Choosing the best gaming CPUisn’t rocket science, but doing so will provide your gaming PC with an efficient brain. Sure, processors aren’t nearly as exciting as fancy new graphics cards and RGB-drenched peripherals. However, they are an essential part of any rig, and higher-spec chips come with specific benefits.
To help you figure out whether an AMD Ryzen processor or Intel Core chip is right for you, we’vecreated a list of thebest gaming CPU options available right now. Naturally, you’ll want to pair your chip of choice with thebest gaming motherboard, but if you’ve got one already, you should double-check your specs before diving in.
Here are your options for the best gaming CPU:
- Intel Core i5 13600K – best processor for gaming
- Intel Core i3 13100 – budget chip for gamers
- Intel Core i5 13400 – fantastic bang for buck CPU
- AMD Ryzen 5 7600X –best AMD CPUfor gamers
- AMD Ryzen 5 5600G – a CPU for those without a GPU
- Intel Core i7 13700K – perfect for streaming games
- Intel Core i9 13900KS –Intel’schampion CPU
- AMD Ryzen 9 7950X – most powerful AMD CPU
1. Intel Core i5 13600K
The best gaming CPU is the Intel Core i5 13600K.
- Great balance of performance and efficient cores
- Overclocking can push frame rates higher
- No stock cooler
- More expensive Z790 motherboard is required for overclocking
|Intel Core i5 13600K specs|
|Cores (P+E)||14 (6+8)|
|Base clock frequency (P/E)||3.50GHz / 2.60GHz|
|Max clock frequency (P/E)||Up to 5.10GHz / 3.90GHz|
Intelis back on top when it comes to gaming, and we reckon the Intel Core i5 13600K is the perfect processoroverall if you’re looking to balance price and performance. It has everything that makes the company’s 13th Gen Core series fantastic, at an extremely competitive price point to boot.
Its 14 cores, 20 threads, and high clock speeds pack plenty of power, so you don’t have to worry about it bottlenecking your shiny new graphics card. All the same, you can potentially unlock even higher frame rates from this processor thanks to its support for overclocking.
While the six performance cores will ultimately benefit your gaming experience the most, the remaining six efficient cores will make sure yourframe rate isn’t suffering by handling any background tasks.
2. Intel Core i3 13100
The best cheap gaming CPU is the Intel Core i3 13100.
- Solid gaming performance for today’s games
- Stock cooler included
- Only four cores and eight threads
- Weak integrated graphics
|Intel Core i3 13100 specs|
|Base clock frequency||3.40GHz|
|Max clock frequency||Up to 4.50GHz|
Hexa-core processors may now dominate the Steam Hardware & Software Survey, but there’s still plenty of life left in quad-core chips. If you’re looking to save some cash on your next build or are looking to put together your first PC, then the Intel Core i3 13100 is a great choice.
Don’t let its budget price point fool you, as this CPU is more than capable of playing games at high refresh rates. Regardless of whether you’re someone who primarily plays demanding cinematic single-player experiences or regularly sweats it out in competitive esports, your frames per second will be well looked after.
Unlike many of the more expensive options on the list, you won’t have to fork out for one of the best CPU coolers, as team blue kindly includes one in the box. You shouldn’t need a costly power supply, either, as it only requires 60W to power up.
3. Intel Core i5 13400
The best-value CPU is the Intel Core i5 13400.
- Lion’s share of 13th Gen power
- Stock cooler included
- No overclocking capabilities
- Multi-core performance falls behind the competition
|Intel Core i5 13400 specs|
|Cores (P+E)||10 (6+4)|
|Base clock frequency (P/E)||2.50GHz / 1.80GHz|
|Max clock frequency (P/E)||Up to 4.60GHz / 3.30GHz|
If you want to maximize your spending power with minimal fuss, look no further than the Intel Core i5 13400. Featuring six Raptor Lake cores, it’s an extremely capable processor that should help your graphics card pump out plenty of frames per second to make the most use of the best gaming monitors.
Forgoing overclocking means that you can save even more cash by opting for a less expensive chipset, such as H670 or B660. You’ll also have a suitably capable stock cooler included with your purchase too.
4. AMD Ryzen 5 7600X
The best AMD gaming CPU is the AMD Ryzen 5 7600X.
- Lion’s share of Zen 4 performance
- Outperforms last-generation flagship processors
- No included cooler
- Upgrading to AM5 can be expensive
|AMD Ryzen 5 7600X specs|
|Base clock frequency||4.70GHz|
|Max clock frequency||Up to 5.30GHz|
When we tested the AMD Ryzen 5 7600X, we found that the Zen 4 processor packs a potent performance punch that’s plenty strong enough to run with the most powerful GPUs of today. This makes it a prime candidate for just about any build you could think of, regardless of size or power.
