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The best processors you can buy in 2021

There is no doubt that one of the essential launches that 2021 has left us has been the Intel Alder Lake-S processors, a generation with which the chip giant has finally managed to return to the right path, and that it has done that the competition between this and AMD is fiercer than ever.

As I have told you on other occasions, this is good for consumers, regardless of “which side” they prefer, and for two reasons that are very easy to understand. If you are a fan of Intel processors, you can now find chips that outperform most AMD Ryzen processors at a very competitive price. On the other hand, they offer excellent performance if you are a fan of AMD processors. The Ryzen 9 5950X is still the most powerful in the market, and little by little, they are falling in price thanks to increasing competition from Intel.

That Intel has succeeded with Alder Lake-S is suitable for everyone. The competition always is because, thanks to it, we can buy higher quality products at reasonable prices. When there is no competition, or when it is insufficient, that balance is broken, and this ends up hurting the user because progress slows down, the quality of new products is not always as good as it should be, and their price ends up being, on top of that, very high.

Indeed, 2021 has not been a good year to buy a graphics card. Still, we have the consolation that, at least, it has been the opposite for the general consumer processor sector, not only because that competition between Intel and AMD has left us a great variety of processors with very high performances, but also because this has made their prices very attractive.

As we are in the final stretch of 2021, I think it is an excellent time to share with you a selection of the best processors that we can buy today. This guide will not only allow you to put everything I have said in the previous paragraphs into perspective, but it will also help you to be clear about which processor best suits your needs and which would be, therefore, the most successful purchase.

1. Intel Core i3-10105F: Best economic option

Thanks to the evolution that the general consumer processor sector has experienced in recent years, it is possible to find powerful chips at very contained prices today, and the Intel Core i3-10105F is undoubtedly one of the best examples.

This processor has a configuration of four cores and eight threads, which means that it reaches the minimum level to move most of the current games with guarantees. Its IPC is also relatively high, as it uses the Comet Lake-S architecture (based on Skylake), and it is manufactured in 14nm ++ process.

The Intel Core i3-10105F works at a frequency of 3.7 GHz-4.4 GHz, standard and turbo mode has 6 MB of L3 cache, and is compatible with the LGA1200 socket, which means that we can use it with equipped motherboards. With 400 series and 500 series chipsets.

Yes, with this processor, we can play most of the current games with all the guarantees, and we will not have severe problems in those already optimized to work with six cores and twelve threads. Its price is only 99.99 USD, so it is clear that it offers excellent value for what it costs.

Intel Core i3-10105F Specifications

  • Comet Lake-S architecture in the process of 14 nm ++.
  • Four cores and eight threads at 3.7 GHz-4.4 GHz, normal and turbo mode.
  • Integrated GPU is not functional.
  • 6MB L3 cache.
  • 65-watt TDP. Includes fan.
  • LGA1200 socket (400 or 500 chipsets).
  • It does not support overclocking.

Reasons to choose the Intel Core i3-10105F

  • Excellent single wire performance.
  • It can move eight strings, a minimum recommended for games.
  • It’s economical.
  • Good price-performance value.

Other interesting options

Within its range, this chip is, without a doubt, the most interesting that we can find right now, since, for less than 110 dollars, it has no rival from AMD, at least at the time of writing this article.

However, within the Intel catalog, we could also opt for the Core i3-10100F, a chip almost identical to the Core i3-10105F and whose only difference is that it works at 3.6 GHz-4.3 GHz. Its price is a little lower, 90 USD.

2. Intel Core i5-10400F: Best CPU for gaming

One of my favorite processors and one of the most highly recommended for obvious reasons. This chip also uses the Comet Lake-S architecture (with Skylake base). It has a high IPC, and thanks to its configuration of six cores and twelve threads, it is prepared to move optimally any current game and any future title.

In effect, by that, I mean that the Core i5-10400F will be able to move the next-generation games that will arrive when the final transition to PS5 and Xbox Series X-Series takes place. This means that this processor is an excellent investment because It offers excellent value both in the present and future. Above all, it is very economical, since it only costs 163 dollars.

If we accompany it with DDR4 memory at 2,666 MHz, its performance is practically identical to that of a Ryzen 5 3600, a chip that far exceeds 224 dollars. If we mount it with a motherboard that supports RAM at a higher speed, the Intel Core i5-10400F will offer even higher performance.

In summary, with the Intel Core i5-10400F, we will have more than enough power, both single and multithreaded, to play with all the guarantees “today and tomorrow” and with a minimum investment. The best processor you can buy today for less than 168 dollars.

