CPU Hierarchy 2021 – CPU Tier List For Processors

Need a CPU hierarchy to compare all the relevant processors in the world and see how they stack against each other? You've come to the right place.

Finding the right parts for your gaming PC can be a pleasant but also a somewhat tedious process.

While many hardware enthusiasts enjoy comparing benchmarks and scouring different professional reviews before settling on a final pick, others will have a hard time making sense of all the information if they’re not familiar with the subject matter.

Fortunately, finding the right CPU doesn’t necessarily have to include any time-consuming research of different CPU models or any cross-comparing of different specs, benchmarks, and reviews.

Below you’ll find our gaming CPU hierarchy, with all of the current and last-gen CPUs ranked according to their gaming performance.

CPU ModelCore/Thread CountBase Clock (GHz)Overclocking SupportedSocket
Intel Core i9-11900K8 (16)3.5YesLGA1200
Intel Core i9-11900KF8 (16)3.5YesLGA1200
Intel Core i9-119008 (16)2.5NoLGA1200
Intel Core i9-11900F8 (16)2.5NoLGA1200
AMD Ryzen 9 5950X16 (32)3.4YesAM4
AMD Ryzen 9 5900X12 (24)3.7YesAM4
Intel Core i9-10900K10 (20)3.7YesLGA1200
Intel Core i9-10900KF10 (20)3.7YesLGA1200
Intel Core i7-11700K8 (16)3.6YesLGA1200
Intel Core i7-11700KF8 (16)3.6YesLGA1200
AMD Ryzen 7 5800X8 (16)3.8YesAM4
Intel Core i9-1090010 (20)2.8NoLGA1200
Intel Core i9-10900F10 (20)2.8NoLGA1200
Intel Core i9-10850K10 (20)3.6YesLGA1200
Intel Core i7-117008 (16)2.5NoLGA1200
Intel Core i7-11700F8 (16)2.5NoLGA1200
Intel Core i7-10700K8 (16)3.8YesLGA1200
Intel Core i7-10700KF8 (16)3.8YesLGA1200
Intel Core i5-11600K6 (12)3.9YesLGA1200
Intel Core i5-11600KF6 (12)3.9YesLGA1200
Intel Core i7-107008 (16)2.9NoLGA1200
Intel Core i7-10700F8 (16)2.9NoLGA1200
AMD Ryzen 5 5600X6 (12)3.7YesAM4
Intel Core i5-10600K6 (12)4.1YesLGA1200
Intel Core i5-10600KF6 (12)4.1YesLGA1200
AMD Ryzen 9 3950X16 (32)3.5YesAM4
Intel Core i5-116006 (12)2.8NoLGA1200
Intel Core i5-106006 (12)3.3NoLGA1200
AMD Ryzen 9 3900XT12 (24)3.8YesAM4
AMD Ryzen 9 3900X12 (24)3.8YesAM4
Intel Core i5-115006 (12)2.7NoLGA1200
Intel Core i5-114006 (12)2.6NoLGA1200
Intel Core i5-11400F6 (12)2.6NoLGA1200
Intel Core i5-105006 (12)3.1NoLGA1200
AMD Ryzen 7 3800XT8 (16)3.9YesAM4
AMD Ryzen 7 3800X8 (16)3.9YesAM4
Intel Core i5-104006 (12)2.9NoLGA1200
Intel Core i5-10400F6 (12)2.9NoLGA1200
AMD Ryzen 7 3700X8 (16)3.6YesAM4
AMD Ryzen 5 3600XT6 (12)3.8YesAM4
AMD Ryzen 5 3600X6 (12)3.8YesAM4
AMD Ryzen 5 36006 (12)3.6YesAM4
Intel Core i3-103204 (8)3.8NoLGA1200
Intel Core i3-103004 (8)3.7NoLGA1200
AMD Ryzen 3 3300X4 (8)3.8YesAM4
Intel Core i3-101004 (8)3.6NoLGA1200
Intel Core i3-10100F4 (8)3.6NoLGA1200
AMD Ryzen 3 31004 (8)3.6YesAM4

Table of ContentsShow

Tier 1 — Enthusiast

Intel Core i9 10900K
The Intel Core i9 10900K is the ultimate option if you want the best of the best

These first-tier CPUs are the most powerful CPUs currently on the market. They have the highest core and thread counts and they commonly have excellent overclocking potential, although they tend to be more power-hungry, too, not to mention pricey.

Truth be told, these CPUs aren’t really ideal for gaming, and they are usually the best fit for those who intend to use their PCs not only for gaming but also for some CPU-intensive professional software.

