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Best CPU for gaming in 2024 – Our top picks

The best gaming CPUs for your new build
Last Updated on April 30, 2024
Best CPU for gaming
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If you’re after the best CPU for gaming then you came to the right place. We have scoured the web for the latest and greatest CPUs, looking at a range of manufacturers and features that will help you take your gaming to the next level. Luckily, we’ve also had hands-on experience with these cards so we’ll let you know our honest opinions on each one, and whether or not it is worth the investment. So, without further ado, let’s jump in.

How we selected the best CPU for gaming

In order to select the best CPU for gaming we have considered several major factors. Firstly, and most obviously, performance is the main key factor here. This refers to the raw processing power of the CPU. We prioritized looking for a CPU with high clock speeds and a good number of cores. While you can find benchmarks online that compare the performance of different CPUs in gaming scenarios, we have conducted most of our own testing in our CPU reviews.

A second major factor is budget and value for money. CPUs can range in price from around $100 to well over $500 so picking the right one is crucial. We advise deciding how much you’re willing to spend before you start shopping. To help, we have divided our options based on mid-range and budget pricing so you know which ones to look for.

Power consumption is another key factor. While we have looked for high performance, this often means larger power demands. You’ll need to make sure your power supply unit (PSU) can handle it. Also, CPUs that use less power will typically generate less heat, which can be important for keeping your system cool. We have tried to balance out this problem by picking CPUs with solid TDP and those that are not overkill for your gaming demands.

Best CPU for gaming

  • A retail box for an AMD Ryzen 9 7950X3D desktop processor, featuring prominent orange and black design elements and AMD branding.
Best in ClassExcellent
  • Cores: 16
  • Thread: 32
  • Base Clock Speed: 100 MHz
  • Boost Clock Speed: 5.7 GHz
  • L3 Cache: 128 MB (shared)
  • TDP: 120 W
  • Platform: AMD Socket AM5
Reasons to Buy
  • Leading performance AMD Ryzen CPU
  • Lower TDP than non-3D variant
  • Compatible with AM4 coolers
Reasons to Avoid
  • Top of the rang performance = top of the range price
  • No support for DDR4 RAM

The AMD Ryzen 9 7950X3D is a top contender for the best gaming CPU due to its massive L3 cache enabled by 3D V-Cache technology. This large cache provides a significant performance boost in games by storing frequently accessed data for quicker retrieval. What are the benefits of this you may ask? Well, it’s smoother gameplay, especially in CPU-intensive titles. With 16 cores and 32 threads, it can handle even the most demanding games while multitasking. It’s overall, a great pick for a gaming CPU.

The AMD Ryzen 9 7950X3D is far from the cheapest chipset on the market, but with unparalleled performance, it’s also one of the best.

PC Guide

However, it’s not without drawbacks. The 7950X3D prioritizes cache overclock speed, resulting in potentially lower performance in non-gaming tasks. Additionally, it comes at a premium price. If you prioritize pure gaming performance and have the budget, the 7950X3D is a great choice.

  • An Intel Core i9-13900K processor installed in a motherboard socket, surrounded by circuits and components.
Highly Recommended
4 /5
Editor’s Rating
How We Review
  • Cores: 24 (8P-16E)
  • Threads: 32
  • Boost speed : P-Core 5.7GHz / E-Core 4.3GHz
  • Base speed: P-Core 3.0GHz / E-Core 2.2GHz
  • L3 Cache: 36 MB
  • TDP: 253W
  • Platform: Intel (LGA 1700)
Reasons to Buy
  • Versatile CPU for gaming and creative tasks
  • Strong boost clock speed and power
  • Top CPU from Intel
Reasons to Avoid
  • Performance is slightly weaker than the Ryzen 9 7950X3D
  • Hefty price tag making it not appropriate for budget conscious users

The Intel Core i9-13900K is a beast for gamers seeking top-tier performance, and our top pick for the best Intel CPU for gaming. It wields high clock speeds, reaching 5.8 GHz, and a massive 24 cores (dividing into 16 performance cores and 8 efficiency cores) to deliver smooth gameplay and the ability to handle heavy multitasking – which is important for gamers. The 13900K benefits from the latest Raptor Lake architecture, edging out even AMD’s Ryzen 7950X in some games. Plus, it supports DDR5 memory, the cutting edge for even faster performance. Lastly, while we prioritise gaming in this review, the Intel Core i9-13900K is also excellent for creative tasks, making it the best versatile CPU on this list. If Intel is your go-to place for CPUs then this may just be the product for you.

It’s clear that the Intel Core i9-13900K is still more than competitive when it comes to powering today’s games.

PC Guide

Keep in mind the i9-13900K isn’t perfect. The price tag is hefty, and its high power draw demands a strong power supply unit and good cooling. Additionally, for pure gaming, the extra efficiency cores might be underutilized, making the slightly cheaper i7-13700K a more attractive option.

Highly Recommended
4 /5
Editor’s Rating
How We Review
  • Cores: 12
  • Threads: 24
  • Boost clock speed: 5.6 GHz
  • Base clock speed: 4.4 GHz
  • L3 Cache: 128MB
  • TDP: 120W
  • Platform: Socket AM5
Reasons to Buy
  • Strong gaming muscle
  • Impressive L3 cache means faster and smoother performance
  • Cheaper cooler and motherboards can be used as a result of impressive specs
Reasons to Avoid
  • Some may consider it too expensive for ‘mid-range’
  • Struggles with multi-tasking, might bottleneck as a result

It may seem odd to pick the AMD Ryzen 9 7900X3D as a mid-range pick, but let’s explain. For specific gamers on a tighter budget, it can be a strategic choice. This CPU prioritizes pure gaming muscle. Its massive L3 cache, thanks to 3D V-Cache technology, acts like super fast storage for game data, leading to significant performance boosts in games that rely on it heavily. In fact, the 7900X3D’s focus on cache allows you to potentially save elsewhere in your build. Because it relies less on high clock speeds, you might be able to get away with a cheaper motherboard and cooler compared to a traditional high-clocked CPU. This can make the overall build more affordable as a whole.

