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Best CPU for Gaming in 2022 (Any Budget)

Best Gaming CPUsWe rated, reviewed, & compared 9 of the best CPUs for gaming across various budgets. These top processors are perfect for gamers or anyone else looking for a solid desktop CPU.

The processor is at the center of everything on your computer. It is the “brains” of the operation. And, in order to build a solid gaming computer for 2022 and beyond, you’re going to need a quality CPU. While some games (like first-person shooters) are heavily dependent on your graphics card, other games (like RTS’ and MMORPGs) have many more calculations that need to be carried out and therefore utilize your processor more. This should factor into your decision when looking for the best gaming CPU for your build.

Also Read: What to Look for In A CPU: 7 Factors to Consider

Another thing you’ll need to take into account is the total budget you’ve set for your build. You obviously don’t want to spend $300 on a processor if you’re building a $700 gaming PC because you wouldn’t have very much money left over for other parts. And, likewise, putting a $100 processor in a high-end $1,000 gaming PC probably isn’t a good use of your budget as well.

In this post, we will take a look at the best processors for gaming.

What is the Best CPU for Gaming?

Right now, the Intel Core i5-13600K (or KF) is the best option for gamers. If you have an unlimited budget and the need for more processing power outside of gaming, an Intel Core i9-13900K (or KF) would be an even better option. However, there are plenty of processor options out there that might make more sense for you if you don’t have the huge budget necessary to get a 13600K or 13900K. Check them out below.

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 option for gaming-only performance, our choice for a value-packed overclockable CPU, the best budget processor, and the best entry-level APU.

NAME SPECS RATING
TOP PICK
Intel Core i9-13900KF Desktop Processor 24 cores

Intel Core i9-13900K

  • 8+16-Cores
  • 32-Threads
  • 3.0GHz Base
  • Unlocked
9.7/10

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Read Review »

GAMING
Intel Core i5-13600K Desktop Processor 14 cores

Intel Core i5-13600K

  • 6+8 Cores
  • 20-Threads
  • 3.5GHz Base
  • Unlocked
9.6/10

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Read Review »

VALUE
AMD Ryzen 5 5600

AMD Ryzen 5 5600

  • 6-Core CPU
  • 12-Threads
  • 3.5GHz Base
  • Unlocked
8.9/10

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Read Review »

BUDGET
Intel Core i3-10100

Intel Core i3-10100F

  • 4-Core CPU
  • 8-Threads
  • 3.6GHz Base
  • Locked
8.6/10

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Read Review »

APU
AMD Ryzen 5 5600G

AMD Ryzen 5 5600G

  • 4-Core CPU
  • 4-Threads
  • 3.6GHz Base
  • Unlocked
8.6/10

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.

The best extreme Intel CPU
Intel Core i9-13900K

Intel Core i9-13900KF Desktop Processor 24 cores
  • 8+16 Cores/32-Threads
  • 3.0GHz Base Clock
  • Socket LGA 1700
  • Unlocked

Our Rating: 9.7/10

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Most benchmarks are showing Intel’s new Raptor Lake CPUs outperform AMD’s new Zen 4 CPUs on a tier-for-tier basis. And, while AMD has dropped the prices on their Zen 4 CPUs to be more competitive with the corresponding tier of Intel CPUs, the price difference still isn’t enough to justify choosing a Zen 4 CPU over a Raptor Lake CPU.

That could change if AMD decides to drop prices again. However, another price-related problem for Zen 4 CPUs is the fact that X670 chipset motherboards tend to cost more, on average, than Intel’s Z790 chipset motherboards. This further tilts the cost-of-entry in favor of Intel’s Raptor Lake CPUs.

So, for right now, from both a pure performance and price standpoint, the best extreme CPU for gamers is the Intel Core i9-13900K (or KF). Its 24 total cores (8 P-cores and 16 E-cores) abd 32 threads will be overkill for the majority of gamers, but if you need a CPU for both gaming and productivity work—and your budget is no concern—the 13900K is the ideal option right now.

Also Read: Intel K vs KF: What’s the Difference?

The reality, though, is that you can’t go wrong with either of these high-end CPUs. So, if you’re an AMD fanboi and you can’t stomach the idea of choosing an Intel processor over an AMD chip, we won’t hold it against you. And, for the vast majority of use-cases, there won’t be too much of a noticeable difference between these two CPUs anyways.

The best CPU for gamers
Intel Core i5-13600K

Intel Core i5-13600K Desktop Processor 14 cores
  • 6+8 Cores/20-Threads
  • 3.5GHz Base Clock
  • Socket LGA 1700
  • Unlocked

Our Rating: 9.6/10

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While the 13900K is clearly the most powerful CPU on the market, in terms of pure gaming performance, it won’t offer much of an in-game performance gain over the much cheaper Intel Core i5-13600K (or KF).

In fact, if gaming is your main concern, it would make sense to opt for the 13600K over the 13900K and put the difference in cost into your GPU—which will ultimately provide you with better in-game performance.

Also Read: The Best Graphics Cards Right Now

Of course, if money is of no concern, then the 13900K is the route you’ll want to go. Just note that it won’t give you a significant (if any) boost in performance while gaming.

