Although we are living in a time where multi-core CPUs are ruling the PC market, most applications and games still depend upon single-core performance. From music production, photo & video editing, to playing AAA games on your computer, every task needs you to have a CPU with faster per-core performance.
Most computing tasks rely on the clock speed of the individual core. And if your CPU comes with a higher clock speed, you can accomplish that task in less time. Intel CPUs are highly rated for their per-core performance as compared to AMD CPUs.
However, in the past few years, AMD has managed to produce chips that are faster in single and multi-core performance. In this guide, we’ll compare CPUs from both Intel and AMD with default higher clock speeds on each core.
List of the Best CPUs with Single Core/Thread Performance
Here are the top-rated processors to consider:
Intel Core i9 9900K – Overall Best Individual-Core Performance Processor
Base Clock Speed: 3.6 GHz | Boost Clock Speed: 5 GHz | Cores/Threads: 8/16 | Socket: LGA 1151
Reasons to Buy:
- Higher default clock speed
- More room for overclocking
- Price to Performance Ratio
- Built-in UHD graphics
The Core i9 9900K is one of the most popular chips from Intel so far. Although we are now been introduced to the 12th generation Intel CPUs, this 9th gen beast remains the top choice of many PC enthusiasts.
No doubt the i9 9900K is a powerful CPU when it comes to content creation, AAA gaming, or dealing with other demanding tasks. If you are highly involved in tasks that need you to have a powerful single-core CPU in your PC, then this is the right choice to go with.
No matter whatever task you throw on this processor, it doesn’t let you down. Right out of the box, you get your hands on a 3.6 GHz clock speed on each core. Also, there’s plenty of headroom to overclock the Core i9 9900K processor up to 5 GHz. However, you will never feel like boosting it to a higher clock speed unless you are a hardcore gamer.
This CPU has enough juice on each core to render large music and video files in a short time. We managed to export some music and video files on the Core i9 9900K desktop processor. The overall export time was 2 minutes less than that of a Core i5 9600K CPU.
Moreover, if you want to achieve higher frame rates in AAA titles without any bottlenecks, this is the right CPU for that job. We tested games like Call of Duty: Warzone and Red Dead Redemption 2 on Core i9 9900K, most of the time the average frame rates were above 60fps at 1440p settings.
And if you are not into gaming and just need a higher clock speed CPU for content creation, you have it right here. You really don’t need any external graphics card with this CPU as it has a built-in Intel UHD 630 graphics card.
All in all, the Core i9 9900K is a beast that shreds everything your throw on it. You can take care of the most demanding games and applications with this CPU. In the PassMark software, the Core i9 9900K scores 2970 in single-thread performance.
Intel Core i7-10700K – Best Value CPU for Single-Threaded Applications
Base Clock Speed: 3.8 GHz | Boost Clock Speed: 5.1 GHz | Cores/Threads: 8/16 | Socket: LGA 1200
Reasons to Buy:
- Ideal for gaming
The Core i7 10700K gets a little more edge in performance over the Core i9 9900K due to its 3.8 GHz clock speed. This processor hits close enough to a Core i9 10900K in average frame rates when playing demanding games. The Core i9 10900K takes lead over this CPU with its two additional cores and higher clock speed.
But when we compare the Core i7 10700K with a Core i9 9900K, there is a significant difference in performance. The i7 10700K manages to score 3081 in single-core/thread performance. And definitely, it’s due to more clock speed that it holds over the Core i9 9900K.
Also, this processor goes 1 on 1 with the high-performing chips in the AMD’s Ryzen 9 Series. Especially, when you render audio and video files, the Intel i7 10700K beats most Ryzen 9 chips.
At the moment, Ryzen processors are cheaper and beat Intel CPUs in overall performance. However, when it comes to a higher clock on a single core, Intel wins the race. And if you are a gamer, you need higher clock speed on each core to hit higher fps, not the number of cores. This is the reason why most PC gamers still prefer Kaby Lake CPUs for gaming.
Upgrading from a Core i9 9900K to a Core i7 10700K won’t let you feel much of a difference. However, if you are upgrading from a CPU like Core i5 6500 to a Core i7 10700K, you can expect a huge performance gain in fps and single-threaded applications.
Playing games like DOTA 2 & PUBG raises the temperature of this CPU up to 60 Degrees Celsius, this shows that Core i7 10700K is capable of handling many demanding AAA titles even if you don’t overclock it.
Core i7 10700K gives you the most bang for your buck in single-threaded workloads. The only thing that you should care about is the motherboard. The LGA 1200 socket motherboards are expensive as compared to LGA 1151 mobos. Therefore, you should have to throw away your older LGA 1151 motherboard if you plan to buy this CPU.
Intel Core i5-11400F – Best Low Budget Processor for Single-Threaded Workloads
Base Clock Speed: 2.6 GHz | Boost Clock Speed: 4.4 GHz | Cores/Threads: 6/12 | Socket: LGA 1200
Reasons to Buy:
- Ideal performance at a fairly low cost
- Compatible with Intel 400 and 500 chipsets
- Low TDP (65W)
The 11th Gen Intel Core i5-11400F is a processor that is ideally designed for achieving higher frame rates and lower latency in demanding AAA games. Although it comes with a 2.6 GHz clock speed out of the box and cannot be overclocked like a Core i9 9900K, it wins at single-core performance.
