Best CPUs for Gaming

by Arslan Ashraf

Best CPUs for Gaming

The CPU is the foremost important part of the PC handling all ins and outs of the computing system.  The CPU is responsible for receiving a response and giving commands to the computer. But choosing a CPU, especially the perfect one, for your PC is a challenging task. You have to keep certain things in mind while selecting the best CPU for gaming. To have a good gaming experience, it is not necessary to have a massive amount of caches, most cores, and the most advanced build-up. But when you buy a CPU for gaming, your primary concern should be the gaming experience, FPS, and performance. You can find several excellent CPUs at affordable prices in the market. 

No doubt, the Alder Lake family of 12th-generation Intel core processors is the best for gaming in the crowd. Moreover, the AMD Ryzen 9 series is also pretty excellent to put into heavy-duty workloads like content creation, 3D rendering, and more. But the budget is also an important concern. What if you find the same gaming experience in economical CPUs as expensive ones? Incredible. Therefore, we have tested all types of processors, high-end, mid-tier, affordable, and written in-depth reviews on perfect ones. In addition, you must consider several CPU-related factors before buying a processor to avoid making a bad purchase. Let’s explore those factors and reviews! 

Quick Shopping Tips

Several factors directly impact the selection of a processor. You can read every crucial factor, aspect, specification, and more in the dedicated CPU buying guide. But, for now, let’s explore the important factors!  

Motherboard compatibility: CPUs are determined for their particular chipsets and socket compatibility. You can’t connect any motherboard with a CPU. For instance, if you use Intel’s CPU, you can’t buy a motherboard that supports only AMD sockets. So, it is suggested along with the processor, check the recommended motherboard or motherboard series and then join your CPU and MOBO. Otherwise, the incompatible board and processor won’t work together. In short, remember to purchase a compatible motherboard. 

Cores and Threads: Cores and threads are the essences of the CPU. Every processor has some counts of cores and threads that decide the efficiency and stability of the performance of the CPU. The more cores you have, the more powerful your CPU will be. But gaming has no hard and fast rule of having maximum cores. The minimum six cores for gaming can also be considered; please don’t go below this for outstanding gaming.

Clock Speed: Clock speed is a vital feature that every CPU provides to users. You will be provided with a simple base speed and a boost clock speed. The base speed can be used for simple routines; conversely, the boost speed is the maximum clock speed of the CPU. These speeds determine how intense you can go while gaming smoothly. The clock speed you have the most efficiently handled the intense situation. However, the 4.7 to 4.9 GHz clock speed is enough for gaming.

Cache Memory: Processors have different amounts of cache. Whenever the CPU takes the commands, the cache memory guides it on which file, program, and software are where. Once you open a file, cache memory saves it for easy access if you need it again. The maximum cache memory would make the processor more responsive. But if you are looking gaming-wise, never go below 12 MB L3 cache memory.

Cooling: Effective thermal management is another factor you must consider when purchasing a processor. If you have one, you’re good to go. In contrast, you must purchase a good-quality CPU cooler to pair with the processor. A compatible cooling system lets you enjoy peak CPU performance and overclocking capabilities when playing games or doing other graphics-intensive tasks. In such a condition, the processor can take the clock speed to its peak and perform effectively. 

The Best CPUs for Gaming You Can Buy Today

Intel Core i5 12600K

Best Pick
Intel Core i5 12600K
Intel Core i5 12600K

Brand: Intel | Series/Family: 12th Generation Intel Core i5 Processors | Lithography: Intel 7nm | Cores: 10 | Threads: 16 | Cache: 20MB Intel Smart Cache | Hyper-Threading: Yes | Unlocked Multiplier: Yes | Integrated graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 770 | Socket: LGA1700 | Base clock: Efficient core: 2.8GHz, Performance core: 3.7GHz  | Boost clock: Efficient core: 3.6GHz, Performance core: 4.9GHz, Maximum Boost: 4.9GHz | Rated TDP: 150W maximum | Bundled cooler: No

The 12th Generation of Intel, also known as Alder Lake processors, are incredible processors. These units, in actuality, make Intel supreme in the gaming world. Undoubtedly, the Intel Core i5 12600K is one of the best examples in this matter. It has ten cores and sixteen threads, which is tremendous for making the gaming experience wonderful. Also, it doesn’t depend on the efficient cores, but performance and features are also the productive counts. Its unlocked multiplier allows the CPU to effectively overclock and perform well. 

