Best Processor 20172017 has been the most exciting year for client-segment processors in over a decade, with AMD finally finding its bearings. The "Zen" CPU micro-architecture may not be an Intel Core "killer," but is certainly competitive, enabling AMD to come up with the Ryzen family of multi-core processors that offer great performance and value relative to the Intel's lineup. AMD was able to quickly deploy "Zen" across every price-point from $119 to $999, even if none of these newer chips feature integrated graphics. Intel wasn't dormant, either, launching its largest-ever high-end desktop (HEDT) processor lineup under the Core X "Skylake-X" family, which had Intel close the year by restoring its performance leadership in the mainstream desktop segment with the 8th generation Core "Coffee Lake" family. Given heavy discounts from AMD towards the end of the year, it was extremely difficult to pick the best chips of 2017, however.
Winner: Intel Core i7-8700K
Had Intel not launched its 8th generation Core "Coffee Lake" family in time, a Ryzen 7-series part would have been our clear winner. The Core i7-8700K not only outperforms AMD's higher-end Ryzen 7 series, but goes on to cannibalize the lower-end of Intel's own Core X family. This six-core processor that isn't shy when it comes to overclocking has HyperThreading for a total of 12 logical CPUs, a healthy 12 MB of L3 cache, and better power-draw than competing AMD parts. Its stronger single-core performance means games and less-parallized tasks run faster, while 12 threads make for plenty of muscle for multi-threaded tasks.
Read our review
Runner-up: AMD Ryzen 5 1600
With Intel facing glaring supply issues for its Core i5 "Coffee Lake" processors, we're picking the AMD Ryzen 5 1600 as our runner-up. There's no overstating the popularity of this chip in the DIY retail markets. For $200-ish, you get 6 cores, 12 threads, 16 MB of L3 cache, and an unlocked multiplier. The processor offers sufficient performance for gaming and multi-threaded tasks and comes with a reasonably quiet stock cooling solution, the AMD Wraith Spire. The chip is ideal for builders who want to focus their investment on a faster graphics card or a bigger SSD with the money saved on the processor and CPU cooler.
Read our review