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How to Safely Overclock Your CPU: Get the Most MHz

(Image credit: Intel)

Contrary to innumerable reports of its demise, overclocking is not dead — not by a long shot. Yes, overclocking headroom has receded as the Intel vs AMD rivalry has intensified and the chipmakers focus on squeezing out every ounce of performance, particularly in the highest-end flagship processors. However, Intel’s Alder Lake chips represent a return of generous overclocking headroom, helping the chips take key spots on our list of best CPUs for gaming. AMD’s latest chips don’t have as much headroom for manual overclocking — the company’s automated overclocking features are best for tuning — but like Intel, AMD exposes a wealth of other tuning options that can give you a nice bump in performance.

Should you overclock your CPU? Well, there are a set of best practices that you should follow when you overclock your processor, and if you take a reasonable approach, the risk is minimal. Today, we’ll show you how to overclock your CPU and teach you how to unlock the hidden performance lurking under your heatspreader. We also have CPU overclocking benchmarks showing the performance increases we achieved with relatively easy techniques. Here’s our guide that shows the steps you take to overclock your CPU.  

CPU Overclocking Checklist

Before we start turning up the dial on the voltages and fans, you’ll need to make sure that your system is ready for overclocking. As always, we have to caution that overclocking voids the warranty on any processor, and you run the risk of damaging your chip if you apply excessive voltage. Overclocking also increases power consumption and heat, so you’ll need to accept and accommodate those needs. Excessive voltage and heat can also result in reduced chip lifespan due to premature degradation if you don’t stay within reasonable boundaries.

However, if you take the right precautions, the chance of damage to your chip is minimal. Modern chips have a plethora of in-built safety mechanisms that help reduce the risks associated with overclocking. If you take a common-sense and responsible approach, you can squeeze every single megahertz out of the processor without assuming unnecessary risks.
Do I own an overclockable CPU?

Naturally, you’ll need an overclockable processor. AMD’s generous overclocking policy means that you can overclock nearly any chip. For Intel, you’ll need a K-series chip if you plan on increasing the chips’ core frequency, which is the most basic method of overclocking. That’s because K-Series chips have an unlocked multiplier that allows you to easily dial up the frequency on your chip. As always, you’ll be at the whims of the silicon lottery when it comes to the maximum overclock you can squeeze out of your chip — some chips simply overclock better than others, even when they are otherwise identical. 

Does my motherboard allow me to overclock?

AMD allows overclocking on any chipset except the A-series motherboards. For Intel, if you plan on doing full core frequency overclocking, you’ll need a Z-series motherboard, as Intel doesn’t allow you to change the chip’s frequency on cheaper B- and H-series motherboards. Most higher-end motherboards have robust power delivery subsystems but performance varies, so pay attention to motherboard reviews to find your best option. You can hit our list of Best Motherboards to see the best models on the market.

Can my CPU cooler keep my overclocked processor cool?

Keeping your CPU as cool as possible is one of the keys to attaining the highest CPU overclocks. Check out our Best CPU coolers article for recommended options, and be sure to use one of the Best Thermal Pastes to ensure your cooler is effective. Ensuring that your case has adequate ventilation is also key, so be sure to ensure that you have enough airflow. 

As a general rule of thumb, more is better for cooling; a CPU cooler that can handle 40% more TDP than your CPU’s rating is preferred. However, having less cooling headroom won’t prevent you from extracting any gains at all — the chip’s peak temperatures will just limit how much you can overclock. The definition of sufficient cooling can vary based on your personal preference, but your overriding goal should be to prevent thermal throttling. We’ll dive into that shortly. 

(Image credit: Corsair)

Overclocking all of the CPU cores at once (‘all-core’ overclocking) is the most common and easiest method of overclocking, but it does tend to generate the most heat. As a general rule, it’s preferable to have a 240mm All-In-One (AIO) liquid cooler (or air cooler equivalent) for all-core overclocking with a modern Core i5 or Ryzen 5, and you’ll want a more powerful 280mm AIO or better to wring out the most performance possible on the higher-end Core i7, i9, Ryzen 7 and 9 SKUs.

Overclocking cooling requirements can vary based on the generation of chip you’re tuning, so be aware those guidelines don’t apply to all previous-gen chips. More elegant overclocking approaches that don’t use brute-force all-core overclocking methods, like manipulating turbo ratios or only overclocking a few cores, can also extract extra performance even if you’re using a lesser cooler — you just have to pay close attention to your CPU temperature when you dial in the overclock. We’ll also cover those methods below.

Does my power supply have sufficient headroom?

Listed here last, but certainly not least, you’ll also need to ensure that you have one of the best power supplies for your system, but your requirements will vary based on the other components in your system. You can see the basic guidelines with a power supply calculator, but be sure to enter the maximum overclock frequency and voltage to ensure you have plenty of room for overclocking. Having plenty of power headroom, and clean power, is critical, so don’t skimp on the power supply. 

How to Overclock a CPU in BIOS or Windows

Overclocking requires changing several system settings, like voltages and clock speeds. You can do software overclocking inside Windows 10 and Windows 11 with utilities like Intel’s XTU or AMD’s Ryzen Master, or you can enter the values directly into the system BIOS/UEFI. It’s pretty simple to enter the BIOS to overclock; on the majority of platforms, you simply reboot the system and click delete or F2 repeatedly as it restarts. Both approaches have their strengths and weaknesses.

Software overclocking in Windows is a bit simpler because it uses standardized naming for the various settings, whereas motherboard makers often use different names for the same settings (luckily, the BIOS tends to have a short descriptor for each option). Additionally, overclocking in Windows allows you to make changes in real-time. In contrast, changing the values in the BIOS requires a system reboot before you see the impact. Overclocking your CPU in the BIOS does have one big advantage, though: There are far more fine-grained options available for more advanced tuners. Most die-hard overclockers stick with BIOS overclocking and use software tools for monitoring.

It is important to save your BIOS settings before you make changes. Overclocking your CPU is a trial-and-error process, so you might need to restore these settings several times. Most motherboards let you save your settings to a profile you can later restore, and you can assign simple names to keep track of multiple profiles. If you dial in good overclocked settings but would like to push even higher, it makes sense to save a profile so you can easily revert to a known-stable configuration if needed. 

While the names for certain settings can vary somewhat based on your motherboard vendor, the major manufacturers (Asus, ASRock, Gigabyte, and MSI) all include a wealth of options to overclock your CPU with their enthusiast-class boards. You can go as deep as you want on a top-tier motherboard, but the basics aren’t nearly as daunting as the wealth of options might suggest.

There are a plethora of settings and voltages you can manipulate for overclocking. For the scope of this article, we’ll only focus on the basic settings that you’ll need to get your overclock up and running. We’ll refer to these basic settings in the following sections, but we have also provided a glossary of other key BIOS terms at the bottom of the article for your reference.

  • CPU Ratio Multiplier — Dictates the ratio between the CPU and the BCLK. The formula to determine the processor’s frequency consists of multiplying the base clock by the CPU multiplier. For example, a processor with a 100 MHz BCLK with a multiplier of 50 will operate at 5,000 MHz, or 5 GHz. 
  • Base Clock (BCLK) — The frequency at which the processor communicates with the memory and PCIe devices. The default BCLK for Intel chips is 100 MHz, but you can adjust this for smaller incremental performance increases. Be aware that adjusting the base clock also impacts the PCIe and memory busses, so you should refrain from adjusting your BCLK until your overclock is stable. Even then, it would be best if you did so sparingly.  
  • CPU Core Ratio — This lets you choose whether you want to set the multiplier for all the cores in a group, or individually. The latter is referred to as per-core overclocking, and it allows you to tune individual cores to their highest potential instead of the lowest common denominator. This approach can also allow you to squeeze at least some overclocking headroom out of systems with lesser coolers.  
  • Vcore — This voltage goes by many names, like Core Voltage or vCore, but it always represents the motherboard’s main input voltage to the processor. This value has the most direct input on thermals, with higher amounts of voltage generating more heat. 

CPU Overclocking Stress Tests, Baseline Benchmarks

Overclocking your CPU is a balancing act that requires a few compromises, so you should establish baseline measurements of both performance and CPU thermals so you can see the impact. This baseline data helps you gauge the acceptable tradeoffs for the amount of performance you gain.

There are a plethora of software options for stress testing and monitoring — see our how to stress test your CPU guide for additional details. Some, like AIDA64 or OCCT, have in-built stress testing and monitoring, while others, like HWInfo, are purely designed to monitor performance. The chipmakers also provide their own software: Intel has Intel’s eXtreme Tuning Utility (XTU) software, while AMD provides its Ryzen Master software. Both of these applications allow for monitoring and overclocking from within Windows 10 and Windows 11, but other functions, like stress testing, vary.

Stress tests are a good way to evaluate your overclock’s stability because they fully stress the processor and generate a lot of heat. Some hardcore enthusiasts fry their chips for days at a time to ensure stability, while others do just a few hours of stress testing. It’s up to you to decide how long you want to run the tests. Just don’t fixate on them, and throw some daily use into the mix as well. Also, be sure to watch for signs of instability that are more subtle than an outright BSOD. For example, consider the system unstable if it hitches, stutters, or has momentary freezes.

Stress tests often stress your system beyond what you would encounter in normal use, so it’s best to use reasonable utilities and/or intense multi-threaded applications that you would find in normal PC use. We prefer AIDA64 and OCCT for quick synthetic stress testing, but employ the HandBrake and Blender applications for extended duration testing. You can also use Prime95 or Intel Burn Test if you’re interested in using the most intense tests available. 

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

Now that you’re ready, kick off your stress test and let it run until temperatures stabilize, then log the final measurements. As we’ve outlined in our how to check your CPU temperature article, it’s best to keep most chips below 80C during load and under 30C at idle to minimize long-term wear on the processor. However, AMD’s Ryzen 5000 processors are designed to run at up to 95C with a stock cooler, while Intel’s highest-end Core i9 Alder Lake processors can run up to 100C during normal operation. So you’ll need to check the chip specs to find the correct threshold.

Next, you want to set a performance baseline. The most general benchmarking rule is that the best performance benchmark is to simply measure the performance of the programs you use the most. However, those often don’t have built-in benchmarks. In that case, you can also use similar types of programs (renderers or encoders, for instance) as a proxy for your workload.

Synthetic gaming benchmarks don’t tend to translate well to real-world gaming, but given their stability and repeatability, these are great benchmarks for comparing performance before and after any changes you may make to your system. Be sure to turn off as many background tasks as possible during your benchmarks to eliminate that influence from your CPU benchmark results. 

You can get away with just CineBench, but the more the merrier. Run your tests and log the results. You’ll use this information to compare to later after you’ve overclocked the processor. Here are a few common benchmarks, but you can see a more expansive list in our CPU Benchmark article:

  • Cinebench R23 (MS Store ) — This rendering CPU benchmark program has both single- and multi-core benchmark modes. This is one of the most commonly-used CPU benchmarks. 
  • UL Benchmarks 3DMark — This synthetic CPU benchmark has a plethora of built-in tests for both CPUs and GPUs and is updated regularly with new tests. This is the go-to synthetic gaming test for many. 
  • CPU-Z — This is a common utility that exposes the details of your processor, but it also has a built-in CPU benchmark that is incredibly simple to run. CPU-Z test results are also widely shared among enthusiasts, so it’s easy to find comparison systems. 

How to Overclock a CPU

Overclocking your CPU is a balancing act that requires a few compromises, so you should establish baseline measurements of both performance and CPU thermals so you can see the impact. This baseline data helps you gauge the acceptable tradeoffs for the amount of performance you gain. Further below, we have a guide to walk you through that process and how to stress test your CPU. There are a plethora of software options for stress testing and monitoring — see our how to stress test your CPU guide for additional details. Some, like AIDA64 or OCCT, have in-built stress testing and monitoring, while others, like HWInfo, are purely designed to monitor performance. The chipmakers also provide their own software: Intel has Intel’s eXtreme Tuning Utility (XTU) software, while AMD provides its Ryzen Master software. Both of these applications allow for monitoring and overclocking from within Windows 10 and Windows 11, but other functions, like stress testing, vary.

Increasing the chips’ frequency through overclocking requires pumping more power through the chip, thus generating more heat, and higher frequencies typically result in faster aging, and thus lowered life span. As we’ve outlined in our how to check your CPU temperature article, it’s best to keep most chips below 80C during load and under 30C at idle to minimize long-term wear on the processor. However, AMD’s Ryzen 5000 processors are designed to run at up to 95C with a stock cooler, while Intel’s highest-end Core i9 Alder Lake processors can run up to 100C during normal operation. So you’ll need to do a bit of research to find the correct threshold.

Stress tests often merely serve as power viruses that will stress your system beyond what you would encounter in normal use, so it’s best to use reasonable utilities and/or intense multi-threaded applications that you would find in normal PC use. We prefer AIDA64 and OCCT for quick synthetic stress testing, but employ the HandBrake and Blender applications for extended duration testing. You can also use more stress tests, like Prime95 or Intel Burn Test, if you’re interested in using the most intense tests available. 

Stress tests are a good way to evaluate your overclock’s stability. Some hardcore enthusiasts love frying their chips for days at a time to ensure stability, while others do just a few hours of stress testing and call it a day. It’s up to you to decide how long you want to run the tests. Just don’t fixate on them, and throw some daily usage into the mix as well. Also, be sure to watch for signs of instability that are more subtle than an outright BSOD. For example, consider the system unstable if it hitches, stutters, or has momentary freezes.

Passing Prime95 doesn’t necessarily mean your processor is stable for other workloads, either. Remember, you can only prove instability, not stability. This means that regardless of the length of time that you stress test your processor and pass, you can still encounter a random BSOD. As such, don’t overclock mission-critical systems. You can reference our How to Stress-Test CPUs and PCs (Like We Do) article for more detail. Now that you’re ready, kick off your stress test and let it run until temperatures stabilize, then log the final measurements.

Next, you want to set a performance baseline. The most general benchmarking rule is that the best performance benchmark is to simply measure the performance of the programs you use the most. However, those often don’t have built-in benchmarks. In that case, you can also use similar types of programs (renderers or encoders, for instance) as a proxy for your workload.

Synthetic gaming benchmarks don’t tend to translate well to real-world gaming, but given their stability and repeatability, these are great benchmarks for comparing performance before and after any changes you may make to your system. Be sure to turn off as many background tasks as possible during your benchmarks to eliminate that influence from your CPU benchmark results.  Here are a few common benchmarks, but you can see a more expansive list in our CPU Benchmark article.

You can get away with just CineBench, but the more the merrier. Run your tests and log the results. You’ll use this information to compare to later after you’ve overclocked the processor. 

CPU Overclocking Benchmark Results

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(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)
(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

Here are the results of our overclocking with Intel’s Alder Lake chips compared to the Ryzen 5000 lineup in Windows 11, along with DDR4 vs DDR5 benchmarks and overclocked configurations. You can find more detailed breakdowns of our overclocking with the Core i9-12900K and i5-12600K here, and the Core i7-12700K details are here. We’ve overclocked the memory with these configurations, too. 

We generated these overall measurements of gaming performance as a geometric mean of our entire test suite. We also selected the most important single- and multi-threaded tests in our suite to generate those cumulative measurements. You can see an even more expansive view in our CPU Benchmark hierarchy.

Alder Lake vs Ryzen 5000 Overclock Uplift — Stock configuration used as baseline — Windows 11
Tom’s Hardware — %age Change 1080p Gaming Single-Thread Multi-Thread
Core i9-12900K DDR4/ DDR5 +9.7% / +5.2% +1.6% / +3.2% +3.3% / +7%
Ryzen 9 5950X +5% -2.3% +5.7%
Core i7-12700K DDR4/ DDR5 +9.8% / +7.1% +2.3% / +2.1% +3.9% / +6.4%
Ryzen 9 5900X +3.7% -0.6% +2.1%
Core i5-12600K DDR4/ DDR5 +15.2% / +12.9% +4% / +4.2% +8.8% / +11.3%
Ryzen 5 5600X +6.7% +3.8% +2.7%

As you can see above, the Alder Lake chips profit more from overclocking than the AMD Ryzen models, but both lineups do experience at least some improvement. The Core i5-12600K is a standout with a massive 15% gain in 1080p gaming performance. That’s more impressive than the 9% gain you’d get from spending $110 more for the Core i7-12700K. These lower-end chips are comparatively easier to overclock, too, and don’t require the highest-end cooling to pull off impressive results.

There are plenty of gains to be had for those at higher chip tiers, too. The Core i7-12700K shows similar overclocking headroom to the more expensive Core i9-12900K. After overclocking both chips, the 12700K is within 1% in gaming to the overclocked 12900K which costs a whopping $180 more. 

To represent what we think a normal user can achieve, we chose relatively mundane and simple overclocks for these chips — yet we still pulled off comparable or better gains in gaming than we would expect from moving forward to a new generation of CPUs. Even though we can’t guarantee that your results will match ours, it’s clear that overclocking is alive and well.

How to Overclock a CPU With Multi-Core Enhancement (MCE)

We always recommend manual tuning, but Intel has its one-click auto-overclocking Intel Performance Maximizer (IPM) tool available for some chips. This utility makes overclocking simple, and it comes straight from Intel’s overclocking team.

Intel’s motherboard partners have also infused their boards with predefined all-core boost profiles that go by many names, such as Multi-Core Enhancement (MCE) with ASUS motherboards and Enhanced Turbo with MSI motherboards. These features are largely referred to as MCE, but the functionality remains the same: These settings essentially apply an all-core overclock to the processor that is defined by the maximum Turbo Boost bin supported by the processor. This modifies the CPU’s clock rate and voltage to deliver higher performance. Performance, power consumption, and heat are all affected, naturally.

Motherboard vendors predetermine the voltage settings at the factory, meaning the settings do not take chip quality into account. Instead, the vendor tests a large number of CPUs in each respective SKU and sets the parameters based on the worst common denominator. As such, these settings typically use a much higher voltage than required for even chips of «normal» quality, which can reduce the chips’ lifespan and result in a hotter and noisier system. We always recommend manual tuning over MCE approaches, but if you have sufficient cooling and aren’t as worried about heat generation and power efficiency, this is the quickest method. 

Intel P-Cores and E-Cores CPU Overclocking

(Image credit: Intel XTU / Tom’s Hardware)

Alder Lake has P-cores for latency-sensitive work that tends to be lightly threaded, while the E-cores step in for multi-threaded work and background tasks. The E-cores can only be overclocked in groups of four, while P-Cores can be overclocked individually or in groups. Alder Lake provides plenty of options for fine-tuning — you can disable the E-cores entirely, which often allows you to eke out a slightly higher overclock (typically a single bin) on the P-Cores.

Choosing whether to disable the E-cores will depend on your own personal preference, but leaving both the P-cores and E-cores active will offer the best blend of overclocking performance for most users in both Windows 10 and Windows 11. However, this means that you’ll have to overclock them separately. Head over to our How to Overclock Alder Lake CPUs guide for more detailed instructions. 

All-Core, Per-Core and Turbo Ratio CPU Overclocking

You can overclock the CPU frequency in three ways: All core, Per core, and via Turbo Ratios, with the last option only available on Intel processors. The ‘all core’ setting is what we traditionally associate with overclocking. ‘All core’ is the simplest method by far because it assigns one static frequency to all cores at once. ‘Simplest’ doesn’t always translate to ‘best,’ though.

Overclocking via the Turbo Ratios is one of the best ways to dial in a refined overclock, as this allows you to define the peak boost frequency based on how many cores are active. This feature can help you eke out a slightly higher overclock by targeting more robust cores with higher frequencies, but just as importantly, it allows the processor to drop back into its base frequency when the chip isn’t under load. This allows the chip to run cool when it isn’t busy and also reduces the amount of time the chip is at the highest frequencies, which is important for chip longevity (more on that below). 

If you overclock via the turbo ratios, you’ll need to make sure that your Windows power profile is set to ‘Balanced’ or lower (the ‘High Performance’ profile keeps the chip at its peak turbo frequency at all times). You can use our above step-by-step guide to overclock using this approach, but instead of modifying the CPU ratio multiplier in Step one, simply modify the Turbo Boost multipliers instead.

The ‘Per Core’ feature allows you to assign a unique frequency to each individual core. This can be helpful if you identify that some cores are more capable of sustaining a higher frequency than others. This setting is most useful for advanced tuners and can require a fair amount of investigative work to determine the appropriate clock speed for each core. In this case, you would cycle through each core and target it individually with a stress test as you work your way through the steps above, finding the peak for each core.

