Choosing the best gaming CPU in 2022 can be a difficult task, as there are plenty of great options to choose from. Both AMD Ryzen and Intel Core processors pack compelling levels of performance across their respective ranges, with each manufacturer offering unique advantages.
Having the right processor is just as important as equipping your system with the best graphics card you can, as it plays an important role in your PC’s ability to produce and maintain stable frame rates. It also acts as a hard limit as to the type and speed of devices you can use, such as RAM and SSDs.
To help you figure out whether an AMD Ryzen processor or Intel Core chip is right for you, we’ve put together a collection of our picks for the best gaming CPU. Just don’t forget that you might need to pick up the best gaming motherboard for the brains of your new system too.
Here are our picks for the best gaming CPU:
1. Best gaming CPU
The best gaming CPU is the Intel Core i5 12600K.
Expect to pay $299.99 USD / £319.99 GBP.
Team blue is back on top when it comes to gaming, and we reckon the Intel Core i5 12600K is the perfect processor for your next rig. It has everything that makes the company’s 12th Gen Core series fantastic, at an extremely competitive price point to boot.
Its 10 cores, 24 threads, and high clock speeds pack plenty of power, so you don’t have to worry about it bottlenecking your shiny new graphics card. All the same, you can potentially unlock even higher frame rates from this processor thanks to its support for overclocking.
While the six performance cores will ultimately benefit your gaming experience the most, the remaining four efficient cores will make sure your fps isn’t suffering by handling any background tasks.
- Cheapest way to get performance and efficient cores
- Overclocking can push frame rates higher
- No stock cooler
- More expensive Z690 motherboard is required for overclocking
2. Best cheap gaming CPU
The best cheap gaming CPU is the Intel Core i3 12100.
Expect to pay $129.99 USD / £134.99 GBP.
Hexa-core processors may now dominate the Steam Hardware & Software Survey, but there’s still plenty of life left in quad-core chips. If you’re looking to save some cash on your next build or are looking to put together your first PC, then the Intel Core i3 12100 is a great choice.
Don’t let its budget price point fool you, as this CPU is more than capable of playing games at high refresh rates. Regardless of whether you’re someone who primarily plays demanding cinematic single-player experiences or regularly sweats it out in competitive esports, your frames per second will be well looked after.
Unlike many of the more expensive options on the list, you won’t have to fork out for one of the best CPU coolers, as team blue kindly includes one in the box. You shouldn’t need a costly power supply, either, as it only requires 60W to power up.
- Solid gaming performance for today’s games
- Stock cooler included
- Only four cores and eight threads
- Weak integrated graphics
3. Best value CPU
The best value CPU is the Intel Core i5 12400.
Expect to pay $199.99 USD / £219.99 GBP.
If you’re looking to maximise your spending power with minimal fuss, look no further than the Intel Core i5 12400. Featuring six Alder Lake cores, it’s an extremely capable processor that should help your graphics card pump out plenty of frames per second to make the most use out of the best gaming monitors.
Forgoing overclocking means that you can save even more cash by opting for a less expensive chipset, such as H670 or B660. You’ll also have a suitably capable stock cooler included with your purchase too.
The 12400 is no slouch in creative and production applications like Photoshop and Blender either, making it an ideal choice for anyone who does more than just game with their system.
- Lion’s share of 12th Gen power
- Stock cooler included
- No overclocking capabilities
- Multi core performance falls behind competition
4. Best AMD gaming CPU
The best AMD gaming CPU is the AMD Ryzen 7 5800X3D.
Expect to pay $449.99 USD / £439.99 GBP.
3D V-Cache technology could take frame rates to new heights, as shown by the AMD Ryzen 7 5800X3D. Despite this chip being a first generation product, it’s already proven itself of producing class-leading frame rates.
Team red has managed to cram 96MB of L3 cache into its prototype processor, enabling the CPU to punch well above its weight. You can expect gaming performance typical of much more expensive models, from both Intel and AMD.
In light of the release of the Ryzen 7000 series, you can typically find the 5800X3D for much cheaper than its MSRP. Better still, with the AM4 socket being much more mature, there are plenty of bargains to be had as retailers clear stock if you don’t plan to upgrade again anytime soon.
