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Best CPU for Gaming for 2024 (Any Budget)

Check out these top CPU options.

Best CPU for Gaming
If you’re shopping for a new CPU for your gaming PC, in this guide, we’ve listed a handful of the best options currently available.

The list is leaning heavily towards AMD at the moment, especially with the emergence of their new 3D V-Cache processors and the disappointing launch of Intel’s 14th Generation CPUs.

AMD CPUs just seem to be priced better at the moment, too.

Ultimately, whether you’re looking for an upgrade, or you’re planning on building a new system, one of the options on this list will work well for you.

Watch: What to Look for in A CPU

Watch our Beginner’s Guide to Choosing A CPU below, or on our YouTube channel.

What is the Best CPU for Gaming?

The best extreme CPU for gaming is the AMD Ryzen 9 7950X3D. For half the price, though, the Ryzen 7 7800X3D is nearly as good and is our pick for the best overall gaming CPU right now. For a solid mid-range option, the AMD Ryzen 5 7600 is the best choice. For an even better value option, the AMD Ryzen 5 5600 will deliver excellent performance. And, if you’re on a tight budget, the Intel Core i3-13100F is the perfect CPU for an affordable 1080P PC build.

Our Top Picks for the Best Gaming Processors

For a quick look at our top choices for the best processor at a variety of different budgets, we’ve provided the table below. The table shows our top pick overall, our favorite extreme gaming CPU, the best mid-range option, our choice for a value-oriented CPU, the best budget processor, and the best entry-level APU.

NAME SPECS
TOP PICK
AMD Ryzen 7 7800X3D

AMD Ryzen 7 7800X3D

  • 8(C)/16(T)
  • Socket AM5
  • 4.2GHz Base
  • 120W TDP

Check Price

Read Review »

EXTREME
AMD Ryzen 9 7950X3D

AMD Ryzen 9 7950X3D

  • 16(C)/32(T)
  • Socket AM5
  • 4.2GHz Base
  • 120W TDP

Check Price

Read Review »

MID-RANGE
AMD Ryzen 5 7600

AMD Ryzen 5 7600

  • 6(C)/12(T)
  • Socket AM5
  • 3.8GHz Base
  • 65W TDP

Check Price

Read Review »

VALUE
AMD Ryzen 5 5600

AMD Ryzen 5 5600

  • 6(C)/12(T)
  • Socket AM4
  • 3.5GHz Base
  • 65W TDP

Check Price

Read Review »

BUDGET
Intel Core i3-13100F

Intel Core i3-13100F

  • 4(C)/8(T)
  • Socket LGA 1700
  • 3.4GHz Base
  • 58W/89W TDP

Check Price

Read Review »

APU
AMD Ryzen 5 5600G

AMD Ryzen 5 5600G

  • 6(C)/12(T)
  • Socket AM4
  • 3.9GHz Base
  • 65W TDP

Check Price

Read Review »

*To read our full overviews on our top CPU choices, just click the “Read Review »” button. You can also keep scrolling down to find more options based on your specific budget.

1. AMD Ryzen 7 7800X3D

Our pick for the best CPU for gaming

Top Pick - Ryzen 7 7800X3D

CORES 8-Cores / 16-Threads
CLOCK 4.2GHz (Base) / 5.0GHz (Boost)
SOCKET AM5
TDP 120W TDP
PRICE Amazon | BH Photo | Newegg

Even with the release of Intel’s new 14th generation processors, AMD’s Ryzen 7000-series 3D V-Cache processors have maintained their overall performance advantage in most gaming benchmarks. Part of that is due to Intel’s 14th generation CPUs essentially being a rebrand of their 13th-generation chips (but with a slight raise in clock speed), and part of that is due to how good AMD’s CPUs (and their 3D V-Cache technology) are.

Of the 7000-series 3D V-Cache options, we like the Ryzen 7 7800X3D the most, as it doesn’t come with the extreme pricetag of the 7950X3D and 7900X3D, while still offering similar in-game performance.

