AMD consolidated a strong market position mid last year with the launch of 2nd-gen Ryzen, offering great performance and good value, which saw them taking over most of our CPU recommendations. We anticipated the arrival of Intel's 9th-gen Core series could have had a meaningful impact for high-end gamers (they didn't) and honestly we never got our hopes up for the Skylake-X refresh.

All in all, while Intel does offer some interesting choices at certain price points, AMD remains king across our recommendations and is bound to remain on a comfortable position as they have slashed prices to current-gen products and made room in advance for Zen 2-based Ryzen 3000 series CPUs that are set to arrive this summer. Since we last updated this guide no new CPUs have been released, but price changes have been observed on many products.

After all the extensive testing you are familiar with, we've come up with this concise guide on the best CPU choices available right now. Of note, we've also made recommendations for both Intel and AMD motherboards, including AMD X470 and Intel Z390 platforms.

Best All-Round Value CPU

AMD Ryzen 5 2600

If you’ve got some $200 to spend on a new CPU and you want something that can handle any and all tasks you throw at it with maximum efficiency, then the Ryzen 5 2600 or 2600X are a must. In fact, right now we’d urge you to look at the 2600X. It's just $25 more and comes with a much better cooler, the Wraith Spire.

In previous guide updates we noted that Intel's Core i5-8400 could be an attractive alternative since it was a little less expensive and performed very well in games. But it's crazy to look back on that today since the Ryzen 5 2600 is selling for just $165 while the Core i5-8400 is retailing for $200. AMD is also offering a free copy of The Division 2 with either the R5 2600 or 2600X.

The true Intel alternative to the Ryzen 2600 right now is the Core i5-9400F. This newer CPU can be had for $170 matching the R5 2600 and out of the box the i5-9400F is arguably the better CPU. We're talking about a six-core processor with no Hyper-Threading (6-core, 6-thread), built on a 14 nm process and no integrated graphics.

Personally we'd still go with the 2600X since you can overclock it and the AM4 platform offers a significantly better upgrade path, but Intel's GPU-less processor gets them closer than ever to contest the Ryzen 2600's hegemony.

Best Value CPU for Productivity

AMD Ryzen 7 2700

Currently for just $220 the Ryzen 7 2700 smashes everything Intel has on offer in terms of value, especially when it comes to productivity. A few Intel options hold an advantage for lightly threaded workloads thanks to a clock speed advantage, but for the seriously taxing and time consuming workloads the 2700 will come on top.

Intel CPUs that are at the productivity level of the Ryzen 7 2700 and 2700X are not a good value either. For example, the Core i9-9900K will set you back $530 and for far less you can get a workstation CPU like the Threadripper 1920X. As applications continue to make better use of Ryzen 7’s many threads, for example Adobe Premiere Pro CC, we’re going to continue to see Ryzen walk away with it.

Between the 2700 or 2700X, if you're after value, you're definitely better off with the 2700. Recent price cuts mark a hefty $70 difference between the two. Bargain bin shoppers may also be interested in checking out first-gen Ryzen parts, such as the Ryzen 7 1700 which is a mere $160 in some markets, including the US. For $160 an 8-core/16-thread processor that can be clocked up to around 4 GHz is an insane bargain.

Best Gaming CPU

Intel Core i7-8700K

A clear-cut victory for Intel comes in the gaming category, but which Intel CPU should we pick? Technically speaking, the Core i9-9900K offers the highest level of performance for gaming, but honestly at $530 it makes no sense. The Core i7-8700K on the other hand will set you back $380, has incredible out of the box performance, remarkable overclockability, and power consumption that is impressive for a CPU running at over 4GHz by default.

For gamers the 9900K doesn’t offer anything new or extra, at best it’s a few percent faster than the 8700K in today’s titles and yet it costs at least 40% more, requires a high quality motherboard and if you want to achieve maximum performance out of the box without technically overclocking it, you’ll require an expensive cooler.

