CPU Hierarchy 2018: Intel and AMD Processors Ranked

Your CPU has a huge effect on overall performance and, to many, is a computer's most important component. However, when it comes time to buy a CPU for your desktop, you'll find a dizzying morass of model numbers and specs from both Intel and AMD. Which is faster: the Intel Core i7-9700K or a Intel Core i9-7960X. And where does AMD's Ryzen 7 2700X fit in?

To help you pick a processor, we've ranked all the consumer Intel 9th, 8th and 7th Gen processors, along with AMD's Ryzen and Ryzen 2 chips. We determined the order based on average gaming performance across our test suite, but we also include an application performance metric in the application score column. We generate this metric via a geometric mean of application performance in compression, decompression, HandBrake, Blender and the Adobe Creative Cloud Suite.

Unfortunately, recent updates to our application testing suite, along with performance-altering updates to a few of our game titles, have forced us to recalculate our scoring metrics. We've left our historical data, in which the most powerful chip gets a 100 and all others are scored relative to it, but we're working to update to the new metric and will include it in the next update. If you want our recommendations, please check out our Best CPUs page.

Also, if you're planning to buy a processor anytime soon, take a look at the best CPU deals for the holidays, which we're tracking. Some of our current favorites include an an Ryzen 5 2400G for $150 and an AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX for $1,699.

The Intel Core i9-9900K has taken the throne as the fastest gaming chip on the market, but it comes at an eye-watering price. The Intel Core i7-9700K offer similar gaming performance, slotting in as the second-fastest option, but for a much lower price point. We also think the Core i5-9600K looks like an excellent choice for gaming, and while we already have test results for the processor in our Core i7-9700K review, we're also working on a dedicated review with overclocking testing, as well.


