Home > CPU > CPU Buyer's Guide

Best CPU for Gray Zone Warfare – top picks for best performance

Run GZW smoothly with one of the best CPUs for it
Last Updated on May 15, 2024
Best CPU for Gray Zone Warfare
You can trust PC Guide: Our team of experts use a combination of independent consumer research, in-depth testing where appropriate - which will be flagged as such, and market analysis when recommending products, software and services. Find out how we test here.

Now that the game has launched into early access, it’s a great time to find the best CPU for Gray Zone Warfare. It was previously seen in the top 10 wishlisted games on Steam, so plenty of players have been looking forward to launch. Not all of them have been too impressed by performance so far though, earning it mixed reviews and only solidifying the fact you’ll want a great processor for a smoother experience.

Before you get to figuring out the best settings for Gray Zone Warfare, finding the right hardware for the job comes first. Today, we’ve picked out a selection of CPUs for GZW that are up for the task – from both AMD and Intel. Let’s jump straight into our selection just below.

What CPU do you need for Gray Zone Warfare?

The Gray Zone Warfare system requirements are now available for all to see. Technically, the minimum requirements go as far back as the Intel Core i5-8600 and AMD Ryzen 5 2600, but we’d rather focus on the recommend specs instead if you want to run the game much more smoothly. For that, we’re looking at the i7-9700K or Ryzen 5 3600. These two also don’t belong to the most recent generations of hardware, but our recommendations are newer, easier to find, and sufficiently future-proof.

With ongoing performance issues something to worry about in this early access title, having a powerful CPU is definitely recommended, as is a competent GPU (see our best GPU for Gray Zone Warfare for this). We’ve noticed users complaining that GZW is quite CPU-intensive, so we’ve made sure to cater to that in our suggestions.

Best CPU for Gray Zone Warfare
  • Product packaging of an AMD Ryzen 7 7800X3D processor featuring 3D V-Cache technology, with an orange and black color scheme.
  • Cores: 8
  • Threads: 16
  • Boost speed : up to 5 GHz
  • Base speed: 4.2 GHz
  • L3 Cache: 96 MB
  • TDP: 120 W
  • Platform: AMD (AM5)
What We Think

The AMD Ryzen 7 7800X3D is no doubt one of the best CPUs for gaming right now, and if you want to handle GZW without worrying about whether your processor is good enough, then this Ryzen is a strong choice – whatever game you throw at it.

Reasons to Buy
  • Plenty of L3 cache
  • Suitable amount of cores & threads for gaming
  • Latest AM5 platform for future proofing
  • Good value for money compared to Ryzen 9
Reasons to Avoid
  • Lower core count than Ryzen 9; not as good for productivty
  • Pricier upgrade if you require compatible AM5 motherboard

First up in our list of processors for Gray Zone Warfare has to be the popular 7800X3D. Thanks to its 3D V-Cache design, it’s perfect for CPU intensive games with a large amount of Level 3 Cache (96MB). Although we’re yet to get some hands-on testing with it, it is definitely good for gaming and up there alongside the best CPUs for gaming. If you’re focused on gaming, there isn’t much better on the market than this, and the Ryzen 7 CPU is also decent value for money despite being on AMD’s latest AM5 platform.

If you do want an extra boost in productivity scenarios such as editing, rendering, or streaming, then maybe a Ryzen 9 option would be better for you. One good example of this would be either the 7900X3D or 7950X3D. Regardless, the 8 cores and 16 threads on the 7800X3D is more than enough for most users and you won’t be slowed down by this CPU in GZW.

What users say

We can see from the Amazon user reviews that this CPU is highly regarded. At the time of writing, it holds an impressive 4.8 star (out of 5) rating against over 2,100 ratings. Happy customers comment on the impressive performance for gaming, excellent power efficiency (for such a beast) and stability.

