CPU Hierarchy 2023 – PC Processors Tier List

CPU Hierarchy – PC Processors Tier List

The two primary hardware components of a computer are the Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) and Central Processing Unit (CPU). 

These two components are needed to be upgraded when upgrading a computer to achieve more Frames Per Second (FPS) in games or to be more productive.

The GPU handles visual-related duties while the CPU handles practically all other operations of the computer, thus the better CPU you have, the more you can accomplish.

Modern CPUs have a lot of cores and threads that enable them to do heavy tasks rather quickly and only two well-known companies – Intel and AMD now have the necessary licenses and equipment to manufacture computer processors. 

Throughout the years, these two companies have produced some of the best and worst CPUs which reiterate their ups and downs as well as their relentless commitment to offering customers something new. 

However, finding the ideal processor is not that simple because there are so many of them on the market at various price points. And today we’ll talk about the many PC processors and which one you should own. 

PC Processors Tier List 

In this article, we’ll compare the best CPU hierarchies and provide you with clear and distinct differences between each of them. Let’s get started. 

S-Tier 

The S-Tier model houses the most expensive processors and CPUs with great performance. Those that seek the best hardware for their PC, such as enthusiasts or high-end PC users, typically use these models. 

These CPUs are the most effective for doing content creation tasks like video editing or increasing frame rates in the most graphically demanding games. 

In this category, the third generation of AMD Ryzen Threadripper offers the most amazing productivity rate. Intel S-Tier CPUs such as Intel Core i9 13900K, Intel Core i7 13700K, and Intel Core i5 13600K are well-known for their great performance and value. 

The newly released Ryzen 9 7950X3D, Ryzen 7 7800X3D, and Ryzen 9 7900X3D are some of the fastest gaming processors in the world. Also, AMD offers a very awesome gaming experience with the AMD Ryzen 7 5800X3D, AMD Ryzen 5 7600X, AMD Ryzen 9 7900, and AMD Ryzen 5 7600 because they have an impressive price-to-performance ratio. 

Some highly functional processors found in this category include:

  • AMD Ryzen 7 7800X3D

Simplicity is a significant benefit of the Ryzen 7 7800X3D. This newly released $449 processor is the latest high-performance gaming champion for the desktop PC. With eight cores, 16 threads, and 3D V-Cache technology, the 7800X3D and the Ryzen 7 5800X3D powered by Zen 3 are quite comparable, but that’s where the similarities end. 

Its excellent gaming performance is powered by AMD’s second-gen 3D V-Cache technology, which increases the L3 cache capacity of the processor to an amazing 96MB via a 3D-stacked chipset.

Even though AMD’s Ryzen 7 7800X3D is less expensive than its rivals, it is however in terms of average gaming performance still 12% faster than Intel Core i9-13900K which costs $580 and outperforms AMD’s $699 16-core Ryzen 9 7950X3D, which is the fastest gaming CPU currently available in the market.

With a 500 MHz higher boost frequency of 5.0 GHz and an 800 MHz higher base clock of 4.2 GHz, the Ryzen 7 7800X3D improves on the Zen 4 architecture and offers significantly better performance in gaming and a wider variety of applications.

  • Intel core i9 13900K 

Core i9-13900K is the top 13th Generation processor from Intel, which is believed to be their fastest gaming CPU in the world, and a wise pick if you’re putting together a PC that demands top performance levels. We’re discussing uses for professionals like streaming and encoding.

This processor contains a total of 24 physical cores. Eight (8) of them are P-cores and sixteen (16) are E-cores. A combination of these cores results in a total of 32 threads, providing a large number of channels for data processing. This does mean that the chip will use more power and generate more heat but using a good All-In-One (AIO) liquid cooler is always advised for this type of processor.

The Core i9-13900K performs better than the AMD Ryzen 9 7950X in most situations but both CPUs frequently trade blows, making both a good choice for a high-end PC build.

While the Core i9 13900K’s clock speed is less than that of the Core i5 13600K, which is significantly less expensive, it can turbo boost to 5.8GHz. With speeds more than 8GHz, overclockers were able to advance this even further.

