Grabbing a solid graphics card for your gaming PC build may be your top priority, given it determines the resolution and other settings you can run your games at. But a quality CPU is just as important. This chip isn’t known as the ‘central processing unit’ for kicks, as it’s essentially the brains of your entire rig. Dictating how efficiently everything runs from the system memory to the SSDs holding your games. So, even if you have a top-tier GPU, a less-than-stellar processor will bottleneck your whole system.
To ensure you don’t regret choosing the wrong CPU for gaming, we’ve compiled a list of the best you can find. You are limited to an Intel or AMD chip, but both companies release a myriad of quality options almost constantly. It can be hard to keep up. You’ll find more wallet-friendly processors that have no problem handling typical gaming loads or speed demons ready to be overclocked and pushed to the extreme. Check out our favorites for every type of PC gamer below – and click here to find them in the UK.
TL;DR – These are the Best CPUs for Gaming
- Intel Core i5-13600K - Best Overall CPU
- Intel Core i5-13400 - Best Budget CPU
- Intel Core i9-13900K - Fastest CPU
- AMD Ryzen 9 7950X - Highest Performance CPU
- AMD Ryzen 5 7600X - Best Ryzen CPU
Intel Core i5-13600K
Best CPU for Gaming
For a perfect balance of performance and price, look no further than the Intel Core i5-13600K. As part of Intel’s latest 13th gen lineup, it utilizes a hybrid architecture, offering six P-cores and eight E-cores with 20 threads for a processor that divides and conquers tasks easily. Those P-cores can clock up to 5.1 GHz and are capable of hyperthreading for a major boost in processing muscle, so you can run a game and even stream simultaneously.
The Intel Core i5-13600K will future-proof your rig thanks to the support of 16 lanes of the PCIe 5.0 interface and DDR5 memory up to 5,600MHz, though you can always use more affordable DDR4 memory. It’s also important to note this processor runs hotter and is more power-hungry than the 12th gen model, so ample cooling is a must to keep everything running smoothly, especially if you want to take advantage of overclocking. And be sure to pair it with a motherboard that totes an LGA1700 socket.
Intel Core i5-13400
Best Budget CPU for Gaming
The Intel Core i5-13400 proves that you don’t need to spend a fortune to get a highly capable gaming CPU. Costing around $200, this mid-range chip has no problem running games at 1080p – or even up to 1440p and 4K. If you’re on a tight budget, the integrated graphics can handle some action while you save up for a solid GPU, and it even comes with a cooler to keep your extra costs down. However, it draws more power than the last-gen model.
You aren’t making many sacrifices when going for this budget-minded processor, as you still get some of the latest technology, including DDR5 memory and PCIe 5.0 interface. It has the same hybrid architecture seen in higher-end models with six performance cores and four efficient cores alongside 16 threads. Those P-Cores can hit 4.6GHz right out of the box and offer hyperthreading for snappy performance and plenty of oomph to handle any mainstream PC build.
Intel Core i9-13900K
Fastest CPU for Gaming
For unbeatable speeds and insane overclocking, there’s nothing better than the Intel Core i9-13900K, but be prepared for it to put a good dent in your wallet. This beastly chip boasts a heavily threaded hybrid architecture with eight P-cores and peaks at a wild 5.8 GHz using the Turbo Boost 3.0. Its E-cores are no slouch either, taking some burden off the P-cores and ensuring your game’s action is never interrupted.
It’s unlikely you’ll find a game that the Intel Core i9-13900K can’t handle, so you should pair it with a high-end graphics card to take full advantage of those high frame rates. The latest DDR5 and PCIe 5.0 interface are also ready for you to build a future-proof rig. Just be sure you’ve got the proper cooling, as this is a power-hungry processor.
AMD Ryzen 9 7950X
Best High-Performance CPU for Gaming
If you like the sound of the Intel Core i9-13900K and are looking for a Ryzen alternative, the AMD Ryzen 9 7950X is the best match for performance and price. Offering the latest Zen 4 architecture, you get 16 cores with 32 threads, allowing impressive speeds, ready to be overclocked higher, and enough power to breeze through even your most graphically intense games. All that extra muscle means you’ll need to pair it with a hefty cooling system, as is the case for all of Ryzen’s 7000 series chips.
The AMD Ryzen 9 7950X requires an AM5 motherboard and offers the newest connectivity, like DRR5 memory, a PCIe 5.0 interface, and even USB-C. But while you’re getting support for the latest technology, you, unfortunately, can’t use older motherboards or DDR4 RAM to help cut costs. However, it comes with basic integrated graphics, so you won’t need to splurge on a GPU immediately— though you’ll eventually want a quality one to take full advantage of this chip.
AMD Ryzen 5 7600X
Best Ryzen CPU for Gaming
The AMD Ryzen 5 7600X gives you the best bang for your buck when it comes to the latest Ryzen 7000 series chips. However, it still lags slightly behind its most comparable Intel counterpart, the Core i5-13600K. But there’s still plenty to love, thanks to the Zen 4 architecture, which brings DDR5 and PCIe 5.0 support while slotting into an AM5 socket.
Beyond connectivity, this chip packs six cores and 12 threads for plenty of prowess in multi-threaded and single-threaded activities. As for speed, the AMD Ryzen 5 7600X doesn’t disappoint, offering a 4.7GHz base clock with a 5.3GHz boost that’s unlocked for overclocking. All that, combined with 38MB of cache, ensures this processor outshines Ryzen’s previous generations.