How to Overclock an AMD CPU

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

AMD’s Ryzen chips don’t have much manual overclocking headroom available, largely because the company’s boosting algorithms automatically expose the most performance possible given the capabilities of your motherboard’s power delivery subsystem and your cooler. You can choose to manually overclock your AMD CPU following the steps we outlined above, but the company’s auto-overclocking Precision Boost Overdrive 2 (PBO) feature helps increase performance in a mostly-automated fashion and is the best option for the majority of Ryzen overclockers. Although this is an AMD-provided technique, engaging PBO does void the warranty.

AMD defines three types of power limits for its chips: PPT is the maximum power consumption allowed, TDC is the maximum sustained current, and EDC is the maximum burst current. You can override those settings either manually or with AMD’s PBO. You can access this feature via either the BIOS or Ryzen Master software when you overclock in Windows 10 or Windows 11. 

PBO typically doesn’t deliver huge performance gains if you adhere to the basic presets. The basic «enabled (PBO on)» preset enables significantly higher default PPT/TDC/EDC limits, but doesn’t change two important settings: PBO Scalar or Clock.

PBO Scalar overrides the AMD default settings and allows increased voltage at the maximum boost frequency and lengthens boosting duration. Changing the PBO Scalar setting unlocks the best auto-overclocking performance, so the basic preset can be lacking. You can increase this value in increments of 1X, but we typically skip right to the 10X (maximum) setting. The PBO ‘Clock’ setting also allows the CPU to exceed its standard boost by a defined variable. We usually max this setting out, but it does have a limited impact.  

You can also use the «PBO Advanced» profile that defines the limits of each motherboard based on the capabilities of the power delivery subsystem (as defined by the motherboard vendor). This setting exposes the highest PPT, TDC, and EDC settings for the motherboard, but also doesn’t change the PBO Scalar and Clock settings. However, this setting does allow you to change the PBO Scalar and Clock settings manually, with the former usually unlocking much higher auto-overclocking potential. We find that using the PBO Advanced setting with adjusted PBO Scalar and Clocks values yields the best benefits. 

Ryzen also profits handsomely from memory and fabric overclocking. As such, you should pay particular attention to tuning the chips for the best possible memory frequencies with the lowest timings. Additionally, bumping up the fabric clock (FCLK) is an important component of wringing out the most performance possible. You want this value to have a 1:1 ratio with your memory data transfer speed. For instance, a 2000 MHz FLCK with DDR4-4000 is a sweet spot for memory overclockers.

This 1:1 ratio is referred to as ‘coupled mode’ and is the sweet spot for Zen 2 and Zen 3 processors. You’ll need to dial up the CCD and IOD voltage to achieve stability with higher (1800+) FCLK ranges. However, be aware that the peak FCLK speed can vary widely based on the generation of chip you’re using, so there is a bit of luck involved. We expect most Ryzen 5000 chips to reach a 2000 MHz FCLK. 

Undervolting is another performance tuning technique with AMD’s Ryzen CPUs. This allows you to lower your voltages so the system can hit higher frequencies at lower voltages. Even though it can result in less heat, noise, and power consumption, this isn’t used as commonly as PBO because it can require quite a bit more time to achieve the desired results. However, it does pay off. You can achieve this through the ‘Curve Optimizer,’ an advanced PBO setting that automates the process. This setting allows you to undervolt on a per-core or all-core basis (all-core is best for all but the most hardcore tuners). 

The Curve Optimizer is automated and allows you to either increase voltages or decrease them by assigning an offset — the chip’s automatic mechanisms take care of the rest. You select either a ‘positive’ or ‘negative’ ‘Curve Optimizer Sign’ to tell the chip if you’re increasing or decreasing the voltage, and then assign a ‘Magnitude’ value (1-30) to tell the chip how much to automatically increase/decrease the voltage throughout the voltage/frequency curve. However, this is a ‘scale’ value, so it doesn’t have a 1:1 correlation to the actual voltage. After applying the settings, follow the stress testing and performance benchmarking advice above, logging thermals as you go, to dial in the correct setting. This technique does require quite a bit of trial and error but can pay dividends for dedicated overclockers. 

CPU Overclocking Impact on Lifespan and Reliability

Legendary overclocker Allen «Splave» Golibersuch in action at the lab (Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

Will overclocking kill your CPU? Not if you follow common-sense steps and take a conservative approach. There are settings and techniques that overclockers can use to minimize the impact of overclocking, and if done correctly, premature chip death from overclocking isn’t a common occurrence.

Intel’s overclocking guru Dan Ragland has given us specific advice when it comes to overclocking when we visited the company’s overclocking lab. We’ll share an excerpt of those learnings here:

Every semiconductor process has a point on its voltage/frequency curve beyond which a processor will wear out at an untenable rate. If the chip wears enough, it triggers electromigration (the process of electrons slipping through the electrical pathways), which leads to premature chip death. Some factors are known to increase the rate of wear, such as the higher current and thermal density that comes as a result of overclocking.

All this means that, like the carton of milk in your refrigerator, your chip has an expiration date. Because increasing frequency through overclocking requires pumping more power through the chip, thus generating more heat, higher frequencies typically result in faster aging, and thus lowered life span. Intel’s overclocking team recommends using adaptive voltage targets for overclocking and leaving C-States enabled. Not to mention using AVX offsets to keep temperatures in check during AVX-heavy workloads.

The amount of time a processor stays in elevated temperature and voltage states has the biggest impact on lifespan. You can control the temperature of your chip with better cooling, which then increases lifespan (assuming the voltage is kept constant). Assuming voltage remains constant, each successive drop in temperature results in a non-linear increase in life expectancy, so the ‘first drop’ in temps from 90C to 80C yields a huge increase in chip longevity. In turn, colder chips run faster at lower voltages, so dropping the temperature significantly by using a beefier cooling solution also allows you to drop the voltage further, which then helps control the voltage axis.

In the end, though, voltage is the hardest variable to contain. Ragland pointed out that voltages are really the main limiter that prevents Intel from warrantying overclocked processors, as higher voltages definitely reduce the lifespan of a processor. But Ragland has some advice: «As an overclocker, if you manage these two [voltage and temperature], but especially think about ‘time in state’ or ‘time at high voltage,’ you can make your part last quite a while if you just think about that. It’s the person that sets their system up at elevated voltages and just leaves it there 24/7 [static overclock], that’s the person that is going to burn that system out faster than someone who uses the normal turbo algorithms to do their overclocking so that when the system is idle your frequency drops and your voltage drops with it. So, There’s a reason we don’t warranty it, but there’s also a way that overclockers can manage it and be a little safer.»

That means manipulating the turbo boost ratio is much safer than assigning a static clock ratio via multipliers. As an additional note, you should shoot for idle temperatures below 30C, though that isn’t much of a problem if you overclock via the normal turbo algorithms as described by Ragland.

Motherboard BIOS CPU Overclocking Glossary

  • Voltage Mode — Auto lets the motherboard decide the voltage to apply to the processor while ‘Manual’ or ‘Override’ allows you to assign a fixed Vcore. Offset mode adds a specific amount of voltage to the processor regardless of the frequency, while Adaptive voltage increases the voltage when the processor operates in turbo mode. 
  • AVX Offset — A separate multiplier that can adjust the processor frequency when it executes AVX workloads. AVX instructions yield massive speed-ups, but these instructions also generate more heat and consume more power than other types of instructions, which can lead to system instability during overclocking. Most software and games do not use AVX instructions, so dialing the AVX offset back to reduce the core frequency during these taxing workloads is critical to attaining peak performance in non-AVX applications. 
  • Load-Line Calibration (LLC) — Sometimes, typically when the processor is first placed under load, the CPU doesn’t receive the amount of voltage set by the user. This condition is caused by voltage droop (Vdroop) and it can result in either lower or higher voltages than intended. Load-line calibration basically compensates for Vdroop by assuring that voltages remain at a more even level. There are multiple LLC options in most motherboards, but Auto typically suffices for most users with higher-end (or newer) motherboards. 
  • SpeedStep — Intel — Feature that increases or decreases processor speed and voltage according to system load. 
  • Uncore — Intel — Regulates the frequency of the different controllers on the processor like the L3 cache, ring bus, memory controller, etc. 
  • FCLK — Intel — Controls the speed at which data is passed from the processor to the graphics card. AMD — Specifies the Infinity Fabric frequency (important for memory overclocking) 
  • VCCSA — Voltage for the System Agent. Increasing this voltage can help stability when overclocking the ring bus and cache frequency.  
  • VCCIO — Voltage for the memory controller and shared cache. 
  • Extreme Memory Profile (XMP) — Enables the XMP profile on compatible memory kits. XMP profiles apply pre-validated memory overclocks by simply toggling the feature on in either the BIOS or a software overclocking utility.
  • MORE: Best CPUs for Gaming
  • MORE: CPU Benchmark Hierarchy
  • MORE: AMD vs Intel
  • MORE: Ryzen 7000 All We Know
  • MORE: Raptor Lake All We Know
  • MORE: How to check your CPU temperature

Paul Alcorn is the Deputy Managing Editor for Tom’s Hardware US. He writes news and reviews on CPUs, storage and enterprise hardware.




How to Buy the Right CPU: A Guide for 2021 — Tom’s Hardware

Choosing the best CPU matters a lot, whether you’re upgrading your existing system or building a new PC. Higher clock speeds and core counts can make a major difference in performance, providing a snappier system, smoother gameplay and faster completion of intensive tasks such as video editing and transcoding. Plus, the CPU you choose will also dictate your motherboard options, as each processor only works with a specific CPU socket and set of chipsets.

Also, like most aspects of consumer tech, you’ll have to decide to buy the best processor that’s available right now, or wait to see what next-generation chips bring to the table. AMD’s Ryzen 5000 CPUs are impressive, finally generally overtaking competing Intel CPUs in single- and multi-core performance. But due to a combination of high demand, limited capacity at TSMC’s chip fabs and the ongoing pandemic, AMD’s latest CPUs have been very hard to find in stock at or near their MSRPs since launch. 

Meanwhile, Intel is about to finally move away from a Skylake-based architecture, with Rocket Lake-S. Intel’s new chips promise solid single-core performance gains of their own, as well as a sift to a platform that finally supports PCI 4. 0 — a feature AMD rolled out in its Ryzen chips nearly two years ago.

(Image credit: Connect world/Shutterstock)

If you already know a lot about CPU specs and want recommendations, check out our picks for best CPUs for gaming and best CPUs for workstations and the best cheap CPUs of 2021, tested and ranked. We also have a list of the best chips on the market according to their CPU Benchmarks. But no matter which desktop processor you get, here are some things to keep in mind.


  • AMD has overtaken Intel (for now): These days, you’ll often get more for less with an AMD processor, including a nice in-box cooler (although not with the highest-end Ryzen 7 and 9 Ryzen 5000 models) and more cores/threads. Gaming performance has also shifted in favor of AMD for the most part, with the Ryzen 5 5600X overtaking even higher-end Intel CPUs at 1080p and stock settings. And AMD has long handled tasks like video editing faster. But the 1080p gaming performance edge may shift back to Intel once Rocket Lake-S arrives.
  • For many tasks, clock speed is more important than core count: Higher clock speeds translate to snappier performance in simple, common tasks such as gaming, while more cores will help you get through time-consuming workloads faster.
  • Budget for a full system: Pair a strong CPU with one of the best SSDs, ample RAM and one of the best graphics cards.

AMD or Intel: Which Should You Get?

Up until 2017, AMD was the clear underdog. But with its Ryzen / Threadripper series chips, the company has moved steadily toward performance parity with Intel. And with Ryzen 5000 and chips like the Ryzen 5 5600X in particular, AMD has in most respects moved past Intel’s current offerings, often delivering better performance in both light and heavy workloads that tax many cores. The matchup may change substantially though, once Intel’s latest Rocket Lake-S CPUs arrive later in 2021.

All that said, both companies may very capable CPUs. Some fans will have strong opinions, but if you don’t have your heart set on one brand or the other, you should be open to either. For much more on this, see our Intel vs AMD: Who Makes the Best CPUs? feature.

What do you want to do with your CPU?

It’s tempting to just spend as much as you can afford for a CPU, but you might be better off saving some of your cash for other components. Determine your processor type and max budget based on what you need your computer to do.

  • Basic tasks: $50-$100 range. If you’re only after a chip that will let you watch video, browse the Web, and do basic productivity tasks like word processing and light spreadsheet work, then an entry-level chip with two or four cores might be just what you need. But if you often find yourself doing more than one of those basic tasks at once, it would be better to step up a model or two. Consider a Ryzen 3, like the AMD Ryzen 3 1300X or AMD Ryzen 3 2200G, or Intel Pentium on the high end of this price range and an Intel Celeron or chips like AMD’s Athlon 200GE on the low end.
  • Gaming: $200-$300 range. If you’re primarily interested in high-end gaming performance, you should opt for a mid-range Intel Core i5 or AMD Ryzen 5 CPU with high clock speeds. Considering that the graphics card is more important for gaming than the processor, you can save money by not getting a more powerful Core i7 or Ryzen 7 chip.
  • Creative media work or overclocking: $300-$400 range. If you want more cores or speed for things like video editing—or you just want a fast, capable system with extra overhead for future computing tasks, splurge on a Ryzen 7 chip.
  • Workstation muscle: $400+. If you often find yourself waiting minutes or hours for your current system to render your 3D animation or 4K video, or you’re dealing with massive databases and complex math, consider an Intel Core X or AMD Threadripper CPU. These beasts offer massive amounts of physical cores (up to 64 as of this writing) for extreme multitasking (ex: gaming at high settings while streaming and editing) or time-consuming compute tasks. Business users can consider an Intel Xeon (like the recent Xeon W-3175X) or AMD EPYC processor, but those aren’t consumer friendly—or reasonably affordable. For those not quite willing to step up to multi-thousand-dollar CPUs and platforms, AMD’s 16-core Ryzen 9 5950X or 12-core Ryzen 9 5900X are both excellent alternatives that basically bring workstation-class performance to a mainstream platform.

What generation CPU do you need?

Intel Core and AMD Ryzen CPUs

Each year or so, Intel and AMD upgrade their processor lines with a new architecture. Intel is about to launch its «11th Gen Core Series,» with the Core i9 11900K at the top end. AMD’s latest chips are part of its Ryzen 5000 line, like the AMD Ryzen 5 5600X, Ryzen 7 5800X, and Ryzen 9 3900X. When looking at the model number, you can see the generation as the first digit of the four number (ex: the 8 in Core i7-8400 or the 3 in Ryzen 7 5700X). Note, though, that AMD skipped 4000 branding on its desktop CPUs.

How do you read the model names and numbers?

The jumble of brands and numbers that make up a CPU product name can be confusing. Intel and AMD both break down most of their chips into “good, better, best” categories, starting with Core i3/Ryzen 3, stepping up to Core i5/Ryzen 5, Core i7/Ryzen 7, and Core i9/Ryzen 9. Intel has the Core i9-10900K at the top of its mainstream product stack, as well as extreme/premium tier like the Core i9-10980XE, priced at around $1,000, just as AMD has Threadripper. But for the vast majority of users, these chips are unnecessary and well out of most people’s price ranges.

For users on a tight budget, Intel offers its Celeron and Pentium chips (Pentium is slightly faster) while AMD has its Athlon line. On the extreme high-end, you’ll find AMD’s Threadripper and Intel’s Core X series, along with the Core X/i9 and Xeon W (both mentioned above).

Now, what about the model numbers that come after the 3, 5, or 7? The first digit designates the product generation (Intel’s Core i7-8700 is an 8th Generation Core processor, and AMD’s Ryzen 5 2600 is a 2nd Generation Ryzen processor). The rest of the numbers just mark various models in the line, with higher generally being better (with more cores and/or higher clocks), while a “K” at the end of an Intel chip means it’s unlocked for overclocking. Only a handful of mainstream Intel chips are “K” skus, while nearly all of AMD’s Ryzen processors are unlocked for overclocking (no “K” designation required). An X at the end of AMD model numbers means higher stock clock speeds.

Should you overclock?

Overclocking, the practice of pushing a CPU to its limits by getting it to run at higher-than-specced clock speeds, is an artform that many enthusiasts enjoy practicing. But, if you’re not in it for the challenge of seeing just how fast you can get your chip to go without crashing, overclocking may not be worth the time or money for the average user.

In order to make your CPU achieve significantly higher clock speeds than it is rated for out of the box, you’ll likely spend extra on an enhanced cooling system and an overclocking-friendly motherboard. While nearly all recent AMD chips are overclockable to some extent, if you want to dial up an Intel chip, you’ll have to pay extra for one of its K-series processors (which don’t come with coolers). By the time you factor in all these extra costs, if you’re not shopping near the top of the CPU stack already, you’d be better off budgeting another $50-$100 (£30-£70) for a CPU that comes with higher clock speeds out of the box. And remember, even if you do get all the right equipment, you could still get a chip that doesn’t overclock well. Or worse if you don’t know what you’re doing, you could damage your CPU or shorten its lifespan by pushing too much voltage through it.

What are the key CPU specs and which should I care about?

If you’re looking at a spec sheet for a given CPU, you’ll see a lot of numbers. Here’s what to look out for.

  • Clock speeds: Measured in gigahertz (GHz), this is the speed at which the chip operates, so higher is faster. Most modern CPUs adjust their clock speeds up or down based on the task and their temperature, so you’ll see a base (minimum) clock speed and a turbo (maximum) speed listed.
  • Cores: These are the processors within the processor. Modern CPUs have between two and 64 cores, with most processors containing four to eight. Each one is capable of handling its own tasks. In most cases these days, you’ll want at least four cores—or at least four threads (see below).
  • Threads: This is the number of independent processes a chip can handle at once, which in theory would be the same as the number of cores. However, many processors have multithreading capability, which allows a single core to create two threads. Intel calls this Hyper-Threading and AMD calls it SMT (Simultaneous Multithreading). More threads means better multitasking and enhanced performance on heavily-threaded apps such as video editors and transcoders.
  • TDP: The Thermal Design Profile/Power (TDP) is the maximum amount of heat that a chip generates (or should generate) at stock speeds, as measured in watts. By knowing that—for example—the Intel Core i7-8700K has a TDP of 95 watts, you can make sure you have a CPU cooler that can handle that amount of heat dissipation and also that your PSU can provide enough juice. But note that CPUs put out significantly more heat when overclocked. It’s good to know what your TDP is so you can get the right cooling and power equipment to support your CPU. Also, a higher TDP usually coincides with faster performance, although things like process node size and general architecture efficiency come into play there as well.
  • Cache: A processor’s on-board cache is used to speed up access to data and instructions between your CPU and RAM. There are three types of cache: L1 is the fastest, but cramped, L2 is roomier but slower, and L3 is spacious, but comparatively sluggish. When the data a CPU needs isn’t available in any of these places, it reaches for the RAM, which is much slower—in part because it’s physically farther away than a CPU’s on-chip cache.

You shouldn’t pay too much attention to cache size, because it’s hard to equate to real-world performance, and there are more important factors to consider.

  • IPC: Even if you have two CPUs that have the same clock speed and number of threads, if they’re from different companies, or built on different architectures from the same company, they will will deliver different levels of IPC (instructions per clock cycle). IPC is heavily dependent on the CPU’s architecture, so chips from newer generations (ex: a Ryzen 5 5600X with Zen 3versus a Ryzen 7 2700X with Zen+) will be better than older ones.

IPC is not usually listed as a spec and is usually measured through benchmark testing, so the best way to learn about it is to read our CPU reviews.

What do you need more: clock speed, cores or threads?

The answer to this question really depends on your regular computing tasks. Higher clocks translate to quicker responsiveness and program load times (though RAM and storage speed is key here as well). Higher clock speeds also mean single-threaded tasks (like audio editing and certain older applications) can happen faster. Many popular games are still lightly threaded.

But many modern programs can take advantage of lots of cores and threads. If you do lots of multitasking or edit high-res videos, or do other complex, time-consuming CPU-heavy tasks, you should prioritize the number of cores. But for the vast majority of gamers and general-purpose computer users, a clock speed ranging from 3-4GHz with four to eight cores is plenty.

What socket does my motherboard need for this CPU?

A motherboard socket for a CPU.

Different processors require different socket types. If you already own a motherboard and don’t want to replace it, you’ll need to purchase a CPU that matches your board’s socket. Alternatively, you need to make sure that the motherboard you buy is compatible with your new processor.

For help choosing a motherboard, see our 2021 motherboard buying guide.

With its current-generation Ryzen and Athlon parts (barring Threadripper), AMD has adopted a single socket—AM4. That means you should, with a BIOS update, be able to put a current-generation Ryzen chip into prvious-generation Ryzen motherboard, and vice versa. But due to limitations to the size of available data stored inside BIOS chips and the vast numbers of CPUs AMD has released on AM4, this issue has gotten much more complicated lately.

