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Best CPU for Gaming in 2022: The 10 Best Processors (Any Budget)

Best Gaming CPUsWe rated, reviewed, & compared 10 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.

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 i9-12900K is the best overall option for gamers if money is of no consideration. 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 buy a 12900K. 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 ultra-cheap entry-level CPU.

NAME SPECS RATING
TOP PICK
Intel Core i9-12900K

Intel Core i9-12900K

  • 8+8-Cores
  • 24-Threads
  • 3.2GHz Base
  • Unlocked
9.7/10

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Read Review »

GAMING
Intel Core i7-12700K

Intel Core i7-12700K

  • 8+4 Cores
  • 20-Threads
  • 3.6GHz Base
  • Unlocked
9.6/10

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Read Review »

VALUE
Intel Core i5-11400F

Intel Core i5-11400F

  • 6-Core CPU
  • 12-Threads
  • 2.6GHz Base
  • Locked
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 3 3200G APU

AMD Ryzen 3 3200G

  • 4-Core CPU
  • 4-Threads
  • 3.6GHz Base
  • Unlocked
8.3/10

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 i9-12900K

Intel Core i9-12900K
  • 8+8 Cores/24-Threads
  • 3.2GHz Base Clock
  • Socket LGA 1700
  • Unlocked

Our Rating: 9.7/10

Check Price on Amazon

With the release of their new Alder Lake CPUs, Intel has seemingly regained the flagship CPU performance crown from AMD. Early benchmarks show the i9-12900K edging out the Ryzen 9 5950X in both multi-threaded performance and gaming performance.

And, while the 5950X is ~$150 less expensive, if you’re type that has to have the biggest and the best, what’s an extra $150 on a near-$1,000 processor anyways?

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 i7-12700K

Intel Core i7-12700K
  • 8+4 Cores/20-Threads
  • 3.6GHz Base Clock
  • Socket LGA 1700
  • Unlocked

Our Rating: 9.6/10

Check Price on Amazon

While Intel’s i9-12900K and AMD’s Ryzen 9 5950X have really moved the bar in terms of what a high-end consumer-level processor can bring to the table, the truth is that, for purely gaming purposes, the much cheaper Intel Core i7-12700K is probably the better option.

Since the i7-12700K offers better single core performance, it actually benchmarks better in most games than the beefier Ryzen 9 5950X. The 12700K comes in at over $200 cheaper than the 5950X and over $300 cheapr than the 12900K.

Of course, the same case could be made for the Intel Core i5-12600K over the 12700K, as well. And, really, if your main goal is in-game performance, and you want to spend as little as possible, it would make sense to choose the cheaper i5-12600K.

But, the bottom line is that they are all great CPU options. If you have a huge budget, you’ll want to consider the 12900K or the 5950X. If you have a decent-sized budget and you want some extra multi-threaded performance, the 12700K is a good choice. Or, if you want to save even more money without sacrificing too much in-game performance, the i5-12600K would work well, too.

Just make sure, though, that if you are planning on getting the i7-12700K and you want to keep it cool that you pair it with a high-end air cooler or AIO cooler.

The best value CPU for gamers
Intel Core i5-11400F

Intel Core i5-11400F
  • 6-Cores / 12-Threads
  • 3.6GHz Base Clock
  • Socket AM4
  • Unlocked

Our Rating: 8.9/10

Check Price on Amazon

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. However, with widespread global supply chain issues, the market for processors (and all PC hardware) has seen higher prices than ever before.

So, while in the past we may have given the “value” award to a Ryzen 5 CPU, as of right now, the i5-11400F gets the nod simply because it still maintains a fairly palatable pricetag.

At just a little over $200, the i5-11400F comes in at nearly $100 cheaper than AMD’s Ryzen 5 5600X. Granted, the 5600X is probably the better overall processor. However, for pure gaming purposes, the i5-11400F will perform similiarly (or even better) because of its excellent single core performance.

The i5-11400F isn’t a perfect processor, though, and as a locked CPU, it cannot be overclocked. Still, for just a little over $200, it will provide ideal in-game performance assuming you have an adequate GPU for the resolution you are playing at (and, of course, finding an adequate graphics card at the moment is a whole other issue.)

Overall, though, for right now, the i5-11400F is probably the best priced mid-range CPU and it is the perfect option for anyone who is looking for excellent gaming purposes at a fair price.

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 $95, it will allow gamers with extreme budgets to fit in a decent graphics card into their build.

For instance, in our $500 gaming PC build, we were able to fit an Intel Core i3-10100F and a GTX 1650 GPU (under normal market circumstances) 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 3 3100. However, the 3100 is currently much more expensive. So, for now, we’ve chosen the i3-10100F as our top budget gaming processor.