Ultimately, with its 14 total cores and 20 total threads, the 13600K is the perfect option for gamers who have a decent budget—but who do not have an unlimited amount to spend—and are looking to build a high-end gaming PC.

The best value CPU for gamers
AMD Ryzen 5 5600

AMD Ryzen 5 5600
  • 6-Cores / 12-Threads
  • 3.5GHz Base Clock
  • Socket AM4
  • Unlocked

Our Rating: 8.9/10

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Typically, there are a handful of great gaming processor options in the sub-$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, right now, with all things considered, the Ryzen 5 5600 seems to be the best value for the moment.

It’s currently ~$20-$30 cheaper than the Intel Core i5-12400F. And, while the 12400F has cheaper motherboard options available, it cannot be overclocked and it comes with a weaker stock CPU cooler.

Also Read: The Best CPU Coolers Right Now

Both options will perform similarly in gaming, so at current prices, we give the nod to the Ryzen 5 5600.

Of course, with the Holiday Season nearing there will be a lot of price fluctuations as sales come and go. So, be sure to check the prices of both the Ryzen 5 5600 and the i5-12400F (and their compatible motherboards) before finalizing your decision. You may be able to find a deal on the 12400F and a compatible motherboard that makes it a value option.

The best budget CPU for gaming
Intel Core i3-10100F

Intel Core i3-10100
  • 4-Cores / 8-Threads
  • 3.6GHz Base Clock
  • Socket LGA 1200
  • Locked

Our Rating: 8.6/10

Check Price on Amazon

If you’re looking for a budget-friendly gaming processor that will allow you to build a 1080P gaming PC, the Intel Core i3-10100F is an option worth considering. With four cores and eight threads, the i3-10100F will have no problems running any game you throw at it.

And, with a pricetag of just under $80, it will allow gamers with extreme budgets to fit in a decent graphics card into their build.

Also Read: Solid Budget Gaming PC Builds

For instance, in our $500 gaming PC build, we were able to fit an Intel Core i3-10100F 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.

If you’d prefer an AMD alternative, you could opt for the Ryzen 5 4500. However, the 4500 is currently a bit more expensive. So, for now, we’ve chosen the i3-10100F as our top budget gaming processor.

The best entry-level APU for gaming
AMD Ryzen 5 5600G

AMD Ryzen 5 5600G
  • 6-Cores / 12-Threads
  • 3.9GHz Base Clock
  • Socket AM4
  • Unlocked

Our Rating: 8.6/10

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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 i3-10100F), 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.

The best AMD processor
AMD Ryzen 9 7950X

AMD Ryzen 9 7950X
  • 16-Cores / 32-Threads
  • 4.5GHz Base Clock
  • Socket AM5
  • Unlocked

Our Rating: 9.7/10

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The AMD Ryzen 9 7950X is a nice option for gamers who have a huge budget and have the need for a processor that can handle multi-threaded applications as well.

The 7950X comes with a whopping 16-cores and 32-threads, a 4.5GHz base clock, and a 5.7GHz boost clock.

Of course, the i7-13700K and i9-13900K are no slouches in multi-threaded applications as well. And, really, all three of these processors will serve well for gaming and CPU-heavy tasks.

So, really, while there are small performance differences between these three options in gaming , if you have the budget, you can’t go wrong with any of them.

However, early benchmarks show that the i9-13900K slightly edges the 7950X in both multi-threaded work and gaming performance. And, while the 13900K and the 7950X cost roughly the same, you can get a Z790 motherboard for a lot cheaper than a new AM5 X670 motherboard.

So, for now, the 13900K seems to be the better buy. But, keep an eye out on prices before you make your decision. If AMD were to drop the price of the 7950X, or if X670 chipset motherboards were to come down a bit in price, that could swing things in favor of AMD’s new flagship CPU.

A better value AMD Zen 4 option
AMD Ryzen 5 7600X

AMD Ryzen 5 7600X
  • 6-Cores / 12-Threads
  • 4.7GHz Base Clock
  • Socket AM5
  • Unlocked

Our Rating: 9.0/10

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The AMD alternative to the Intel Core i5-13600K is AMD’s new Ryzen 5 7600X. However, just as with the 13900K and the 7950X, we gave the nod to the 13600K (over the 7600X) due to its slightly better overall performance.

The 7600X is still an excellent processor, however, and as we’ve mentioned in comparing other Intel and AMD CPU tiers, the main thing to consider here is current prices. Since both the 13600K and the 7600X have about the same cost-of-entry (with the CPU price and a compatible motherboard), and because the 13600K has the edge in performance, it is the better buy.

If the cost-of-entry for the 7600X were to drop significantly, it would definitely be worth considering over the 13600K

But, for now, we’d opt for the 13600K.

In reality, both CPUs will provide an ideal in-game experience. So, you can definitely choose the 7600X at current prices over the 13600K and you probably wouldn’t regret doing so.

