Top 5 best gaming CPU

The best CPU for gaming means the fastest processor, with the most cores, in your pricing range. That may be the high Intel Core i9 12900K, or AMD Ryzen 9 5900X, yet it might just as easily be the bang-for-your-buck Intel Core i5 12400. It’s about the price to performance, and what you’re using your PC for most of the time.

The good news is that there are many superb processors out there at accessible price points right now. Indeed, with the arrival of Intel’s 12th Gen Alder Lake family, the best gaming CPU isn’t the all-singing, all-dancing halo chip at the apex of Intel’s portfolio, but one a bit farther down the pecking order. You’ll discover the Intel Core i5 12600K freshly installed. At the top of our list, and for very good reason—it delivers outstanding gaming performance at a fantastic price range.

Value for money is vital, if only because it means you can spend more of your budget on other things like SSDs, better motherboards, more RAM, or maybe, just maybe, a better graphics card at some point—assuming the silicon crisis ever ends. Saving a few bucks here and there on the basic components may lead to a much better overall gaming PC. That’s something we can absolutely get behind.

Every chip on this list has been evaluated using our intensive CPU testing suite on our PC Gamer test rig. This is made up of many of the current games as well as 3D and video rendering workloads, mainly because we’re all content makers and broadcasters today. Games are still the most significant exams for us nevertheless, hopefully for obvious reasons.

Make sure you also read our guide to the best gaming motherboard if you are looking to undertake a completely new build.

The best CPU for gaming

Intel Core i5 12600K

The best CPU for gaming right now


  • Cores: 6+4
  • Threads: 16Base
  • Clock speeds: 3.7 GHz P-core, 2.8 GHz
  • E-core Boost Clock: 4.9 GHz
  • P-core: 3.6 GHz
  • E-core YesL3
  • Cache size: 20 MB TDP: 125 W


The finest gaming CPU in 2021 + Faster than the Core i9 11900K +An Alder Lake chip that is more efficient


Ryzen is still more power-hungry –

Some games do not play well with it.

Intel’s 12th Generation Alder Lake CPUs represent a critical return to form for the company. When it was initially unveiled, its underlying hybrid design was viewed as a risk, with its combination of speed and frugal cores not offering much to the desktop experience. It’s a risk that has clearly paid off since the gaming performance provided by Intel’s newest CPUs is nothing short of astounding.

Core i5 12600K — выдающийся процессор для геймеров, поскольку он не только обеспечивает отличную игровую производительность по всем направлениям, но и по разумной цене. Он не только превосходит 5600X с аналогичной ценой почти в каждой игре, но и превосходит Ryzen 9 5950X в нескольких тестах. Тот факт, что он легко превосходит Core i9 11900K, просто глазурь на торте. Неплохо для процессора среднего класса.

Because this is a new platform, you’ll need to purchase a new motherboard as well as new memory—Alder Lake supports both DDR5 and DDR4 memory. That means the initial outlay maybe a little more than you anticipated, but the performance is well worth it, and it isn’t a power-hungry beast, so you won’t need an outrageous cooler to get the most out of it. With support for PCIe 5.0 in the future, we have a new gaming CPU king. The king must reign indefinitely.


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Intel Core i9 12900K

The best enthusiast CPU for those that need serious power


  • 8+8 cores
  • Thread count: 24
  • Base P-core: 3.2 GHz
  • E-core: 2.4 GHz
  • P-core Boost Clock: 5.2 GHz
  • E-core Boost Clock: 3.9 GHz
  • YesL3 overclocking
  • 30 MB cache 125 W TDP


Incredible single-threaded speed +Much better-multithreaded capability +A significant advancement for Intel’s Core CPUs + The greatest desktop platform that supports DDR5 and PCIe 5.0.


Some games aren’t currently compatible with Alder Lake -Expensive power consumption -Potentially high platform prices at launch

The fact that the Core i5 12600K wins the top slot is difficult to disagree with—awesome performance at a reasonable price will do that—but Intel’s top chip taking the second spot may be a bit more unexpected. The idea behind this is that the great majority of gamers should choose the Core i5, leaving this second position for those who want even more performance.

If you’re creating a high-end PC for more than simply 4K gaming, but also for more serious tasks like 3D rendering and video editing, this is the chip for you. It’s a beast, without a doubt, but it requires a system designed around it to shine—you’ll need a massive PSU to get the most out of it, and a decent cooler wouldn’t hurt either. The fact that there is lots of overclocking headroom will also let you take it to the next level.

When it comes to gaming performance, this is by far the quickest CPU available. The issue is that you only receive a few extra frames per second than our top choice. When purchasing a ‘enthusiast’ class CPU, you should keep the overall value for money in mind.