Gaming Score
Application Score
CPU
Cores /
Threads
Base /
Boost

TDP
Buy
Intel Core i9-9900K
~
~
Coffee Lake-R
8 / 16
3.6 / 5.0
95W
$529.99Amazon
Intel Core i7-9700K
~
~
Coffee Lake-R8 / 8
3.6 / 4.9
95W
$409.99Amazon
Intel Core i7-8700K
100
70.4
Coffee Lake
6 / 12
3.7 / 4.7 GHz95W
$379Amazon
Intel Core i7-8700
99.98
61.1
Coffee Lake6 / 123.2 / 4.6 GHz65W
$379Amazon
Intel Core i9-7960X
99.97
96.9
Skylake16 / 32
2.8 / 4.2 GHz165W
$1,695.68Newegg
Intel Core i5-9600K
~
~
Coffee Lake-R6 / 6
3.7 / 4.6
95W
$279.99Newegg
Intel Core i5-8600K
99.91
56.1
Coffee Lake6 / 6
3.6 / 4.3 GHz95W
$279.99Newegg
AMD Ryzen 5 2600X
98.2
57.9
Zen+
6 / 123.6 / 4.2 GHz95W
$209.99Amazon
AMD Ryzen 7 2700X
97.2
70
Zen+8 / 163.7 / 4.3 GHz105W
$329.99Newegg
Intel Core i9-9980XE   
~
~
Skylake
18 / 36   
4.4 / 4.5 GHz
165W
$2,049.99B&H
Intel Core i9-7980XE97
99.9
Skylake
18 / 36
2.6 / 4.2
165W
$1,958.98Amazon
Intel Core i9-7900X
96
75
Skylake
10 / 20
3.3 / 4.3 GHz
140W
$1,055Newegg
Intel Core i5-8600
~
~
Coffee Lake
6 / 6
3.1 / 4.3 GHz65W
$279.99Newegg
Intel Core i7-7700K
96.6
45.4
Kaby Lake
4 / 8
4.2 / 4.5 GHz91W
$350Amazon
Intel Core i5-8500
~
~
Coffee Lake
6 / 6
3.0 / 4.1 GHz65W
$202Amazon
Intel Core i5-8400
95.6
45.8
Coffee Lake6 / 62.8 / 4.0 GHz65W
$198.29Newegg
AMD Threadripper 2950X (GM)
94
100
Zen +
16 / 32
3.5 / 4.4
180W
$899Amazon
Intel Core i7-7820X
93.1
71.7
Skylake8 / 16
3.6 / 4.3 GHz140W
$599.00Amazon
Intel Core i3-8350K
93.0
34.3
Coffee Lake4 / 4
4.0 / - GHz91W
$179.99Amazon
AMD Ryzen 7 2700
92.9
69
Zen+8 / 163.2 / 4.1 GHz65W
$289Amazon
AMD Threadripper 1900X (GM)
92.8
60
Zen
8 / 16
3.8 / 4.0 GHz180W
$316Amazon
Intel Core i7-7700
92.7
41.6
Kaby Lake 4 / 8
3.6 / 4.2 GHz65W
$298.99Amazon
Threadripper 2990WX (GM)
92.4
99.6
Zen+
32 / 64
3.0 / 4.2 GHz
250W
$1,749Amazon
AMD Ryzen 5 2600
91.5
50.6
Zen+6 / 12
3.4 / 3.9 GHz65W
$189.99Newegg
Intel Core i7-7800X
88.7
70
Skylake6 / 12
3.5 / 4.0 GHz140W
$389.99Newegg
Intel Core i5-7600K
87.1
40
Kaby Lake 4 / 4
3.8 / 4.2 GHz91W
$250.99Amazon
AMD Threadripper 1950X (GM)
86.7
88
Zen
16 / 32
3.4 / 4.0 GHz180W
$949.99Newegg
AMD Threadripper 1920X (GM)
86.4
77.5
Zen
12 / 24
3.5 / 4.0 GHz180W
$529.99Amazon
AMD Ryzen 7 1800X
86.1
59.2
Zen8 / 163.6 / 4.0 GHz95W
$349.99Amazon
Intel Core i5-7600
85.9
57
Kaby Lake 4 / 4
3.5 / 4.1 GHz65W
$229.99Amazon
AMD Ryzen 7 1700X
85.7
55
Zen8 / 163.8 / 3.9 GHz95W
$348Amazon
AMD Ryzen 5 1600X
84.8
48
Zen6 / 123.6 / 4.0 GHz95W
$219.99Newegg
AMD Ryzen 5 1600
82.6
46.5
Zen6 / 123.2 / 3.6 GHz65W
$199.99Amazon
Intel Core i3-8300
~
~
Coffee Lake
4 / 4
3.7 / - GHz62W
$147Amazon
Intel Core i3-8100
85.7
29.9
Coffee Lake4 / 4
3.6 / - GHz65W
$129.99Newegg
Intel Core i5-7500
79.9
32
Kaby Lake 4 / 4
3.4 / 3.8 GHz65W
$194.99Amazon
Intel Core i5-7400
76.7
30.9
Kaby Lake 4 / 4
3.0 / 3.5 GHz65W
$189.99Newegg
AMD Ryzen 7 1700
75.9
52
Zen8 / 16
3.0 / 3.8 GHz65W
$294.99Newegg
AMD Ryzen 5 1500X
75.7
35.4
Zen4 / 8
3.5 / 3.7 GHz65W
$189.99Newegg
Intel Core i3-7350K
74.2
24
Kaby Lake 2 / 4
4.2 / - GHz60W
$179.99Newegg
AMD Ryzen 5 2400G
72.0
34.2
Zen+4 / 8
3.6 / 3.9 GHz65W
$169.99Newegg
Intel Core i3-7300
69.8
23.3
Kaby Lake 2 / 4
4.0 / - GHz51W
$139.99Amazon
Intel Core i3-7100
67.5
22
Kaby Lake 2 / 4
3.9 / - GHz51W
$114.99Amazon
AMD Ryzen 5 1400
67.4
31.8
Zen4 / 8
3.2 / 3.4 GHz65W
-
AMD Ryzen 3 1300X
66.7
26.4
Zen4 / 4
3.5 / 3.7 GHz65W
$129Amazon
AMD Ryzen 3 2200G
65.5
26.3
Zen+4 / 4
3.5 / 3.7 GHz65W
$99.00Newegg
Intel Pentium G4620
65.0
18.2
Kaby Lake 2 / 4
3.7 / - GHz54W
$92.90Newegg
Intel Pentium G4560
61.5
17.5
Kaby Lake 2 / 4
3.5 / - GHz54W
$64.99Newegg
AMD Ryzen 3 1200
61.1
22.7
Zen4 / 4
3.1 / 3.2 GHz65W
$99.99Amazon

