Are you trying to find the best CPU for your next PC or Laptop?
Your search ends here. In this article, we have tested and ranked over 75 Desktop, Laptop, and High-End CPUs using various gaming and productivity tests.
Our ranking is based on the real-world performance of the CPUs and not on any synthetic benchmarking tools.
People often debate that synthetic benchmarks don’t truly reflect real-world performance. And that is true to a good extent. A benchmarking tool that measures rendering performance cannot reflect how the CPU is going to perform in Gaming or Machine Learning.
For a consumer, a CPU is better when it outperforms the competitor in those workloads that apply to that particular user.
If you’re a Content Creator who uses Adobe Premiere, get a CPU that has the best rendering performance in Adobe Premiere. If you hardly do any gaming, you shouldn’t be bothered if the CPU isn’t very good at running games.
It is as simple as that.
If you’re a gamer, benchmarks of the actual games will comprise of real-world benchmarks. If you’re a Content Creator or Video Editor, you should look for a CPU with better rendering and encoding capabilities.
And if you want your system to be an all-rounder, get the CPU with the highest overall score in our charts and still fit in your budget.
So, how do we test the real-world Performance?
We do so by manually testing the CPUs in real-world applications such as Adobe Premiere, DaVinci Resolve, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Lightroom, Blender, Handbrake, 7-Zip, Tensorflow, Android Studio, AutoCAD, Solidworks, VMWare, OpenCV, Cinema 4D, V-Ray, RealityCapture, Agisoft Metashape, Unity, and Unreal Engine.
Similarly, for gaming, we measure the average FPS and 1% Lows in popular titles such as Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, Far Cry 5, Control, GTA V, Borderlands 3, The Witcher 3, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, and more.
We always keep our scores up to date with the latest Security Mitigations, BIOS Updates, and new Chipset Drivers.
You can also use our CPU recommendation tool to get the answer faster.
Let’s get first started with the Desktop Rankings and then we will check out the Laptop & HEDT CPUs.
First up, we have the overall ranking, which consists of both Gaming & Productivity workloads.
Centurion Mark is the average value (or the overall score) of a CPU in Gaming & Productivity applications.
We test CPUs at their maximum potential to obtain the best-case scenario. Unlocked Intel’s chips are overclocked while PBO and Auto OC are enabled in Ryzen chips.
For the Ryzen Processors, Memory sub-timings are tuned using Ryzen DRAM Calculator as High-Latency is one of the biggest culprits for their low-performance in lightly threaded tasks such as Gaming. If you’re planning on buying an AMD Ryzen CPU, I’ll highly recommend following this guide to tune the memory timings.
Best CPUs for Gaming
You can find the best Gaming CPUs in the above chart. Gaming Performance depends more on Single-Threaded Performance than on the Number of Cores. A six-core Ryzen 5 3600 easily outperforms the eight-core Ryzen 7 2700X in Gaming as it has faster cores due to a new architecture (Zen 2 vs Zen+) and fabrication node (7nm vs 12nm).
But the above statement isn’t applicable for low-end CPUs with just 2 cores. For gaming, a Quad-Core CPU should be the bare minimum. As of 2019, a Hexa-Core CPU like the Ryzen 5 3600 should be the target for most gamers.
You should note that in most gaming setups, it is the Graphics Card that limits the FPS rather than the CPU. These tests are done using an RTX 2080 Ti at 1080p and 1440p under CPU Bottleneck scenarios in order to obtain the difference in performance. While using a mid-range Graphics Card or gaming at high-resolutions such as 4K, most of the above CPUs will give similar performance.
When it comes to 4K Gaming or low refresh rate gaming (such as 60 Hz or 75 Hz), most of the mid-range & high-end CPUs from both AMD & Intel will give similar results. This is simply due to the fact that at 4K, the performance gets limited by the GPU and not the CPU.
We also have a ranking chart for Desktop Graphics Cards. You can check it out here.
The above score is calculated by measuring the Average FPS and 1% Lows in over 20 different games. The games are tested at both 1080p and 1440p.