Intel, on the other hand, has a tendency in recent years not to support backward compatibility with its new chips and older motherboards, even if the socket is effectively the same. For instance, Intel’s socket LGA 1150 and 1151 differ by a single pin, and the version of 1551 designed specifically for 8th Generation Core chips is physically the same as that made for previous 6th and 7th Generation Core processors. But those older 1151-socket motherboards don’t work with newer 1151-socket CPUs, because (Intel says) the newer chips (which have more cores) have different power delivery subsystem needs. Note that Intel has bucked this trend with socket LGA 1200, which will accept both 10th Gen Intel and upcoming 11th Gen intel CPUs.

Here’s a list of all the recent mainstream sockets and their respective chipsets for reference.

Socket and Chipset Table

Intel Mainstream Intel Mainstream AMD Mainstream Intel HEDT AMD HEDT (Threadripper)
Current CPU Sockets LGA 1200 LGA 1151 AM4 LGA 2066 TR4
Compatible Chipsets Z490/Z590, h570/H570, B460/B560, h510/H510 Z390, Z370, Z370, Q370, h470, B365, B360, h410 X570, X470, X370, B550, B450, B350, B450, A320, X300, A300 X299 X399

When choosing a CPU, first ask what you’re going to do with it, then see how much you can budget for it after you’ve figured out how much you’re spending on other components. Check our Best SSDs, Best RAM, Best Graphics Cards and Best Power Supplies guides for more details. While processors are important, there’s no point in pairing a high-speed chip with weak graphics (unless you aren’t a gamer) or a slow, spinning mechanical hard drive. While reading about specs like clock speed and thread count is helpful, the best measure of a processor’s performance comes from objective reviews, like those we write here on Tom’s Hardware.

MORE: CPU Benchmarks Hierarchy

MORE: All CPU Reviews

MORE: How to check CPU temperatures

MORE: How to Choose a Motherboard

MORE: How to Sell Your Used PC Components

After a rough start with the Mattel Aquarius as a child, Matt built his first PC in the late 1990s and ventured into mild PC modding in the early 2000s. He’s spent the last 15 years covering emerging technology for Smithsonian, Popular Science, and Consumer Reports, while testing components and PCs for Computer Shopper, PCMag and Digital Trends.

AMD Ryzen 5 5600 CPU review

Our Verdict

A great gaming CPU at a decent price point. It’s a shame the platform is hitting the end of its natural life, but you can still build a formidable machine around this and enjoy it for years to come.

  • Decent gaming performance
  • Great price point
  • Wraith Stealth cooler included
  • Unlocked too
  • 5600X doesn’t cost much more
  • Zen 4 is coming soon




Reduced Price

£219. 75



Reduced Price

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The original Ryzen 5 5600X was the standout chip for gamers from AMD’s initial Zen 3 launch. It didn’t have the stupendous core count of the Ryzen 9 5950X or the 5900X , but it still packed an impressively focused punch when it came to gaming. So much so in fact that it was our processor of choice for a good year and a half until Intel’s Alder Lake upset AMD’s dominance.

The Ryzen 5 5600 is AMD’s answer to Intel’s 12th Gen chips, along with the cache-rich Ryzen 7 5800X3D , Ryzen 5 5500 , and Ryzen 7 5700X. Apart from the 5800X3D, these are all budget versions of what has come before. And undercutting Intel is no bad thing in our book. 

This is a six-core, 12-thread chip that closely resembles its namesake, the Ryzen 5 5600X, apart from dropping the list price down to $159 and easing back on the operating frequency ever so slightly as well. You’re looking at a 3.5GHz base clock and a max turbo of 4.4GHz, both of which are 200MHz slower than the 5600X.

You get the same support for DDR4 and PCIe 4.0, there’s 32MB of L3 cache, and it still comes with the impressively quiet Wraith Stealth cooler. It’s built on the same 7nm TSMC production process and features the same 65W TDP too. Everything a gamer needs without paying over the odds.

AMD Ryzen 5 5600 specs

(Image credit: Future)

Cores: 6
Thread: 12
Base clock: 3.5GHz
Boost clock: 4.4GHz
L3 Cache: 32MB
Memory support: DDR4 3200MHz
Socket: AM4
TDP: 65W
Cooler: Wraith Stealth
Price: $159 | £149

Don’t let that lack of a trailing X confuse you either, it’s still an unlocked chip and therefore can be pushed that little bit harder with some judicious overclocking if you want to splash out on a serious cooler. The benefit of such activities isn’t as obvious as it once was, especially when it comes to gaming, but if you want to get the absolute most out of your purchase, then at least you know it’s an option.

This is of course assuming that the chip delivers where it matters most—in actual games.

A good gaming chip doesn’t have to top the gaming benchmarks. It simply needs to offer strong performance at a reasonable price point. That’s why the original Ryzen 5 5600X was our pick of the crop and why it was replaced by the more-affordable Core i5 12600K , not one of these ‘fastest gaming CPUs’ that keep appearing at nearly $500.

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(Image credit: Future)

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Test rig

Cooler: Zadak Spark AIO
Motherboard: Gigabyte X570 Aorus Master
RAM: 16GB Thermaltake DDR4 @3,600MHz
GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080
Storage: 1TB Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus
PSU: Ikonik Vulcan 1200W

The good news here is that while the 5600 is slightly off the pace of its bigger brother in some games, it’s not by much, and the potential saving on offer can certainly make that difference a hit worth taking.

In our gaming suite, you’re looking at a 9% difference in the worst-case scenario that is F1 2021, and essentially no difference in the likes of Total War: Three Kingdoms and Shadow of the Tomb Raider. Indeed, this CPU actually had a small lead in the latest outing for Lara Croft, albeit within the margin of error. Generally though, you’re talking about single-digit differences in frame rates. 

Given this chip is unlocked, you could potentially make up that difference with a good enough cooler and some PBO tweakery. Not a bad place to be for a chip that can be had for half the price of what the Ryzen 5 5600X originally launched at.

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(Image credit: Future)

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The performance in more serious applications isn’t bad either, although if you need to render 3D graphics or encode video on your CPU, then you’ll be better off dropping more on the likes of the 5900X or 5950X. They’re notable more expensive, but significantly faster too.

This is an impressive CPU at a great price.

Don’t let that detract from the positives for gaming though. This is an impressive CPU at a great price. This is exactly how you should release a budget version of a popular CPU after the fact. It’s a shame we had to wait so long for AMD to hit this price point, but it got there in the end.

If there is a problem for the Ryzen 5 5600 it’s that it doesn’t exist in a vacuum and the Ryzen 5 5600X has dropped significantly from its original $299 retail price as well. You can now pick up the 5600X for $189, which is just $30 more than the $159 you can expect to pay for this. The extra outlay doesn’t secure much in real terms, particularly when it comes to gaming, but $30 for a few more frames here and there doesn’t feel ridiculous.

(Image credit: Future)

A slightly tougher issue is the spectre of Zen 4 looming on the horizon. The budget end of AMD’s current lineup probably isn’t under so much threat as the top end—the decision to support DDR5 makes for a more expensive upgrade path, and if the Ryzen 5 5600X launch price is anything to go by, then the Ryzen 5 7600X equivalent could be double the price of this chip.

Overall, the Ryzen 5 5600 is a great chip. It may be on a platform that isn’t long for this world, and that does affect its value proposition to a degree, but there’s very little out there than can compete in straight performance terms. Particularly when it comes to gaming. Paired with a budget B550 or X570 motherboard, 16GB of RAM, and a speedy PCIe 4.0 SSD, you can build a great core for not much money, leaving you more cash to drop on a quality graphics card. As it should be.

Read our review policy

AMD Ryzen 5 5600

A great gaming CPU at a decent price point. It’s a shame the platform is hitting the end of its natural life, but you can still build a formidable machine around this and enjoy it for years to come.

Alan has been writing about PC tech since before 3D graphics cards existed, and still vividly recalls having to fight with MS-DOS just to get games to load. He fondly remembers the killer combo of a Matrox Millenium and 3dfx Voodoo, and seeing Lara Croft in 3D for the first time. He’s very glad hardware has advanced as much as it has though, and is particularly happy when putting the latest M.2 NVMe SSDs, AMD processors, and laptops through their paces. He has a long-lasting Magic: The Gathering obsession but limits this to MTG Arena these days.

The Best CPUs for Gaming in 2022

These days, you’re not suffering for choice if you’re shopping for a new desktop CPU. Far from it! And that’s true whether you’re buying a new processor to build a gaming rig, one packed with cores for speedy content creation or media crunching, or a slice of silicon that aces all of those tasks. In mid-2019, AMD gave the desktop CPU market a hard reboot with the launch of the company’s 7-nanometer-process Ryzen desktop CPUs (more about them in a minute), and today you’ll get more cores and threads for your processing dollar than ever before. Archrival Intel, the traditional leader in the space, did its part by launching both 11th and 12th generations of its desktop processor lines in 2021.

But how does that extra power—whether Intel or AMD—translate to frame-rate results in PC gaming? It’s complicated, and it varies from game to game, as well as by combination of CPU and graphics card. Still, once you know the players in the chip market, their product families, and some general characteristics, you can weigh your budget against what you actually need. (For most shoppers who aren’t esports pros, it’s actually easy to overbuy.) Let’s take a wide look at the processor landscape, then get down and dirty with each of the major chip families.

More About Our Picks

AMD Ryzen 7 5800X

4.5 Outstanding

Best Overall Gaming CPU (AMD or Intel)

Bottom Line:

With the help of new «Zen 3» architecture, AMD’s Ryzen 7 5800X delivers relentless gaming and content-creation muscle that Intel’s like-priced 10th Generation CPUs will struggle to match.


  • Stellar multithreaded performance for the price
  • Single-core performance hits new highs for Ryzen
  • Most gaming results match or beat Core chips
  • Low TDP
  • Socket AM4 compatible


  • Minimal overclocking headroom
  • No bundled cooler

Read Our AMD Ryzen 7 5800X Review

AMD Ryzen 5 5600X

4. 0 Excellent

Best Mainstream Gaming CPU With Discrete Card (AMD)

Bottom Line:

AMD’s cheaper Ryzen 3 3300X remains a stellar value among gaming CPUs, but the Ryzen 5 5600X is enough of a brute at its midrange price to make it the best pure gaming CPU of the year.


  • Strong performance in content creation and productivity tasks
  • Dominance in gaming benchmarks
  • Low TDP
  • Compatible with Socket AM4
  • High overclock ceiling


  • Price creep versus last-gen Ryzen 5
  • No integrated graphics
  • Overclocking didn’t translate to actual major performance gains

Read Our AMD Ryzen 5 5600X Review

Intel Core i5-12600K

4.0 Excellent

Best Mainstream Gaming CPU With Discrete Card (Intel)

Bottom Line:

For PC gamers and budget-constrained creative types, Intel’s «Alder Lake» Core i5-12600K punches well above its weight in gaming and content creation alike. Just know that the cost of adoption (memory, motherboard, cooler) may make waiting a bit to upgrade a better bet.


  • CPU performance punches above its station in bench testing
  • Reasonable price-per-core
  • High overclock ceiling


  • Testing games with integrated graphics was bumpy, and slower than AMD’s competition
  • Z690 platform demands high cost of adoption, versus CPU purchase price
  • At launch, not compatible with some games that use Denuvo DRM protection

Read Our Intel Core i5-12600K Review

AMD Ryzen 3 3300X

4.5 Outstanding

Best Budget Gaming CPU With Discrete Card (AMD)

Bottom Line:

The Ryzen 3 3300X should be a top CPU contender for anyone building a fast, but budget-conscious, AMD AM4-based gaming desktop (or a content-creation PC) equipped with a dedicated video card.


  • Great value for the performance
  • Solid comparative gaming results at 1080p
  • Gives budget-strapped creators new options
  • Works on AMD’s established AM4 socket
  • Decent bundled cooler


  • No on-die integrated graphics

Read Our AMD Ryzen 3 3300X Review

Intel Core i5-10400

3. 5 Good

Best Budget Gaming CPU With Discrete Card (Intel)

Bottom Line:

Upgrading to any «Comet Lake» CPU (and its new platform) has its budget implications, but for a six-core chip with gaming chops, the Core i5-10400 is as good as it gets in Intel’s 10th Generation stack.


  • Decent frame rates for a midrange CPU in gaming runs
  • Low TDP
  • Workable bundled cooler


  • Slower than comparatively priced AMD options in nearly every CPU-centric test
  • LGA 1200 adoption is mandatory
  • Integrated graphics are there, but still Intel UHD Graphics

Read Our Intel Core i5-10400 Review

AMD Ryzen 9 5900X Processor

4.5 Outstanding

Best High-End Gaming CPU With Discrete Card (AMD)

Bottom Line:

Seeking the pinnacle of speed and value in the desktop CPU market around $500? AMD’s Zen 3-based Ryzen 9 5900X is the new pace-setter, topping Intel’s Core i9-10900K on all the fronts that matter.


  • Gaming performance now at parity with, or better than, Intel Core i9
  • Record-setting content-creation results in its price bracket
  • Compatible with Socket AM4
  • Low TDP compared to Intel’s options


  • No bundled cooler
  • Pricey if bought for gaming only
  • Little overclocking headroom

Read Our AMD Ryzen 9 5900X Processor Review

Intel Core i9-12900K

4.0 Excellent

Best High-End Gaming CPU With Discrete Card (Intel)

Bottom Line:

The Core i9-12900K is Intel’s first truly innovative high-end desktop CPU in years, showing great potential in its performance/efficiency mixed-core design and support for DDR5 memory. Just expect a high initial cost of adoption—and, perhaps, some PC-gaming growing pains.


  • Outright benchmark wins across many different runs
  • Z690 platform comes with support for DDR5, depending on the motherboard
  • Priced aggressively versus AMD
  • Numerous overclocking features


  • Requires new motherboard
  • High cost of adoption for peak performance
  • At the moment, not compatible with some games that use Denuvo DRM protection

Read Our Intel Core i9-12900K Review

AMD Ryzen 5 5600G

4. 5 Outstanding

Best Gaming CPU With On-Chip Graphics (AMD)

Bottom Line:

Looking to play PC games without a graphics card? AMD’s Ryzen 5 5600G CPU and its integrated graphics give cash-strapped gamers a superb, value-focused option that Intel can’t match.


  • Strong gaming performance on integrated graphics
  • Priced aggressively in AMD’s own CPU stack
  • Regularly beats out competition from Intel
  • Wraith Stealth cooler included in the box
  • Compatible with Radeon Software suite


  • Slightly slower integrated-graphics gaming performance than Ryzen 7 5700G
  • Limited motherboard compatibility at launch

Read Our AMD Ryzen 5 5600G Review

Intel Core i5-11600K

4.0 Excellent

Best Gaming CPU With On-Chip Graphics (Intel)

Bottom Line:

The midrange Core i5-11600K is a six-core, 11th Generation CPU just fast enough to keep Intel’s new «Rocket Lake» chips in the game against tough AMD opposition.


  • Strong single-threaded performance
  • Doubles most integrated-graphics results of equivalent 10th Generation Intel chips
  • Doesn’t run too hot
  • Decent frame rates with a discrete video card
  • Aggressive pricing versus AMD’s equivalent Ryzens


  • Not quite as fast as the Ryzen 5 5600X
  • New platform adoption is pricey
  • No bundled cooler

Read Our Intel Core i5-11600K Review

It’s been a wild last few years in the CPU space, and nowhere has the ride been bumpier than in Intel’s car. The company has been public about its struggles to move its desktop CPU line from a 14nm lithography process down to 10nm, during which time AMD has leapfrogged Intel and moved its latest stack of mainstream Ryzen processors (the ones without integrated graphics) to 7nm technology. This brought a major leap forward in power and efficiency.

In mid-2020, Intel introduced new top-end mainstream processors in the form of the 10th Generation «Comet Lake» Core i9-10900K, Core i7-10700K, and Core i5-10600K (along with lesser versions in each family, and some lower-end Core i3 and Pentium/Celeron chips, too). These premium CPUs delivered some performance upticks, mostly by adding more processing threads in the middle of the stack. But as far as gaming goes, benchmarks prove that in most titles, you’ll get better but not drastically better frame rates out of these 10th Gen chips compared to their 9th Generation equivalents.

Things got even more muddled with the company’s early-2021 launch of its 11th Generation «Rocket Lake» chips. While the midrange Core i5 through top-end Core i9 processors saw a refreshed approach to manufacturing, combining 14nm lithography with the architecture of 10nm «Ice Lake,» the new Core i3, Pentium, and Celeron lines that debuted alongside them weren’t 11th Generation chips at all. Dubbed «Comet Lake Refresh,» they are slightly boosted from their Comet Lake predecessors, for a negligible performance difference.

The real Rocket Lake chips, meanwhile, are a bit of a grab bag. The Intel Core i5-11600K impressed us with frame rates that nearly kept pace with AMD’s stellar midrange offerings (more on them in a minute), but the flagship Core i9-11900K was rather disappointing. The chip debuted at a higher street price than the Core i9-10900K ($619 versus $599), despite having two fewer cores onboard (eight versus 10). Not only that, but in our testing we found a host of thermal and power limitations that meant ho-hum gaming results, though to be fair that was more an issue of our test motherboard’s prerelease BIOS stability than the fault of the processor. Nevertheless, it’s hard to think of the Core i9-11900K as anything but a price/performance fizzle. The eight-core Core i7 Rocket Lake chip we tested proved to be a much better gamer value.

(Photo: Zlata Ivleva)

Finally, there’s Intel’s return to form: «Alder Lake,» its most recent 12th Generation processors that launched in November 2021 headed by the Intel Core i9-12900K. After sticking to 14nm for over five years, 12th Gen represents the company’s first foray into 10nm, and with it comes better gaming performance and better thermals. The Intel Core i5-12600K offers up a lot of performance in both gaming and content creation at its price point, finally giving AMD a run for its money after a long few years spent in solid second place.

Speaking of AMD, from a gaming perspective, the most interesting parts of the Ryzen story are at the economical end of the Ryzen 3000 stack and with the latest (fourth-generation) Ryzen 5000 series.

Let’s start with the low-end 3000 series chips. AMD’s Ryzen 3 3100 and Ryzen 3 3300X are 2020 releases that make use of a new type of CCD design (in short, how the transistors are organized on the die), which reduces the latency—the time it takes for different parts of the processor to talk to one another—compared to the 2019 Ryzens. This can result in lower frame rates, though it’s very much dependent on the game and how well optimized it is. AMD says this is all down to improved «Zen 2» manufacturing yields and a better understanding of the 7nm process technology.

(Photo: Zlata Ivleva)

The result of all that fine-tuning? Despite costing just $120 (list price, at least, more about which in a moment), the four-core, eight-thread Ryzen 3 3300X matches up very well against the more expensive six-core, 12-thread Ryzen 5 5600X in almost every game we tried. And yes, that means it also beats just about anything Intel can throw its way at the same price point.

We say «just about» because Intel has lately been waging a price war with AMD in the midrange and at the low end. The Intel Core i5-10400 was roughly on par with the Ryzen 3 3300X in our gaming tests, but the Intel part is still selling for its original MSRP of $149.99 while AMD is struggling to keep its lowest-end chips on shelves. The Ryzen 3 3300X and 3100, for example, are only spottily available, and only rarely at close to their list prices. AMD’s stock squeeze and supply-and-demand pricing problems with some of its lower-end Ryzen chips have been second only to Nvidia’s with its GPUs.

But AMD has never been content to rest on its laurels, and the launch of the Ryzen 5000 series has raised the bar. We’ve tested every chip in the stack so far, and the results in our gaming benchmarks are very good for AMD.

Though the company had issues with spreading its dies across multiple CCDs in some «Zen 2» options like the Ryzen 5 3600X, the «Zen 3» architecture fixes that. With CPUs like the Ryzen 5 5600X, AMD has streamlined the design, centralizing eight cores into each individual CCD—more than any game could reasonably use at one time (even for pure AI tasks such as calculating enemy turns in the Civilization series). This has made for some serious frame-rate gains, as well as boosting productivity tasks and digital content creation.

In the few areas where AMD was trailing Intel at the sunset of the Ryzen 3000 series, ground has been made up (and then some) with the launch of the Ryzen 5000s. The 5000 Series had a recent bout with Intel’s 12th Gen, however the higher cost of adoption for a new platform, socket, and motherboard offset many of Intel’s price-to-performance gains back into AMD’s favor. If you can find one for a reasonable price, a Ryzen 5000 series chip will generally outpace Intel’s latest on cores and threads per dollar, with better overall socket compatibility across older generations of motherboards. (The new Intel Alder Lake chips require new motherboards using the LGA 1700 socket. )

Integrated vs. Dedicated Graphics

While more cores, higher clock speeds, and the latest chip architectures are all nice things to have, picking the best processor for gaming is about more than basic specs and speeds. Let’s jump into some of the considerations to keep in mind when shopping for a gaming CPU before diving into our favorite recent picks.

