At the beginning of this year, you can’t guess how the best CPU from AMD or Intel will end up. Twelve months ago, AMD was working hard to meet the demand for its new Ryzen 5000 chip. Basically, at this time last year, everything from the excellent Ryzen 5 5600X to Ryzen 9 5950X was completely out of stock. At the same time, Intel is working hard to deal with its first bloodshed in the gaming field, and its gaming crown lost to AMD’s Zen 3 series.
Since then, the chips of both sides have returned to inventory. What we see is not one, but two new architectures from Intel and AMD’s highly anticipated APU series finally appeared. The Ryzen 5000 APU was initially only used by OEM manufacturers in April, but as inventory returned to a reasonable level, AMD provided these chips to DIY manufacturers in August. Since then, the surprisingly powerful on-board graphics have taken some hits, which is not surprising in these ages when GPUs are scarce.
Intel’s Rocket Lake desktop chip was launched at the end of March 2021, but there was little fanfare. It was supposed to be the 14nm backport of the 10nm architecture to make the blue corners stand up again, but they have not done enough in the high-end aspect to give them a real advantage in the game. Strangely, its 11th-generation Core series does make Intel the first choice for budget manufacturers, because Intel manages to sell its chips at a much cheaper price than AMD’s similar products.
However, as the year draws to a close, the situation has changed, and Alder Lake has finally given Intel something worthy of hype. These are the first desktop chips with a hybrid design, and they happen to bring some incredible performance data. Support for DDR5 is of course not without problems, because DDR5 is basically impossible to find in the wild, but the architecture still supports DDR4, in any case it is more affordable.
Here are the outstanding CPUs of the past 12 months.
Best CPU of 2021: Nominees
The winners of the PC Gamer Hardware Award Best CPU will be announced on New Year’s Eve. It’s all for playing, and any one of these three is completely worthy of the championship.