  • AMD Ryzen Threadripper Pro 5995WX

This is the fastest, most powerful, and priciest AMD Ryzen CPU currently available for purchase. It sells at a recommended retail price of about $6000. The AMD Ryzen Threadripper Pro 5995WX is a 64 core/128 thread workstation CPU that is capable of handling any multi-core workload that needs to be finished as soon as possible. 

The Ryzen Threadripper Pro 5995WX is an overclocked (Extreme Performance Yield Computing) EPYC 7713 processor. It supports up to 2TB (2,048GB) of DDR4-3200 octa channel memory. In simpler terms, just 128GB is supported by the majority of consumer-grade CPUs. It is also ideal for a highly specialized PC design because of its 128 PCIe 4.0 lanes. If you really need this much performance, this CPU alone can match or even outperform dual-socket server setups.

In terms of clock speeds, the Ryzen Threadripper Pro 5995WX has a base clock of 2.7 GHz with a boost clock of 4.5 GHz. 

Gaming 

Model Cores/Thread TDP
AMD Ryzen 7 7800X3D 8/16 120 W
Intel core i9 13900K 8P/16E/32T 125 W
AMD Ryzen 9 7950X3D 16/32 120 W
Intel Core i7-12700K 8P/4E/20T 125 W
Intel Core i5-13600K 6P/8E/20T 125 W
AMD Ryzen 9 7900X 12/24 170 W
AMD Ryzen 9 7900X3D 12/24 120 W

 

Productivity

Model Cores/Thread TDP 
AMD Threadripper Pro 5995WX 64/128 280 W
AMD Threadripper 3990X 64/128 280 W
AMD Threadripper 3970X 32/64 280 W
Intel Xeon W-3175X 28/56 255 W
AMD Threadripper 3960X 24/48 280 W
AMD Threadripper 2990 WX 32/64 250 W
Intel Core Core i9-10980XE 18/36 165W

 

A Tier

This Tier processors consist of CPUs from new and older generations that are less costly when compared to their S-Tier counterparts and also have a lower core count. 

These processors are good for gaming and this makes them the perfect choice for users looking to develop a high mid-range gaming PC.

Processors in this category include those from Intel Core 10th gen and AMD’s Ryzen 3rd gen. Examples are Intel Core i5 11600K, Intel Core i7 10700k, Intel Core i9 10900K, AMD Ryzen 9 3900XT, AMD Ryzen 5 5600G, Intel Core i3 12100F, AMD Ryzen 5 5600X, AMD Ryzen 5 5600, etc.

AMD’s Ryzen 5 5600X competes closely with Intel’s Core i5 11600K because both CPUs have 6 cores/12 threads and similar prices. They’re also much cheaper than other S-Tier CPUs sold at $300.

  • Intel Core i5 11600K

Installing the Intel Core i5-11600K Processor into your computer system will enhance your productivity, gaming, and content production experiences. This 11th generation desktop CPU is built using a 14nm process and has a base clock speed of 3.9 GHz and a boost speed of 4.9 GHz with 12MB of cache, 6 cores, and 12 threads for quick and dependable performance. 

Additionally, the Core i5-11600K supports PCI Express 4.0 and has dual-channel DDR4 memory running at 3200 MHz. This allows it to run and multitask a variety of demanding programs and games. 

  • AMD’s Ryzen 5 5600X

The AMD Ryzen 5 5600X can quickly load and multitask demanding apps. It comes with 6 cores and 12 threads. The 7nm 5th generation Ryzen processor uses the powerful Zen 3 architecture and is designed for socket AM4 motherboards, which helps it to offer much better performance than its predecessor. 

This processor has a base clock speed of 3.7 GHz, a maximum boost clock speed of 4.6 GHz, 65W TDP, and 32MB of L3 Cache. This unlocked processor can be overclocked to increase performance even more.

 

Model Cores/Thread  TDP 
Intel core i5 11600K 6/12 125 W
Intel core i7 10700K 8/16 125 W
Intel core i9 10900K 10/20 125 W
AMD Ryzen 9 3900XT 12/24 105 W
AMD Ryzen 5 5600X 12/24 65 W
Intel core i3 12100F 4P/0E/8T 58 W
AMD Ryzen 5 5600G 6/12 65 W
AMD Ryzen 5 5600 6/12 65 W
AMD Ryzen 5 5600X 12/24 65 W

 

B Tier

You might start to think it is in this category that performance begins to reduce, but that’s where you get it wrong. The B-Tier houses processors that are still capable of handling modern-day games and helps produce a more competitive frame per second (FPS) output when it comes to online multiplayer gaming. 

