6 Best CPU For Virtual Machines – Expert Reviews

Virtualization is the creation of a virtual version of something for example a virtual machine or computer.

Virtualization is a useful process in increasing efficiency whilst reducing expenses.

Being able to run several virtual machines on a single physical computer is going to be much cheaper than buying several physical computers.

However, to successfully run virtual machines your computer should be powerful. A powerful CPU, lots of RAM, and in some cases, GPU should provide great performance.

CPUs are the most important hardware when building a desktop or workstation for virtualization.

Choosing the wrong one can result in sub-par performance, disappointments wasted money, and time.

For this reason, we have reviewed the best CPU for virtualization that provides the best results and performance.

What Is The Best CPU For Virtualization?

  • Intel Xeon Platinum 8180 – Best Xeon for Virtualization
  • Intel Core i9 – Best Multi-core From Intel
  • AMD Ryzen 9 – Best Multi-core From AMD
  • AMD Ryzen 7 – Best Value
  • Intel Core i7 – Best Value
  • AMD Ryzen 5 Pro – Best Budget

Position
First Place
Runner Up
Best Budget
Snapshot
Intel Xeon Platinum 8180 SR377 28-Core 2.5GHz 38.5MB LGA 3647 Processor (Renewed)
Intel Core i9-11900K Desktop Processor 8 Cores up to 5.3 GHz Unlocked LGA1200 (Intel 500 Series & Select 400 Series Chipset) 125W
AMD Ryzen 5 2600 Processor with Wraith Stealth Cooler - YD2600BBAFBOX
What You Need To Know About The GPU

The ultimate processor for running servers and virtual machines.

Intel’s top and most powerful processor in the core family series.

Fantastic budget CPU for running virtual machines.

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Rating
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Position
First Place
Snapshot
Intel Xeon Platinum 8180 SR377 28-Core 2.5GHz 38.5MB LGA 3647 Processor (Renewed)
What You Need To Know About The GPU

The ultimate processor for running servers and virtual machines.

Prime
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Rating
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Position
Runner Up
Snapshot
Intel Core i9-11900K Desktop Processor 8 Cores up to 5.3 GHz Unlocked LGA1200 (Intel 500 Series & Select 400 Series Chipset) 125W
What You Need To Know About The GPU

Intel’s top and most powerful processor in the core family series.

Prime
Rating
Position
Best Budget
Snapshot
AMD Ryzen 5 2600 Processor with Wraith Stealth Cooler - YD2600BBAFBOX
What You Need To Know About The GPU

Fantastic budget CPU for running virtual machines.

Prime
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Rating

Last update on 2021-12-07 at 21:52 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


Preview
Name
CPU Speed
 
Intel Xeon Platinum 8180 SR377 28-Core 2.5GHz 38.5MB LGA 3647 Processor (Renewed)
Intel Xeon Platinum 8180
2.5 GHz
Intel Core i9-11900K Desktop Processor 8 Cores up to 5.3 GHz Unlocked LGA1200 (Intel 500 Series & Select 400 Series Chipset) 125W
Intel Core i9
3.7 GHz
AMD Ryzen 9 5900X 12-core, 24-Thread Unlocked Desktop Processor
AMD Ryzen 9
3.7 GHz
AMD Ryzen 7 5800X 8-core, 16-Thread Unlocked Desktop Processor
AMD Ryzen 7
3.8 GHz
Intel Core i7-11700K Desktop Processor 8 Cores up to 5.0 GHz Unlocked LGA1200 (Intel 500 Series & Select 400 Series Chipset) 125W
Intel Core i7
3.6 GHz
AMD Ryzen 5 2600 Processor with Wraith Stealth Cooler - YD2600BBAFBOX
AMD Ryzen 5
3.8 GHz

Best CPU For Running Virtual Machines Reviewed


Pros

  • Insane multi-core performance
  • Max memory size 768GB

Cons

  • Pricey
  • Power-hungry

Operating Frequency: 2.5 GHz | Max Frequency: 3.8 GHz | Number of Cores and Threads: 28 cores and 56 threads | L3 Cache: 38.5 MB | TDP (Thermal Design Power): 205W

The ultimate processor for running servers and virtual machines. The Intel Xeon is a beast in its own right.

A powerful processor that is power-hungry (205W) and requires a powerful PSU for it to reach its full performance. It has 28 cores and 56 threads with a maximum clock speed of 3.8GHz.

This means each core can achieve a max clock speed of 3.8GHz, insane right? One of the major reasons why Intel Xeons are favored in servers and running multiple virtual machines.

Because performance is not really an issue here. Moreover, the Intel Xeon can support ECC memory of up to 768GB. Most CPUs can support 64GB-128GB.

Intel Xeon processors can support more than that. Also, ECC memory is very important in virtualization.

