Best CPUs for Gaming

Best CPUs for Gaming

We performed both synthetic and in-game benchmarks to assess each chip’s speed, as well as component support, power efficiency, and peak temperatures, before arriving at a final score and judgment.

With so extensive testing, we can confidently state that these are the Best CPUs for Gaming alternatives we’ve examined thus far. However, keep in mind that the Intel Raptor Lake Series will come with even more options in October 2022, so it may be worth waiting until then before making a purchase.

Saving money on a CPU allows you to splurge on other components such as a larger SSD, a better motherboard, and maybe even a better graphics card. It’s not about being cheap; it’s about spending your money wisely so that you get the most gaming bang for your buck.

Be sure to check out our many other buying guides, including the Best CPU for RTX 2080, Best AM4 CPU, Ryzen CPU with integrated graphics, Best CPU with Integrated Graphics, Best CPU Under $100, best CPU under 200, Best CPU under $300 and Best CPUs Under $400.

Every chip on this list has passed our rigorous CPU benchmarking suite on our PC Gamer test rigs. Because we’re all content makers and broadcasters now, this includes a plethora of the most recent games as well as 3D and video rendering workloads. However, for obvious reasons, games are the most essential examination for us.

Before purchasing a new CPU, examine which model is most suited to your needs and the sort of games you love. This list of the Best CPUs for Gaming in 2023.

Our Recommendations Top 10 Best CPUs for Gaming

Intel Core i5 12600K

Best Performance CPU For Gaming

Intel Core i5 12600K - Best CPUs for Gaming
Intel Core i5 12600K (Image credit: Amazon)

Specifications: Cores: 6+4 | Threads: 16 | Base Clock: 3.7 GHz P-core, 2.8 GHz E-core | Boost Clock: 4.9 GHz P-core, 3.6 GHz E-core | Overclocking: Yes | L3 Cache: 20MB | TDP: 125W

Intel’s 12th Generation Alder Lake CPUs represent a critical return to form for the company. When it was initially launched, its underlying hybrid design was viewed as a risk, with its combination of horsepower and frugal cores not offering much to the desktop experience. However, the bet has certainly paid off, and the gaming performance provided by Intel’s current CPUs is nothing short of fantastic.

The Core i5 12600K is the standout CPU for gamers since it not only provides excellent gaming performance across the board, but also does it at a reasonable price. It not only exceeds the similarly priced 5600X in almost every game, but it also excels the $750 Ryzen 9 7950X in several tests. The fact that it easily outperforms the Core i9 11900K is just the frosting on the cake. Not bad for a $320 mid-range processor.

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Because this is a new platform, you’ll need to purchase a new motherboard as well as new memory—Alder Lake supports both DDR5 and DDR4 memory. That means the initial investment may be higher than expected, but the performance is well worth it, and it isn’t a power-hungry beast, so you won’t need an outrageous cooler to get the most out of it. With support for PCIe 5.0 in the future, we have a new gaming CPU king. The king must reign forever.

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Pros

  • The finest gaming CPU
  • More powerful than the Core i9 11900K
  • Alder Lake chip that is more efficient
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Cons

  • Ryzen is still more power-demanding.
  • Some games do not play well with it.

Intel Core i5 12400

Best Budget CPU For Gaming

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Intel Core i5 12400 (Image credit: Amazon)

Specifications: Cores: 6 | Threads: 12 | Base Clock: 2.5 GHz | Boost Clock: 4.4 GHz | Overclocking: Kinda | L3 Cache: 18MB | TDP: 65W

The Core i5 12400 is quickly approaching legendary status in the Alder Lake range, because of its unmatched ability to overclock in places it shouldn’t. The lack of a ‘K’ at the end of the Core i5 12400’s moniker should indicate its lack of overclocking potential, however somewhere in the silicon, there is the possibility for BCLK overclocking.

With a motherboard that could make use of the Core i5 12400’s overclocking potential, we were able to gladly push this little chip that could to 5.2GHz. It didn’t run too hot or use too much power to do it, however, you should consider cooling potential before doing this.

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Similarly, Intel does not advocate anyone do this though this is true of almost all overclocking nowadays. If non-K-series overclocking is the only reason you’re considering getting this chip, keep that in mind.

