Best CPU to BUY: Q4 2018

Contrary to the past, choosing a CPU is relatively easy for veteran users because of easy access to information and clear-cut guides. AMD stepping up to the plate after so many years made it easier to choose. This guide is nothing more than a supplement in helping you narrow down your choices. In some countries, a combo purchase of a motherboard and a CPU could get you a small discount. I’ve heard in some stores around India, retailers refuse to sell either the CPU or motherboard separately which is strange and wrong at the same time. But there are many stores out there and there are online options.

While we are making a recommendation for CPUs, we also have to consider the feature sets motherboard chipsets provides, in entry-level, mid-end and high-end category. As an example, AMD B and the X series chipsets allow overclocking, but that’s not the case with Intel B series chipset. However, seeing the premium unlocked CPU carries, it is a little bit challenging to recommend. While the no-brainer would be to recommend motherboard combos, there are multiple brands with multiple options. It is not realistic for one to evaluate all motherboards available in the market. Some brands have non-gaming branded motherboards which are regurgitated into gaming sub-brands with a different colour scheme, sink design and maybe some RGB headers.

Click on the tabs below as per your requirement.

[nextpage title=”The mid-range performance” ]

Upper mid-end choice: AMD Ryzen 5 2600

I am recommending the AMD Ryzen 5 2600 as the top choice for the mid-range computers- ranging between gaming, multi-tasking workload and even streaming. Co-incidentally a lot of streamers would opt for mid-segment CPUs since it serves their process. AMD second generation Ryzen six-core-twelve thread with base/boost clock of 3.4GHz/3.9Ghz is perfect. The least talked about the part is that generally, AMD provides a better-bundled (for a stock) CPU cooler compared to Intel. Unlike the good old days, most people do not overclock, but you can always bump the UEFI set to run the clock speed to 3.9 GHz at all times if you have that need to. The best part is the ability to pair it with varieties of motherboards- AMD B350, X370 with the newer BIOS update to the new B450 and X470 chipset. It wouldn’t make sense for a lot of people with a lot of use case to opt for X series chipset motherboard, but the options and the choices are there.

When you look at the price and its multi-threaded performance, you narrow it down to a Ryzen SKU such as the Ryzen 5 2600.

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 The middle-man: AMD Ryzen 5 2400G

You can consider a four-core eight-thread unlocked APU. The Ryzen 5 2400G is a very balanced option. On-chip graphics is for many games in low-to-mid settings at 1080p with Vega 11 integrated graphics. This is also a ‘safe haven’ APU for those who can build a PC but want to grab a graphics card at a later date. It makes a better sense than getting a non-on-chip graphics with a low-end graphics card. We have not tested the GT1030, but the 2400G is the ideal choice. In a way, it would help to free up some money for rams (how about a 16GB 3200MHz DDR4?) or an SSD.

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Not-sure-where mid-end CPU: Intel Core i5 8400

This Intel Core i5 8400 somewhere…somehow. This is a six-core-six-thread CPU. It is good for a gaming PC who won’t overclock or have a specific single-thread performance. Also, if for some reason, you’re uptight for Intel-only for whatever odd reason, God bless you!

The pricing and offering favour Ryzen 5 2600. Ryzen option gives two-threads per core against Intel with one-thread per core. Intel option does provide better single-threaded performance more suited for a 100% gaming PC. This might change with the upcoming Intel 9xxx series, so we might replace this if that happens within Q4 2018. This is, of course, depending on how favourable the pricing is. Intel will have to re-learn the art of competitive pricing since AMD has become very active towards the DIY PC market.

[/nextpage] [nextpage title=”The entry-level performance” ]

There can be only one…because there is only one!

Once upon a time, both Intel and AMD had fierce competition one generation after the other. All of a sudden something happened to AMD and Intel became mostly the default option for the high end. It wasn’t a clean sweep for entry-level to mid-end since AMD had Phenom II chips- 550/555BE which had the change to unlock into quad cores. Then there’s the X4 965BE and the FX-8350.

But now…

AMD Ryzen 3 2200G

It would be an understatement, to say the least, AMD caught Intel with its pants down in the open-ish field of the entry-level CPU market. We have stuff like Intel Core i3-8350K. It did not make any sense as it did not fit anywhere. The novelty of overclocking this entry-level CPUs is only on the expensive Z370 chipset made it ridiculous! This is a collector’s item(like the Pentium Anniversary G3258?) without the collector’s label on it.

