As small as they appear, Intel processors are crucial components of a computer. These are also known as the processor or the CPU. And yes, it is good to note that the CPU is a “component” but the entire machine is not a CPU. For non-technical people like us, processors can be found as pretty basic on the surface wherein it may not seem to hard to understand especially when it comes to buying for performance sake. However, in reality, the processors are more advanced on the inside compared to the surface.
If a processor has a much higher frequency compared to another processor, then it does not prove to show that it is a better processor at all. Actually, core counts and clock speeds can be compared accurately within the same company only. Differences, in general, can outstandingly broaden the performance gap without having the need to change anything when it comes to the clock speed or the core count.
This wide misunderstanding still subsists ever since the rise of 21st-century processors have been introduced. From then, till now, core counts and clock speeds still make a huge impact in today’s digital age. There were days where the processor reached 800 Megahertz which was certainly a noble achievement, therefore, having several processing cores is far more than awe-inspiring.
In contrast, as technologies progressed over the years, different core counts and clock speeds have been limited towards definite physical limitations. This is related primarily to both power and heat consumption only. However, these restrictions can be overcome as time progresses along with advanced developments in technologies. In addition, consumer processors are being designed with a maximum of 3 – 4GHz, whereas ‘overclockable’ processors can operate at a temporary rate of 9+GHz since it uses a solution which is temporary for the time being such as liquid nitrogen cooling.
Regardless of upgrading or constructing your own PC, the CPU has a special role to play out. Increasing the core counts and clock speeds make a great impact on the overall performance since it supports a responsive system, offers quick turnarounds on difficult and time-consuming tasks such as video transcoding and sleeker gameplay. Also, the chip you consider will determine the motherboard purchase since each CPU only operate using a certain socket with a set of chipsets.
As we move forward in this guide, you will get to know the best Intel processors in 2018 and which ideal one you should be getting to enjoy enhanced computing performances in the near future.
To start off, let’s understand the following a bit more in detail before comparing and purchasing processors:
As stated before, core counts and clock speeds are worth for something but are only applicable within the same hardware family- between members in fact. In addition, they are compared if the processors are produced within a few years of each other. Despite this, the latest and advanced processors which have the same clock speed and core count will still have incremental collations to a certain degree.
As you purchase an Intel processor in order to enhance your CPU performance, you need to use a Device Manager in order to understand the type of processor you have already integrated currently. In order to this on Windows, try typing in “device manager” in the Start menu and open “processors” so that you can know the CPU name.
Starting from the CPU name, recognize the CPU slot which your motherboard uses – thus within the same slot, you can upgrade your CPU to other CPUs. Also, it is a good idea to upgrade the BIOs as well but it depends on when the series was published. When purchasing a processor for a complete brand new PC build, then do consider the latest series from Intel. During the time of writing which is of late 2015, Intel’s current desktop architecture was Skylake. What’s intriguing about Intel’s improvements was that it was more iterative and regular.
With this in mind, let’s talk about the considerations before you purchase an Intel processor.
The Ideal Brand Of All- Intel
To all the PC-building aficionados, this statement is not so contentious: AMD chips known to be much better compared to budget builds. Regardless of the ongoing lineup age, AMD tends to charge their chips at a very competitive rate when compared to Intel’s choices. If you are that user who does not want to spend or intensively play ‘CPU-dependent’ titles, then AMD chips are more suitable since they can perform at the same level or even better compared to Intel chips which have the same selling price range.
On the other hand, what’s more, disputable is that AMD does not cross over boundaries when it comes to competing with Intel in regards to the high-end hardware. Ever since AMD introduced their processing architecture, they have not been able to introduce new and better chips in order to challenge Intel’s advanced, greatest, and the latest. Even though Intel may not have a suitable value proposal compared to AMD, but when it comes to purchasing high-end, the best option is to usually go with the current or advanced Intel’s i5 or i7 series.
If you are considering only a one-time purchase only along with no intention to enhance upgrades then AMD is a good choice for you. However, we suggest choosing Intel since even though AMD introduces new processors in the market, they will not be suitable or work well with the latest motherboards, therefore, users will need to switch completely to a brand new architecture layout and slot. When choosing AMD, you still will be keeping a comparable low limit on the performance levels even though you wish to upgrade.
At the same time, Intel happened to change only sockets, but will not develop them for at least few years ahead since this gives them the opportunity to create and develop brand new architectures which enable you to enhance your processor to its maximum limit in order to own the ideal CPU which can be compatible with the frame.
Essential Need – Play or Productivity?