Intel Core i5-10400F Specifications

  • Comet Lake-S architecture in the process of 14 nm ++.
  • Six cores and 12 threads at 2.9 GHz-4.3 GHz, normal and turbo mode.
  • Integrated GPU is not functional.
  • 12MB L3 cache.
  • 65-watt TDP. Includes fan.
  • LGA1200 socket (400 chipsets).
  • It does not support overclocking.

Reasons to choose the Intel Core i5-10400F

  • Excellent single wire performance.
  • Six cores and twelve threads recommended levels for present and future games.
  • It’s economical.
  • Excellent price-performance value.

Other interesting options

On the part of AMD, we do not have any attractive option because the direct rival of the Intel Core i5-10400F, the Ryzen 5 3600, is priced too high (around 280 dollars, although it performs almost at the same level).

However, in the Intel catalog, we have an exciting option, the Core i5-11400F, which also has a configuration of six cores and twelve threads but uses a more advanced architecture and offers slightly higher performance. It is also a bit more expensive, costing 190 dollars (at writing this article).

3. Intel Core i5-12600K: Best CPU for gaming

It has been, without any doubt, the best of the processors that Intel has launched in its first batch of Alder Lake-S CPUs in price-performance ratio. As I told you in the review we published not long ago, this chip offers fantastic single-wire performance. It is unrivaled in this regard. Thanks to its configuration of six high-performance cores, four high-efficiency cores, and 16 threads in total, it is prepared to move any present and future game optimally.

This sounds great, but what exactly makes the Intel Core i5-12600K? There is no more, its high performance and its reasonable price. This chip easily outperforms the Intel Core i9-11900K and the Ryzen 7 5800X, two processors priced at 620 dollars and 527 dollars, although the latter is available in a temporary offer for 426 dollars. When writing, the Intel Core i5-12600K price is 347 dollars, also on quick offer (403 dollars without a request).

The price difference between the three is noticeable, and it allows us to see that the Intel Core i5-12600K is the cheapest, but it is also the most powerful in games. This has been possible thanks, above all, to the leap that Intel has made to the 10nm process and the introduction of the Golden Cove architecture in high-performance cores, which improves the IPC by up to 19% compared to the previous generation.

The Intel Core i5-12600K is mighty and has an excellent price, but we must also bear in mind that, thanks to its four highly efficient cores, it is prepared to offer a perfect experience if we decide to stream while we play. The four high-efficiency cores will take over that workload, and the six cores and twelve threads will be completely free and can be dedicated to the game.

Intel Core i5-12600K Specifications

  • Golden Cove architecture on high-performance cores, and Gracemont on high-efficiency cores.
  • Manufactured on Intel Node 7 (10nm SuperFin).
  • Six high-performance cores and twelve threads at 3.7 GHz-4.9 GHz, regular and turbo mode, and four high-efficiency cores at 2.8 GHz-3.6 GHz, standard and turbo mode.
  • GPU Intel UHD Graphics 770 (Xe Gen12).
  • Supports DDR4 and DDR5 memory.
  • Unlocked multiplier (supports overclocking).
  • 20MB L3 cache.
  • 9.5 MB L2 cache.
  • 125-watt base power.
  • Compatible with LGA 1700 socket and 600 series chipset.

Reasons to choose the Intel Core i5-12600K

  • Top-of-the-range single-wire performance.
  • Six cores and twelve threads are recommended levels for present and future games.
  • Four high-efficiency cores that drive multithreaded performance.
  • Outstanding gaming and streaming performance.
  • It outperforms other much more expensive processors.
  • Balanced price.
  • More efficient than the previous generation.
  • It is integrated into the most advanced platform that exists.

Other interesting options

We can find other attractive options with lower prices, although we must bear in mind that the performance of these will also be lower. In this sense, the Intel Core i5-11600KF is an excellent alternative since it maintains the configuration of 6 cores and 12 threads, comes with the multiplier unlocked, and is priced at 270 dollars. Its IPC is, however, lower, it lacks the four high-efficiency cores, and its integrated GPU is disabled.

I don’t find any exciting options on the AMD side because the prices are too high. However, if you are a fan of the Sunnyvale giant, the most reasonable offered in this range is the Ryzen 5 5600X, priced at 341 dollars.

4. Intel Core i7-12700KF: Best price-performance CPU for gaming and productivity

We are facing an absolute beast, so much so that it has little to envy the Intel Core i9-12900K. The Intel Core i7-12700KF maintains the high-performance 8-core, the 16-thread configuration of its bigger brother but reduces the high-efficiency core pool from 8 to 4. This change has a real impact on applications that make heavy use of multitasking, but even in those scenarios, the difference it makes is not too significant.