If you’re on a budget, it is best you chose from any B-Tier CPUs. These processors provide the best price-to-performance ratio in the market compared to both S-Tier and A-Tier processors. 

A couple of the most successful processors in this category are the AMD Ryzen 5 3600 and some of Intel’s 9th generation processors which include core i9 9900K and core i7 9700K which sell at a range between $180 to $200. 

  • AMD Ryzen 5 3600

The AMD Ryzen 5 3600 is a desktop processor with 6 cores and 12 threads. It belongs to the Ryzen 5 family and is compatible with Socket AM4 and the Zen 2 (Matisse) architecture. 

The Ryzen 5 3600 features 32MB of L3 cache and runs at 3.6 GHz by default, but depending on the workload, it can boost up to 4.2 GHz. This processor consumes the standard power level for a modern PC, with a TDP of 65 W. The maximum memory speed that is officially supported is 3200 MHz, however, you may overclock your computer to go even faster.

  • Intel Core i7 9700K

This is a PC processor with 8 cores and 8 threads. It is a member of the Core i7 family which utilizes Socket 1151 and the Coffee Lake Refresh architecture. 

The Core i7-9700K comes with 12MB of L3 cache and runs at 3.6 GHz by default, but depending on the workload, it can be accelerated to 4.9 GHz. The Core i7-9700K consumes a lot of power with a TDP of 95 W, so therefore, adequate cooling is required. With overclocking you can increase the officially supported memory speed of 2666 MHz to even more. 

Model  Cores/Threads  TDP 
AMD Ryzen 5 3600 6/12 65 W
AMD Ryzen 3 3300X 4/8 95 W
AMD Ryzen 5 5500 6/12 65 W
Intel Core i9 9900K 8/16 95 W
Intel Core i7 9700K 8/8 95 W
Intel Core i9 9900K 8/16 95 W
Intel core i5 9600K 6/6 95 W

 

C Tier

The C-Tier processors show a reduction in their core count, power, and functionality especially when it comes to delivering a standard FPS in modern-day video games. They’re entry-level CPUs with weaker interprocess communication (IPC), nonetheless, their value to money ratio is not entirely bad after all.

The category features Ryzen second generation processors as well as Intel processors from the 9th generation, such as the core i3s and core i5s. These processors are limited to 4 to 6 threads and are out of date in terms of modern technology.

Take for instance AMD’s Ryzen 7 2700X, it is an 8-core and 16-thread CPU that costs less than $200, and Intel’s Core i3s are limited to 4 threads while the core i5s (such as the 9400F) are only capable of 6 threads which by today’s standards, is considered too low.

Model Cores/Thread  TDP 
AMD Ryzen 7 2700X 8/16 105 W
AMD Ryzen 3 3100 4/8 65 W
AMD Ryzen Pro 4750G 8/16 65 W
Intel core i5 9400F 6/6 65 W
Intel Core i3 10100 4/8 65 W
Intel Core i3 10300 4/8 65 W

 

D Tier 

This tier consists of CPUs that highly lag in performance and can hinder you from experiencing high-end graphics during gaming activities especially when you use them with GPUs such as RTX 4090 or RX 7900 XTX. It is best advised to not play games with processors found in this category.

The D-Tier CPUs generally have a low benchmark score as a result of their low base clock speed. Even with their low cost, they’re difficult to recommend as there are similarly priced processors with far better performance.

Model Cores/Threads  TDP 
AMD Ryzen 5 2600X 6/12 95 W
AMD Ryzen 7 2700 8/16 65 W
Intel Core i3 9100 4/4 65 W
Intel Pentium G6605 2/4 58 W
AMD Ryzen 5 2400G 4/8 65 W
AMD Ryzen 3 2200G 4/4 65 W
AMD Ryzen 3 3200G 4/4 65 W

 

Choosing The Best PC Processor  

Choosing the best CPU is largely dependent on the type of socket on your motherboard and your budget. AMD and Intel have over the years manufactured a good number of processors across different generations and this could make it hard to know which processor is best to pick from.

