Best Ryzen CPU 2021: From Budget-Friendly to Top of The Line

best ryzen cpu

In recent years, AMD has made a huge resurgence in market share in the CPU world. For almost a decade Intel was crushing them with higher clock speeds and superior performance with AMD hanging on by a thread seemingly thanks to lower pricing.

With this veritable monopoly, Intel ran amok. They weren’t forced to innovate (notably their CPUs rapidly started having more cores once AMD started pushing them) and their pricing was– and arguably still is– excessive.

That was until AMD released Ryzen which offered exceptional multi-threaded performance for an amazing price. Despite making such a huge leap in viability, AMD still maintains very reasonable prices, so if you want to get in on the savings and performance of the Ryzen lineup but don’t know where to begin, then you’ve come to the right place.

Today, we’re taking you on a tour of AMD’s Ryzen lineup and providing you with reviews and a guide to help you choose the best Ryzen CPU for your needs.

Even after reading our reviews, many of you might still be wondering which Ryzen to buy. To help clear this up, we’ll briefly define a few terms that are important to know, and then compare some of the CPUs on offer head to head.

Base and Boost Clock Speed

Clock speed is a measurement of how many cycles a CPU can perform per second. This, in effect, determines how quickly calculations can actually be performed by each core of the computer (which we’ll touch on in a moment). Higher clock speeds translate to more CPU cycles and more processes being performed by each core per second.

The base clock speed is a speed at which the processor can run at practically all times, even with poor cooling. The boost clock speed is a speed that the CPU can rev up to in times of need, but in most cases cannot maintain due to heat constraints.

It is important to note that clock speeds aren’t really useful when you are comparing processors across brands (ie vs Intel) and CPUs from different architectures, because process information differently. You can think of it as being faster, but carrying less info… sort of.

Cores and Threads

Ever since the mid-2000s, CPUs in almost every computer have been multi-cored. This basically means that the CPU itself has several smaller processing units that each carry our processes and instructions independently.

The more cores a CPU has, the more tasks it can tackle simultaneously. Speaking of simultaneously, there is also something called “simultaneous multi-threading”. This is a technique that allows each core of the CPU to handle multiple tasks at once– in a way– by juggling or alternating between two processes at the same time. This doubles the number of threads compared to cores when enabled on a CPU.

Ryzen 3 vs. Ryzen 5

To start off our AMD Ryzen comparison we’re going to put the Ryzen 3 2200G against the Ryzen 5 2600X. The Ryzen 5 is on paper a vastly superior chip with 6 cores compared to the Ryzen 3’s 4. The Ryzen 5 also has simultaneous multithreading while the Ryzen 3 does not, giving the Ryzen 5 a whopping three times as many threads as the Ryzen 3. The Ryzen 3 also sports significantly lower boost clock speeds.

Despite all of this, the Ryzen 3 still has one trick up its sleeve, integrated Vega graphics. If you’re looking to build a very affordable gaming computer, then the integrated graphics on the Ryzen 3 are very enticing.

For a very low price, you can get a solid CPU with integrated graphics that are actually powerful enough to run games like Fortnite as well as a cooler. The value proposition of the Ryzen 3 is hard for gamers to beat, but the Ryzen 5 is stronger when paired with a discrete GPU.

Ryzen 5 vs. Ryzen 7

As you might have noticed in our review for the Ryzen 5, we really like it. It takes up a nice middle ground in price and in performance and is arguably the best CPU on the market today dollar for dollar.

The specs of the Ryzen 5 are ever so narrowly slimmed down compared to the Ryzen 7 and it offers $100 of savings. That being said, the Ryzen 7 is objectively more powerful with 2 extra cores, 4 extra threads, and about 100 extra megahertz.

Choosing between the Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 7 is all about how much you will get out of your CPU. You should ask yourself, “Will I get $100 worth of extra performance out of the Ryzen 7?” If you aren’t doing workstation tasks on your PC like rendering, then the answer is likely no.

However, if you want the absolute most out of your PC then maybe the Ryzen 7 is for you. It will be future proof for years to come, nothing will stand in its way, and you’ll be able to easily play the latest games at high frame rates and even record and stream your gameplay without breaking a sweat.

AMD Threadripper

The Threadripper cannot go head to head with the other CPUs on this list. It would be unfair to compare this beast to the other processors here, the Threadripper is truly in a class of its own and can only be compared with itself… that’s to say other models of the Threadripper; however, that’s outside the scope of this article (but if you’d like a breakdown, mention it in the comments and we might be able to make it happen).

Regardless, whatever you plan to do this CPU can handle it. Playing games will be a breeze, but with the amount that this processor costs, hopefully, you have some real work for it to do. If you’re tired of sitting around waiting for videos or 3D models to render and want to be more productive, then the Threadripper can certainly help.