AMD is currently one of the most popular CPU manufacturers thanks to its excellent Ryzen series. If you're building or upgrading your computer, an AMD processor is an excellent choice.
One of the strengths of AMD is the diverse range of products. However, you may not be sure which CPU will meet your needs. We've reviewed and compared various AMD processors to determine the best entry-level, best midrange, and best performing AMD processor you can get.
The best AMD processors at a glance
The best entry-level CPU: Ryzen 3 3200G
Bill Roberson / Digital Trends
AMD's Accelerated Processing Units (APU) have never given the mid-range gaming hardware much competition, but the latest Ryzen APU generation with Vega graphics is far more impressive. Our tests didn't find that they'll overtake traditional processors with dedicated graphics anytime soon, especially if you're trying to play more than just entry-level games.
However, if your budget or system chassis doesn't have room for a discrete graphics card, theis a great little chip.
Although the four Zen + CPU cores are sufficiently powerful for entry-level 1080p games, the integrated Vega 8 graphics cores are far more powerful than Intel's HD graphics.
At just under $ 95, there is not much in the way of tough competition. The last-gen 2200G isn't as powerful, but it's currently more expensive, making AMD's 3200G the more obvious choice. The Athlon 3000G costs around $ 55, but that goes into extreme budget.
If you don't need the onboard graphics and can stretch your budget a bit further, the last-gen Ryzen 5 2600 is an amazing six-core CPU for around $ 153. Thanks to its additional cores and threads, it will far outperform the 3200G for multi-threaded workloads. It can also overclock up to 2600X.
The best midrange CPU: Ryzen 5 3600
As arguably the most competitive price for processors, you are spoiled for choice in the mid-range. Out of all the chips available, we recommend the extremely affordable, impressively powerful Ryzen 5 3600.
Building on the success of its predecessor, the Ryzen 5 2600, the 3600 has the same six cores and 12 threads, but the core is a completely redesigned Zen 2 architecture. It can boost up to 4.2 GHz on a single core. With big improvements in instructions per clock and the added efficiency of the 7nm process node, this CPU is far more impressive than its last generation counterpart.
It goes one after the other with the Intel 9600K in gaming and destroys it in productivity tasks, which makes this a fair comparison for much more expensive chips like the 9700K in many scenarios. The 3600X is a possible alternative for $ 25 more, but ultimately the two chips are pretty much comparable. The 3600 also has the same automated overclocking tools, so it's often within range of the 3600X anyway.
If you're more interested in multithreaded performance, the fair alternative is this, which has two more cores and supports four more threads. However, the 3600 is much faster in games. So keep that in mind when considering your options.
The best high-end CPU: Ryzen 7 3700X
Dan Baker / Digital Trends
If you want to do more than just play or just want to future-proof your system with eight instead of six powerful cores, the Ryzen 7 3700X is the best choice. It supports 16 threads thanks to simultaneous multithreading for astonishingly fast productivity workloads and tends to clock a little higher than the 3600 even in games.
In our tests, we found that the Intel 9700K can go one after the otherin some games. Both are discarded in multithreaded workloads. So if you want a great all-round CPU without buying the much more expensive 3900X, this is the chip for you.
You can go for the 3800X if you want a very small boost in boost clock – it's just a selective 3700X – but the extra $ 44 is in most cases not worth it. The 3700X could be our favorite chip of this generation because it is a solid all-rounder. The 3600 offers better value for the gamers. However, if you want a powerful eight-core CPU, this is your best bet.
If you're also considering Intel chips, the 9700K and 9900K are the only real alternatives. Both offer slightly better gaming performance, but there isn't much in them.
The last generationis a cheaper alternative with a high clock rate and eight of its own cores, but falls significantly behind the 3700X in all but the most demanding multi-thread tests.
The most powerful CPU: Ryzen 9 3950X
Dan Baker / Digital Trends
AMD has improved the core count of mainstream CPUs with its Ryzen CPUs of the first generation, and again with the third. The 3950X is the first mainstream 16-core CPU ever, so Intel will have to chase its own tail to catch up.
The 3950X offers the highest boost clock of all Ryzen CPUs with up to 4.7 GHz. Outside of AMD's Threadripper 3000 CPUs (each costing over $ 1,000), there's nothing that can compete with productivity tasks. It even outperforms most of Intel's best HEDT chips – all for just $ 738.
HowThe 3950X marks a major milestone for AMD as, for the first time in more than 15 years, AMD can offer a top-notch mainstream CPU that rivals Intel's best for gaming. While the 9900K and 9900KS usually take a slight lead, the difference for most of the titles and reviews isn't that big. But where the 3950X really shines is with multithreaded workloads thanks to its massive core and thread count.
We'd rate this as the best mainstream CPU AMD out there, but it certainly doesn't come cheap.
The 3900X is a great alternative if you can't afford to put $ 738 on a CPU. While the gaming performance is only slightly lower, the lower number of cores weakens the multithreaded performance. It depends on price and performance. Don't break the bank, get the 3950X if you can make it work financially.
The 9900K is another competitor in terms of price. It's not a particularly impressive processor, however.
The AMD Threadripper 3990X is a much more extreme option and has a lot going for it, but it's an incredible price tag close by $ 3,600, depending on where you buy. The number of cores is just as massive at 64, with a base clock of 2.9 GHz and a maximum boost clock of 4.3 GHz. You will need a completely new motherboard to host this chip as it requires the TR4 socket compared to the AM4 socket used on typical Ryzen chips.