When it comes to high-end CPU performance on desktops, Intel is one of only two companies worth considering – and when it comes to gaming, AMD still clearly outperforms. Regardless of whether you play games or computers, Intel has a CPU that meets your standards, your budget and your performance requirements. If you are currently on the market for a new CPU, you have come to the right place.
From the top to the most wallet-friendly, we've put together the best Intel processor options on the market to help narrow your search. The rest is up to you.
The best Intel processor: Core i5-10600K
The 10th generation Intel Comet Lake desktop CPUs arrived with a bang in 2020. This Core i5 chip replaced the previous i5-9600K with a significant increase: Hyper-Threading. While the 9th generation chip has six cores and six threads, this newer model has six cores and 12 threads for better performance at the same cost. It even offers more threads than the 9th generation Core i7 chips from Intel.
The 10600K has a base speed of 4.10 GHz and a maximum single-core boost clock of 4.80 GHz. At 125 watts, the TDP is slightly higher than the previous model, but with clever power management it doesn't run much hotter. It is not supplied with a standard cooler. So be sure to take one along with this top pick.
In benchmarks, it almost matches the Intel Core i7-9700K, an older 8-core 8-thread chip for $ 350. It also competes well with AMD's Ryzen 5 3600 and 3600X, both of which have six cores and 12 threads for $ 172 and $ 220, respectively. While the prices for AMD chips are considerably lower than for 10600K, the Intel model contains integrated graphics, while the two AMD CPUs do not.
An amazing facet of this processor is its overclockability. With proper cooling and optimization, frequencies well above 5.0 GHz and gaming performance close to that of the standard 10900K, a processor that is almost twice as expensive, can be achieved.
Overall, the 10600K offers a lot of money for your money, especially if you want to overclock. It's not much slower than the Core i7-10700K, which makes it ideal if you want to save some money and can go a lot further. Keep in mind that this chip only works in the new LGA 1200 socket. So if you're interested, grab a card with the Z490 chipset.
The cheapest Intel processor: Core i3-10100
If you are on a budget, this chip is a bargain. It's a high-performance, recommended-price chip that includes four cores and eight threads with a base speed of 3.60 GHz and a maximum single-core boost of 4.30 GHz. When you pair it with an affordable graphics card and a decent LGA 1200-compatible motherboard, you've got what it takes to be a solid entry-level gaming PC.
At performance level, it targets AMD's Ryzen 3 3100 and 3300X chips. Thanks to Hyper-Threading, this is an improvement over the Core i3-9100 from the previous generation. This is the big change between the two Intel chips because the cache size of TDP and L3 remains the same.
This chip does not support multiplier-based overclocking, although BCLK overclocking is possible – just don't expect big performance increases. However, it contains the integrated UHD graphics 630 from Intel with a basic frequency of 350 MHz and a maximum of 1.10 GHz – a component that is not offered on a similar AMD CPU. It helps you get your system up and running without a graphics card. Level gaming.
For an additional $ 30, you can opt for the Core i5-10400F, a 12-thread chip with six cores, a base frequency of 2.90 GHz and a single-core turbo frequency of up to 4.30 GHz. However, integrated graphics are not included and at the time of writing, inventory is low, making it extremely difficult to find.
The best high-end Intel processor: Core i7-10700K
If you want high-end performance without the paralyzing sticker shock of a Core i9 CPU, this is the Intel chip. It contains eight cores and 16 threads as well as a fundamental frequency of 3.80 GHz and a maximum single-core turbo frequency of 5.1 GHz.
As the "K" suggests, this chip supports multiplier-based overclocking, although it doesn't come with a standard cooler. It's a nice performance upgrade over the previous generation Core i9-9900K at a lower cost, even more after you've tweaked a little under the hood. There is even a run for the money on the new Core i9-10900K, which is around $ 100 more.
The Intel Core i7 chip aims at the AMD Ryzen 7 3700X, another eight-core 16-thread chip at a lower cost, but without integrated graphics. Reviews show that the AMD chip immediately follows the 10700K, and all the more so after both have been overclocked. However, a storage cooler is part of AMD's lower price.
As with all other new Comet Lake desktop CPUs, you need a compatible motherboard with the LGA 1200 socket. If overclocking is on the menu, take a card with the Z490 chipset.
The best raw performance: Core i9-10900K
At the top of the performance tree is this 10-core chip with 20 threads. It has a base frequency of 3.70 GHz and a maximum single-core turbo frequency of 5.30 GHz when using the new Velocity Boost algorithm. With strong overclocking, some 10900Ks can even process 5.3 GHz in the entire core.
The 10-core chip from Intel offers a TDP of 125 watts. However, reviews show that it can reach up to 325 watts when overclocking. So if you want to get the most out of your Core i9 CPU, you need a powerful cooler.
Despite the power consumption, the Core i9 chip from Intel doesn't disappoint for the price. It's the fastest gaming CPU ever made, and in some cases even surpasses AMD's Ryzen 9 3900X, a 12-core chip with 24 threads for productivity tasks.
The Core i9-10900K contains 20MB of L3 cache and Intel's built-in UHD Graphics 630 GPU, although it would be a waste to use it for anything other than testing Windows. When you combine this CPU with a powerful graphics card, you get the most powerful gaming PC you can buy for money.