The list of games that we use for our tests includes Battlefield V, Crysis 3, Control, World War Z, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Grand Theft Auto V, Far Cry 5, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, Fortnite, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Strange Brigade, The Witcher 3, Wolfenstein II, Forza Horizon 4, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, Apex Legends, Metro Exodus, Borderlands 3, Just Cause 4, and Rainbow Six Siege.
Best CPUs for Productivity
All the modern CPUs deliver excellent performance in basic tasks such as Browsing, Office Work, Basic Image Editing, etc. as these tasks do not require those high number of cores or clock speeds. Most people wouldn’t notice any difference in these basic tasks, and that is why our Productivity Scores are based on tasks that require high CPU computation.
Our Productivity scores include workloads such as Encoding, Compression & Decompression, Rendering, Compilation, Browsing, Image Processing, Virtualization, and Emulation using different real-world tools that professionals use all around the world.
Whether you’re a Student, Researcher, Graphics Designer, Video Editor, Software Developer, Data Analyst, or an Engineer, we’ve got you covered.
Some of the software that we perform tests on either scale very well with High-Thread count while others (Eg. Handbrake) cannot utilize all the threads. Hence, our productivity score is based on a combination of different types of applications that make the score more realistic than just running software that is either optimized for low Core counts or the one that favors CPUs with high thread counts.
Here’s the data on which the above charts are based on. The Overall Score (or Centurion Mark) is the average of the Gaming & Productivity scores multiplied by a factor of 1.1.
|CPU||Gaming Score||Productivity Score||Overall Score|
|Ryzen 9 3950X||243.8||508||413.5|
|Ryzen 9 3900XT||243.7||411.6||360.4|
|Ryzen 9 3900X||242.5||407.8||357.6|
|Core i9-9900K & 9900KF||250||303.5||304.4|
|Ryzen 7 3800XT||241.4||298.1||296.7|
|Ryzen 7 3800X||238.8||297.0||294.7|
|Ryzen 7 3700X||237.5||295||292.9|
|Ryzen 5 3600XT||231.1||234.9||256.3|
|Ryzen 5 3600X||229.5||233.8||254.8|
|Ryzen 7 2700X||216.3||244.5||253.4|
|Ryzen 5 3600||228.8||226||250.1|
|Core i5-9600K & 9600KF||231.5||189.9||231.8|
|Ryzen 5 3500X||227||189.5||229.1|
|Ryzen 7 2700||199||211.5||225.8|
|Ryzen 5 2600X||200.3||195.4||217.6|
|Ryzen 5 3500||221.3||172.1||216.3|
|Ryzen 3 3300X||218.3||168.7||212.8|
|Ryzen 5 2600||195.5||182.7||208|
|Core i5-9400F & 9400||212.3||158||203.6|
|Ryzen 3 3100||192.3||149.7||188.1|
|Ryzen 5 3400G||190.5||116||168.6|
|Core i3-9100F & 9100||189.8||111.2||165.5|
|Ryzen 3 3200G||185||105.5||159.8|
|Ryzen 5 2400G||171||99.9||149|
|Ryzen 3 2200G||168.8||96.7||146|
As of late 2019, we have two CPU lineups from AMD and Intel. AMD’s 3000 Series CPUs (not the APUs like 3400G) are based on their latest Zen 2 architecture while Intel’s 9th Generation is based on Coffee Lake Refresh Architecture.
AMD’s Zen 2 CPUs are ahead of Intel’s 9th Gen in terms of IPC. That means if we run both the CPUs at the same clock speed (let’s say 4.0 GHz), Ryzen will outperform Intel by a mile. However, Intel’s 9th Gen can reach much higher clock speeds due to their mature 14nm Node and is still a few percent ahead in Single-Threaded Performance.
Intel’s CPUs are also less power efficient than AMD’s Zen 2, and their unlocked chips will require an additional aftermarket cooler and an unlocked Z Series Motherboard which adds up to the cost significantly.
For Gaming, both Intel and AMD perform exceptionally well in their respective price segments. Intel is a few percent ahead in Gaming due to slightly better clock speeds and lower memory latencies. However, when we talk about Value for Money, AMD Ryzen 3000 Series becomes a better choice for gaming as well.
