5 Best CPU for Coding in 2021

Last Updated on May 30, 2021

If you plan to build a rig of your own, the processor will most certainly be most integral part of your workstation.

The choice of the CPU would not only define your budget, but also the type of coding, its complexity and the level of your project.

For instance a beginner coder working on a simple web app would have a drastically different CPU requirements as compared to same working on a complex game development project.

Here we look at the best CPU for coding in relation to different levels of expertise. As is the case with most professional builds, we will not look into the entry level processors. We generally recommend looking at high performance processors. However, mainstream processors can also work for beginner and intermediate users.

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Top CPU for Coding Compared

ProductClock
Speed
CoresThreadsSocketCheck
Price
Intel Core i9
10900K
5.3
GHz
1020LGA
1200
Buy at
Amazon.com
AMD Ryzen 9
3950X
4.7
GHz
1632AM4
Buy at
Amazon.com 
AMD
Ryzen 7
3800XT
4.7
GHz
816AM4
Buy at
Amazon.com
Intel
Core i7
10700K
5.1
GHz
816LGA
1200
Buy at
Amazon.com
Intel
Core i5
10600K
4.8
GHz
612LGA
1200
Buy at
Amazon.com

List of Best CPU for Coding in 2021

The following is a list of mainly high performance CPU that you can use for your PC build. It is a mix of AMD and Intel models.

  1. Intel Core i9-10900K – Recommended High Performance CPU for Coding
  2. AMD Ryzen 9 3950X – Recommended for Robust Multitasking
  3. AMD Ryzen 7 3800XT – For a Reasonably High End PC Build
  4. Intel Core i7-10700K – Great Single Core Performance
  5. Intel Core i5-10600K – Mainstream Processor for Budget Build

What is the Processor Requirement for Coding?

As is the case will all professional fields, the CPU that you get depends a lot upon your coding requirements.

The fact of the matter is that even a Single Core CPU would be quite sufficient for running a simple linear code, however, if you are reading this, then we can assume that you have at least a modest demand for a CPU.

What Kind of Work Do You Intend to Work?

There is no right answer to what the best processor for Coding is. PC builder will generally inquire what your coding requirements are if you ask them to recommend a CPU to you.

For instance, if your coding deals with Data Science where you have very very large data sets that you need to work with and correlate information with multiple data sets, then you will certainly need as powerful a system as you can get.

In such instances both excellent singe core performance (including clock speed) as well as a high core count would matter.

Similarly, if you are developing a game, then the type of processor you choose would also depend upon the complexity of the game you are building. The more complex the game, the more cores you will need, albeit a cool 6-8 cores CPU would be great for most intermediate requirements.

Single vs Multi Core Performance

If you have several instances of Visual Studio, Blender, Browser tabs, SQL server instance and VMWare operating at the same time, then well, you can already guess that you will need a powerful processor with a high Core count

On the other hand, if you working highly focused on a single app, like a web app, then you will benefit from a better Single Core performance, or a higher clockspeed.

So there is no right answer, albeit we would advice to keep a balance of single core / multi core performance at any given budget and also advice against entry level CPUs if you want to save yourself from future frustration.

We Recommend High Performance CPUs

best CPU for coding
Gauging your coding requirement is the first step to deciding what processor you need.

Most of the professional coding tasks require having a good high performance processor from the Intel Core i9, Core i7 or Ryzen 9, Ryzen 7 series. The choice would depend upon your budget.

If you are just a student learning the ropes of the Computer Science and coding basic programs, you can even get away with the latest gen entry level Core i3 and Ryzen 3 processors.

However, if you plan to build a decent coding PC, we recommend at least a mainstream Core i5 or Ryzen 5 CPU if budget is a concern.

What About Workstation CPUs

Certain coding tasks and compiling require as many cores as you can give them, Data Science, is one example.

In such situations, professionals usually spend a hefty amount on workstation grade CPU such as the AMD Threaripper or Intel Core Extreme processors or Intel Xeon processors.

These feature an extreme number of cores easily going beyond 32 cores and 64 threads.

As you would expect, these are also seriously expensive. Hence whether you need to invest multiple grands in a Workstation CPU is entirely upon your work needs.

After all, if you have the budget to invest in a workstation CPU, then chances are that you know exactly what you are investing in and what your requirements are. Hence, this article may be irrelevant for you.

1. Intel Core i9-10900K – Recommended High Performance CPU for Coding

If you are looking to build a semi-workstation grade desktop for coding, then getting your hands on a powerful CPU is the first step.

A processor like Intel Core i9-10900K is only next in line after supremely expensive AMD Threadripper and Intel Core Extreme and Xeon processors.