You may be surprised to find that some less-expensive chips ranked above their upscale siblings. For example, the AMD Ryzen 5 2600X comes out ahead of the AMD Ryzen 7 2700X on this list because it offers better sustained performance, which was enough to help it do better on the overall suite of tests. However, depending on the application, you may see stronger results from the higher-end chip.

How We Tested

Unfortunately, the Spectre and Meltdown patches found us updating our testing image after the Ryzen 2000-series launch, which has left us with two distinct groups of test results. We have numerous entries in both databases, but neither is entirely complete (yet). As such, we've combined the test pools based upon relative results to the leading processors.

The numbers above represent gaming performance using eight game titles. We're using a geometric mean of the 99th percentile frame rate data, which we convert to an frames per second (FPS) metric, as our overall measure of gaming performance over the entirety of our gaming test suite. We used the Nvidia GTX 1080 GPU for our tests at HD resolution.

We compare a geometric mean of application performance in compression, decompression, HandBrake, Blender and the Adobe Creative Cloud Suite to generate an application performance score.

We have also included several newer processors that we haven't tested yet, but we've assigned them basic positions in our hierarchy based on their capabilities. Naturally, this list will grow as we add more processors.

Test System & Configuration

Test System
Hardware

AMD Socket AM4 (400-Series)
AMD Ryzen 2000-series processors
MSI X470 Gaming M7 AC
2x 8GB G.Skill FlareX DDR4-3200 @ DDR4-2933

Intel LGA 1151 (Z370):
Intel Coffee Lake processors
MSI Z370 Gaming Pro Carbon AC
2x 8GB G.Skill FlareX DDR4-3200 @ DDR4-2400, DDR4-2667

AMD Socket AM4 (300-Series)
Ryzen 1000-series processors
MSI X370 Xpower Gaming Titanium
2x 8GB G.Skill FlareX DDR4-3200 @ DDR4-2667

Intel LGA 1151 (Z270)
Intel Kaby Lake processors
MSI Z270 Gaming M7
2x 8GB G.Skill FlareX DDR4-3200 @ DDR4-2400

Intel LGA 2066

Intel Skylake processors
MSI X299 Gaming Pro Carbon AC
4x 8GB G.Skill FlareX DDR4-3200 @ DDR4-2666

All
EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 FE
1TB Samsung PM863
SilverStone ST1500-TI, 1500W
Windows 10 Creators Update Version 1703 - All Spectre and Meltdown mitigations
Cooling
Corsair H115i

Legacy Desktop Processor Hierarchy

Recognizing that a lot of older platforms are going to be paired with graphics subsystems multiple generations old, we wanted to define the top of our range to encourage balance between host processing and complementary GPUs. At this point, anyone with a Sandy Bridge-based Core i7 would realize a gain from stepping up to Coffee Lake or Kaby Lake, for example. And putting AMD's top FX CPUs next to a handful of Core i7s and those older Core i5s represents an upgrade to their status.

Currently, our hierarchy consists of 13 total tiers. The bottom half of the chart is largely outdated; you'll notice those CPUs dragging down performance in the latest games, regardless of the graphics card installed in your PC. If you own a CPU in that range, an upgrade could really take your experience to another level.

Really, it's the top five tiers or so that remain viable. And in that top half of the chart, an upgrade is typically worthwhile if it's a least a couple of tiers higher. Otherwise, there's just not enough improvement to warrant the expense of a fresh CPU, motherboard and RAM (not to mention the graphics card and storage solution you'd be considering as well).