When it comes to productivity tasks, Intel is basically out of the competition after AMD launched its 12-core Ryzen 9 3900X. Many Intel’s CPUs like Core-i7 9700K and Core-i5 9600K lack Hyper-Threading and they can’t match Ryzen CPUs in the same price segment.
All the AMD’s Ryzen Chips are unlocked and that means they can be overclocked to higher frequencies for better performance. When it comes to Intel, only those CPUs that have a ‘K’ in their naming such as the Core i7-9700K can be overclocked.
However, AMD Ryzen chips don’t have enough overclocking headroom as compared to Intel’s latest generations. And overclocking Intel’s chips is essential for them to compete with Ryzen as most of the Intel’s lineup loses against AMD at stock settings.
Understanding CPU Naming Scheme
X (AMD): Higher Clocked Variants
G (AMD): An APU. It comes with Integrated Radeon Graphics. You will need a dedicated GPU for the rest of Ryzen chips that DO NOT have a G in their naming scheme
K (Intel): An unclocked CPU that supports Overclocking. You cannot overclock non-K Intel CPUs.
F (Intel): Integrated Graphics are not present. You’ll require a Dedicated Graphics Card.
Over $600 For both Productivity & Gaming: Ryzen 9 3950X
Under $550 For Gaming: Core-i9 9900KS or 9900K
Under $500 For both Productivity & Gaming: Ryzen 9 3900X
Under $350: Ryzen 7 3700X
Under $250: Ryzen 5 3600
Under $200 for Gaming: Core i5-9400F or Ryzen 5 3500X/3500 (If available in your region)
Under $200 for Productivity: Ryzen 5 2600X
- AMD Ryzen 4000 Series based on Zen 3 with 7nm+ EUV Process (October 2020)
Some of these launch dates are officially confirmed while others are estimated based on rumors and speculation.
Intel will launch another generation of 14nm Desktop Processors ‘Comet Lake’ sometime in early 2020. We are expecting a minor increase in IPC and Clock Speeds that will widen Intel’s lead in Gaming. However, those higher clocks will come at the expense of even less power efficiency and more heat. Intel’s 10th Generation’s Flagship i9 CPUs are expected to have 10 Cores, and there’s very little chance that it can come close to Ryzen 9 3900X in productivity performance.
AMD’s Zen 3 based Ryzen 4000 Series is expected to come out sometime in 2nd Half of 2020. It will be fabricated using TSMC’s mature 7nm+ Node using EUV Lithography that delivers 20% Higher Transistor Density. I’m expecting Higher IPC, Clock Speeds, and Lower latencies that could allow AMD to surpass Intel even in Gaming.
Note: We have not included Intel’s 8th Generation CPUs in the above graph. You can find them in the table below.
Choosing the right Laptop with a good CPU is hard. And it’s even harder to benchmark Laptop CPUs as the rest of other components of a Laptop vary from model to model.
The testing part gets even harder when it comes to Gaming because you need two Laptop models with the same dedicated GPU in order to accurately measure the impact of the CPU’s performance on gaming.
No matter how scientifically accurate the testing methodology is, the results won’t be as precise as comparing Desktop CPUs. However, we managed to do it, but it did require some amount of Mathematics to normalize the scores of different CPUs.
We do not have a separate Gaming and Productivity Chart, but you can compare the Centurion Mark which is obtained by combining both the scores.
|#1||Ryzen 9 4900H||270.1|
|#2||Ryzen 9 4900HS||269.6|
|#3||Ryzen 7 4800H||266.1|
|#4||Ryzen 7 4800HS||264.7|
|#8||Ryzen 5 4600H||235.6|
|#9||Ryzen 5 4600HS||233.8|
|#10||Ryzen 7 4800U||228.7|
|#13||Ryzen 7 4700U||217.6|
|#18||Ryzen 5 4600U||186.1|
|#19||Ryzen 5 4500U||183.4|
|#39||Ryzen 3 4300U||158.5|
|#45||Ryzen 7 3750H||142.5|
|#51||Ryzen 5 3550H||130.7|
|#55||Ryzen 7 3700U||125.2|
|#56||Ryzen 7 3780U||123.6|
|#57||Ryzen 5 3500U||113.1|
|#58||Ryzen 3 3300U||107.0|
|#63||Ryzen 3 3200U||79.2|
When it comes to these ‘Mobile’ or Laptop/Notebook chips or whatever you like to call them, AMD’s Ryzen 4000 outperforms Intel in nearly every task. If you’re buying a high-end Laptop for Gaming or Productivity, choose AMD Ryzen 400 based Laptop without a second thought.
