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Best CPU for gaming in 2024 – top picks from AMD and Intel

These are the best processors for your build this year
Last Updated on February 21, 2024

If you’re after the best CPU for gaming, there are some seriously solid options available in 2023. Raptor Lake and Ryzen 7000 have full ranges to choose from now, with the emergence of AMD’s X3D processors too – this means the widespread adoption of PCIe 5.0 compliance is in full force. Both team red and team blue fully support DDR5 RAM and PCIe 5.0 SSDs, so the future of gaming hardware is going to be incredibly fast.

On the subject, a real push from the manufacturers has been on clock speeds. Every single model in our best CPU for gaming roundup is capable of reaching and exceeding 5.0 GHz. That’s not something we’ve been able to say before. What does that mean for the games of today and the future? The maximum possible bandwidth for components to let demanding titles play their best.

Continue reading to find out all our top picks and why they’ve made the cut. The battle between Intel and AMD has never been quite this fierce, so there’s not strictly a right or wrong way to go right now. But there are options, and we’ll go through them below!

Products at a Glance

How we picked the best CPUs for gaming

We’ve made our selection of the best CPUs for gaming by taking two critical factors into consideration. These are the price-to-performance ratio and their future-proof nature on the market. After all, you’re likely to keep the same processor for at least a couple of years before upgrading. In order to help you make the right choice, we’ve waded through all available options for the best for many consumers.

Seeing that processors are a two-horse race, AMD or Intel, both with their own entry-level, mid-range, and high-end models, we’ve taken all budgets and preferences into account. Whether you want the bleeding edge or something on the budget side of the scale, you’ll find it in our ranking list. This is a best-for-gaming list too, bear in mind. It may not feature some top processors we feel aren’t specifically focused on frame rates in your favorite titles or power consumption. That’s what this list is for, and our sole focus is to get you the best gaming CPU possible.

If you’re looking for more gaming recommendations, then head over to our best graphics cards for 4K gaming guide. As well as, our best motherboards for gaming articles, and our in-depth look at the best RAM for gaming.

 

Our Recommended

Best CPU for gaming in 2024 – top picks from AMD and Intel

1
PROS
  • Support for DDR4 and DDR5 RAM
  • Leading performance
  • Boosts to 6GHz
CONS
  • A little pricey

The Intel i9 13900KS was our number-one pick for the best CPU for gaming, But that was before the Core i9 14900K came along. Like the 12900KS, this is still a true monster with 24 cores and 32 threads and has a max clock speed of 6 GHz. That’s a leap beyond the previous number one on this list, the 13900K. But it’s also a more efficient part than the 13900Ks, delivering the same speed for a lower TDP.

The Raptor Lake Refresh flagship utilizes the Intel 10nm process, proving that iterating on what worked with Alder Lake really did pay off. Simply put, you’re still getting a higher core count and unrivaled single-core and multi-core performance that will keep your machine relevant for years to come.

As with the regular ‘K’ variant, this is all down to the new hyperthreading that’s present in the E-cores of the Raptor Lake architecture. But the 14900K offers the same (appx) 5-6% performance increase over the 13900k as the KS does. A revised hybrid system in Raptor Lake CPUs means that Intel is able to push the most it can out of silicon twice the size of the competition. This remains true for the 14th gen refresh CPUs.

As an LGA 1700 socket CPU, this model is backward compatible with existing Z690 and alternative motherboards. You’ve also got the choice of both DDR4 and DDR5 RAM, which could save you money in the building process. Also, despite the fact that the 13900Ks and 14900K are very similar, there’s a retail price differential of around $120. The 14900K wins that battle and so is even better value here.

2
PROS
  • Competitively priced
  • Another leap forward for X3D
  • Increased L3 cache for gaming
CONS
  • Not the best for productivity workflows
  • No overclocking

AMD’s L3 cache-boosted X3D chips, a newer set of which has finally been fleshed out, are a testament to the continued efforts in innovation behind CPUs. It’s a great choice for content creators and gamers alike, making it arguably the best AMD CPU on this list. Our previous number two in this list was the mid-2022 release, the Ryzen 7 5800X3D.

Our previous number two in this list was the mid-2022 release, the Ryzen 7 5800X3D platform. That processor marked AMD’s initial steps into 3D v-cache technology, allowing the firm to boost the L3 cache on the chip and hence make gaming all the more streamlined.

The 5800X3D is probably one of the least expensive chips you can get for a gaming build. But here’s the thing: it’s been superseded in performance by the Ryzen 7 7800X3D. Yes, the 7800 X3D costs around $200 more but it’s…better for gaming.

When it comes to the difference between the 5800X3D vs 7800X3D, you can expect around a 10-12% performance increase, in part thanks to the 7800X3D’s 5GHz boost speed compared to the 4.5GHz of the 5800X3D. And let’s not forget generational efficiencies. Importantly too, the 7800X3D is future-facing in terms of PCIe 5.0 and DDR5 support.

