The Top 5 Best CPUs of All Time

Discussion in 'Intel Processors' started by Kyle_Bennett, Aug 25, 2017.

  1. Kyle_Bennett

    Kyle_Bennett El Chingón Staff Member

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    The Top 5 Best CPUs of All Time

    This week we give you a look at what we think are the "best" CPUs off all time. Surely this is a highly subjective look back at all the CPUs we have been exposed to over the years, and you will very likely have some of your suggestions as well.
     
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  2. Armenius

    Armenius [H]ardForum Junkie

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    My very first PC had a 66 MHz Pentium in it. I played Doom and Doom 2 nonstop on that thing, always finding new maps and mods to try out.
     
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  3. VIC-20

    VIC-20 Gawd

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    I miss my Pentium Pro. I wish I would have kept it, even just to mount it on the wall or inside a clear epoxy mold.
     
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  4. Stoly

    Stoly [H]ardness Supreme

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    While I agree with pretty much all your picks (specially #1), I think AMD thunderbird and Barton deserve an honorable mention.
     
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  5. PhaseNoise

    PhaseNoise Gawd

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    In terms of what it did to the industry, 80386. The 286 was an abortion. The 386 worked, and flat memory made PC developers stop cutting on themselves. As much.

    For the amount of advancements in a CPU, Pentium. Very significant advancements from a cpuarch perspective, clearly heralded a new generation.
     
  6. he46570

    he46570 [H]Lite

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    I think the Celeron 300A should be there. I remember the 50% overclock!
     
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  7. OmegaAquinas

    OmegaAquinas [H]ard|Gawd

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    If the "Best overclocking" doesn't have the Celeron 300a, we're gonna fite.

    But yeah, the 2600K is an amazing CPU; having one that's able to still do day-to-day and gaming fully 6 years after its debut is unprecedented.
     
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  8. NoOther

    NoOther [H]ardness Supreme

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    The 300a was insane, I thought for sure it would be number 1. The 2600k, while a great processor, not sure it deserves number 1. Was it really that big a leap over its predecessors? I think it has more to say about the rest of the industry at the moment and the lackluster achievements of the past few generations than about the 2600k itself. I mean I am still rocking a 2600k, but I just don't necessarily see it as number 1 or ahead of some of the others on the list.
     
  9. shinotenshi

    shinotenshi [H]Lite

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    I would have put the core2 on the list over the i7
     
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  10. Armenius

    Armenius [H]ardForum Junkie

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    I think Kyle's note at the end of the article is specifically for you guys who were going to mention the Celeron 300A.
     
  11. EODetroit

    EODetroit [H]ard|Gawd

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    I agree with the list for the most part, but think the 300A should still have an honorable mention or lower ranking in this list. And then I expect it to win the overclocking list. I agree with the 2600k being #1 though, it was the last great mainstream generational leap, perhaps ever, and seeing how its still relevant today, its legend is still growing, unlike the others on this list.
     
  12. ole-m

    ole-m Limp Gawd

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    The 386 was a horrible chip, it was in fact really a crappy underpowered chip.

    I will agree if you state the best x86 chips however
    It was the first real start into the x86 we know today but if not limited to x86 the first arm should be there in its place. when the pentium arrived it was the first time x86 really had performance that was unseen like x86 did ever since.


    And yes I'm a bit ironic here too, I know this site only do x86
     
  13. dgingeri

    dgingeri 2[H]4U

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    I would have swapped the Athlon 64 and the PPro, but, yeah, I pretty well agree with you.
     
  14. dgingeri

    dgingeri 2[H]4U

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    Back then, all chips would be considered underpowered, and the 386DX was a substantial increase over them. It also expanded the instruction set to allow for 32-bit operations, which allowed for much more complex software. It was an incredible step forward that led to advances that eventually culminated with the Pentium4/Athlon era. Without it, we would have been stuck with text based systems for far longer.

    It deserves to be on this list. The engineers behind it were geniuses.
     
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  15. archalien

    archalien n00bie

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    Surprised The Intel Mobile Core line didnt make the list somewhere.....it changed laptop computing so drastically it set in motion the mobile first computing paradigm that we all love to moan about when someone posts desktop computing is dead.
     
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  16. Sulphademus

    Sulphademus Limp Gawd

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    Would certainly have Thunderbird Athlon on that list but not sure whom I would bump off.
     
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  17. VIC-20

    VIC-20 Gawd

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    Maybe at its release but seeing later models, such as 386DX 40Mhz, running X-Wing in a computer shop blew my mind and was far better than the early 25Mhz 486 offered at the same time period.
     