Best Intel CPU for Gray Zone Warfare
  • An Intel Core i7-14700K processor displayed in front of its packaging box with an "unlocked" label, ready to go in a machine.
  • An Intel Core i7-14700K processor on a white background.
  • A computer processor chip, specifically the Intel Core i7-14700K, centered on a plain white background with the word "guide" in the corner.
  • Intel Core i7-14700K
  • Cores: 20
  • Threads: 28
  • Boost Speed: P-Core 5.5GHz / E-Core 4.3GHz
  • Base Speed: P-Core 3.4GHz / E-Core 2.5GHz
  • L3 Cache: 33 MB
  • TDP: 125 W
  • Platform: LGA 1700 (Raptor Lake)
What We Think

Moving over to Team Blue now, and this is where we’d suggest making the most of Intel’s great multi-core performance thanks to the big.LITTLE technology. The i7-14700K is a powerhouse and a great fit if you also plan on some content creation.

Reasons to Buy
  • Excellent for both gaming and productivity
  • Fits Intel’s latest LGA 1700 socket
  • High number of cores and threads for multitasking
  • Very efficient
Reasons to Avoid
  • Runs hot when under load
  • Not a massive upgrade if you’re already on 13th gen

Since the devs recommend a rather outdated i7-9700K for this game, we thought it only makes sense to bring that up to modern standards with the i7-14900K, part of Intel’s 14th generation line-up. In our Intel Core i7-14900K review, we had plenty of great things to say about this processor and it is a true powerhouse for both gaming and productivity workflows. If you plan on creating content and/or streaming Gray Zone Warfare, this could be for you thanks to the massive amount of cores (20) and threads (28) to allow for powerful multi-core results.

“If you’re looking for a competitively priced and powerful mid-range CPU for gaming and productivity then the Intel Core i7-14700K impresses across the board”

Intel Core i7-14700K review, PCGuide

If you are mostly focused on the gaming aspect, then maybe something cheaper like the i5-13600K we reviewed is a better match; a CPU which is also based on the LGA 1700 socket. As the best Intel choice in this guide, do consider that you’ll need a compatible motherboard if you’re upgrading from an older generation or indeed an AMD CPU. Our best motherboard for Intel 14th gen guide can help you out.

What users say

User reviews are a great way of gathering customers’ opinion on a piece of tech. The Amazon reviews for the i7-14700K note that it is an extremely fast CPU that performs like a beast. However, there are some warnings of it running hot, so make sure you have a sufficient CPU cooler in order to keep it stable.

Best mid-range CPU for Gray Zone Warfare
  • 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.
What We Think

The Ryzen 5 7600X is our go-to processor within the mid-range, a step above budget picks which will set you back a generation and a fantastic choice if you want to make the leap to AM5 for cheap. It delivers excellent performance for gaming with a rapid boost clock speed.

Reasons to Buy
  • Cheapest way to upgrade to AM5
  • Excellent price to performance ratio
  • Future-proof platform
  • Solid performance for gaming
Reasons to Avoid
  • No stock cooler included
  • Upgrading to AM5 comes with added expense

Dropping down to a more affordable option now, the 7600X, which is AMD’s current budget option from the 7000 series. Despite AM4 still getting some support, it is increasingly becoming a good time to upgrade to AM5, especially if you’re building a new PC altogether. This processor provides a great entry point to Zen 4 architecture and means you shouldn’t have to upgrade your motherboard or memory for some time after. The 7600X offers 6 cores and 12 threads which is suitable for gaming, but it does fall a bit behind for productivity such as heavy rendering or editing compared to some other options here. More detail is to be found in our AMD Ryzen 5 7600X review.

“The Ryzen 5 7600X brings big value for a small price – it performs well in gaming workloads and can hold its own in more productive tasks, it seems 6 cores go a long way these days”

AMD Ryzen 5 7600X review, PCGuide

As well as being a great budget pick, usually hanging around the $200 mark these days, the 7600X is a little easier to keep cool compared to the Ryzen 7 or Ryzen 9 SKUs above it. As such, you can get away with using a more budget-friendly cooling solution if you’re working with a limited amount of cash, not to say you should skimp on it entirely. Furthermore, the 7600X boasts clock speeds up to 5.3GHz, an impressive uplift from the previous generation.

If you do instead want to stick to AM4, the equivalent 5600X remains a solid choice to this day and is certainly one of the best budget picks available to you at the moment, running at a cool 65W TDP.