3
PROS
  • Incredibly powerful
  • Overclocks to 5.6 GHz
  • Increased L3 cache
  • Outstanding for demanding games
CONS
  • It's expensive
  • Requires AM5 mobo & cooler

Released and debuted to some stellar reviews, AMD’s Ryzen 9 7900X3D is one of the best CPUs for gaming, as well as a ton of other additional tasks. The 7900X3D is a step above the 7800X3d, allowing users to gain the best of practically all worlds, harnessing powerful video editing and streaming capabilities. But it’s more pricey too, and we think that if it’s just gaming you’re after then the 7800X3D pips its bigger brother.

Generational and vs 7800X3D enhancements, of course, come with a heftier price tag. And these extend to the required additional components to make the 7900X3D run as well as possible. These components include the AM5 motherboard and a liquid water cooler, which may not be ideal for most people. That’s the same for the 7800X3D too, but the 7900X3D is an extra $50.

And this isn’t even the most expensive option, as the Ryzen 9 7950X3D proves to be even more capable, but far more difficult to find at a reasonable price. At around $600, though, the 7900X3D is a good option for increased productivity in tandem with exceptional gaming performance.

4
PROS
  • Hold its own against Ryzen 7
  • Amazing for overclocking
  • Power efficient
CONS
  • More expensive than Alder Lake

In terms of the middle ground that the vast majority of PC gamers are going to strive for, the Intel Core i7-13700K is more than up to the task.  This is all down to the innovations of Raptor Lake’s refinements, as the latest i7 CPU is 16-core (24 threads) and overclocks to 5.4 GHz. We’ve never seen an i7 that’s this capable, meaning it’s a real value proposition at $489.99, well under $500.

If you’re an existing Alder Lake user then there’s certainly an argument to be made about upgrading. You’re benefitting from four more cores and pushing well beyond the 5 GHz mark, too. The same is true of Z690 and other LGA 1700 motherboards, there’s an opportunity to save money while getting the best performance rates here.

And if you’re weighing up the Ryzen 7 7800X3D vs Core i7 13700K, one of our CPU experts Camilo Delgado, writes that if you’re going for higher critical temperatures, the extra cores will have you covered – so if you’re a fan of overclocking, the i7 13700K is the one for you in the mid-range.

5
PROS
  • Aggressive price point
  • High base clock speed
  • Great for gaming
CONS
  • Falls behind 13600K
  • No support for DDR4

In terms of sheer value, the AMD Ryzen 5 7600X is a hard act to follow with its incredibly aggressive asking price of just $299, marking it as the best budget CPU on this list. That’s a full $30 cheaper than the Intel equivalent. This model keeps this more standard than with Raptor Lake, sticking to the tried and true 6-core (12 threads) build but shrinking the silicon in half with the 5nm process.

What does that mean for you? Well, if you’re investing in an AMD Ryzen 5 7600X with DDR5 memory in your machine, you’re going to be able to feel that 4.7 GHz frequency straight out of the box. Single-core performance thrives with higher clock speeds, and that won’t be an issue as the extra bandwidth of PCIe 5.0 can be used to full capacity.

We’d also like to note that the inclusion of the 7600X CPU here sees us say goodbye to the 5800X3D from our list overall. In terms of gaming performance, the 7600X matches AMD’s much-loved chip, but it offers great technology going forward, and more options for future upgrades.

Best CPU for gaming – features and considerations

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 are important, too, so if you want to overclock, shop for those processors that are 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.

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.

Of course, price is a major consideration. That’s why you will no longer find the Core i9 13900KS listed in this article. For its cost we don’t feel it warrants a place in terms of its value, when you can go for a 13900K or 14900K and save a fair bit.

What is the fastest CPU for gaming?

If you’re after purely the fastest CPU for gaming then your two choices are either the Intel Core i9-14900K or the AMD Ryzen 9 7950X. This is because both processors are capable of being overclocked to 6 GHz and 5.7 GHz respectively. Seriously fast.

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. On the other hand, AMD is known to be the perfect all-rounder. They are powerful processors that can handle almost all tasks.

The gap between AMD and Intel has never been tighter, as Raptor Lake and Zen 4 are both incredibly powerful and competitively priced. You may be better served with the i5-13600K for entry-level, and i9-13900K on the tail-end. For a good mid-ground, the 7700X is a solid choice.

Our Verdict

The Intel Core i9-13900KS is our top pick for the best CPU for gaming because no other processor on the market is quite this fast or powerful. If you’re after something more humble, though, the Ryzen 7800X3D or i5-13600K are also highly capable from a pure gaming perspective for a competitive asking price.

To then build an all-around gaming PC, you’ll also want to consider apt GPUs to pair alongside the chip of your choosing, as well as any additional peripherals, like a CPU cooler and fans. With your gaming rig now complete, you can get on with all of your favorite entertainment with ease.