Take a look at the Ryzen 3 2200G. Under this price bracket, you get an APU just a tad below 2400G. This is a four-core-four thread unlocked CPU with Vega 8 on-chip graphics. You have the B350 with a bios update and B450 for good pricing. There is something to work on! Not really something I would consider for on-chip graphics gaming even in mid-settings for 1080p, but its there. This also makes sense for a feature loaded non-gaming pc build systems like a general purpose PC or an HTPC.

Intel Core i3 8100

I hope things look good with the upcoming Intel entry-level CPUs. But they need to enable overclocking on entry-level motherboard chipsets.

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(Edit: 01.10.2018): Daniel Gianstefani via the comments suggested the Core i3 8100 and it is a valid suggestion. The Core i3-8100 is something you can look at. Just like the mid-end option, you do get a better single-threaded option. It is a bit expensive compared to the Ryzen 3 2200G. But both of that argument goes out the window if you are using a discrete graphics card. I never built a system with it nor I had a chance to test it. Happens to the best and rest of us. That’s why always read the comments!

[divider] [nextpage title=”The high-end performance” ]

For those who have single dual high-end GPU setups with GTX 1080/GTX 1080Ti, 144Hz monitor or monitors with VR headsets, you want the best possible experience you can get with overclocking option. There are two simple options: The Ryzen 7 2700X and the Core i7-8700K. There’s a good why we slotted this towards the end. But not everybody buys high-end just for gaming. There are other heavy workloads.

OPTION 1: Intel Core i7-8700K

The Core i7 8700K gets you the performance of up to 4.7GHz via turbo. But if you are buying something like this, you will be geared towards overclocking. This is the highest/best possible mainstream CPU you can get from Intel until the 9xxx series are out.

OPTION 2: AMD Ryzen 7 2700X

The Ryzen 7 2700X is an eight-core-sixteen-thread bulldozer- no pun intended.

Between the two- the Core i7-8700K is somewhat faster for gaming performance but not a big deal enough to regret Ryzen 7 2700X purchase at all. What makes this difficult is while the Intel offering is a little expensive than the Ryzen 7 2700X, the motherboard pricing balances both of them (again- depending on the local pricing and availability). The main benefit that favours the Ryzen 7 2700X is with heavy workloads that benefit from a multi-threaded performer.
As you can see, this is where it stands.

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“info” ]Disclosure: All the Amazon links here are affiliate links. When you purchase something through our website, we get a small kickback from the sales at no extra cost on you. It is a small drop in the ocean, but the commission helps us to fund the website and push quality content. If you want to support a website like ours, this is the best you can do. Money earned from such sources helps us to buy the tools needed for testing. Of course, you are not obligated to use our affiliate links, but I am very happy to guide you in the right direction. Irrespective of your location, the recommendations as per your requirement and budget is universal. Hardware BBQ is Your Source for PC hardware news, reviews guides and recommendations.

Neither AMD nor Intel (or its PR agencies and partners) have supplied any review units, and therefore whatever testing we have done is by CPUs from various sources.[/powerkit_alert]

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7 comments
  1. Ryzen 3 2200g instead of 8100.

    “worse perf of Ryzen 2700x not a big deal enough to regret buying it over 8700k”

    Sure, when Intel 1% low fps is better than AMD max. You seem to conveniently forget that it’s the stuttering you notice, not the 10fps average difference.

    But hey, 4.2ghz 2700x is somewhat comparable to 5.3ghz 8700k right?

  2. No censorship in comments lol, it’s just random my other two comments don’t show.

  3. Oh whoops! The site automatically detected the comments as spam. My bad. But calling this guide as AMD biased is harsh, don’t ya think? I did say the guide will be updated once the Intel 9xxx series comes out. The same is said under the Core i5-8400 suggestion. At the time of writing this reply, it is 4.40 am in the morning. Before that, I didn’t get the time to check the site and comment(s). If my intentions were otherwise, it would be exactly the way you said it without the options in the mid and high-end recommendations.

