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Best CPU 2024: Pick The Right Processor For Your Gaming PC

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When you’re looking to build a gaming PC, picking the right CPU for the job is really the first thing you need to do. While a lot of the processors out right now will all get the job done, your choice of processor is going to affect the motherboard you pick, the RAM you pair it with, and will even influence what your PC is going to excel at. So, yeah, the best CPUs aren’t going to impact your framerate quite as much as a graphics card will, but it’s still an incredibly important part of your rig. It’s called the Central Processing Unit for a reason, after all.

TL;DR – These are the Best CPUs for Gaming

When picking the best CPU for the job, there are a couple of things you need to consider. Price is of course a big one: you can find processors for anywhere from $200 to nearly $900, so setting a budget early is critical. You should also consider what you plan on doing with your PC: If you’re just going to play PC games, you’re probably not going to need the same horsepower as a creative professional that’s cranking out projects in Blender or Adobe Premiere. So no, you don’t need that Intel Core i9-14900K to run Overwatch 2 – that’s why our top CPU for gaming is the Core i5-14600K or the Ryzen 5 7600X, both of which provide excellent performance at a decent price.

The big question is: AMD or Intel? Whatever you go for, take a look at our recommendations below.

1. Intel Core i5-14600K

Best CPU for Gaming

Intel Core i5-14600K

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14 cores and 20 threads that can hit up to 5.3GHz, the Intel Core i5-14600K has major processing power.

Cores: 14 (6P+8E) | Threads: 20 | Base Clock: 3.5GHz (P-core), 2.6 (E-core) | Boost Clock: 5.3GHz | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 770 | L3 Cache: 24MB | TDP: 125W

Excellent performance for the money

Perfectly balanced for gaming

Meteor Lake architecture gets a little toasty

Similar to its predecessor in almost every way, the Intel Core i5-14600K brings minor improvements while still delivering the perfect balance of price to performance. So, if you’ve already got the Intel Core i5-13600K, you can probably skip this upgrade.

This chip is part of Intel’s Raptor Lake refresh and utilizes the same hybrid architecture as the 13th-gen chips, offering six speedy performance cores and eight efficient cores with 20 threads to easily divide and conquer tasks. Those P-cores hit slightly higher clock speeds this time around at 5.3 GHz and are still capable of hyperthreading for a boost in processing muscle.

You’ll need an LGA 1700 socket for this processor, but it works with both Z690 or Z790 motherboards after a simple BIOS update. The Intel Core i5-14600K also supports the PCIe 5.0 and PCIe 4.0 interfaces along with DDR5 memory up to 5,600MHz, though you can always use more affordable DDR4 memory. Overall, it’s a solid all-around option that especially excels in gaming.

2. AMD Ryzen 9 7950X3D

Best High-Performance CPU for Gaming

AMD Ryzen 9 7950X3D

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Gamers, rejoice, this high-end CPU from AMD offers high performance and high efficiency, making it ideal for running those triple-A titles.

Cores: 16 | Threads: 32 | Base Clock: 4.2GHz | Boost Clock: 5.7GHz | Graphics: AMD Radeon Graphics | L3 Cache: 128MB | TDP: 120W

Excellent multi-threaded performance

Great for creative professionals

If you’re after sheer performance prowess in games, the AMD Ryzen 9 7950X3D goes head-to-head with Team Blues’ top processors. Offering the latest Zen 4 architecture, you get 16 cores with 32 threads, allowing impressive speeds, ready to be overclocked higher, and enough power to breeze through even your most graphically intense AAA games. Its 3D Vertical Cache technology means this chip can deliver an impressive 128MB of L3 cache, stepping up gaming performance further.

Even with all that extra muscle, the Ryzen 9 7950X3D is still incredibly energy efficient and has lower power consumption when compared to Intel chips. But you’ll still want a solid cooling system in place to keep peak performance.

The Ryzen 9 7950X3D requires an AM5 motherboard and offers the newest connectivity, like DRR5 memory and a PCIe 5.0 interface. Unfortunately, you can’t use older motherboards or DDR4 RAM to help cut costs, and this is a pricey CPU to begin with.

The Best Gaming PC Deals

3. AMD Ryzen 7 5700G

Best Budget CPU for Gaming

AMD Ryzen 7 5700G

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Grab this budget CPU that’s power efficient, has solid integrated graphics, and features AMD’s Zen 3 architecture, so it’s ready for basic gaming.