While Intel’s 10th Gen chips are pretty good for performance, they are less power efficient which results in lower battery life.
AMD’s previous Ryzen 3000 Mobile Lineup is based on Zen+ and isn’t that impressive as compared to Intel’s offerings. But it still offers excellent value for money in the budget and mid-range Laptops.
The AMD Ryzen chips include Integrated Vega Graphics that are superior to Intel’s HD & UHD Graphics. If you’re buying a budget laptop that doesn’t have dedicated graphics, you can go with AMD and get a decent gaming experience at 720p and 1080p Low.
Some Laptops like MSI GT76 Titan have the Core i9-9900K while the XMG APEX 15 uses the Ryzen 9 3950X, which are Desktop CPUs. Their score will be the same as the one listed in Desktop Rankings. However, don’t expect similar performance as these Laptops cannot be cooled as well as the Desktops and will throttle on extended use.
Both Intel and AMD have either an ‘H’ or a ‘U’ at the end of their CPU names. H Series CPUs are more powerful as they can boost clock speeds on more cores simultaneously when compared to the U Series. However, the H Series CPUs also consume more battery power.
When buying a Laptop for High-Performance Computing, do remember that the most powerful Laptop CPU (Core i9-9980HK) has a similar performance to a mid-range Desktop Chip (Ryzen 5 3600). Laptops are portable devices, and their CPUs have lower TDPs, and they cannot run at high boost frequencies for a long duration due to their limited heat dissipation capabilities.
Desktop CPUs will always be a better choice if you need High-Performance.
CPU Naming Scheme
K (Intel): Can be overclocked
H (Both Intel & AMD): High-End CPUs that offer more performance but consume more power
U (Both Intel & AMD): Ultra-Low Power CPUs that consume less power and offer lower performance
- Intel 11th Gen Tiger Lake (Willow Cove & Xe Graphics) in Q4 2020
- AMD Cezanne APUs (Zen 3 & Vega) in 2021
- AMD Van Gogh APUs (Zen 2 & RDNA 2) in 2021
- Intel 12th Gen Alder Lake (Golden Cove & Xe Graphics) in H2 2021
High-End Desktops (HEDT)
High-End Desktops (HEDT)
High-End Desktop CPUs generally interest Content Creators & Professionals that require CPUs with Higher Cores, Memory Channels, and PCI-Express Lanes.
We use the same workload for HEDT CPUs, which we used in Productivity Tests of Mainstream CPUs, i.e. Rendering, Encoding, Emulation, Virtualization, Compression & Decompression, Compilation, Browsing, and Image Processing.
We do not include gaming performance in our HEDT tests, but for those of you who also want to game on your system, Skylake-X and Cascade Lake-X is a better choice than Threadripper 1st and 2nd Generation. However, 3rd Gen Threadripper is on par and even ahead in some games when compared to Cascade Lake-X.
If your workload requires Higher Core counts, Memory Channels, and PCI-E Lanes, you should rather go for a HEDT CPU than a Mainstream Desktop CPU.
The 3rd Gen Threadripper can go up 64 Cores/128 Threads while the 2nd Generation AMD Threadripper Series can go up to 32 Cores / 64 Threads. While the Skylake-X & Cascade Lake-X CPUs have a maximum of 18 Cores / 36 Threads.
The performance of Threadripper 2970WX and 2990WX isn’t as impressive due to improper NUMA support. However, AMD managed to fix those problems with the 3rd Gen Threadripper.
Threadripper 3XXX Series is based on Zen 2 while Threadripper 2XXX is based on Zen+ Architecture. When it comes to Intel, the Core i7/i9 9XXX Series is based on Skylake-X while the 10XXX Series is based on Cascade Lake-X.
