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Best CPU for Virtualization in 2021

Virtualization is an advanced process that helps us create virtual networks, servers, storage capacities rather than having a physical one. Also, it is one of the most cost-effective processes in the field of IT. CPU Virtualization is a more reliable way to handle multiple virtual resources at the same time. And choosing the right CPU for virtualization depends upon the features that want in your virtualization infrastructure. One of those features is the execute disable (XD) and no execute (NX) that prevent a CPU from running code in areas where there are more chances of malware attacks.

Both Intel and AMD CPUs are equipped with these execution bits along with LAHF and SAHF commands for better allocation of resources. Intel uses VT and AMD goes with AMD-V virtualization technology to take care of multiple virtual hosts connected to a single machine. And in this guide, we’ve rounded up some of the best CPUs for virtualization that handle huge workloads and are compatible with software like VirtualBox, VMWare, and Parallels.

Whether it’s about the Client-Side Virtualization, Virtual Desktop Infrastructure, or OS Streaming, these processors handle all these functions without any hassle.

List of the Best CPUs for Virtualization

Here are some of the best virtualization processors from both Intel and AMD to consider:

Intel Core i9-9900K – Best Overall CPU for Virtual Machine

Reasons to Consider

A future-proof CPU with enough cores and threads to handle demanding virtualization software. It comes with a boost clock speed up to 5 GHz for faster computing.


  • 8 Cores & 16 Threads
  • Compatible with LGA 1151
  • Base Clock Speed 3.6 GHz
  • Boost Clock Speed 5.0 GHz
  • 95W TDP
best processor virtualization
Image Source: Intel

No doubt, the Intel Core i9 9900K still stands as the best processor to deal with enterprise-based tasks like virtualization. And the reason behind that is its higher clock speed and cores. Even at the base clock speed of 3.6 GHz, this CPU has no parallel in performance.

On top of all, this processor comes enabled with Intel’s Virtualization Technology to shorten the downtime and maintaining the computing activities on multiple virtual platforms.

Also, Intel has introduced VT-d (Virtual Technology for Directed) to improve the security and reliability of your virtual machine. The VT-d also improves the performance of I/O devices that are connected in a virtual environment.

To take care of memory-demanding virtual applications, Intel has introduced the SLAT (Second Level Address Translation) in this chip. This technology helps in reducing the need for more memory and power, thus making your VM network more cost-effective.

All in all, the Core i9 9900K is one of those CPUs that readily improve the performance of your virtual machine. With Intel Boot Guard and Secure Keys, you get more peace of mind when installing this CPU in your network machine.

AMD Ryzen 5 2600X – Best Value AMD CPU for Virtualization

Reasons to Consider

The AMD Ryzen 5 2600X is one of the most highly rated CPUs when it comes to handling multiple applications on a virtual network. It has enough cores, clock speed, and features to be part of private virtual infrastructure.


  • 6 Cores & 12 Threads
  • Socket AM4
  • 3.6 GHz Base Clock Speed
  • 4.2 GHz Boost Clock Speed
  • 95W TDP
Best AMD ryzen CPU for virtualization
Source: AMD

The AMD Ryzen 5 2600X is a powerful multi-threaded processor with enough clock speed to handle virtual hosts in a VM network. If you want to run software like Oracle VM VirtualBox, then this is one of the most compatible CPUs to install on your machine. However, make sure to turn on the SVM mode in BIOS to get full advantage of the AMD-V technology.

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Apart from just boosting your performance in the virtual world, this CPU offers more reliable features like the AMD SenseMI and AMD Store MI Technology for faster data access. Ryzen CPUs are a beast when it comes to virtualization.

Ryzen processors also work really well with VirtualBox and KVM as well. We haven’t tested any other virtual applications like Parallel and VMware, but it won’t be a problem for this CPU to handle those as well.

Intel Core i5-8600K – Most Affordable Processor for Virtual Infrastructure

Reasons to Consider

Although it’s an older CPU from Intel, it excels in handling virtual networks due to its higher clock speed and advanced virtualization technology.


  • 6 Cores & 12 Threads
  • 3.60 GHz base clock speed
  • 4.3 GHz boost clock speed
  • LGA 1151
  • 95W TDP
reliable intel virtualization CPU
Source: Intel

The Core i5 8600K is one of those CPUs that have been a hot talk on online forums. Not only this CPU gives you unbeatable performance in gaming but also in enterprise-related tasks as well. If you going after a mid-range virtual machine setup, the Core i5 8600K will definitely save you few bucks without compromising on the performance.

Just like the Core i9 9900K, the 8600K also comes with security features like Secure Keys and Boot Guard. However, both CPUs are great at handling virtualization functions but the Core i9 9900K is 42% faster than the Core i5 8600 in virtualization.

if you want to deal with Linux virtual machines, then this CPU is great to handle that without any hassle. The Intel Virtualization technology on the top makes this processor handle multiple workloads across virtual infrastructures. This CPU has multiple cores that can run multiple VMS without any hassle. Just make sure you install the right CPU cooler with i5 8600K to keep the temperatures minimal.