The 7800X3D is an 8-core, 16-thread processor on AMD’s AM5 socket. It operates at a base clock frequency of 4.2GHz, but can boost up to 5.0GHz when under load.

The 7800X3D will run you ~$370 at the moment, though, so it’s still not the cheapest option out there. If you’re looking for a more moderately-priced CPU for gaming, Intel’s Core i5-13400 or 13400F might be the better choice for you.

2. AMD Ryzen 9 7950X3D

The best extreme gaming CPU option

Extreme - Ryzen 9 7950X3D

CORES 16-Cores / 32-Threads
CLOCK 4.2GHz (Base) / 5.7GHz (Boost)
SOCKET AM5
TDP 120W TDP
PRICE Amazon | BH Photo | Newegg

If you’re looking for the most extreme CPU option for gaming right now, the AMD Ryzen 9 7950X3D is your best bet. With 16-cores, 32-threads, and AMD’s 3D V-Cache technology, the 7950X3D is the perfect choice for anyone who is looking to max-out AAA-titles on a 4K display.

This flagship AMD CPU comes with a 4.2GHz base clock, a 5.7GHz boost clock,  a 120-watt TDP rating, and is compatible with AMD’s new AM5 socket.

The 7950X3D will cost you over ~$650, though, and if you don’t have an unlimited budget you could save a lot of money without sacrificing too much performance by opting for the 7800X3D instead.

But, if you do have a large budget and you want the best-of-the-best, AMD’s Ryzen 9 7950X3D should be at the top of your list.

3. AMD Ryzen 5 7600

The best mid-range CPU for gaming

Mid-Range - Ryzen 5 7600

CORES 6-Cores / 12-Threads
CLOCK 3.8GHz (Base) / 5.1GHz (Boost)
SOCKET AM5
TDP 65W TDP
PRICE Check Price | BH Photo | Newegg

Typically, there are a handful of great gaming processor options in the ~$200 price range. Usually, the locked Intel Core i5 and the Ryzen 5 non-X processors are the best options for value gamers.

Over the life of this “Best CPU for Gaming” guide, we’ve flip-flopped between the locked Intel Core i5 and the Ryzen 5 non-X options as being the best value options for gamers. However, with all things considered, the AMD Ryzen 5 7600 is the best mid-range option at the moment.

The 7600 will deliver near-ideal in-game performance in most scenarios for right at ~$200. The next upgrade would be either the Ryzen 5 7600X or the i5-14400F. These two CPUs will offer a small performance bump for ~$20 and ~$40 more.

The Ryzen 5 5600X3D is also an excellent option for ~$200. The problem is that it is only available at Micro Center. If you’re fortunate enough to live near a Micro Center, the 5600X3D would probably be the best overall choice, although you will be forced to use the older AM4 socket in order to utilize it, which will hurt your ability to upgrade in the future..

Ultimately, all of these CPU options will deliver similar real-world gaming performance and, since the Ryzen 5 7600 offers the best price point and a superior upgrade path than its Intel counterpoints, we’ve picked it as our best mid-range option.

4. AMD Ryzen 5 5600

The best value gaming CPU

Value - AMD Ryzen 5 5600

CORES 6-Cores / 12-Threads
CLOCK 3.5GHz (Base) / 4.4GHz (Boost)
SOCKET AM4
TDP 65W TDP
PRICE Amazon | BH Photo | Newegg

Perhaps no option on this list comes with a better price-to-performance ratio than AMD’s Ryzen 5 5600. The 5600 can currently be had for ~$135. It can be paired with more affordable DDR4 memory and there are B550 chipset motherboard options available for ~$80.

In terms of real-world gaming performance, the Ryzen 5 5600 is not too far behind the Ryzen 5 7600, 7600X, 5600X3D, and i5-13400. So, one route budget-oriented games could go is to opt for the 5600 and use the money saved to get a more powerful GPU.

The 5600X would also be considering in this price range. It costs about ~$25 more and will give a small performance increase. Still, though, the $25 could be better spent on a GPU upgrade, where you will see a more significant gain in gaming performance.