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Pros

  • Excellent stock performance
  • Low power from 65W eliminates the need for a large chiller.
  • When overclocked, it really goes.
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Cons

  • A completely new motherboard is required.
  • BCLK OC might be patched out.

Intel Core i9 12900K

Best Graphic CPU For Gaming

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Intel Core i9 12900K (Image credit: Amazon)

Specifications: Cores: 8+8 | Threads: 24 | Base Clock: 3.2 GHz P-core, 2.4 GHz E-core | Boost Clock: 5.2 GHz P-core, 3.9 GHz E-core | Overclocking: Yes | L3 Cache: 30MB | TDP: 125W

The fact that the Core i5 12600K gets the top slot is impossible to disagree with—awesome performance at a reasonable price will accomplish that—but Intel’s top processor taking third place may be a bit more unexpected. The logic here is that the great majority of gamers should choose the Core i5, leaving this position for individuals who want even more power.

If you’re creating a high-end PC for more than only high-end 4K gaming, but also for more serious hobbies like 3D rendering and video editing, this is the chip for you. It’s a beast, no doubt, but it requires a system designed around it to shine—you’ll need a massive PSU to get the most out of it, and a decent cooler wouldn’t hurt either. The fact that there is lots of overclocking headroom will also allow you to take it to a whole new level.

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Whenever it regards gaming performance, this is by far the fastest processor on the market. The problem is that you only get a few extra frames per second than our top pick, and you have to spend a lot for it. Even if you’re buying an ‘enthusiast’ class CPU, you should consider overall value for money.

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Pros

  • Outstanding single-threaded performance
  • Significantly enhanced multithreading capability
  • Intel’s Core CPUs have made a significant advancement.
  • The finest desktop platform for DDR5 and PCIe 5.0.
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Cons

  • Some games do not currently work well with Alder Lake.
  • Power usage is high.
  • At launch, platform expenses might be rather significant.

AMD Ryzen 7 7700X

Best Value CPU For Gaming

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AMD Ryzen 7 7700X (Image credit: Amazon)

Specifications: Cores: 8 | Threads: 16 | Base Clock: 4.5GHz | Boost Clock: 5.4GHz | Overclocking: Yes | L3 Cache: 32MB | TDP: 105W

What we have here essentially serves as a direct upgrade to the Ryzen 7 5800X from the prior iteration. However, it is referred to as a 7700X since a Zen 4 3D V-cache gaming processor is most likely the intended recipient of the 7800X name. At least once, AMD will be able to put everything together in the fab and get it out the door in time to compete with Intel’s debut of Raptor Lake.

As a result, we have eight Zen 4 cores and 16 threads of computing capability thanks to simultaneous multithreading. We’ve taken a closer look at the new Zen 4 architecture here, but suffice it to say that it’s a derivative of Zen 3 technology with some additional L2 cache and a redesigned front end created to better feed data into the wider execution engines introduced into the previous generation.

And faster clock rates, too. much faster clock rates. The Ryzen 7 7700X isn’t quite as fast as its 16-core siblings at 5.9GHz, but it still manages a pretty remarkable all-core frequency of 5.15GHz right out of the box. I’ve observed it operating at 5.55GHz when subjected to single-core loads, such as those produced by the majority of gaming engines.

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Just a few months ago, these rates would have required significant overclocking, but now we’re obtaining them in AMD CPUs with stock clock speeds. The Ryzen 7 7700X has the same 105W TDP as the Ryzen 7 s5800X and 5800X3D, but it offers improved efficiency with to its 5nm compute and 6nm I/O dies and great performance per watt thanks to the Eco Mode feature. With this middle-order CPU as well as the Zen 4 family of processors, Eco Mode has even more of my support.

The Ryzen 7 7700X is a superb illustration of the Zen 4 architecture’s generational advancements, particularly in terms of efficiency. This third-tier chip frequently outperforms the cache-intensive special edition CPU from the previous generation, which, until five months ago, was AMD’s finest gaming processor ever. It can deliver on the gaming front as well and is really effective and quick.