Most people searching for a processor for PC gaming are going to be using a dedicated graphics card with it. A specific graphics card’s frame rates will vary in a given game when paired with different CPUs, though generally the amount of sway that is attributable to the CPU largely depends on the display resolution you’re using.

If you’re gaming at what’s by far the most common mainstream resolution, 1080p (1,920 by 1,080 pixels), the variance can be substantial. That’s because, with some games, 1080p or lower resolutions are just as dependent on the single-core frequency of your CPU as on the outright power of your GPU.

(Photo: Zlata Ivleva)

For gamers playing at today’s realistic resolution peak of 4K (3,840 by 2,160 pixels), the inverse is true: The higher you go in resolution, the more the limiter is your graphics card rather than your CPU. As a rule of thumb, high-resolution gamers should invest more in their graphics cards, while those playing at 1080p or below should look for a processor with the highest single-core boost frequency they can afford, along with a video card suited to the resolution they play at.

Again, however, there are no absolutes. A lot of this varies by game and game genre. For example, performance in a game like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, with the latest additions of ray tracing and Nvidia’s DLSS tech, is going to be highly dependent on the graphics card you buy. Games like Civilization VI, on the other hand, need to render a lot of troops, AI, and math equations to run properly and are much more dependent on your CPU than GPU, and this isn’t just restricted to RTS or strategy games, either.  

(Photo: John Burek)

It’s also important to mention that most of AMD’s Ryzen processors, from the lower-end Ryzen 3 and 5 chips (though notably not the Ryzen 3 3200G, Ryzen 5 3400G, Ryzen 5 5600G, or Ryzen 7 5700G) to the hyper-powerful Ryzen Threadrippers, lack integrated graphics. So with those options, you’ll definitely need a dedicated graphics card.

The same is true of Intel’s enthusiast Core X-Series CPUs. These High-End Desktop (HEDT) chips, roughly equivalent to AMD’s Threadrippers, must have a video card paired with them, too. So be sure to pick either a G-series processor from AMD or a mainstream Intel Core i3, Core i5, or Core i7 if you want to make do without a graphics card. Late-model Intel CPUs will use a form of what the company calls HD or UHD Graphics as their integrated graphics silicon, though neither the widely available Intel UHD Graphics 630 or newer Intel Iris Xe Graphics are much good for anything beyond web-based gaming. Also note that Intel has introduced some mainstream processors that have the integrated graphics disabled; their model numbers end in «F» (for instance, Core i9-11900KF) and they can save you a few bucks if you know you’re going to use a dedicated video card.

For gaming on a very tight budget, with no chance of buying a graphics card, you’ll want to consider AMD’s «Picasso» APUs like the Ryzen 3 3200G or Ryzen 5 3400G, which integrate the company’s Radeon Vega 8 or 11 graphics silicon. Don’t expect the performance of a discrete GPU, but these chips are about as good as integrated graphics get at the moment. Still, anyone serious about building or upgrading a PC that can play all types of games will want to budget for a real graphics card. 

However with the launch of the newer AMD Ryzen 5 5600G (and to a lesser extent, in our eyes, the Ryzen 7 5700G), this is starting to change…

Though it’s still using the older Vega 7 IGP, the Ryzen 5 5600G in particular offers up an excellent balance of impressive frame rates to cost for 1080p play. Given what video cards cost nowadays, if you’re stretching your budget thin just to get a good esports system off the ground (with a high-refresh monitor included), this should be at the top of the list of considerations for your next build. Pair it with a cheaper B550 model motherboard, and you’re off to the leaderboards without a video card!

In Games, Do More Cores Equal More Power?

Technically, yes, but there’s catches and caveats. AMD has been running laps around Intel for the last few years in terms of cost-per-core value, a boon for anyone who uses a lot of multithreaded applications. It wasn’t long ago that eight-core CPUs were out of reach for most buyers, but thanks to the Ryzen revolution of recent years, eight-, 12-, and even 16-core processors are affordable options for many.

This means that for users who use their desktops for both gaming and digital content creation, AMD is often the stronger choice. The general trend, all else being equal, is that the more cores crammed onto a CPU die, the lower the peak single-core frequency will be.

Currently, though, few games know how to take advantage of more than four cores at once, so you can much more easily get away with spending less on a four- or six-core processor (of which both AMD and Intel have several strong offerings). Although games like Grand Theft Auto V have been seen using six cores on occasion, and specific titles like Civilization VI use all available cores when calculating AI turns, extra cores often lie dormant during your gaming sessions unless you’re, say, streaming your game to Twitch while playing.

Consider Monitor Resolution and Refresh Rate

Unless you have a fancy, late-model flat screen built specifically for gaming (it’ll advertise extra-high refresh rates on its bezel or box), it’s safe to assume that your LCD monitor tops out at 60Hz. That’s fine for most gaming purposes: it means you’ll be able to see frame rates up to 60 frames per second (fps).

Keep in mind, though, that if your CPU and GPU push a game beyond that frame rate, your monitor won’t actually display those extra frames. So it’s futile to overspend on your processor and graphics card to achieve loads of performance that you can’t see. With an ordinary LCD monitor, a frame rate consistently but not too much above 60fps in your favorite games is the sweet spot.

(Photo: Zlata Ivleva)

Competitive, fast-paced gamers, however, swear by high-refresh-rate screens. And hardware makers have been upping their game with 120Hz and faster monitors, to the point where Asus and Acer have released models that hit a staggering 360Hz. So if you have (or are thinking of buying) a gaming monitor with a high refresh rate, you’ll need to spend more on a graphics card to push those extra frames, and in some cases a beefier processor to keep up. That’s because most high-refresh-rate monitors are limited to 1080p native resolution, although there are some ultra-fast 1440p (the 240Hz HP Omen X 27) and even 4K (the Acer Predator XB3) displays. But 1080p is by far the heart of the market, and at that resolution gaming performance is more limited by the CPU than the graphics card, assuming you’ve bought a good enough card for 1080p play.

Right now, the refresh-rate waypoints above 60Hz are 100Hz, 120Hz, 144Hz, 165Hz, 240Hz, and 360Hz (390Hz is the peak, but only on a few select models), with the last few only mattering for multiplayer titles like CS:GO, Rainbow Six: Siege, League of Legends, and DOTA 2. But it never hurts to have more refresh-rate headroom when the only thing standing between you and a clean kill is the number of times your screen is updating per second.

(Photo: Zlata Ivleva)

«How much is too much?» is always a key question, however. If you have an ordinary 1080p, 60Hz monitor and a graphics card good enough to push a bit above 60fps, there’s no point in hand-wringing over the minute differences in frame rates between like-priced CPUs. Only folks with high-refresh-rate displays should obsess over the difference between, say, 140fps and 160fps, and even then only if involved in competitive esports. Meanwhile, to reiterate: If you plan on gaming at 4K resolution or above, the processor you choose won’t matter all that much. At 4K resolution, the GPU is doing most of the lifting in games with lots of polygons and high-resolution textures, while the CPU is mainly there to make sure the physics run and assets get there on time. That’s bit simplified, but this chart should get the idea across…

During our most recent refresh of Rainbow Six: Siege 4K benchmarks, for example, we only saw a 3.6% difference in frame rates between the $99 AMD Ryzen 3 3100 running on DDR4 RAM, and the $649 Intel Core i9-12900K on DDR5. Despite the more than six-fold difference in price between the two, it was almost always the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti Founders Edition card we tested them with that was handling most of the system load.

Meanwhile, the inverse is true for 1080p resolution, and oftentimes 1440p depending on the game engine and what’s being rendered. Let’s take a look at those same results from above, but this time in 1080p…

Games like F1 2021 and Rainbow Six: Siege, as you can see, are more sensitive to the CPU. The faster the single-core frequency of your processor, the better your frame rates will be at the resolutions where that kind of thing matters (for example, on a 240Hz monitor running at 1080p). Likewise, the more robust the CPU, the faster your turns in Civilization VI will process. But the beefier your graphics card, the better your textures will look in Apex Legends, and the more light rays you’ll see rendered in games like Shadow of the Tomb Raider or Metro: Exodus. The characteristics of the game can matter as much as the hardware.

TL;DR? PC gaming these days is the sum of its parts. It’s a balancing act where you don’t want to spend all you’ve got on the GPU, only to be left pushing all that power into a budget 1080p 144Hz display where a lower-end GPU and faster CPU might have been the better combo (and might have left some money for a better monitor). You also shouldn’t buy a 4K monitor without a GPU that can reach at least 30fps at that resolution, depending how comfortable you are with motion sickness. And so on.

There’s no one formula that decides what’s right to spend on what, especially in supply-constrained times like these. Ultimately, the gaming processor that’s right for you will be the one that matches your budget as a part of the whole, not just the motherboard and CPU.

Recommended by Our Editors

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Overclocking: Does It Save Money?

One way that some cash-strapped gamers try to bridge the gap between their wallets and their dream builds is to overclock the CPU. The aim? To approach the performance of a costlier chip.

Intel makes it easy to figure out which of its processors are overclockable and which aren’t: Just look for a «K» at or near the end of the model number, which indicates an unlocked processor ready for overclocking out of the box. As for AMD, essentially all of its desktop processors released in the past several years are overclockable to your heart’s content (within reason, of course).

But before you rush off to buy a cheap CPU with the expectation of tripling its gigahertz, consider a few things. First, there’s the added cooling you’ll need: You don’t want to overclock a processor while using the standard fan and heatsink combo that came with it. Such coolers are rated to handle the CPU at its regular clock speed; anything above that and you risk giving your PC heat stroke (or making it throttle back performance for its own safety, which is counterproductive).

(Photo: Zlata Ivleva)

Aftermarket air coolers are relatively effective at keeping overclocked processors cool, but they have their limits (especially during the summer months, if you live where it’s hot air in, hot air out). In general, expect to spend roughly $30 to $60 on a sufficiently able air cooler, depending on how high you plan to clock your processor.

For anyone serious about pushing their CPU to its absolute limits, liquid cooling is the way to go; Intel’s and AMD’s highest-end chips demand it. But with great cooling power comes great cooling responsi—wait, that’s not the line. Great amounts of money, that’s the one. 

Basic liquid-cooling setups can be relatively cheap, but most are little more effective than their similarly priced air-cooling counterparts—a more complicated installation for minimal gain. Be ready to spend $60 to $150 for a closed-loop liquid-cooling system powerful enough to keep an overclocked CPU cool. 

(Photo: John Burek)

Second, be aware that, at least in Intel’s case, the cost difference between an overclockable and a non-overclockable processor can be significant. For example, the Core i7-10700K retails for $349, while the standard Core i7-10700 is only $323.

In short: Overclocking a high-end Intel CPU may seem like a cheap way to get more bang for your buck, but it likely isn’t. AMD overclocking may be slightly cheaper, depending on the chip in question, but you’ll still need to shell out for added hardware (and maybe a larger case to fit a liquid cooler’s radiator). So make sure to incorporate those costs into your build budget before pulling the trigger.

Most of the time? The extra money you’d spend on cooling gear is simply better spent on the next-step-up processor. It’s safer and much less hassle.

So, Which CPU Should I Buy for Gaming?

All this is a lot to digest, we know. Let’s run through a few common scenarios based on our earlier discussions.

BUDGET SHOPPERS. Let’s assume that you intend to add a dedicated graphics card (and you absolutely should if you can), that gaming performance matters more to you than content-creation muscle, and that you have $100 to $150 to spend on a CPU. We recommend the AMD Ryzen 3 3300X, assuming you’re building a new PC or already have an AM4 motherboard. (This assumes you can find one, or the Ryzen 3 3100, under $150 at all…a big «if.») If you can’t afford a separate video card, the AMD Ryzen 5 5600G is the way to go, with the best integrated graphics of the day.

THOSE INVESTED IN OLDER INTEL PLATFORMS. If you’re an Intel diehard with an existing 300-series LGA 1151 motherboard, any compatible Core i5 or i7 CPU from the 8000 or 9000 series (say, the Core i7-9700K) should suit you just fine for gaming at least a few years. (The Core i9s are excellent chips, too, but require liquid cooling.) Rather than upgrading to a new platform like 10th or 11th Generation Core and a Z490 or Z590 chipset motherboard, we recommend investing in a more powerful graphics card instead.

HIGH-REFRESH GAMING ABOVE ALL. If cost isn’t your main concern and your high-refresh-rate 1080p monitor makes you crave max frame rates, the Intel Core i9-12900K with a new Z690 motherboard delivers the the best performance the company has to offer with a high-end video card that we’ve seen.

Meanwhile, our testing shows that the AMD Ryzen 7 5800X offers up even better 1080p performance than the pricier Core i9-12900K—and remains compatible with AMD’s venerable Socket AM4, instead of requiring a whole platform upgrade. Those who own older motherboards will want to check to be sure they have a Ryzen 5000 series-compatible BIOS, but when it comes to platform continuity (and the price savings that come with it), AMD simply can’t be beat.

GAMING ALONGSIDE CONTENT CREATION. If you’re both an avid gamer and a workstation professional, the AMD Ryzen 5 5600X and Ryzen 9 5900X are appealing options, as well as the new Intel Core i5-12600K, depending on the job. These six- and 12-core AMD CPUs (respectively) are great for tasks that use all the cores and threads they can get. Mega-core monsters like the Ryzen 9 5950X certainly can game, but there’s a point of diminishing returns where the higher core count reduces the single-threaded max boost clock speed, which can ultimately affect peak frame rates depending on the game.

If you’re spending a few hundred dollars apiece on your CPU and graphics card, now might be a good time to upgrade your monitor, too—say, going from a 60Hz 1080p panel to a 165Hz 1440p screen or something in the 4K range. With higher resolution, the frame-rate difference between an AMD Ryzen and a late-model Intel Core is almost certain to narrow.

Below you’ll find more details on the top AMD and Intel processors for gaming PCs, along with links to full reviews. If you’re building a new system from scratch, you’ll also want to take a look at our recommendations for the best M.2 SSDs and PC tower cases. Or if you’d rather buy a balanced off-the-shelf model, you can check out our favorite gaming desktops, too.

Best gaming CPU – what is the top CPU for gaming in 2022?

Choosing the best gaming CPU in 2022 can be a difficult task, as there are plenty of great options to choose from. 12th Gen Intel Core processors have proven to be worthy competitors to AMD Ryzen 5000 chips, making it a great time to upgrade your gaming PC. However, the battle for the CPU performance crown could get ugly, with AMD Zen 4 and Intel Raptor Lake components due to release later this year.

Quad-core processors remain the most popular CPU spec among Steam users, but hexa-core chips will likely overtake them in popularity over the coming months. This doesn’t mean that four cores and eight threads aren’t enough for the best PC games, far from it, as many videogames still predominantly rely on single-core performance above all.

It’s worth noting, however, that there’s little point in buying one of the best graphics cards from AMD or Nvidia and pairing it with a budget CPU. If you’re hoping to make use of some of the best gaming monitor‘s refresh rates, like 120Hz and above, you’ll want a strong processor that doesn’t bottleneck your performance and stifle your frame rate.

Here are the best gaming CPUs:
Check prices

Intel Core i9-12900K

The best gaming CPU is the Intel Core i9-12900K.

If you need a CPU that’s enough to handle the most powerful GeForce or Radeon cards, then look no further than the Intel Core i9-12900K. Built on Intel’s new Alder Lake architecture, its hybrid core design outperforms even the might AMD Ryzen 9 5950X in the best PC games.

With 16 cores, 24 threads, and a max boost clock of 5. 20GHz, the 12900K is an absolute beast when it comes to gaming performance. Plus, if you don’t need integrated graphics, you can snag it for $25 USD cheaper by opting for the 12900KF without forgoing any of its other specs or overclocking potential.

What we like:

  • The most powerful gaming CPU bar none
  • Hybrid core design ensures background tasks don’t hurt performance
Intel Core i9-12900K specs
Cores 16 (8P+8E)
Threads 24
Clock speeds (base / boost) 3.20GHz / 5.20GHz
Socket LGA1700

Check prices

AMD Ryzen 9 5900X

The best Ryzen CPU for gaming is the AMD Ryzen 9 5900X.

The 5900X’s 12 Zen 3 cores and 24 threads are enough to take on even the most demanding of videogames, and its specs make it great for production workloads too. While it isn’t quite as powerful as the Intel Core i9-12900K, the 5900X is just as good as the more expensive 5950X for gaming and is much cheaper too.

If you already own a Zen 4 motherboard, chances are that the AMD Ryzen 9 5900X is compatible with your existing setup, saving you a pretty penny on upgrade costs. Just make sure that your motherboard is compatible by contacting your manufacturer, and you’ll likely need to update its BIOS.

What we like:

  • Fantastic gaming and production workload performance
  • Backwards compatible with many existing Zen 4 motherboards
AMD Ryzen 9 5900X specs
Cores 12
Threads 24
Clock speeds (base / boost) 3.70GHz / 4.80GHz
Socket AM4

Intel Core i3-12100

The best budget gaming CPU is the Intel Core i3-12100.

It may be hard to believe, but Intel has crafted the new budget king with its Core i3-12100. While the latest Celeron or Pentium processor may be slightly cheaper, we recommend stretching to the manageable $130 USD MSRP of this i3.

Paired with a B660 motherboard, the i3-12100 is one of the cheapest ways to get into PC gaming without skimping too much in the way of performance. In fact, it goes head-to-head with the AMD Ryzen 5 3600 in many games and production workloads.

What we like:

  • Punches well above its price point in terms of performance
  • Can be bought for $25 USD without an integrated GPU, for $105 USD
Intel Core i3-12100 specs
Cores 4
Threads 8
Clock speeds (base / boost) 3.30GHz / 4.30GHz
Socket LGA1700

Check prices

AMD Ryzen 5 5600G

The best CPU with integrated graphics is the AMD Ryzen 5 5600G.

Graphics cards are hard to come by right now, so the Vega-based integrated graphics on the AMD Ryzen 5 5600G could make for a useful stopgap solution. While it can’t compete with many discrete GPUs, it should be plenty for light gaming. 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 all the performance of a Ryzen 5 5600X and more with higher clock speeds. While it’s not as cheap as the Intel Core i5-12400, the UHD Graphics 730 found on that processor are no match for the Vega GPU on the 5600G.

What we like:

  • Best-in-class integrated GPU performance
  • Offers better performance than the Ryzen 5 5600X at a lower price
AMD Ryzen 5 5600G specs
Cores 6
Threads 12
Clock speeds (base / boost) 3.90GHz / 4.40GHz
Socket AM4

Check prices

Intel Core i5-12400F

The best CPU for the money is the Intel Core i5-12400F.

It may be hard to believe, but the Intel Core i5-12400F easily beats any AMD Ryzen chip for the title of best value CPU. At just $190 USD, this peppy little hexa-core CPU handily competes with the beloved AMD Ryzen 5 5600X, a processor that costs $299 USD. Despite not featuring the efficiency cores found on the pricier Alder Lake chips, the i5-12400F is extremely capable of managing background tasks with minimal impact on frame rate.

While we recommend pairing the 12400F with a discrete graphics card, you can find the i5-12400 with integrated graphics for an additional $25 USD. However, we have another recommendation in mind if you absolutely can’t afford to splash on a new GPU that you can find by reading on.

What we like:

  • Performs as well as AMD CPUs that cost over $100 USD more
  • Supports DDR5 RAM with the right motherboard chipset
Intel Core i5-12400F specs
Cores 6
Threads 12
Clock speeds (base / boost) 2. 50GHz / 4.40GHz
Socket LGA1700

Is the cpu important for gaming?

There’s no point in investing in the best graphics card available only to kneecap your performance with a processor that simply can’t keep up, creating what’s known as a CPU bottleneck. Your processor plays an important role in managing the frame rate of videogames, particularly when it comes to consistent frame times.

It’s worth noting that you don’t need the best gaming CPU to enjoy high frame rates, as the amount of work a processor does varies between games.

Intel or AMD?

While AMD Ryzen CPUs have been the processors of choice for many over the past several years, Intel’s 12th Gen Core lineup has really spiced up competition between the two manufacturers.

If your number one priority when buying a new CPU is pushing gaming performance to the max, then we suggest going with Intel. The company’s new Alder Lake chips are best-in-class for games, and there’s an option suited for practically every kind of budget in its lineup.