An Intel-based value gaming CPU
Intel Core i5-12400F

Intel Core i5-12400F
  • 6-Cores / 12-Threads
  • 2.5GHz Base Clock
  • Socket LGA 1700
  • Locked

Our Rating: 8.9/10

Check Price on Amazon

Another solid CPU option if you’re looking in the ~$150 to $200 price range is the Intel Core i5-12400F. The Intel Core i5-12400F’s direct AMD competitor is the Ryzen 5 5600. And, while the i5-12400F is a locked CPU, it will provide a boost in performance over the Ryzen 5 5600.

However, we like the Ryzen 5 5600 a bit more because of its ability to be overclocked (the 12400F is locked and, thus, cannot be overclocked), and the better CPU cooler it comes with.

The Ryzen 5 5600 is also a bit cheaper right now.

But if you don’t plan on overclocking and you don’t mind using the ugly Intel stock cooler for the time being, it’s a solid option. Ultimately, both processors will perform similarly in terms of in-game performance.

An AMD-based budget gaming CPU
AMD Ryzen 5 5500

AMD Ryzen 5 5500
  • 6-Cores / 12-Threads
  • 3.6GHz Base Clock
  • Socket AM4
  • Unlocked

Our Rating: 8.7/10

Check Price on Amazon

Another budget-oriented CPU option for gamers is AMD’s Ryzen 5 5500. Like the Intel Core i3-10100F, the Ryzen 5 5500 is perfect for gamers who are working with a tight budget.

When combined with a budget graphics card, the Ryzen 5 5500 is capable of delivering excellent performance on a 1080P monitor.

Also Read: The 7 Best Budget Graphics Cards Right Now

And, unlike the Intel Core i3-10100F, the Ryzen 5 5500 can be overclocked.

The one downfall of the Ryzen 5 5500, though, is that, at the time of updating this post, it is significantly more expensive than the i3-10100F. If you can find it for a more reasonable price, it is perhaps a better option than the i3-10100F. Either option are great for their price range, though.

Which CPU is Best for You?

With the release of Intel’s 13th 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 Intel Core i9-13900K. However, in terms of real-world performance, options like the AMD Ryzen 9 7950X, the Intel Core i5-13600K, and the Ryzen 5 7600X will also give you excellent results. And, if you’re budget restricted, older processors like the Ryzen 5 5600 and the Intel Core i5-12400F 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, Intel’s newest 13th generation processors currently offer the best performance for gamers, but AMD’s Zen 4 lineup—which doesn’t trail far behind—is 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 ~$750 i9-13900K currently offer the pinnacle in CPU performance for gamers. However, a ~$80 option like the older Intel Core i3-10100F are excellent options 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 computers and writing about building computers for a long time. I’m an avid gamer and tech enthusiast, too. On YouTube, I build PCs, review laptops, components, and peripherals, and hold giveaways.

12 thoughts on “Best CPU for Gaming in 2022 (Any Budget)”

  1. Hey! I want to build a pc only for playing games. I like to play First Person Shooter Games. Can you suggest me a pc build dedicated for gaming under $940…

    Reply
  2. I want to install a Red Devil 5700 XT Graphics card but I am only running 4 cores . For a 8 Core processor Its going to cost 450CND plus tax. . On a 3K build you would expect at least 8 cores . The person who built my PC said 4 Cores is all I needed , the gamer boards say 8 core is the min . I kind of feel Like I got ripped off by the tech, if said all I need was 4 cores ( he knew he was building for intense streaming and gamming I am told a 3k build should of got me 8 cores . The MB is a 2019 Gigabyte gamming board very pleased with it in a Dukase deepcool with a liquid cooling pump ) . I Don’t want to spend another 1200CND . A cheaper Graphics card is unacceptable and the one I have is a few years old and is maxing out do I need a 8 core like the boards say and if so can I get a 8 core for 200CND or less ( my GPU is a i3 4 core) ? .. PS sorry for the double post and bad grammar I fast type and hit post button before editing .

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  3. Why do cores need to be so expensive , If All I want is to replace a 4 core with a 8 , anything over $100 for a core is price gouging . The only gamming component worth the money is a graphics card . I want to install a Red Devil 5700 XT Graphics card but I am only running 4 cores . For the Red Devil its going to cost 600CND plus tax . For a 8 Core processor Its going to cost 450CND plus tax. . On a 3K build you would expect at least 8 cores . The person who built my PC said 4 Cores is all I needed , the gamer boards say 8 core is the min and to think if my tech put in a 8 core instead of a 4 I would of only cost 200CND more , I kind of feel Like I got ripped off by the tech had of of said I need the 8 cores ( he knew I wanted a build for intense streaming and gamming a 3k build should of got me 8 cores , this dose not include what I spending on the Graphics card ) . What would you suggest , all I need to do is switch out 4 for a 8 is their a cheap alterative ?

    Reply
    • If your doing extreme gaming and streaming both and spent 3K on a system you got majorily RIPPED dude if you only have a I3 4 core cpu. For a 3K system you should be in the I7-even high end i9 cpu, Id be majorly pissed if I spent that much and only got a small 4 core I3. Now granted there are some kickazzzzz I3 processors out there like the 9100, 10100-10300-10320 etc but then again remember they cost less then $200 too. Simply put you got hosed bro. Take it back and tell em you want your money back goto new egg and build your own its the way to go.

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