Now, if money is not an issue and $500 is a drop in the bucket, then you can simply buy the 9900K and you will get a blazing fast gaming rig. Also remember this is strictly for best performance gaming. If you’re after a high-end all rounder then something like the Ryzen 7 2700X would be a better choice, but if you want to ensure maximum FPS under all conditions then the 8700K, or if you must 9900K, will be the best options.

If you’ve got a GeForce GTX 1080 Ti or better and you’re after the very best gaming CPU the market has to offer, then it’s the Core i7-8700K that you seek. At ~$350, the 8700K is not even that expensive, however do note that an update to Intel's top mainstream line is set to arrive soon.

Intel’s low latency Ring Bus architecture has proven to be the best solution for gaming. Couple that with a CPU that can comfortably run all cores at 4.7 GHz and at least 5 GHz once manually overclocked, well you’ve got yourself a winner.

There’s simply nothing that can touch the 8700K right now, the nearest competitor when it comes to pure gaming performance is Intel’s own Core i5-8600K. This pick should come as no surprise as we’ve had this same opinion since the 8700K was released and the 2nd-gen Ryzen series didn’t change anything. Perhaps AMD can take the gaming crown away from Intel next year, many believe they will, but for now Intel holds on to top spot.

Best Extreme Desktop CPU

AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2950X

The Threadripper 2950X comprises two active Zeppelin dies each packing 8 cores, two memory channels, and 32 PCIe gen 3 lanes. When using DDR4-3200 memory the Infinity Fabric throughput between these dies is roughly 50 GBps. Currently being sold for $800, this beastly CPU is the ultimate high-end desktop CPU.

Intel’s Skylake-X range, like the Core i9-9820X can’t complete with the 2950X and at $850 you’d have to wonder why anyone would buy it. Meanwhile 12-core chips from Intel will cost you at least $1,200. If you’re after the very fastest desktop CPU and money is no object then sure, the Core i9-9980XE for $2,100 is the CPU to get, but like the 9900K, it makes no sense as much cheaper alternatives provide almost the same level of performance.

While not the point of this guide, it's worth mentioning TR 1950X is a cracking good buy if you can find it at or less than $600, without question the best value extreme desktop CPU you can buy, while it lasts. The 2950X is simply a more refined version, typically offering 5-8% more performance.

Best Budget CPU

AMD Ryzen 3 2200G

The best budget CPU not only is relatively inexpensive but offers great lasting value. For less than $100, the Ryzen 3 2200G is a true quad-core CPU with an integrated Vega 8 GPU that is way more powerful than the usual Intel integrated graphics for those who are holding off on buying a discrete graphics card.

A close runner up, the Ryzen 5 2400G is now down to just $135 and at that price it’s a steal. If we may tempt you, for $40 more than the 2200G you do get a more capable product. SMT support means the 2400G has twice as many threads and if you plan to use the integrated graphics, the Vega 11 GPU does offer a bit more oomph.

Then on the other side of the fence we have Intel’s Core i3-8100 which is currently $130 and for that price it simply can’t hold a candle to the Ryzen 5 2400G. Against the 2200G, the Core i3-8100 is evenly matched for productivity workloads and general usage, though once overclocked the 2200G generally comes out on top. Without a discrete graphics card, the Intel chip gets smoked.

We've kept the Ryzen 3 2200G as our top budget recommendation at $95. It's an unlocked part that can be overclocked on affordable motherboards, can take advantage of higher clocked memory, and packs a powerful integrated GPU.

With the release of the Ryzen 3 2200G at just $100, this quad-core processor offers a ton of power for not a whole lot of money. As a bonus you also get entry-level like discrete GPU performance with the integrated Vega 8 GPU. Previously the Pentium G4560 claimed the best budget gaming CPU category for less than $100, but the Ryzen is widely superior.

Other alternatives in this price range include the Ryzen 3 1200 (which is basically inferior to the 2200G in every way) and the Core i3-8100. The Intel i3 processor is very similar when it comes to gaming performance and depending on conditions can hit the lead. That said, it also costs $20 more and with years of life still ahead for the AM4 platform, we feel for budget gamers the 2200G is a considerably better investment.