The best CPU for gaming in 2024: Intel, AMD & more

Sayem Ahmed
Best CPU for Gaming

If you are looking to upgrade or build an entirely new gaming PC rig, choosing your CPU is vital, and we can help you get on the right track with our guide.

Building or upgrading a PC can be tough. There are a great many variables to consider, besides which team to pick between Intel and AMD. With so many confusing product names containing a bewildering array of numbers and letters, it can be daunting to try and choose the right product. This guide aims to provide clarity and help you navigate the confusing terminology so you can find the right choice for your gaming PC.

The CPU is a vital component in any PC build, and the choice of CPU in turn affects what motherboard and RAM you will need, so it is important to get it right. This guide will be focused on desktop gaming, covering the various pros and cons you will need to consider before you make your selection.

1. AMD 7800X3D

AMD Ryzen 7800x3D
  • Cores: 8 Cores
  • Threads: 16
  • Base clock: 4.2GHz
  • Boost clock: 5GHz
  • Cache: 96MB of 3D V-Cache
  • TDP: 120W
  • Price: $449

Despite having a model number usually reserved for mid-range CPU chips, the Ryzen 7 7800X3D is one of the best choices for PC gaming, offering an excellent price versus performance ratio. Though this chip can be a bit power-hungry, the benefits vastly outweigh the negatives.

The 7000 series of CPUs was already a winner, but AMD applying its specialist 3D V-cache for additional performance for gaming is what has really elevated this particular CPU into golden status.

The Ryzen 7 7800X3D can beat out not only its siblings in the 7000 line, but also its direct Intel equivalent, the 13900K, by 11% in benchmarking tests for gaming applications.

2. Intel Core i5-14600K

The intel 12600k and 12400 have identical box art, unfortunately.
  • Cores: 14
  • Threads: 20
  • Base clock: 3.5GHz
  • Boost clock: 5.3GHz
  • Cache: 24MB L3 + 20MB L2
  • TDP: 181W
  • Price: $320

The Intel Core i5-14600K is the 14 Gen ‘refresh’ successor to the popular and competitive i5-13600K. As a follow-up to that chip, it offers improved specifications and higher performance figures. It offers a higher core and thread count than the 7800X3D, though it lacks the specialist 3D V-cache, and sucks down more power to get the job done.

That said, it is cheaper than the 7800X3D, and the LGA 1700 motherboards offer better value for money overall than AM5 boards.

3. AMD Ryzen 9 7950X3D

  • Cores: 16
  • Threads: 32
  • Base clock: 4.2GHz
  • Boost clock: 5.7GHz
  • Cache: 144MB
  • TDP: 120W
  • Price: $699

The AMD Ryzen 9 7950X3D is one of the fastest gaming CPUs currently on the market. This CPU is largely aimed at gamers who have money to burn, and who can really stretch that 3D V-cache capabilities by playing the latest AAA titles.

Able to reach a peak frequency of 5.7Hz, the performance cannot be doubted, but all this comes at a steep cost. Not only is the CPU itself pricey, but it also needs a socket AM4 motherboard, which tends to be more expensive than Intel-compatible equivalents. Users will also need to shell out of DDR5 RAM, though considering AMD plans to keep their AM5 platform around for as long as possible, this expense could prove to be future-proof.

4. AMD Ryzen 7 5800X3D

Ryzen 7 CPU
  • Cores: 8
  • Threads: 16
  • Base clock: 3.4GHz
  • Boost clock: 4.5GHz
  • Cache: 96MB
  • TDP: 105W
  • Price: $297

If you want to upgrade your gaming PC but are on a budget that won’t stretch to an AM5 socket and its pricey DDR5 RAM, then the AMD Ryzen 7 5800X3D is a great budget alternative, especially if you are already working with a socket AM4 compatible motherboard.

Once again, AMD leverages the specialized 3D V-Cache to supply a better gaming experience, even on a lower budget.

The AMD Ryzen 7 5800X3D might be an older CPU but it can still deliver some great performance even on modern AAA games and is definitely worth considering if you are on a tight budget, or don’t need the level of performance of the new processors.

5. Intel Core i5-14400F

The intel 12600k and 12400 have identical box art, unfortunately.
  • Cores: 10
  • Threads: 16
  • Base clock: 1.8GHz
  • Boost clock: 3.5GHz
  • Cache: 20MB
  • TDP: 148W
  • Price: $209

If you want a budget option, then the Intel Core i5-14400F is a solid choice, since it is inexpensive but can still post decent performance figures thanks to its overclocking capability and cache. It can also support either the older DDR4 RAM as well as the newer and more expensive DDR5 RAM, providing flexibility as well as an available future upgrade path.
The Intel ecosystem tends to be cheaper overall, so this CPU is an ideal choice for those who want to do some PC gaming on a tight budget.


Intel or AMD?

Honestly, there isn’t much space between them at the moment. Back in the old days, AMD CPUs were best paired with AMD graphics cards, but AMD has largely shaken off those old compatibility problems. They both have pros and cons, AMD likes to keep a platform around for ages, while Intel offers more value for money in the shorter term.

What specs are most important?

For gaming purposes, you want to pay close attention to clock speed and cache. These are the main stats that will affect the performance of your processor. A faster clock speed equates to faster performance, while a bigger cache allows for the CPU to carry a heavier workload since it can pre-load what you might need next in fast cache memory.

What about the budget?

It isn’t just about the CPU. You might have the best processor in the world, but it won’t give you the performance you want if paired with a weaker graphics card or an unsuitable amount of RAM. It is often a good idea to stretch out your purchases and assemble the components for your build slowly if you are on a budget.

Is overclocking a good idea?

You can get some awesome performance figures from an Overlocked CPU, but be aware that this practice comes with risks. Overclocking can significantly increase the amount of power your processor needs, as well as how much heat it puts out. If you want to experiment with overclocking, make sure your power supply and cooling system are set up to handle it first.

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