If you’re a creative, someone who primarily uses Adobe Creative Suite and other production applications, then AMD is the way to go. The multi-core performance of Ryzen is still extremely strong, and the AM4 platform is very mature now so there are plenty of purchasing options available.

The best CPU for gaming in 2022

If you are after the best CPU for gaming in 2022 we’ve got you covered with a range of options for all budgets, no matter which brand you choose to side with.

Looking for a new gaming CPU is one of those things that is pretty boring. Performance cores? What are those? Threads? Who cares. But really, a CPU is one of the most essential components in your PC setup, and you will need to carefully consider exactly what you need from it before you buy.

The tech we recommend will be based on a platform that we think still has some legs, instead of one that might be approaching the end of its life.

With the latest Ryzen CPUs just announced and a whole slew of new chips on the way from both Team Red and Blue, it’s probably time to consider not upgrading just yet. The current budget option for the newest Ryzen 7000 CPUs puts the Ryzen 5 in a pretty close race in some applications with the top dog from Intel, the i9-12900K.

Once we get hold of these new chips, we’ll be able to properly determine whether or not it’s worth the upgrade just yet.

We’re looking at the best desktop gaming CPUs, which will naturally favor faster chips with a good price-to-performance ratio for most people. On the laptop front, you should take a look at our list of the best gaming laptops.

The best CPU for gaming in 2022: Intel Core i5-12600K


Buy the Intel Core i5-12600k here: (Best Buy),(Amazon US)

Key Specs

  • Cores: 6 performance cores, 4 efficiency cores
  • Threads: 16
  • Base clock: 3. 7GHz (P-cores) / 2.8 GHz (E-cores)
  • Boost clock: 4.9GHz (P-cores) / 3.6GHz (E-cores)
  • Cache: 20MB Intel Smart Cache
  • TDP: 125W
  • Price: $289.99


  • Incredible value for money
  • Great gaming performance
  • Overclockable


  • It gets very hot
  • 125W TDP makes it very power-hungry

Intel’s Core i5-12600K boasts some eye-watering features, with a performance core that can boost up to 4. 9GHz, this CPU is blisteringly fast and will tear through multithreaded workloads and gaming with ease. Its current closest rival, AMD’s 5600X just can’t measure up to the speed and performance that the Intel Core i5-12600K offers at this price range, coming in at an incredibly reasonable MSRP of $289.99.

You also get some measure of future-proofing with it, as the platform that it runs on will also support things like DDR5 memory, though it’s not quite worth investing in some kits of your own quite yet, so you will still be able to pick up a motherboard that also supports DDR4, for now.

This mid-range chip can outperform high-end CPUs in some cases, and it’s really impressive to see Intel come out swinging against the looming threat of AMD. You can get faster, or cheaper chips in Intel’s stack of CPUs, however, this is the ideal sweet spot that will be perfect for most people.

The best budget CPU for gaming in 2022: Intel Core i5-12400


Though it comes in the same box as the 12600k, it’s slightly less powerful.

You can buy the Intel Core i5-12400 here: (Best Buy), (Amazon US)

Key specs

  • Cores: 6 performance cores
  • Threads: 12
  • Base clock: 2.5GHz
  • Boost clock: 4.4GHz
  • Cache: 18MB Intel Smart Cache
  • TDP: 65W
  • Price: $209.99


  • Can often be found on sale
  • Excellent price-to-performance
  • Low TDP


  • Cannot overclock without significant fiddling

Intel’s 12th-generation lineup is really remarkable, and this is showcased by the fact that the Core i5-12400. It’s a relatively understated CPU, it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of its bigger brothers, you can’t overclock it out of the box without going ahead and buying a motherboard specifically for that purpose, and it’s outshined by the 12600k in many aspects.

But, this humble CPU can often be found at under the $200 mark, and for that price, its performance in gaming is incredibly respectable, so you can expect to run just about anything really well. It’s not going to outperform an 8-core CPU with more threads, but for what you are paying for, this is the ideal CPU for those looking to game on a budget.

The best premium CPU for gaming in 2022: Intel Core i9-12900K


Buy the Intel Core i9 12900k: (Best Buy) (Amazon US)

Key Specs

  • Cores: 8 performance cores, 8 efficiency cores
  • Threads: 24
  • Base clock: 3. 2GHz (P-cores) / 2.4GHz (E-cores)
  • Boost clock: 5.1GHz (P-cores) / 3.9GHz (E-cores)
  • Cache: 30MB Intel Smart Cache
  • TDP: 125W
  • Price: $589.99


  • Incredible multithreaded performance


  • Quite expensive
  • Gets very hot

When purchasing a high-end CPU, you need to know what you are getting into when it comes to the caveats. Yes, you will be able to get better performance than most other CPUs on the market.

A CPU like this will be ideal for those who are not only gaming, in titles like Fortnite, but who are also streaming or running other resource-heavy tasks at the same time. Even if you’re not, this is going to be the best CPU and push the most frames. You won’t be bottlenecking anything with this CPU, that’s for certain.

However, it does come at a steep price point, in addition to requiring a really good cooler, with its fast clock speeds and high thermal demands, you’re going to want to ensure that you are able to dissipate all of the heat that the CPU will be generating.

The best AMD gaming CPU in 2022: Ryzen 7 5800X3D


Buy the Ryzen 7 5800X3D: (Best Buy), (Amazon US)

Key Specs

  • Cores: 8
  • Threads: 16
  • Base clock: 3. 4GHz
  • Boost clock: 4.5GHz
  • Cache: AMD 3D V-Cache
  • TDP: 105W
  • Price: $449.99


  • One of the best AM4 CPUs
  • 3D V-Cache is great in games


  • AM4 is about to become a dead platform

The Ryzen 5800X3D is a victory lap for AMD, their AM4 platform is one of the most successful CPU sockets in recent memory, and the way that AMD rose up from their ill-fated Bulldozer CPUs and into Ryzen was nothing short of remarkable.

The 5800X3D is the last gasp for AM4, and it dishes out oodles of performance in gaming and multithreaded workloads thanks to its 3D V-Cache. So, if you are looking for a CPU to upgrade to and you still want to hold on tight to your AM4 motherboard, you could do much worse than grab the Ryzen 7 5800X3D. It is pricey, however, but that is the cost for top-shelf performance.

How to choose a gaming CPU

  1. Set out a budget (budget, mid-range, or premium)
  2. Look for the brand that offers the best price to performance in that segment.
  3. See if the motherboard chipset is recent and in line with the rest of your PC build.
  4. Choose a motherboard with all of the features you want.
  5. Pick a CPU that ticks all of those boxes.

It can be a daunting task, with loads of graphs and numbers populating your decision-making. However, it really is a relatively simple task to pick the best gaming CPU for you. There may be outliers here who want to upgrade, but you should really pick something quite recent if you want to ensure that you are getting the best performance for your money.

Then, you should look at the platform that the CPU runs on, something like AMD’s AM4 is due to be retired quite soon, while Intel has just released a new socket, and new CPUs to go with them. In general, a newer socket and motherboard chipset is going to allow you to access new features like PCI 5.0 or DDR5 RAM support, which can be essential for some CPUs, so choose wisely.

AMD vs Intel: Which brand is better?

Right now, Intel is the go-to CPU manufacturer, offering the best support for new features moving forward, in addition to having a relatively fresh socket and chipset. By comparison, AM4 is looking like a bit of a relic at the moment, with the socket due to be replaced later this year. The age-old question of Intel vs AMD is answered differently depending on when you ask it, so you should expect this to change as time moves on.

Once the new Intel and AMD CPUs are released, we’ll be sure to keep you abreast on the latest in the heated battle for market share between Intel and AMD.

Is now a good time to buy a CPU?

As of right now, it’s a bad time to buy a CPU. This is due to numerous factors, but the main one is that both brands are about to refresh their lineups. AMD is planning on introducing Zen 4 in September, with Intel following suit on their 13th-generation CPUs, too.

You can expect newer features, and new motherboard chipsets to launch alongside them. So, if you are planning a new build, you might want to hold off for a few months to see if a new contender catches your eye. You can of course expect faster speeds in gaming and other tasks, in addition to finding other things like Directstorage becoming standard amongst these CPUs. After they launch, it’ll be a solid green light from us, but for now, it’s best to hold your horses and wait for a new generation of parts to come along to sweep us off of our feet.

With any luck, DDR5 RAM will also become a little bit cheaper, so you can get higher clock speeds, and an all-round better system as a whole, compared to the current generation of parts, which is looking a little bit long in the tooth, especially if you were planning on making an AMD Ryzen-based system.

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Top 12 Gaming Processors — 2022 Ranking (Top 12)

Until recently, the top 12 gaming processors were basically a one-player field. The fundamentally outdated AMD FX series processors and the FM2 socket line were already noticeably inferior in performance to Intel, which made a noticeable difference in highly demanding games. Although it is noteworthy that console manufacturers have made their choice just in the direction of AMD hardware — both the PlayStation and XBOX are assembled on processors and video accelerators from the Reds. And the games that were originally written for the console, no matter how their supporters of PC games scolded, worked perfectly on AMD desktop processors, adequately using their “sharpening” for multi-threaded computing, while the strength of the “blue” was in the first place queue performance is single-threaded.

However, with the release of the Ryzen family, the «reds» have clearly stated their claims to the modern gaming market in the field of personal computers. Even taking into account the dampness of the first series and the «hardware» for them, these «stones» demonstrated excellent energy efficiency and decent performance. If we add to this the pleasant conservatism of AMD processors — against the backdrop of Intel, which constantly creates new sockets that are not compatible with the previous ones — then the Ryzen-based system becomes attractive in the prospects for further upgrades.

In today’s ranking of the best processors for games, we will fundamentally not fall into the sin of the usual debate “AMD vs. Intel» and we will talk about the processors of both manufacturers separately. It’s up to you to decide which processors are better — AMD Intel, and support the «red» or «blue» ones. Well, there are plenty to choose from.

Rating of the best gaming processors 2022 — Top 12

Category Location Designation Rank
Top AMD Premium Gaming Processors 1 AMD Ryzen 95950X 9. 9 / 10
2 AMD Ryzen 9 3950X 9.7 / 10
The Best Premium Intel Gaming Processors 1 Intel Core i9 12900K 9.8 / 10
2 Intel Core i9-11900K 9. 7 / 10
The Best AMD Processors for Mid-Range Gaming Systems 1 AMD Ryzen 7 5800X 9.8 / 10
2 AMD Ryzen 7 3800X 9.4 / 10
3 AMD Ryzen 7 3700X 9. 2 / 10
Best Intel Processors for Mid-Range Gaming Systems 1 Intel Core i7-11700K 9.8 / 10
2 Intel Core i7-10700 9.6 / 10
3 Intel Core i7-9700KF 9. 5 / 10
The best low cost AMD processors 1 AMD Ryzen 3 3200G 9.9 / 10
The best Intel processors for budget gaming PCs 1 Intel Core i3-9100F 9. 6 / 10

AMD’s Best Premium Gaming Processors

Opens our ranking of the best 2021-2022 AMD Ryzen 9 processors5950 is the most powerful processor in the current line of desktop «nines», which, which is nice, still retains a semblance of price adequacy, although (which is still unusual due to the inertia of thinking) it will already cost more than fresh «ai-ninths» from a company that prefers blue color. So, what are they offering us for this price “on paper”? The processor is based on the most modern architecture of the «reds» — Zen 3, consisting of two eight-core chiplets on the 7nm process technology and a peripheral module, which is still 12nm. Everything in general is already well known: AMD prefers to “polish” its architecture, rather than rushing from one to another. In total, we have 16 cores, 32 threads, a base frequency of 3.4 GHz with a boost of up to 4.9GHz, 8MB L2 cache and 64MB L3 cache. The processor is equipped with 24 lanes of PCIe 4.0 and has a standard TDP of 105 W — as before, it needs a board with a powerful and well-cooled VRM, and even more so, you should not save on cooling.

As a result, we will get a “stone” that works “at full” in processor-dependent applications that parallelize calculations well (but not always — Solidworks, for example, traditionally “loves” Intel). But, since we are talking about gaming applications, everything becomes a little more complicated in games — including because of the already well-known «gimp» with the Infinity Fabric bus, which happens just in games, forcing the top two-chip Ryzens to yield more cheap, assembled on a single chiplet.

However, the debugging of the architecture allows the 5950X to almost always bypass the Zen 2-based 3950X — the bus interferes with it more, and this is clearly visible. Another thing is that the 5950X has practically no advantage over the 12-core 5900X: but let’s not forget that this is in «sterile» test conditions, in reality the processor will have to digest much more processes hanging in the background. Be that as it may, in terms of gameplay, we really have in general the most powerful «Ryzen» of the desktop series.

Key benefits:

  • Use of more efficient Zen 3 architecture
  • Excellent performance in parallel computing


  • Energy consumption and cooling requirements

9. 9
/ 10



Assembly is not cheap, but «drags» a solid five.

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Continuing our roundup of the best AMD Ryzen 9 3950X gaming processors. Ryzen 9 3950X became not so long ago the first flagship of the desktop line of «nines» on the Zen 2 architecture: here you have 16 cores, and 7-nanometer technology, and a regular boost up to 4.7 GHz with a base frequency of 3.5 GHz. More precisely, there are three “stones” under the processor cover — two 7-nanometer chiplets directly with computing cores (six in each), and a 12-nanometer cIOD chiplet is responsible for their interaction with the outside world. The declared heat pack for this “sandwich” is 105 W, while the long-term current consumption is limited to 95 amps, and short-term peaks up to 140 A are allowed: the processor will need a motherboard with a very powerful and well-cooled VRM, because at high loads it will have to pass currents worthy of a welding machine through itself!

That’s why AMD’s boxed configuration unexpectedly differs from OEM only in the presence of a beautiful box: a standard cooler for the processor is simply not offered, the «older» AMD Wraith PRISM cooler is not effective enough for it. The company explicitly states that the processor will require a liquid cooling system with a radiator of at least 280mm.

For games in FullHD, it is now redundant: the Ryzen 7 3800X works on a par with it (and sometimes breaking ahead). In 4K, the processor, as expected, takes the lead and is essentially compared in terms of capabilities with the i9-9900K. The capabilities of the “ninth” Ryzen are also revealed when streaming games: working more efficiently with additional load flows, it is ahead of the Ryzen 7 3800X already in FullHD, again playing on the same field with the “i-ninths”, and at the same time working even better than them in terms of quality streaming (minimum percentage of lost frames). And, importantly, the power consumption (and heating, respectively) of the system at high computing loads is significantly lower than when using Intel HEDT processors: yes, if Ryzen 9can be called a stove, then “ah-ninth” is a blast furnace.

Main advantages:

  • Excellent performance in multithreading and decently corrected flaws of the old architecture
  • By the standards of this class, not the biggest heating yet


  • Demanding on the motherboard and cooling under high loads
  • Redundancy for games in FullHD

Models in the range:

  • AMD Ryzen 9 3950X

    — OEM package

  • AMD Ryzen 9 3950X
    — box set

9. 7
/ 10



Started up on the new board without problems, keeps the temperature well — I immediately took the top Noctua air vent, it is enough for my loads.

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Premium Intel Gaming Processors

So, having promised at CES 2021 to “give birth” to another socket (which will force loyal “blue” fans to upgrade at the same time to buy a new motherboard, as always), Intel at the end of the same year presents its next flagship. Moreover, unlike the previous Comet Lake and Rocket Lake, which were, in fact, marking time in pursuit of the “reds” that were rapidly overclocking on the market, the new Adler Lake architecture was indeed declared as new, and not “dramatically improved by 3% performance » old.

The approach here is already familiar from mobile processors: the new Intels also use big.LITTLE, that is, only some of the cores have “full” performance, while others are “cut down” for energy efficiency. Specifically, in the case of the i9 12900K, the processor contains 8 «productive» P-cores (3.2-5.2 GHz) and the same number of «cut-down» E-cores (2.4-3.9 GHz). Moreover, there are only 24 threads, not 32, as it would be with a “normal” 16-core processor with Hyper-Threading support. However, this is still more than the 11th generation flagship.

Despite half of the «energy efficient» cores, the base TDP of the processor is higher than that of the Ryzen flagship — 125 W, when full boost is reached — and all 241 W. In reality, according to tests, the processor is able to “eat” even more, literally turning into a “boiler” (temperatures under 100 degrees!) Even under top coolers where the Ryzen 9 5950X does not even reach 60 degrees. At the same time, in games, the advantage over processors of the 11th and even 10th generation is scanty or completely absent, and the new “ninth” Ryzen is inferior to some extent only in frankly “intellectual” games.

Nevertheless, the processor has serious advantages for the future: support for DDR5 RAM and PCIe 5.0 bus (so this time the socket change at least does not look so forced). In addition, for once, Intel managed to make the processor significantly cheaper than AMD’s — but, let’s not forget, the requirements for the cooling system and the power subsystem on the motherboard are much higher here.


  • Best gaming performance in most cases so far
  • Support for DDR5 and PCIe 5. 0


  • 8 «powerful» plus 8 «energy efficient» cores for some reason consume more energy than 16 «normal» ones from AMD on the same 7 nanometer process technology

Models in the range:

  • Intel Core i9 12900K

    — OEM

  • Intel Core i9 12900K
    — BOX
  • Intel Core i9 12900KF
    — OEM
  • Intel Core i9 12900KF
    — BOX

9. 8
/ 10



The processor is now rather «for the future» in the form of the same DDR5, in general, I did not see much growth when upgrading from the 10th generation.

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If there is still no desire to “get off” the LGA 1200 socket (after all, this socket is just over a year old!), Then the Intel i9-11900K processor will be the best option for “removing all the foam” from Rocket lake. Still 14 nanometers, 8 cores for 16 threads, boost up to 5.3 GHz at a base frequency of 3.5 GHz — in general, a typical “Intel” eight-core, which we had already gotten used to before the release of Adler Lake.

The processor is not less habitual for top-end Intels is gluttonous — with a passport TDP of 125 W in a full multi-threaded load, it is able to consume all 250 W. This is already a level when high-performance «dropsy» for cooling and top-end motherboards are needed. At the same time, in games it is not always possible to get an advantage over the 10th generation — although formally the processor performance has increased, but games do not always “notice” this. But, what is more pleasant, in general, the indicator of the minimum frame rate during its drawdowns is higher — that is, the gameplay as a whole will be more stable and “smoother”.

Main pros:

  • High (though not revealed after the 10th generation) gaming performance
  • PCIe 4. 0 support (we won’t specify that AMD has it since 2019, hehe)


  • High power consumption…
  • …and therefore the need for a top motherboard and ideally a custom FSS

/ 10



For the next few years, the processor will definitely suffice, and then we will think about what is more profitable to assemble with DDR5.

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AMD’s Best Mid-Budget Gaming Processors

Continuing our roundup of the best AMD Ryzen 7 5800X gaming processors of 2022. Since we have a processor based on the Zen 3 architecture, all of its 8 cores are “packed” into one chiplet. The frequencies and TDP are already familiar to the Ryzens: from 3.8 to 4.7 GHz with a passport 105 watts. At the same time, the purchase of such a processor for a purely gaming computer will, in our opinion, be much more justified in the coming years than the top «nine». Judge for yourself: with a twofold difference in prices, there will be no noticeable difference in current games, 8 cores / 16 threads are almost always enough for them. This means that we save a considerable amount that can be invested in other hardware — and, given the current situation in the video card market, this money will definitely not be superfluous.

However, for example, on cooling, despite the absence of a second chiplet, it will not be possible to save money: the power consumption of the «seven» is in fact comparable to the «nine», and the relatively small contact area of ​​the chiplet with the heat-distributing cover worsens the heat transfer to the cooler — this is not AMD FX, which, with the same power consumption, were quietly cooled by much simpler means.

Main pluses:

  • Excellent gaming performance
  • Fresh architecture


  • Cooling requirement

/ 10



After 2700 X, the difference is really very good — both in games and in work applications especially.

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The redesigned architecture allowed Ryzen to get rid of many «bottlenecks» — and, speaking of the 3xxx series, we can already definitely talk about their high competitiveness in games in which previously Intel processors could still show better results (at least in bare numbers ). The processor is assembled from two independent modules, which are even produced by different factories (this is immediately evident from the inscriptions on the cover). Let’s briefly describe the processor in numbers: eight cores, 16 threads, frequency 3.9/4.5GHz, 32MB L3 cache, 105W TDP. Physically, this is the same Ryzen 7 3700X, but with frequency restrictions removed in order to reduce the heat pack. The processor officially supports high-speed DDR4-3200 memory and does not save with a faster one, and, finally, it supports the PCI Express 4.0 specification, which, compared to the third revision, doubled the bandwidth — and direct competitors in the «face» of the ninth generation Intel remained with PCIe 3.0 .

