The best CPU for gaming in 2023
The fight for the best CPU for gaming in 2023 has only intensified with the introduction of Intel’s Raptor Lake and AMD’s Ryzen 7000. If you’re searching for a no-compromise gaming CPU, you’re at the right place.
Zeroing in on a new gaming CPU may be overwhelming, especially if terms like performance cores and threads are a little dry. However, the CPU is a critical component in your gaming PC setup and it’s crucial to identify your requirements before purchasing.
Ryzen 7000 and Intel’s 13th-gen CPUs have already been released, but which one should power your system? The Intel vs. AMD debate is a topic for endless discussions. Also, remember that the powerful Ryzen 7000X 3D CPUs have also arrived.
Here, we’ll focus on the best desktop gaming CPUs, and we’ll cover every aspect you need to consider before making a decision.
We’re looking at the best desktop gaming CPUs, which will naturally favor faster chips with a good price-to-performance ratio for most people. On the laptop front, you should take a look at our list of the best gaming laptops.
- Why you should choose Intel over AMD
- The best CPU for gaming in 2023: AMD 7800X3D
- The best budget CPU for gaming in 2023: Intel Core i5-12400
- The best premium CPU for gaming in 2023: Intel Core i9-13900K
- The best AMD gaming CPU in 2023: Ryzen 9 7950X3D
Why you should choose Intel over AMD
AMD vs Intel 2023: It’s safe to choose Team Red now
Sometime earlier this year, we updated this article to tell you not to buy the current Ryzen lineup. The performance was great, but the price and performance on Intel’s side of things were considerably better.
However, the launch of the Ryzen 7800X3D has completely upended the table. The sub-$500 brute is now the top-tier chip to go for, as was the 5800X3D. The additional power brought by the new 3D variations of AMD’s chips has totally changed the conversation right now.
However, it’s still cheaper to grab Intel’s 13th-generation CPUs, with all of their associated motherboards also coming in DDR4 flavors. Meanwhile, AMD’s AM5 platform has yet to mature fully, and as a result, it is much more expensive than Intel’s LGA 1700.
The best CPU for gaming in 2023: AMD 7800X3D
- Cores: 8 Cores
- Threads: 16
- Base clock: 4.2GHz
- Boost clock: 5GHz
- Cache: 96MB of 3D V-Cache
- TDP: 120W
- Price: $449
- Incredible value for money
- Great gaming performance
- 120W TDP makes it very power-hungry
While a name usually designated for mid-tier chips, the 7800X3D is yet again another shot across the bow for AMD against Intel. It might be still power-hungry like most other chips released these days, but the 7800X3D means it.
Combining AMD’s 3D V-Cache and the overall performance of the 7000 series, the 7800X3D has blown basically everyone away with what it can do. Games in particular have seen a massive improvement, with the sub-$500 chip able to not only beat its own siblings, but best the 13900KS from Intel – its flagship.
In a review from Tom’s Hardware, the 7800X3D managed to beat the 13900K by 11% in gaming applications.
If you’re building a PC, this is the one to go for.
The best budget CPU for gaming in 2023: Intel Core i5-12400
- Cores: 6 performance cores
- Threads: 12
- Base clock: 2.5GHz
- Boost clock: 4.4GHz
- Cache: 18MB Intel Smart Cache
- TDP: 65W
- Price: $209.99
- Can often be found on sale
- Excellent price-to-performance
- Low TDP
- Cannot overclock without significant fiddling
Intel’s 12th-generation lineup is really remarkable, and this is showcased by the fact that the Core i5-12400. It’s a relatively understated CPU, it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of its bigger brothers, you can’t overclock it out of the box without going ahead and buying a motherboard specifically for that purpose, and it’s outshined by the 12600k in many aspects.
But, this humble CPU can often be found under the $200 mark, and for that price, its performance in gaming is incredibly respectable, so you can expect to run just about anything really well. It’s not going to outperform an 8-core CPU with more threads, but for what you are paying for, this is the ideal CPU for those looking to game on a budget.