ECC short for error correction code detects and corrects memory errors preventing data corruption. Fast processors like Intel Xeon require ECC memory to prevent such occurrences.

The Intel Xeon Platinum is a very powerful processor. We consider it the best Intel Xeon processor for virtualization and an excellent CPU for servers too.

However, the performance comes at a price. High power consumption and the fact that the CPU is expensive.


Pros

  • Very fast processor
  • Can be overlocked

Cons

  • Runs hot compared to its other competitors
  • Requires a powerful cooler
  • Power-hungry

Operating Frequency: 3.7GHz | Max Frequency: 5.3GHz | Number of Cores and Threads: 10 cores and 20 threads | L3 Cache: 20MB | TDP (Thermal Design Power): 125W

Intel’s top and most powerful processor in the core family series.

The Intel Core i9 is a popular choice amongst enthusiast gamers and content creators. In other words, this is a powerful CPU and has the performance to run several virtual machines.

10 cores and 20 threads with a max clock speed of 5.3GHz is amazing processing power.

Furthermore, you can overclock the Intel Core i9 to squeeze out more performance. But, with every good thing the processor has negatives.

First, this CPU runs hot and requires a powerful cooler to prevent thermal throttling. If you decide to overclock it make sure you really get a powerful cooler.

Finally, the TDP is 125W, it’s power-hungry, and requires a good PSU to sufficiently power it.

Overall, the Intel Core i9 is a powerful processor. Intel’s top CPU in the core series family and the best CPU for running virtual machines.


Pros

  • Best multi-core performance
  • Overclockable
  • Power efficiency
  • Good price-to-performance ratio

Cons

  • No cooler included
  • Can’t be overclocked a lot

Operating Frequency: 3.7 GHz | Max Frequency: 4.8GHz | Number of Cores and Threads: 12 cores and 24 threads | L2+L3 Cache: 70 MB | TDP (Thermal Design Power): 105W

If the AMD Ryzen Threadripper is considered the god of multi-core performance. The AMD Ryzen 9 is the king.

One of the few top processors to have insane multi-core performance making it a solid choice for virtualization.

You are looking at 12 cores and 24 threads with a boost clock speed of 4.8GHz. Moreover, it runs cooler and runs efficiently. Something not common in powerful processors.

Compared to the Intel Core i9, it has more cores, runs cooler and power-efficient whiles it is similarly priced. The only advantage the Intel Core i9 has is being able to overclock a lot.

The AMD Ryzen 9 can be overclocked but not as much as the Intel Core i9.

So, if you are experienced in overclocking, the Intel Core i9 would be the best option provided you have a powerful power CPU and cooler.

Also, there isn’t a bundled cooler for the AMD Ryzen 9 so you have to purchase that one separately.

To sum it all up, the insane multi-core performance of the AMD Ryzen 9 makes it one of the best CPUs for virtualization.

A CPU that has a lot of cores make it easy to run virtual machines. Hence, we highly recommend it for virtualization or other demanding purposes.


Pros

  • Excellent multi-core performance
  • Great value
  • Runs cool
  • Power-efficient

Cons

  • Doesn’t come with a cooler
  • Can’t be overclocked much

Operating Frequency: 3.8 GHz | Max Frequency: Up To 4.7 GHz | Number of Cores and Threads: 8 Cores and 16 Threads | L3 Cache: 36MB | TDP (Thermal Design Power): 105W

A beast in its own right and a direct competitor to the Intel Core i7. The AMD Ryzen 7 will easily handle virtualization.

A 36MB L3 cache, 4.7 GHz boost clock, 8 cores, and 16 threads make it one of the best value CPUs on the market.

You can easily see why the AMD Ryzen 7 is highly favored amongst enthusiasts. You won’t have any performance problems when it comes to running virtual machines and demanding applications.

Powerful CPUs are known to be power-hungry and run hot. But AMD made the Ryzen 7 power-efficient and runs cool compared to other powerful processors.

Unfortunately, a CPU cooler is not included. So, you have to purchase it separately. We highly recommend you get a powerful cooler.

In terms of value, AMD Ryzen 7 has the best price-to-performance ratio. You won’t find many CPUs with high clock speeds and several cores whilst being affordable.

Overall, this is the best CPU for virtualization in terms of the price-to-performance ratio you can get from AMD.


Pros

  • Great performance
  • Overclockable

Cons

  • Runs hot
  • Power-hungry

Operating Frequency: 3.6 GHz | Max Frequency: 5.0 GHz | Number of Cores and Threads: 8 cores and 16 threads | L3 Cache: 16MB | TDP (Thermal Design Power): 125W

The Intel Core i7 is a popular CPU for virtualization because it provides a great balance between performance and affordability.  

