Putting together a gaming PC can be both a pleasant and an excruciating process. A lot of us like comparing performance benchmarks and looking up reviews by users and professionals alike, all in order to find the product best suited to our needs.

However, with so many options to choose from, the process can become quite long and tedious, with plenty of backtracking and cross-referencing.

In order to make the aforementioned process easier, we have divided all the gaming CPUs currently available into tiers according to their performance and price ranges.

TierCPU ModelCore/Thread CountBase Clock (GHz)Overclocking SupportedSocket
Tier 1 – High-endIntel Core i9-7980XE18 (36)2.6YesLGA 2066
Intel Core i9-7960X16 (32)2.8YesLGA 2066
Intel Core i9-7940X14 (28)3.1YesLGA 2066
Intel Core i9-7920X12 (24)2.9YesLGA 2066
Intel Core i9-7900X10 (20)3.3YesLGA 2066
Ryzen Threadripper 1950X16 (32)3.4YesTR4
Ryzen Threadripper 1920X12 (24)3.5YesTR4
Ryzen Threadripper 1900X8 (16)3.8YesTR4
Tier 2 – PerformanceIntel Core i7-8700K6 (12)3.7YesLGA 1151*
Intel Core i7-87006 (12)3.2NoLGA 1151*
Ryzen 7 2700X8 (16)3.7YesAM4
Ryzen 7 27008 (16)3.2YesAM4
Tier 3 – Mid-rangeIntel Core i5-8600K6 (6)3.6YesLGA 1151*
Intel Core i3-8350K4 (4)4.0YesLGA 1151*
Ryzen 5 2600X6 (12)3.6YesAM4
Intel Core i5-84006 (6)2.8NoLGA 1151*
Ryzen 5 26006 (12)3.4YesAM4
Tier 4 – BudgetIntel Core i3-81004 (4)3.6NoLGA 1151*
Ryzen 5 2400G4 (8)3.6YesAM4
Ryzen 3 2200G4 (4)3.5YesAM4
Tier 5 - Entry-levelIntel Pentium G46204 (4)3.8YesAM4
Intel Pentium G46002 (4)3.6NoLGA 1151
Intel Pentium G45602 (4)3.5NoLGA 1151

Note that the CPUs with a socket marked with an asterisk (*) are the 8th-generation Intel Core CPUs that use the standard LGA 1151 socket, but they are only compatible with 300-series chipsets.

Tier 1 – Unmatched Power

cpu tier list 2018

The first tier CPUs are the most powerful microprocessors currently on the market. They push the norms both in regards to speed and core count, have higher than average power draw and are physically larger as well.

They are the most powerful processors overall but are not aimed towards gamers. Rather, they are the best fit for workstations and servers. If used exclusively for gaming, their potential would be going to waste.

AMD and Intel are quite competitive in this tier. While both the Ryzen Threadripper and the Intel Core i9 CPUs are on fairly even terms when it comes to performance, Intel does have the upper hand in terms of raw power, whereas AMD’s offering remains the more affordable solution.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9voQqU73-Mg

AMD CPUsIntel CPUs
Ryzen Threadripper 1950XIntel Core i9-7900X
Ryzen Threadripper 1920XIntel Core i9-7920X
Ryzen Threadripper 1900XIntel Core i9-7940X
Intel Core i9-7960X
Intel Core i9-7980XE

Tier 2 – A More Accessible Powerhouse

 

processor hierarchy

The second tier CPUs focus on offering superb performance for desktop PCs at much more affordable prices than their first tier counterparts. They come with high core counts and the vast majority uses the mainstream sockets, which would be AM4 and LGA 1151 for AMD and Intel respectively.

The CPUs are a great choice both for workstations and gaming PCs, provided that the gaming PC in question is equipped either with one or more powerful GPUs. For the average gamer, however, any of these CPUs would be an overkill.

Once again, there is quite a bit of competition in this tier, seeing as AMD had released most of their original Ryzen 7 models in early 2017. This also prompted Intel to improve their core count and include hyper-threading in the i7 models so as to be able to keep up. When put up against one another, the 2nd generation Ryzen and the 8th generation Intel CPUs are on the relatively even terms, just as they were during the previous generation: Intel remains on top when it comes to single-threaded tasks, but AMD has the upper hand in regards to multitasking, all the while their CPUs are slightly more affordable.

AMD CPUsIntel CPUs
Ryzen 7 2700XIntel Core i7-8700K
Ryzen 7 2700Intel Core i7-8700

Tier 3 – A Gamer’s Favorite

cpu benchmarks

 

The third tier CPUs are the most popular in the gaming community by far. They offer excellent performance and a high number of cores at very approachable prices, making them ideal for gaming and miscellaneous computer use.

Much like with the previous two tiers, AMD only truly became competitive in this range with the release of Ryzen 5 CPUs around the middle of 2017, and as with their pricier counterparts described above, the Intel vs AMD situation remains largely the same in this tier.

AMD CPUsIntel CPUs
Ryzen 5 2600XIntel Core i5-8600K
Ryzen 5 2600Intel Core i3-8350K
Intel Core i5-8400

Tier 4 – A More Affordable Gaming Solution

amd vs intel

The fourth tier CPUs are not as powerful as third tier ones in terms of raw performance but are much more affordable than the aforementioned “beefier” models. Combine that with the fact that they are more than sufficient for running mid-range GPUs, and it becomes apparent as to why they are the most cost-effective option for a lot of gamers.

AMD used to have a flimsy presence in this range that consisted solely of their dated FX CPUs which could not compete with what Intel was offering. But as before, with the introduction of Ryzen 3, AMD had very viable solutions once again, and this led to Intel upgrading their Core i3 CPUs to true quad-core status, as opposed to the hyper-threaded dual-cores that they were before.

AMD CPUsIntel CPUs
Ryzen 5 2400GIntel Core i3-8100
Ryzen 3 2200G

Tier 5 – Good For Those On a Very Tight Budget

cpu comparison chart

And finally, there are the fifth tier CPUs which are the most affordable CPUs out there, but as such, they are also the weakest. They are ideal for regular non-gaming PCs or office computers but they will inevitably bottleneck all but the most affordable GPUs to varying degrees.

While AMD’s A-series APUs are decent for non-gaming purposes, they sadly present poor value when it comes to gaming. The same could be said for Intel’s Celeron lineup, thus leaving us with only the latest Intel Pentium CPUs as viable gaming solutions in this particular price range.

AMD CPUsIntel CPUs
N/AIntel Pentium G4620
Intel Pentium G4600
Intel Pentium G4560

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