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Best processors 2020: the best CPUs for your PC from Intel and AMD

Best processors
These are the best processors on the market in 2020. (Image credit: Future)

One of the best processors is the only way to go if you want a powerful PC that will see you through the most demanding games and creative workflows. The faster and more powerful your CPU is, the better your computer’s performance and power efficiency will be. You’ll see and feel the difference when you’ve got the best processor under the hood of your PC. 

Now’s the best time to invest, with Intel and AMD locked in a fiery competition. Both manufacturers are rolling out impressive chips like Comet Lake-S, Intel’s latest chips, and Ryzen 4000 desktop processors that AMD is launching on October 8. The market is, therefore, more saturated than ever with the best processors touting the most competitive prices we’ve seen to date.

However demanding your computing needs are, whether you can afford Intel’s latest chip or you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option, you’ll find something that will suit you. We gathered the best processors 2020 has to offer to help you find the ideal one for your needs. 

AMD Ryzen 9 3900X

(Image credit: AMD)

Best CPU: AMD Ryzen 9 3900X

Team Red’s takeover

Cores: 12 | Threads: 24 | Base clock: 3.8GHz | Boost clock: 4.6GHz | L3 cache: 64MB | TDP: 105W

Incredible performance
PCIe 4.0
Beats Intel at same price
Included heatsink may not be enough
Single core performance still behind

The AMD Ryzen 9 3900X isn’t just AMD’s best mainstream processor right now; it’s also currently the king of all mainstream processors. With multi-threaded performance that destroys everything in its path to start, you won’t find a processor more impressive without stepping up to the HEDT market. Sure, there are some workloads where the Intel Core i9-9900K will still come out better, like with old games that are completely single threaded. However, thanks to this chip, the gap is definitely starting to narrow.

Read the full review: AMD Ryzen 9 3900X

AMD Ryzen 9 3950X

(Image credit: AMD)

Best high-end CPU: AMD Ryzen 9 3950X

A mainstream CPU moonlights as an HEDT processor

Cores: 16 | Threads: 32 | Base clock: 3.5GHz | Boost clock: 4.7GHz | L3 cache: 64MB | TDP: 105W

Performance powerhouse
Cheaper than HEDT
PCIe 4.0
Needs extra cooling
Limited gaming advantage

The highest tier in the Ryzen 3000 series is the performance powerhouse you’re looking for, if you want something for heavily threaded computer work. Besides high-end gaming, the Ryzen 9 3950 also blasts through processing tasks. It’s expensive, but for a mainstream processor that can go toe-to-toe with HEDT processors, that’s hardly a surprise. And, it’s also well worth the price, if you need its level of performance. Just remember that it may take a bit to keep cool so be sure to follow AMD’s guidance.

Read the full review: AMD Ryzen 9 3950X

AMD Ryzen 5 3600X

(Image credit: AMD)

Best mid-range CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 3600X

Top performance on a budget

Cores: 6 | Threads: 12 | Base clock: 3.8GHz | Boost clock: 4.4GHz | L3 cache: 32MB | TDP: 95W

Excellent performance
Includes a cooler
Still 6-cores

With more threads than the Intel Core i5-9600K, this mid-range graphics card delivers impressive multi-threading performance. However, the AMD Ryzen 5 3600X doesn’t just stop there: it takes that budget-minded stage of performance to a new level, with its increased IPC (instructions per clock) performance and a higher clock speed while staying at the same price point. It also stays competitive in even the most intense single-threaded applications.

Read the full review: AMD Ryzen 5 3600X

AMD Ryzen 3 3100

(Image credit: AMD)

Best entry-level CPU: AMD Ryzen 3 3100

PC gaming just got cheaper

Cores: 4 | Threads: 8 | Base clock: 3.5GHz | Boost clock: 3.6GHz | L3 cache: 16MB | TDP: 65W

Excellent performance
Doesn't suck up much power
Not as fast as the 3300X
May bottleneck high-end GPUs

Budget-minded consumers who missed out on all the 3rd-generation Ryzen excitement the first time will appreciate AMD’s latest attempt in the entry-level sphere. There’s no denying that the AMD Ryzen 3 3100 is appealingly cheap, but it does so without compromising on performance. In fact, this chip delivers a performance that could almost rival that of processors double its price, without sucking up much power. And, it’s an excellent choice for budget gamers who are looking for something that can handle 1080p gaming.