If we look at its specifications, it comes with ten cores that are further divided into 6P and 4E. While considering this, the base clock for the P-core is 3.7 GHz, and for the E-core, it is 2.8 GHz. The turbo boost clock is up to 4.9 GHz for P-core and 3.6 GHz for E-core. This clocking speed is more than enough for handling high-demanding gaming. Even if you want, you can use it for other light tasks as well. Intel Core i5 12600K is the best Intel processor for gaming to rely on. It performs well with efficient performance and powerful cores. 

The total L3 cache you use is up to 16 MB thanks to this, your unit responds to you faster than i9 11900K. It also contains an Intel UHD Graphics handler that shows you high visual quality and splendid graphics. There are almost twenty PCIe 5.0 lanes for offering you the versatility of connections whisk gaming. However, it consumes 125 W, making it more power-hungry than Ryzen. But when it comes to performance, it easily outperforms the Ryzen 9 5950X. Go for it if it offers you everything you are looking for in your ideal unit.

THE PROS

Fast Intel processor

20 PCIe 5.0 planes

Outstanding performance

The best gaming CPU for 2022

THE CONS

Somehow power-hungry than Ryzen

It needs an advanced motherboard and memory

AMD Ryzen 9 5950X

Staff Pick
AMD Ryzen 9 5950X
AMD Ryzen 9 5950X

Brand: AMD | Series/Family: AMD Ryzen 9 Desktop Processors | Lithography: 7nm | Cores: 16 | Threads: 32 | Cache: 8MB L2, 64MB L3 | Multi-Threading: Yes | Unlocked Multiplier: Yes | Integrated graphics: No | Socket: AMD AM4 | Base clock: 3.4GHz | Boost clock: 4.9GHz | Rated TDP: 105W | Bundled cooler: No

We have already seen the Intel Core i9 12900K, the fastest processor on the list. But if you want it’s AMD alternative, the AMD Ryzen 9 5950X is the perfect option for you. It’s the best high-end CPU for gaming, content creation, and other load-taking workloads. This proficient CPU has the strength and ability to stay as long as possible with you, not in terms of performance but also for long-lasting life. But it can only happen if you are willing to spend a hefty amount on it. In short, if you can afford it, you won’t regret its excellent performance. 

Besides, the unit is a real workhorse; you can do multiple jobs quickly. There are sixteen cores and thirty-two threads. You can see it has the most cores and threads than others in the list. Upon this, the processor is fully opened for overclocking. You can have up to 4.9 GHz with a boost clock, comparatively less than i9 12900K. Along with the giant cores, it extended the cache memory up to 70MB. You can estimate its aggressive responsive attitude for gaming with all the specifications and features given above. 

Regarding its compatibility matters, it supports Windows 10- 64-Bit, Ubuntu x86 64-Bit, and Edition RHEL x86 64-Bit. However, the drawback of this processor is that it still does support old PCIe 4.0 and DDR-3200. Overall, the AMD Ryzen 9 5950  is proficient in managing gaming in the best responsive time. Suppose you are okay with PCIe 4.0 lanes, then you are good to go with this high-end CPU. It will make your gaming outstanding, plus allow you to do other PC jobs comfortably. In short, consider it if you want the fastest AMD chip. 

