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We already have a comprehensive collection of the best CPUs on the market that goes into detail about the various CPU options across different categories and workloads. However, gaming by itself deserves a dedicated list due to the sheer number of options that can't possibly fit into an article detailing multiple workloads. Things are now more exciting than ever for gamers with some seriously strong contenders from both AMD's Ryzen 7000 series and Intel's 13th-generation CPUs.

Gaming is one of the most popular reasons to build a PC, but getting the best doesn't just mean getting the most expensive, most spec-filled parts you can find. Gaming doesn't require the kind of raw horsepower other tasks do, and so a mid-tier CPU is almost always a better value investment. But with the rise of content creation such as streaming alongside gaming, there will always be times you need a little more. Fortunately, there are plenty of great choices from both vendors.

These are the best CPUs for gaming in 2023

13th Gen Intel Core i5
Source: Intel
Intel Core i5-13600K
Best overall Intel CPU for gaming

Great for everything, from gaming to streaming to work

Intel's Core i5-13600K is the company's latest mid-range CPU and is an absolute winner, with improved performance over its predecessor that makes this now one of the best CPUs to put in a gaming PC.

  • Great gaming performance
  • Fast in multi-threaded workloads too
  • Overclockable
  • High power consumption

If you're looking for a great gaming experience with the potential for core-heavy workloads, then the Core i5-13600K is for you. This is Intel's replacement for the Core i5-12600K, which previously held this spot, and although the new 13600K is more expensive, it comes with more than enough performance to make up for it.

The 13600K is essentially a 12600K with four extra E-cores for a total of six P-cores and eight E-cores, which makes the 13600K identical to high-end Alder Lake-P CPUs for laptops like the Core i9-12900H. Additionally, the 13600K also surpasses the 5GHz mark with a turbo boost of 5.1GHz, making it the first midrange CPU from Intel to do so out of the box. But for gaming, the 13600K's most important improvement is its cache, which has been increased from 29.5MB to 44MB of combined L2 and L3 cache.

Compared to its main rival the Ryzen 5 7600X and 7600, the 13600K trades blows. According to Techspot, the 13600K is well in the lead in productivity thanks to its high core count, but it's a tad slower in games and consumes much more power. It would be nice if the 13600K was just a little faster for gaming given its price tag, but unless you're aiming for 240FPS, you should be satisfied with the level of performance this CPU has to offer.

If you're iffy on the price tag of the 13600K, you should opt for the Core i5-13600KF, which has no integrated graphics but is slightly cheaper. The old 12600K is also still an option, though we're not sure how long it will remain at its lower price since Intel has increased the price on 12th-generation parts. There's also the Core i5-13400, which is basically a 12600K without overclocking support and lower clock speeds but with the larger cache that 13th-generation CPUs offer.

AMD Ryzen 5
Source: AMD
AMD Ryzen 5 7600
The best overall AMD CPU for gaming

AMD's Ryzen 5 7600 is the new entry-level processor from the company, offering six-core performance at a more affordable price. Capable of boosting up to 5.1GHz, this 65W chip is a mighty package with an efficient architecture for a killer PC build.

  • Great gaming performance
  • PBO can be enabled for higher frequencies
  • Very power efficient
  • AM5 platform is expensive
  • Competing Intel CPUs have better multi-threaded performance

These days, Intel is generally the better brand for value and multi-core performance thanks to its aggressive pricing strategy and Raptor Lake's big core count upgrade. However, AMD's Ryzen 7000 CPUs aren't a bad choice for gaming, and the Ryzen 5 7600 is AMD's best midrange gaming CPU for just over $200.

The six-core 7600 is essentially the 7600X with a cheaper price tag and a very slightly lower clock speed; it's got the same Zen 4 architecture and the same 32MB of L3 cache that's so crucial for gaming. Generally, this frequency difference barely makes any difference (even in gaming), and even if it did, you can just enable Precision Boost Overdrive to turn your 7600 into a 7600X.

As you would hope, it outperforms Intel's Core i5-13600K (albeit very slightly) in gaming, mostly thanks to its larger L3 cache. Things shift clearly to the 13600K's favor in multi-core applications as the 7600's six cores can't keep up with the 13600K's 14. However, it's important to keep in mind that the 13600K is about $100 more at retail, so it's not like the 7600 is just a worse CPU. If you're focused mostly on gaming, the 7600 is still a great option, and in productivity, the 7600 is still plenty fast.

The 7000 series from AMD is the first new socket in a number of years, moving to AM5. With it, you'll only be able to use DDR5 RAM, which while unlocking serious performance, also adds to your overall budget. However, AM5 motherboards are promised to support multiple generations of CPUs, and even if multiple means just Ryzen 7000 and one other CPU, that's still an advantage over LGA 1700 boards, as 13th-generation CPUs are expected to be the last new additions to the platform.

