We had a blast with our LGA 1150 motherboards and CPUs. They gave us some of the best gaming experiences of our lives, but as is the case with all gaming hardware, they were never meant to be a permanent fixture in our builds. They were stepping stones we’ve long since skipped over, and now, unfortunately, they’re sinking into obscurity.
Not only does LGA 1150 not support any hardware released in the last half-decade, but they’re also completely discontinued. The only way to source them is to gamble on a ‘refurbished’ model, and you never know what sort of state they’ll show up in. They could work for 2 minutes or two years. There’s just no way of knowing.
In light of this, we’re politely drawing your attention to the next socket in line, the LGA 1151. This is one of the most flexible socket types in Intel history, capable of supporting Sky Lake, Kaby Lake, and Coffee Lake CPUs. It’s going to be relevant for years to come, so let’s take a look at the best LGA 1151 CPUs in the business.
Our Top Picks
The Intel Core i9-9900K is a shining example of just how relevant LGA 1151 is. Featuring 8 hyperthreaded cores, it’s a versatile CPU masterpiece great for gaming, working, general leisure time…you name it.
With epic clock speeds ranging from 3.6GHz to a mindblowing 5GHz, this processor has the goods to play all games pegged for future release, and it teams amazingly well with high-powered graphics cards.
If for some reason you wanted an even faster gaming performance than the i9-9990K, the only way you’re gonna get it is with the i7-9700K. As it’s a single-threaded CPU, it excels during focused tasks like gaming.
While it’s not quite as competent as the 9900K for multitasking, this octa-core beast can still handle anything outside of a professional productivity workflow, so it’s no less a versatile CPU. If you’ve got a powerful Z-Series LGA 1151 build in mind, we highly recommend looking into the 9700K.
Some just won’t need an octa-core processor, and that’s fine because you can snatch this hexa-core demon up for an absolute steal. Single-threaded for maximum pace during centralized tasks, the i5 9600K is a true force of nature.
A good fit in any high-end build, the 9600K has epic peak clock frequencies ensuring zippy loading times and hyper-responsiveness, so you can spend as much time as possible doing what’s important, gaming your heart out!
If you’re something of an OC enthusiast, you can read on, because you can’t overclock the 9400F outside of Intel Turbo Boost, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a fantastic gaming CPU. Combined with some aftermarket cooling, you can get it to stabilize between 3.9 and 4.1 GHz.
It doesn’t come with an integrated GPU, but as long as you’ve got a discreet card, that’s not a problem. Besides, to fill the void, Intel throws in a PCG 215C fan system. It’s not amazing, but we appreciate it all the same.
The Intel Core i3-9100 is a pure gaming CPU though and through. Its single-threaded quad-core architecture isn’t great for multitasking, the 6MB Smart Cache is very basic and not suitable for any sort of CAD programs, and it’s not overclockable.
Loaded with an Intel UHD 630 graphics card and boasting ridiculously juiced clock speeds, the only thing it really does is gaming, but it does it extremely well.
How We Choose
We weren’t kidding when we said that the LGA 1151 is one of the most versatile sockets in Intel history. With such wide compatibility, it makes for an insanely popular motherboard, even today. Supporting plenty of powerhouse CPUs and great chipsets, there isn’t all that much reason to upgrade just yet, so here at WePC, a lot of us haven’t.
That’s right, folks. We may be testing the latest and greatest in a professional capacity, but at the heart of many of our personal gaming rigs is an LGA 1151 motherboard. That’s how we know exactly which products to show you today. These are the CPUs that are so good, we’re still using them in 2021, and probably will for a good few years yet.
Things to Consider
As exciting as buying a new CPU is, especially when you’re possibly jumping multiple generations, there are a few key factors to consider before you make your decision.
Cores and Threads
The components that actually do the processing in your processor are known as cores. They’re the top dogs, handling all important data management and instruction executions. Core heavy CPUs aren’t always necessary, but generally speaking, the more you have, the better.
A core thread is a virtual component that handles instructions. Cores can be single-threaded (one each) or hyperthreaded (two each). A single hyperthreaded core can manage two instruction sequences concurrently, whereas a single-thread core can only handle one; however, two threads aren’t equivalent to two physical cores, as cores are more powerful. Single-thread cores are best for focused workflows, while hyperthreading supports intensive multi-application creative workflows.