THE PROS

70 MB most extensive cache memory

16 cores and 32 threads

Power-efficient as compared to i9 12900K

Stable and durable CPU

THE CONS

No inclusion of cooler

No integrated graphics

Intel Core i5 10400F

Budget Pick
Intel Core i5 10400F
Intel Core i5 10400F

Brand: Intel | Series/Family: 10th Generation Intel Core i5 Processors | Lithography: 14nm | Cores: 6 | Threads: 12 | Cache: 12MB Intel Smart Cache | Hyper-Threading: Yes | Unlocked Multiplier: No | Integrated graphics: No | Socket: LGA1200 | Base clock: 2.9GHz | Boost clock: 4.3GHz | Rated TDP: 65W | Bundled cooler: Yes 

We also think about the people who couldn’t afford the above processors. For them, we select a compatible Intel Core 10400K. It is the best budget CPU for gaming and other mediocre content creations. Moreover, this great CPU is somehow faster than the i5 9400. No doubt the processor has many valuable features, but you also have to compromise on certain things at this price. As per the “F” variant, it has a locked multiplier, so you can’t overclock this chip that easily unless you don’t take some help from the tweaking method. 

The processor offers six cores and twelve threads for gaming; these cores count is enough. The CPU allows you to have a base clock of up to 2.9 GHz, and with the boost, it turns to 4.3 GHz. The 12 MB L3 memory cache is enough for gaming smartly. It provides you with 16 PCIe 3.0 lanes. The cooler is also included in this economical price. However, the TDP is 65W, making it a super power-efficient CPU for gaming. Like you can’t overclock with it. Anyhow, for single-thread performance and gaming, the processor is pretty lovely.

As we say, you also have to compromise on qualities like no overclocking support. It is a locked multiplier. Apart from this, the i5 10400F is not as responsive as other processors in multi-threaded performance. The other benefit of this processor is that you can run a variety of boards with it at 3.9 GHz. Hence, you don’t need to think about the low-base clock speed and efficiency. In short, this chip is for you if you want a price-cutting processor to perform mediocre tasks, including mid-tier gaming and content creation. 

THE PROS

Good single thread performance

Budget-friendly gaming CPU

Boost up to 4.3 GHz

THE CONS

Locked multiplier

It doesn’t make for high demanding tasks

AMD Ryzen 5 5600X

AMD Ryzen 5 5600X
AMD Ryzen 5 5600X

Brand: AMD | Series/Family: AMD Ryzen 5 Desktop Processors | Lithography: 7nm | Cores: 6 | Threads: 12 | Cache: 3MB L2, 32MB L3 | Multi-Threading: Yes | Unlocked Multiplier: Yes | Integrated graphics: No | Socket: AMD AM4 | Base clock: 3.7GHz | Boost clock: 4.6GHz | Rated TDP: 65W | Bundled cooler: Wraith Stealth cooling solution

The next gaming processor on our list is none other than the AMD Ryzen 5 5600X, an all-time famous mainstream CPU for enthusiasts. In the Ryzen 5000 chips series, you can find several pricey options and the same thing applies to this chip as well. But it takes advantage of having top-tier value for money and a comparatively affordable price. In addition, it offers you similar frame tastes with this particular chip as the others in the stack. In short, it’s a no-compromise gaming and content-creation CPU with class-leading output. 

If we look at its specifications sheet, the unit provides you with six cores and twelve threads, together with smooth multi-threading capabilities. These cores are minor, but the processor justifies them brilliantly when gaming. So, don’t let it go just because of it. Typically, the base clock it allows you is 3.7 GHz. However, you can reach up to 4.6 GHz with the turbo boost clock. The following beauty of this best AMD processor for gaming is the 32 MB L3 Cache. Henceforth, be ready for the fastest performance for mainstream desktops.

