When upgrading a computer to get more FPS in games or to be more productive, the GPU and CPU are the main pieces of hardware that must be changed. The GPU’s role is to handle all visual-related tasks such as video games, videos, etc. while the CPU handles almost everything else.
With so many processors available on the market and different price points, finding the right one is never easy.
To ensure that anybody reading this article makes an informed choice, we have created this hierarchy of CPUs from the last couple of generations to help you determine exactly what you need.
We are ranking the CPUs in tiers based on their performance in gaming and productivity.
Without further ado, here is the ultimate CPU hierarchy list!
Note: Intel’s 12th gen CPUs have P (performance), E (efficient), and T (threads) indicators under Cores/Threads
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The S-tier is where the most powerful and expensive processors belong. These CPUs are for users that either want to maximize their FPS in the most graphically demanding games or to do professional work.
Keep in mind that high-end processors won’t have too much of an impact on high-resolution gaming because of GPU bottlenecking. However, they will definitely increase your FPS in competitive titles, at lower settings, and at 1080p.
For S-tier work in productivity, the third-generation Threadripper offers the best price-per-performance out there. The Threadripper 3990X, for example, has 64 cores and 128 threads. Unfortunately, this one costs $4000.
Alternatively, the Threadripper 3960X is priced at $1,400 with 24 cores and 48 threads. If you are looking for an Intel solution,, the i9-10980XE has 18 cores/ 36 threads at $1000. We wouldn’t recommend these for gaming though.
For gaming, check out Intel’s S-tier chips such as the i9-12900K, i7-12700K, and i5-12600K with MSRPs of $599, $419, and $299 respectively. These are some of the fastest gaming CPUs on the market right now, overshadowed only by the i9-12900KS and Ryzen 5800X3D.
These are the two current fastest gaming processors in the world. We can’t crown one as the fastest because different reviewers have provided different results. Some find the i9 slightly faster while others find the 5800X3D faster.
Ultimately, the 5800X3D is the better CPU because it costs $450 and can be paired with any motherboard + RAM. The i9 on the other hand costs $800 and also requires a high-end ($700+) DDR5 kit to perform as well as the Ryzen.
AMD’s Ryzen 5950X, 5900X, and 5800X are also quite fast CPUs so they deserve this S-tier ranking. The MSRPs are $799, $549, and $450 respectively.
If you are on an AM4 platform we also heavily recommend the newly-released Ryzen 7 5700X which has an MSRP of $300 and performance very close to the 5800X.
The 11th generation Intel processors are still up in S-tier, but we wouldn’t really recommend them as they are already quite outdated.
|1.||Ryzen 7 5800X3D||4.5 GHz||8/16||105W|
|2.||Intel Core i9-12900KS||5.5 GHz||8P/8E/24T||150W|
|3.||Intel Core i9-12900K||5.2 GHz||8P/8E/24T||125W|
|4.||AMD Ryzen 9 5950X||4.9 GHz||16/32||105W|
|5.||Intel Core i7-12700K||5.0 GHz||8P/4E/20T||125W|
|6.||Intel Core i9-11900K||5.3 GHz||10/16||125W|
|7.||AMD Ryzen 9 5900X||4.8 GHz||12/24||105W|
|8.||Intel Core i5-12600K||4.9 GHz||6P/4E/16T||125W|
|9.||AMD Ryzen 7 5800X||4.7 GHz||8/16||105W|
|10.||AMD Ryzen 7 5700X||4.6 GHz||8/16||65W|
|11.||Intel Core i7-11700K||5.0 GHz||8/16||125W|
|1.||AMD Threadripper 3990X||4.3 GHz||64/128||280W|
|2.||AMD Threadripper 3970X||4.5 GHz||32/64||280W|
|3.||Intel Xeon W-3175X||3.8 GHz||28/56||255W|
|4.||AMD Threadripper 3960X||4.5 GHz||24/48||280W|
|5.||AMD Threadripper 2990 WX||4.2 GHz||32/64||250W|
|6.||Intel Core Core i9-10980XE||4.8 GHz||18/36||165W|
The A-tier of CPUs consists of new and older generation CPUs that do not cost an arm and a leg, and also have a lower core count.
Here, we have the Ryzen 5 5600X and the Ryzen 5 5600 competing against Intel’s i5-11600K. Both of these CPUs are similarly priced and have 6 cores/12 threads. They are also considerably cheaper than S-tier CPUs at around $300.
However, the Ryzen 5 5600 is a considerably better value option since it has an MSRP of just $200.
The Ryzen 5700G and 5600G (AMD’s CPUs with iGPU) also fit in here, right below the i9-10900.
We also have the processors from two generations ago, the 10700K and 10900K.
AMD’s 3rd generation also deserves a spot in the A-tier. Specifically the Ryzen 3900X and 3700X.