A highly recommended CPU you will not go wrong when you buy this for virtualization.

First, let’s look at the downsides.

The Intel Core i7 like all other Intel CPUs runs hot and requires powerful coolers. A sub-par cooler will result in CPU throttling since heat reduces the performance.

Finally, it’s a power-hungry CPU just like the Intel Core i9. Both have the same TDP of 125W.

You could say the Intel Core i7 is an i9 with fewer cores except that the i9 has more performance with the same TDP.

Now for the good part.

The Intel Core i7 is quite affordable and provides great performance.

A 8 core and 16 thread CPU with a max clock speed of 5 GHz is a lot of performance. Hence one of the many reasons why gamers, content creators, etc. prefer the Intel Core i7.

Finally, you overclocking the Intel Core i7 is easy to do if you want more performance.

Just make sure your cooler and PSU can handle the increase in heat and power consumption respectively.

Overall, the Intel Core i7 is a great value CPU for running virtual machines. It has the numerous cores and performance to do so making it a popular choice in the virtualization community.


Pros

  • Best budget CPU
  • Plenty of performance
  • Affordable and great value  
  • Bundled cooler
  • Power-efficient

Cons

  • No integrated graphics 

Operating Frequency: 3.7 GHz | Max Frequency: 4.6 GHz | Number of Cores and Threads: 6 Cores and 12 Threads | L3 Cache: 35MB | TDP (Thermal Design Power): 65W

The AMD Ryzen 5 is literally the best budget CPU for virtualization. At its budget price, it is a powerful CPU. And it doesn’t stop there.

The multi-core and single-core performance make it great for a lot of demanding applications. You can easily run several virtual machines without any problems. You won’t find many processors in its price range with 6 cores and a max clock speed of 4.6 GHz.

Furthermore, it comes with a bundled cooler which makes it a great value buy. The AMD Ryzen 5 is more power-efficient compared to the Intel processors and runs cool under demanding loads.

Overall, the AMD Ryzen 5 checks all the boxes except for one thing – no integrated graphics.

To be honest, it’s not much of an issue because it has plenty of performance and you will definitely pair the CPU with a decent GPU when setting up your virtualization PC. 

The AMD Ryzen 5 has insane value when compared to other similarly priced processors.

Runs cool, is cheaper, and has more cores than other CPUs in its price range. It stands to reason that in terms of value.

This is the best CPU for virtualization if you are on a tight budget.


Frequently Asked Questions

Are Xeon Processors Good For Virtualization?

Intel Xeon processors are great for virtualization. They are powerful processors that have high clock speeds and numerous cores.

Because of their performance, Intel Xeons are used in server workstations or workstations needed to run several virtual machines.

How Many Cores Do I Need For Virtualization?

4 or more cores are needed for virtualization. Anything less and you are shooting yourself in the foot.

Virtualization is a demanding task and the more cores a CPU has the better it will run virtual machines.

However, there low performing CPUs that have several cores.

Do not go for those ones. But, rather go for high-performance CPUs that have 4 cores or more with high clock speeds.

  • Intel Core i5-i9
  • Intel Xeon
  • AMD Ryzen 5-9
  • AMD Ryzen Pro
  • AMD Threadripper

The CPUs listed above are highly recommended for virtualization. Because they have high clock speeds and numerous cores. Choose any CPU from that family and you will be fine.

Which Processor Is Better For Virtualization?

High-performance processors with high clock speeds and 4+ cores are better for virtualization.

Is i7 Good For Virtualization?

Yes, Intel Core i7 is good for virtualization. It’s a high-performance CPU that has a lot of cores and threads with high clock speeds.  

Is Intel Or AMD Better For Virtualization?

There are a lot of factors to look out for when choosing either Intel or AMD for virtualization.

You have to consider the TDP, the number of cores, clock speed, budget, cooling solutions, and the purpose of running virtual machines.

Depending on these factors Intel might be better than AMD or vice versa. You have to take a good hard look at others to choose the right one for your needs.

Both companies make very powerful CPUs and each has its own advantage.

For example, if you are looking for serious multi-core performance in your virtualization, then AMD will be the right choice.

If you plan on running numerous virtual machines for thousands of users Intel Core i7 – i9, AMD Ryzen 7-8, AMD Ryzen Threadripper Pro, and Intel Xeon are the best CPUs for that purpose.

Are More Cores Better For Virtualization?

Yes, the greater the number of cores the greater the performance. More cores mean more performance and less chance of running into problems when running several virtual machines.

Final Thoughts

Depending on the number of virtual machines you want to run and the budget. Each of the CPUs listed here will fit into your goals.

Intel Xeons are the best when looking for insane performance and to run several virtual machines followed by the top processors in the Intel Core and AMD Ryzen family.

That’s it for the best CPU for virtualization.

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