Read the full review: AMD Ryzen 3 3100

AMD Ryzen 3 3300X

(Image credit: AMD)

Best gaming CPU: AMD Ryzen 3 3300X

The new budget gaming champion

Cores: 4 | Threads: 8 | Base clock: 3.5GHz | Boost clock: 4.3GHz | L3 cache: 16MB | TDP: 65W

Excellent multi-core performance
Mid-range gaming performance for cheap
Not a huge jump over Ryzen 3 3100

It’s releases like the AMD Ryzen 3 3300X that really push gaming PCs forward. This processor may not technically beat the likes of Ryzen 9 3900X and the Intel Core i9-9900K, but its excellent performance, coupled with its affordability, brings downs the barrier to entry on heavy multi-threaded performance. Suddenly, people don’t have to break the bank to experience what it’s like to have top-end hardware powering their PCs. Is it a wonder that the AMD Ryzen 3 3300X is one of our favorite CPU releases in 2020?

Read the full review: AMD Ryzen 3 3300X

Intel Core i5-10600K

(Image credit: Intel)

Best VR CPU: Intel Core i5-10600K

Hyper-Threading for everyone

Cores: 6 | Threads: 12 | Base clock: 3.5GHz | Boost clock: 4.7GHz | L3 cache: 64MB | TDP: 105W

Excellent multi-core performance
Good thermal performance
No PCIe 4.0
Higher power consumption

Mid-range buyers will appreciate the fact that they actually don’t have to shell out quite a bit of cash for Intel’s hyper-threading technology. With Intel’s Core i5-10600K, among Intel’s latest chips to hit the streets in 2020, it’s possible to have it for much less than $500. This chip may lack PCIe 4.0 support and has a higher power consumption, but it makes up for those in spades. Besides hyper-threading, this processor also delivers superb multi-core performance as well as improved single-core performance. What’s more is that it’s got great thermals to keep that pesky heat down.

Read the full review: Intel Core i5-10600K

AMD Ryzen 7 3700X

(Image credit: AMD)

Best video editing CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 3700X

The best processor for most people

Cores: 8 | Threads: 16 | Base clock: 3.6GHz | Boost clock: 4.4GHz | L3 cache: 32MB | TDP: 65W

Incredible price to performance
Included cooler
Single-threaded performance still falls behind Intel

The single-threaded performance of the AMD Ryzen 7 3700X admittedly still falls behind Intel, but what matters most in video editing and rendering is how a chip does with multi-threaded workloads. If you’re building a computer that can handle your video editing demands, this chip is an absolute beast and our top pick for video editing. That’s not all: this AMD chip offers impressive performance and a Wraith Spire cooler at a very affordable price.

Read the full review: AMD Ryzen 7 3700X

AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3960X

(Image credit: AMD)

Best performance processor: AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3960X

Perfecting the Threadripper line

Cores: 24 | Threads: 48 | Base clock: 3.8GHz | Boost clock: 4.5GHz | L3 cache: 128MB | TDP: 280W

Excellent single and multithreaded performance
Competitive price
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.

AMD Athlon 300GE

(Image credit: AMD)

Best budget CPU: AMD Athlon 300GE

A best value performer

Cores: 2 | Threads: 4 | Base clock: 3.4GHz | Boost clock: 4.0GHz | L3 cache: 4MB | TDP: 35W

Incredibly cheap
Low power usage
Not powerful enough for demanding tasks

Whether you’re looking for a processor for your media center or for your desktop PC, the AMD Athlon 300GE is among the best processors you can find on the market today in terms of value. It’s reliable and surprisingly fast for what it can do. It’s never going to deliver a breathtaking performance, but for a processor in the budget space, it’s definitely going to impress you.

AMD Ryzen 5 3400G

(Image credit: AMD)

Best HTPC CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 3400G

Best for 720p gaming

Cores: 4 | Threads: 8 | Base clock: 3.7GHz | Boost clock: 4.2GHz | L3 cache: 4MB | TDP: 65W

Radeon Vega graphics
Bundled cooler
Lower performance in applications than alternatives

With a noticeable, if small, performance advantage over its predecessor, AMD’s Ryzen 5 3400G is a capable option for your home theater PC and budget gaming computer. That means that it’s among best processors for folks who don’t quite take gaming as seriously as the big gamers, touting a solid 720 and a fairly decent 1080p gaming performance.