Best CPUs

If you don’t have the time to research benchmarks, or if you don’t feel confident enough in your ability to pick the right processor for your next gaming machine, fear not. We at Tom’s Hardware have come to your aid with a simple list of the best gaming CPUs offered for the money.

MORE: Intel CPU Temperature Guide

May 2017 Updates

AMD’s Ryzen has barreled onto the CPU scene with a bevy of offerings that tackle Intel’s i5 and i7 series with increased host processing resources, and often at a lower price point.

AMD's AM4 platform faced a few headwinds at launch, such as a worrying spate of motherboard issues, but vendors have largely addressed most of the nagging bugs. We still eagerly await more fine-grained RAM tuning, which is of heightened importance due to Ryzen’s penchant for increased game performance with higher memory frequencies. Head over to our Ryzen 5 1600X Review for a more in-depth look at how tweaked memory settings can streamline performance.

The Ryzen 7 series, like Intel's Broadwell-E, doesn’t get the nod for our gaming recommendations due to the high price points, but the Ryzen 5 series falls within the price range we normally recommend for gaming CPUs.

AMD’s Ryzen 5 lineup of four- and six-core models landed in our labs this month with the i5 series in their sights. The Ryzen 5 1600X outweighs the i5-7600K with more cores and logical threads at its disposal, not to mention more than twice the L3 cache, but we found it exhibits many of the same characteristics as the 7 series.

The 1600X offers a great performance-per-dollar ratio compared to Intel’s competing chips in heavily threaded workloads, like rendering and content creation. But, like the 7 series, it can’t quite match Kaby Lake’s convincing lead in a diverse range of game titles. The cheaper i5-7600K has a much higher overclocking frequency ceiling, which cements its current status as one of the best gaming CPUs.

The Ryzen 5 1500X features the same number of physical cores as the i5-7400 and -7500, but still wields its SMT advantage to great effect in productivity-focused applications. The 1500X also brings the benefit of an unlocked multiplier to the competition, while factory-set frequencies constrain the comparably priced non-K i5 processors. However, we found the same trend yet again. Even with a healthy overclock, the 1500X can’t unseat the i5-7500 in our game suite. Tuning the 1500X offers close to the same performance at a $10 savings, but budgeting in a beefier heatsink and 3200 MT/s-capable memory blurs the value proposition.

Unfortunately, AMD's Ryzen salvo hasn’t touched off the price war we wanted, at least not yet. We’ve scoured the latest pricing history on Amazon and Newegg, and aside from a few momentary blips on the low end, Intel continues to hold the pricing line with its Kaby Lake processors. The company’s recent customer price guide also indicates that we shouldn’t expect any radical changes in the near term. Unexciting as that may be, that leaves us with an unchanged set of recommendations for this month's update. Remember, though, that these recommendations only apply to gaming performance specifically. Head to our reviews for the broader outlook.

We’re still in the early days of the Ryzen era so the climate may change, particularly as AMD rolls out its 3 series. We’ve already seen broad signs of Intel bolstering its i3 series with the unlocked i3-7350K, and the addition of Hyper-Threading to the Pentium lineup sets the stage for a fierce battle when AMD’s Ryzen 3 series hits our labs in the coming months.

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198 comments
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    Top Comments
  • onlyanoob
    Once upon a time there was a site that stood out from the rest for quality unbiased reviews. Alas that site has fallen far from it lofty perch. You are a site for people who know their tech. do you realise how laughable this line up is for May 2017? only one CPU deserves a listing on this page the I 7700K.
    Obviously this "Tom's Hardware reviews products independently. When you click links to buy products we may earn money that supports our work." suggests you had a very nice affiliate offer from a desperate Intel.
    Just writing to let you know that this site is forever on my "Do not take any notice of what they write " list and of course like wise for Non recommendation to others I know. Shame on you guys.
    49
  • newton75x
    there is no reason for the i3 7100 to be on the list when we have the pentium 4560/4600 available, and we have no ryzen 1600? .
    42
  • AlexFromAU
    Saying that an i5 7500 is one of the best CPU's of 2017 is disgusting.
    40
  • Other Comments
  • adamovera
    1
  • StefanDanailov
    Fanboys!
    16
  • AlexFromAU
    Saying that an i5 7500 is one of the best CPU's of 2017 is disgusting.
    40
  • adiomari
    This site has lost all of its credibility for me. Best CPUs without a single ryzen CPU?????! Ryzen is better than all the listed CPUs, and yet not listed. All intel CPUs not a single AMD ryzen? wow!
    26
  • newton75x
    there is no reason for the i3 7100 to be on the list when we have the pentium 4560/4600 available, and we have no ryzen 1600? .
    42
  • onlyanoob
    Once upon a time there was a site that stood out from the rest for quality unbiased reviews. Alas that site has fallen far from it lofty perch. You are a site for people who know their tech. do you realise how laughable this line up is for May 2017? only one CPU deserves a listing on this page the I 7700K.
    Obviously this "Tom's Hardware reviews products independently. When you click links to buy products we may earn money that supports our work." suggests you had a very nice affiliate offer from a desperate Intel.
    Just writing to let you know that this site is forever on my "Do not take any notice of what they write " list and of course like wise for Non recommendation to others I know. Shame on you guys.
    49
  • 00HeXadecimal00
    There should be 2 intel CPU's on this list the G4560 and the 7700K, the middle 3 spots should be taken by 1500X, 1600, and 1600X respectively. Saying the 7500 is a better buy than the 1600 for $200 is an absolute joke.
    31
  • Scott Yang
    Actually, I'm fine with 7600k and 7700k recommendation. But 7500????? really?????
    9
  • MJH_
    Not a single AMD cpu? Hah, that's pretty much the last straw, I've been coming here less and less but this is the last time. DON'T LET THE DOOR HIT YOU ON THE WAY OUT.
    28
  • Intrepid_1
    I bought a 7600K after reading Toms Hardware to pair with my 1080, only to find that i had bottlenecking and stuttering in newer games like BF1, the problem was all 4 threads of the 7600 were at 100% a lot of the time, i sent it back and get a Ryzen 1600, performance is mostly the same, sometimes a little better but crutially none of its threads are at 100% and its much much smoother than the 7600K.
    What is happening to reviewers these days where they are missing something as fundamental as this and still recommending far worse and under performing CPU's with far fewer cores than clearly and obviously much better ones?