Ultimately, if you’re working with a more restricted budget and you’re looking to build an affordable 1080P-killing gaming PC, the Ryzen 5 5600 is about as good of a CPU option as you can get.

5. Intel Core i3-13100(F)

The best budget gaming CPU

Mid-Range - i3-13100F

CORES 4-Cores / 8-Threads
CLOCK 3.4GHz (Base) / 4.5GHz (Boost)
SOCKET LGA 1700
TDP 58W/89W TDP
PRICE Amazon | BH Photo | Newegg

One even cheaper option than the Ryzen 5 5600 that would be worth considering is the Intel Core i3-13100F. With four cores and eight threads, the i3-13100F won’t quite provide the same multi-threaded performance as the Ryzen 5 5600. However, with excellent single-core performance, the i3-13100F actually performs similarly to the Ryzen 5 5600 in most games.

And, with a pricetag of right at $110, it will allow gamers with extreme budgets to fit in a decent graphics card into their build.

You could even make a case for opting for the slightly older i3-12100F, as it can be had for ~$90. It won’t provide quite as much performance, but it should still be powerful enough to where it won’t bottleneck a budget-oriented graphics card.

And, really, when you’re restricted by how much you spend, your main goal should be to acquire as powerful of a processor as possible, while still having enough money to allocate to components that won’t bottleneck your GPU.

Also Read: Solid Budget Gaming PC Builds

In our $500 gaming PC build, we were able to fit an Intel Core i3-12100F and an AMD RX 6500 XT into the part list. That combination will be more than powerful enough to run most games on a 1080P monitor on at least medium settings.

Another option to consider would be AMD’s Ryzen 5 5500. It trails both the 12100F and the 13100F in terms of performance, but it can be overclocked and comes with a better stock cooler.

6. AMD Ryzen 5 5600G

The best APU for gaming

APU - Ryzen 5 5600G

CORES 6-Cores / 12-Threads
CLOCK 3.9GHz (Base) / 4.4GHz (Boost)
SOCKET AM4
TDP 65W TDP
PRICE Amazon | BH Photo | Newegg

If you’re working with an extremely tight budget and you don’t have enough to fit a decent processor and graphics card combination into your build, you could always opt for AMD’s Ryzen 5 5600G APU.

The 5600G combines both a solid CPU and GPU onto one chip, allowing you to forego the cost of a dedicated graphics card. And, while the performance of the 5600G won’t match any of the options listed above in terms of CPU power (with exception to the i3-13100F), it will at least be able to hold you over until you have the money to upgrade to a better processor.

Also Read: When Should you Upgrade your CPU?

The 5600G is strong enough to run most of today’s top games on at least lower settings. In fact, with a budget of just $300-$400, you can build an entry-level gaming PC with a Ryzen 5 5600G that will allow you to run games like Rocket League and League of Legends (and even more demanding titles) with no problems.

So, even if you don’t have a lot of money to spend, the 5600G gives you the option to build an entry-level gaming system now.

7. Intel Core i5-14600K

Honorable mention #1

Honorable Mention - i5-14600K

CORES 14-Core (6P+8E) / 20-Threads
CLOCK E-2.6GHz (Base) / P-5.3GHz (Boost)
SOCKET LGA 1700
TDP 125W/181W TDP
PRICE Amazon | BH Photo | Newegg

While Intel’s 14th-generation CPUs have released to disappointment, they are still powerful processors that may be a good option for you depending on your needs and whether or not they come down in price.

In most benchmarks Intel’s 14th-generation CPUs trail behind their most closely-priced AMD 3D V-Cache counterparts. However, on average, Intels 14th-gen processors perform slightly better in productivity-oriented tasks.

So, if you’re looking to build a PC for more than just gaming, it would be prudent to also consider Intel’s 14th-generation offerings.

And, of the new Intel CPUs, the i5-14600K is currently the most attratice option. With a ~$330 pricetag, it’s much more affordable than the i9-14900K and i7-14700K. And, despite its much lower cost, it performs on par with both of those option in pure gaming scenarios.