Where to Get the Best CPU for Gaming in the UK
What to Look in for a CPU for Gaming
If you’re looking for a CPU, the first step is determining which type of processor you want to use. Of the mainstream options, you can go with either Intel’s Core lineup of i3,i5, i7, and i9 products or AMD’s Ryzen 3, 5, 7, and 9 series. Intel does slightly edge out AMD in price versus performance thanks to their recent release of 13th Gen Raptor Lake chips, but they are still pretty neck and neck with Ryzen’s new 7000 processors. Both offer the latest connectivity like PCIe 5.0, DDR5 memory, and newer sockets, along with plenty of cores to cruise through PC games.
Speaking of cores, as a general rule of thumb, the more, the merrier. CPU cores essentially receive instructions and in turn, perform specific actions. Therefore as you increase the core count, the more the processor can do for you.
When it comes to gaming, you should aim for a Hexa core processor or higher. With six cores, you should have no problem running most games. However, you may want a higher core count for more processor-intense titles – like RTS games and management sims. A faster, more robust CPU can power more AI elements and help raise frame rates.
Intel also introduced two different types of cores with its 12th gen processors, P-cores and E-cores. P-cores do most of the heavy lifting, hitting higher speeds and taking on beefier workloads like games—essentially the cores you’re used to seeing in CPUs. E-cores are much less powerful, generally working on background tasks to help ease the load of the P-cores. AMD has yet to differentiate its cores.
Though core count is important, speed may be just as, if not more. You generally get a base clock and boost clock, telling you how fast the CPU runs, with a higher number of gigahertz (GHz), meaning a snappier performance in your games. Many options we’ve chosen are also unlocked for overclocking—letting you push the CPU past its listed clock speed limits—though there’s always a risk of damaging the chip when you do this.
Threads should also be kept in mind. These act like schedulers, telling the cores what to do next. It’s not super important if you’re just gaming, but say you also want to stream simultaneously, then grab a chip that offers hyper-threading (Intel) or multi-threading (AMD). Those terms are essentially the same, where one core has multiple threads, which is helpful in multitasking.
Danielle Abraham is a freelance writer and unpaid music historian.
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 processor is good for gaming 2023? ›
- 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 the best CPU for tarkov 2023? ›
To sum it up, the Intel Core i5 13600K and Ryzen 5 5600X are the best CPUs for Escape from Tarkov. Both provide excellent value, though one is cheaper than the other. Either way, you can't go wrong with one or the other.How many 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.What is the best CPU for future proof? ›
Last Updated on April 21, 2023
Out of any other Intel CPU, the i9 is the most future-proof unit. These CPUs tend to have a large core count and the fastest clock speed. Besides, Intel showcases the best of its technology on this CPU.
The top CPU and GPU for high-end, VR, and 4K gaming
Ray tracing can really make a game's visuals pop, but it can add a lot of extra strain to the GPU. Recommended Hardware: CPU: 13th-gen Intel Core i5; AMD Ryzen 5 7000 series. GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070, AMD Radeon RX 7800.
The 13th Gen Intel Core processor family, which was announced at Intel Innovation in September 2022, introduced the 13th Gen Intel Core i9-13900K, announced as the world's fastest desktop processor.What is the most powerful CPU in the world? ›
Intel has announced an enhanced version of its 13th-Generation Core i9-13900K processor, which is its first to reach speeds of 6.0GHz without overclocking. The new Core i9-13900KS is Intel's fastest-ever CPU and the fastest one currently on the market from any manufacturer.Will there be a 7950X3D? ›
The 7950X3D will arrive alongside the Ryzen 9 7900X3D, while the Ryzen 7 7800X3D will arrive in April. The new arrivals will add extra oomph to AMD's SKUs, and extra performance for those who want it.
Speedster MERC 319 XFX, The top-of-the-line product from AMD, is the Radeon RX 6900 XT Ultra 16 GB GPU. Play around with the settings to produce a framerate at 4K that ranges from the standard 60 FPS to the ambitious 144 FPS.What are cpus used for in tarkov? ›
Description. PC central processing units, in lack of properly working computers, have found their purpose as a construction material for makeshift antenna reflector-type parasites.Is Escape from Tarkov CPU or GPU intensive? ›
Is tarkov a CPU heavy game or GPU? Tarkov is cpu heavy so a processor with strong single core performance will do better.Which processor is powerful for gaming? ›
For ideal results, a machine running an Intel® Core™ i7 processor or better with at least 8GB of RAM is sufficient for playing games and streaming at the same time. If you're hoping for less impact on your gaming performance, an Intel® Core™ i9 processor makes for an even smoother experience.What is the most powerful processor for gaming? ›
- Intel Core i5-12400 – Best gaming CPU for most people. ...
- AMD Ryzen 7 7800X3D – Best high-end gaming CPU. ...
- Intel Core i3-13100F – Best budget gaming CPU. ...
- Ryzen 5 5600G – Best CPU if you're waiting to buy a graphics card. ...
- Ryzen 7 5800X3D – Best mid-tier gaming CPU.
Intel Core i7 processors are typically faster and more capable than Core i5 CPUs. The latest i7 chips offer up to six cores and 12 threads, making them better suited for advanced multitasking.Is i5 or Ryzen 5 better for gaming? ›
Ans: Intel i5 13th generation is certainly a great choice. With higher turbo speed, it is able to provide better performance. However, Ryzen is not behind as it is also a great choice at an affordable price. Ryzen 5 performance is great for gaming and editing.