    I’ll admit, the Core i3-8100 did not come to my mind. But hey, if you’re saying this is AMD biased article “just” because AMD and not considering the multi-threaded performance, pricing and native features chipsets, provided then no reason I would give you right now will make it up to you. I did recommend the Core i5-8400 and the Core i7-8700K but not because “Intel”. But yes. Core i3-8100 is a good catch. I did not notice that because I didn’t build a system with one. I have read a couple of sources- and yes. You are right! I’ve added it and given the credit to you! Cheers! I really appreciate the time and effort in pointing this out!

  4. AMD Ryzen is good for one thing. Price. Even then not by much. It’s very telling that the intel 6 cores come very close to the multithreaded performance of the AMD 8 cores. The Intel CPUs even at stock however thrash the AMD ones in single, dual and quad and six core benchmarks, which is incidentally the most noticable and common workloads. Calling out intel for not being able to OC the non k models is a bit strange, when even with OC, Ryzen will at most add 200mhz to their boost speeds.

    It’s AMD biased because at mid and high end, price isn’t really the deciding factor, and the performance crown is squarely on Intel, since their CPUs deliver the performance where it matters (single thread and multi thread up to 12 threads). It’s also interesting in the workstation segment, where even a 8600k will beat a threadripper 2990wx in Adobe apps due to the hardware accelerated GPU usage.

  5. You forgot to talk about motherboard chipsets. Those processors don’t run on their own. They run on their own respective platforms. I called out Intel for releasing the Core i3 8350K, an unlocked entry-level CPU, for the current price of $169. The only way to overclock those is with the Z370 chipset motherboards. In comparison, AMD does have its B chipset overclockable. That’s why for Intel I’ve said ‘The novelty of overclocking this [Ref. to Core i3 8350K] entry-level CPUs is only on the expensive Z370 chipset made it ridiculous!’. If you think that Intel should not have overclocking enabled on B series chipsets, there’s really no comeback for it. Because why would you not want to overclock core i3 and base model core i5 unlocked CPUs on those B series motherboards? It is typically chosen by a lot of users and system builders for their clients.

    None of the recommendations made here includes AMD Threadripper 2990wx.

    I did put the 8700K on the same category as the 2700X. Again- placing it under a category does not mean its a comparison. The Core i7 8700K which costs $380 (or $379.99) and the Ryzen 7 2700X which costs $320 (or $319.99) at the time when I am replying to you. That is a gap of $60. Not all of them can justify the price difference. $60 allows you to spend on something else- or saving up. Most likely it would be spent on RAMs for the AMD platform.

    The gap, however, is bigger where I live. Amazon India lists Core i7 8700K costs equivalent to US$ 509.75. The Ryzen 7 2700X $429.21. That’s a gap of US$80? Buying from a brick and Mortar store here might be a little cheaper and preferable since stores typically bill the processors with a motherboard together as a combo pricing. Also, many products sold in Amazon India. Still, that gap would be there.

    You point is valid when comparison is done between certain SKUs. As an example, The Intel Core i7 8700 ($309.99) against AMD Ryzen 7 2700 ($289.99). Get that 8700, a motherboard and lower speed rams too call it a day. But then 2700X costs $319.99. Many might speculate that if a person jumps from Ryzen 2700 to Core i7 8700 and then to 2700X, they can probably justify spending a more on the RAMs. Maybe, maybe not. In that case they will go back to jumping between Ryzen 7 2700 or Core i7 8700.

    I did overlook the Core i3 8100 because I didn’t build a system with one. But as you’ve said I am being ‘AMD biased’ at mid and high-level category when Intel recommendations are made. Core i5 8400 makes sense if your use is just gaming. But as a versatile machine, many would rather pick up Ryzen 2600. But again, Core i5 8400 is not memory speed sensitive like AMD Ryzen’s offerings. I also mentioned Ryzen 5 2400G as a choice since it has on-chip graphics, just like the Core i5-8400.

    I did not say choose brand ‘X’ over brand ‘Y’. I gave both options and I mentioned the guide will be updated if Intel releases enough 9xxx series SKUs within before this year ends.

    You have to take in many factors when you are making component purchase and build guides. Price, performance and features is a deciding factor when you go out and make a purchase- whether it is an upgrade or having a new build from scratch. Buy guides help narrow down the choices for people who have the trouble to do so that the research on more if it suits their needs. It’s not responsible to recommend processors as an independent standalone device when it needs other components to run it. You also have to factor in availability and costing. The guide is for those who have the need to narrow it down for shortlisting their purchase decisions.

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