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AMD Processors: the best AMD CPUs in 2021

Included in this guide:

AMD Processors
AMD processors have proven to be competitive.
PRICE
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID

The best AMD processors for gaming, video editing and all other computing needs are much more appealing because of their price to performance ratio. Although there are now a couple of exceptions to the rule, AMD CPUs have always been so much more than affordable alternatives to Intel’s offerings. And, that hasn’t changed with the Ryzen 3rd Generation and the soon-to-be-released Ryzen 5000 series.

AMD has proven that it can deliver the kind of power to make anyone, regardless of budget, give AMD chips a serious consideration. Only, you don’t actually have to have a big budget to get one of the best AMD CPUs because they’ve stayed affordable even though they’ve already slayed in terms of performance. Even its high-end (and therefore, pricier) offering, the AMD Ryzen 9 5900X, is a great value CPU.

There might never be a clear winner in the AMD vs Intel battle, but the best AMD processors have proven themselves to be the best when it comes to getting your money’s worth. And, with Black Friday and Cyber Monday well on their way, they’re about to get even better in value. Here are our top picks, whether you’re just upgrading from your aging one or ready to make the switch.

The best AMD CPUs at a glance

  1. AMD Ryzen 9 5900X
  2. AMD Ryzen 5 3600X
  3. AMD Ryzen 7 5800X
  4. AMD Ryzen 9 3950X
  5. AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3960X

AMD Ryzen 9 5900X

(Image credit: AMD)

1. AMD Ryzen 9 5900X

Best CPU for high-end gaming

Specifications
Cores: 12
Threads: 24
Base clock: 3.7GHz
Boost clock: 4.8GHz
L3 cache: 64MB
TDP: 105W
Reasons to buy
+Amazing performance+A new single-core champion+Same power consumption
Reasons to avoid
-Price went up-No included cooler

The AMD Ryzen 9 5900X brings the biggest gen-on-gen jump in a single performance in years, making it a terrific upgrade. This latest release from AMD is not just a stronger processor across the board. It’s also an incredibly powerful processor for gaming and creative work full stop. The fact that you won’t need a new motherboard is just a nice perk.

Read the full review: AMD Ryzen 9 5900X

AMD Ryzen 5 3600X

AMD Ryzen 5 3600X takes that budget-minded stage of performance to a new level. (Image credit: TechRadar)

2. AMD Ryzen 5 3600X

Best AMD processor for gaming

Specifications
Cores: 6
Threads: 12
Base clock: 3.8GHz
Boost clock: 4.4GHz
L3 cache: 32MB
TDP: 95W
Reasons to buy
+Excellent performance+Affordable+Includes a cooler
Reasons to avoid
-Still 6-cores

Showcasing an impressive multi-threading performance as well as competitive performance in even the most intense single-threaded applications, this mid-range chip cannot help but take the throne as the best AMD processor for gaming. And, AMD Ryzen 5 3600X doesn’t just stop there: it takes that budget-minded stage of performance to a new level, with increased IPC (instructions per clock) performance, along with a higher clock speed – while staying at the same price point.

Read the full review: AMD Ryzen 5 3600X

AMD Ryzen 7 5800X

(Image credit: AMD)

3. AMD Ryzen 7 5800X

Ryzen to the top

Specifications
Cores: 8
Threads: 16
Base clock: 3.8GHz
Boost clock: 4.7GHz
L3 cache: 32MB
TDP: 105W
Reasons to buy
+Excellent single-core performance+Strong for gaming+Low power
Reasons to avoid
-Price jump from Ryzen 3000-No included cooler

Intel no longer has the monopoly on gaming CPUs. Rocking 8 cores and 16 threads, along with much stronger single-core performance, the AMD Ryzen 7 5800X is among the best CPUs for gaming – as well as less demanding creative work – right now. And it comes with a much more approachable price tag compared to most of Intel’s offerings, making it a much better value.

Read the full review: AMD Ryzen 7 5800X

AMD Ryzen 9 3950X

If you’re looking for one a processors that can handle processing tasks and high-end gaming, the AMD Ryzen 9 3950X is a strong contender. (Image credit: Future)

4. AMD Ryzen 9 3950X

Moonlights as an HEDT processor

Specifications
Cores: 16
Threads: 32
Base clock: 3.5GHz
Boost clock: 4.7GHz
L3 cache: 64MB
TDP: 105W
Reasons to buy
+Cheaper than HEDT+PCIe 4.0+Fits in AM4 socket
Reasons to avoid
-Needs extra cooling-Limited gaming advantage

The AMD Ryzen 9 3950X is so great that in our review, we went as far as to call it the baddest cat in town when it comes to processors that don’t land in the HEDT (high-end desktop) category of processors. Built on AMD’s 7nm Zen 2 architecture, it has a whopping 16 cores and 32 threads, making it excellent for heavily threaded computer work. If you’re looking for one of the best AMD processors that can handle both processing tasks and high-end gaming, the AMD Ryzen 9 3950X is a strong contender.

Read the full review: AMD Ryzen 9 3950X

AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3960X

(Image credit: AMD)

5. AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3960X

Perfecting the Threadripper line

Specifications
Cores: 24
Threads: 48
Base clock: 3.8GHz
Boost clock: 4.5GHz
L3 cache: 128MB
TDP: 280W
Reasons to buy
+Excellent single and multithreaded performance+Competitive price
Reasons to avoid
-Not backwards compatible

Launched alongside the even more potent Ryzen Threadripper 3970X, the AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3960X may have the same core count as its predecessor. However, it comes with a brand-new architecture that delivers performance gains as well as PCIe 4.0, making it among the best processors in the Threadripper arena. The 3960X delivers dramatically improved single-threaded performance and has successfully reduced its predecessors’ idiosyncrasies that affect their own performance. It may come with a higher price tag and require the TRX40 motherboard – not to mention, a powerful cooler – but it’s certainly worth the fuss if you can maximize its skills to your advantage.

Michelle Rae Uy

Michelle Rae Uy is a Los Angeles-based editor, writer and photographer with a bad case of wanderlust. She is a regular contributor for Thrillist, TravelAge West, HuffPo Travel, Paste Magazine, and Travel Pulse. She has written for publications like Nylon, Fodor's and SmarterTravel, and is also the contributing editor for MiniTime.com.