What users say

The 7600X is well regarded, as we can see from its Amazon user reviews – it holds an impress 4.7 star rating with close to 1,500 ratings at the time of writing. Reviews call it one of the best in the mid-range, and a great CPU for the price. The price will only drop further once the next generation launches.

  • AMD Ryzen 7 5800X3D 8-core processor retail box.
  • Cores: 8
  • Threads: 16
  • Boost speed : Up to 4.5 GHz
  • Base speed: 3.4 GHz
  • L3 Cache: 96 MB
  • TDP: 105W
  • Platform: AMD (AM4)
Reasons to Buy
  • The best for gaming from Zen 3
  • Large amount of L3 Cache
  • 8 cores / 16 threads offers fast performance
  • Decent value for money
Reasons to Avoid
  • Older AM4 platform
  • No native overclocking

If you’re not quite ready to upgrade to AM5, then the best AM4 choice has to go to the Ryzen 7 5800X3D, once the fastest gaming processor on the planet. Our friends over at WePC reviewed the 5800X3D, giving it top marks – and for good reason. The introduction of the 3D V-Cache tech (which gives it its name) was new to Ryzen when it came out, offering performance boosts in CPU-intensive games, which Gray Zone Warfare certainly is thanks to its large open world and generally demanding requirements as an early access title. The 5800X3D offers 96MB, the same as the newer 7800X3D.

So, if you’re already using a AM4 motherboard and want to make the best upgrade possible without having to switch out both your mobo and memory, then this your best choice for gaming. Alongside the large amount of cache, you also get 8 cores and 16 threads, which is enough for most users that want to do some intensive tasks such as rendering, editing, or streaming.

What users say

It comes as no surprise to see the 5800X3D still getting applauded by customers on Amazon. One person calls it the best value CPU for gaming (of its generation), which we fully agree with. You’ll also find a few benchmarks to demonstrate performance boosts in games to help you understand the kind of difference it could make.

Gameplay image of Gray Zone Warfare, captured by PCGuide
Gameplay image of Gray Zone Warfare, captured by PCGuide

Things to consider for the best CPU for Gray Zone Warfare

Below we lay out some important things you’ll need to think about before you buy a new CPU for GZW.

Key specs

When looking at a CPU, we would highlight the key specs to be the clock speeds, amount of cores/threads, amount of cache, and TDP. Any modern CPU these days will offer fast clock speeds, of course the higher the better for single-core performance. More cores and threads allow for greater multitasking and multi-core performance which is necessary for heavy workloads.

More cache means quicker access to memory, which definitely helps a lot for certain games. This is why we recommend AMD’s Ryzen X3D models due to the 3D-stacked V-Cache design that packs in as much as possible. As for TDP, this is the Thermal Design Power – in other words, how much power is drawn. The lower it is, the easier it is to keep cool and remain stable.


Price is a determining factor for just about anything, and there’s a lot to think about here. Going with an older generation (not too old) CPU will certainly save you cash, and is often the best option for budget builders. Likewise, you may need to upgrade other hardware such as your motherboard and memory with a latest-gen CPU, so this cost also has to be taken into account.

Platform / socket

CPU generations and compatibility changes, with one fairly recent example being AMD’s move from AM4 to AM5. For example, the 7800X3D only fits the AM5 socket, whereas the 5800X3D only fits the AM4 socket. This compatibility depends on your motherboard. On the Intel side of things, the LGA 1700 socket is the most recent as of the 14th gen, but it’s also compatible with the 12th and 13th – so we’d recommend going with any of these at the moment.

Final word

That wraps up our guide for anyone looking to upgrade their CPU to enjoy Gray Zone Warfare a little more smoothly. Like we’ve said, the early access nature of the game should only bring further optimizations as time goes by, allowing budget picks to thrive even more. We do a ton of testing here at PCGuide to make sure only the best CPUs are recommended.

There are some great processors on the market from both Intel and AMD these days, so any of our selection will set you well on your way to enjoy GZW. Just be sure to understand the compatibility and have a budget in mind for you build.

At PC Guide, Jack is mostly responsible for reporting on hardware deals. He also specializes in monitors, TVs, and headsets and can be found putting his findings together in a review or best-of guide.