It’s safe to say that AMD made a massive resurgence in 2017 with the success of its Ryzen processors and it hasn’t really stopped since. 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.
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.
At a glance
|Ryzen 3 2200G||Best entry-level CPU|
|Ryzen 5 2600||Best mid-range CPU|
|Ryzen 7 2700X||Best high-end CPU|
|Ryzen Threadripper 2950X||Best extreme CPU|
Ryzen 3 2200G ($100)
The best entry-level CPU
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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Ryzen 5 2600 ($150)
The best midrange CPU
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 2600.
Building off of the success of its predecessor, the 1600, the Ryzen 2600 has the same six cores and 12-threads, but with a slightly bumped clock speed. It can boost up to 3.9GHz when needed and since this is a Ryzen CPU, it’s entirely unlocked and easily overclockable. Most report having no problem reaching 4.1GHz and some have been able to push to the same 4.2GHz as the 2600X, saving them around $50.
It’s also exceedingly affordable at just $150 with a cooler. The most comparable Intel CPU is the 8400 and that’s around $100 more expensive. If you don’t fancy overclocking, the 2600X is a viable alternative as either chip performs fantastically at both single-threaded and multi-threaded workloads.
You might be tempted to opt for the 2400G, as it does offer a Ryzen CPU and its onboard graphics are reasonably powerful, but if you can afford to, get a dedicated gaming card and this CPU instead. The 2600 is vastly more powerful than the APU’s CPU core, and a dedicated GPU will give you much more performance for your money also.
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Ryzen 7 2700X ($305)
The best high-end CPU
There was no real Ryzen 7 1800X successor with the Zen+ generation of Ryzen CPUs, but that’s not so terrible considering how capable the 2700X is. It 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 2700X is a great gaming processor too — just not quite as powerful in some titles as the Intel counterparts.
Still, those Intel alternatives like the 8700K or upcoming 9900K (which isn’t that much better, it turns out) are both much more expensive. The 2700X retails for around $300 now, while the 8700K and 9900K are $370 and $530 respectively.
As the highest powered processor in the Ryzen range without edging into Threadripper territory, the 2700X sports an impressive clock speed. Its base sits at 3.7GHz, boosting up to 4.3GHz. It’s also unlocked as every Ryzen CPU is so can be overclocked, but few manage to push it much beyond its rated frequencies without serious cooling.
If you want to go for a slightly cheaper option, you can pick up a Ryzen 7 2700 (with cooler) for $250. When overclocked, there isn’t a huge performance difference between the two, especially when it comes to gaming.
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Ryzen Threadripper 2950X ($900)
The most extreme CPU
The Threadripper range is the jewel in the Ryzen crown and from top to bottom they are fantastic chips whether you’re talking about first or second-generation iterations. While there are more powerful CPUs than the one we recommend here — the 2990WX has 32 cores and 64 threads -when you’re edging towards $2,000 for a CPU, the audience becomes exceedingly niche.
With that in mind, the successor to the awesome 1950X, the 2950X, is still a chip worth considering for those who want true high-end power without adding in more cores than most software will know what to do with.
Despite that claim, the 2950X still sports 16 cores and 32 threads and can be boosted up to 4.4GHz when needed. Gaming isn’t its strong suit but it can still be a strong performer, especially if you use AMD’s Game Mode configuration to effectively turn it into a higher-clocked 2700X.
Intel CPUs with a similar price tag are likely to still offer better single-threaded performance, but Threadripper CPUs like the 2950X are astounding when it comes to applications that can take advantage of their cores and threads. At under $1,000, there isn’t really anything that can match this one and it’s our firm recommendation for the most extreme of consumers. Enterprises users may wish to opt for the ludicrous core counts of the 2970WX or 2990WX, but that’s when costs turn from silly to crazy for most people.
A viable alternative for those who want to spend less is the first-generation 1950X as it can be had for around $650 and provides similar performance, though it is a few hundred megahertz slower.
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