Intel Core i5 12400

The best gaming CPU on a budget


  • 6 cores
  • Base Clock: 2.5 GHzThreads: 12
  • 4.4 GHz Boost Clock
  • KindaL3 Overclocking
  • 18 MBTDP Cache: 18
  • MBTDP: 65 W Cache


Excellent stock performance +Low power from 65W +Doesn’t require a large cooler +It truly shines when overclocked


Needs a whole new motherboard -BCLK OC may be patched out

The Core i5 12400 is fast approaching legendary status in the Alder Lake range, because of its remarkable ability to overclock in places it shouldn’t. The lack of a ‘K’ at the end of the Core i5 12400’s moniker should imply a lack of overclocking capacity, however somewhere in the silicon it contains the potential for BCLK overclocking.

With a motherboard that could make use of the Core i5 12400’s overclocking potential, we were able to gladly push this little chip that could to 5.2GHz. It didn’t run too hot or use too much power to do it, either, however you should consider cooling potential before doing this.

Similarly, Intel does not advise anyone to do this—though this is true of almost all overclocking nowadays. Keep in mind that the manufacturer may restrict non-K-series overclocking at some time, so keep that in mind if that’s the only reason you’re considering getting this chip.

Don’t worry if you’re not seeking to overclock in the least. The Core i5 12400 was already outstanding without its hidden ability, and with the cooler included at this price, it’s a steal.


READ ALSO: The best gaming mouse in 2022 – Gadgets Burner

AMD Ryzen 9 5900X

AMD’s best CPU for serious performance at a reasonable price


  • CPU Manufacturer AMD
  • CPU Model Ryzen 9
  • CPU Speed 4.8 GHz
  • CPU Socket Socket AM4


Great gaming performance

Fast and efficient architecture

Affordable platform


Needs a proper 3rd-party cooler

AMD’s Zen architecture has improved with each iteration, but the fact that AMD managed to raise IPC by 19% with Zen 3 is nothing short of astounding. The crucial message for us as gamers is that this improvement indicates that AMD pushed Intel to improve, which it did with Alder Lake.

Whatever resolution you’re playing at, this CPU can handle it and feed your graphics card of choice with plenty of frames. The fact that this is a 12-core, 24-thread monster means that it can handle whatever else you throw at it. So, if you want to do 3D rendering, video editing, or any other major activity, you’ll know you’ve got the raw grunt to do it. That it won’t hold you back when gaming makes it even sweeter.

The only significant drawbacks are the cost and the loss of the Wraith cooler—keep this in mind while purchasing. However, you get what you pay for, and this is a fantastic chip for gaming and everything else you could want to do.

If you’re looking for maximum power, the Ryzen 9 5950X with 16 cores and 32 threads is a good option. However, it costs more, and for gaming and other content production tasks, the 5900X is more than adequate.


AMD Ryzen 5 5600X

AMD’s most affordable, and available, Zen 3 CPU today


  • 6 cores
  • Base Clock: 3.7 GHz
  • Boost Clock: 4.6 GHz
  • Threads: 12
  • YesL3 overclocking
  • MBTDP: 65 W
  • Cache: 32 MBTDP


Excellent gaming performance +Excellent value for money +Adequate overclocking potential +Wraith Stealth bundled


More expencive than 3600X – Lacks Core i5 12600K performance

Since the arrival of the Core i5 12400, the Ryzen 5 5600X has lost some of its lusters—CPU Intel just pips it in gaming performance and costs a lot less. However, the Ryzen 5 5600X is still worth mentioning since, while it’s a fantastic chip in its own right, it’s also a lot less expensive if you’re moving from an older AM4-compatible CPU.

If you have a B450 motherboard with a prior version AMD Ryzen processor in your PC today, you might easily upgrade to the Ryzen 5 5600X. This might save you a lot of money on a suitable motherboard, something you’d have to forego if you went with an Intel 12th Gen processor.

In games, there’s really no difference between any of the Ryzen 5000 chips, so you’ll get the same frame rates with this CPU as you would with the more costly Ryzen 9 5900X. When you think about it, top-tier performance with the cheapest Zen 3 CPU is astounding. Every single day, we’ll say yes to it.

With six cores and 12 threads, this has half the core count of 5900X. However, this is mainly an issue with the most significant workloads; for more normal tasks, this is more than enough.

The Ryzen 5 5600X also defies the Ryzen 5000 family’s trend by including a Wraith Stealth cooling, which eliminates the need to spend extra money on a third-party cooler. You don’t have to, but if you do, you’ll be able to run at greater speeds for longer periods of time and have access to the wonderful world of overclocking, which may make it worthwhile. This is a good small overclocker, and while it won’t assist much with gaming, it will aid in other areas.