Best Ryzen CPU in 2023 – gaming, mid-range, and premium picks
Picking a processor is a tricky thing to do, and it only gets slightly easier if you opt for AMD rather than Intel. For whatever reason you decide to, picking AMD means some great options. And to lend a hand, we’ve selected the best Ryzen CPUs.
In this guide, we’ll go over the top options, as well as the key considerations when looking to AMD for a CPU to sit at the core of your next system: Zen 3 or Zen 4, how much to spend, and the differences between the Ryzens themselves; 5, 7, and 9.
Products at a Glance
How we picked the best Ryzen CPUs
With a fully stacked catalog of Zen 4 processors, it’s a great time in terms of options for AMD-focused builds. You’ve got the X, non-X, and X3D series to choose from. Plus, one or two Zen options to consider.
To pick the best Ryzen CPUs for this guide, we’ve considered performance, future-facing credentials, additional build costs, and ongoing performance potential.
Not all AMD CPUs are created equal of course. While most modern processors are usually pretty good all-rounders, the best Ryzen option for you will somewhat depend on what you need your system for.
Best Ryzen CPU in 2023 – gaming, mid-range, and premium picks
- Great single-core performance
- Good power efficiency
- Top all-rounder
- Requires a recent motherboard and DDR5 RAM
Is the Ryzen 5 7600 the most powerful Ryzen desktop CPU? No. Is it the most affordable? No. However, AMD’s chip is a great combination of the two components – perfect for anyone looking to take an initial step into a socket AM5 build.
The 7600 can offer good productivity performance and is solid for PC gaming too, allowing you to have a system that can do both without worrying about spending loads for the benefit. For a processor that’s just over $200, this is actually impressive as the 7600 can match the gaming performance of the much-loved Ryzen 7 5800X3D…and costs less.
As well, the 7600 is a ‘non-X’ processor. This means better energy efficiency than the 7600X, albeit at the loss of overclocking. Overall though, the Ryzen 7 7600 is a remarkably well-priced processor for what it can do.
- Great gaming performance
- Extra L3 cache
- Ryzen 9 7950 level performance
- Not the greatest for productivity
AMD’s X3D chipsets are beloved by gamers, and the most recent releases offer a nice wedge of L3 cache which lends itself to smart performance in AAA games compared to the regular X-series.
Of the latest X3D processors, the Ryzen 7 7800X3D is the fan favorite, and with good reason. Not only is it the best budget option for great gaming, but in terms of general performance, it offers levels around that of the Ryzen 9 7950.
Yes, it can reach levels alongside a processor with an MSRP that is $200 more expensive in its MSRP. This is the best gaming CPU, that packs plenty of performance for productivity too.
- Good power efficiency
- Effective all-rounder
- Good bang for your buck
- Not overclockable
This spot was a close one between the Ryzen 7 7700 and its 7700X relative. The later of those has the benefit of overclocking options and delivers more power. However, on the flip side it also takes more power to drive.
Purely on a power efficiency level, it makes sense for us to opt for the 7700 if you’re not keen to fiddle with overclocking. But there’s also the price. The Ryzen 7700 is at least a $50 saving and, in our view, there’s no real point in spending more on it. In our list, this is the best budget CPU for your gaming rig.
In terms of performance, the 7700 comes with 8 cores and 16 threads, and a base clock of 3.8GHz. That’s plenty for most mid-range needs and will handle workloads like image and video editing at a fair clip while also allowing for some gaming glory.
Need more power? Opt for the 7700X, but only if you really need to.
- Impressively CPU performance
- High-end Ryzen CPU
If you want the best AMD Ryzen CPU in terms of specs, the options at the performance end of the stack are the Ryzen 9 7950X and then the X3D variant.
The 7950X3D feels a little like a ‘because AMD can’ upgrade to the option we’ve gone for here, and you’ll be paying a premium for it too. At the time of writing, the X3D variant is $100 more. That doesn’t feel sensible, especially considering the 7950X is fairly pricey ar around $550.
If you want our pick of the best Ryzen CPU for power, go for this desktop processor as the option that packs 16 cores, 32 threads, and a base clock of 4.5GHz. you won’t be disappointed in the performance, but it is a little pricey.
Features and considerations
On the lookout for the best AMD CPU? Then follow our guide as we outline the top features you should take into account when purchasing your next AMD processor.
Even after reading our reviews, many of you might still be wondering which Ryzen to buy. To help clear this up, we’ll briefly define a few terms that are important to know, and then compare some of the CPUs on offer head-to-head.
