Best CPU for gaming in 2022
If you’re in the market for the best CPU for gaming then you have a few choices at the end of 2022. Now that both Raptor Lake and Ryzen 7000 have been released, the widespread adoption to PCIe 5.0 compliance is in full force. Now 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 of Intel and AMD has never been quite this fierce, so there’s not strictly a right or wrong way to go right now.
Don’t forget, there are also a ton of Black Friday deals on for a variety of CPUs, some of which we’ve cherry picked below for you.
Black Friday CPU Deals at a glance
- Intel Core i9 (12th Gen) i9-12900KS (16 Core) 2.50 GHz Processor, $539.99 (save $355.01)
- Intel Core i7-12700KF Desktop Processor up to 5.0 GHz Unlocked, $353.81 (save $24.18)
- AMD Ryzen™ 9 7900X 12-Core, 24-Thread Unlocked Desktop Processor, $473.99 (save $75.01)
- AMD Ryzen™ 7 5800X3D 8-core, 16-Thread Desktop Processor, $381.70 (save $68.30)
Products at a Glance
How we chose 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.
Best CPU for gaming in 2022
- Support for DDR4 and DDR5 RAM
- Leading performance
- Overclocks up to 5.8 GHz
- No cooler is included
The Intel i9-13900K is our number-one pick for the best CPU for gaming in 2022. This is because the chipset is a true monster with 24 cores and 32 threads, and overclocks to a previously unheard-of 5.8 GHz The brand new Raptor Lake flagship is once again utilizing the Intel 7 10nm process, proving that iterating on what worked with Alder Lake really did pay off. Simply put, you’re getting unrivaled single-core and multi-core performance that will keep your machine relevant for years to come.
It’s all down to the new hyperthreading that’s present in the E-cores of the Raptor Lake architecture. This revised hybrid system means that Intel is able to push the most it can out of silicon twice the size of the competition. What’s more, being 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.
- Competitively priced
- Outstanding performance for the money
- Outperforms Ryzen alternative
- Runs hotter than Alder Lake predecessor
The price-to-performance ratio of the Intel Core i5-13600K means that the new mainstream Raptor Lake CPU goes down as our definitive budget option. The jury’s out on just how powerful this particular chipset is, even when contrasted to its older Alder Lake predecessor. What you’re getting for just $339.99 is an incredibly capable 14-core (20 threads) processor which overclocks up to 5.1 GHz. Simply put, we haven’t seen that kind of pound-for-pound prowess at this humble asking price.
Another string to the Intel Core i5-13600K’s bow is that the CPU can use both DDR4 and DDR5 RAM. That gives you a lot of different options between cheaper and higher-end motherboards, too. If you’re looking for a powerful processor, this one has you covered for a price that can’t be argued with and can be made all the better by utilizing the best of PCIe 5.0 compatible tech.
- Incredibly powerful
- Overclocks to 5.7 GHz
- Outstanding for demanding games
- It's expensive
- Runs hotter than most
Raw speed and power is the nature of the AMD Ryzen 9 7950X. This recently released leading Zen 4 chipset shrinks the silicon to 5nm and features a 175W base TDP. While this means that the 16-core (32 threads) runs hotter than its predecessor, the performance on display at the top end cannot be disputed. The star of the show here is that this particular model can be pushed all the way to 5.7 GHz. If you want the best alternative to the 13900K, this AM5-ready model is the direct competitor.
The biggest strength that the Ryzen 9 7950X has over the competition is exactly how fast it runs out of the box. This CPU has a base clock of 4.5 GHz as standard, meaning you don’t have to push it very far at all for leading single-core and multi-core performance. Make no mistake, the best of Zen 4 is incredibly capable, and because the AM5 socket is likely to stay around for a fair few years, upgrading in the future is a possibility, too.
- Hold its own against Ryzen 7
- Amazing for overclocking
- Power efficient
- 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.
- Aggressive price point
- High base clock speed
- Great for gaming
- 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. 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.
What should I look for with my next CPU?
When buying a CPU 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 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.
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 i9-13900K or the AMD Ryzen 9 7950X. This is because both processors are capable of being overclocked to 5.8 GHz and 5.7 GHz respectively. Seriously fast.
Which is better AMD or Intel?
The gap between AMD and Intel has never been tighter, as Raptor Lake and Zen 4 are both incredibly powerful and competitively priced. In terms of which generation wins out, though, you’re ever so slightly better served with the i5-13600K in the entry-level side of the spectrum and the i9-13900K on the tail-end. The middle ground largely appears to be claimed by the 7700X.
What does PCIe 5.0 mean for CPUs?
PCIe 5.0 is the new standard for bandwidth of all components in your gaming PC. For processors, this means that tandem performance with some of the fastest DDR5 RAM kits makes for faster and more consistent gaming overall. PCIe 5.0 will be in place for the next few years at least, with everything from graphics cards to SSDs taking advantage of the faster rates, too.
The Intel Core i9-13900K 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 i5-13600K is every bit as capable from a purely gaming perspective for a competitive asking price.