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Pros

  • Exceeds the 5800X3D’s performance in gaming
  • Reaches 5.15GHz under heavy load
  • Eco Mode rocks.
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Cons

  • Combating Intel’s CPUs

AMD Ryzen 9 7950X

Best AMD CPU For Gaming

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AMD Ryzen 9 7950X (Image credit: Amazon)

Specifications: Cores: 16| Threads: 32 | Base Clock: 4.5GHz | Boost Clock: 5.7GHz | Overclocking: Yes | L3 Cache: 64MB | TDP: 105W

The AMD Ryzen 9 7950X is the pioneer of a whole new generation of CPUs and GPUs that will be introduced in the upcoming months. This isn’t the finest gaming CPU we were expecting, despite its numerous improvements, a brand-new AM5 motherboard platform, and gleaming new heat spreader design.

It’s good, I guess. And undoubtedly defeats the 16-core Ryzen 9 5950X from the Zen 3 generation, but this Zen 4 processor must contend with Alder Lake, a resurgent Intel CPU architecture. Additionally, Raptor Lake will be here in a short while.

The new Ryzen 9 7950X is a development of the Zen 3 architecture and is a brute-force CPU that pushes the limits of its thermal limitations while having an amazingly sleek design. I’ll say it anyway: I adore the new heat spreader appearance, even from the outside.

It’s still not the processor I’d choose today, though, and there’s a risk it’ll be panned for being more of a derivative CPU than a new one. A healthy clock speed boost, some improved microarchitecture, and a new socket are all that are on exhibit; there are no vertically connected cache chips or more cores.

The speed is undeniable. When I noticed that the Cinebench R23 single thread run had pushed the odd core up to 5.9GHz, I gave the numbers a moment to register my surprise. Even 5.8GHz stability was somewhat startling. 5.4GHz over all 16 cores still makes for one blistering processor, even though it’s not quite that high under an all-core load.

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Additionally, it’s blazing because, holy crap, this thing gets hot! In reality, no. All right. According to AMD, “At 95 degrees, it is not running hot; rather, it will purposely reach this temperature as often as possible under stress since the power management system understands that this is the optimal method to extract the most performance out of the chip without harming it.

But does being quick and hot make it the best CPU for gaming? Not at all, in fact, not at all. On that front, the eight-core Ryzen 7 7700X that debuts with it will frequently exceed it. It is significantly quicker than the Ryzen 9 5950X from the previous generation, which is significant given that it initially cost about $100 more.

There will probably be a lot of discussion about how terrible the film is. However, it strikes me as a confident, steady release. You may argue that it isn’t particularly ambitious, but AMD has always succeeded by keeping its Zen promises, and once again Dr. Su’s team has done that.

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Pros

  • Incredible multithreading performance
  • $50 less than the 5950X
  • Eco Mode’s
  • 9GHz frequency
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Cons

  • Gaming against Alder Lake is difficult
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AMD Ryzen 7 5800X3D

Best Mid-Range CPU For Gaming

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AMD Ryzen 7 5800X3D (Image credit: Amazon)

Specifications: Cores: 8 | Threads: 16 | Base Clock: 3.4GHz | Boost Clock: 4.5GHz | Overclocking: No | L3 Cache: 96MB (32MB + 64MB V-Cache) | TDP: 105W

At the time of its release, the AMD Ryzen 7 5800X3D was the fastest gaming CPU the red team had ever created. It also provided a value proposition that Intel’s top gaming CPUs cannot match, even if they are the quicker processors in the end. But it doesn’t change the fact that AMD’s processor was and continues to be a technically remarkable beast, employing the newest TSMC packaging technologies to cram an excessive amount of cache into its new CPU.

After all, what happens when you can’t get much higher frequencies out of your processing architecture? You put in a lot more cache memory and hope for the best. That’s what AMD has done with its Infinity Cache on the GPU side, combining up to 128MB with its RDNA 2 graphics cards to great effect, and it’s now doing the same with its CPUs.

The Ryzen 7 5800X3D is architecturally similar to the ordinary Ryzen 7 5800X, employing the same Zen 3 processor design and, as a result, the same chiplet configuration that has made AMD’s recent generations of CPUs such world-beaters. That means you have the same eight-core, 16-thread arrangement in a single chiplet (no potential inter-chiplet delay), but a somewhat slower clock speed due to the lower voltage.

Check out our separate post on Base Clock vs Boost Clock

Overall, the Ryzen 7 5800X3D either meets or beats the Ryzen 9 5950X. That’s an excellent outcome given that the top Ryzen is still a costly CPU and, more than ever, a productivity processor with nothing else. There are also a few occasions where the CPU exceeds the normal Core i9 12900K, which is an impressive feat. When it comes to gameplay, however, it lags behind the Golden Cove microarchitecture of the Alder Lake section.