Cores: 8 | Threads: 16 | Base Clock: 3.8GHz | Boost Clock: 4.6GHz | Graphics: AMD Radeon Graphics | L3 Cache: 16MB | TDP: 65W

Integrated graphics that don’t suck

For those working on a budget PC build, the AMD Ryzen 7 5700G is a great processor ready to take on all your tasks. This chip uses the slightly older but still highly capable Zen 3 architecture with eight cores and 16 threads. It excels in basic gaming and is an all-around workhorse. The integrated graphics are also top-notch and ready to play in 1080p.

Since the Ryzen 7 5700G has less performance prowess compared to some of AMD’s newer and pricier Zen 4 chips, it’s super power-efficient, keeping under a 65W TDP. Thermals are equally great, so even with more modest cooling, it still maintains peak performance. And did we mention it comes bundled with a AMD Wraith Stealth cooler?

The Ryzen Ryzen 7 5700G uses an AM4 socket and doesn’t support the PCIe 5.0 or 4.0 interfaces. You’ll also rely on DDR4 RAM versus the higher frequency DRR5 RAM. But even if you lose out on speed, you can save some money, which is what this budget pick is all about.

4. Intel Core i5-13400

Best Budget Intel CPU for Gaming

Intel Core i5-13400

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A more affordable choice, this 13th Gen CPU is compatible with Intel 600 and 700 series motherboards and reaches speeds of up to 4.6GHz.

Cores: 10 (6P+4E) | Threads: 16 | Base Clock: 2.5GHz (P-core), 1.8GHz (E-core) | Boost Clock: 4.6GHz | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 730 | L3 Cache: 20MB | TDP: 65W

Solid single-core performance

May struggle with some high-end AAA games

The Intel Core i5-13400 proves that you don’t need to spend a fortune to get a highly capable gaming CPU. Costing around $200, this mid-range chip has no problem running games at 1080p – or even up to 1440p and 4K. If you’re on a tight budget, the integrated graphics can handle some action while you save up for a solid GPU, and it even comes with a cooler to keep your extra costs down. However, it draws more power than the last-gen model.

You aren’t making many sacrifices when going for this budget-minded processor, as you still get some of the latest technology, including DDR5 memory and PCIe 5.0 interface. It has the same hybrid architecture seen in higher-end models with six performance cores and four efficient cores alongside 16 threads. Those P-Cores can hit 4.6GHz right out of the box and offer hyperthreading for snappy performance and plenty of oomph to handle any mainstream PC build.

5. Intel Core i9-14900K

Fastest CPU for Gaming

Intel Core i9-14900K

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Enjoy speeds up to 6.0 GHz, 24 cores, and 32 threads, with the fastest CPU around that’s ready for streaming, gaming, and creative work.

Cores: 24 (8P+16E) | Threads: 32 | Base Clock: 3.2GHz (P-core), 2.4 (E-core)| Boost Clock: 6.0GHz | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 770 | L3 Cache: 36MB | TDP: 125W

Best performance in a mainstream processor

Excellent single core performance

For unbeatable speeds and insane overclocking, there’s nothing better than the Intel Core i9-14900K, but be prepared for it to put a good dent in your wallet. This beastly chip boasts a heavily threaded hybrid architecture with eight P-cores and peaks at a wild 6.0 GHz. Its 16 E-cores are no slouch either, taking some burden off the P-cores and ensuring your game’s action or creative endeavors are never interrupted.

If you’re big into streaming, the Intel Core i9-14900K is an absolute must. You’ll also be hard-pressed to find a game or program that the Intel Core i9-14900K can’t handle; it actually might be overkill for some. However, this is a power-hungry, hot-running processor, so be sure you’ve got proper cooling.

Similar to the Intel Core i5, the Intel Core i9-14900K makes only minor upgrades from the 13th gen model, like slightly higher clock speeds and Wi-Fi 7 compatibility. So, if you find the Intel Core i9-13900K significantly cheaper, you may want to grab that instead.

6. AMD Ryzen 5 7600X

Best Ryzen CPU for Gaming

AMD Ryzen 5 7600X

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This Ryzen CPU sports a hexa-core processor, 4.7GHz clock speed, and can be installed with ease.

Cores: 6 | Threads: 12 | Base Clock: 4.7GHz | Boost Clock: 5.3GHz | Graphics: AMD Radeon Graphics | L3 Cache: 32MB | TDP: 105W

Excellent performance for the money

Nice balance of cores and clock speeds

Expensive for a 5-series chip

The AMD Ryzen 5 7600X gives you the best bang for your buck when it comes to the latest Ryzen 7000 series chips. However, it still lags slightly behind its most comparable Intel counterpart, the Core i5-13600K. But there’s still plenty to love, thanks to the Zen 4 architecture, which brings DDR5 and PCIe 5.0 support while slotting into an AM5 socket.

