The 6 Best Desktop CPUs to Buy in 2016

Selection of Desktop Processor by Brand for Performance and Prices

There are a large number of desktop processors available and this list was generated to point out the three major categories of processors for both the Intel and AMD product lines. The three categories listed are the top performance processors, best value processors (building one yourself, check out which processors you should be looking to fit your price range.

Sometimes it isn't just clock speeds but features that can boost performance. The Haswell-E processors from Intel add support for DDR4 and extra PCI-Express lanes making them great for high-performance PCs. The Core i7-5930K is the mid-range processor that features six rather than eight cores but frankly, most programs don't really use more than four right now. Clock speeds are lower than the Core i7-6700K but it supports 40 PCI-Express Lanes for better multiple graphics card support. The downside is that it uses an LGA 2011-v3 socket and requires expensive X99 based motherboards.

AMD may be focused heavily upon their APU lineup, their highest performance chips are still designed without a graphics core. The AMD FX-9590 is their most recent model that features an octo-core or eight core processor design with a clock speed of 4.7GHz providing it with some outstanding speed. It may not provide the same level of floating point performance as Intel. Like all the FX series processors, it is fully clock unlocked which means that those willing to push it further can do so via overclocking. Since the design is very different from the APUs, it uses the Socket AM3+ design when looking for compatible motherboards.

Intel's new Skylake or 6th generation of processors are a huge leap forward not necessarily in performance but in technology. The chip uses the new LGA 1151 socket type which is best matched up with the Z170 chipset right now. The best part is that like the X99, it now supports DDR4 memory along with other items such as USB 3.1 and additional PCI-Express lanes making it a solid choice for the previous generations. The processor uses four cores and has a slightly higher clock rate than the previous versions but it is fully unlocked for those that want to push the processor even further. Priced around $250.

The AMD A10-7870K is the latest of AMD's APU lineup with an extremely affordable price of less than $150. It is a quad-core processor that offers some good performance but it still trails compared to the more expensive Intel Core i5 processor but it does well enough for the majority of tasks. The Kaveri based design features a Radeon R7 integrated graphics processor built in which trounces Intel's HD graphics when it comes to 3D. It isn't going to be a gaming system on the whole though as it performs at roughly an entry-level 3D graphics card for lower resolutions and detail levels. It uses the socket FM2+ design when searching for motherboard compatibility.

The Pentium processors are interesting because they are essentially scaled back version of the Core I series processors. The Pentium G4500 finally brings the Skylake design to those on a budget. This means it can use the latest motherboards using the Intel 100 series chipsets to bring features like DDR4 and USB 3.1 to the budget segment. This 3.5GHz dual-core processor may not support overclocking of being as useful when multitasking but it does a great job for the majority of users. This uses the newer LGA 1151 socket when looking for motherboard compatibility. Priced just under $100.

For the longest time, I recommended the A10-5800K from AMD for under $100 but they are much harder to find these days being multiple generations behind. Now I recommend the A8-7650K which offers better graphics performance with its newer Radeon R7 technology making it a decent entry level with basic 3D graphics without the need of a dedicated card. It's still not suited for PC gaming but maybe for more casual play. It may not be as fast as the Intel processors in all tasks but the four dedicated cores mean it does multitask a bit better. This uses the socket FM2+ and is priced around $85.

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