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  18. Stoly

    Stoly [H]ardness Supreme

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    Maybe Ryzen/ThreadRipper also deserve a spot for bringing back AMD into the race. Come to think of it, you should probably done a 10 best list :D:D
     
  19. serpretetsky

    serpretetsky [H]ard|Gawd

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    Not only that, I would argue that entire branch of processors PentiumM->Core->Core2 deserves to be on this list. Even while AMD64 was beating the crap out of intel netburst, PentiumM was slowly stirring and brewing into what would become the AMD killer. The i7-2600k is meh... i7 920 was more interesting in my opinion.
     
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  20. Croak

    Croak [H]ard|Gawd

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    386, A64 and 2600k are my longest running CPU purchases. Hell, I upgraded my XT clone system with an Intel Inboard 386 ISA board and used that thing for half a decade.

    Still rocking an overclocked 2600K bought in early 2011 as my main rig CPU. In that time I have had two Asus boards die on me (P8P67 Pro and Z77 Maximus Extreme V) and now using a super budget backup ASRock Pro-4M Z77 I bought when dabbling in crypto back in 2013, and the 6 year old, daily stressed 2600K is still stable at 4.7/1.3v on that low-rent board.
     
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  21. Sulphademus

    Sulphademus Limp Gawd

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    Well they did put the Pentium Pro on the list which was the progenitor of the Pentium 2, 3, M, and Core lines.
     
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  22. toddw

    toddw [H]ard|Gawd

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    Still rocking the 2500K as my daily driver.... of course wish I would have gotten the 2600K but hyperthreading didn't seem worth it (to me) in 2011
     
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  23. serpretetsky

    serpretetsky [H]ard|Gawd

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    This is true, but PentiumM is special in my heart because it coexisted while the rest of Intel was pushing netburst. It was like some sort of side renegade project. I never worked at Intel so obviously I dont know how true that is, but I like to imagine the pentiumM team were swashbuckling pirates that freed intel from the tyrany of netburst.

    edit: I guess if they had to choose a processor set out of that line it would be the core2
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2017
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  24. Sulphademus

    Sulphademus Limp Gawd

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    Swashbuckling Jewish Pirates.
     
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  25. MN Scout

    MN Scout [H]ardness Supreme

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    I like these new articles. Thanks for the read. I have a family member with a 2600k, I ran a 920 for many years, but agree that the 2600k is a better CPU due to the LARGE OC headroom.
     
  26. Darkswordz

    Darkswordz Limp Gawd

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    I have mixed feelings on this.

    The i7-2600K is #1 because of its longevity. But its longevity is due to the fact that Intel hasn't innovated in 10 years.

    Good for the 2600K, but bad for the rest of us.
     
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  27. Dekar12

    Dekar12 Gawd

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    2600ks were good, but I think the original i7 920, should have been there. It was basically Intels own Athlon 64 moment in cpu history.
     
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  28. HydrasunGQ

    HydrasunGQ Gawd

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    I was expecting to see the 300A on the list myself as well. I cant believe it didn't make the list.

    The 2600K is probably my second favorite. I had mine running 24/7 at 5GHz with an H80. Matter fact it could also run at 5.2GHz pretty stable but I preferred running it at 5GHz.
     
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  29. FrameBuffer

    FrameBuffer Limp Gawd

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    AMD 64 deserves to be higher.. considering just about everything that made the Core i everything it was/gained from predecessors came from AMD (integrated mem controller, x86-64, generational IPC increase.. etc). IMO 1. Pentium, 2. AMD 64, 3. 486DX, 4. Core i series, 5. AMD Athlon.. honorable mention, P-Pro/AMD K6
     
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  30. Rauelius

    Rauelius 2[H]4U

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    Editor's Note: Worth mentioning before you start commenting, we do have "The Best Overclocking CPUs of All Time" coming up next.

    So who's taking the top spot there? The 2600k or Celeron 300A? I give it to the 2600k...I had mine at 5.2Ghz (benches)/4.8Ghz(Daily) and it served me very well.

    My list would be:

    - Opteron 165 (Stock was 1.8Ghz, got mine to 2.8Ghz)
    - Athlon XP 2500+ (Overclocked it and Bios read it as an Athlon XP 3200+)
    - Celeron 300A (Never had one, but I heard of sick OCs on that chip)
    - Core i7 2600k - I won the lottery and got mine to 5.2Ghz on water, great chip)
    - Core 2 Q6600 - Another lottery win for me. Overclocked mine from the stock 2.4Ghz to 3.6Ghz, but just upping the voltage a little and setting bus speed from 266/1066mhz to 400/1600mhz .
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2017
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  31. Rauelius

    Rauelius 2[H]4U

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    Also good for 2600k owners.
     