In the end, we’d recommend the Ryzen 7 7800X3D over the i5-14600K if your main goal is gaming performance. It offers improved in-game performance, doesn’t run as hot, and won’t require as much power to run. However, the 14600K is a solid alternative and costs ~$30 less.

8. Intel Core i9-14900K

Honorable mention #2

Honorable Mention - i9-14900K

CORES 24-Core (8P+16E) / 24-Threads
CLOCK E-2.4GHz (Base) / P-5.6GHz (Boost)
SOCKET LGA 1700
TDP 125W/253W TDP
PRICE Amazon | BH Photo | Newegg

While Intel has held the lead in terms of pure gaming performance for much of the last decade, AMD’s 3D V-Cache technology has helped AMD take over the ‘Top Gaming CPU’ crown.

With new 14th-generation CPUs, we were hoping to see Intel retake the lead and deliver options that could outperform AMD’s X3D CPUs. Unfortunately, that was not the case. What we ended up getting was Intel 13th-generation chips with slightly higher clock speeds.

So, while the Intel Core i9-14900K is an extremely powerful CPU that will work well for high-resolution gaming, it is hard to justify choosing over AMD’s 7950X3D (and 7800X3D, for that matter), which offer slightly more gaming performance.

The other downside of the 14900K (and 14th-gen chips in general) is their extremely high power requirements. In a lot of benchmarks, Intel’s new CPUs were drawing as much power as a mid-range GPU. All of that extra power raises the barrier of entry for building a system with a 14th-gen CPU. You’ll need a bigger PSU, a better motherboard, and superior cooling in order to ensure the 14900K, 14700K, and 14600K are running efficiently.

In the end, Intel’s 14th-generation processors are great CPUs, but they aren’t much better than their predecessor and they are overshadowed by better options from AMD.

Which CPU is Best for You?

With the release of Intel’s 14th generation CPUs and AMD’s Zen 4 CPUs, there are a ton of different viable processor options on the market right now. The best option for your needs will depend on how much you have to spend.

I based the above list off of what I believed were the best options in terms of overall performance and value. And, because I mainly looked at price-to-performance, I left some CPUs completely off of the list.

Ultimately, though, if you’re in the market for a new gaming computer and you are planning on buying a new system, or if you are just looking for an upgrade for your current system, and if you have questions about choosing a processor, please post them below.

FAQ

What Type of CPU is Best for Gaming?

A dedicated desktop processor will always be the best option for gaming. APUs or CPUs with integrated graphics can be excellent gaming processor options for users who are working with a tight budget. However, for pure gaming performance, they will always lose out to a dedicated processor paired with a dedicated graphics card.

Also Read: APU vs CPU: Which Processor Type is Better for Gaming?

What is the Fastest CPU for Gaming?

As of right now, the fastest CPU for gaming is the AMD Ryzen 9 7950X3D. However, in terms of real-world performance, options like the AMD Ryzen 7 7800X3D and the Intel Core i5-14600K (to name a few) will also give you excellent results. And, if you’re budget restricted, older processors like the Ryzen 5 5600 and the Intel Core i5-13400 will perform admirably as well.

Is Ryzen or Intel Better for Gaming?

AMD and Intel have traded the gaming CPU crown back and forth over the past decade. As of right now, AMD’s newest 7000-series 3D V-Cache generation processors currently offer the best performance for gamers. And, while Intel’s 14th-generation CPUs have released to disappoinment, they are still worth considering.

How Much Is A CPU for A Gaming Computer?

You can spend anywhere between $100 and $1,000 (or more) on a new CPU for your gaming computer. Options like the ~$650 AMD Ryzen 9 7950X3D currently offer the pinnacle in CPU performance for gamers. However, even an ~$80 option like the older Intel Core i3-10100F will work well for budget-oriented gamers who need a decent CPU to get them by.

More CPU-Related Guides

Hey, I’m Brent. I’ve been building PCs and writing about building PCs for a long time. Through TechGuided.com, I've helped thousands of people learn how to build their own computers. I’m an avid gamer and tech enthusiast, too. On YouTube, I build PCs, review laptops, components, and peripherals, and hold giveaways.