The best entry-level gaming CPU
AMD Ryzen 3 3200G

AMD Ryzen 3 3200G APU
  • 4-Cores / 4-Threads
  • 3.6GHz Base Clock
  • Socket AM4
  • Unlocked

Our Rating: 8.3/10

Check Price on Amazon

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 3 3200G APU.

The 3200G 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 3200G won’t match any of the options listed above in terms of CPU power, it will at least be able to hold you over until you have the money to upgrade.

The 3200G is strong enough to run most of today’s top games on at least lower settings. In fact, with a budget of just $300, you can build an entry-level gaming PC with a Ryzen 3 3200G that will allow you to run games like Rocket League and League of Legends with no problems.

So, even if you don’t have a lot of money to spend, the 3200G gives you the option to build an entry-level gaming system now.

The best AMD processor
AMD Ryzen 9 5950X

AMD Ryzen 9 5950X
  • 16-Cores / 32-Threads
  • 3.4GHz Base Clock
  • Socket AM4
  • Unlocked

Our Rating: 9.7/10

Check Price on Amazon

The AMD Ryzen 9 5950X 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 5950X comes with a whopping 16-cores and 32-threads, a 3.4GHz base clock, and a 4.9GHz boost clock.

Of course, the i7-12700K and i9-12900K 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 i9-12900K edges the 5950X in both multi-threaded work and gaming performance. The 12900K is ~$150 more expensive, though, and the real-world performance difference isn’t so big to where that $150 price difference gains you a whole lot.

So, if you don’t mind sacrificing a small amount of performance to save some money, the Ryzen 9 5950X is still an incredible CPU.

Extreme multi-threaded performance
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3960X

AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3960X
  • 24-Cores / 48-Threads
  • 3.8GHz Base Clock
  • Socket TR4
  • Unlocked

Our Rating: 9.5/10

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If you do have an enormous budget and you want serious multi-threaded performance, the AMD Ryzen Threadripper lineup is worth checking out. Of the newest Threadripper options, we like the 3960X simply because it comes in at the lowest pricetag.

The $3,600 pricetag on the 3990X is far too high for 99.9% of the population and the $2,000 pricetag on the 3970X isn’t much better. And, while the 3960X still comes in at ~$1,300, it is at least manageable to fit into a $3,000-$4,000 PC budget.

Ultimately, if you’re looking to build a PC for mostly gaming, you could opt for a much less expensive option and still get incredible performance (both in-game and in CPU-heavy tasks).

Another powerful AMD gaming CPU
AMD Ryzen 7 5800X

AMD Ryzen 7 5800X
  • 8-Cores / 16-Threads
  • 3.8GHz Base Clock
  • Socket AM4
  • Unlocked

Our Rating: 9.5/10

Check Price on Amazon

For those that are looking for a slightly less expensive option than the Intel Core i7-12700K, or if you’re looking for better multi-threaded performance, the Ryzen 7 5800X is a great option.

At just under $400 it comes in at about the same price as the Intel Core i7-12700K. And, while the 12700K will provide a bit more in-game performane, the 5800X is strong enough to handle any in-game scenario.

So, if you’d prefer to choose an option that will perform well in gaming and give you a bump in performance in multi-threaded applications as well, the 5800X is worth considering.

An Intel-based value gaming CPU
Intel Core i5-10400F

Intel Core i5-10400
  • 6-Cores / 12-Threads
  • 2.9GHz Base Clock
  • Socket LGA 1200
  • Locked

Our Rating: 8.8/10

Check Price on Amazon

Another solid CPU option if you’re looking in the ~$150 to $200 price range is the Intel Core i5-10400F. The Intel Core i5-10400F’s direct AMD competitor is the Ryzen 5 3600. And, while the i5-10400F is a couple of generations old, with the current state of the market, it is probably the best CPU currently availble for under $200.

Both processors will work well for gaming and in multi-threaded applications. However, we like the Ryzen 5 3600 a bit more because of its ability to be overclocked (the 10400F is locked and, thus, cannot be overclocked), and the better CPU cooler it comes with.

The i5-10400F is a a lot cheaper right now, though, and 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 decent option. Ultimately, both processors will perform similarly in terms of in-game performance.

An AMD-based budget gaming CPU
AMD Ryzen 3 3100

AMD Ryzen 3 3100
  • 4-Cores / 8-Threads
  • 3.6GHz Base Clock
  • Socket AM4
  • Unlocked

Our Rating: 8.6/10

Check Price on Amazon

Another budget-oriented CPU option for gamers is AMD’s Ryzen 3 3100. Like the Intel Core i3-10100F, the Ryzen 3 3100 is perfect for gamers who are working with a tight budget.