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  32. NoOther

    NoOther [H]ardness Supreme

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    I would also be curious why Clarkdale doesn't make the list for including integrated graphics with the CPU? I would say that was a pretty significant step for Intel and the industry.
     
  33. dgingeri

    dgingeri 2[H]4U

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    Those who kept them. I didn't, and should have. I upgraded to the 3930k, and then the 4790k, and both upgrades were basically mistakes of spending more money with pretty much no advancement. I regret it many times I look at my current system.
     
  34. psimitry

    psimitry n00bie

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    I personally would swap the Athlon-64 and the 2600K.

    The 2600K is definitely an awesome processor, but the fact that it was a big performance jump forward over its predecessor doesn't make it the best CPU of all time. The A64 was an absolute game changer and really upset Intel's applecart. And it brought more innovation to it than any CPU since.

    Kinda. PentiumM was released because Netburst absolutely fucking sucked at being a mobile CPU. And I think that Intel was realizing at that time that their thought process of "JUST KEEP RAMPING CLOCK SPEED" was going to run into a nasty wall.

    I would suspect that their Israel lab's success with the PentiumM made Intel re-examine the P3 core that PM was based upon and enhance it for Core and Core2.
     
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  35. Gweenz

    Gweenz Gawd

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    The Celeron 300a was a $100 chip that outperformed a $900 Pentium when overclocked. Game set match.
     
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  36. Putz

    Putz I have a custom title

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    yep that top 5 in incomplete without a celeron 300A in there somewhere

    bp6 days were a blast...then again so were all the capacitors aBit used.
     
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  37. Ur_Mom

    Ur_Mom I'm Not Serious

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    I agree with this list. Each one of those you can point at and say they were really a huge step forward at the time. They weren't the incremental steps like we've had lately. It was a huge difference and something that made people take notice.

    The best overclocking ones should be a good list. The 300a will easily be #1. While the Celeron was pretty crap, the a series really made a splash with enthusiasts. The overclocks were great. It didn't make a huge splash in the overall marketplace, though. Nothing revolutionary that made even OEM's take notice and run with it.
     
  38. SomeoneElse

    SomeoneElse Gawd

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    I find myself lucky to own 2 of these CPUs listed here.
    The Athlon 64 and the Pentium ( had the 75mHz version).
    Since these to game changers i have been off the cycle so to speak. My jumps between these to CPUs have been bigger.
    I had an intel like 2ghz after the Athlon (can't remember which model it was). I went from that to the Core2 Exteme Quad core and from that i upgraded ( from 2007) to The i7 5820K 6 core CPU so my performance jumps have been huge, as well as the platforms for ram DDR to DDR2 then DDR4.
    The early version jumps were much more contrasting than the recent for sure. The good 'ol days.
     
  39. VirtualMirage

    VirtualMirage Limp Gawd

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    The way I view this article has more to do with memorable architectures than specific CPU models. The number 1 spot seems to be the only oddball exception here.

    The Celeron 300A (Mendocino) was based off of a "crippled" Pentium II platform. The Pentium II was an "upgrade" over the Pentium Pro. Since the Pentium Pro is already on the list, I don't see a reason why the Celeron 300A should be mentioned specifically. And when you think about it more, the only thing the Celeron 300A brought to the table was its extreme (for the time) overclocking potential. If you are going to give any recognition, recognize the Mendocino platform as a whole since it was the first retail CPU to have on-die L2 cache. Sure, the cache was only 1/4 of what the Pentium II's typically had (128KB vs 512KB), but the cache ran at full clock speed instead of half clock speed. That was quite an achievement for the time and is part of the reason the 300A performed so well against its Pentium II big brother when overclocked.

    As for candidates for the overclocking list, I would almost think the Pentium II "Deschutes" 333MHz (5x66MHz) CPU should be a qualifier. They were really built to be 500MHz CPUs, which Intel never marketed. Instead of trashing them (since it was towards the end of the Deschutes life), they locked them down to be a 5x66MHz CPU (many of the other Pentium II's had a 100MHz FSB). When this was discovered, many enthusiasts bought the "slower" CPU and kicked the FSB back up from 66MHz to 100MHz, giving an easy 167MHz boost (just a little over 50% overclock). They were even known to go well above 500MHz in overclocking capability.
     
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  40. Xyvotha

    Xyvotha Limp Gawd

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    Nothing to complain about this list. Only perhaps a honorable mention of the first Core 2.
    Nice article/series!
     
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