Base and Boost Clock Speed
Clock speed is a measurement of how many cycles a CPU can perform per second. This, in effect, determines how quickly calculations can actually be performed by each core of the computer (which we’ll touch on in a moment). Higher clock speeds translate to more CPU cycles and more processes being performed by each core per second.
The base clock speed is the speed at which the processor can run at practically all times, even with poor cooling. The boost clock speed is a speed that the CPU can rev up to in times of need, but in most cases cannot maintain due to heat constraints.
It is important to note that clock speeds aren’t really useful when you are comparing processors across brands (ie vs Intel) and CPUs from different architectures, because process information differently. You can think of it as being faster but carrying less info… sort of.
Cores and Threads
Ever since the mid-2000s, CPUs in almost every computer have been multi-cored. This basically means that the CPU itself has several smaller processing units that each carry our processes and instructions independently.
The more cores a CPU has, the more tasks it can tackle simultaneously. Speaking of simultaneously, there is also something called “simultaneous multi-threading”. This is a technique that allows each core of the CPU to handle multiple tasks at once– in a way– by juggling or alternating between two processes at the same time. This doubles the number of threads compared to cores when enabled on a CPU.
Ryzen 5 vs. Ryzen 7
As you might have noticed the Ryzen 5 takes up a nice entry-level position in price and in performance and offers strong value. So strong that the Ryzen 3 CPUs are no longer made.
Generally, the specs of the Ryzen 5 are ever so narrowly slimmed down compared to the Ryzen 7 and offer good savings. That being said, Ryzen 7 is objectively more powerful with 2 extra cores, 4 extra threads, and about 100-200 extra megahertz in clock speed.
Choosing between the Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 7 is all about how much you will get out of your CPU. You should ask yourself, “Will I get $100 worth of extra performance out of the Ryzen 7?” If you aren’t doing productivity tasks on your PC like rendering – or want extra gaming grunt – then the answer is likely no.
However, if you want more out of your PC then maybe the Ryzen 7 is for you.
Ryzen 7 vs. Ryzen 9
Ryzen 9 processors are AMD’s potential competitor to Intel’s Core i9 CPUs. In reality, though, they’re primarily a step ahead of Ryzen 7, as Ryzen 7 is for Ryzen 5.
AMD’s Ryzen 9 processors have 12 cores rather than 8, and 24 threads rather than 16, meaning they’re top of the tree when it comes to the best Ryzen CPUs. They’ll offer most performance, but also be the priciest.
The Threadripper cannot go head-to-head with the other CPUs on this list. It would be unfair to compare this beast to the other processors here, the Threadripper is truly in a class of its own and can only be compared with itself…but that’s outside the scope of this article as TR chips are really for workstations.
Regardless of whatever you plan to do, a Thread Ripper CPU can handle it. Playing games will be a breeze, but with the amount that this processor costs (several thousand dollars), hopefully, you have some real work for it to do. If you’re tired of sitting around waiting for videos or 3D models to render and want to be more productive, then the Threadripper can certainly help.
What is the best Ryzen CPU?
The fastest CPU offered by Ryzen right now is the Ryzen 9 7950X. it’s the premier CPU of the 7000 series, it has a boosted clock speed of 5.7GHz, 32 threads, and 16 cores.
Is the Ryzen 9 better than Intel i9?
When comparing the two flagship CPUs, the Ryzen 9 7950X and the Intel Core i9-13900K they are extremely similar in terms of performance. However, it has been found for gaming the Ryzen 9 takes the edge due to its 3D V-cache tech.
Is Ryzen 9 better than Ryzen 7?
The biggest difference between R9 and R7 is the difference in the number of cores. R9 CPUs have four more cores allowing them to do more tasks simultaneously. If gaming is your primary concern then the difference between R9 and R7 can be slim. For those interested in visual editing and programming then the R9 offers superior performance.
From our list of the best Ryzen CPUs, our top pick goes to the AMD Ryzen 5 7600. This CPU strikes the perfect balance between performance and affordability. Making it the number-one choice for anyone wanting to move into AM5 sockets.
With our top pick, you’ll get great productivity and gaming performance – it’s the best choice if you are looking for versatility. However, with that being said, all the CPUs we’ve offered in this guide provide excellent performance, powerful features, and advanced capabilities. So, take your pick! Each CPU is ideal for any gaming, content creation, or demanding task.