Which Intel processor is best?

The central processing unit is one of the most crucial components of a computer. It tells all the other PC bits and pieces how and when to execute instructions. It works with the RAM and graphics card to keep the device running smoothly.

The CPU fits into the motherboard, and gamers generally choose Intel or AMD. If you prefer the former, then the Intel Core i9-10900K Desktop Processor 10 Cores is an excellent choice. It has 10 cores with a maximum clock speed of 5.3 gigahertz.

What to know before you buy an Intel processor

Compatibility with your motherboard

The motherboard in a computer is the base to which all the components connect. The CPU slots into a dedicated space and must therefore be compatible. For example, Intel CPUs will only work when placed into an Intel-compatible motherboard. It is impossible to use an Intel CPU with an AMD-compatible motherboard as the pins and sockets of the CPU are different.

Correct chipset

You must make sure that you use an Intel motherboard with an Intel CPU, but another crucial aspect is the chipset. As technology evolves, CPUs and motherboards use different connection points that aren’t backward compatible. So, for example, you can’t use an Intel 300 Series CPU on a 200 Series motherboard. 

Number of cores for what you need

There’s an extensive range of Intel CPUs to choose from, so you must get the right one for your needs. For example, for playing video games or creating digital content, more cores are great for a smoother experience. But you don’t need many cores for general browsing or streaming. The more cores a CPU has, the faster and harder it can work. At the top of Intel’s range are the X-Series and the i9 with 18 and eight cores, respectively.  

What to look for in a quality Intel processor

The clock speed is everything

The most straightforward measure of a processor’s performance is clock speed. Measured in gigahertz, it is the equivalent of a vehicle’s top speed measured in miles per hour. The higher the clock speed, the faster it can execute multiple instructions. A clock speed between 4.8 gigahertz and 5.3 gigahertz is more than enough for gaming and content creation.    

Hyper-threading

If overclocking is too daunting for you, look for a good-quality Intel processor that features hyper-threading. The technology lets single cores in the CPU handle two or more tasks simultaneously. Hyper-threading is great for multitasking, as it splits physical cores into several virtual ones, taking the load off the entire system.   

Overclocking

While some CPUs already have blazingly fast clock speeds, there is always the potential to squeeze a little more out of their processing power. For example, you can overclock a CPU to work faster than Intel recommends through special software. However, it won’t harm the processor if done correctly, and some CPU makers even consider it a selling point.

How much you can expect to spend on an Intel processor

The average price of an Intel processor will depend on the number of cores and the clock speed. Core i7 or i5 chips can retail for $200-$250, while faster and more powerful Core i9 chips can retail for $400-$500.

Intel processor FAQ

Can you put an Intel PC processor in a laptop?

A. No, as the component are vastly different. For example, a CPU for a laptop is much thinner and smaller than a desktop CPU, and the motherboard sockets are incompatible.

Is thermal paste essential?

A. Yes, as without it, the CPU will burn out in minutes. Thermal paste is a thin layer of heat-resistant liquid filling the air gaps between the CPU and the heatsink. The paste squeezes the air out, which would otherwise prevent the CPU from cooling.  

What’s the best Intel processor to buy?

Top Intel processor

Intel Core i9 10900K Desktop Processor 10 Cores

Intel Core i9-10900K Desktop Processor 10 Cores

What you need to know: Few Intel processors can keep up with the 10900K, as it uses some of the latest available technology.

What you’ll love: What makes this CPU so powerful is that it has a maximum clock speed 5.3 gigahertz through 10 cores. It is compatible with Intel 400 Series chipsets and uses the LGA 1200 socket type. It employs Intel’s Hyper-threading technology to make things run smoother and access files faster with compatible Intel Optane memory. 

What you should consider: The base clock speed is set to 3.7 gigahertz, and you can only reach the 5.3 gigahertz through overclocking software. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top Intel processor for the money

Intel Core i7 10700F Desktop Processor 8 Cores

Intel Core i7-10700F Desktop Processor 8 Cores

What you need to know: This CPU is perfect if you want to balance an affordable component with power and speed.

What you’ll love: With eight cores able to handle 16 tasks simultaneously, this i7 CPU has a base clock speed of 2.9 gigahertz. If you need extra computing power, it can be overclocked to 4.8 gigahertz. It is compatible with Intel 400 series chipset motherboards and includes a cooler.

What you should consider: The CPU can only be used with an external graphics card, as it doesn’t have graphical capabilities.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Intel Core i7 12700KF Desktop Processor 12 8P 4E Cores

Intel Core i7-12700KF Desktop Processor 12 (8P+4E) Cores

What you need to know: This CPU divides the workload between Performance and Efficient cores to get the most out of processes.

What you’ll love: Compatible with 600 Series motherboards, this CPU has a maximum clock speed of 5.0 gigahertz when overclocked from the base speed of 3.8 gigahertz. In addition, it is compatible with DDR5 memory and has eight Performance cores for light working and execution. Furthermore, it engages the four efficient cores for hyper-threading when more power is needed.

What you should consider: The price tag might be a bit steep, but it is excellent value for money.

Where to buy: Sold by B&H Photo

 

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Charlie Fripp writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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