The best computer processors of 2021: gaming, streaming, office automation, cheap


Right now, AMD’s Ryzen 5000 series processors are still leading the way, while Intel continues to iterate its Skylake-based 14nm architecture. This means that the newer processors from AMD are better (in many ways, but not all) than the processors from Intel.

Therefore, today, it will be more cost-effective to buy an AMD than an Intel. In addition to having more overall performance, they are compatible with PCIe 4.0 ports.

If you are only concerned with gaming performance, some Intel processors stand up to AMD, although Ryzen generally win in more titles.

Tips for choosing the right CPU

The CPU is the main brain of the computer and, therefore, is one of the most important components when updating your PC or buying a new one.

Processor generation, number of threads, amount of L3 memory, and clock speed can make a big difference in performance and provide a more agile system, less time for intensive tasks like video editing and transcoding, and higher fps in games (more fluidity).

Keep in mind that the CPU you choose will determine which motherboards you can buy, as each processor only works in one socket and with a specific chipset.

The socket or socket is where the microprocessor is plugged in. The processor has dozens of points of contact with which it communicates with the motherboard socket. The socket is a bit like a plug, it has to be compatible with the CPU.

What generation of CPU do you need?

Every year or so, Intel and AMD update their processor lines with a new architecture. The current generation of Intel is the “10th Generation Core Series”, such as the Core i5-10600K and the higher-end Core i9 10900K. The latest chips from AMD are from their Ryzen 5000 lineup, such as the AMD Ryzen 9 5900X, Ryzen 7 5800X, and Ryzen 5 5600X.

We can usually see the processor generation in the first CPU model number.
Do I wait for the new generation to come out to buy the old generation?
From my point of view it is not worth it. You won’t save a lot of money in the long run. Processors are not devalued as much as mobiles …

How are model names and numbers read?

I’m not going to lie to you, the mix of processor numbers, names and brands can be a bit confusing. However, if we put a bit of order we will understand perfectly what each name means and where it is located within the product line.

The first thing to keep in mind is that both AMD and Intel have five categories of processors and, as we are going to see, both companies use a fairly similar nomenclature in terms of ranges.

BajaAthlonCeleron y Pentium (el Pentium es ligeramente más rápido)
Baja-MediaRyzen 3Core i3
MediaRyzen 5Core i5
Media-AltaRyzen 7Core i7
AltaRyzen 9Core i9

Tell me what you are going to do with the computer and I will tell you what CPU you need

I’m not going to lie to you. I am a bit of a CPU freak and in the past I have sinned to buy CPUs more powerful than the rest of the components, generating a bottleneck in other components such as graphics.

My theory is that it is more tiring and problematic (motherboard, RAM memory, etc.) to change the processor than to change the graphics and thus I could keep the same set of processor, board and RAM memory and only expand the graphics when new generations came out.

The truth is that this practice has worked quite well for me on several computers that I have had and I have managed to have some pretty decent PCs that have lasted me for many years without having to spend a fortune every so often.

However, I have to admit that current processors are very powerful and it is not necessary to go to the top of the range as before. So right now you can save a bit on CPU and spend a bit more on other components. Next, we are going to see the range of processor that I would choose depending on what you are going to use the PC for:

Basic Tasks: If you’re looking for a processor for watching videos, surfing the Internet, and performing basic office tasks like word processing and light work with spreadsheets, then I would go for a low-end processor of two or four. nuclei. A good option is the AMD Ryzen 3 3200G (90 euros or the Ryzen 3100 that we have seen above).

The alternative in Intel would be a Celeron, although they are a bit expensive compared to AMD.
Mid-range: we want a computer to do basic tasks, but that will last us for many years performing like a champion … In this case I would go for a Ryzen 3 3300X or a Ryzen 5 5600X. For what they cost there is nothing better on the market right now.

Mid-range gaming: If you’re building a balanced mid-range gaming rig, you should start by looking at the mid-range Intel Core i5 or AMD Ryzen 5, the 5600X is an excellent example. If you have a little more budget you can look at the Core i7 or the Ryzen 7 that will give you a little more performance.

Streaming: As you already know, encoding video in real time requires a lot of computing power. Depending on the encoding quality you want to stream, you will need a more or less powerful processor. Also, you must take into account if you are going to use the same PC to play and stream … Let’s see, I would try to go for a Ryzen 5 5600X or for a Ryzen 9 5900X if you want to play and stream with medium or low quality in the same PC.

Gaming, overclocking, video editing …: if you are an enthusiast and want to build a high-end PC for gaming or video editing, you will have to go for the i9 series from Intel or the Ryzen 9 from AMD. The 5900X is a 12-core beast that can even be used as a workstation to handle databases, 3D animations, 4K video, etc. You no longer have to go for the expensive Intel Xeon or the AMD EPYC to have a professional performance at home.

Should you overclock?

The practice of overclocking consists of increasing the speed of the processor so that it works faster and has more performance. How is this?

When a manufacturer sells you a processor that can run stably at 3.7 GHz for the two-year warranty, they are usually playing with a margin of safety and are not taking 100% of the processor. By this I mean that that processor could probably run at 3.8 GHz or 3.9 GHz without any problems.

Overclocking is just that, raising the processor’s clock speed to get more performance. By raising the clock speed a lot we can make the system not stable, which we will solve by increasing the processor voltage, which in turn will increase the temperature of the CPU … And remember that, if you do not know what you are doing, you could damage your CPU or shorten its life with too high a voltage.

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