Recently, Tom's Hardware updated their CPU recommendation list for the second quarter of 2017.
If the link changes or gets broken, what Tom's recommended is:
The problem with this list has to do more with the title than it does the actual recommendations. The list is designed for future PC gamers to quickly choose a processor without having to sort through many benchmarks, so the criteria used in selecting these CPUs is only gaming benchmarks. The title, "Best CPUs", gives an impression that the criteria used is more general than just PC gaming, but it isn't.
The purpose of this list is to create a list of recommendations for CPUs that is more general than Tom's Hardware's list.
Prices are listed according to the US dollar and US price. I know that other regions in the world have a higher price due to VAT, value of currency, and lower supply, but in most scenarios the relativity of prices here should remain the same (e.g the 1400 is still going to be cheaper than the 1500x in the EU)
Best CPU for $75
Intel Pentium G4560: The Dual Core's Last Ride
For $75, the Pentium G4560 is a CPU that can play games at the price of a game.
The strength of the Pentium is in its Hyperthreading technology. Hyperthreading allows it to load games that need four cores in order to run while giving you better performance in other games. It also increases the overall power of the processor, which is invaluable on a dual core where power is very scarce.
As to be expected for a processor that costs so little, there's many weaknesses when it comes to the processor. The small pool of level 3 cache and the lack of AVX instructions hurts its performance in productivity, emulation, and future software. The Pentium only having two cores makes multitasking difficult while heavy tasks such as video editing, games, and rendering will all perform relatively poorly.
Best CPU for $100
AMD FX-8300: Cheap Multithreaded Power
The FX 8300 has the mutithtreaded strength of an i5 for just $100.
This processor has a few things going for it. The main attraction is the fact that it has eight cores. Eight cores means that mutlitasking will overall be a great experience on this processor as programs won't have to compete over resources. The processor is also unlocked which allows users to overclock for more performance.
If you thought a octo core processor for just $100 sounded too good to be true, you're right. This processor has a significant amount of weaknesses and issues that relegates it to such a low price.
Cons of the FX 8300 (Click to show)
- The cores of the FX-8300 are very weak, which cripples performance in many tasks, such as gaming and even video editing.
- The processor uses a lot of energy relative to the performance it gives
- The FX-8300's motherboards are based on a very old platform and are. barely in production at the time of this list. Some motherboards lack features such as UEFI and even USB 3.0.
- There is no upgrade path for the FX-8300 as the socket is dead.
- The FX-8300 needs DDR3 memory which is out of production and will grow more expensive.
- The stock cooler is very loud.
If all of those negatives are too much to take in, then I would suggest waiting a little while longer. Rumors are currently pointing to the existence of Ryzen 3, which will have CPUs that will replace the FX series at the same price level.
Best CPU for $160
AMD RYZEN 5 1400: Budget i7
The RYZEN 5 1400 gives you performance similar to an Intel Core i7 at nearly half the price. No gimmicks, "gotchas", or major trade offs either.
This RYZEN processor in specific is a quad core processor that comes with simotaneous multithreading like Intel's Hyperthreading technology. This CPU also sips power and comes with a quiet stock cooler that easily fits into ITX cases. It comes with a rather low clock speed, but the processor is unlocked and can be overclocked on the stock cooler to make up for it.
Honorable Mention: AMD RYZEN 5 1500X ($190)
The 1500X is essentially a premium version of the 1400 with it coming with the better Wraith Spire cooler, 8 more megabytes of Level 3 cache, higher clock rates, and higher overclocks. While the 1400 is a better value, get the 1500X if you have the money for it.
Best CPU for $220
AMD RYZEN 5 1600: The i5 Is Now Dead
AMD's new RYZEN 5 line makes yet another appearance with the hexa core 1600.
Compared to the Intel core i5s, the Ryzen 5 1600 is a no brainer. The 1600 not only has two more cores, but three times the threads thanks to AMD's simotaneous multithreading. This amount of cores and threads gives you over twice the amount of multithreaded performance for the same price.
Overclockers will also have lots to cheer about when it comes to the 1600. Like the 1400 and all CPUs in the Ryzen series, the 1600 is a fully unlocked processor that allows you to overclock without otherwise needing an expensive Intel Z series motherboard and K series CPU. The 1600 also comes with AMD's excellent Wraith Spire cooler which allows you to overclock right out of the box while still having a cool and quiet system. With overclocking, the 1600 further extends its lead over Intel's similarly priced locked i5 processors.
Best CPU for $310
AMD RYZEN 7 1700: AMD's True Bulldozer
Noticing the trend of AMD's Ryzen processors appearing on this list yet?
The 1700 has eight cores and sixteen threads, which makes it a monster for production tasks such as rendering videos and compiling code. While eight cores may not be a big boon in games, it does allow you to mutlitask far much more than a similarly priced Intel Core i7 while keeping everything running smooth and fast. the 1700's low TDP of 65W means that the processor will never get very hot or the Wraith Spire cooler very loud during high load.
Honorable Mention: Intel Core i7-7700K ($330)
The Intel Core i7-7700K is currently the fastest CPU in town for gaming and other lightly threaded tasks. You should look up your use cases to determine in which tasks that the 7700K is faster than the 1700, and determine which CPU is for you.
Is there more?
2017 has been a big year for processors already, but there's even more to come.
Coffee Lake: 6 core processor for LGA 1151?
Intel's "Coffee Lake", a processor line with refinement of the 14nm process, is rumored to have a hexa core processor for Intel's LGA 1151 platform.
AMD is reportedly preparing their HEDT lineup for the Zen archtecture. These processors are rumored to have as much as 16 cores and will use AMD's X399 platform, which will be very similar to Intel's own X99 platform.
Intel Skylake-X/Kaby Lake-X
Intel is repotedly preparing their update to their HEDT lineup as well, finally bringing the Skylake architecture to this segment of the PC market.
Skylake-X CPUs are rumored to have as many as 12 cores.
Kabylake-X is rumored to only have four cores.
Keep in mind these are RUMORS that may or may not be true.