The central processing unit or the CPU plays an important part when gauging the overall performance of your PC. Due to the vast product range of processors in the market from both Intel and AMD, it can be quite difficult to decide which processor to buy for your PC.
How to choose the best processor for you?
We have already posted about the best CPUs from both intel and AMD but if you want to know how the Intel core series and AMD Ryzen processors stack up against one another then this CPU hierarchy is the right place to find out the performance difference amongst the different processors.
So which is the right CPU for you? Which one should you buy to build a PC around it? Read on to find out!
Intel vs AMD
AMD came guns blazing in the processor market with their Ryzen 7000 series processors in the last couple of months.
Naturally, that resulted in market share loss for Intel, who responded in kind with the 13th gen of Intel core series processors also known as the Raptor Lake. The competition became quite tough as both companies offered processors that stacked against each other quite nicely.
Basic Tasks? If you are looking to buy a pc to perform basic tasks such as using Word, Chrome browsing, etc, then you don’t need a high-end PC. An entry-level build will be fine and will serve your needs and you won’t even need a discrete GPU as well.
Gaming? If you want a Gaming PC that gives high-level gaming performance then you need PC components such as a mid-range or high-end processor and a discrete GPU for playing games. You can get an A or S-tier processor for a high-end experience, if your budget is tight then you can settle for B-tier processors as well and they won’t disappoint either.
Creative or Productivity Work? If you want a PC for creativity or Productivity work then you will need to invest in a high-end pc that comes with a high-performing processor and a Graphics card since you will be creating content and will end up doing video editing etc. For the best experience, you should get an A or S-tier processor such as an AMD Threadripper and you will not be disappointed.
Currently, Intel has released 13 generations of its Core series processors while AMD has released 5 generations of processors which are competing with each other to get the larger market share.
Both companies have launched processors with overclocking capabilities. You need a cooling solution on hand to keep the processor running at peak performance and when it is running in OC mode and the cooling system is working as it should then you should be able to get the extra performance you should get when running the processor in extreme conditions.
What are Key Specs in CPUs to Care About?
Here is how we have gauged a CPU, its overall performance, and its place in the CPU hierarchy.
CPUs come with a core count and against the core count is the thread count. The more cores a CPU has the more work it will be able to do in a single instance of time, the computation speed and the throughput are enhanced by the threads. Basically, the higher the number of cores the higher the number of threads and hence a better performing processor.
In the majority of processors, the pattern is that a single core will have two threads against it. For example, the 4 cores 8 threads, and 12 cores, 24 threads. But that isn’t always the case.
The clock speed of the CPU means how many cycles in a second it can perform. The clock speed is measured in GHz. It is also known as CPU frequency, Base clock speed, clock rate, and PC frequency. The more the clock speed the better the performance of the CPU.
The Thermal Design Power or TDP is the maximum amount of heat the processor is capable of generating. A high TDP means that the processor generates a large amount of heat and needs a good cooling system to keep performing at the optimum level.
Usually, a large TDP CPU also gives high performance as well. It also means that your bill will also increase since larger TDP processors tend to draw more electricity to dish out higher performance.
The Cache is the memory that the processor can access more quickly than the main memory due to its location. But it’s much smaller in size than the main memory.
There are three levels of cache L1, L2, and L3.
The L1 cache is the primary cache and is the fastest cache memory. The L2 cache is a little further away and has more storage space. The L3 cache is the slowest cache of the three but it’s still faster than the Main memory and it’s also located on the motherboard.
IPC is the instructions per cycle. The higher the IPC of a processor the more tasks it can perform in a single instant. IPC relies heavily on the architecture of the CPU, which means newer architecture CPUs will have better IPC.
CPU Hierarchy Charts of Different Levels
Now without further ado let’s get into the actual CPU hierarchy and stack different CPUs against each other.
S-tier CPUs are the best processors in our processor pool. These are usually used by enthusiasts or top-end PC users who want the best hardware for their PC. These are high-end processors that come with an expensive price tag and high performance as well. These processors will give you the maximum FPS in games and are the most efficient when it comes to doing content creation work such as video editing.
When it comes to gaming performance, these processors give quite a large amount of FPS at 1080p, but as you increase the resolution the game becomes more GPU-dependent and the CPU becomes less impactful. Still, these CPUs score the highest in benchmarks.
If you want to build a PC that’s built solely for the purpose of gaming then you should go with the 13th gen Intel core i9 13900K which is the best gaming processor in the world right now. Although if you are looking for a pure FPS per dollar CPU then you should consider the Ryzen 7 7700X, Ryzen 5 7600X, and the older Ryzen 7 5800X3D CPUs, these offer the best gaming performance amongst the competition.
If you are looking for high-end processors that you can utilize for productivity then you should go for the AMD Ryzen CPUs as they have been designed for productivity such as the Ryzen 9 7900x and the Ryzen 9 7950X. If you have the budget you can also go with the Threadripper 3990X which has 64 cores and 128 threads.