It’s a technically sophisticated, efficient CPU that keeps its promises. In the frame rate fight, it can’t quite compete with Intel’s behemoth beast of a Core i9 12900KS, but it still provides the bulk of AMD customers an easy upgrade route to gaming performance that isn’t far off. And at a tenth of the cost and power requirements.

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Pros

  • The 3D V-Cache integration is quite good.
  • The level of gaming is almost Alder Lake.
  • Efficient
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Cons

  • Runs unexpectedly hot
  • Clocks slower than the 5800X
  • More expensive than a 5900X

AMD Ryzen 7 5700G

Best Processing CPU For Gaming

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AMD Ryzen 7 5700G (Image credit: Amazon)

Specifications: Cores: 8 | Threads: 16 | Base Clock: 3.8GHz | Turbo Clock: 4.6GHz | Overclocking: Yes, 5.0-5.3 GHz typical | L3 Cache: 16MB | TDP: 65W

If you’re not going to utilize a standalone graphics card but still want some gaming performance from your PC, AMD’s APUs are the finest CPUs to employ. And the AMD Ryzen 7 5700G is the greatest Zen 3 processor for doing so.

Unlike prior AMD APU offerings, the Ryzen 7 5700G is a jack-of-all-trades processor, with an eight-core Zen 3 CPU component with 16 threads and a strong Vega-based GPU to back it up. That puts this chip on par with the finest Ryzen 5000-series CPUs in terms of processing power, but with the graphics muscle to perform 1080p gaming on low settings in some fairly demanding titles.

AMD’s Zen architecture has become better with each iteration, but the fact that AMD was able to increase IPC by 19% with Zen 3 is nothing short of amazing. The important lesson for gamers is that this advancement shows that AMD pushed Intel to improve, which it did with Alder Lake.

Regardless resolution you’re playing at, this CPU can handle it and feed your graphics card of choice with plenty of frames. Because this is a 12-core, 24-thread beast, it can handle whatever else you throw at it. So, if you want to do 3D rendering, video editing, or any other major activity, you’ll know you’ve got the raw grunt to do it. The fact that it will not prevent you from gaming makes it much more appealing.

The only major drawback is the price and the absence of the Wraith cooler don’t forget to take in the fact that you’ll need a chip chiller when you buy. However, you get what you paid for, and this is an excellent chip for gaming and other activities.

If you need extreme power, you may go with the Ryzen 9 5950X (opens in new tab), which has 16 cores and 32 threads. However, it costs $250 more, and for gaming and other content production tasks, the 5900X is more than adequate.

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Pros

  • The most effective Integrated GPU
  • Excellent thermal performance and electricity consumption
  • Excellent overall performance
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Cons

  • PCIe 4.0 is not supported.
  • To function optimally, a fast memory is required.
  • APU is expensive.

AMD Ryzen 5 7600X

Best Beginner Level CPU For Gaming

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AMD Ryzen 5 7600X (Image credit: Amazon)

Specifications: Architecture: Zen 4 | Socket: AM5 | Cores/Threads: 6/12 | Base Frequency: 4.7 | Top Boost Frequency: 5.3 | TDP: 105W

At $300, AMD’s six-core 12-thread Ryzen 5 7600X provides decent performance, but it lags behind the similarly priced Intel competitors.

The 7950X combines the Zen 4 architecture with the 5nm TSMC technology to give significant performance improvements over the previous generation. The Ryzen 5 7600X provides roughly the same gaming performance as the 7950X, which is now the fastest standard AMD gaming processor on the market, but for less than half the price. At $300, this makes it an excellent gaming chip.

The Ryzen 5 7600X supports all of the newest processing standards, including DDR5, PCIe 5.0, and the most recent USB interface standards. For the first time, AMD has included integrated graphics for a rudimentary display out, which is useful if you need to debug.

AMD’s new Ryzen 7000 series CPUs demand a powerful cooler, so go for a mid-frame tower cooler (or comparable) for the greatest performance. You’ll also need a new AM5 motherboard because the newest Zen CPUs are not backward compatible, and DDR5 memory is the sole choice.