Hence, for an individual who performs industrial level of coding for cutting edge game, software, AI, embedded systems etc development but if 32, 64 core cpus are beyond your reach, then this is one the best CPU for coding we can recommend.

Generally, coders with a higher than 10-16 cores requirements tend to hire hosted servers anyways.

However, if you need a powerful in house rig, then this is something that you can certainly look into.

Intel Core i9-10900K Cinebench R20 Benchmark

  • Since Core: 539
  • Multi Core: 6399

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2. AMD Ryzen 9 3950X – Recommended for Robust Multitasking

Next up we have another high performance CPU but for an AMD setup.

While being in the same price range as the Intel Core i9-10900K above, there a few things that this processor does differently.

While it has a lower max clockspeed of 4.7 GHz as compared to 5.3 GHz in the processor above, it does have a higher core count of 16 cores with 32 threads which gives this an excellent multi core performance.

Hence the choice between this processor and the Core i9-10900K above would generally boil down to the type of coding you do.

Is your coding and development reliant on single core performance? Then i9-10900K is the way to go. Do you perform heavy multitasking or do coding and compilation that makes use of multiple cores efficiently? Then this is best CPU for coding for you.

AMD Ryzen 9 3950X Cinebench R20 Benchmark

  • Since Core: 531
  • Multi Core: 9148

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3. AMD Ryzen 7 3800XT – For a Reasonably High End PC Build

High Performance processors like the Ryzen 9 and Core i9 can still get quite expensive for many users. That is where the high-end processors like the AMD Ryzen 7 and Core i7 CPU come into play.

These processors generally have a single core performance on par with the high performance processors above, but lag behind in multi core performance due to a lower core count.

This particular processor has 8 cores and 16 threads with a decent 4.7 GHz max core speed.

Generally, an 8 core processor is generally seen as more than sufficient more most intermediate and indie developers.

Hence for fairly complex projects, this is one of the best CPU for coding to go for.

AMD Ryzen 7 3800XT Cinebench R20 Benchmark

  • Since Core: 539
  • Multi Core: 5122

Shop Now at Amazon.com

4. Intel Core i7-10700K – Great Single Core Performance

This is an another high end processor but for an Intel build. It costs slightly cheaper than AMD Ryzen 7 3800XT but nevertheless offers an excellent performance.

Surprisingly, this high performance Intel processor has a better multi core performance than its AMD counterpart above. Usually, the case is the other way around, AMD has a better multi-core performance whereas Intel excels in Single Core.

In any case, if you want to build a high end programming and development build for your intermediate levels of work, then this is one of the best CPU for coding.

The processor features 8 cores and 16 threads with a max clock speed of 5.1 GHz per core.

Intel Core i7-10700K Cinebench R20 Benchmark

  • Since Core: 524
  • Multi Core: 5292

Shop Now at Amazon.com

5. Intel Core i5-10600K – Mainstream Processor for Budget Build

Finally, here we have the most affordable CPU we can recommend if you are serious about coding and software development.

Anything lower than this can hinder your performance with complex projects.

However, do note that even the inferior Core i3 or Ryzen 3 processors are capable of coding. In fact, the Athlon and Celeron processors can allow you to code as well.

Coding on a text editor is task that almost any processor can handle even the single core Pentium processors from two decades ago can allow you to write block of code on a text editor.

However, whether they can allow you to do complex coding, software development, or work on large projects is another story.

This processor is basically for intermediate users who are serious about coding or software development but have a limited budget.

If the high end and the high performance processors above are too expensive for you, then this is the best CPU for coding if you take the performance per dollar value.

This processor offers 6 cores and 12 threads and has a max clock speed of 4.8 GHz.

Intel Core i5-10600K Cinebench R20 Benchmark

  • Since Core: 501
  • Multi Core: 3629

Shop Now at Amazon.com

Final Words

Coding is a vast umbrella term and relates to a multitude of fields and project sizes. From writing a “Hello World” code all the way to working on cutting edge AI or Data Science projects, all require coding.

The process of writing the code itself is not demanding at all. Any processor can allow you to write a block of code on a text editor. It is the process of compiling and running the code and its complexity that determines what kind of hardware you want.

If you have read this article, we can assume that you are looking for a well balanced processor that can allow you to not just code, but also run your sophisticated codes with ease.

Hence the best CPU for coding mentioned here are mostly high performance, or high end processors generally meant for professional coders and developers.

Atif Qazi

Atif Qazi is the founder of PCGearLab. He is a PC enthusiast as well as engineer with a keen interest in PC hardware and all stuff related to tech and games.

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