Fastest CPU on the Market in 2021
Whether you’re building a new computer or purchasing a pre-made unit, the choice of processor is one of the most important decisions you’ll make. The CPU and the GPU combine to give your machine the power it needs to complete your tasks efficiently. While other factors, such as RAM, are important as well, your processing units are the heart and soul of the computer. Matching your computing needs with your processor, and allowing a little room for future proofing, will ensure that the time spent with your new machine is fruitful. In this post, we’ll break down what you need to know to find the fastest CPU for your budget and needs.
In the GPU world, the two major competitors are Nvidia and AMD, with Nvidia being fairly dominant. The CPU world also has two major competitors. In this area, AMD pops up again. This time, AMD is much more competitive against its slightly more famous rival, Intel. Before we start talking about what the fastest processors are, let’s get an overview of the two major options in the CPU market.
Intel is one of the most famous brands of microprocessors. They outlasted the famous Zilog Z80 and Motorola 6502 and 68000 series CPUs that they once competed with and became a dominant chipmaker for desktop computers. Moreover, their x86 architecture became the standard upon which desktop computers are placed. Even the AMD chips that compete directly with Intel do so with Intel-compatible architecture. And that’s a good thing too, because if they didn’t, then chips by the two manufacturers would not be compatible.
Although Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) has been around since 1969, they only became known for their processors with the adoption of Intel’s x86 processor in 1981. IBM was creating its first PC and wanted to use Intel chips. They made the deal with Intel, but only under the condition that a second manufacturer is allowed to make x86 chips. The technology exchange agreement that resulted between Intel and AMD set into motion the competition in the space that the two giants continue to this day.
The Use Cases
Let’s next take a brief look at the typical use cases for a CPU. These will put the term ‘fastest’ into perspective, as that actual fastest processor is overkill for many applications.
- Servers — Most home users don’t have their own servers. But if that’s what you have in mind, only the most demanding applications for a server require anything beyond a basic processor. Unless there’s a lot of server-side processing, they are just moving files back in forth most of the time.
- Everyday Use — For casual gaming, searching the web, and light creative application use, a budget CPU will have all the power you need to get your daily tasks done.
- Gaming — If you’re a serious gamer, you’ll want a serious CPU. Depending on the games you play, a mid-range to high-end CPU will be able to keep up with your GPU and prevent the CPU from becoming a bottleneck in your system.
- Workhorse — Gaming may seem like the most demanding task for a CPU, but there are plenty of creative endeavors that will bring a CPU to its knees. Running high-end creative applications without a high-end processor to boot will leave you spending more time waiting than creating. For that type of demanding professional use, you can benefit from the highest-dollar processors available.
If we simply gave you the fastest CPU on the market, the post would be a sentence or two long, and you’d end up spending a lot of money on a CPU that might be overkill for your needs. Instead, we’ll break the rankings down into categories, so you can find the fastest process for your specific needs, rather than an all-out comparison. We will, however, include an all-out category for those who really want to push the limits of computing power.
Not everyone has the budget for the highest-end processor money can buy. But that doesn’t mean you need to be stuck with a poor-performing PC. The AMD Ryzen 3 3300X only sports 4-cores, which is low by today’s standards, but it’s 4.3 GHz of speed and low 65 watts of power usage make it a good choice for the budget-conscious technophile. While it’ll likely become a bottleneck if paired with a high-end GPU trying to push 4k, the 3300X makes a great pairing for more modest graphics cards and 1080p gaming.
Moving up into the mid-range CPUs takes us to the next step up in AMD’s product line, the Ryzen 7 5800X. The Ryzen 7 is more expensive than the Ryzen 3, but becomes a solid choice for gaming regardless of which GPU you pair it with. It even has the power to handle some of your demanding creative work as well. The CPU features 8 cores, is capable of running 16 threads, and has a clock speed of 4.7 GHz. The 5800X is a strong contender that will satisfy the needs of most users.
For the most dedicated gaming enthusiast or someone who does a lot of intense creative work, mid-range equipment won’t cut it. The AMD Ryzen 9 5900X is the answer for those users. Aside from the mighty Threadripper (discussed next), Ryzen 9 is the most powerful processor AMD makes. The 5900X is a powerhouse that features 12 cores for 24 threads of performance, at 4.8 GHz. Be warned though, the chip is so powerful, AMD recommends a high-performance cooler for systems that use it. For the trouble, you’ll get a CPU that can keep up with the most demanding games.
The title of the post promised you the fastest CPU on the market in 2021. If price is no object, and you have a lot of heavy-duty creative tasks that would make even the high-end Ryzen 9 beg for mercy, then AMD has an even more beastly option: the Threadripper 3970X. This is a monster of a processor, featuring 32 cores capable of running 64 threads at 4.5 GHz. This type of performance doesn’t come cheap though; the Threadripper alone will cost more than your neighbor spent on their entire gaming PC. We promised you the fastest process though, and the Threadripper is it.
For home use, getting a less-than-ideal CPU is a mild annoyance at worst. For business use, a CPU that’s not up to the tasks asked of it costs you money in productivity and forces you to upgrade your equipment sooner than you otherwise would. If your PC needs to do more than play games, and you’re looking for advice on the right technology solution for you, contact us today.