- Intel Core i9 13900K 24 Cores 32 Threads 125 W
- AMD Ryzen 9 7950X 16 Cores 32 Threads 170W
- AMD Ryzen 9 7900X 12 Cores 24 Threads 170 W
- Intel core i7 13700K 16 Cores 24 Threads 125 W
- AMD Ryzen 7 7700X 8 Cores 16 Threads 105 W
- AMD Ryzen 5 7600X 6 Cores 12 Threads 105 W
- AMD Ryzen 7 5800X3D 8 Cores 16 Threads 105 W
- Intel Core i9 12900K 16 Cores 24 Threads 150 W
- AMD Ryzen 9 5950X 16 Cores 32 Threads 105 W
- Intel core i7 12700K 12 Cores 20 Threads 125 W
- Intel Core i9 11900K 10 Cores 16 Threads 125 W
- AMD Ryzen 9 5900X 12 Cores 24 Threads 105 W
- Intel Core i5 12600K 10 Cores 16 Threads 125 W
- AMD Ryzen 7 5800X 8 Cores 16 Threads 105 W
- AMD Ryzen 7 5700X 8 Cores 16 Threads 65 W
- AMD Threadripper 3990X 64 Cores 128 Threads 280W
- AMD Threadripper 3970X 32 Cores 64 Threads 280 W
- Intel Xeon W-3175X 28 Cores 56 Threads 255W
- AMD Threadripper 3960X 24 Cores 48 Threads 280W
- AMD Threadripper 2990WX 32 Cores 64 Threads 250W
The A tier of the CPU hierarchy contains CPUs from the newer generations as well as older ones. They are price-to-performance products that come at a lower price than the S-tier ones and also have a lower core count too.
These processors show good performance especially while gaming making them an ideal choice for a PC user looking to build high mid-range gaming PCs.
These include processors from the Intel core 10th generation and AMD’s Ryzen 3rd generation. Such as the 10700K, 10900K, 3900X, and 3700X.
- Intel core i9 10900K 10 Cores 20 Threads 125 W
- Intel core i7 10700K 8 Cores 16 Threads 125 W
- AMD Ryzen 5 5600X 5 Cores 12 Threads 65 W
- Intel Core i5 11600K 6 Cores 12 Threads 125 W
- AMD Ryzen 9 3900XT 12 Cores 12 Threads 105 W
- Intel Core i5 10600K 6 Cores 12 Threads 125 W
- Intel Core i3 12100F 4 Cores 8 Threads 58 W
- AMD Ryzen 7 3800XT 8 Cores 16 Threads 105 W
- AMD Ryzen 7 3700X 8 Cores 16 Threads 65 W
Now that we have reached the B tier you might start to think that this is where the performance is really starting to decrease. But that is not the case, this tier contains the processors which offer the best value.
They are perfectly capable of handling modern-day titles and giving quite a bit of FPS when it comes to online multiplayer gaming. If you are low on budget when building a gaming computer then this is your best bet as these won’t cost you an arm or leg and they give you substantial performance as well. They stack up quite well against the other CPUs from other tiers as well.
- Intel Core i9 9900K 8 Cores 16 Threads 95 W
- Intel Core i7 9700K 8 Cores 8 Threads 95 W
- AMD Ryzen 5 3600X 6 Cores 12 Threads 65 W
- AMD Ryzen 3 3300X 6 Cores 12 Threads 95 W
- Intel Core i5 9600K 6 Cores 6 Threads 95 W
Now, this is where the performance decrease is noticeable. The C-tier processors are older-generation processors that haven’t aged well with time. They have a low core count and they struggle to deliver FPS in modern-day titles.
The Intel CPUs from the 9th gen such as the i3s and i5s fall into the category and the same goes for Ryzen second gen CPUs. They are entry-level CPUs with weaker IPC. Still, when it comes to value to money ratio they provide that so they aren’t so bad after all.
These processors are outdated in terms of modern technology and they are locked to 4 to 6 threads.
- Intel Core i5 9400f 6 Cores 6 Threads 65 W
- Intel Core i3 10100 4 Cores 8 Threads 65 W
- AMD Ryzen 7 2700X 8 Cores 16 Threads 105 W
- AMD Ryzen 3 3100 4 Cores 8 Threads 65 W
- AMD Ryzen 3 3400G 4 Cores 8 Threads 65W
The D tier consists of CPUs that don’t perform well at all and if you use them with a high-end graphics card like the RTX 4090, or the RX 7900 XTX they will end up causing a bottleneck which will ruin your gaming experience.
These processors are placed into the D tier due to them having a low score in benchmark results as they have low base clock speeds.
Playing games using these processors isn’t usually recommended, although they will able to run older titles without any problems. Still, building a computer for modern-day gaming isn’t recommended with these CPUs as they won’t give you a smooth experience if you try to run the latest games on them.
- AMD Ryzen 5 2600X 6 Cores 12 Threads 95 W
- Intel Core i3 9100 4 Cores 4 Threads 65 W
- AMD Ryzen 3 3200G 4 Cores 4 Threads 65 W
- AMD Ryzen 5 2400G 4 Cores 8 Threads 65 W
- AMD Ryzen 3 2200G 4 Cores 4 Threads 65 W
How We Rank CPUs
In the above CPU hierarchy, we have considered processors from the previous 3 generations of AMD and Intel Processors.
Some processors have been excluded as they performed at the same level as the processors already mentioned or they only come with pre-built systems.
These CPUs have been ranked according to base clock speeds, Core count, thread count, and their benchmark scores in Cinebench R20, AIDA 64, and GeekBench 5 along with how they performed in games such as Valorant, CSGo, RDR2, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, Witcher 3, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, CyberPunk 2077, Forza Horizon 5, etc.
The best processor from a gaming perspective is the Intel Core i9 13900K as it is ruling the gaming benchmark world. If you want a computer that will give you the best gaming experience then you should go with this processor.
However, if you want a content creation computer then you should get a Threadripper processor but make sure you have the cash to splash. It can be quite confusing to choose from so many CPUs but hopefully, this CPU hierarchy will help you make the right choice.