHz | Boost clock: 3.9GHz | L2 cache: 2MB

Impressive integrated graphics
Massive value
Limited PCI-E lanes

One of the only things that we were left wanting when AMD’s Ryzen CPUs blew up is that they didn’t support integrated graphics, limiting their appeal to PC enthusiasts. However, with the Ryzen 5 2400G, that’s all changed. Featuring impressive Vega graphics, it’s a great APU that anyone looking to build a HTPC will love. And, now that AMD has slashed the price, you can get in on this 4K action cheaper than ever. 

Read the full review: AMD Ryzen 5 2400G 

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