The AMD Ryzen 9 7900X3D is an incredibly powerful CPU for gaming with some strong synthetic performance as well, bolstered by a respectable TDP compared to its non-3D variant. 

PC Guide

However, this strategy hinges on prioritizing pure gaming performance. If you do demand multi-tasking, the lower clock speeds might be a bottleneck. Additionally, you need to find the 7900X3D at a competitive price. If the price difference between it and a traditional mid-range CPU is significant, the cost savings on other parts might not make up for it. Whether you have money in mind or not, this CPU still delivers solid specs and features and will handle most modern titles with ease.

  • Close-up of a computer's motherboard featuring a mounted Intel Core i5-13600K processor with visible socket and screws on a detailed circuit background.
  • Close-up of an Intel Core i5-13600K processor in focus, with a blurred blue computer case in the background.
  • An Intel Core i5-13600K processor displayed in front of a blurred computer case.
  • Intel Core i5-13600K CPU against a plain white background.
4.5 /5
Editor’s Rating
How We Review
Reasons to Buy
  • Great value for money
  • Will deliver solid gaming performance across the board
  • Latest DDR5 memory
Reasons to Avoid
  • Performance not as strong as top of the range, or mid-range CPU choices
  • High power consumption
  • CPU cooler is needed

Our first pick for budget-conscious users is the Intel Core i5-13600K which is truly a game-changer for gamers looking to cut costs. Forget the hefty price tags of the 7950X3D or the Intel Core i9-13900K. This processor still manages to provide more than enough power to make a difference. It boasts 6 powerful cores capable of reaching impressive clock speeds of up to 5.4 GHz. This translates to smooth, stutter-free gameplay that rivals even more expensive CPUs. Packed with 24MB of L3 Cache, this card doesn’t show any signs that it falls behind in terms of performance.

Additionally, 13600K isn’t just about affordability. It keeps pace with the latest technology too like DDR5 memory, meaning you can enjoy the benefits of next-gen tech while staying within your budget.

An excellent CPU through and through with fierce single and multi-core performance for the money. 

PC Guide

However, we like to provide well-rounded reviews so let’s talk a little about the downsides of this product. It uses more power than its predecessor, meaning you’ll need a beefier PSU. The extra power also translates to hotter temperatures, so a good CPU cooler is essential. Upgrading might be trickier down the line as the motherboard socket might limit future CPU options without a motherboard replacement. It is good to keep this in mind when purchasing CPUs that are not top of the range/older gen.

  • AMD Ryzen 5 7600X CPU in front of its packaging, featuring the "7000 series processor" label.
  • AMD Ryzen 5 7600X processor with visible pins on a white background.
4.5 /5
Editor’s Rating
How We Review
  • Cores: 6
  • Threads : 12
  • Boost speed : 5.3 GHz
  • Base speed: 4.7 GHz
  • L3 Cache: 32 MB
  • TDP: 105W
  • Platform: AMD (AM5)
Reasons to Buy
  • Packs a punch with price and value
  • Performs well in most modern titles – will suit most gamers
Reasons to Avoid
  • Not that versatile –  struggles with multitasking and demanding creative work
  • Performance is not top of the range like other CPUs mentioned above

Tight on budget but want to remain in Team Red? The AMD Ryzen 5 7600X is a fantastic choice for budget-minded gamers. Despite its friendly price tag, it packs a punch. With 6 cores and 12 threads, it delivers smooth gameplay in modern titles. The Zen 4 architecture and solid clock speeds ensure you won’t be sacrificing performance for affordability. It supports the latest DDR5 memory, contributing to an overall performance boost.

The Ryzen 5 7600X brings big value for a small price.

PC Guide

While it might not be ideal for super demanding tasks outside of gaming due to its lower core count, for pure gaming bliss on a budget, the 7600X shines. If you prioritize affordability without compromising on a great gaming experience, the AMD Ryzen 5 7600X is sure to be a perfect fit for your next PC build.

Considerations for the best CPU for gaming


When buying a CPU for your desktop PC, you should consider the asking price and the performance offered. Typically speaking, if you’re someone who wants to push games to their limit, then an i7 / Ryzen 7 would be a smarter choice than the weaker alternatives.

Clock speeds

Clock speeds are also important, so if you want to overclock, shop for processors pushing the 5.0 GHz rate. What’s more, TDP is an essential consideration as well, as Intel currently goes up to 125W, and AMD’s upcoming line will have a power draw of up to 170W base TDP.

Socket type and motherboards

Then there’s the socket type and corresponding motherboards. Intel uses LGA 1700, with AMD CPUs currently using AM4 and soon-to-be AM5. Certain motherboard types, such as those with DDR5 support, are going to be more expensive than budget models. If you want to build a high-end rig, keep this in mind when choosing your CPU.

Which is the best processor for gaming (AMD or Intel)?

Both Intel and AMD offer great processors for gaming. Typically, Intel CPUs are the better choice if you want a processor that can handle intense gaming alongside creative work. On the other hand, AMD is known to be perfect for gamers. They are powerful processors that can handle most of your gaming needs.

Aleksha McLoughlin is Hardware and News Editor for PC Guide and she oversees buying guides, reviews, news, and features on site. She was previously Hardware and Affiliates Editor at VideoGamer.