Clock speeds work in conjunction with CPU cores to get things done. They determine how fast your cores can collect and interpret commands. It’s easy to get the roles of cores and clock speeds confused, but they are distinct from one another. A CPU with lots of cores can support lots of applications at the same time, but if it has disappointing clock speeds, interaction with these applications will be sluggish. On the flip side, a CPU with fewer cores and higher clock speeds will be able to run a small number of applications, but loading speeds and interaction will be nice and swift.
The architecture of a CPU is the general blueprint of its design. Almost every new generation of CPU is built on an architecture unique to the series. This is because older architectures aren’t capable of meeting the performance demands of newer technologies.
Microarchitectural shifts can be very subtle and focused or can be widespread and drastic. The general idea is that the new architecture allows the CPU to perform at a higher standard than the one that came before it. The best LGA 1151 CPUs are built using Intel’s Coffee Lake architecture.
Multitasking is an essential aspect of modern computing. There isn’t one person alive that doesn’t benefit from being able to run multiple programs and functions at the same time. If we had to queue our computational needs and tackle them one by one, we’d never see the light of day.
Lots of single-threaded cores are perfectly capable of multitasking, but hyperthreaded CPUs are the best of the best. They can support far more intensive parallel workloads, making them the CPU of choice for creatives
Best LGA 1150 CPU
Eight Hyperthreaded Cores – Thrives under a creative workload.
3.6GHz – 5GHz Clock Speeds – More than you need for modern gaming.
Integrated Graphics Card – The UHD 630 won’t outperform a discrete card, but it’s a nice touch.
Temperature – When pushed, it can reach well beyond 90°C.
Price – Premium power means premium price tag.
The Intel Core i9-9900K is still considered by a huge amount of gamers to be one of the best CPUs ever made, and we totally agree. Firstly, it’s an insane gaming CPU. Pair it with something like the GTX 1080 Ti or RTX 2080, and you’ll only ever see a fractional bottleneck.
Featuring eight hyperthreaded cores, it’s also capable of supporting incredibly challenging parallelizing workflows, so if you’re looking for a jack of all trades kind of CPU, this is undoubtedly the one you need.
Clock speeds don’t disappoint either. The base clock runs at a very respectable 3.6Ghz. That’s a high enough frequency for modern gaming on its own. The 5GHz Turbo Boost rate is just a brilliant show of power that ensures no matter what your workflow looks like, it never feels anything other than silky smooth.
The 9900K is a real diamond for overclocking, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention how hot this thing can get. If you plan on doing some manual tweaking, you’ll need one of these
Single-Threaded Speed – Raw LGA 1151 gaming speed.
3.6 – 4.9GHz Clock Speeds – All applications run with practically zero-latency.
Integrated Graphics Card – Same UHD 630 graphics card as the 9900K.
Thermals – You’ll need a nice cooler to get the most out of this hot-headed chip.
The i7 9700K is the fastest LGA 1151 CPU for gaming, period. That’s not our opinion, it’s just a fact. The truth is you just can’t beat a single-threaded performance when it comes to gaming, and this thing has 8 of them.
There’s no need to mourn the loss of hyperthreading either, as an octa-core processor is more than capable of supporting most standard multitasking. This means you’ve got the go-ahead to throw on some music, maybe download an album or open a bunch of tabs. It won’t ruin your gaming experience.
One of the reasons the 9700K is so amazing is the clock speed. Turbo Velocity Boost pushes it to 0.1GHz behind the capacity of the much more expensive 9900K, and it has the exact same 3.6Ghz base frequency too. One thing’s for sure, you’re never left waiting around with this CPU.
Built using the same Coffee Lake architecture as the 9900K, it should come as no surprise that this CPU can be pretty fiery too, so you may want to think about investing in an AIO thermal solution.
Single-Threaded Speed – These 6 cores go hell for leather.
3.7 – 4.6GHz Clock Speeds – We managed to hit a constant 4.4GHz using liquid.
Integrated Graphics – Preloaded with Intel’s UHD 630 card.
Price – probably the best bang for buck LGA 1151 CPU.
Not Great for Multitasking – For quality multitasking, you should go for an octa-core CPU.