- Class-leading frame rates
- Cheaper and outperforms flagship processors
- AM4 platform is at end of life stage
- Other processors are generally better for production workloads
5. Best CPU with integrated graphics
The best CPU with integrated graphics is the AMD Ryzen 5 5600G.
Expect to pay $259.99 USD / £299.99 GBP.
Grabbing a CPU with integrated graphics can be an effective stop gap while you save up for a dedicated pixel pusher, or they can be a great choice for small form factor builds. Whatever your intentions, the AMD Ryzen 5 5600G is your best bet when it comes to netting an iGPU.
Its Vega graphics cores are plenty powerful for light gaming, providing playable frame rates at 720p and 1080p resolutions. Better still, the 5600G is AMD FSR compatible, which means you can easily boost fps in supported titles.
It’s no slouch of a CPU either, with most of the performance of a Ryzen 5 5600X and more with higher clock speeds. You can often find it available much lower than MSRP, but you’ll want to grab one while stocks last.
- Most powerful integrated graphics cores on a desktop CPU
- Comparable to Ryzen 5 5600X processor performance
- Only compatible with AM4 motherboards
- Can struggle with some games at 1080p
6. Best CPU for streaming
The best CPU for streaming is the Intel Core i7 12700K.
Expect to pay $419.99 USD / £449.99 GBP.
The Intel Core i7 12700K is something of a champion for streamers and creatives alike, offering an all-in-one solution that doesn’t carry an overly premium price tag. Feautring 12 cores and 20 threads, the chip is more than capable of handling real-time 120fps encoding using the ‘x264 Slower’ preset.
This is especially useful if you have a Radeon graphics card but can act as a great replacement for ‘NVENC’ on GeForce GPUs, should the need arise. The chip is able to keep up with top tier pixel pushers too, maintaing solid maximum, average, and minimum frames per second.
It’s plenty useful for exporting and editing VODs too, boasting fast export times and rendering capabilities in Adobe suite applications such as Premiere Pro and After Effects.
- Easily handles 120fps ‘x264 Slower’ encoding in real time
- Great gaming and creative application performance
- Can be beaten by AMD Ryzen 7000 processors
- Runs a touch hot
7. Most powerful Intel gaming CPU
The most powerful Intel gaming CPU is the Intel Core i9 12900KS.
Expect to pay $749.99 USD / £749.99 GBP.
If money is no object, and you demand the best that team blue can offer, then there is only one processor for you: the Intel Core i9 12900KS.
With 16 cores, 24 threads, and a maximum clock frequency of 5.50GHz, the 12900KS is an absolute monster in every sense of the word. There’s no LGA 1700 chip that can match its single core performance, which greatly benefits games and many other applications.
Just make sure you invest in one of the best AIO coolers on the market, and have a beefy power supply to hand too, as this Alder Lake chip gobbles electricity and runs quite hot. Should you be able to tame it, though, there’s simply nothing else like it in the 12th Gen Core series.
- High stock speeds can be pushed further with manual overclocks
- Performs about the same with DDR4 and DDR5 RAM
- Incredibly power hungry
- Hard to efficiently cool
8. Most powerful AMD gaming CPU
The most powerful AMD gaming CPU is the AMD Ryzen 9 7950X.
Expect to pay $699.99 USD / £739.99 GBP.
Sitting at the top of the team red’s latest processor series, you’ll find the AMD Ryzen 9 7950X. In this chip lies the very best that Zen 4 has to offer, with the flagship hiding some surprising tricks up its sleeve.
While this chip doesn’t boast a higher core or thread count compared to previous generation offerings, they are clocked much higher. This not only translates into higher frames per second, but also greatly improves performance in just about every application that can make use of multiple CPU cores.
Its greatest trick, however, is its ‘Eco Mode’, which can force the processor to draw a maximum of 65W. Even with such low power consumption, it can still trade blows with top tier processors. Naturally, you’ll get the most out of the chip while running at its standard 170W TDP, but it makes the prospect of a small form factor build featuring the 7950X more possibility than dream.
- Unparalleled multi core power
- Can trade blows with top tier processors at just 65W
- Specs benefit production workloads more than gaming
- Expensive and best suited to costly X670E motherboards
|AMD Ryzen 9 7950X specs|
|Base clock frequency||4.50GHz|
|Max clock frequency||5.70GHz|