Getting information on your CPU’s memory, power consumption, security features, expected overclocking limits and more can help you make better decisions on how to get the best value for your money. 

Regardless of whether you are building a new system or upgrading an existing system, your options should be based on the socket and chipset on your motherboard because the socket and processor have to match. 

For example, Intel Core i5 13600K supports LGA 1700 while AMD Ryzen 9 7950X works with AM5. Also, the best motherboards allow for a processor to be overclocked so as to provide a reasonable boost in their performance. 

Features Of A CPU 

Cores and Threads 

All processors have cores and threads. These cores handle instructions fed to the CPU. The higher the number of cores on the chipset, the higher the instructions processed at the same time. 

The threads share the resources of the core which they effectively split up into numerous processing units. These processors have multithreading abilities that help them operate at the speed of light. Even though both names mean the same thing, each company calls it a different name. It is called Hyperthreading in Intel processors and Simultaneous Multithreading in AMD processors. 

Speed 

Another important feature of a processor is its clock speed measured in gigahertz (GHz). It is also known as Base Clock Speed, Clock Rate, CPU frequency, or PC frequency. It denotes the number of pulses per second a CPU can handle. The more the speed, the higher the instruction being processed every second.

Thermal Design Power 

Thermal Design Power (TDP) refers to the maximum amount of heat that a processor is capable of producing. A processor with a high TDP will consume more electric power to deliver better user satisfaction and will require an effective cooling system to maintain peak performance. 

Cache Size

The cache size of a processor is a very crucial feature that shouldn’t be overlooked when picking out processors. It is a smaller memory that the processor can quickly access to retrieve data from the main memory due to its location. 

The three levels of cache which exist are:

  • L1, which is the fastest cache memory, 
  • L2, which has a little more storage space and,
  • L3, which is located on the motherboard, and the slowest cache, but is still faster than the main memory. 

Socket Compatibility 

As stated earlier, socket compatibility is another integral part of a processor. Unlike the electric socket on your wall that is fit for every type of plug, your motherboard socket is different for both AMD and Intel processors. AMD processors make use of Pin Grid Array (PGA) while Intel processors use Land Grid Array (LGA). 

Overclocking 

Overclocking is a process of increasing the operating frequency of your processor and any part of your PC. Some AMD CPUs especially the Ryzens are better clockable than Intel CPUs, except their model names end with a “K” 

This is because most Intel processors are locked from the factory and only the “K” models are unlocked. However, this increased performance comes with a higher temperature which could mess with your CPU. So if you are considering overclocking, also make arrangements for an effective CPU cooler. 

The Latest Generation Of CPUs 

AMD and Intel try to make it easy to identify their respective processor catalogs. In AMD processors, the first digit of the four-figure model number tells the generation while in Intel processors with a four-figure model number, the first digit also denotes the generation but when there is a five-figure model number, the first two digits indicate their generation. 

For example, the AMD Ryzen 9 7950X shows that the processor is a 7th generation processor, the Intel Core i3 9100 shows that the processor is from the 9th generation and the Intel Core i5 13600K indicates that the processor is a 13th generation product. 

Currently, both AMD and Intel have released five and thirteen generations of processors respectively. However, these processors are constantly competing with each other to get a larger market share. 

Also See: GPU Hierarchy: Graphics Card Tier List

Conclusion

It is not usually easy to finally figure out what processor your PC needs, especially when you have a budget. You have to put in mind that the CPU is not just an important component that can affect the performance of a PC, it can also hinder the overall functioning of the remaining parts of the system.  

Asking yourself if you are upgrading or building a new PC or gaming or trying to be productive or if core count or clock speed matters can help you arrive at making a better decision when picking out a processor.

Nonetheless, if you have the money and can afford the high-end CPUs, you should go for them but if you’re on a budget, you need to give deep consideration to whether you’re trying to maximize speed or value before you set out to settle for lower-end CPUs. 

Author:
I am a computer engineer holding a bachelor's degree in Computer Science, complemented by a Master's in Business Administration from University of Strathclyde, Scotland. I currently work as a Senior IT Consultant in Melbourne, Australia. With over 15 years of...