Despite sitting at the bottom of the Ryzen 7000 series stack, the 7600X handily outperforms previous generation flagships when it comes to gaming. Better still, you’re not missing out on many frames at all by opting for it versus its more expensive siblings.
It’s worth bearing in mind, however, that you’ll want to pair the 7600X with suitably strong cooling as it doesn’t come with a stock cooler. Don’t forget that you’ll need a new motherboard too, as well as some sticks of DDR5 RAM.
Once everything falls into place, however, you could find yourself among the first people to use PCIe 5.0 SSDs as the 7600X is one of the only processors to support speedy storage at its full potential.
5. AMD Ryzen 5 5600G
The best CPU with integrated graphics is the AMD Ryzen 5 5600G.
- Most powerful integrated graphics on a desktop CPU
- Performance isn’t far behind the 5600X
- Only compatible with AM4 motherboards
- Can struggle with some games at 1080p
|AMD Ryzen 5 5600G specs|
|Base clock frequency||4.40GHz|
|Max clock frequency||Up to 3.90GHz|
Grabbing a CPU with integrated graphics can be an effective stopgap while you save up for a dedicated pixel pusher, or they can be a great choice for small form factor builds. Whatever your intentions, the AMD Ryzen 5 5600G is your best bet when it comes to netting an iGPU.
Its Vega graphics cores are plenty powerful for light gaming, providing playable frame rates at 720p and 1080p resolutions at medium to low settings. Better still, the 5600G is AMD FSR compatible, which means you can easily boost fps in supported titles.
It’s no slouch of a CPU either, with most of the performance of a Ryzen 5 5600X and more with higher clock speeds. You can often find it available much lower than MSRP, but you’ll want to grab one while stocks last.
6. Intel Core i7 13700K
The best CPU for streaming is the Intel Core i7 13700K.
- Easily handles 120fps ‘x264 Slower’ encoding in real time
- Great gaming and creative application performance
- Can be beaten by AMD Ryzen 7000 processors
- Runs a touch hot
|Intel Core i7 13700K specs|
|Cores (P+E)||16 (8+8)|
|Base clock frequency (P/E)||3.40GHz / 2.50GHz|
|Max clock frequency (P/E)||Up to 5.30GHz / 4.20GHz|
The Intel Core i7 13700K is something of a champion for streamers and creatives alike, offering an all-in-one solution that doesn’t carry an overly premium price tag. Featuring 16 cores and 24 threads, the chip is more than capable of handling real-time 120fps encoding using the ‘x264 Slower’ preset.
This is especially useful if you have a Radeon graphics card but can act as a great replacement for ‘NVENC’ on GeForce GPUs, should the need arise. The chip is able to keep up with top-tier pixel pushers too, maintaining solid maximum, average, and minimum frames per second.
7. Intel Core i9 13900KS
The most powerful Intel gaming CPU is the Intel Core i9 13900KS.
- The first 6.00GHz processor
- Performs about the same with DDR4 and DDR5 RAM
- Incredibly power hungry
- Hard to efficiently cool
|Intel Core i9 13900KS specs|
|Cores (P+E)||24 (8+16)|
|Base clock frequency (P/E)||3.20GHz / 2.40GHz|
|Max clock frequency (P/E)||Up to 6.00GHz / 4.30GHz|
If money is no object, and you demand the best that team blue can offer, then there is only one processor for you: the Intel Core i9 13900KS.
With 24 cores, 32 threads, and a maximum clock frequency of 6.00GHz, the 13900KS is an absolute monster in every sense of the word. There’s no LGA 1700 chip that can match its single-core performance, which greatly benefits games and many other applications.
Just make sure you invest in one of the best AIO coolers on the market and have a beefy power supply to hand too, as this Raptor Lake chip gobbles electricity and runs quite hot. Should you be able to tame it, though, there’s simply nothing else like it in the 13th Gen Core series.
8. AMD Ryzen 9 7950X
The most powerful AMD gaming CPU is the AMD Ryzen 9 7950X.
- Unparalleled multi-core power
- Can trade blows with top-tier processors at just 65W
- Specs benefit production workloads more than gaming
- Expensive and best suited to costly X670E motherboards
|AMD Ryzen 9 7950X specs|
|Base clock frequency||4.50GHz|
|Max clock frequency||Up to 5.70GHz|
Sitting at the top of team red’s latest processor series, you’ll find the AMD Ryzen 9 7950X. In this chip lies the very best that Zen 4 has to offer, with the flagship hiding some surprising tricks up its sleeve.