Likewise, the other Ryzen 5000 family also comes with the Wraith Stealth Cooler. So you don’t need to spend extra money on the cooler. If you want, you can use this CPU for an extended time and smooth overclocking. Upon this, the TDP is only 65, which is another plus point of this fantastic gaming processor. AMD Ryzen 5 5600X is the best CPU for gaming for AMD users. Nonetheless, you can get it at an affordable price and perform beautifully, along with 100+ FPS frames for games. But still, it stands behind the Intel Core i5 12600K.

THE PROS

Affordable gaming CPU

A Wraith Stealth cooler added

Decent performance and overclocking

Power-efficient

THE CONS

Support old PCIe 4.0 lanes

Average for other tasks except gaming

Intel Core i5-11600K

Intel Core i5-11600K
Intel Core i5-11600K

Brand: Intel | Series/Family: 9th Generation Intel Core i5 Processors | Lithography: 14nm | Cores: 6 | Threads: 12 | Cache: 12MB Intel Smart Cache | Hyper-Threading: Yes | Unlocked Multiplier: Yes | Integrated graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 750 | Socket: LGA1200 | Base clock: 3.9GHz | Boost clock: 4.9GHz | Rated TDP: 95W | Bundled cooler: No

The Intel Core i5-11600K is presented to you in our list of best CPUs for gaming. It is a suitable processor for gaming in terms of money, features, and performance. Now, gaming in (1140p) HD in needed frame rates doesn’t require an expensive unit—this statement is made true by the i5 11600k. Nonetheless, this i5 model provides you with the same performance as i7 for gaming. No doubt, you may have to face some demoted features if we compare it with the top-tier processor. But in terms of value for money, this processor has no match. 

It comes with a basic pack of 6 cores and 12 threads with hyper-threading technology for sufficient next-level gaming. Other than that, the competitive clock speed of the i5-11600K enables it to give compelling competition to the alternative Ryzen CPUs. The CPU offers you a base clock speed up to 3.90 GHz with a maximum clock speed of 4.9 GHz. It is enough for 4K gaming for an excessive time at this fair price. Overall, this best value CPU for gaming won’t let you compromise the efficiencies when playing gaming or doing content creation. 

Apart from all these, the CPU is fully unlocked and ready to be overclocked whenever needed. The unit is incorporated with Intel’s Turbo Boost Technology 2.0 and Intel Smart Cache with 12 MB. The motherboards that are compatible with this processor are the 400 and 500 series. Unfortunately, it does not have a thermal solution; more, it consumes a large amount of power. Remember, you must purchase an LGA 1200 socket-supported motherboard with a compatible card to get the most out of it. 

THE PROS

Good value for money

4.9 GHz maximum clock speed

Intel’s optane memory

THE CONS

No normal solution added

Power-hungry CPU

AMD Ryzen 9 5900X

AMD Ryzen 9 5900X
AMD Ryzen 9 5900X

Brand: AMD | Series/Family: AMD Ryzen 9 Desktop Processors | Lithography: 7nm | Cores: 12 | Threads: 24 | Cache: 6MB L2, 64MB L3 | Multi-Threading: Yes | Unlocked Multiplier: Yes | Integrated graphics: No | Socket: AMD AM4 | Base clock: 3.7GHz | Boost clock: 4.8GHz | Rated TDP: 105W | Bundled cooler: No

If your concern only has the best gaming CPU that manages the basic tasks, Ryzen 5 5600 is okay. But, if you are interested in video editing too, you require some more threads if you have an unbeatable fastest chip for gaming and streaming. Along with gaming, it also offers video editing and online streaming. It takes time to complete the tasks for heavy workloads, so if these things suit you ahead, take it. On top of that, its Zen 3 core architecture allows this processor to offer impressive IPS enhancements and speeds.

The specifications of this chip include 12 cores and 24 threads, enough for exploring different tasks on a PC. In this process, the standard clock speed is 3.7 GHz, while you can take it up to 4.8 GHz with a boost. In one of the tests, it overclocked up to 5.0 GHz. The process comes with PCIe 4.0 support and requires a motherboard compatible with the Socket AM4 platform. The cache memory of 70 MB is there to improve the performance. Overall, it’s a downgraded version of the Ryzen 9 5950x with great value for money. 