    Useless.... thanks for nothing!
    19
  • Death_sex
    Hey Tom's, did you forget the $219 Ryzen 1600 that comes with a cooler already existed? What the point of the i3 7100, did you forget you already listed the G4560 which makes the i3 line up a joke for more budget minded gamers? The i5 7600K and i7 7700K's lofty 5Ghz overclock ceiling is only attainable with more exotic cooling, at which point people can pick up Ryzen 1700's and 1700X's for less. So whats the point in waving that 5Ghz number around when you have to pay more than a faster 1700 costs for your i5 7600K to have adequate cooling to hit that frequency?
    27
  • Death_sex
    Anonymous said:
    I bought a 7600K after reading Toms Hardware to pair with my 1080, only to find that i had bottlenecking and stuttering in newer games like BF1, the problem was all 4 threads of the 7600 were at 100% a lot of the time, i sent it back and get a Ryzen 1600, performance is mostly the same, sometimes a little better but crutially none of its threads are at 100% and its much much smoother than the 7600K.
    What is happening to reviewers these days where they are missing something as fundamental as this and still recommending far worse and under performing CPU's with far fewer cores than clearly and obviously much better ones?

    Useless.... thanks for nothing!


    Unfortunately, very very few reviewers tested BF1 in multiplayer, which is night and day compared to a single player benchmark, as you quickly discovered.
    7
  • thor220
    I've been coming to this site for 12 years now and I'm tired of the favoritism. Using Project Cars in your benchmark suite despite every other reviewer recommending it and now this. I was able to look past it up till now but this is ridiculous.
    18
  • FcoEnriquePerez
    Hahaha this article is garbage, justifying why ryzen isn't on the list, not even trying to hide the bias.

    There's not a single reason to buy an i5 cpu right now.
    22
  • Ashwaganda
    There is propably only 2 sites that recommend intel i5-s. Toms hardware and pc perspective all others recommend ryzens. Truth is r5 1600 offers such great all around performance and extremely good value. Compared to that i5 should cost 30-50$ less than it costs now. There is no justifications for recommending i5 period.
    15
  • Gene_18
    The 7100 shouldn't be on the list. Idk who put this on the list or why, but it had NOTHING. to do with $/perf! Also, the lack of Ryzen cpu's is startling! At the bare minimum the R5 1600 should be on the list!!!

    My lisr,

    G4560
    Ryzen 1500x
    Ryzen 1600
    Ryzen 1700
    Intel 7700k - worse long term platform, but still technically the best available atm.
    15
  • sushukka
    Writing lame excuses at the beginning of the article don't diminish the utterly shameless dropout of Ryzen processors. Behaving like a big trustworthy pc hardware site you could at least try to act "neutral", but now you couldn't just more underline the bias you're having towards Intel. It says best cpu's, not gaming cpu's or whatever. Which CPU has best overall price/performance ratio and there is where Ryzen wins. You can have 7700k if you overclock it (which vast majority don't) as pure gaming processor (but no more) or G4560 for real low-end setups, but otherwise there should be Ryzen CPUs on the list. There are tons of reviews backing this up. By providing this kind of false information is seriously misleading customers to wrong purchase decisions.
    Very deeply disappointed to TH and will spread this information further. Bye.
    19
  • rbb138
    When OVER HALF THE ARTICLE is trying to justify only recommending one manufacturers CPUs, despite there being better alternatives in both price and performance, you know you're unbiased as hell.

    "Truth is singular. Lies are words, words, words."
    17
  • shroombab
    why would you guys recommend a 4c/4t cpu in 2017? the i5 is easily maxed out in lot of applications, not even talking about games. the 4c/4t is not future proof in the slightest.
    9
  • shroombab
    why would you guys recommend a 4c/4t CPU in 2017? the i5 isn't future proof in the slightest. most of todays games easily max it out with no headroom left.
    9