Intel Core i7-7820X – A High End Processor for Virtualization Functions

Reasons to Consider

The Core i7-7820X is a high-end CPU with eight cores and 16 threads. Although this processor is expensive as compared to others on the list, it makes your virtual machine future-proof in performance.


  • 8 Cores & 16 Threads
  • 3.6 GHz base clock speed
  • 4.3 GHz boost clock speed
  • Only compatible with Intel X299 Series motherboards
a high-end processor for dealing with virtualization fucntions
Source: Intel

Although the X-Series CPUs are great for video editing, they also show ideal performance in virtualization as well. And the Intel Core i7-7820X is one of those CPUs that is a powerhouse when it comes to handling virtual loads. Indeed, it is one of the best CPUs for VMware and parallel virtualization software.

You can install up to 128GB of DDR4 ram with this CPU if you want to enhance the performance of your virtual infrastructure. It’s a great processor with strong multi-threaded performance to handle various virtual tasks at a single time.

Moreover, the Intel Turbo Boost, Hyper-threading, and protection features like AES make this processor a great deal for enterprise-based virtual networks. Just like the Intel Core i9 9900K, the i7-7280X is equipped with VT-d to enhance the performance of virtually connected I/O devices.

Also, this CPU supports the Enhanced Intel SpeedStep Technology to gain more performance while maintaining the power-conservation needs of virtual systems connected in a network.

Intel Pentium G4560 – A CPU for Low Budget Virtualization Network

Reasons to Consider

A wallet-friendly CPU with hyper-threading technology and a clock speed of 3.50 GHz. It comes with only 2 cores and consumes less power as compared to other high-end processors.


  • 2 Cores & 4 Threads
  • LGA 1151 Socket
  • 54W TDP
  • 3.5 GHz Clock Speed
  • Intel Virtualization Technology
a low budget CPU for Virtual machine build
Source: Intel

The G4560 is a dual-core processor for entry-level virtual machines inside a small office or home. This CPU holds all the necessary features to be a part of a cost-effective virtualized environment like higher clock speed, VT, and VT-d.

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You can accommodate up to 64GB of DDR4 ram with this processor. If you are building a virtual machine on a low budget, we recommend you to go after this CPU that just sits under the $60 price range. The Intel G4560 can easily handle up to 3 active VMs without any problem.

Make sure you have plenty of ram if you use a dual-core CPU for virtualization. It’s better if you go for at least 16GB of DDR4 ram in this case. If you are running more than 3VMs at a single time, we recommend you a CPU with more cores like AMD Ryzen 5 2600X or Core i9 9900K.

How to Pick the Best CPU For Virtualization

A CPU that isn’t a right fit for the virtualization infrastructure can increase downtime and negatively affect the overall performance. Therefore it is important to choose the most compatible CPU for your virtual machine. Here are some of the key factors to keep in mind before buying a CPU.

AMD or Intel

AMD and Intel are the two key players in the market when it comes to going after a CPU. It is important to note the specific requirements of your virtual network before choosing between an AMD or Intel CPU.

Intel offers virtualization features like VT-x & VT-d whereas AMD comes with AMD-V and AMD-Vi to take care of the virtual environment. However, Intel and AMD offer the same NX/XD bits features that prevent the processor from executing a code in restricted areas. Depending upon your virtual networks’ preferences, you have to choose in-between the Intel and AMD CPUs.

Don’t overlook at Hyper-threading

The next step is to identify which features of your CPU are more worthy in virtualization. Many people see hyper-threading as an important factor in improving the performance of virtual machines, this is wrong. Hyper-threading isn’t the only factor that helps in boosting the performance of your processor. The core that has only one execution engine can trigger delays in resource allocation.

Therefore, instead of looking at hyper-threading, it’s worth spending money on a CPU that comes with more cores. A CPU with more than 4 cores is ideal for virtualization as it can equally distribute the workload on all cores, thus reducing delays.

Minimizing with SLAT

The software used for virtualization can reduce the available resources for VMs. SLAT (Second Level Address Translation) is a feature that common in modern Intel and AMD CPUs to minimize the overhead and improves the virtualization performance by adding a cache. If the information already exists in that cache, the system resources aren’t needed for any further translation.

vCPU to VM Workload Ratio

Every virtual function or application has a seperate computing requirement inside a virtual infrastructure. Some VMs need just one CPU to work properly whereas others need more than two vCPUs. For instance, if an application needs one physical, assign one vCPU to see if it works or not. If the application shows lag or delays, allocate two vCPUs and then monitor the performance.

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