The TDP is only 65, but still, you will need a cooler with a maximum temperature of 90°C. The cooler you have to purchase by yourself as it is not included in the package. If all you want is great gaming, then it works well, being the best CPU for gaming. It will quickly provide you with more than 100 FPS for dealing with most high-end games. It builds up with the uncontested gaming chip. However, when it comes to heavy workloads, you might have to compromise on the unit’s efficacy. Otherwise, for video editing, it is pretty nice. 

THE PROS

12 cores and 24 threads

Unlocked multiplier

Good single and multi-thread performance

Power-efficient

THE CONS

No cooler added

No integrated graphics

Intel Core i9 12900K

Intel Core i9 12900K
Intel Core i9 12900K

Brand: Intel | Series/Family: 12th Generation Intel Core i9 Processors | Lithography: Intel 7nm | Cores: 16 | Threads: 24 | Cache: 30MB Intel Smart Cache | Hyper-Threading: Yes | Unlocked Multiplier: Yes | Integrated graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 770 | Socket: LGA1700 | Base clock: Efficient core: 2.4GHz, Performance core: 3.2GHz  | Boost clock: Efficient core: 3.9GHz, Performance core: 5.1GHz, Maximum Boost: 5.2GHz | Rated TDP: 241W maximum | Bundled cooler: No

Do you want the world’s fastest CPU with an all-rounder utility? If yes, choose the Intel Core i9-12900K, the best enthusiast CPU for gaming and other load-intensive jobs. It completes your PC build-up if you are someone who needs serious power. The reason to rank it the third number is its massive price that not everybody can afford. If you want to deal with only the gaming department, it is much more. You can go with the above two pocket-friendly CPUs. But, if your dream is to have this gem and challenge the limits, choose it without any doubt.

The CPU has sturdy and stable 16 cores and 24 threads, along with Hyper-Threading technology to boost multitasking. It enables you to exceed the limits by reaching up to 5.2 GHz turbo clock speed. It provides you with mind-blowing overclocking strength. With this unit, you do 4K gaming, 3D rendering, video editing, and many challenging projects in a single handled. If we call it a powerhouse, then there’s nothing wrong. It shines on your PC system due to the OG performance and latest features, plus it can handle everything on its way.

Furthermore, the 30MB L3 cache memory enhances the system’s performance further by providing the best hit rate in minimal time. Likewise, i5 12600K also gives you 20 advanced PCIe 5.0 lanes. Also, the TDP is the same, which is 125W which means you need an effective cooler along with it. Anyhow, the decision is yours; that’s all about i9 12900K. Overall, the Intel Core i9 12900K comprises serious PC enthusiasts dealing with numerous complex projects. No doubt, it stands on all the expectations of the passionate PC builder. 

THE PROS

DDR5 and PCIe 5.0 compatibility

Enhanced multithreaded performance

5.2 GHz clock speed with turbo boost

Fantastic single-threaded performance

THE CONS

Power-hungry

Extremely expensive

AMD Ryzen 7 5800X

AMD Ryzen 7 5800X
AMD Ryzen 7 5800X

Brand: AMD | Series/Family: AMD Ryzen 9 Desktop Processors | Lithography: 7nm | Cores: 8 | Threads: 16 | Cache: 4MB L2, 32MB L3 | Multi-Threading: Yes | Unlocked Multiplier: Yes | Integrated graphics: No | Socket: AMD AM4 | Base clock: 3.8GHz | Boost clock: 4.7GHz | Rated TDP: 105W | Bundled cooler: No

Now for the people who want a good-quality processor for mid-tier gaming and content creation, the AMD Ryzen 7 5800X is perfect. It is the best mid-range CPU for gaming with an affordable price, an excellent approach to performance, and an outstanding value for the money. Structure-wise, it’s powered by the Zen 3 core architecture to get a 19% hype in IPC or instruction per cycle, lower latencies, and efficient power usage. In addition, it can beat the Intel 10th generation chips with the help of a compatible CPU and mother circuit. 