AMD CPUsIntel CPUs
AMD Ryzen 9 5950XIntel Core i9-11900K
AMD Ryzen 9 5900XIntel Core i9-11900KF
AMD Ryzen 9 3950XIntel Core i9-11900
AMD Ryzen 9 3900XTIntel Core i9-11900F
AMD Ryzen 9 3900XIntel Core i9-10900K
Intel Core i9-10900KF
Intel Core i9-10900F
Intel Core i9-10850K

Tier 2 — High-End

AMD Ryzen 7 3700X
The AMD Ryzen 7 3700X is a good option if you want a higher-end CPU

The processors found in this tier are usually the best pick for those who intend on getting a powerful high-end GPU to go with the CPU. 

Their performance isn’t quite on the level of the more expensive Ryzen 9 and Core i9 models listed above, but they’re still very powerful. They can make the most of the beefiest GPUs currently available and handle professional software well, too.

AMD CPUsIntel CPUs
AMD Ryzen 7 5800XIntel Core i7-11700K
AMD Ryzen 7 3800XTIntel Core i7-11700KF
AMD Ryzen 7 3800XIntel Core i7-11700
AMD Ryzen 7 3700XIntel Core i7-11700F
Intel Core i7-10700K
Intel Core i7-10700KF
Intel Core i7-10700
Intel Core i7-10700F

Tier 3 — Mid-Range

Intel Core i5 10600K
The Intel Core i5 10600K is a nice mid-range CPU

Now, we get to the mid-range, and the CPUs found here are often the most popular picks for gaming PCs, and for a good reason — they tend to offer the best value for your money.

In 2021, mid-range CPUs have higher core and thread counts than ever before, they can handle even the more powerful GPUs without any significant bottlenecking, and they usually come with a very reasonable price tag attached.

AMD CPUsIntel CPUs
AMD Ryzen 5 5600XIntel Core i5-11600K
AMD Ryzen 5 3600XTIntel Core i5-11600KF
AMD Ryzen 5 3600XIntel Core i5-11600
AMD Ryzen 5 3600Intel Core i5-11600F
Intel Core i5-11500
Intel Core i5-11400
Intel Core i5-11400F
Intel Core i5-10600K
Intel Core i5-10600
Intel Core i5-10500
Intel Core i5-10400
Intel Core i5-10400F

Tier 4 — Budget

AMD Ryzen 3 3300X
The AMD Ryzen 3 3300X is a good affordable processor

Finally, for those who are pinching pennies and can’t quite afford to spend a lot of money on a CPU or the PC as a whole, both Intel and AMD have very viable budget-oriented solutions on offer.

These CPUs don’t offer the high core and thread counts or the impressive clock speeds and overclocking potential that you’ll find in the more expensive models. Still, they’re quite affordable and would be the best, most cost-efficient pick for many budget or even mid-range gaming PCs. Sadly, though, they’re not very future-proof.

AMD CPUsIntel CPUs
AMD Ryzen 3 3300XIntel Core i3-10320
AMD Ryzen 3 3100Intel Core i3-10300
Intel Core i3-10100
Intel Core i3-10100F

The Final Word

And so, that would be it for our gaming CPU hierarchy!

You’ll notice that we didn’t include any of the more expensive AMD Threadripper or Intel Core X models, and that’s because they don’t really make good picks for gaming. They pack way more processing power than what a gaming PC needs, plus they are significantly more expensive than their mainstream counterparts.

Just the same, we didn’t include any of the cheaper entry-level solutions such as AMD’s Athlon APUs or Intel’s Pentium and Celeron lineups, and for a similar reason — they also make bad picks for gaming because they are simply too weak and would inevitably bottleneck the latest GPUs to a significant degree.

Now, something else that we should mention is that, while Intel Core CPUs seem to be the definite choice for gaming, the CPUs were ranked based on gaming performance, without taking into account another important factor: value. 

When we talk about value in this context, we are referring to a CPU’s price-to-performance ratio, and since the prices can vary based on a number of unpredictable factors—many of which have to do with how demanding and optimized different games are—it can be difficult to ascertain accurately. 

So, for some more accurate recommendations, we suggest checking out our narrowed-down selection of what we feel are the best CPUs for gaming in 2021, where we take more factors into account than just gaming performance. 

Finally, if you find that we have failed to include any of the current-gen or last-gen CPUs on the list, feel free to let us know in the comments and we’ll see about fixing the error as soon as possible!

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Samuel Stewart
Samuel Stewart

Samuel is GamingScan's editor-in-chief. He describes himself as a dedicated gamer and programmer. He enjoys helping others discover the joys of gaming. Samuel closely follows the latest trends in the gaming industry in order to keep the visitors in the flow.

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