The Intel Core i7-12700KF offers top-of-the-line single-threaded performance; thanks to the Golden Cove architecture, it is ready to move the most demanding games that will arrive in a few years, and it also has multithreaded performance so good that it is capable of surpassing, in some scenarios, to the Ryzen 9 5900X, a chip that has 12 threads and 24 cores, and which is much more expensive. Intel’s chip is also superior in single-wire and is built into a more advanced platform.

When writing this article, the Ryzen 9 5900X was priced on sale at 594 dollars, while the Intel Core i7-12700KF cost 455 dollars without any offer applied. The latter is superior in multithreading and performs almost on the same level as the AMD chip in multithreading, so it is easy to understand why we say that the Intel Core i7-12700KF is the best processor in its class for gaming and productivity, because it offers a price-performance value superior to its direct and indirect rivals.

The Intel Core i9-12900K, or the “KF” version, the Intel Core i7-12700KF is also a more attractive option because it offers slightly lower performance but maintains its excellent IPC fantastic gaming performance. It is a perfect option for productivity and costs 247 dollars less.

Intel Core i7-12700KF Specifications

  • Golden Cove architecture on high-performance cores, and Gracemont on high-efficiency cores.
  • Manufactured on Intel Node 7 (10nm SuperFin).
  • There are eight high-performance cores and sixteen threads at 3.6 GHz-5 GHz, regular and turbo mode, and four high-efficiency cores at 2.7 GHz-3.8 GHz, standard and turbo mode.
  • GPU disabled.
  • Supports DDR4 and DDR5 memory.
  • Unlocked multiplier (supports overclocking).
  • 25MB L3 cache.
  • 12MB L2 cache.
  • 125-watt base power.
  • Compatible with LGA 1700 socket and 600 series chipset.

Reasons to choose the Intel Core i7-12700KF

  • Top-of-the-range single-wire performance.
  • Twelve cores and twenty threads, plenty for gaming and adequate for productivity.
  • Outstanding gaming and streaming performance.
  • Multithreaded performance is similar to the Ryzen 9 5900X, which is considerably more expensive.
  • Reasonable price for what it offers.
  • More efficient than the previous generation.
  • It is integrated into the most advanced platform that exists.

Other interesting options

The closest in raw performance is the Ryzen 9 5900X. Still, as we have said, this one is quite a bit more expensive and is only slightly more potent in multithreading under specific scenarios, so there is no natural alternative to the Intel Core i7-12700KF other than really worth it, at least within its price range.

Other processors, like the Intel Core i9-11900K or the Intel Core i9-10900K, are also not a good option because they offer inferior performance in every way, and on top of that, they are more expensive than the Intel Core i7-12700KF. This is common in older generation processors, which continue to be marketed with low stock levels.

5. Ryzen 9 5950X: Best CPU for intensive productivity and gaming

Intel has achieved a perfect position in the market for general consumer processors thanks to two great keys: the low price and good performance of the Comet Lake-S series and the excellent performance, and adjusted price, of the new processor’s Alder Lake-S. However, AMD is still quite competitive and would only have to lower costs to improve its current situation.

Let’s look at the top, at the top of the high-performance processors for general consumption. We find that the Ryzen 9 5950X is still the most powerful on the market and therefore remains the best option for productivity focused on multithreading. Thanks to its configuration of 16 cores and 32 threads and its high IPC, it was very intensive.

It’s an expensive chip, but it makes up for it by offering fantastic performance. With this processor, we will carry out demanding workloads without giving up excellent single-wire performance, something essential in games.

That nuance is essential because most HEDT (High-Performance Computing) processors prioritize multithreaded performance to the detriment of single-threaded, which makes, in the end, a much less attractive choice than the Ryzen 9 5950X if we want to unify work and leisure.

However, keep in mind that of all the processors that we have listed, the Ryzen 9 5950X is the most powerful. Still, it is also the most expensive and therefore represents a significant investment that we must be sure of making profits. He is prepared to move any present and future game optimally. It has a price of 789.89 euros (on temporary offer).

Ryzen 9 5950X Specifications

  • Zen architecture three at 7 nm.
  • Sixteen cores and 32 threads at 3.4 GHz-4.9 GHz.
  • No integrated GPU.
  • 64MB L3 cache.
  • 105-watt TDP. Does not include fans.
  • Socket AM4 (B450 chipset or higher).
  • Supports overclocking.

Reasons to choose the Ryzen 9 5950X

  • Very high performance in a single wire.
  • Sixteen cores and 32 threads, plenty for games and very good for productivity.
  • Outstanding performance in leisure and work.
  • Price more adjusted than its HEDT equivalents.
  • More efficient than the previous generation.
  • It is integrated into an advanced platform.

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