When combined with a budget graphics card, the Ryzen 3 3100 is capable of delivering excellent performance on a 1080P monitor

And, unlike the Intel Core i3-10100F, the Ryzen 3 3100 can be overclocked.

The one downfall of the Ryzen 3 3100, 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?

There are a ton of different CPU 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.

What is the Fastest CPU for Gaming?

As of right now, the fastest CPU for gaming is the Intel Core i9-12900K.

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 12th generation processors currently offer the best performance for gamers, but AMD’s Zen 3 lineup is still worth considering. And, with new AMD Ryzen CPUs set to release in the near future, the answer of whether AMD or Intel is the better option for gamers will likely change again.

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 ~$600 i9-12900K currently offer the pinnacle in CPU performance for gamers. However, a ~$100 option like the older Intel Core i3-10100f are excellent options for budget-oriented gamers who need a decent CPU.

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: The 10 Best Processors (Any Budget)”

  1. hey im looking to upgrade my cpu and graphics card ive got the msi amd radeon r9 390 but wanting to get the nvidia gtx 1070, should i upgrade ? ive seen reports that my current graphics card is bad.and for the cpu. i have the i5 6600k at the momment with a GA-Z170MX-gaming 5 motherboard. it was my first gaming pc and i built it a few years ago and then just stopped playing and let it set but now im getting back into it. All i do is play games on my pc and i want a better experience then what im having at the moment

    Reply
  2. Hello,
    I am want advice – looking for CPU, i dont want to pay more then 225 USD. I just want best outcome possible for games (one screen 60hz). I am thinking a lot about 8400 and mb ASUS H310M-K. I am not going to OC it and i will stay with it for next 5 years +-. My GPU is now 660 GTX 2GB, i would like to upgrade it soon as well- probably 2060 but not sure if its worth it so i am waiting.

    Reply
    • This list needs to be updated to include a couple of newer processors, but instead of the i5-8400, you could go with the i5-9400f:

      https://amzn.to/2UPXsG8

      It’s newer and ~$30 less. It doesn’t have integrated graphics, but since you have a dedicated GPU, that shouldn’t matter. It can pair with an H310 motherboard as well.

      Hope this helps!

      All the Best,
      Brent

      Reply
  3. Hi. My son is looking to build a gaming computer. He’s purchased an MSI GeForce GTX1060 and we’re trying to decide on the CPU. He’s looking at the Intel Core i5-9600K Desktop Processor 6 Cores up to 4.6 GHz Turbo Unlocked LGA1151 300 Series 95W but I was wondering if the Intel Core i5-8400 Desktop Processor 6 Cores up to 4.0 GHz LGA 1151 300 Series 65W would work just as well. WE’re trying to get it under $900 for the rest of the parts (he already has a case and the GTX card.

    Reply
    • Hey Garreth thanks for reading and commenting.

      I think if your remaning budget is $900 (after GPU and case), the 9600K should fit in just fine. Although, for gaming, the performance difference between the 9600K and 8400 won’t be too significant in the grand scheme of things (maybe ~5 or so FPS difference, if that?) So, if you’d rather save the ~$60 difference between the two processors and put that towards more memory, a bigger SSD, or a better power supply, that wouldn’t be a bad option as well.

      And, in that regards, you could also consider AMD’s Ryzen 5 2600, too, as it is cheaper than the 8400 and will perform similarly in games, as well as offer more cores and allow for overclocking.

      Ultimately, the 9600K, 8400, and Ryzen 5 2600 are all viable options. It will just come down to how you want to approach the other components in your system.

      Let me know if you have any other questions!

      All the Best,
      Brent

      Reply
  4. Hi im looking to upgrade from an old fx-8350 and i recently got a zotac gtx 1070. Knowing this i know i have to change my ram my cpu and my motherboard. So i got my eyes on either the amd ryzen 5 2600x, ryzen 7 2700 or the intel i5 9600k. I mainly game on my pc and don’t multi task a lot. I would like to know what you think i should get between these 3. And i also tend to go for the long run with my cpu like 3-5 years without change.

    Thanks.

    Reply
    • I’d go the Ryzen 7 2700 or 9600K. The 9600K is going to cost more with motherboard and cooler, but it will perform a bit better in games. The 2700 platform will be cheaper, though, and still give ideal performance in games. There’s really not a wrong choice between those two.

      Reply
  5. Thanks for the research, I am looking to get an all in one even though everyone has suggested that I don’t I still want one, I’m interested in the fastest as far as my work goes it almost all the programs that I work on are web-based, I work typically with 2 or 3 screens up and running with different programs at one time. I only have 2 programs I believe that have to be stored on my computer. Would you say the 27″ Envy would be the best choice for me?

    Reply

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