Intel CPUsAMD CPUs & APUs
Intel Core i7-8700K ($379 On Amazon)
Intel Core i9-7900X ($979.99 On Newegg)
Intel Core i9-7960X ($1,695.68 On Newegg)
Intel Core i9-7980XE ($1999.00 On Amazon)
Intel Core i5-8600K ($279.99 On Newegg)
Intel Core i7-7740X ($350.00 On Amazon)
Intel Core i7-7700K ($349.89 On Newegg)
Intel Core i7-7820X ($599.00 On Amazon)
Intel Core i7-7700 ($314.90 On Amazon)
Intel Core i5-8400 ($189.99 On Newegg)
Intel Core i7-7800X ($389.99 On Newegg)
Intel Core i7-7700T ($353.07 On Amazon)
Intel Core i7-6950X ($1,627.99 On Amazon)
Intel Core i7-6900K ($1,021.97 On Amazon)
Intel Core i7-6850K ($579.99 On Amazon)
Intel Core i7-6800K ($404.99 On Amazon)
Intel Core i7-6700K ($308.98 On Amazon)
Intel Core i7-6700 ($304.97 On Amazon)
Intel Core i7-5960X ($1,069.95 On Newegg)
Intel Core i7-5930K ($555.99 On Amazon)
Intel Core i7-5820K ($389.99 On Newegg)
Intel Core i7-5775C ($387.90 On Newegg)
Intel Core i7-4960X ($2,809.99 On Newegg)
Intel Core i7-4930K
Intel Core i7-4820K
Intel Core i7-4790K
Intel Core i7-4770K
Intel Core i7-4790
Intel Core i7-4771
Intel Core i7-4770
Intel Core i7-3970X
Intel Core i7-3960X
Intel Core i7-3930K
Intel Core i7-3820
Intel Core i7-3770K
Intel Core i7-3770
Intel Core i5-7640X ($243.00 On Amazon)
Intel Core i5-7600K ($234.96 On Amazon)
Intel Core i5-7600 ($229.99 On Amazon)
Intel Core i5-7500 ($199.99 On Amazon)
Intel Core i5-7400 ($189.99 On Newegg)
Intel Core i5-6600K ($229.97 On Amazon)
Intel Core i5-6600 ($210.66 On Amazon)
Intel Core i5-6500 ($197.00 On Amazon)
Intel Core i5-6402P ($189.99 On Newegg)
Intel Core i5-6400 ($182.99 On Newegg)
Intel Core i5-5675C
Intel Core i5-4690K ($259.01 On Newegg)
Intel Core i5-4670K
Intel Core i5-4590
Intel Core i5-4670
Intel Core i5-4570
Intel Core i5-4460 ($200.99 On Newegg)
Intel Core i5-4440
Intel Core i5-4430
Intel Core i5-3570K
Intel Core i5-3570
Intel Core i5-3550

AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1950X ($949.99 On Newegg)
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1920X ($529.99 On Amazon)
AMD Ryzen 7 1800X ($319.99 On Amazon)
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1900X ($549.99 On Newegg)
AMD Ryzen 7 1700X ($298.99 On Amazon)
AMD Ryzen 7 1700 ($294.99 On Newegg)
AMD Ryzen 5 1600X ($199.99 On Amazon)
AMD Ryzen 5 1600 ($199.99 On Amazon)
AMD Ryzen 5 1500X ($189.99 On Newegg)
AMD Ryzen 5 1400 ( On -)
AMD Ryzen 3 1300X ($129.99 On Amazon)
AMD Ryzen 3 1200 ($99.99 On Amazon)

