Almost 18 months have passed since we last updated our ‘Best CPUs’ feature and that’s mostly because since making our picks back in late 2015 very little had changed. Well, that is until very recently. Last month AMD took the covers off their hotly anticipated Ryzen CPUs. In a nutshell, Ryzen 7 has made Intel's Broadwell-E range pointless at the current asking price, the base model 1700 costs just $330 and its impressive productivity performance makes it virtually impossible to even entertain the idea of buying a $1050 Core i7-6900K, let alone the $1650 6950X.

Then we have Ryzen 5 taking the fight to Kaby Lake and what’s left of Broadwell-E, which at this point is in desperate need of a price cut. The Ryzen 5 1600 is AMD’s way of saying to enthusiasts, look guys we're sorry about the whole Bulldozer thing, please forgive us. For just $220 forgive you we will AMD. This 6-core/12-thread CPU overclocks to 4.0GHz and even comes with a decent 95-watt box cooler.

After all the extensive testing you are familiar with, we've come up with this quick guide to bring you the best CPU choices available right now. We'll also digress on which is the best overall platform to invest in right now.

Update: We're in the process of bringing our Best CPUs of 2017 recommendations up to date for the holiday season. We have reviewed all major CPU releases this year on all price points. Also you can see our Build recommendations here. This condensed guide will be updated soon.

Best Enthusiast/Value Gaming CPU

AMD Ryzen 5 1600

For the past 18 months, we've recommended the Core i5-6600K as the best value enthusiast CPU. It might only have four cores, but it crushed AMD’s FX-series in any game or workload you could throw at it. Priced at $240 it was also reasonably affordable and unless you wanted to pay more for a Hyper-Threading enabled Core i7 there were no better options. Earlier this year the Kaby 7600K was released at the same price, but with no IPC gains on offer it was basically a factory overclocked part.

Now for $230 we have the Ryzen 5 1600 which comes armed with two additional cores, eight more threads and a whopping 10MB’s more L3 cache. The 1600 also includes a decent box cooler in that price whereas the 7600K doesn’t come with a cooler at all.

On productivity workloads that can take advantage of multiple threads the Ryzen 1600 annihilates the 7600K, even when taking overclocking into account. For gaming there is still an argument to be made for Intel’s higher clocked quad-core, but as more games start to utilize Ryzen’s many cores like Ashes of the Singularity and Total War Warhammer already have, the 7600K is going to look vastly inferior in comparison.

Bottom line, how can you not love a 6-core/12-thread CPU that can be overclocked to 4 GHz using the stock cooler for under $250.

Best Budget CPU

Intel Pentium G4560 3.5 GHz Socket 1151

About a year ago our best budget pick was an AMD APU, the A8-7650K. For the price this CPU lends itself well to a multitude of tasks and this is why it is the heart and soul of ‘The Budget Box’.

Times have changed though, and if you want the most bang for your buck we feel Intel's Pentium G4560 can’t be beat. Priced at just $64 this dual-core chip comes clocked at 3.5 GHz and boasts Hyper Threading support for four threads, essentially it’s a super cheap Core i3.

The G4560 is arguably the only good thing to come out of Intel’s 7th generation Kaby Lake series and it’s so good we'll take it. Even if you plan to game, the G4560 trumps the A8-7650K and not because the HD Graphics 610 is any good, it’s not. But rather because if you take the $40 you save by buying the cheaper Intel CPU you can re-invest that in a more powerful discrete graphics card. There are some cheap options to choose from but we recommend coming up with a little extra cash and picking up the RX 460 for $90.

Best Performance Desktop CPU

AMD Ryzen 7 1700 3.0 GHz Socket AM4

So you’ve got money to burn and as a proud PC user you want to make sure everyone knows it. Previously we recommended such an ego go with the Core i7 5960X for a cool $1050. That CPU has now been replaced by the 6900K which offers a very mild bump in performance. The real upgrade comes from the 10-core/20-thread 6950X, but at $1650 you’d have to be mad to throw that kind of money at a Core i7 processor.

Still if it’s ultimate performance you seek then it’s ultimate performance you shall receive, currently there is nothing that can hold a candle to the Core i7-6950X. That said we can’t in good conscience recommend the 6950X given the price.

Likewise, we can’t recommend the 6900K at $1050. It’s roughly twice the price of the R7 1800X and it's by no means anywhere near twice as fast, in fact the Ryzen 7 processor can often be found nudging ahead.

So the R7 1800X seems like the obvious choice then. Well, yes and no. You can essentially buy the same processor for $320, not the $500 asking price of the 1800X. Yes, the more affordable R7 1700 is our top pick here, at $320 it’s a total steal. That’s 8x less than the 6950X and 3x less than the 6900K.

The only drawback being that the AM4 platform isn’t quite a rich as the LGA2011-3 platform. The top X370 chipset is quite basic when compared to the X99, offering just 4 SATA ports to Intel’s 10. The biggest downgrade though comes from the CPU itself, Ryzen 7 only offers 24 PCIe lanes while Broadwell-E support 40 lanes.

For most though this won’t be a deal breaker, particularly as SLI and Crossfire aren't as appealing these days. That said, the rapid uptake of PCIe-based storage means PCIe lanes are quickly becoming a prized commodity.

Also Our Pick for Best High-end CPU

Unlike the Extreme CPU choice, the best all round high-end CPU has to be good at everything while maintaining a solid price to performance ratio. Obvious candidates would be the Intel Core i7-7700K, Core i7-6800K, 6900K and anything from the Ryzen 7 range. The one we are going with once again is the 1700.

Honestly, the Ryzen 7 1700 is the only choice here at $320. The Core i7-7700K is a slick CPU but for $340 it pales in comparison. For similar money you get pretty much half of everything, half as many cores, half as many threads and half as much L3 cache. Meanwhile the Core i7-6800K costs $100 more and still can't match the 1700’s core count. This means Intel’s cheapest 8-core CPU is the 6900K and at $1050 you have to wonder why we’re even talking about it.

The Ryzen 7 1700 not only eliminates everything from Intel priced above $300, but it does the same for AMD’s own line up as well. There is little point in purchasing the 1700X at $400 or the 1800X at $500 given we've found all three Ryzen 7 models hit the same overclock of around 4 to 4.1GHz.

As a nice little bonus this base model Ryzen 7 CPU also includes the AMD Wraith Spire cooler. This then makes the Ryzen 7 1700 the ultimate all round high-end CPU in our opinion.

Best PC Platform

When picking the best value gaming CPU or the best budget CPU, we must also take the platform into account, but it isn’t the primary factor. Price and performance play key roles in our decision. Removing the CPU from the equation for a moment, we asked ourselves which platform provides the most useful features at the best price?

In the past Intel's Extreme CPUs were supported by outdated chipsets that sucked, if we are honest. The X79 was a classic example of that. The situation is considerably better with the Intel X99, however that doesn't make it the best value platform. Among the reasons, its limited CPU support and no upgrade path. The LGA1151 socket and the Z270 chipset face a similar situation.

Therefore, we are going with the platform that powers our enthusiast/value gaming CPU choice. The AM4 socket is supported by a number of chipsets, but it's the B350 that we are interested in. This budget oriented chipset still supports CPU and memory overclocking. Connectivity and storage options are basic, but there are still ample options here for most users. And of course price: quality options can be had for as little as $100.

If you can stretch the budget then the AMD X370 might be a better option depending on your needs. With the flagship chipset you get four more USB 3.1 Gen1 ports, two more SATA ports, two extra PCIe 2.0 lanes, and support for multiple GPUs.