AMD Ryzen 7000 9
Source: AMD
AMD Ryzen 9 7950X
Best CPU for streaming games

It's good at basically everything else, too

AMD's Ryzen 9 7950X is the flagship CPU of the Ryzen 7000 series, coming with 16 cores, 32 threads, and a 5.7GHz boost clock.

  • Great gaming, multi-threaded, and single-threaded performance
  • Good support for PCIe 5.0
  • Power efficient
  • If you're only streaming, GPU encoding is cheaper

AMD's newest, most powerful Ryzen CPU is one that will have the streamers tuning in. One of Ryzen's strengths is its incredible multi-thread performance, which is important for taxing workloads. Intel has gone down a different route with its hybrid designs, but AMD is still keeping it a little more traditional, and the Ryzen 9 7950X is 16-cores and 32-threads of raw, immense power.

The 7950X is a CPU that can basically do everything. Its 16 Zen 4 cores allow for incredible multi-threaded performance while its 5.7GHz single-core boost clock means it's also one of the fastest CPUs for single-threaded workloads. It also has the most cache out of non-3D V-Cache CPUs, with 64MB of L3 and 16MB of L2 cache. Technically the 7950X has been superseded by the 7950X3D, but the 7950X is generally the better CPU as the X3D model doesn't have much better gaming performance and sacrifices a significant amount of multicore prowess.

In our testing, the Ryzen 9 7950X is one of the fastest CPUs you can buy. It's perhaps just a hair slower than Intel's Core i9-13900K overall, but generally, you'll find that the 7950X is the 13900K's equal. What makes the 7950X the better CPU for creators than the 13900K is its lower power consumption and its superior support for PCIe 5.0 devices. You can find AM5 motherboards with two M.2 slots with PCIe 5.0 support, whereas Intel motherboards can only come with one PCIe 5.0 SSD slot.

Ultimately AMD has made a pretty meaningful update to the Ryzen family and its flagship model is going to be popular with creators who need and can afford the 7950X. However, for most, the 7950X is overkill and is most useful to people who don't just stream but also edit videos and other work that can benefit from a powerful CPU.

The Ryzen 7 7800X3D box.
AMD Ryzen 7 7800X3D
Best high-end gaming CPU

Great for hitting high framerates

AMD's Ryzen 7 7800X3D CPU is the company's cheapest model with 3D V-Cache and can deliver gaming performance on par or even better than that of the Ryzen 9 7950X.

  • Can beat the 7950X and 13900K in gaming
  • Much cheaper than the flagships
  • Very power efficient
  • Sometimes worse for gaming than flagship models
  • Overkill for most gamers
  • Expensive for just eight cores

If you just want to achieve high framerates while gaming, you're probably going to want the Ryzen 7 7800X3D. Although it's the slowest of AMD's Ryzen 7000X3D CPUs, it's the one that makes the most sense for gamers who just want to game. It's also cheaper than the 7950X and 13900K, the CPUs that used to be the best for gaming.

What makes the 7800X3D so good for gaming specifically is 3D V-Cache, an extra chip full of 64MB of L3 cache that AMD installs into every X3D CPU. More cache means more data that can be stored in the CPU itself, which means less communication with RAM, which is far slower than cache. However, 3D V-Cache has a critical downside: lower frequencies. Despite being one of the most expensive Ryzen CPUs, the 7800X3D also has the lowest boost clock, coming behind even the 7600. However, the extra cache is usually more useful than having a higher clock speed.

The reviews are pretty unanimous: the 7800X3D is one of the fastest gaming CPUs and can often hit 200 FPS or higher more consistently than other AMD or Intel chips. However, if you're often gaming below the 200 FPS mark, the 7800X3D isn't going to be any better than other CPUs. In our review, we tested mostly in the 120-160 FPS region and found very little difference between the 7800X3D and the 7900X. The 7800X3D is best for those wanting extremely high framerates or just a very efficient gaming CPU, which makes the 7800X3D quite good for high-end mini-ITX PCs.

The 7800X3D isn't a perfect CPU, but it's cheaper than many CPUs that used to be recommended for good gaming performance and is more efficient. Unless you happen to play the handful of games where the 7800X3D's lower clock speed actually hurts performance, this CPU is a great option for any high-end gaming PC, especially if you're aiming for 200 FPS or more.

The Intel Core i5-13400 CPU.
Intel Core i5-13400F
Best midrange gaming CPU

A good all-rounder for a low price

Intel's Core i5-13400F is a midrange Raptor Lake CPU with 10 cores (6P + 4E). It's about $20 cheaper than the regular 13400 but has no integrated graphics.

