Not too long ago, it didn’t matter if you wanted to do full-time gaming or get actual work done on your rig. You were stuck with one choice to speak of, which happened to be Intel. The lack of competition meant Intel had a monopoly over the industry and could deal with pricing however they wanted.
These days, the script has been flipped a bit. AMD’s first generation of Ryzen had more cores and a lower price point then Intel but didn’t have the best gaming performance. The second-generation improved on this a bit and now, finally, with their new Zen 2 architecture, they’re giving Intel a run for its money.
It’s no longer about just benchmarks in games. If you want to sell a high-end processor today in 2019, you need great single-threaded performance as well as multi-threaded performance. The race is definitely on, which is ultimately good for consumers. But if you’re in the market for a processor that can handle gaming and content creation all at once, what should you be looking for?
How Much Power Do You Actually Need?
Read the title once again, and you’ll probably get the idea that this question doesn’t really have an objective answer. Obviously, it entirely depends on how much money you’re willing to spend, and what sort of work you’re trying to get done. The rest of your rig matters as well.
Sure, a powerful processor can handle most of the stuff you throw at it. But you’ll need fast memory, speedy storage, and a powerful GPU to fully get the experience you need for a hassle free workflow.
Are you a film maker or photo editor? Then you’ll likely benefit from more a higher core count, and a high end graphics card. You need to decide how much you’re willing to pay for faster render times or if you want that super fluid timeline scrubbing in Premiere. Price to performance is the main issue here, as you’ll want pretty good multi-threaded performance for not a whole lot of money.
And what if you are more focused on gaming and streaming? Well you can get away with more single-threaded performance here, but we still recommend more cores for streaming. As they say, the more the merrier and we can’t stress this enough for streaming. A four core processor can handle gaming and streaming no problem, but if you want a fluid experience and play high end stuff, you’ll likely benefit from 6 cores or more.
What Options Do You Have?
As we mentioned above, competition is also good for the consumer. Thankfully, right now in 2019, we are seeing a grueling competition between AMD and Intel, the likes of which we haven’t seen in a decade. Obviously, we recommend having a look at either Intel’s newest 9th gen lineup or AMD’s all-new 7nm powered 3rd generation processors, also known as Zen 2.
It’s not an easy choice of picking between the two. Right now, most people will tell you straight off the bat that Ryzen is the better deal, but Intel definitely intrigues with its raw performance. Let’s not forget it took AMD a whole new architecture to compete with Intel, which means they have their optimization done really well.
But enough talk about the future, let’s come back to the present for a bit. Right now we have a tonne of great processors on the market, so we’ll be helping you decide.
Ryzen 9 3900X – The Best Value For Gaming And Content Creation
Okay, this is just impressive stuff from AMD. Right off the bat, we already know that multi-threaded performance is AMD’s stomping ground. And with more cores, faster ones at that, AMD absolutely obliterates Intel for the money, if we’re talking about content creation.
Sure, the price is still a bit hefty, coming in at $500, but Ryzen is offering actually a tonne of value here. First off, this an entirely brand new architecture, instead of Intel’s same old 14nm refreshes. The 3900X has a base clock of 3.8GHz and a boost clock of 4.6GHz.
Ryzen 3rd Gen features their brand new Zen 2 architecture, along with the X570 chipset. These chips are running on an impressive 7nm architecture. X570 also supports faster RAM at 3200Mhz, which means overclocking is even easier now.
X570 also features the brand new PCIe 4.0 X16, which also improves performance for newer GPUs when they come out. But what about performance? Well, the 3900X has 12 cores and 24 threads, so it kills Intel in content creation. As for gaming, it can still hold its own. And if you’re streaming as well while playing, the 3900X definitely comes out on top.
Intel Core i9 9900K – The Absolute Beast
At first glance, the i9 9900K looks just like your regular spec bump from Intel, for better or for worse. It using, a new chipset, the Z390. Oddly enough, this is the only processor from their 9th generation lineup to feature hyper-threading this time around.
Intel is still a bit further in terms of raw gaming performance here. We have optimization to thank for here, as most games are still running on Direct X 11. Intel has also done a great job with IPC improvements, as they can still outdo Ryzen in most games. We also have more cores this time around, with the 9900K featuring 8 cores and 16 threads, with a base clock of 3.6GHz and boost clock of up to 5.0GHz. Definitely impressive stuff.
The 9900K has an eye-watering price of $488, but it is an absolute beast. Sadly, the fact of the matter is, you get more cores with Ryzen. So you have to pick your poison here. If you want more gaming-oriented performance it’s the i9 9900K, for almost everything else, the Ryzen 9 3900X is a better value.
Ryzen 7 3700X- The Best Choice For Most People
The above two processors are powerful, efficient and blisteringly fast. But the prices aren’t exactly affordable for a lot of people. But if you want to get a little taste of Zen 2’s power, the 3700X is another great value.
The 3700X features 8 cores and 16 threads, with a base clock of 3.6GHz and Boost Clock of up to 4.4GHz. The story remains the same here as well. If you just focus on gaming, the i7 9700K might come out on top on most games, but if you’re doing anything besides that, like streaming, the 3700X comes out on top.
For the MSRP of $329, we can’t recommend this processor more than enough. We won’t be surprised to see a lot of people upgrading to this one.
Ultimately if you want to get the best out of your 3700X then head over to PCguide’s round up of the best 4k monitor of 2019 and get yourself one because without that high-res you might miss on the sheer power of the added cores of your Ryzen 3700X.
Intel Core i7 9700K – Powerful For Gaming, With A Catch
Think of the Core i7 9700K as a stripped-down version of the i9 9900K. It has 8 cores and 8 threads, with a base clock of 3.6GHz and a boost clock of 4.9GHz. Just like other 9th gen processors, it also supports Intel’s Optane memory.
As we know, right now most games don’t benefit from higher core counts, that’s why for pure gaming performance, the 9700K comes out on top in benchmarks. But that’s really cherry picking things. As we mentioned above, once you throw content creation into the mix, things start to fall apart.
In most games we got a better framerate from this processor than any other on this list. But once we started streaming, the Ryzen processors held their own. The 9700K is still a great recommendation for the gamers out there, but if you want to get any sort of work done besides that, the 3700X is cheaper and a better value overall.
For the MSRP of $400, the 9700K could be called the absolute best processor for pure gaming. But for the content creators out there, you’ll get better performance elsewhere. However, if you’ve spent most of your budget buying this beast, and you’re in the market to purchase a new monitor, fret not, as we’ve got you covered with this carefully hand-picked list of the best budget gaming monitors available as of now.
The fact of the matter is, right now, the Zen 2 processors are a better value for most people than Intel’s 9th gen. Intel will really have to focus on multi-threaded performance to beat AMD in this regard. Still, for pure gaming performance, the 9700K and the 9900K are the fastest processors out there. But if you want to get some serious work done, then Ryzen 3rd Gen is the way to go for now.