The best CPUs to buy in late 2018

Updated: November 24th, 2018Author: BrantonCategory: Guides4 Comments

best cpus 2018

Buying a CPU can be a mind-numbing experience thanks to the massive array of options at your disposal – especially in late 2018. Let’s try to make that a more simplified and streamlined process by eliminating the bloat and focusing on the best!

This quick round-up is going to show you the best processors to buy at a few different price points. Primarily the budget level, the mid-range level, and the high-end.

Picking a good CPU is all about meeting your needs without going overboard. Unless you’re trying to build a high-end workstation, your graphics card should always be your #1 priority. At the same time, you don’t want to skimp on your processor either. As a general rule, you never want to spend much more than 30-40% of your budget on your CPU or you could end up with an unbalanced system.

Without spending any more time on this intro, let’s jump into the list!
Best Budget CPUs What exactly is a “budget CPU?” Well, they’re not bad processors, that’s for sure. They’re just on the lower end of the “scale of expensiveness”. This level of processor often works well for entry-level 1080p gaming and general use.

There are actually 2 really good options at this level, so we’ll be covering both of them in no particular order.

Intel i3 8100

intel core i3 8100

Intel i3 8100

Intel’s 8th generation Core i3 8100 is a great entry-level gaming CPU. With an MSRP of $117, it’s hard to beat in terms of price vs performance without spending more. It can easily handle 1080p gaming but won’t be ideal for streaming or heavy workloads.

Specs
Cores: 4
Threads: 4
Max clock speed: 3.6GHz
TDP: 65w
Unlocked: No
Socket: LGA 1151
MSRP: $117

AMD R3 2200G

amd ryzen 3 2200g

AMD R3 2200G

The R3 2200G is an inexpensive option for an entry-level gaming PC build with an MSRP of $99. It comes with integrated Vega 8 graphics capable of handling entry-level gaming without a problem. It’s not the most powerful processor you’ll ever see, but for the price, it’s an extremely appealing option especially if you’re trying to build an inexpensive but capable desktop.

Specs
Cores: 4
Threads: 4
Max clock speed: 3.9GHz
TDP: 65w
Unlocked: Yes
Socket: AM4
MSRP: $99

Best Mid-Range CPUs

A mid-range CPU is really all most people need. This level of processor is easily powerful enough to handle up to 4K gaming without a problem… As long as your graphics card is powerful enough. Even if you’re running a powerful¬†GPU like a GTX 1080 Ti, a mid-range processor can easily keep up.

Like the budget CPUs, there are 2 really good options at this level. So, we’ll cover them both.

AMD R5 2600

amd ryzen 5 2600

AMD R5 2600

There’s really no arguing that the R5 2600 is hands-down the best mid-range processor on the market right now. You can’t beat the price and to beat the performance you’d be spending at least $100 extra or more. It has an MSRP of $199 but can often be found for closer to $159-$169 depending on where you look. It’s easily capable of handling both streaming and workload-based tasks if you need it to. When gaming, it won’t even break a sweat until you’re pushing 4K+.

Specs
Cores: 6
Threads: 12
Max clock speed: 3.9GHz
TDP: 65w
Unlocked: Yes
Socket: AM4
MSRP: $199

Intel i5 9600K

intel core i5 9600k

Intel i5 9600K

Intel’s i5 9600K is a complete and utter beast when it comes to mid-range gaming, but that performance comes at a premium. An i5 9600K will easily cost upwards of $100 more than an R5 2600 when everything is considered, like an aftermarket CPU cooler and a more expensive motherboard. But, you can’t deny that it performs like a dream. A CPU like this could easily be used for the next 3-5 years without a problem. Like the R5 2600, it can easily handle streaming and workload-based tasks if you need it to.

Specs
Cores: 8
Threads: 8
Max clock speed: 4.9GHz
TDP: 95w
Unlocked: Yes
Socket: LGA 1151
MSRP: $262

Best High-end CPUs

High-end CPUs are all about getting the most power possible. Whether you need to crunch numbers with a super powerful processor, or you just want the absolute best gaming performance possible, this is where you look.

When we’re talking high-end processors, we have a lot of options on the table, from powerful Intel i7/i9 processors to top-end AMD R7 and Threadrippers. With that in mind, this level has some pretty incredible options available, so let’s take a look!

Intel i7 9700K

intel core i7 9700k

Intel i7 9700K

Intel’s i7 CPUs have always been the Kings of gaming. When you’re trying to get the best possible gaming performance, this is the lineup you look to. However, when you’re looking you should be prepared to pay a premium for the potential you’re purchasing. An i7 9700K is not a cheap CPU with an MSRP of $374-$385 and most buyable options reaching above $400. With that in mind, that level of investment gets you a CPU you can easily use for the next 4-5 years without a problem.

Specs
Cores: 8
Threads: 8
Max clock speed: 4.9GHz
TDP: 95w
Unlocked: Yes
Socket: LGA 1151
MSRP: $374-$385

AMD R7 2700x

amd ryzen 7 2700x

AMD R7 2700X

Intel’s i7 9700K might be the King of gaming, but AMD’s R7 2700X is the King of all-around performance. If you’re looking to put together a rig that’ll have 0 issues with streaming, editing, and fun stuff like that, look no further. The R7 2700x is the undisputed P4P champ in every segment when we’re talking price vs performance with its $329 MSRP. Yes, that includes the cost of a fairly solid Wraith Prism LED CPU cooler.

Specs
Cores: 8
Threads: 16
Max clock speed: 4.3GHz
TDP: 105w
Unlocked: Yes
Socket: AM4
MSRP: $329

AMD Threadripper 2920x

threadripper 2920x

AMD Threadripper 2920X

The Threadripper 2920x gives you so much processing power that it’s almost scary. This behemoth is what you want if you’re putting together a PC that’ll primarily be used as a workstation. With an MSRP of just $649, this beast can easily outperform Intel’s more expensive options without breaking a sweat.

Specs
Cores: 12
Threads: 24
Max clock speed: 4.3GHz
TDP: 180w
Unlocked: Yes
Socket: sTR4
MSRP: $649

Conclusion

There you have it, the 7 best CPUs to buy in late 2018 from budget to high-end. Whether you’re putting together an inexpensive 1080p gaming rig, or you’re trying to build a no-holds-barred workstation, one of the processors on this list is exactly what you need.

From the modest R3 2200G to the King of gaming the i7 9700K, your choices don’t get any better than what’s mentioned above.

About the Author
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Branton

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Hey there! I'm Branton, the founder and lead editor here at PC Game Haven. Since our launch in 2015, we've helped thousands upon thousands of gamers build their dream desktops, find the perfect peripherals, and more. Thanks for stopping by!

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Patrick
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Patrick

Hi there! As the current console life cycle is nearing an end, I’m interested in getting into PC gaming and building my own rig instead of getting a new console. This question may be off-topic but didn’t know where else to post a general question….it seems like 4K is becoming the new standard in home entertainment, but a lot of people say that running at a higher frame-rate and lower resolution better for gaming than running at 4k and slower frame rate. But, it seems all these people are into first person shooters competitively online. I prefer single player RPGs and strategy games…wouldn’t 4k be better for these types of games? And would going 4k be more future-proof? I’ve been doing a lot of research online about building a pc and your site is the best resource, IMO, so I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

Sam
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Sam

How does a threadripper scale to an i9 9900k?