AMD takes the sailing advantage in this case. Even though AMD does not perform well in few CPR-dependent titles compared to Intel processors and is priced at a low range; these chips are popular and ideal for professional and rendering applications due to the usage of cores which are low-powered of which they own.
If you wish to obtain the best in productivity levels and enhanced gaming performances, though, you may want to invest in an Intel i7. i7s can have multiple price ranges wherein you can find them at a decent price or even goes higher up to an extent. Without a doubt, these chips are exceedingly powerful chips and can be used for many purposes – no matter what you may do with your PC. To those users who wish to experience the ultimate gaming performance, then don’t bother getting an i7. The i5 does a much better job in most cases since it offers the same gaming experience and performance levels. However, an i5 can’t carry out other tasks well such as streaming or rendering.
What Do You Aim To Do with Your CPU?
Even though it may seem tempting to invest for the best as much as you can on a CPU, you are well off saving your cash for other important components. What’s more important is to determine the maximum budget levels you can invest based on what you want your computer to perform along with the processor type as well.
Try looking for a decent price range. If you wish to purchase a chip which enables you to view videos, perform simple productivity tasks such as basic spreadsheet models and word processing, and browse the Web, then getting a chip which is of an entry-level with either two or four cores might be just what you are looking for. However, if you find yourself being involved doing a lot more than one of the simple tasks mentioned above all at once, then it would be beneficial to upgrade to a better model.
An Intel Celeron is suitable since it is at the low end of the market with a good price range and you can opt for the Intel Pentium which is a high-end product in the market.
If a user is primarily intrigued towards the gaming performance, then he/she would need to look at Intel processors at a mid-level range such as the Intel Core i5. When you consider the graphics card to be the most crucial element for gaming compared to the processor, then you can save the expenditure by not getting a powerful chip.
Overclocking or Creative Media Work
If a user wishes to access a good speed or want more cores for say, video edit processing, or even just aim to have a capable, quick system with additional overhead for computing tasks in the future, then we suggest investing on a Ryzen chip, Core i7, or even the Core i9. Moreover, it is interesting to note that these are the chips of which you can consider when you wish to overclock. Although, AMD’s lower end Ryzen chips are even overclockable and even performs pretty well. The best Intel processors in 2018 do offer overclocking features which enable you to have access to amazing speed levels.
When a user finds him/herself deals with complicated math functions and huge databases, or even patiently waiting for minutes or even hours for their current system to carry out the rendering process of their 4K or 3D animation video, then try considering an AMD Threadripper or an Intel Core X CPU. These magnificent devices provide colossal amounts of physical cores in order to carry out maximal multitasking such as editing and gaming at high settings when streaming online. Or maybe, perform time-consuming and tedious computing tasks. Users who have online or even offline businesses users can contemplate an Intel Xeon or even an AMD EPYC processor, however, these are not so consumer friendly.
As the years’ progress, Intel and AMD enhance their dedicated processor lines by using a brand new architecture. Currently, Intel’s generation is the “9th Gen Core Series,” which has a peculiar code name which is known as the “Ice Lake.” In addition, AMD’s current chips belong to its Ryzen 2000 (which is also known as the Ryzen 2) line. As you look for the model number, you can view the generation as the first integer out of the four numbers such as the 9 in Core i9-9900K or even the 2 in Ryzen 7 2700X.
It is good to note that both of the companies still do not update their advanced chips to the latest generation. Therefore, with the advanced and the best Intel X series CPUs, you can still obtain the 7th gen. For AMD users, you can obtain the advanced AMD Thread Rippers which are part of the Ryzen gen 1,000 (1 series).
Even though you have the advantage of choosing former processor generations which are still up for sale, we wouldn’t suggest you consider it unless you are okay with choosing a motherboard which is not compatible with the advanced chips in the future. Furthermore, you do not generally save a lot of money by opting for a last-generation processor, either. To give an example, during the press time, the difference of the price between a former 7th-Gen, Core i5-7400 (7th Gen) and its successor, the 8th Gen Core i5-8400 was just a dollar.
How To Read Model Numbers and Names?
The splatter of numbers and brands which make up a product name for a CPU can be perplexing. Even so, both Intel and AMD simplify a majority of their chips into three categories such as the “good, better, best” which often starts with the Core i3/Ryzen 3, and enhances up to the Core i5/Ryzen 5, and concludes (in the conventional chip realm, at least) with the Core i7/Ryzen 7. Intel has released the Core i9 which has a premium tier in the market. However, when speaking for the plethora of users, these chips are not needed and far too pricey for a majority of the users’ cost budgets.