  • Good at gaming
  • Also good at multi-threaded workloads
  • Super cheap
  • No overclocking
  • Model with integrated graphics costs extra

Intel is easily the champion of value builders this generation thanks to the low price of 13th-generation CPUs, LGA 1700 motherboards, and DDR4 RAM. The Core i5-13400F is the best midrange gaming CPU available thanks to its sub-$200 price tag, good gaming performance, and decent multi-threaded performance for tasks beyond gaming.

Although the 13400F is a 13th-generation Raptor Lake CPU, it's actually not new at all. It's essentially a Core i5-12600KF, with the same six P-cores and four E-cores, but lacks overclocking and has a slightly lower clock speed. However, the 12600KF costs $40 more, which doesn't justify the higher frequency or support for overclocking, something that most gamers don't do anyway.

The main competition for the 13400F is the Ryzen 5 7600, and most reviews put these two chips on about equal footing, which in theory means the 13400F is a pretty decent value since it's cheaper. However, that's just for the CPU price; once you factor in the motherboard and RAM costs, using the 13400F could save close to $100. You could use that $100 to jump a full tier in GPU horsepower, which means higher framerates and better-looking games.

The Core i5-13400F doesn't have integrated graphics, however, which is what the -F stands for. If you need integrated graphics for whatever reason, there's the Core i5-13400, but at that point, you might as well get the 12600K since it's the same CPU but with a higher frequency and overclocking support (though you will need a Z690 or Z790 motherboard to overclock too).

The box for a 13th-Gen Intel Core i3 CPU.
Intel Core i3-13100F
Best $100 gaming CPU from Intel

A $100 CPU that's optimized for gaming

$111 $138 Save $27

Intel's Core i3-13100F is an entry level CPU with four P-cores and no integrated graphics.

  • Decent gaming performance
  • Cooler included
  • PCIe 5.0 support
  • Poor multicore performance

If you only have $100 to spend on a CPU, there's a good argument you should just buy a used one, but the Core i3-13100F isn't a bad option either. It's surprisingly good at gaming for an entry-level CPU, and its low price means you can spend more of your budget on the GPU, which is what matters the most for gaming performance.

Like many other 13th-generation chips, the 13100F is actually a 12th-generation Alder Lake chip with a new name. The 13100F has the same four P-cores as the 12100F but comes with a small clock speed bump. At the time of writing, both CPUs cost $100, so you might as well get the 13100F (unless the 12100F is on sale or something).

Obviously, the 13100F isn't the fastest gaming CPU, but in most reviews, it's more than capable of hitting the 60-90 FPS that's common for budget PCs. Although it's capable of higher framerates, generally you'll find that it'll start to bottleneck performance around the 120 to 200 FPS mark in many titles. Among cheap CPUs both new and old, however, the 13100F performs very well in games. Its multithreaded performance is disappointing though and often loses to its AMD rival, the Ryzen 5 5500.

There are two ideal use cases for the 13100F: a super cheap, low-end PC built for the bare minimum amount of money, or a somewhat more expensive PC that uses the money saved by opting for a 13100F to invest more in the GPU like in our $700 Intel PC build guide. If for whatever reason you can't find the 13100F for $100, you should see if the 12100F (which is the same CPU) is available for $100 or less.

The Ryzen 5 5500 CPU.
AMD Ryzen 5 5500
Best $100 gaming CPU from AMD

A gaming CPU with a little multi-threaded horsepower

The Ryzen 5 5500 is a low-end AMD CPU that has six cores, 12 threads, and 16MB of L3 cache, half that of its higher-end but more expensive counterpart, the Ryzen 5 5600.

  • Decent gaming performance
  • Also good multicore performance
  • Comes with a cooler
  • AM4 platform with limited upgrade path
  • No PCIe 4.0 support

AMD's own budget CPU is the Ryzen 5 5500, a six-core chip that's based on the last generation AM4 platform. It's old, but for around $100, it's fast enough in games to be worth it and even has a little extra horsepower in multi-threaded applications. Thanks to its cheap price, you can put more towards a graphics card, which is much more important for gaming than the CPU anyway.

Interestingly, the 5500 is actually a Ryzen APU with the integrated graphics disabled, which is basically what Intel does with its -F CPUs to keep costs down. But Ryzen 5000 CPUs and APUs have some major differences. Firstly, the 5500 has half the L3 cache of single chiplet CPUs like the 5600, which is $50 more. Additionally, Ryzen 5000 APUs only support PCIe 3.0, which means even if the motherboard and other devices in a PC support PCIe 4.0, they'll run at 3.0 speeds.

The 5500 doesn't provide great gaming performance, but it's more than capable of hitting a respectable 60-90 FPS in basically every game. CPU bottlenecking is very likely past the 120 FPS mark in many games, but that's the compromise you make with a $100 CPU (and besides, 60 FPS is fine). The 5500 does have a bit of a niche thanks to its six cores, which provide better multi-threaded performance than the 13100F, which is Intel's $100 CPU.

