The Best competition for the best CPU in your next workstation is always red-hot, but perhaps never hotter than it is right now. There are so many different CPUs to choose from, and the “best” CPU is often highly-specific to your needs and budget.
That being said, some CPUs are undeniably impressive in any context. We’ve put together a list of the best workstation CPUs you can buy today and perhaps put into your future custom-built Titan workstation computer!
What to Look for in a Workstation CPU
A few things make a workstation CPU right for the job. First, we want lots of CPU cores and threads. Since most workstation workloads are highly-threaded, it makes sense to have many individual cores working on the problem. That’s not always the best way, of course, since some workstation applications such as CAD have traditionally not made good use of more than a handful of threads. In which case you should focus on a CPU that offers fewer cores, but great per-core performance. Then there are professional features such as high-end integrated data security and support for error-correcting RAM. If you’re working on sensitive scientific or engineering jobs or requiring very high levels of precision, these types of CPUs are crucial. However, if you’re a video editor, sound engineer, CAD professional, or do other professional work that doesn’t strictly need these features, you can get away with using high-performance consumer CPUs instead, which is why we’ve included some of the best examples of those processors in this list.
The Best Workstation CPU Overall: AMD Threadripper Pro 5995WX
AMD’s latest flagship workstation CPU comes with a mighty price tag but has similarly mighty performance numbers to back it up. If money is no object and you absolutely must crush that workload in the least amount of time possible, then there’s no substitute for this 64-core, 128-thread, 280W behemoth. The main downside, at least at the time of writing, is that getting your hands on one isn’t simply a matter of having the money in your bank account. This apex chip is being rolled out to corporate clients and companies like Industrial Light and Magic first, however, it won’t be long before anyone can buy a 5995WX to put into their own build. Independent benchmarks of the 5995WX show it absolutely crushing its predecessor, the 3955WX, so it certainly merits its top spot on this list!
The Best Mid-range Workstation CPU: AMD Threadripper Pro 5965WX
If you’re looking at the asking price of the 5995WX and getting that sinking feeling, don’t despair because the latest range of Threadripper Pro CPUs also includes a CPU that’s a fraction of the flagship’s price but offers massive amounts of performance nonetheless.
The Threadripper Pro 5965WX packs 24 cores, but with the same total TDP of the 64-core flagship. That means higher boost clocks and performance on a per-core basis. If your intended workload wouldn’t benefit from having more than 24 cores (and many don’t) then the 5965WX could be just the right tool for the job.
The Best Bang for Buck Workstation CPU: AMD Threadripper Pro 3955WX
Just because the 5000-series Threadripper Pro CPUs have arrived doesn’t mean that the 3000-series has suddenly disappeared. In fact, the 3955WX is now a fantastic deal for workstation users on a budget.
This 16-core, 32-thread CPU costs substantially less than the 5965WX and it offers nearly two thirds of the performance, so it remains a great choice for mid-range workstation builds while still offering professional features such as ECC RAM support.
The Best “Prosumer” CPU: Intel Core i9-12900K
While it has 16 cores, only half of them are high-performance, hyper-threaded cores. These processors can clock up to 5.2Ghz, while the efficiency cores can only reach 3.9Ghz and have a lower performance per clock to boot. However, that may be perfect for main professional users who can appreciate a cool and quiet workstation during day to day use which can nonetheless smash multithreaded workloads when required.
As a “K” desktop CPU, the 12900K has an unlocked clock multiplier making it possible to tap even more performance from the chip assuming you can provide adequate power and cooling,
The Best Budget Workstation CPU: Intel i5-12600K
The 12600K provide plenty of processing power for real-time applications such a video editing and CAD, while still offering enough multi-threaded performance to complete multi-threaded renders in usable timeframes. If your time is worth money, but you still have a more of the former than the latter, the 12600K represent incredible value at the budget end of the high-performance spectrum.