You should buy it only in the OEM configuration: the standard «boxed» cooler for it in heavy tasks is insufficient in terms of efficiency, so there is no point in overpaying for it if you still need a good «tower» or liquid cooling system.

In games, the processor performs confidently — the gap with more expensive processors is a few percent, and the newer the game, the smaller it is, which is expected, especially when playing at high resolutions. Now compare the prices of the i9-9900K and the Ryzen 7 3800X: is such an overpayment worth a few FPS gains (in Far Cry 5, for example, on «ultra» in 4K — as much as two frames per second)? If you use a computer not only for games, then, for example, when processing heavy photos in Photoshop and Lightroom, Ryzen is already “waving the pen” to i9 processors: but the software from Adobe traditionally «didn’t like» AMD processors, working faster on the «blue ones».

Main advantages:

  • Excellent performance for reasonable money
  • Significant increase in gaming performance compared to the 2xxx series


  • Decent power and cooling requirements

Models in the range:

  • AMD Ryzen 7 3800X

    — OEM package

  • AMD Ryzen 7 3800X
    — box set

9. 4
/ 10



Personally, I chose a cheaper 3700X with overclocking, but as an option «just install and don’t mess around» 3800X, no doubt, is also a top-end by today’s standards.

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Next on our list of the best gaming processors is the AMD Ryzen 7 3700X. As we wrote above, the 3700X is physically exactly the same as the 3800X — it simply lowered the base frequency and the frequency of the standard boost to 3.6 and 4.4 GHz, respectively. The difference from the 3800X is small — but it was these few hundred megahertz that led to the increase in TDP from 65 to 105 watts.

In practice, however, the processor is a bit hot for the claimed heat pack and likes to drop frequencies under load with a stock cooler. What to do? That’s right — buy a good «tower» and twist the frequencies and voltages in the BIOS with your hands. As a result, we have the same situation as with Intel i7-9700KF vs i7-9700K: We spend a little less for exactly the same gaming experience. And at the same time, yes, Ryzen will cost less than Intel, already now in games demonstrating, if not always parity or superiority, then not inferior to it. And taking into account the support for PCIe 4.0, the processor also has an excellent reserve for the future — it will be able to work with the fastest drives, and on motherboards that cut the processor lines distributed between several video cards, it immediately goes ahead: in terms of bandwidth, the «halved» PCIe 4. 0 x8 is identical to the «full» PCIe 3.0 x16.


  • Excellent price/performance ratio
  • PCIe 4.0 support


  • In reality, the cooler in the box is rather weak — the processor tends to drop frequencies under load

Models in the range:

  • AMD Ryzen 7 3700X

    — OEM package

  • AMD Ryzen 7 3700X
    — box set

9. 2
/ 10



The best gaming processor in terms of price and performance, that’s for sure.

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Top Intel processors for mid-range gaming

Released in the first quarter of 2021, the eight-core (3. 6-5 GHz) for its price has become a very worthy competitor to the fresh Ryzens, which, frankly, was not enough in previous years. Especially when you consider that there are as many cores in it as in the i9 of the same generation — although with a lower boost frequency.

The processor is hotter and more gluttonous than the Ryzen 7 5800X, but, nevertheless, in games, on average, it is somewhat faster both in terms of average and minimum FPS. But keep in mind that the «red» AM4 socket is not going to rest yet, and the LGA 1200, in which Intel squeezed the last of its 14-nanometer technology, is «already all» — now both desktop and HEDT lines will already be on the new technological process, and on the new LGA 1700 socket. No, of course, for the next few years the system on the i7-11700K will be enough for you, but building a computer now on a platform that the manufacturer is already openly burying is still a controversial decision.

Main advantages:

  • High performance in games, including games at high resolutions
  • At a lower price in games, the processor is not so inferior to i9


  • Energy consumption and heating
  • Unpromising upgrade platform

Models in the range:

  • Intel Core i7-11700K

    — OEM

  • Intel Core i7-11700K
    — BOX
  • Intel Core i7-11700
    — OEM
  • Intel Core i7-11700
    — BOX
  • Intel Core i7-11700F
    — OEM
  • Intel Core i7-11700F
    — BOX
  • Intel Core i7-11700KF

    — OEM

  • Intel Core i7-11700KF
    — BOX

9. 8
/ 10



By and large, it’s better to take this processor and invest in a video card to the maximum than to spend extra money on top gems.

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The octa-core Comet Lake will also be an interesting option for an «average» gaming system (anyway, now the video card will eat the lion’s share of the budget). Especially if you don’t try to squeeze all the juice out of the processor with overclocking, simply by taking the version with a locked multiplier: the processor will give out its 2.9 GHz “bases” with a boost to 4.8 GHz. Moreover, with an adequate TDP of 65 W, which, in theory, will not make you rack your brains with cooling.

But this is “in theory”. Don’t forget about Intel’s TDP designation cunning — in fact, the processor, in addition to the 65 W «basic power limit» PL1, also has a «short-term load» limit PL2, which allows the i7-10700 to consume up to 224 W for no more than 28 seconds at standard settings (the power limit can be reduced in the BIOS, gaining time — in games this will give a more stable frame rate). That is, in games that load the processor with periodic «attacks», it will be able to reach power consumption with enviable regularity, which will already force you to buy a cooler from among the top ones. And for the same reason, it is clearly not worth buying a “boxed” package with a small cooler, which does not even have a single heat pipe in sight.

Main advantages:

  • In general, good performance, although cut down for economy (the same 10700K can go to peak power consumption with a full boost for 56 seconds, that is, twice as long)


  • On motherboards with «younger» chipsets, the processor will never be able to go beyond the 65-watt PL1, and this will limit performance very noticeably

/ 10



On a good motherboard, more than a decent processor. Especially since the budget was tight due to the new video card.

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The i7-9700KF remains an interesting processor for a gaming system. K in the index traditionally means an unlocked multiplier, while F means the absence of a built-in graphics core: really, why «embed» in a gaming system? Naturally, the processor is not made «from scratch» — this is the most common 9700K, in which the graphics core has not been tested and was disabled at the factory. As a result, the processor becomes cheaper for the end customer, although there are not many in Russian retail. But, what is especially interesting, KF processors, on average, overclock better than K.

Five GHz for the 9700KF is quite a normal operating mode without top-end cooling systems, and in it it can work stably under heavy loads. Having a good motherboard, experiments can be continued.

Main advantages:

  • The price is slightly lower than the version with a graphics core — the difference, for example, with the same budget, you can invest in a better cooler
  • Good overclocking potential


  • And the price could have been lowered even more (the processor is essentially a rejection of the main line 9700K!)

Models in the range:

  • Intel Core i7-9700KF

    — OEM package

  • Intel Core i7-9700KF
    — box set

9. 5
/ 10



In high resolution it copes with its work, temperatures are within normal limits by Intel standards.

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AMD Best Cheap Processors

The AMD Ryzen 3 3200G processor is a typical current “starter variant” for games, having 4 cores without SMT support, that is, there are also 4 threads here. . The integrated video core is Vega 8, and speaking of gaming applications, we can stop there.

Therefore, we connect a discrete video card — and we find that the processor confidently outperforms both its predecessor and even the Ryzen 5 2400G: this perfectly demonstrates the advantages of the new «red» platform over the old one. Direct budget competitors in the face of i3 also find themselves in a position of catching up, rushing ahead only in openly Intel-loving games like World War Z. Well, we can only congratulate AMD, they were able to launch a very interesting offer on the market in terms of price and quality.


  • Excellent performance for this class
  • Moderate heat


  • For this money?

Models in the range:

  • AMD Ryzen 3 3200G

    — box set

  • AMD Ryzen 3 3200G
    — OEM

9. 9
/ 10



Not really a gamer — so, to drive in War Thunder I have enough of it, but there the processor is not particularly loaded.

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Best Intel processors for budget gaming PCs

. .. And one more «hollowed out» processor, devoid of a graphics core — the last one in today’s ranking of the best gaming processors. The same “4/4” formula is used here, but in comparison with the i3-9350KF, both clock speeds and cache memory are cut – and, of course, there is no possibility of overclocking by a multiplier. But the main thing in it is the price: it actually occupies the position of the legendary “hyperstump” on the market, which until recently was “the best gaming solution in the Doshirak segment”. A processor paired with a mid-range graphics card and good RAM will allow you to assemble a really interesting gaming system for your money — but, of course, not for 2K / 4K and ultra.

Main advantages:

  • Very affordable price, despite the fact that the processor can still do something in games
  • Moderate power consumption and heating


  • At this price it’s stupid to talk about them

Models in the range:

  • Intel Core i3-9100F

    — box set

  • Intel Core i3-9100F
    — OEM
  • Intel Core i3-9100
    — box set
  • Intel Core i3-9100
    — OEM

9. 6
/ 10



I won’t say that I aimed specifically at games, but suddenly the processor turned out to be quite good — the video card-plug interferes more.

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What is the best processor for gaming?

There has always been a paradoxical situation with games — if you scroll through the tests of the old days, you can find a strange thing: the top new processors do not have a cardinal advantage over the current «middling». The gaming industry, actively spurring the development of video accelerators, is at the same time very conservative in terms of the use of the central processor. About ten years ago, even two cores were not really needed: games worked hard in one thread, ignoring the increased multi-threaded performance of processors.

However, the development of software in general, and not just games, clearly indicates that multithreading is the future. In addition, even now the “extra” cores will not be superfluous. Imagine a simple situation: a game, squeezing out a 100% load from physical cores, will inevitably lose speed as soon as the operating system starts a resource-intensive process in the background. If you are streaming a game, then processing the video stream will also eat up considerable resources. What is better — to take away some of the resources from the game or use the free ones? Naturally, the second. Let’s play recording? Well, when encoding video before publishing it on video hosting, multithreading is already in demand.

And, finally, computers are using more and more high-speed data lines — both the video card and RAM need them, and SSDs have long been not satisfied with SATA capabilities, working directly with PCI-Express. Here the advantages of more modern processors are already more obvious, even if there is not a big difference in FPS in your favorite games.

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Updated on 01/27/2022
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2022 Intel and AMD

When shopping for the best gaming processor, you need to balance performance and features with your PC’s budget. Our tips and choices below will help you choose the best processor for gaming.

If you’re looking for the best mid-range processor for gaming, the six-core, 12-thread Alder Lake Core i5-12400 is the chip for you. When tuned properly, it’s even faster in games than the previous-gen flagship Core i9-11900K, so it goes without saying that it’s also faster than the Ryzen 5 5600X. It also delivers a compelling combination of single-threaded and multi-threaded performance, making it the best choice for budget gaming processors.

02/24/2022 Update

New generation AMD and Intel processors have been added to the rating.

If you’re looking for the fastest gaming chips on the market, you need to take a look at the Core i9-12900K and Core i5-12600K. The Intel Core i9-12900K delivers incredible levels of multi-threaded performance, often rivaling or outperforming the Ryzen 9 5950X but at a much lower price. That said, the Core i7-12700K offers pretty much the same gaming performance as the flagship Core i9-12900K at a fraction of the cost. The 12900K offers extra cores and extra speed for those looking for ultimate performance, but the Core i7-12700K is a well-rounded chip that delivers an impressive price/performance ratio for both gaming and apps.

The Intel Core i5-12600K is the best gaming processor in its price range. The 12600K delivers 38% more multi-threaded performance than the Ryzen 5 5600X and 7% more than the Ryzen 7 5800X. Meanwhile, the Core i3-12100 is the best budget processor on the market with an excellent price/performance ratio.

The AMD Ryzen 7 5700G and Ryzen 5 5600G APUs have the fastest integrated GPUs on the market, delivering nearly twice the performance of an Intel iGPU. The Ryzen 5 5600G is the best value for money, with performance within 4% of the Ryzen 7 5700G but 30% cheaper. The Ryzen 5600G could also be a stopgap for enthusiasts who can’t find a reasonably priced graphics card during a time of severe GPU shortages.


Intel Core i5-12600k

as a whole the best processor for games

Type of delivery: Box, OEM
Number of nuclei: 10 X 3700-4900 MHz 9 L2/L3: 9. 50 MB/20 MB
RAM: 2 x DDR4, DDR5 3200/4800 MHz
Heat release: 150 W
UHD Graphas 770 3200/408260147

  • Requires LGA1700 motherboard
  • Platform cost
  • The Core i5-12600K gaming processor delivers price-leading gaming performance, outperforming the Ryzen 5 5600X at a slightly lower price point. The 12600K also offers 38% more multi-threaded performance than the Ryzen 5 5600X and even 7% more than the Ryzen 7 5800X. Combined with high single-threaded performance, this gaming chip is second to none. 9The 0003

    12600K comes with six multi-threaded P cores running at 3.7/4.9GHz and four E cores running at 2.8/3.6GHz for a total of 16 threads. This is combined with 20MB of L3 cache and 9.5MB of L2 cache.

    The chip supports 16 lanes of advanced PCIe 5.0 interface and an additional four lanes of PCIe 4.0 for a fast M.2 SSD port. However, the advanced connectivity doesn’t end there: the Core i5-12600K also supports DDR4 or DDR5 memory. Most gamers will like the lower price and comparable performance of DDR4, but you can upgrade to the more expensive DDR5 if you need access to more memory bandwidth. 9The 0003

    12600K has a maximum power rating of 150W, but the chip consumes significantly less power than its previous generation counterpart while delivering much better gaming performance. The lower power consumption allows the chip to work well with a wide range of standard air and water coolers, but you’ll need to make sure your model supports the LGA 1700 socket.0 is currently the only option. You can find a wide variety of high end models that support DDR5 memory and although you will only find lower and mid-range DDR4 motherboards.


    AMD Ryzen 5 5600x

    In general, the best processor for games is an alternative choice

    Type of delivery: BOX, OEM
    Number: 6 x 3700 — 4600 — 4600 — 4600 — 4600 — 4600 — 4600 — 4600 — 4600 — 4600 — 4600 — 4600 — 4600 — 4600 — 4600 — 4600 — 4600 — 4600 MHA L2/L3 cache size: 9-10900K in games, which is an incredible achievement considering its price. Not to mention, it’s the most energy efficient desktop processor out there.

    AMD Zen 3 microarchitecture results in a staggering 19% increase in IPC for a smooth ride in terms of performance in games, single-threaded and multi-threaded applications. In fact, the chip is broadly on par with the gaming performance of its more expensive sibling, the Ryzen 7 5800X. This makes the 5600X an incredibly versatile chip that can handle any type of game, from competitive class performance with high refresh rate monitors to streaming, while also delivering more than enough performance for everyday application workloads.

    The Ryzen 5 5600X has a base clock of 3.7GHz and a boost clock of 4.6GHz, but with the right cooling and motherboard, you can expect higher short-term boosts. The chip also has a TDP rating of 65W, which means it runs exceptionally cool and quiet considering its capabilities (the previous generation model was 95W). Existing owners of AMD 500 series motherboards will breathe a sigh of relief as they are compatible. You can also insert chips into 400 series motherboards.


    Intel Core i9-12900k

    The most powerful gaming processor

    Delivery type: BOX, OEM
    Number L3:
    14 MB/30 MB
    RAM: 2 x DDR4, DDR5 3200/4800 MHz
    Heating: 241 W
    Integrated graphics: UHD Graphics 770 3200/4826

  • Only slightly better than the i5 for gaming
  • The Intel Core i9-12900K is the fastest gaming processor on the planet. It outperforms the AMD Ryzen 9 5950X in gaming and even in multi-threaded content creation tasks, making it exceptionally beneficial for high-end game streaming. It’s also the undisputed leader in single-threaded x86 performance. The

    12900K supports advanced connectivity with support for DDR4-3200 or up to DDR5-4800 memory as well as 16 PCIe 5.0 lanes and an additional four PCIe 4. 0 lanes from the M.2 SSD chip.

    The chip comes with eight hyper-threading P-cores and eight single-threaded E-cores, for a total of 24 threads. P-cores have a base frequency of 3.2GHz and peak frequencies reach 5.2GHz with Turbo Boost Max 3.0 (this feature is only active on P-cores). Meanwhile, the E-cores have a base frequency of 2.4GHz and can be boosted up to 3.9GHz with standard Turbo Boost 2.0 algorithms. The chip is equipped with 30MB L3 cache and 14MB L2 cache.

    This 12900K is rated at 125W PBP (base) and 241W MTP (peak), but its power consumption is lower than its previous generation counterpart and you get industry-leading performance in return.

    You will need to buy a powerful chip cooler as well as a new 600 series motherboard. You can find a wide variety of high-end motherboards that support DDR5 memory, and while you’ll only find lower to mid-range DDR4 motherboards, there’s still plenty to choose from. Most gamers will like the lower price and comparable performance of DDR4, but you can upgrade to the more expensive DDR5 if you need access to more memory bandwidth.


    AMD Ryzen 9 5950x

    The best processor for games with high performance is an alternative choice

    Type of delivery: Box, OEM
    Number: 16 x 3400-4900 MHz L2/L3: 8 MB/64 MB
    RAM: 2 x DDR4 3200 MHz
    TDP: 105 W
    Integrated Graphics: no
    Process technology: 90 90 28 nm0146 No integrated graphics

    High-end desktop processors have long been offering top performance if you’re willing to pay the price. In addition to the high suggested retail prices, the chips also require other expensive hardware, such as powerful motherboards and the additional cost of fully populating quad-channel memory controllers.

    The 16-core, 32-thread AMD Ryzen 9 5950X expands on its predecessors’ mission of delivering HEDT-class performance to mainstream motherboards while lowering the bar for entry. Price 5950X is quite affordable compared to competing HEDT processors that don’t offer the same class of performance.

    We generally do not recommend HEDT processors to enthusiasts who are only interested in gaming. Gamers are best suited for conventional processors (with fewer cores and higher clock speeds), which often run faster in games. The Ryzen 9 5950X falls into the same category — AMD’s lower end 5000 series models are more value for money for gamers. However, if you want a chip and platform that can do some serious work very quickly, yet be nimble enough to deliver high refresh rates for your gaming experience at the end of the day, Ryzen 9The 5950X fits the bill like no other processor before it.


    Intel Core i7-12700k

    The best processor for games in price/quality ratio

    SOCKET: LGA1700
    Number: 12 x 3600-5000 MHz
    Cache volume: L2/l3 12 MB/25MB
    RAM: 2 x DDR4, DDR5 3200/4800MHz
    Thermal: 190W

    • No cooler included
    • Platform cost
    • Uses more power than Ryzen

    At its price point, the 12700K processor completely outperforms the Ryzen 7 5800X and almost outshifts the expensive Ry09X5 gaming performance as well as the fastest gaming chip on the planet, Intel’s own flagship Core i9-12900K.

    At 1080p gaming, the Core i7-12700K is an impressive 12% faster than the Ryzen 7 5800X and 7.5% faster than the Ryzen 95900X, which holds the title of AMD’s fastest gaming chip. In low thread count applications, the 12700K is about 17% faster than the 5800X and 5900X. In multi-threaded work, the Core i7-12700K is 2.5% faster than the Ryzen 9 5900X, although the 5900X wins in multi-threaded applications. The Ryzen 7 5800X doesn’t even come close to competing with it — the 12700K is 40% faster in multi-threaded work.


    Core i7-12700K is the same price as the previous generation Core i7-11700K but has 33% more threads. The Core i7-12700K has eight P (high performance) cores and four E (efficiency) cores for a total of 20 threads. P-cores operate at a base/boost frequency of 3.6/5.0 GHz, and E-cores weigh at 2.7/3.8 GHz. In addition, the chip is powered by 25MB L3 cache and 12MB L2 cache. 9The 0003

    12900K also supports advanced connectivity with support for DDR4-3200 or up to DDR5-4800 memory, as well as 16 PCIe 5. 0 lanes and an additional four PCIe 4.0 lanes from the M.2 SSD chip. The 12700K is rated at 125W PBP (base) and 190W MTP (peak). However, it has lower power consumption than its previous generation counterpart, and in return you get super-competitive performance.

    You will need to buy a powerful chip cooler as well as a new 600 series motherboard. You can find a wide variety of high-end motherboards that support DDR5 memory, and while you’ll only find lower to mid-range DDR4 motherboards, there’s still plenty to choose from. Most gamers will like the lower price and comparable performance of DDR4, but you can upgrade to the more expensive DDR5 if you need access to more memory bandwidth.


