The 5 Best i7 Processors to Buy in 2018

Upgrade your computer with a powerful CPU from Intel

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The processor, or central processing unit (CPU), is the core of your computer. Whether you’re upgrading a gaming machine or building a computer from the ground up, it’s important to choose the right CPU for your needs. Intel’s Core i7 processors are some of the most popular. While slightly more expensive than the brand's Core i5 line, Core i7 processors deliver on their higher price tag with wider capabilities and faster base clock speeds. Great for gamers, media editors, hardcore multitaskers and scientific work, Core i7 CPUs also have a larger on-board memory to improve efficiency when launching applications or executing repetitive tasks. With your needs (and budget) in mind, read below for our picks from the Core i7 lineup. 

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Intel Core i7-8700K

The backbone of Intel’s 8th-generation Core i7 lineup, the 8700K is the smart choice for users who want optimum performance and the ability to do everything and run anything. This CPU has six cores and 12 threads, two more cores than its 7th-generation predecessor, and a base clock speed of 3.7GHz. Intel's Turbo Boost technology bumps that up to 4.7GHz on a single core, delivering first-rate functionality across the board. Gamers will get great results on 1080p displays and support for two graphics cards. The 8700K can also handle intense multitasking, so if you're the kind of user that wants to edit video while creating a spreadsheet and also streaming 4K video, this may be the processor for you. As a bonus to already exemplary hardware, the 8700K is unlocked for overclocking and ready to push the CPU to its limits.

Best Gaming: Intel i7-7700K

For stellar single-core performance, look no further than the Intel i7-7700K. It has four cores and eight threads with a base clock speed of 4.2GHz and the ability to Turbo Boost up to 4.5Ghz. If you’re looking for even more speed, the 7700K is unlocked for overclocking which can take the clock speed up to 5GHz. Compatible with 100 and 200 series chipsets, the 7700K offers support for a multitude of motherboards, making it a great choice for computer building and upgrading. 8MB of smart cache memory makes it lightning fast to launch new applications and, with support for 64GB of DDR3L and DDR4 RAM, there’s no shortage of customization options.

Best Budget: Intel Core i7-6700

The Core i7-6700 is based on Intel’s Skylake architecture and is a wise pick for PC builders who want a high-end CPU on a budget. Built for LG 1151 motherboards, this CPU only takes 0.5 seconds to fully wake from sleep mode. And if you're upgrading a laptop, the processor can add up to three times more battery life. This makes a great budget option for gamers too, as it supports the increased detail and faster frame rates of today's mainstream games. Set up with four cores at a base clock speed of 3.7GHz, the incorporation of eight threads allows the 6700 to run monitors up to 4096 x 2304 resolution and support DDR3L and DDR4 RAM.

Best Video Editing: Intel Core i7-7820X

If video editing is a priority, the Intel Core i7-7820X is a great choice. It can handle whatever editing task you throw at it, from rendering high-resolution and 4K video, to fast transcoding, to stabilizing images and adding 3D effects. It's loaded with eight cores, 16 threads and 11MB of cache, and can move into more advanced processes like 3D modeling or Virtual Reality by taking advantage of its multi-core process. Starting with a base clock speed of 3.6GHz, the Turbo Boost 2.0 bumps that up to 4.3GHz and can take things even farther with Turbo Boost Max (up to 4.5GHz clock speed). If you're interested in overclocking, online users have hit speeds of over 6Ghz on a single core with this CPU.  

Best Extreme: Intel Core i7-6950X

In this case, the most powerful Core i7 is also the most expensive. Costing as much as a high-end PC, the Intel Core i7-6950X appeals to builders looking for extreme power. But it justifies the high price tag with an astounding 10 cores and 20 threads, giving it a two-core advantage over standard i7 processors and up to 25 percent better efficiency at base clock speeds. This CPU also packs an extra 5MB of L3 cache that loads applications in a flash. If you want your PC to perform as a full-fledged editing studio, the 6950X can handle 4K and 360-degree video edits and doesn’t slow down when tasked with 3D-rendering programs (it also delivers a 35 percent improvement in rendering time over previous generation processors). Gamers will appreciate that this processor can separately connect to four different graphics cards for a future-proof experience that’s virtual reality ready.