While this chip doesn’t boast a higher core or thread count compared to previous generation offerings, they are clocked much higher. This not only translates into higher frames per second but also greatly improves performance in just about every application that can make use of multiple CPU cores.
Its greatest trick, however, is its ‘Eco Mode’, which can force the processor to draw a maximum of 65W. Even with such low power consumption, it can still trade blows with top-tier processors. Naturally, you’ll get the most out of the chip while running at its standard 170W TDP, but it makes the prospect of a small form factor build featuring the 7950X more possibility than a dream.
How we tested the best gaming CPUs
There are a lot ofgaming CPUs on the market, and it can be hard to know which processors are genuinely worth your money. To help you decide which CPU is right for your system and budget, we evaluate each chip’s gaming capabilities paired with the most powerful graphics cards, including the AMD Radeon RX 7900 XTX and Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090.
When we test gaming CPUs, our benchmarks include our usual suite of PC games with a few extra additions, including 3DMark, Civilization VI, and Cinebench R23. We also observe what temperatures the processor hits under load, noting how long it’s able to maintain its advertised boost clock speeds. Find out more about how we testhardware at PCGamesN.
- Intel Core i5-13400. Overall Best CPU for Gaming. ...
- AMD Ryzen 5 7600. Overall Best CPU for Gaming - Alternate Pick. ...
- AMD Ryzen 7 7800X3D. High Performance Value Best CPU for Gaming. ...
- Intel Core i7-13700K. ...
- AMD Ryzen 7 5800X3D. ...
- AMD Ryzen 9 7950X3D. ...
- Intel Core i9-13900K.
A: As of April 2023, the fastest CPU for work is currently the Intel Core i9-13900KS which can do 6000MHz on single-core clocks while having 24 cores handling 32 threads that allows it to crunch numbers beyond most of its competitors.What is a good CPU speed in 2023? ›
|Gaming CPU||Price||Speed (base and OC)|
|Intel Core i5-12600K||$242||3.7GHz/4.9GHz|
|Intel Core i9-12900K||$421||3.2GHz/5.2GHz|
|AMD Ryzen 5 5600G||$140||3.9GHz/4.4GHz|
|AMD Ryzen 9 5950X||$499||3.4GHz/4.9GHz|
The Ryzen 9 7950X3D is #1 for gaming, but the Intel Core i9-13900K is a good alternative. It's as powerful in compute heavy tasks, and it's cheaper at $570. This is the best option for gamers if the budget (and stock) allows is AMD's Ryzen 9 7950X3D, AM5, and DDR5.How many CPU cores for gaming 2023? ›
Games released in 2023 will likely require at least six CPU cores to run smoothly. More demanding games may require even more cores, possibly up to 8 or 10 cores.Will 2023 be a good year for gaming? ›
2023 has been one of the most consistent years the gaming industry has seen in quite some time, with many high profile games coming out and actually living up to the hype and plenty more for fans to look forward to in the months ahead.What is the fastest Intel CPU in 2023? ›
A: The Intel Core i9 13900KS is the fastest Intel Processor right now but trades at a significant premium versus MSRP currently with most retailers.What is the most powerful CPU right now? ›
Frequently Asked Questions. Which processor is the fastest? The fastest processor you can buy right now is the Intel Core i9-13900K. It comes with 24 cores and high clock speeds, allowing it to rip through games and intense productivity applications.What is the fastest single core performance CPU 2023? ›
Ranking of single-core processors by Geekbench score performance worldwide 2023. As of January 2023, the Intel Core i9-13900KF processor achieved the best average single-core performance with a score of 2,222 from the Geekbench benchmarking tests.What will gaming be like in 2023? ›
Top Gaming Trends
The trend that is evolving the most is mobile gaming. It has become increasingly popular in recent years, and this is expected to continue in 2023. With the rise of 5G technology, mobile games will become even more accessible and offer more immersive gameplay experiences.
A good rule of thumb is: 8GB bare minimum, 16GB for most gaming needs, and 32GB if you want to run multiple high-intensity programs simultaneously.Is i7 good for gaming 2023? ›
The i5 processor offer great value for money if you're looking to game in 2023. However you'll need an i7 to be able to handle more demanding taks. Plus, with an i7 you'll be future-proofed for a few years down the line. So if you can afford it, go for the i7!Is i5 10th gen good for gaming in 2023? ›
So what i5 gen is good for gaming in 2023? Any of the newer generations from the 10th, 11th or 12th Intel i5 CPU are good for gaming, which one will depend mainly on your budget and what level you want to play games.