    AMD Ryzen 9 5900x

    The best processor for games price/quality-Alternative choice

    Number: 12 x 3700-4800 MHz
    volume Kash: L2/l3 6/l3 6 MB/64 MB
    RAM: 2 x DDR4 3200 MHz
    Heating: 105 W
    process: 7 nm
    Number5900X is the right choice.

    The 12-core, 24-thread Ryzen 9 5900X is rated at 3.7GHz base clock and 4.8GHz boost that can be overclocked to 5.0GHz. The 5900X offers unmatched gaming performance — it’s the undisputed gaming chip on the market, but it’s a little overkill if gaming is all you do. However, if you feel the need for speed in your workloads, this chip’s 12 cores will handle those workloads with a bang.

    Also has PCIe 4.0 support and overclocking capability. Ryzen 95900X installs on existing 500 and 400 series motherboards. You will need your own cooler, the bigger the better — cooling definitely affects the performance of Ryzen 5000 processors.



    SOCKET: LGA1700
    Number: 6 x 2500-4400 MHz
    Cache volume: L2/L3 7.50 MB/18 MB
    2 x DDR4, DDR5 3200/4, DDR5 3200/4, DDR5 3200/40147


    • Requires LGA1700 motherboard

    If you’re looking for the best mid-range processor for gaming, the six-core 12-thread Alder Lake Core i5-12400 is your chip. When properly configured, it’s even faster in games than the flagship Core i9-11900K of the previous generation, so it goes without saying that it’s also faster than the Ryzen 5 5600X in games.

    The chip comes with six hyper-threaded P-cores running at a base frequency of 2.5GHz and a boost frequency of 4.4GHz. The 12400 supports advanced connectivity with support for DDR4-3200 or up to DDR5-4800 memory as well as 16 PCIe 5.0 lanes and an additional four PCIe 4.0 lanes from the M.2 SSD chip.

    The Core i5-12400 delivers consistent performance across all multi-threaded applications, and its fast single-thread performance outperforms even the fastest Ryzen 5000 processors. In addition, the Core i5-12400 delivers incredible levels of gaming performance, but at a much lower price than any comparable AMD processor, setting a new benchmark for budget gaming chips. The

    i5-12400 comes with a powerful cooler capable of handling 65W/117W base/peak power, but you’ll also need a new 600 series motherboard. Most gamers will like the lower price and comparable DDR4 performance, but you can upgrade to a more expensive one DDR5 if you need access to more memory bandwidth. Luckily, Intel partners now have B and H series motherboards, and the B660 motherboard and Core i5-12400 processor make for a killer gaming combo.

  • Core clock not overclocking
  • Like the rest of the Alder Lake family, the Core i3-12100 hits the market at a revolutionary price point. The chip is also available in the F-series Core i3-12100F, which Intel ships with integrated graphics disabled and at a lower price than the full-featured model. In fact, with no clear current-gen competitor from AMD and stellar performance for its price point, the Core i3-12100 easily leads its price segment CPU tests.

    9The 0002 Core i3-12100 is now considered the fastest budget gaming processor on the market, and it also impresses in low-threaded applications: no AMD chip can match the 12100 in single-threaded work. The Core i3-12100 also impresses with multi-threaded workloads for its price.


    Core i3-12100 comes rated at 60W PBP (base) and 89W MTP (peak). The chip operates at a base frequency of 3.3 GHz and can be boosted up to 4.3 GHz. It also comes with 12MB L3 cache. Intel Alder Lake installed on Socket 1700 motherboards from the 600 series, including the Z690, H670, B660 and H610. The Core i3-12100 is a locked chip, meaning it cannot be overclocked. However, Intel does support memory overclocking on the Z690, B660, and H670 motherboards (though the Z690 doesn’t make sense for this class of chips).

    The Core i3-12100 has no equivalent price competitor from AMD. However, despite the complete lack of competition, it still delivers impressive generational productivity gains. In fact, when gaming at 1080p, the Core i3-12100 provides 88% of the performance of the Core i5-12400, but is 56% cheaper. It’s a winning combination of price and performance.


    AMD Ryzen 5 5600g

    The best level processor for games

    Number: 6 x 3900-4400 MHz
    volume of cache: L2/L3 3 MB/16 MB/16 MB/16 MB/16 MB/16 MB/16 MB/16 MB/16 MB/16 MB/16 MB/16 MB/16 MB/16 MB/16 MB/16 MB/16 MB/16 MB/16 MB/16 MB/16 Mb
    RAM: 2 x DDR4 3200 MHz
    Heating: 65 W
    Integrated graphics: Radeon Graphics 3200 MHz Technician: 7 NM
    7 NM
    7 NM

    The Ryzen 5 5600G enters the market during the biggest GPU shortage in history, so many users will switch to this chip and use its powerful integrated graphics for gaming until GPU prices drop. The Ryzen 5 5600G also fulfills this requirement, entering the arena as the new value champion for APUs, which are chips with integrated graphics powerful enough that they don’t need a discrete GPU for light gaming, albeit with reduced performance.

    The Ryzen 5 5600G delivers 96% gaming performance on integrated graphics than its more expensive sibling, the Ryzen 7 5700G, but 30% cheaper. This makes it the best APU on the market. As long as you’re willing to sacrifice fidelity and resolution to keep your expectations in check, the Vega Ryzen 5 5600G graphics deliver surprisingly good gaming performance. The Vega 5600G graphics deliver comparatively excellent 1280×720 performance in many games, but the performance becomes more limited at 1080p. Sure, you can play games at 1080p, but you’ll have to severely limit your fidelity settings for most games.

    With eight cores and 16 threads running at a base frequency of 3.9GHz and boosting to 4.4GHz, the Ryzen 5 5600G also offers good performance for its price in standard desktop applications. The chip comes with a bundled Wraith Stealth cooler, which makes it more attractive, and is installed on existing 500-series and some 400-series motherboards, although support for the latter varies by vendor.

    How to choose the best gaming processor?

    When choosing the best gaming processor, consider the following:

    AMD or Intel? Lately, Intel tends to make the best processors for mainstream PCs. But as long as you’re looking at the details of the current generation, arguing about performance is mostly pointless, especially when it comes to gaming.

    For gaming, clock speed is more important than the number of cores. Higher CPU clock speeds translate into faster performance in simple, common tasks like gaming, and more cores will help you handle time-consuming workloads faster. After all, the fastest processors of any family have the highest clock speeds.

    Total system budget. Don’t pair a powerful processor with weak storage, RAM, and graphics.

    Overclocking is not for everyone. If you just want to play, it might make sense to spend a little more and buy a higher-end chip rather than spend money on a more expensive cooler.

    • Best graphics cards for play and work
    • Best gaming headsets
    • Best PC gaming controllers
    • Best gaming microphones

    PC gaming processor in 2022

    Which CPU is best for gaming right now? After all, it is a critical part of a gaming PC. We’ve reviewed all of the current AMD and Intel processors to help you make the right choice.

    Gaming still relies heavily on single-threaded CPUs for pure performance, but you can’t just throw in a couple of fast cores and hope they will fully load your graphics card. Despite the dominance of four or more core processors, the reality is that very few game engines fully exploit the potential of the powerful CPUs installed in our machines.

    But things are starting to change with more and more games using DirectX 12 and Vulkan that use CPU resources more thoughtfully.

    The PS5 and Xbox Series X consoles feature 8-core, 16-thread processors, and given that developers are primarily targeting these platforms when creating games, we expect the reliance on multi-core performance to become much more pronounced in the future.


    Intel Core i9-12900K

    Cores: 16 | Threads: 24 | Base frequency: 3.2GHz | Overclocking: 5.2GHz | Socket: LGA1700

    The Intel Core i9-12900K is the right processor to power the most powerful NVIDIA and AMD graphics cards. With 16 cores and 24 threads, coupled with a maximum clock speed of 5.2 GHz, this processor is a real beast when it comes to performance, whether it’s work tasks or top-end video games. In terms of power, it surpasses the closest competitor in the face of AMD Ryzen 95950X.

    Of course, buying this CPU will become quite expensive. If you want to save money and, for example, do not need integrated graphics, you can pay attention to the 12900KF model, which will show the same characteristics and overclocking potential.


    • Most powerful CPU;
    • Consistent performance in any application.


    • Expensive.

    Intel Core i7-12700K

    Cores: 12 | Threads: 20 | Base frequency: 3.6GHz | Overclocking: 5.0GHz | Socket: LGA1700

    The Intel Core i7-12700K is a 12-core beast with an unlocked multiplier, which gives users a wide range of overclocking options. It uses eight high-performance and four power-efficient cores, capable of delivering high speed performance in single-threaded and multi-threaded applications. In turbo mode, the processor frequency increases to 5 GHz, which will give an increase in frame rate in processor-dependent games.

    It is worth noting that the model is characterized by high heating in resource-intensive applications, so it is worth taking care to have a good cooling system.


    • Unlocked multiplier;
    • Excellent performance.


    • Pretty hot.

    Intel Core i9 10900K

    Cores: 10 | Threads: 20 | Base frequency: 3.7 GHz | Overclocking: 5.3 GHz | Socket: LGA 120

    Intel’s Core i9 10900K is a no-compromise option in terms of performance, but its price and TDP performance issues make it the best processor in the world.

    Yes, it has 10 cores and 20 threads, which is very good for the future, but at the moment, even with the best graphics cards, the 10900K does not provide much more frames per second than less expensive processors from AMD. Therefore, it is up to you to decide whether you want to get power that is in little demand anywhere, or whether you prefer to look for more economical options.


    • Very fast;
    • Works great with top graphics cards.


    • Expensive;
    • Hot.

    Intel Core i7-10700

    Cores: 8 | Threads: 16 | Base frequency: 2. 9GHz | Overclocking: 4.8GHz | Socket: LGA1200

    The Intel Core i7-10700 is notable for decent energy efficiency for its class: a thermal package of 65W saves the owner of the «stone» from buying a productive CO. At the same time, in terms of its power, the processor approaches the more “gluttonous” i7-10700K, which makes it a worthy alternative if you are not looking for serious overclocking.

    With games, this model will prove to be very worthy, and you can pair it with a powerful video card and overclocked RAM. At the same time, the processor will remain cold, and your wallet will not leak due to buying expensive CO.


    • Close to more expensive models;
    • Energy efficient.

    INTEL CORE I9 9900K

    Cores: 8 | Threads: 16 | Base frequency: 3.6GHz | Overclocking: 5GHz | Socket: LGA 1151 v2

    The Intel Core i9 9900K is a fast gaming processor, but its high price means it doesn’t claim to be the best. If money is no problem, then this octa-core chip from Intel is the best processor to pair with your high-end graphics card.

    When it comes to games that require a powerful graphics card, there is not a huge difference between the gaming performance of the top Intel chipset and the high-end AMD 3700X chipset, especially in 4K. It’s a great chip from a technical and operational point of view, but considering the price point, especially in the face of intense competition from AMD, it’s pretty hard to recommend.


    • Very fast gaming processor;
    • Ideal processor for RTX 2080 Ti.


    • The price is quite high;
    • AMD 3700X is almost the same in most games.

    Intel Core i5-12400F

    Cores: 6 | Threads: 12 | Base frequency: 2.5GHz | Overclocking: 4.4GHz | Socket: LGA1700

    This six-core processor is inexpensive, but quite fast, which allows it to surpass many AMD models in terms of price / performance. Despite lacking the efficient cores found in more expensive Alder Lake processors, the i5-12400F still handles background tasks quite well without much of a hit to frame rates.

    The Intel Core i5-12400F performs well with discrete graphics, but Intel also has a slightly more expensive i5-12400 with integrated graphics in stock in case you don’t need a separate video adapter.


    • Competes on equal terms with more expensive processors;
    • There is support for DDR5 RAM.


    • Not good enough for top graphics cards.

    Intel Core i5-10400F

    Cores: 6 | Threads: 12 | Base frequency: 2.9GHz | Overclocking: 4.3GHz | Socket: LGA1200

    The Intel Core i5-10400F is a «popular» processor used in budget and mid-range assemblies. This model boasts low heat generation with good performance, and the bundled cooler in the BOX version will save the owner from overpaying for additional CO.

    If you’re not a fan of the latest and you’re happy with a 10th gen processor, the i5-10400F is a great choice: it’s fast and power efficient and won’t hit your wallet too hard.


    • Inexpensive;
    • Powerful;
    • Cold.


    • Not enough potential for high end graphics cards.

    Intel Core i3-12100

    Cores: 4 | Threads: 8 | Base frequency: 3.3GHz | Overclocking: 4.3GHz | Socket: LGA1700

    The Intel Core i3-12100 is the new king of the budget gaming PC segment. It combines an affordable price tag and high performance, and on its basis you can assemble an inexpensive computer that will pull all the latest innovations.

    In many games and workloads, this processor rivals the AMD Ryzen 5 3600, and this is the best compliment for this model.


    • Combination of price and quality;
    • Works well in games.

    Intel Core i3-10100F

    Cores: 4 | Threads: 8 | Base frequency: 3.6GHz | Overclocking: 4.3GHz | Socket: LGA1200

    Intel Core i3-10100F is an option for those who want to save money by agreeing to compromise on power. The number of cores and the amount of cache memory here are minimally necessary to work with modern operating systems, applications and games, but the processor does not succumb to difficulties, giving out high clock speeds and excellent multitasking.

    There is no integrated video core, so you need a discrete graphics card. In conjunction with a mid-range graphics chip, this processor is capable of miracles, and it is also quite capable of handling overclocking RAM — so when you buy an i3-10100F, you can expect to create a system powerful enough for all modern titles.


    • Performance;
    • Cheap.


    • The supplied cooler is not good enough for effective cooling.

    INTEL CORE I5 10600K

    Cores: 6 | Threads: 6 | Base frequency: 3.7 GHz | Overclocking: 4.6 GHz | Socket: LGA 1151

    While the Ryzen 5 3600 is still considered the best value-for-money gaming processor, the Intel Core i5 10600K can already beat it — especially if you’re only into gaming.

    This processor is much more overclockable, and a few hundred extra megahertz will allow you to get higher frame rates — even getting close to 10900K! The model is ready to compete with AMD competitors, but it should be noted that you will need a good cooler and overclocking experience — otherwise you will not get the benefits of the device.


    • Good overclocking capability;
    • Excellent gaming performance;
    • Intel’s best midrange processor.


    • Requires overclocking;
    • Six-thread performance may not be enough in next-gen games.

    INTEL CORE I5 9600K

    Cores: 6 | Threads: 6 | Base frequency: 3.7GHz | Overclocking: 4.6GHz | Socket: LGA 1151 v2

    9600K only matters for overclocking. The Coffee Lake chip is capable of delivering the same level of multi-threaded CPU performance as the competing 12-thread Ryzen 5 with stable and moderate overclocking. To be honest, it looks like that was the main point of this processor — to beat Ryzen at any cost, but this requires a high-end Z370 or Z39 board.0.


    • Serious overclocking;
    • Classic Intel gaming performance.


    • Relatively high price;
    • Not enough power compared to 12-thread Ryzen.


    AMD Ryzen 9 5900X

    Cores: 12 | Threads: 24 | Base frequency: 3.7GHz | Overclocking: 4.8GHz | Socket: AM4

    AMD Ryzen 9The 5900X has 12 cores and 24 threads, which is enough for even the most demanding video games, as well as tasks like video processing or modeling.

    It’s not as powerful as Intel’s flagship processor, but it’s much cheaper, especially considering its compatibility with socket AM4 motherboards — if you’re upgrading from a previous generation of AMD, you can save even more without upgrading the platform. Either way, this is a great processor for gaming.


    • High performance for gaming and work tasks;
    • Backward compatible with AM4 motherboards.

    AMD RYZEN 9 3900X

    Cores: 12 | Threads: 24 | Base frequency: 3.8GHz | Overclocking: 4.6GHz | Socket: AM4

    With 12 cores divided into 24 threads, the AMD Ryzen 9 3900X has the power to handle just about any workload. And thanks to Zen 2’s unique modular topology, dual 39 chipsets00X can operate at impressive frequencies up to 4.6 GHz. This is enough to achieve impressive fps in games.

    Also, there is no need to spend fabulous money on the latest motherboard. With an AM4 socket set to fit most Ryzen motherboards on the market, the Ryzen 9 3900X is an amazing deal.


    • 12 cores and 24 threads;
    • PCIe 4.0 support


    • In most games, the Ryzen 7 3700X is almost the same.

    AMD RYZEN 7 3700X

    Cores: 8 | Threads: 16 | Base frequency: 3.6GHz | Overclocking: 4.4GHz | Socket: AM4

    If you’re looking for a combination of decent gaming performance and great quality, the Ryzen 7 3700X is the way to go. This is a low cost processor based on the Zen 2 architecture that greatly improves the overall performance of its 2700X predecessor while requiring much less power.

    Its gaming performance is still comparable to top Intel processors when you play at 1440p or 4K. All of this makes the chip a great option and is virtually indistinguishable from Intel in any GPU-bound game.


    • Serious multi-threaded performance;
    • Excellent value for a 16-thread processor;


    • Limited overclocking potential.

    AMD Ryzen 5 5600G

    Cores: 6 | Threads: 12 | Base frequency: 3.9GHz | Overclocking: 3.4GHz | Socket: AM4

    If you are planning to build a PC without a discrete graphics card, but with good graphics performance, then the AMD Ryzen 5 5600G will be a great option. The Vega-based integrated video adapter demonstrates decent performance: of course, it loses to many discrete solutions, but its power is enough for undemanding games, especially if you use the AMD FSR technology with which it is compatible.

    Intel’s closest competitor to this model, the i5-12400, has UHD Graphics 730 integrated graphics that cannot compete with the Vega GPU. Therefore, if you choose an APU, then only from AMD.


    • Powerful GPU;
    • More powerful than the competition from Intel.


    • More expensive than processors without integrated graphics.

    AMD Ryzen 5 3600

    Cores: 6 | Threads: 12 | Base frequency: 3. 6GHz | Overclocking: 4.2GHz | Socket: AM4

    The AMD Ryzen 5 3600 is not only a great gaming processor with great performance, but also an incredibly attractive chip in terms of price. The previous processor, the Ryzen 5 2600, remains a solid choice for the value-conscious PC user, but the Zen 2 architecture more than justifies the investment in the latest and greatest chip.

    With a 15% increase in IPC over 2nd generation Ryzen, the Ryzen 5 3600 brings even more affordable gaming power to the mainstream market. At this price, it not only approaches Intel’s gaming leadership, but also outperforms it — and does so without requiring a large investment.


    • Great value;
    • Fantastic single core performance;
    • Six cores and twelve threads;
    • Powerful cooling included.

    AMD Ryzen 5 3600X

    Cores: 6 | Threads: 12 | Base frequency: 3.8GHz | Overclocking: 4.4GHz | Socket: AM4

    The Ryzen 5 3600X is an impressive processor that once again proves AMD’s upward trajectory. While there are good reasons to buy a cheaper Ryzen 5 chip, the X suffix delivers higher clock speeds and a more powerful cooler than its big brother. 9The 0003

    chip also offers a significant performance boost over its predecessor, and Zen 2’s 15% increase in IPC does wonders for gaming.


    • Great price;
    • Performance;
    • Wraith Spire Cooling System .


    • Not worth the extra money compared to Ryzen 5 3600.

    AMD Ryzen 5 PRO 4650G

    Cores: 6 | Threads: 12 | Base frequency: 3.7GHz | Overclocking: 4.2GHz | Socket: AM4

    AMD Ryzen 5 PRO 4650G is made on 7nm process technology, consumes little power and generates a meager amount of heat, and is also equipped with an integrated graphics core. Based on this processor, you can assemble a mini-PC, an entry-level gaming system or a media server.

    If we talk about games, then six cores and twelve threads at a maximum clock frequency of 4. 2 GHz will be enough to maintain high fps in any modern titles. Perhaps this processor should not be paired with top-end video cards, but with entry-level and mid-level video chips, it will show itself at its best.


    • Very quiet and cool;
    • Performance video core.


    • There are cheaper alternatives.

    AMD Ryzen 5 2600

    Cores: 6 | Threads: 12 | Base frequency: 3.4GHz | Overclocking: 3.9GHz | Socket: AM4

    The AMD Ryzen 5 2600 isn’t just a great twelve-thread gaming processor, it’s also incredibly priced.

    With a little overclocking that doesn’t affect your stone, you can get 2600X-level performance that’s only a couple of fps behind the Core i5. For the same money, but with all the charms of multithreading.

    In conclusion, the xless 2600 packs so much power that you’re unlikely to use it to its full potential, and all for a very attractive price. And that very overclocking is not as terrible as it is painted.


    • Great price;
    • Decent single-core performance.


    • Outperformed Ryzen 5 3600.