Intel’s i3-12100F might seem like just another i3 with 8 threads only, but it actually performs quite well, trading blows with the 11400F, 3700X, and other CPUs.
|1.||Intel Core i9-10900K||5.3 GHz||10/20||125W|
|2.||Intel Core i7-10700K||5.1 GHz||8/16||125W|
|3.||AMD Ryzen 5 5600X||4.6 GHz||12/24||65W|
|4.||Intel Core i5-12400||4.4 GHz||6P/0E/12T||65W|
|5.||AMD Ryzen 5 5600||4.4 GHz||6/12||65W|
|6.||Intel Core i5-11600K||4.9 GHz||6/12||125W|
|7.||Intel Core i9-10900/T||5.20 GHz/4.60 GHz||10/20||65W/35W|
|8.||AMD Ryzen 9 3900X/XT||4.6 GHz/4.7 GHz||12/24||105W|
|9.||AMD Ryzen 7 5700G||4.6 GHz||8/16||65W|
|10.||AMD Ryzen 5 5600G||4.4 GHz||6/12||65W|
|11.||Intel Core i5-11400F||4.40 GHz||6/12||65W|
|12.||Intel Core i5-10600K||4.8 GHz||6/12||125W|
|13.||Intel Core i3-12100F||4.3 GHz||4P/0E/8E||58W|
|14.||AMD Ryzen 7 3800X/XT||4.5 GHz/4.7 GHz||8/16||105W|
|15.||Intel Core i5-10400F||4.3 GHz||6/12||65W|
|16.||AMD Ryzen 7 3700X||4.4 GHz||8/16||65W|
We have reached the B-tier of CPUs. Don’t be mistaken, the processors in this category are still more than capable of handling modern-day games and outputting competitive FPS. B-tier processors might provide the best price-per-performance of all these options.
The Ryzen 3600 was and probably still is one of AMD’s most successful processors. A 12-thread processor with a low power draw and sold for just $200. How can you not love it?
These days, you could probably grab the 3600 or even the 3600X for as little as $180.
Some of Intel’s 9th generation CPUs also fit here perfectly. The 9900K and even the 8-thread 9700K are still good enough. Of course, this is at a much lower price than MSRP.
|1.||Intel Core i9-9900K||5.0 GHz||8/16||95W|
|2.||Intel Core i7-9700K||4.9 GHz||8/8||95W|
|3.||Intel Core i9-9900||5.0 GHz||8/16||65W|
|4.||Intel Core i7-9700||4.7 GHz||8/8||65W|
|5.||AMD Ryzen 5 5500||4.2 GHz||6/12||65W|
|6.||AMD Ryzen 5 3600X||4.4 GHz||6/12||65W|
|7.||AMD Ryzen 5 3600||4.2 GHz||6/12||65W|
|8.||AMD Ryzen 3 3300X||4.3 GHz||4/8||95W|
|9.||Intel Core i5-9600K||4.6 GHz||6/6||95W|
We have reached the category of processors that are starting to show their age, lack of cores, and power, especially with the latest video games.
AMD’s second generation of Ryzen still provides incredible value, but its IPC is pretty weak, leaving a lot to be desired. The same goes for Intel’s 9th generation i5s and i3s.
The Ryzen 2700X is a pretty good option as you can grab it for less than $200 and get an 8 core and 16 thread CPU. However, this is Zen+, don’t mistake it for AMD’s Zen 2 (3600, 3700X, etc.). It is considerably slower in single-core performance.
Intel’s i5s (such as the 9400F) are also outdated considering they are locked to just 6 threads while i3s are stuck at 4 threads. That’s too low by today’s standards.
|1.||Intel Core i3-10300||4.4 GHz||4/8||65W|
|2.||Intel Core i5-9400/F||4.1 GHz||6/6||65W|
|3.||Intel Core i3-10100||4.3 GHz||4/8||65W|
|4.||AMD Ryzen 7 2700X||4.3 GHz||8/16||105W|
|5.||AMD Ryzen Pro 4750G||4.4 GHz||8/16||65W|
|6.||AMD Ryzen 3 3100||3.9 GHz||4/8||65W|
|7.||AMD Ryzen 3400G||4.2 GHz||4/8||65W|
Even considering the low costs of CPUs such as the 2600X, i3-9100, and others, they are difficult to recommend as there are similarly priced SKUs with far better performance.
|1.||AMD Ryzen 7 2700||4.1 GHz||8/16||65W|
|2.||AMD Ryzen 5 2600X||4.2 GHz||6/12||95W|
|3.||AMD Ryzen 5 2600||3.9 GHz||6/12||65W|
|4.||Intel Core i3-9100||4.2 GHz||4/4||65W|
|5.||AMD Ryzen 3 3200G||4.0 GHz||4/4||65W|
|6.||AMD Ryzen 5 2400G||3.9 GHz||4/8||65W|
|7.||AMD Ryzen 3 2200G||3.7 GHz||4/4||65W|
|8.||Intel Pentium G6605||4.3 GHz||2/4||58W|
Final Words On The CPU Hierarchy
This tiered list contains about 40 CPUs. That is a relatively low number considering there are hundreds of CPUs out there. However, we decided to limit our list to the last three generations of processors from both AMD and Intel.
There are also some exclusions from the latest generations as some CPUs can only be bought as part of an OEM PC or pre-built systems.
These CPU rankings are based on several review websites and YouTube tech channels including Tom’s Hardware, Hardware Unboxed, and Gamers Nexus. We also compared scores from benchmarks such as Cinebench and Geekbench 5.