In single-thread CPU benchmark tests, the Core i5-11400F scores 3063 and beats the Core i9 9900K. The i9 9900K despite having a base clock speed of 3.6 GHz loses the single-core performance battle against the Core i5-10400F.
All of the credit goes to Intel’s latest architecture and Turbo Boost Technology 2.0 that efficiently clocks each core up to 4.4 GHz under heavy load.
Moreover, by spending less you get a CPU that is capable of performing better than high-end CPUs with more cores and clock speeds. If you are tight on budget and need a CPU that can easily render photos, videos, and let you play entry-level to mid-range titles, this is for you.
Although this CPU is fairly priced, the motherboard that it needs (LGA 1200) comes at a higher cost. However, you can find a good deal for an LGA 1200 motherboard on Amazon or eBay.
Finally, if you really don’t care about higher core counts and just need a decent-priced CPU for tackling single-threaded applications, go with the Core i5-11400F.
AMD Ryzen 7 3700X – Best AMD CPU with Efficient Single-Core Computing
Base Clock Speed: 3.6 GHz | Boost Clock Speed: 4.4 GHz | Cores/Threads: 8/16 | Socket: AM4
Reasons to Buy:
- Excellent price to performance ratio
- Low TDP
- Comes with stock CPU cooler
Over the few years, AMD has been jeweled for taking care of multicore tasks only. However, the AMD Ryzen 7 3700X breaks this myth apart by delivering ideal performance in single-threaded workloads like music production, video editing, content creation, and gaming.
Technically, if we compare this CPU with the Intel CPUs on our list, then it lags in single-core performance. With a score of 2687 on the benchmark test, the Ryzen 7 3700X is a no match to the latest generation of Intel chips. However, the 3700X beats the Intel Core i7-3770 in the per-core performance battle.
The good thing is that you can easily overclock this CPU up to 4.4 GHz with the Prism Wraith CPU cooler that comes with it right out of the box. By overclocking, you can expect this CPU to perform close to Core i9 9900K.
But if you don’t care about the short rendering times, and all you need is faster single-core performance, then Ryzen 7 3700X sits under your needs as well as budget. Unlike, the latest generation of Intel CPUs that need you to throw away your older motherboard, the Ryzen 7 3700X is compatible with older AM4 chipsets.
We highly recommend this chip if you want to hit higher frame rates in AAA games. At least in gaming, there isn’t much of a difference in the performance of a Core i9 9900K and AMD Ryzen 7 3700X. Obviously, Core i9 9900K holds more power on each core as compared to a Ryzen 7 3700X chip, but the difference is not that much to consider here.
AMD Ryzen 5 3600X – A Reliable Per Core Performance CPU
Base Clock Speed: 3.6 GHz | Boost Clock Speed: 4.4 GHz | Cores/Threads: 6/12 | Socket: AM4
Reasons to Consider:
- 35MB L3 Cache
- Suitable for content creation workloads
The last on our list of best single-core performance CPUs stand the AMD Ryzen 5 3600X. This is one of the all-time favorite processors of many gaming enthusiasts and content creations. It is because this low-budget chip shows great performance when dealing with individual threaded workloads.
There isn’t much of a difference in the performance of a Ryzen 3600 and 3600X. Both of these use the same amount of voltage to peak at 4.4 GHz.
However, the Ryzen 3600X shows slight improvement over the normal 3600 in single-threaded applications. Also, there’s a small price difference in both versions, so it’s better to stick with 3600X by paying a few more bucks.
In PassMark score, this CPU scored around 2582 as compared to a Ryzen 7 3700X. The thing is both of these CPUs come with a base clock speed of 3.6 GHz and have headroom up to 4.4 GHz for overclocking. But the thing that enables the Ryzen 7 3700X to score more than the Ryzen 5 3600X is the architecture.
The Ryzen 5 3600X, however, sits at the top of the Intel Core i7-3770 CPU in single-core computing. Obviously, there’s a huge generation gap between a Core i7-3700 and Ryzen 5 3600X. So, there’s no way we can say that AMD has taken a leap over Intel in single-core performance.
All in all, the Ryzen 5 is a great mid-range CPU for better gaming or general productivity tasks. After all, it’s the per-core juice that matters in increased performance, not the total number.
Single Thread Rating of All CPUs
|CPU||Individual Thread Score|
|Intel Core i9 9900K||2970|
|Intel Core i7-10700K||3081|
|Intel Core i5-11400F||3063|
|AMD Ryzen 7 3700X||2687|
|AMD Ryzen 5 3600X||2582|
Which is Better at Single-Core Computing Intel or AMD?
Based on the benchmarks scores, it is clear that the Intel CPUs are faster in single-threaded tasks as compared to AMD. Although AMD processors come with higher clock speed right out of the box, they lack features like Hyperthreading and Turbo Boost.
Although you can overclock your CPU to improve its individual core power, you’ll not see much of a difference other than improved frame rates in gaming.
Final Lines & Verdict
Summing up, these are the most reliable single-core performance processors to deal with single-threaded programs. Our recommendation is to go with a Core i9 9900K CPU if you really don’t care about the budget and need pure performance. You can expect this CPU to perform equally with single-core as well as multicore-based tasks.