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AMD’s 600-series motherboards provide modern connection choices such as DDR5 and PCIe 5.0, as well as various add-ons such as USB4. Furthermore, the Ryzen CPUs now include an iGPU capable of basic display output, which is a significant advancement.

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Pros

  • Outstanding gaming performance
  • Single- and multi-thread strength
  • DDR5 memory and PCIe 5.0
  • Overclockable
  • iGPU
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Cons

  • There is no wrapped cooler.
  • AM5 motherboard is required.
  • DDR5 Memory Only
  • Pricing for platforms

AMD Ryzen 5 5600G

Best Entry-Level CPU for Gaming

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AMD Ryzen 5 5600G (Image credit: Amazon)

Specifications: Architecture: Zen 3 | Socket: AM4 | Base Frequency: 3.9GHz | Top Boost Frequency: 4.4GHz | TDP: 65W

The Ryzen 5 5600G enters the market as the new bargain champ for APUs, which are processors with powerful enough integrated graphics that they don’t require a discrete GPU for light gaming, but with lower quality settings.

The Ryzen 5 5600G, which costs $259, provides 96% of the gaming performance on integrated graphics as its more costly sister, the $359 Ryzen 7 5700G, but for 30% less money. According to our tests, this level of performance makes it the best value APU on the market. As long as you’re ready to forego quality and resolution and keep your expectations in check, the Ryzen 5 5600G’s Vega graphics deliver surprisingly decent gaming performance.

In our tests, the 5600G’s Vega graphics delivered reasonably good 1280×720 gaming across a variety of titles, although options become more limited at 1080p. Of course, 1080p gaming is possible, but most titles need you to significantly restrict the quality settings.

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The Ryzen 5 5600G delivers respectable performance in normal desktop PC programs for its price range, with eight cores and 16 threads operating at a 3.9 GHz base and boosting up to 4.4 GHz. The chip also comes with an included Wraith Stealth cooling, adding to the value proposition, and is compatible with existing 500-series and certain 400-series motherboards, though compatibility for the latter will vary by vendor.

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Pros

  • Outstanding price-to-performance ratio
  • Zen 3 CPU cores that are faster
  • Passable 1080p, strong 720p
  • Outstanding electricity usage and efficiency
  • Excellent overclocking headroom
  • Combined cooler
  • Some AM4 motherboards are compatible.
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Cons

  • Connectivity through PCIe 3.0

Intel Core i5-13600K

Best Overall Intel CPU

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Intel Core i5-13600K (Image credit: Amazon)

Cores: 14 (6+8) | L2 Cache: 20MB | TDP: 125W, 181W (Base, Maximum Turbo) | Socket: LGA 1700 | Threads: 20 | Base Clock: 2.6, 3.5 GHz (Efficient, Performance) | Boost Clock: 3.9, 5.1 GHz (Efficient, Performance)

In-depth testing reveals that the $319 Core i5-12600K outperforms AMD’s whole Ryzen 7000 series in terms of gaming performance. When combined with the fast single-threaded performance, this is one of the best CPUs for gaming on the market.

The $319 Core i5-13600K is a fantastic gaming CPU – Intel increased the price by $30 over the previous-generation model, yet the basic 13600K tops AMD’s entire Ryzen 7000 series at 1080p, including the $699 variant, albeit by tiny margins.

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Furthermore, overclocking drives the Core i5-13600K to the same level as the Ryzen 7 5800X3D, a remarkable performance since it is just 5% slower than the Core i9-13900K.

The Core i5-13600K comes with six threaded P-cores that operate at 3.5 / 5.1 GHz and four E-cores that run at 2.6 / 3.9 GHz, for a total of 20 threads. That’s paired with 20MB of L3 and 24MB of L2 cache. 

The chip supports 16 lanes of the leading-edge PCIe 5.0 interface and an additional four PCIe 4.0 lanes for a speedy M.2 SSD port. The leading-edge connectivity doesn’t stop there, though: The Core i5-13600K also supports either DDR4 or DDR5 memory. Most gamers will enjoy the lower price and comparable performance of DDR4, but you can step up to the more expensive DDR5 if you need access to more memory throughput. 