Beyond connectivity, this chip packs six cores and 12 threads for plenty of prowess in multi-threaded and single-threaded activities. As for speed, the AMD Ryzen 5 7600X doesn’t disappoint, offering a 4.7GHz base clock with a 5.3GHz boost that’s unlocked for overclocking. All that, combined with 38MB of cache, ensures this processor outshines Ryzen’s previous generations.

How to Pick The Best CPU for Gaming

If you’re looking for a CPU, the first step is determining which type of processor you want to use. Of the mainstream options, you can go with either Intel’s Core lineup of i3,i5, i7, and i9 products or AMD’s Ryzen 3, 5, 7, and 9 series. Intel does slightly edge out AMD in price versus performance thanks to their recent release of 13th and 14th gen Raptor Lake chips, but they are still pretty neck and neck with Ryzen’s 7000 processors. Both offer the latest connectivity like PCIe 5.0, DDR5 memory, and newer sockets, along with plenty of cores to cruise through the best PC games.

Speaking of cores, as a general rule of thumb, the more, the merrier. CPU cores essentially receive instructions and in turn, perform specific actions. Therefore as you increase the core count, the more the processor can do for you.

Cores

When it comes to gaming, you should aim for a Hexa core processor or higher. With six cores, you should have no problem running most games. However, you may want a higher core count for more processor-intense titles – like RTS games and management sims. A faster, more robust CPU can power more AI elements and help raise frame rates.

Intel also introduced two different types of cores with its 12th gen processors, P-cores and E-cores. P-cores do most of the heavy lifting, hitting higher speeds and taking on beefier workloads like games—essentially the cores you’re used to seeing in CPUs. E-cores are much less powerful, generally working on background tasks to help ease the load of the P-cores. AMD has yet to differentiate its cores.

Speed

Though core count is important, speed may be just as, if not more. You generally get a base clock and boost clock, telling you how fast the CPU runs, with a higher number of gigahertz (GHz), meaning a snappier performance in your games. Many options we’ve chosen are also unlocked for overclocking—letting you push the CPU past its listed clock speed limits—though there’s always a risk of damaging the chip when you do this.

Threads

Threads should also be kept in mind. These act like schedulers, telling the cores what to do next. It’s not super important if you’re just gaming, but say you also want to stream simultaneously, then grab a chip that offers hyper-threading (Intel) or multi-threading (AMD). Those terms are essentially the same, where one core has multiple threads, which is helpful in multitasking.

Upcoming CPUs

The battle between AMD and Intel will likely never cease, and for that reason, we can expect great things in 2024. Gamers can start getting excited about AMD’s Zen 5 Ryzen 8000 series, as well as Intel’s 15th Gen Arrow Lake CPUs.

It’s rumored that AMD is going to launch an entirely new architecture for 2024, with Zen 5 boasting greater performance and higher efficiency. However, the new CPUs will still be compatible with AMD’s current AM5 motherboards.

On the flip side, Intel is planning its 15th Gen Arrow Lake CPUs around the same time, with a new LGA1851 socket. This means existing 600 and 700-series chipset motherboards will not be compatible.

FAQs

What type of CPU is best for gaming?

Depending on whether you’re on team AMD or team Intel will depend on which CPU is best for gaming. Since both manufacturers are pretty much neck and neck in terms of performance and efficiency, the choice is up to you.

For AMD, the AMD Ryzen 9 7950X3D is ultimately the best option for high-performance gaming PCs. Intel fans, however, can expect great things from the Intel Core i5-14600K, which comes out top as one of the best CPUs for gaming.

Where to Get the Best CPU for Gaming in the UK

AMD

Ryzen 5 3600X

7

AMD

Ryzen 3 3200G

2

Best Budget CPU for Gaming

Intel

Core i9-10900X

4

Best High-End CPU for Gaming

Intel

Core i5-10600K

3

Best Midrange CPU for Gaming

AMD

Ryzen 9 3950X

6

Best CPU for Gaming Video Editing

Intel

Pentium Gold G6400

5

Best Super Cheap CPU for Gaming

AMD

Ryzen Threadripper 3960X

2

Best High-End Desktop Processor for Gaming

AMD

Ryzen Threadripper 3990X

4

Best Streaming Gaming Processor

Jackie Thomas is the Hardware and Buying Guides Editor at IGN and the PC components queen. You can follow her @Jackiecobra

Danielle Abraham is a freelance writer and unpaid music historian.

Kaynak

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