The best premium CPU for gaming in 2023: Intel Core i9-13900K
- Cores: 8 performance cores, 16 efficiency cores
- Threads: 32
- Base clock: 3GHz (P-cores) / 2.2GHz (E-cores)
- Boost clock: 5.8GHz (P-cores) / 4.3GHz (E-cores)
- Cache: 36MB Intel Smart Cache
- TDP: 125W
- Price: $589.99
- Incredible multithreaded performance
- Quite expensive
- Gets very hot
When purchasing a high-end CPU, you need to know what you are getting into when it comes to the caveats. Yes, you will be able to get better performance than most other CPUs on the market.
A CPU like this will be ideal for those who are not only gaming, in titles like Fortnite, but who are also streaming or running other resource-heavy tasks at the same time. Even if you’re not, this is going to be the best CPU and push the most frames. You won’t be bottlenecking anything with this CPU, that’s for certain.
However, it does come at a steep price point, in addition to requiring a really good cooler, with its fast clock speeds and high thermal demands, you’re going to want to ensure that you are able to dissipate all of the heat that the CPU will be generating.
The best AMD gaming CPU in 2023: Ryzen 9 7950X3D
- Cores: 16
- Threads: 32
- Base clock: 4.2GHz
- Boost clock: 5.7GHz
- Cache: AMD 3D V-Cache
- TDP: 120W
- Price: $699
- One of the best AM5 CPUs
- 3D V-Cache is great in games
- Steep price
The new Ryzen 9 7950X3D is one of the fastest gaming CPUs on the market. Its AM5 platform takes the baton from the legendary AM4 platform, one of the most-adopted CPU platforms of recent years. This CPU is aimed at gamers who play games that can use the extra L3 cache to boost frame rates.
At a peak frequency of 5.7 GHz, this monstrous CPU offers massive improvements over its predecessors in performance, thanks to its unique 3D V-cache. That being said, it does have a fair share of issues to deal with. The asymmetrical design of this CPU could prove to be a double-edged sword when it comes to cooling, and you can’t help but wince at the price.
How to choose a gaming CPU
- Set out a budget (budget, mid-range, or premium)
- Look for the brand that offers the best price to performance in that segment.
- See if the motherboard chipset is recent and in line with the rest of your PC build.
- Choose a motherboard with all of the features you want.
- Pick a CPU that ticks all of those boxes.
It can be a daunting task, with loads of graphs and numbers populating your decision-making. However, it really is a relatively simple task to pick the best gaming CPU for you. There may be outliers here who want to upgrade, but you should really pick something quite recent if you want to ensure that you are getting the best performance for your money.
Then, you should look at the platform that the CPU runs on, something like AMD’s AM4 is due to be retired quite soon, while Intel has just released a new socket, and new CPUs to go with them. In general, a newer socket and motherboard chipset is going to allow you to access new features like PCI 5.0 or DDR5 RAM support, which can be essential for some CPUs, so choose wisely.
AMD vs Intel: Which brand is better?
Right now, Intel is the go-to CPU manufacturer, offering the best support for new features moving forward, in addition to having a relatively fresh socket and chipset. By comparison, AM4 is looking like a bit of a relic at the moment, with the socket due to be replaced later this year. The age-old question of Intel vs AMD is answered differently depending on when you ask it, so you should expect this to change as time moves on.
Once the new Intel and AMD CPUs are released, we’ll be sure to keep you abreast on the latest in the heated battle for market share between Intel and AMD.
Is now a good time to buy a CPU?
2023 is the perfect time to buy a new CPU, with Zen 4 and Intel 13th-gen finally having been released.
You can expect newer features, and new motherboards alongside them. So, if you are planning a new build, you might want to consider some of these brand-new parts. You can of course expect faster speeds in gaming and other tasks, in addition to finding other things like Directstorage becoming standard amongst these CPUs.
DDR5 RAM has also become a little bit cheaper, so you can get higher clock speeds, and an all-round better system as a whole, compared to the previous generation of parts, which is looking a little bit long in the tooth, especially if you were planning on making an AMD Ryzen-based system.
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