The 13600K has a maximum power rating of 181W, yet it consumes substantially less power than its predecessor while providing significantly better gaming performance. Because of the decreased power consumption, the chip is compatible with a broad range of common air and water coolers, but you must ensure that your model supports the LGA 1700 socket. Furthermore, this is a new high for Core i5 power consumption, so you’ll need a more robust cooler than we’re used to seeing in this range.

In addition, you’ll need a new 700-series or previous-generation 600-series motherboard for the CPU. There is a large number of high-end models that support DDR5 memory, and while there are fewer lower-end and mid-range DDR4 motherboards available, there is still a large selection.

Purchasing a new CPU is a difficult undertaking, especially with the abundance of alternatives on the market right now. Unlike in the past, when there were only a few CPU possibilities for each CPU generation, there are now at least 10 to 15 distinct versions available for each CPU generation. Intel and AMD have so many possibilities that you may find the right balance of affordability and performance with one of these solutions.

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And to assist you, we have compiled a list of the top CPUs that can be placed on a gaming PC setup. We also offer a shopping guide for our best CPU for gaming to assist you further. If you’re still unsure about which solution is best for you, consider one of our suggestions based on some typical build styles.

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Pros

  • Solid gaming performance
  • Pricing that is competitive
  • Balanced feature set
  • DDR5 memory and PCIe 5.0
  • Overclockable (5.6 – 5.7 GHz) (5.6 – 5.7 GHz
  • outperforms the Ryzen competition
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Cons

  • There is no wrapped cooler.
  • greater power constraints than previously

Conclusion:

The CPU you select will have a direct influence on your system’s capability and performance in games. Some games are quite CPU intensive, while others are not. As a result, we recommend that you think about the sort of games you wish to play.

For quite some time, Intel has been the CPU powerhouse, and according to the Steam Hardware Survey, it is still the most favored brand of CPUs among PC gamers. Following the release of Intel 12th Gen, Intel has recently become more enticing than ever. The Intel 12th generation series was the first to provide DDR5 memory compatibility, as well as PCI-E 5.0 for SSDs and GPUs and completely new XMP 3.0 profiles. Although DDR5 is more expensive, features such as PCI-E 5.0 are more widely available, helping to future-proof a system against subsequent GPU versions.

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While Intel CPUs have their advantages, they only give motherboard backward compatibility for a number of CPU generations at most, resulting in best CPUs for gaming and substantially shorter shelf life for their motherboard designs. Because Intel CPUs have undergone several CPU socket revisions recently, you may need to replace your cooler as well as the motherboard between generations. Intel is also significantly more constrained than AMD in terms of overclocking, with support for overclocking confined to their top-end Z690 chipsets.

FAQs

What type of CPU is best for gaming?

Intel Core i9-13900K
The Intel Core i9-13900K has surpassed AMD’s Ryzen 7 5800X3D and Ryzen 7000 families to become the world’s fastest gaming CPU.

What’s the best CPU for FPS?

Intel Core i5-12600K. Best CPU for Gaming. Intel Core i5-12600K. 
Intel Core i5-12400. Best Budget CPU for Gaming.
AMD Ryzen 5 5600G. Best Ultra Cheap CPU for Gaming. 
Intel Core i9-12900KS. Fastest Gaming CPU. 
AMD Ryzen 7 5700G. Best APU for Gaming. 
AMD Ryzen 9 5950X. Best CPU for Video Editing. 
AMD Ryzen 7 5800X3D. Best Ryzen CPU.

Is i7 or i9 better for gaming?

The i9 series is at the top of Intel’s consumer stack, representing the pinnacle of what Intel can achieve on either desktops or laptops, while the i7 fills a niche as a more reasonably priced engine for prosumer content production and a great driver for gaming across the board.

Does CPU matter for gaming?

The CPU is an essential component for gaming, from frame rates to configurable gameplay settings. The clock speed and core count of a CPU might help identify its performance potential. Certain CPUs have extra functionality such as overclocking and integrated graphics.

How much RAM do I need for gaming?

16GB
The suggested amount of RAM for most games is 16GB, which will give a substantial speed boost above 8 GB.

What is the fastest RAM for gaming?

When it regards speed, opt for DDR4 RAM that operates at roughly 3,200MHz for Intel CPUs and 3,600MHz for AMD’s most recent products. This should provide an adequate bandwidth buffer for your CPU to perform gaming and work-related tasks.

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