We love our top two i9 and i7 picks; they’re awesome, but the truth is that the i5-9600K is the perfect CPU for most gamer’s needs. Let us tell you why…
The six single-threaded cores facilitate super high frame rates in both 1080p and 1440p resolutions, so as long as you’ve got something along the lines of a GTX 1660 Ti or RTX 2070, even demanding, fast-paced games play buttery smooth.
Obviously, it’s not got the multitasking chops of the i7 or i9, but that doesn’t mean you can’t mix it up a bit with a hefty selection of tabs and some music and whatnot. It just means that your 3D animators and other creatives will need something a little more capable.
The clock speeds of this unassuming CPU are excellent. The 3.7GHz base clock has both the i7 and i9 beat, and flicking on Turbo Boost lifts it to a maximum 4.6Ghz. With the standard for gaming falling between 3.5 and 4GHz, the i5-9600K is more than you’ll need for years to come.
Single-Threaded Speed – Efficient instruction execution for gaming.
4.1GHz Turbo Boost – Keep Boost on and gaming will be nothing but crisp and smooth.
Cooler Included – Comes with a fan, saving you a bit of money.
Price – Great for a budget build.
Low Base Clock Frequency – 2.9GHz isn’t suitable for gaming.
This is a somewhat controversial pick for gaming because the base clock speed rests at a pretty lackluster 2.9GHz, but you can push that to 4.1GHz using Turbo Boost. Intel switches up the graphics card for a fan, but to get the best performance out of it, you’ll need to pair it with a quality aftermarket air cooler (AIO probably isn’t worth it) and make sure Turbo Boost stays on in the BIOS.
Despite the iffy base clock, the i5-9400F doesn’t disappoint on the core front, featuring six super-fast single-threaded cores that work incredibly well with mid to high-tire graphics cards like the GTX 1660 Ti.
It features a slightly diminished 9MB Intel Smart Cache that does bring overall processing performance down, but it’s definitely not noticeable during gameplay. As it’s an F-Series chip, manual overclocking is off the table, even with a Z-Series board, but it’s more geared towards cheaper builds and H370 mobos anyway.
Single-Threaded Speed – The 9100 has fantastic single-core speeds.
3.6 – 4.2GHz Clock Speeds – It may have only 4 cores, but they’re uber efficient.
Integrated GPU – Image-ready out the box.
Quad-Core – Not suitable for threaded workflows.
Quad-core isn’t dead just yet, and the Intel Core i3-9100 is evidence! This processor doesn’t just get by, it’s a fully-fledged gaming monster. That’s about all it’s good for, but if that’s all you want, forget about all the other flash stuff further up the list, this is the chip for you.
Even though this is an entry-level LGA 1151 CPU, peak frequencies are unreal! The base clock starts at 3.6GHz, so you can run all your favorite games smoothly without even turning on Turbo Boost in the BIOS. If you did need to push it for maximum frames and loading times, you can hit 4.2GHz
What’s more, if you’re making the transition from LGA 1150, the 9100 acts as the perfect bridge. It’s affordable, allowing you to split your funds between CPU and motherboard, it’s way quicker than any LGA 1150 CPU you’ll have used, and it only draws 65 watts, so you won’t have to fork out for a new PSU.
Whether we like it or not, LGA 1150 is a sinking ship, and although we all feel a hint of the Captain’s obligations to go down with it, we assure you, you shouldn’t. Playing old games will eventually get, well…old, so why not treat yourself to one of these LGA 1151 CPUs and start having fun again.
You’d just need to read the box to understand why the 9900K is the best LGA 1151 CPU overall. The eight hyperthreaded cores make it an incredibly versatile processor capable of most modern computational applications, gaming being just one of them. If that’s overkill for your needs, the i7-9700K is a gaming powerhouse and comes without quite as much multitasking potential.
We think the i5-9600K has the widest appeal of all our picks because it sits right in the middle of the pack. It’s a brilliant gaming CPU and it has plenty enough processing power to support leisurely multitasking.
The i5-9400F offers a similar sort of performance for gaming and general use, but it can’t be overclocked, so it’s not worth pairing with a Z-series motherboard. It’s for those who just want to sit down and game already.
Last but not least, we have the game-minded monster, the i3-9100. If you already have a laptop for work and general usage, this is the perfect standalone gaming CPU for a quality desktop build.