The best Intel processor is a fine way to get a sweet new gaming PC up and running if you're looking to choose among the best processors to buy. And, while the debate between AMD and Intel is always raging, we went ahead and gathered up the best Intel processors, tested them and created this list.
For years, Intel processors have been some of the best for gaming thanks to their high IPC (instructions per clock) performance, paired with high clock speeds. And, while that’s still true, you’ll find Intel processors in more than just a gaming rig.
Intel Basin Falls Refresh processors rule the HEDT (high-end desktop) space, with high-performance processors (at an equally high cost) that are perfect for serious creatives and professionals. And, even if you’re on a budget, something like the Intel Pentium G4560 is perfect for making a bang-for-your-buck build.
So, no matter what kind of CPU you’re looking for, Intel has you covered. And, we went ahead and gathered up all the best Intel processors right here, along with our exclusive price comparison tools, so you can spend less time shopping, and more time building.
Best Intel processors of 2020 at a glance:
- Intel Core i7-9700K
- Intel Core i5-9600K
- Intel Pentium G4560
- Intel Core i9-9900KS
- Intel Core i9-9980XE
Intel Core i7-9700K
Best Intel processor
Cores: 8 | Threads: 8 | Base clock: 3.6GHz | Boost clock: 4.9GHz | L3 cache: 12MB | TDP: 95W
High boost clock
Intel Core i7 processors have always been the go-to for anyone looking for the best Intel processors. They traditionally deliver excellent performance, without breaking into the high prices of HEDT chips. The Intel Core i7-9700K continues in this tradition, but without the hyper-threading that defined earlier generations. Instead, the focus is on delivering high clock speeds – the 9700K boosts up to 4.9GHz right out of the box. This makes the Intel Core i7-9700K the best Intel processor for most people, as most everyday tasks won’t require more than eight threads.
Read our hands-on review: Intel Core i7-9700K
Intel Core i5-9600K
Best Intel processor for gaming
Cores: 6 | Threads: 6 | Base clock: 3.7GHz | Boost clock: 4.6GHz | L3 cache: 9MB | TDP: 95W
Great single-core performance
While there are certainly plenty of games that take advantage of multi-threaded processors these days (looking at you, Battlefield V), PC gaming is still mostly a single-threaded world. And, that’s why something like the Intel Core i5-9600K makes for such a great processor for gaming. Single-threaded performance is out of this world, which should help make high frame rate gaming feasible. The best part? This Intel processor is affordable, so you can spend more money on one of the best graphics cards.
Intel Pentium G4560
Best Intel processor on a budget
Cores: 2 | Threads: 4 | Base clock: 3.5GHz | Boost clock: N/A | L3 cache: 3MB | TDP: 54W
Not very powerful
If you’re building a home theater PC, shelling out for a beefy Intel Core processor doesn’t make much sense – playing HD video doesn’t take a lot of horsepower. But, that’s where the Intel Pentium G4560 shines. For less than a hundred bucks, you can get decent performance that, while not the best for gaming or productivity work, is more than enough to watch some movies. Plus, the Intel Pentium G4560 has integrated graphics, so you don’t need to shell out for a new graphics card.
Intel Core i9-9900KS
Best Intel processor for high-performance
Cores: 8 | Base clock: 4.0GHz | Boost clock: 5.0GHz | L3 cache: 16MB | TDP: 127 W
Still the best gaming chip
Falls behind in multi-core performance
Like the Intel Core i9-9900K before it, the Intel Core i9-9900KS packs an impressive single-core performance that earns it the best Intel processor for high-performance all on its own. While it does have very big shoes to fill, especially with its predecessor retaking the multi-core crown from AMD, the Intel Core i9-9900KS holds its own with a faster base clock and the fact that all its eight cores can accelerate up to 5.0GHz out of the box, without the need for overclocking. Indeed, it’s marginally faster than the Intel Core i9-9900K, especially in multi-core workloads, and it beats AMD’s Ryzen 9 3900X when it comes to gaming performance.
Read the full review: Intel Core i9-9900KS
Intel Core i9-9980XE
Best HEDT Intel processor
Cores: 18 | Threads: 36 | Base clock: 3.0GHz | Boost clock: 4.4GHz | L3 cache: 24.75MB | TDP: 165W
Tons of power
Thermals under control
If you looked at that price and felt your jaw drop, there’s a reason why: the Intel Core i9-9980XE is an extremely expensive processor. However, for that price you’re getting 18 cores and 36 threads that can power through virtually any creative or professional workload without breaking a sweat. At the end of the day, the Intel Core i9-9980XE is one of those products where if you need to ask the price, it’s probably not for you. But, if it is for you, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better Intel processor.
Read our full review: Intel Core i9-9980XE