As far as the specifications matter, it comes with eight cores and sixteen threads that enable you a long-lasting pleasant gaming experience for decent gaming. Besides, the processor offers you good single-thread performance; however, the multi-thread varies depending on the task. These cores count offers a base clock of up to 3.8GHz while the turbo boost reaches 4.7 GHz. Furthermore, it gives you about 32MB of the cache memory of L3, along with DDR4-3200 and PCIe 4.0 support. Hence, there is no chance of slowing down when issuing your CPU commands. 

Suppose you want to do some rendering to choose it without any problem. In such a case, the Ryzen 7 5800x is for you. For gaming, it provides you with 54 FPS compared to 10700K’s, which is only 43 FPS, and it is high. In short, it’s perfect for building a new PC and needs a future-proof CPU. Even though it competes with Intel gaming, it can be used for some intense projects. Anyhow, there is no heatsink and an integrated graphics card. For productive use, you can choose this AMD Ryzen 7 5800X. You can consider this CPU for a decent gaming experience. 

THE PROS

Eight cores and sixteen threads

32 MB of cache memory

Excellent Zen 3 architecture

Fantastic for gaming and rendering

THE CONS

Need a separate graphic card

No heatsink

Conclusion

Here we have completed our reviews on the best CPU for gaming. We have mentioned a total of eight products while considering the needs of many people. We bring out some fantastic options for both Intel and AMD lovers. When you explore all of them in the post, many things will be apparent to you. Every processor in the list has its significance; you can underestimate anyone. In addition, if you are facing difficulty in making a decision, then we do one thing: make a list of your desired features. Now check your budget, and write it on a sheet. Now figure out which one from the list fulfills your most requirements.

If you are still confused, then we can suggest our recommendations. If your primary concern is only the best gaming, take i5 12600K as the best choice for Intel’s lover. If you aim to build a severe PC system that supports your complex multi-task, the i9 12900K can be a reasonable consideration. Furthermore, those who are AMD enthusiasts and want a top-tier gaming chip, you can check out the AMD Ryzen 9 5950x with salient features. In contrast, the budget-conscious users can go for the Intel Core i5 10400F. But you may have to compromise on overclocking to some extent due to locked multiplier.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which is the best budget gaming CPU?

Intel Core i5 10400F is the best budget gaming CPU. It has six cores and twelve threads. If you can’t afford other options for gaming, then it will be an excellent deal. It enables you to have a decent gaming experience at an affordable price. However, you can overclock here, so if you are not interested in this and want light gaming, then go for it.

What is the fastest CPU for gaming?

The clear winner of this fastest gaming tag is none other than Intel i9-12900K. No doubt, the performance and speed both are commendable of this processor. Plus, it has been made for serious people about the PC build-up. It can help you in gaming and video editing and rendering. The problem is only in the price. If you are interested in something more than gaming, it will be a good option for Intel’s lover; otherwise, 12600K is a smart pick.

Which is the most compatible CPU for gaming?

Intel Core i5 12600K is the most compatible gaming processor. It has ten cores and 16 threads for a stable performance. With his CPU, you can effortlessly perform every type of game from low to high quality. It is embedded with advanced features and functions. Also, the price tag contains much more justification than others.

Arslan Ashraf

Arslan Ashraf is a tech enthusiast and an experienced technical writer at GamingDairy. He has been writing all types of guides, tutorials, and tips for gamers, developers, and other people who use computers. His way of writing is quite unique: he starts with testing every single piece of Hardware and does a long list of experiments before writing the actual masterpiece. Well, if you have any queries, ensure to connect with him!