While most of you will go for a CPU with a higher core count for productivity, the choice isn’t as simple as the performance of Intel’s X-Series & AMD’s Threadripper will vary depending on the CPU architecture and task at hand. But in nearly every application, Zen 2 based Threadripper 3000 Series outperforms Intel.
Zen 2, Skylake-X, and Cascade Lake-X perform better in H.265 Encoding in Handbrake. Handbrake isn’t very good at utilizing High Thread counts but still, Zen 2 manages to perform the best due to higher IPC.
Some applications utilize AVX 512, which will favor Intel’s HEDT lineup over AMD’s Threadripper 2nd Gen. However, 3rd Gen Threadripper performs exceptionally well even though it lacks AVX 512.
In Adobe Premiere and other Adobe Applications, Skylake-X & Cascade Lake-X has a slight edge over Zen+. Zen 2 based 3960X & 3970X outperform Intel in Adobe Applications as well.
In Blender and other Rendering applications, Zen+ performs better than Skylake-X & Cascade Lake-X due to the higher thread count. Zen 2 is far ahead of both Zen+ & Intel in Rendering.
Zen+ is better than Skylake-X & Cascade Lake-X for Compilation, Programming, and other Highly-Threaded Tasks. Skylake-X is better in Compression while Zen+ is better in Decompression. Zen 2 destroys both of them in Compilation, Compression & Decompression.
You should also note that Skylake-X does not support ECC Memory while Threadripper does.
CPU Naming Scheme
X (Intel): HEDT Platform
XE (Intel): Extreme Edition
X (AMD): For Enthusiasts
WX (AMD): For Content Creators & Innovators
Though we do not review or test Server Grade chips, we can certainly give a basic idea on who is currently dominating the Server market and which is a better choice.
Until the first half of 2019, Intel had been dominating the Server space since forever & AMD never managed to gain over 30% Market Share in the past two decades. In fact, as of Q1 2019, AMD only had a mere 2.9% market share in x86 based Server market.
However, AMD’s 2nd Gen EPYC Rome CPUs in late 2019 turned the whole market upside down. Let’s have a look at the flagship Intel’s Xeon Platinum & AMD’s EPYC chip.
|Intel Xeon Platinum 8280||AMD EPYC 7742|
|Cores/Threads||28 Cores / 56 Threads||64 Cores / 128 Threads|
|Fabrication Node||Intel’s 14nm||TSMC’s 7nm|
|Base/Boost Frequency||2.7 / 4.0 GHz||2.25 / 3.4 GHz|
|L3 Cache||38.5 MB||256 MB|
|PCI-Express Lanes||48 PCI-E Gen 3.0 Lanes||128 PCI-E Gen 4.0 Lanes|
|Max Memory Support||1 TB||4 TB|
|Number of Memory Channels||6||8|
The EPYC 7742 is far ahead of Xeon Platinum 8280 in every aspect. Things get even more interesting when we look at the pricing. The Xeon Platinum 8280 costs more than twice the retail pricing of EPYC 7742 while delivering less than half the performance.
When going with 2nd Gen EPYC CPUs, you’ll get approximately four times higher price-to-performance ratio when compared to Intel. This will likely result in Intel losing a significant amount of its market share in the coming years.
If you’re interested in a detailed review of the latest EPYC chips against Intel’s Xeon Lineup, I’ll recommend checking out this review by AnandTech.
We have a dedicated article on the ranking of Smartphone SOCs that covers all the Qualcomm Snapdragon, Samsung Exynos, HiSilicon Kirin, MediaTek, and Apple SOCs. You can find the detailed rankings of over 100 SOCs in this article.
But for those of you who’re in a hurry, here’s the list of Top 30 Smartphone SOCs.
Our Smartphone Processor scores ARE NOT comparable with X86 based Desktop/Laptop CPUs.
Our Mobile Processor rankings are also not purely based on performance. We also measure other aspects such as power efficiency and different SOC Features/Components such as CPU, GPU, NPU, ISP, DSP, etc. Hence, the scores are obtained after doing more complex & comprehensive testing as compared to the Desktop or Laptop chips.