It’s safe to say that AMD made a massive resurgence in 2017 with the success of its Ryzen processors. Whether you’re looking at the top of the range, the bottom of the barrel, or anywhere in between, AMD has a solid option. In this guide, we’ll tell you which are the best AMD processors money can buy, whatever your budget.
For a more general look without all the manufacturer attachments, check out our guide to the best CPUs, or our guide to the best gaming CPUs. Having trouble picking which of the below chips is right for your next build? Here’s our guide on how to pick the right Ryzen chip.
While we tackle the main segments of AMD’s CPU line up and offer a few alternatives too, it should be noted that there are other chips lower down the scale that we don’t address. There are Intel CPUs that are worth considering too, but if you’re dead set on AMD, these are the best.
Entry level: Ryzen 3 2200G ($100)
AMD’s accelerated processing units (APU) have never offered much competition to the mid-range gaming hardware, but the latest generation of Ryzen with Vega APUs are much more impressive. Our testing didn’t suggest they were going to overtake dedicated processors with dedicated graphics anytime soon, especially if you’re trying to do anything more than entry-level gaming. But if your budget or system chassis doesn’t have room for a dedicated graphics card, the Ryzen 3 2200G is a great little chip.
In our review, we found it much more capable than Intel’s UHD 620 graphics processor (GPU) and capable of providing decent competition to dedicated Ryzen CPUs like the 1300X. It’s bigger brother, the Ryzen 5 2400G isn’t as easy to recommend, but at $100, the Ryzen 3 2200G is a worthy successor to the Ryzen 3 1200 and its onboard Vega GPU is a great option for entry level gaming and slimline builds.
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Mid-range: Ryzen 5 1600 ($190)
As arguably the most competitive price point for processors, the mid-range is where you’re spoilt for choice. Of all of the chips available though, we have to recommend the ultra-affordable, impressively powerful, Ryzen 5 1600.
Bucking the trend of quad-cores dominating the mid-range, the Ryzen 5 series introduced us to our first mid-range hexacore chip when it debuted earlier this year. With full support for multithreading, you get 12 threads along with your six cores and its frequency is no slouch either. It idles at 3.2GHz and boosts up to 3.6GHz when needed. Though it doesn’t have XFR support, it is entirely unlocked so overclocking is easy.
Although it typically retails just north of $210, you can currently find the Ryzen 5 1600 at $190, with an included cooler. As an alternative, its closely priced brother, the 1600X is a viable option, coming with slightly higher clocks and XFR support. However, its comparatively priced bundle does not come with a cooler, so factor that into your purchasing decision.
You may see the Ryzen 5 2400G discussed in the same breath as the Ryzen 5 1600, but it’s not in the same league. Its onboard graphics chip might make it an all-in-one package, but you’re far better off saving up for the full Ryzen 5 CPU and a dedicated graphics card, as the performance will far exceed the APU option.
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High-end: Ryzen 7 1800X ($350)
Although when first introduced the Ryzen 7 1800X did fall behind comparatively priced Intel chips in terms of gaming, it was still a monstrously powerful processor, especially in multithreaded tests. Better yet, its price has come crashing down since then, making it vastly more affordable and attractive as a high-end purchase.
The Ryzen 7 1800X CPU comes packing a full eight cores and (thanks to multithreading support) has a total of 16 threads to play with. That makes it a fantastic processor for multi-tasking or using software that can take advantage of lots of additional threads. Video editing or encoding should see big gains from it, but the 1800X is a great gaming processor too — just not quite as powerful in some titles as the Intel counterparts.
As the highest powered processor in the Ryzen range without edging into Threadripper territory, the 1800X sports an impressive clock speed. Its base sits at 3.6GHz, boosting up to 4.0GHz — and when required, and you can net yourself an extra 100MHz from XFR too. If you want to overclock it yourself, you can go ahead and do so, as like every Ryzen chip, this one is entirely unlocked. It’s not the best overclocker, but you can get yourself a little extra with some effort.
If you want to go for a slightly cheaper option, you can pick up a Ryzen 7 1700 (with cooler) for $290 and when overclocked there isn’t a huge performance difference between the two, especially when it comes to gaming.
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Extreme: Ryzen Threadripper 1950X ($900)
The Threadripper range is the jewel in the Ryzen crown and from top to bottom the trio of chips are all fantastic. The shiniest of those gems though, is easily the 1950X. An absolute powerhouse of a processor, if you need top-tier performance, especially in applications that can really take advantage of additional threads, this is arguably the best processor in the world right now.
Coming in well under the price of the Intel competition and noticeably cheaper than when it debuted, the 1950X packs a full 16 cores and a near-unprecedented 32 threads, making it capable of multitasking even with intensive applications. It stormed through every test we threw at it in our review and dominated not only the Intel competition, but even its own Ryzen contemporaries in almost all settings.
Although, like other Ryzen chips, the Threadripper 1950X does fall behind in the odd single-threaded benchmark or game, you buy a CPU like this for its workhorse capabilities and it fully embodies that mentality. With a clock speed of 3.4GHz at base, 4.0GHz boosted, and up to 4.2GHz with XFR, it’s plenty fast, but with the right cooling, you can take it north of 5.0GHz if you know what you’re doing.
If you don’t want to spend quite as much on your monster CPU, the 1920X and 1900X are also viable alternatives in this space. They can be had for $750 and $450 respectively and support the same 64 PCI Express lanes and boosted frequencies as the big daddy 1950X. They do come with less cores and threads though and the performance difference, especially in heavily multithreaded applications, is certainly noticeable.
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