For those users who are on a limited budget, Intel provides its Pentium and Celeron chips (although Pentium is a bit faster) whereas AMD offers its Athlon line. When comparing on the utmost high-end part of the market, you can consider the Intel’s Core X series and the AMD’s Threadripper along with the Intel Core i9 which is already mentioned above.
So what about the model numbers which succeed after 3, 5, or 7? Well, as mentioned before, the first figure signifies the product (AMD’s Ryzen 5-2600 is basically a 2nd generation processor and the Intel Core i7-8700 is the 8th generation core processor).
The other remaining numbers signify a lot of different models in the line, wherein it is known that the higher digital is generally more advanced and better since it has additional cores or even higher clocks. Also, a “K” found at last part of an Intel chip would mean that it’s available for overclocking. But, an only certain amount of mainstream Intel chips have the “K” SKUs, whereas a majority of the AMD’s Ryzen processors are even permitted for overclocking even though there is no “K” designation involved or mentioned. Having an X found at the latter end of an AMD model number interprets elevated clock speeds. The best Intel processors are part of the 8th generation and provide astounding visual experiences.
Other Questions You Might Ask
Once you have finalised the final line and price range you may wish to purchase, there are still other few things you may need to consider as well.
Clock speeds are salient compared to core numbers
Having higher clock speeds would mean that you would achieve a remarkable performance in basic, usual tasks such as gaming, whereas having additional cores will support you by ensuring time-consuming workloads are done much faster than expected.
Always try aiming for the last generation
In reality, you will not be saving a lot of money in the near future if you consider purchasing a former chip.
A full system budget
We recommend you do not obtain a powerful CPU and complement it with a weaker RAM, graphics and storage.
Overclocking isn’t meant for everyone
For a majority of the people, it does make a lot of sense to purchase an element rather than purchasing a higher-end chip in the market.
Is It Overclockable?
When overclocking a CPU, users will achieve more performance levels but will need to pay for the thermal output, possible instability in the system and the costs for higher power consumption. Also, this is definitely not recommended to those users who are inexperienced, however, it can carry out a magnificent performance if done the right way.
Is There Cooler Available?
This is mostly forgotten, but it is still very essential. If users do not want to use the water cooler, then they should consider whether if the processor comes with a cooler or not. If it doesn’t, then you should consider purchasing a cooler, and at the same time, you will need to ensure that it supports your build. A majority of the processors do actually come with a cooler in the box, however, it doesn’t harm to check it out, just to be sure. Why we state this is because if you tend to operate without using a cooler then you will end up destroying your processor.
Can It Be Upgraded?
Even though this is mentioned previously, it is safe to repeat it right now as well: if you aim to upgrade, then do not consider purchasing for now. Currently, AMD processors would not be an idle choice since you may plan on enhancing your current system to the certified Best Ever™. However, AMD still seems to have few generations ahead to go before they start changing sockets. In addition, your CPU socket will decide your futuristic path to upgrading – but do avoid purchasing processors which only succour dead CPU sockets. The best Intel processors can be versatile and open to further upgrades in the future.
Is It Necessary To Overclock?
In simple terms, Overclocking is the method of using the CPU to its maximum limits by enabling it to operate at a higher-than-expected spec clock speeds. This is surely an art form which a majority of the fanatics enjoy practising. However, if you’re not up for viewing how fast you can your chip can operate without it crashing, then overclocking isn’t worth the time and money for you.
If you do want to ensure your CPU achieves elevated clock speeds than compared to the expected rate in the box, then you may want to invest in a little extra on a motherboard which is overclocking-friendly and an upgraded cooling system. If you wish to upgrade on an Intel chip, then you may want to purchase one of its K-series processors. As you factor in all these additional costs, then you may be better off purchasing a decent priced CPU which comes with increased clock speeds right out of the box. Do remember that, even if you still obtain all the essential equipment, it is still possible to damage the CPU by over pushing it or it may even end up with less-than-impressive results.
Lastly, which should you get?: AMD or Intel
Till 2017, AMD was known as the clear underdog. However, with the introduction of Ryzen and even the Ryzen 2 (2000 series) chips, the company was able to achieve an overall performance equality with Intel. There are few users who have unyielding opinions, but if you are not inclined towards neither of the brands, then it’s okay to be open with either of the options.
For Intel, they still clasp a small lead in terms of IPC (instructions per cycle, or rather, the number of instructions a chip is able to execute within a certain time period. This makes the chips better for tasks which are lightly-threaded such as using some Adobe software, playing many games, and surfing the web. Even so, AMD still provides more threads and cores, which makes it beneficial to those users who wish to use it for professional-grade animation and video editing.