The 5500 is a good choice whether you're building a PC for the lowest cost possible or a PC that's still cheap but uses the savings from getting a 5500 to afford a midrange graphics card. That's what we did in our $700 AMD PC build guide, which uses an RX 6600. However, the upgrade path with the 5500 is more limited than the 13100F since AM4 CPUs are limited to Ryzen 5000, which means limited performance gains as well as no PCIe 5.0 support.

AMD Ryzen 5000 5 APU
Source: AMD
AMD Ryzen 5 5600G
Best gaming CPU with integrated graphics

Good if you can't afford a graphics card or won't use one at all

The AMD Ryzen 5 5600G is a great APU combining strong CPU performance with best-in-class integrated graphics.

  • Good for gaming with or without a dedicated GPU
  • Good multicore performance
  • Comes with stock cooler
  • AM4 platform has a limited upgrade path
  • No PCIe 4.0 support

AMD Ryzen APUs have integrated graphics processors and take advantage of the system memory to deliver impressive gaming performance. AMD has a solid lineup of APUs on the market under its 5000 series. The Ryzen 7 5700G is a slightly more powerful APU but it's the Ryzen 5 5600G that deserves a spot inside your PC. The hype around the Ryzen 7 5700G quickly wears off once you get your hands on the Ryzen 5 5600G which serves up roughly 96% of its performance for less of your money.

The Ryzen 5 5600G has six cores and 12 threads and it comes as a part of AMD's first of 7nm 'Cezanne' APUs for desktop PCs. The Cezanne APUs come with Zen 3 execution cores paired with the Radeon Vega graphics engine. The Ryzen 5 5600G comes with a 3.7 GHz base and a 4.4 GHz boost clock, 16MB of L3 cache, and seven Radeon RX Vega CUs operating at 1.9GHz.

Except for the 5700G, the Ryzen 5 5600G is the current leader of the pack when it comes to processors with the integrated graphics engine, especially at its price point. It's capable of running most new titles in the market, although you may have to keep your expectations in check when it comes to the overall graphical fidelity. We'd recommend a discrete GPU over an APU for serious gaming but entry-level gamers will find a lot of value in APUs. It's also a perfect CPU choice for small form factor or home entertainment PCs.

The only weakness of the 5600G is that it's an AM4 CPU, and the AM4 platform isn't getting any new CPUs or chipsets anymore. To make matters worse, the only APU to upgrade to is the 5700G, which isn't any better in gaming and is only faster in applications that are highly multi-threaded. However, if you get a discrete GPU, that opens up your options and you could get a Ryzen 9 5900X or 5950X for high-end computing, or a Ryzen 7 5800X3D for high-end gaming.

Best CPUs for gaming: Final Thoughts

There are lots of great options from Intel and AMD when it comes to gaming CPUs. If you're using the LGA 1700 socket, the Core i5-13600K is Intel's best overall gaming CPU. It has great gaming performance that's barely lower than even the Core i9-13900K, plus very good multi-threaded performance if you need it for stuff like video editing or rendering. The Core i5-13600KF is also a good choice as it's the same CPU without integrated graphics for a little less. If you're on a tight budget, the Core i5-13400 and Core i3-13100F can also do the job.

13th Gen Intel Core i5
Source: Intel
Intel Core i5-13600K

Intel's Core i5-13600K is the company's latest mid-range CPU and is an absolute winner, with much improved performance over its predecessor that makes this now one of the best CPUs to put in a gaming PC.

Ryzen 7000 isn't an amazing value sadly, largely because AM5 motherboards and DDR5 RAM is so expensive. However, they're not bad for gaming, and the Ryzen 5 7600 has good performance and power efficiency, a distinct advantage over power-hungry Intel chips. If you're an enthusiast and want the highest framerates possible, the Ryzen 7 7800X3D would be a great option. The last generation Ryzen 5 5500 is also a good choice for anyone with a small budget, though its upgrade path isn't quite as good as the Core i3-13100F's.

AMD Ryzen 5
Source: AMD
AMD Ryzen 5 7600

AMD's Ryzen 5 7600 is the new entry-level processor from the company, offering six-core performance at a more affordable price. Capable of boosting up to 5.1GHz, this 65W chip is a mighty package with an efficient architecture for a killer PC build.

Our collection of the best gaming CPUs, as we mentioned earlier, reflects the ever-evolving market, so we keep updating this page to add newer and better CPUs for gaming as they're released into the wild. You can also join our XDA Computing Forum to see if others have any solid recommendations for your build. You're bound to have some burning discussions around hot topics like Windows 11 and more. We also encourage you to check out some of our other guides for the best gaming monitors, best webcams, and more to complete your setup.