Intel Core i7-990X Extreme
Intel Core i7-980X Extreme
Intel Core i7-975 Extreme
Intel Core i7-2600K
Intel Core i7-2600
Intel Core i7-965
Intel Core i5-3470
Intel Core i5-3450P
Intel Core i5-3450
Intel Core i5-3350P
Intel Core i5-3330
Intel Core i5-2550K
Intel Core i5-2500K
Intel Core i5-2500
Intel Core i5-2450P
Intel Core i5-2400
Intel Core i5-2380P
Intel Core i5-2320
Intel Core i5-2310
Intel Core i5-2300
Intel Core i3-7350K ($169.99 On Amazon)
Intel Core i3-7320 ($159.99 On Amazon)
Intel Core i3-7300 ($139.99 On Amazon)
Intel Core i3-7100 ($114.99 On Amazon)
AMD FX-9590 ($159.99 On Newegg)
AMD FX-9370 ($179.99 On Amazon)
AMD FX-8370 w/Wraith ($184.99 On Amazon)
AMD FX-8350 w/Wraith ($159.99 On Amazon)
AMD FX-8320 ($124.99 On Amazon)
AMD FX-8300 ($99.99 On Amazon)
AMD FX-8150
Intel Core i7-980
Intel Core i7-970
Intel Core i7-960
Intel Core i7-875K
Intel Core i7-870
Intel Core i3-6320 ($169.99 On Amazon)
Intel Core i3-6300 ($148.02 On Amazon)
Intel Core i3-6100 ($119.99 On Newegg)
Intel Core i3-6100T ($125.99 On Amazon)
Intel Core i3-6098P ($126.99 On Newegg)
Intel Core i3-4360
Intel Core i3-4350
Intel Core i3-4340
Intel Core i3-4170
Intel Core i3-4160
Intel Core i3-4150
Intel Core i3-4130
Intel Core i3-3250
Intel Core i3-3245
Intel Core i3-3240
Intel Core i3-3225
Intel Core i3-3220
Intel Core i3-3210
Intel Core i3-2130
Intel Core i3-2025
Intel Core i3-2120
Intel Core i3-2105
Intel Core i3-2100
Intel Pentium G4620 ($104.63 On Amazon)
Intel Pentium G4600 ($86.09 On Amazon)
Intel Pentium G4560 ($64.99 On Newegg)
Intel Pentium G4500 ($67.75 On Amazon)
Intel Pentium G4400 ($59.99 On Amazon)
AMD FX-6350 w/Wraith ($134.99 On Amazon)
AMD FX-4350 ($74.95 On Amazon)
AMD Phenom II X6 1100T Black Edition
AMD Phenom II X6 1090T Black Edition
AMD Phenom II X4 Black Edition 980
AMD Phenom II X4 Black Edition 975
Intel Core i7-950
Intel Core i7-940
Intel Core i7-930
Intel Core i7-920
Intel Core i7-860
Intel Core i5-3220T
Intel Core i5-2405S
Intel Core i5-2400S
Intel Core i5-760
Intel Core i5-750
Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9775
Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9770
Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9650
Intel Core 2 Quad Q9650
AMD FX-8370E ($185.30 On Amazon)
AMD FX-8320E ($114.95 On Amazon)
AMD FX-8120
AMD FX-6300 ($89.98 On Amazon)
AMD FX-6200
AMD FX-4300 ($67.95 On Amazon)
AMD FX-4170
AMD Phenom II X6 1075T
AMD Phenom II X4 970 Black Edition
AMD Phenom II X4 965
AMD Phenom II X4 955
AMD A10-7890K w/Wraith ($148.99 On Amazon)
AMD A10-7870K Black Edition ($119.99 On Amazon)
AMD A10-7860K ($109.99 On Newegg)
AMD A10-7850K
AMD A10-7800
AMD A10-7700K
AMD A10-6800K
AMD A10-6790K
AMD A10-6700
AMD A10-5800K
AMD A10-5700
AMD A8-7650K ($89.99 On Newegg)
AMD A8-7600 ($75.99 On Amazon)
AMD A8-6600K
AMD A8-5600K
AMD A8-3870K
AMD A8-3870
AMD A8-3850
AMD Athlon X4 880K ($96.99 On Amazon)