    AMD Ryzen 3 3300X

    Cores: 4 | Threads: 8 | Base frequency: 3.8 GHz | Overclocking: 4.3 GHz | Socket: AM4

    Before AMD expanded its line of budget processors, the best low-cost devices were the Zen+ family, for example, the Ryzen 5 2600. But now, with the new Zen 2 processors, you can abandon the legacy architecture and pay attention to the following generation.

    Ryzen 3 3300X will give you good performance with low heat and PCIe 4.0 support. It handles games that need single-core performance well, but falls short of the aforementioned Ryzen 5 2600 in multi-core testing. Nevertheless, thanks to new features, this processor gives a good head start for the future.


    • PCIe 4. 0 support;
    • Good gaming performance;
    • Low price.


    • Not the best multi-core performance.

    AMD Ryzen 3 2200G

    Cores: 4 | Threads: 4 | Base frequency: 3.5GHz | Overclocking: 3.7GHz | Socket: AM4

    Combining the serious performance of this quad-core processor with the amazingly efficient Vega integrated graphics makes this APU a winner whether you’re using a discrete graphics card or not. The 2200G can deliver decent gaming performance at 720p if you’re not too ambitious with graphics settings. This is the best processor for budget users.

    Due to the fact that AMD managed to place both the GPU and a full-fledged quad-core processor under one cover, its performance remains at the same level even when paired with a discrete graphics card. Yes, it loses a bit in processing power to the 1300X due to the halved level 3 cache, but gaming tests show that the difference between them is very small.


    • Low price;
    • Vega integrated graphics;
    • Excellent overclocking performance.


    • Lower cache than Ryzen.

    AMD Ryzen 3 PRO 2100GE

    Cores: 2 | Threads: 4 | Base frequency: 2.0GHz | Overclocking: 3.2GHz | Socket: AM4

    If you’re on a budget or building an entry-level system, the AMD Ryzen 3 PRO 2100GE is the processor for you. It overclocks up to 3.2GHz, has integrated Vega 3 graphics, and its TDP does not exceed 35W — ideal for a mini PC, home server or «study» computer.

    With such data, it makes no sense to talk about outstanding performance in games, especially those that depend on processor power. Nevertheless, the AMD Ryzen 3 PRO 2100GE will not lose its face in conjunction with a good graphics card, and the built-in chip is enough to run time-tested classics and modern 2D indies.


    • Inexpensive;
    • Integrated video core;
    • Modest power consumption.


    • Not enough performance for modern games.

    The best gaming processors for games. What to choose Intel or AMD?

    Buying a gaming processor is now not as difficult as it used to be. With AMD Ryzen 5000-series processors and 12th Gen Intel Core processors offering more performance and core count than ever before, it’s hard to pick a bad gaming processor these days, especially because that most PC games prioritize powerful graphics cards over CPU power.

    All of which goes to show that there are certain CPU processors that stand out from many other top gaming processors due to their price, performance, or excellent price/performance ratio.

    Whether you’re on a tight budget or willing to pay for incredible chip speed, here’s a look at the best gaming PC processors you can find on the market.

    Best gaming processor for most purposes

    Intel Core i5-12600K

    Intel Core i5 CPUs are the best solution for gamers. In fact, if you don’t need the extra cores of the more expensive processor options, this class of chips offers pretty much the same gaming experience as processors that cost hundreds of dollars more. The main question for many gamers is which brand of processor to choose: Intel or AMD? The answer is complex.

    In pure performance terms, the new 10-core, 16-thread Intel Core i5-12600K processor definitely outperforms the 6-core, 12-thread AMD Ryzen 5 5600X processor in multi-core tasks and office productivity.

    It also wins in PC games, although the difference between them is not so huge: in our test set of eight games, the Intel Core i5 processor scored four wins and two draws, while the AMD Ryzen 5 chip scored a couple of decent wins. All in all, the Core i5-12600K is definitely the chip we’d recommend to most people, but there’s one caveat.

    Both are great processors for gaming and high performance, and both cost around $300, but AMD’s Ryzen 5000 series has been available for over a year now, so the motherboard stack that surrounds it is fully developed. Right now you can easily buy budget or mainstream models of AMD AM4 500 series motherboards. In turn, Intel released Alder Lake with two Z69-class motherboards.0, which still have a high price. If you decide to choose one with advanced DDR5 memory support, the total cost of ownership of such a system will be even higher.

    If the cost of maintaining a computer is more important than high performance, the lower overall cost of an AMD Ryzen 5 5600X platform with a mainstream AMD H-series motherboard and DDR4 memory might be your best bet—at least until more affordable Intel motherboards will not hit the market.

    Best High-Performance Gaming Processor

    Intel Core i9-12900K

    Today’s six-core Core i5 and AMD Ryzen 5 gaming processors provide almost the same level of gaming performance as more expensive processors, with a few exceptions.

    You only need to upgrade to a high performance gaming processor if you need more cores for a variety of performance tasks, eight cores for streaming, or if you’re building a gaming PC with an eye on the future, or simply if you need the highest potential frame rate in any situation.

    If you’re looking for maximum performance, the $650-$700 Intel Core i9-12900K is the best gaming processor in the world in terms of pure frame rates, losing that title to AMD’s ferocious Ryzen 9 5950X. The 16-core, 32-thread Ryzen chip costs $750, and it manages to outperform Intel’s 16-core, 24-thread processor in some performance tasks because the Core chip uses a radical new mix of high-end and high-performance cores. But when it comes to raw gaming, the cheaper Core i9 processor-12900K takes the top spot without a doubt. Keep in mind that you’ll have to buy the latest (namely, expensive DDR5 memory) in addition to unlock this beast’s full potential, even though some Z690 motherboards support installed (read: not that expensive) DDR4. The $550 AMD Ryzen 9 5900X

    is another solid option that offers high frame rates, but when you realize that paying that much for a 12-core chip doesn’t make sense and your goal is only gaming.

    If you just want ultra-fast frame rates in games and don’t need an insane amount of CPU cores to be productive, consider the inferior Core i7-12700K and Ryzen 7 5800X as well. Each costs roughly $450, with street prices varying somewhat, offering 12 and 8 cores respectively. Either would be a great option for people looking to build a balanced PC for work and play as the Intel chip is better suited for pure gaming, though again DDR5 and Z69 motherboards0 may increase the overall platform cost for Intel chips until they become more mainstream.

    Best Budget Gaming Processor

    AMD Ryzen 5600G

    Now is not the best time to build a budget gaming PC with very few processors priced below $200.

    Intel and AMD prioritized higher-end processors, and neither side offered affordable Core i3 or Ryzen 3 processors in their most recent lineups. Due to the scarcity of some processors in the market, you won’t even be able to easily find AMD’s latest generation Ryzen 3 3100 or 3300X processors right now.

    All is not lost, however. GPUs are now sometimes even more difficult to find than processors. If you’re looking to build a new gaming PC from scratch and don’t have a graphics card yet, check out the $260 AMD Ryzen 5 5600G or $360 Ryzen 7 5700G processors. Yes, they are not exactly budget processors. But instead of being simple processors, these «APUs» come with amazingly good Radeon graphics cores built into the chip, which means you can play most games at 720p or 1080p. It’s like an entry-level processor and graphics card in one device.

    So the AMD Ryzen 5 5600G offers 6 cores and 12 threads paired with 7 Radeon graphics cores clocked at 1.9GHz. There’s also an upgraded version of the 5700G that even pushes that number up to 8 cores and 16 threads, along with 8 Radeon cores running at 2GHz.

    Most buyers on a budget would be better off opting for the cheaper part, unless you have a specific performance-related reason to opt for more CPU cores in a Ryzen 7 chip.

    Do you already have a graphics card and just need a processor? You’ll want to turn to previous generation Intel components, at least until (unless) the Core i3-12400 rumors pop up. Your best bet is the $173 Core i3-10400F or the $198 Core i3-11400F. Both offer 6 cores and 12 threads. Intel’s 11th gen «Rocket Lake» chips don’t provide much of a performance improvement over 10th gen chips, so feel free to pick the 10400F if you’re on a budget. However, you’ll want to ditch the bundled cooler and opt for a cheap third-party option to get the best performance out of these chips.

    However, the «F» denominator in these parts means that they do not have an integrated GPU, so a graphics card is required. Non-F versions with integrated graphics are also available, usually around $20 more, but at this point you’re probably better off with the Ryzen 5 5600G with much better game-ready Radeon graphics.

    what is the best gaming processor? • Okie Doki

    Processor markets are hotter than ever before. AMD and Intel are vying for supremacy, vying for the attention of casual users and gamers alike. Result? A golden era for PC gamers as the two major processor manufacturers continued to push the boundaries faster and, most importantly, keep prices affordable.

    So, is AMD or Intel better for gaming? Which processor to choose for a new gaming rig? Let’s take a look at AMD and Intel gaming processors.

    Windows apps, mobile apps, games — EVERYTHING FOR FREE, in our private telegram channel — Subscribe 🙂

    AMD vs. Intel processors

    When it comes to desktop processors, there are two names in town: Intel and AMD. These are the desktop processor giants that dominate the market. When you want to build or buy a new gaming PC, your games will be equipped with an Intel or AMD processor.

    The dynamics of the desktop processor market have also changed in recent years. For a long time, AMD processors were only suitable for entry-level or budget options. The advent of AMD Ryzen processors has radically changed this perception: the AMD Zen architecture has created serious competition against Intel’s stranglehold on the market.

    So much so that AMD Ryzen processors dominate the processor market, at least for the latest generations of processors. Mindfactory regularly releases up-to-date processor sales data, illustrating a decent picture of the market, as shown in the image below.

    How to choose between AMD and Intel?

    So let’s get to the big question: is Intel or AMD better for gaming?

    This is an interesting question and requires a basic understanding of how to compare processors. There are several key CPU specs that will make you choose one or the other for gaming:

    • Single-threaded performance: CPUs are advertised as dual- or quad-core, but some applications and games still use only one thread per CPU core. So your CPU should have decent single core performance.
    • Multi-core performance: While some games use only one thread, most modern games load-balance across multiple cores if available. Understanding how your processor performs when using more than one core helps you understand overall performance.
    • Clock frequency: The clock frequency determines the operating speed of the processor. Generally, a higher number corresponds to a faster processor. However, there are other factors to consider, such as the age and generation of the CPU, as well as the number of CPU cores.
    • Cache Size: Your processor has an internal memory known as a cache. There are several levels of caching of varying importance. When you compare CPU cache sizes, you should only compare similar cache levels. For example, compare an L3 cache with an L3 cache — a larger cache is better.
    • Price: How much are you willing to shell out for a high-end Intel or AMD gaming processor? AMD’s resurgence has forced Intel to be realistic about its processors, but gaming hardware of all levels doesn’t come cheap.

    There are other factors. Power consumption (you’ll need a good PSU), CPU architecture, socket type (which determines the motherboard you’ll use), and integrated graphics (which you can use in place of a dedicated GPU) all need to be considered.

    Related: CPU Socket Types Explained: Socket 5 — BGA

    Now you’re armed with the vital specs to check and can determine which gaming CPUs you like. Or check out our simple gaming processor comparisons below.

    The Intel Core i9-10900K is a gaming giant at the top of the list, but not by much. See the table below for an overview of processor specifications.

    There are several outstanding processor features on this list. The base frequency of the Intel processor is 3.70 GHz, the single-core acceleration is 5.30 GHz, and the all-core acceleration is 4.90 GHz. Like, very fast. Thus, the Intel Core i9-10900K outperforms the Ryzen 9 3950X in single-core performance in almost every test.

    However, the AMD Ryzen 9 3950X holds its own in several important areas. Notably, the 3950X has a massive 64MB L3 cache, excellent multi-core performance, and the bonus of PCIe 4.0 support. It also has 16 cores and 32 threads and also supports faster RAM. While very few apps and games will use all 16 cores, the extra overhead is handy for the future.

    In fact, there is nothing special between these two excellent gaming processors. When it comes down to it, the price settles the score, depending on your budget.

    You will also see AMD Ryzen 9 3900X in the table. The 3900X is an exceptional gaming processor running an Intel Core i9-10900K close to benchmarks. Like the 3950X, the 3900X has excellent multi-core performance, but lags a bit in single-threaded tests. However, it outperforms the Intel Core i9-9900K, Intel’s previous top gaming processor.

    In the next phase of gaming processors, you have the Intel Core i5-10600K and AMD Ryzen 5 3600X, two great processors for gaming. Even though they come from the «second tier» for each processor manufacturer, the i5-10600K and Ryzen 5 3600K still have a strong edge, as you’ll see in the table below.

    Interestingly, despite the i5-10600K’s higher clock speed, the Ryzen 5 3600X performs very similarly in single-core benchmarks. The AMD processor also outperforms the Intel model in multi-core benchmarks, gaining some extra power.

    Like top-tier gaming processors, the AMD Ryzen 5 3600X has some advantages over the Intel processor. The 3600K has larger L2 and L3 caches, supports faster RAM, has a slightly lower TDP, and is extremely competitively priced.

    But for gamers, game frames and graphics settings are important. And despite the hardware advantages of the Ryzen 5 3600X, the Intel Core i5-10600K delivers high frame rates at top-end settings.

    Best for entry-level gaming: Intel Core i3-10320 vs. AMD Ryzen 3 3300X

    These two processors are prime examples of how far the Intel vs. AMD battle has come in processor development. Even entry-level processors provide excellent quality and high performance, especially when compared to several generations of processors.

    For example, my desktop computer has an outdated Intel Core i5-3570K that can still handle most games at decent settings. Both of these processors blow the i5 out of the water, both from the «low end».

    Enough of that, let’s talk about processor specs and which processor is right for an entry-level gaming rig.

    The Intel Core i3-10320 and AMD Ryzen 3 3300X are pretty similar in terms of performance. Benchmarks show that the i3-10320 performs slightly better in single-core situations, while the Ryzen 3 3300X pulls ahead in multi-core situations.

    Like its bigger siblings, the Ryzen processor offers more cache, as well as PCIe 4.0 support and faster RAM. However, this does not provide much advantage in terms of gaming performance, as both cards return very similar frame rates in the game.

    AMD or Intel is better for gaming?

    So, should you choose an Intel or AMD processor for gaming? AMD’s rapid growth in recent years has narrowed the gap significantly. In many ways, AMD processors are a better investment for the future, consistently delivering better multi-core performance.

    There is another consideration. For best results, you should pair your gaming processor with a decent GPU. GPUs are another area where AMD has stepped up its game dramatically, taking on Nvidia in the battle for gaming supremacy.

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    AMD vs. Intel: Which is the Best Gaming Processor?

    became the market CPU Hotter than ever. AMD and Intel are vying for supremacy, vying for the attention of casual users and gamers alike. Results? A golden age for PC gamers as the major processor manufacturers continue to develop, push the boundaries faster, and most importantly maintain affordability with competitive prices.

    So which AMD or Intel processors are best for gaming? Which processor to choose for your new slot machine? Let’s look at the comparison of AMD and Intel processors in terms of gaming.

    Comparison of AMD and Intel processors

    When it comes to desktop processors, there are two names: Intel و AMD . These are the giant companies that dominate the desktop processor market. When you want to build or buy a new gaming PC It will be equipped with an Intel or AMD processor to run your games.

    The dynamics of the desktop processor market have also changed in recent years. For a long time, AMD processors were only suitable for the entry-level or mid-range. The advent of AMD Ryzen processors has radically changed this perception, as the AMD Zen architecture has created serious competition for Intel’s previous market dominance.

    So much so that AMD Ryzen processors have come to dominate the processor market, at least for recent generations. Mindfactory regularly releases the latest CPU sales figures, illustrating the market trend, as shown in the image below.

    How to choose between AMD and Intel?

    So, on to the big question: is Intel or AMD better for gaming?

    This is an interesting question and requires a basic understanding of how processors compare. Here are some key CPU specs that will make you switch to one gaming processor at the expense of another:

    • Single-threaded performance: CPUs are advertised as dual- or quad-core, but some applications and games still only use single-threaded thread on one CPU core . Therefore, your processor should have decent single-core performance.
    • Multi-core performance: While some games use only one thread, most modern games load-balance across multiple cores if available. Understanding how your processor performs when using more than one core helps you understand overall performance.
    • Clock frequency: The clock frequency determines the operating speed of the processor. Generally, a higher number means a faster processor. However, there are other factors to consider, such as CPU age, generation, and number of CPU cores.
    • Cache Size: Your CPU contains internal memory, known as Cache. There are many levels of caching of varying importance. When comparing CPU cache sizes, you should only compare similar cache levels. For example, compare L3 cache and L3 cache — larger cache is better.
    • السعر: How much are you willing to pay for a top-notch gaming processor from Intel or AMD? AMD’s return to competition has made Intel more realistic about processor prices, but top-tier gaming hardware doesn’t come cheap.

    There are other factors that also play a role. while Wattage (You will need a good PSU), processor architecture, socket type (which determines which motherboard you will use) and integrated graphics (which you can use instead of a dedicated graphics card) are all options that should be considered.

    Armed with the vital specs to test, you’ll be able to tell which processors you like best for gaming. Also, check out our simplified gaming CPU comparisons below.

    The Intel Core i9-10900K processor is a giant in the gaming arena, making it a better choice, but not by much. See the table below for an overview of CPU specifications.

    There are several noteworthy characteristics of the processor in this list. A base clock speed of 3.70 GHz, a single-core boost of 5.30 GHz, and an overall boost of 4.90 GHz core clock all make the processor fast. Really fast processor. So the Intel Core i9 processorThe -10900K outperforms the Ryzen 9 3950X in single-core performance in almost every benchmark.

    However, the AMD Ryzen 9 3950X processor has its place in many important areas. Notably, the 3950X has a massive 3MB L64 cache, excellent multi-core performance, and PCIe 4.0 support. It also has 16 cores and 32 threads and also supports faster RAM. While very few apps and games will use all 100 cores, the extra overhead is good to check in the future.

    In fact, there are not so many differences between these excellent gaming processors. When it comes to choosing between the two, the price will determine the outcome depending on your budget.

    You will also see AMD Ryzen 9 3900X in the table. The 3900X is an exceptional gaming processor, delivering about the same performance as the Intel Core i9-10900K in benchmark tests. Like the 3950X, the 3900X has excellent multi-core performance, but lags a little behind in our single-threaded tests. However, it outperforms the Intel Core i9 processor-9900K, the former best gaming processor from Intel.

    For your next gaming processor, you have the Intel Core i5-10600K and AMD Ryzen 5 3600X which are great gaming options. The i5-10600K and Ryzen 5 3600K processors, despite coming from the «XNUMX tier» of each processor manufacturer, are still massive amounts of power, as you’ll see in the table below.

    Interestingly, despite the higher clock speed of the i5-10600K, the Ryzen 5 3600X performs very similar results in single-core benchmark tests. The AMD processor also outperformed the Intel model in multi-core tests with extra power.

    Like top-tier gaming processors, the AMD Ryzen 5 3600X processor has some advantages over the Intel processor. The 3600K has larger L2 and L3 caches, supports faster RAM, has a slightly lower TDP, and is very competitively priced.

    But game frames and graphics settings are important for players. Despite the advantages of the Ryzen 5 3600X processor, the Intel Core i5-10600K processor delivers high frame rates at higher settings.

    Best for Budget Gaming: Intel Core I3-10320 vs. AMD Ryzen 3 3300X

    These CPUs are perfect for seeing just how much the battle between Intel and AMD has driven CPU development. Even inexpensive gaming processors offer excellent core quality and performance, especially when compared to older processors from several generations ago.

    For example, my desktop computer now has an old Intel Core i5-3570K processor that can still handle most games at decent settings. Both of these processors are vastly superior to the i5, and both are in the «lower class».

    Enough of that, let’s talk about processor specs and what processor is best for an entry-level gaming machine.

    Intel Core i3-10320 and AMD Ryzen 3 3300X are somewhat similar in performance. Benchmarking shows the i3-10320 performs slightly better in single-core situations, with the Ryzen 3 3300X pushing ahead in multi-core situations.

    Like its older siblings, the Ryzen processor offers more cache, and it also supports PCIe 4.0 and faster RAM. In terms of gaming performance, however, this doesn’t do much, as both processors return very similar frame rates in-game.

    AMD or Intel is better for gaming?

    So which Intel or AMD processor to choose for gaming? The boom in AMD development in recent years has largely closed the gap. In many ways, AMD processors are a better investment for the future, consistently delivering better multi-core performance results.

    There is one more consideration. For best results, you should pair your gaming processor with a good GPU. GPUs are another area where AMD has greatly improved its game, turning the competition with Nvidia into a battle for gaming supremacy.