The Best CPUs for Gaming in 2023

Grabbing a solid graphics card for your gaming PC build may be your top priority, given it determines the resolution and other settings you can run your games at. But a quality CPU is just as important. This chip isn’t known as the ‘central processing unit’ for kicks, as it’s essentially the brains of your entire rig. Dictating how efficiently everything runs from the system memory to the SSDs holding your games. So, even if you have a top-tier GPU, a less-than-stellar processor will bottleneck your whole system.

To ensure you don’t regret choosing the wrong CPU for gaming, we’ve compiled a list of the best you can find. You are limited to an Intel or AMD chip, but both companies release a myriad of quality options almost constantly. It can be hard to keep up. You’ll find more wallet-friendly processors that have no problem handling typical gaming loads or speed demons ready to be overclocked and pushed to the extreme. Check out our favorites for every type of PC gamer below – and click here to find them in the UK.

TL;DR – These are the Best CPUs for Gaming

Intel Core i5-13600K

Best CPU for Gaming

Intel Core i5-13600KIntel Core i5-13600K

For a perfect balance of performance and price, look no further than the Intel Core i5-13600K. As part of Intel’s latest 13th gen lineup, it utilizes a hybrid architecture, offering six P-cores and eight E-cores with 20 threads for a processor that divides and conquers tasks easily. Those P-cores can clock up to 5.1 GHz and are capable of hyperthreading for a major boost in processing muscle, so you can run a game and even stream simultaneously.

The Intel Core i5-13600K will future-proof your rig thanks to the support of 16 lanes of the PCIe 5.0 interface and DDR5 memory up to 5,600MHz, though you can always use more affordable DDR4 memory. It’s also important to note this processor runs hotter and is more power-hungry than the 12th gen model, so ample cooling is a must to keep everything running smoothly, especially if you want to take advantage of overclocking. And be sure to pair it with a motherboard that totes an LGA1700 socket.

Intel Core i5-13400

Best Budget CPU for Gaming

Intel Core i5-13400Intel Core i5-13400

The Intel Core i5-13400 proves that you don’t need to spend a fortune to get a highly capable gaming CPU. Costing around $200, this mid-range chip has no problem running games at 1080p – or even up to 1440p and 4K. If you’re on a tight budget, the integrated graphics can handle some action while you save up for a solid GPU, and it even comes with a cooler to keep your extra costs down. However, it draws more power than the last-gen model.

You aren’t making many sacrifices when going for this budget-minded processor, as you still get some of the latest technology, including DDR5 memory and PCIe 5.0 interface. It has the same hybrid architecture seen in higher-end models with six performance cores and four efficient cores alongside 16 threads. Those P-Cores can hit 4.6GHz right out of the box and offer hyperthreading for snappy performance and plenty of oomph to handle any mainstream PC build.

Intel Core i9-13900K

Fastest CPU for Gaming

Intel Core i9-13900KIntel Core i9-13900K

For unbeatable speeds and insane overclocking, there’s nothing better than the Intel Core i9-13900K, but be prepared for it to put a good dent in your wallet. This beastly chip boasts a heavily threaded hybrid architecture with eight P-cores and peaks at a wild 5.8 GHz using the Turbo Boost 3.0. Its E-cores are no slouch either, taking some burden off the P-cores and ensuring your game’s action is never interrupted.

It’s unlikely you’ll find a game that the Intel Core i9-13900K can’t handle, so you should pair it with a high-end graphics card to take full advantage of those high frame rates. The latest DDR5 and PCIe 5.0 interface are also ready for you to build a future-proof rig. Just be sure you’ve got the proper cooling, as this is a power-hungry processor.

AMD Ryzen 9 7950X

Best High-Performance CPU for Gaming

AMD Ryzen 9 7950XAMD Ryzen 9 7950X

If you like the sound of the Intel Core i9-13900K and are looking for a Ryzen alternative, the AMD Ryzen 9 7950X is the best match for performance and price. Offering the latest Zen 4 architecture, you get 16 cores with 32 threads, allowing impressive speeds, ready to be overclocked higher, and enough power to breeze through even your most graphically intense games. All that extra muscle means you’ll need to pair it with a hefty cooling system, as is the case for all of Ryzen’s 7000 series chips.

The AMD Ryzen 9 7950X requires an AM5 motherboard and offers the newest connectivity, like DRR5 memory, a PCIe 5.0 interface, and even USB-C. But while you’re getting support for the latest technology, you, unfortunately, can’t use older motherboards or DDR4 RAM to help cut costs. However, it comes with basic integrated graphics, so you won’t need to splurge on a GPU immediately— though you’ll eventually want a quality one to take full advantage of this chip.

AMD Ryzen 5 7600X

Best Ryzen CPU for Gaming

AMD Ryzen 5 7600XAMD Ryzen 5 7600X

The AMD Ryzen 5 7600X gives you the best bang for your buck when it comes to the latest Ryzen 7000 series chips. However, it still lags slightly behind its most comparable Intel counterpart, the Core i5-13600K. But there’s still plenty to love, thanks to the Zen 4 architecture, which brings DDR5 and PCIe 5.0 support while slotting into an AM5 socket.

Beyond connectivity, this chip packs six cores and 12 threads for plenty of prowess in multi-threaded and single-threaded activities. As for speed, the AMD Ryzen 5 7600X doesn’t disappoint, offering a 4.7GHz base clock with a 5.3GHz boost that’s unlocked for overclocking. All that, combined with 38MB of cache, ensures this processor outshines Ryzen’s previous generations.

Where to Get the Best CPU for Gaming in the UK

Ryzen 5 3600XAMDRyzen 5 3600X Best CPU for Gaming£249.99Ryzen 3 3200GAMDRyzen 3 3200G Best Budget CPU for Gaming£99.99Core i9-10900XIntelCore i9-10900X Best High-End CPU for Gaming£572.99Core i5-10600KIntelCore i5-10600K Best Midrange CPU for Gaming£280.79Ryzen 9 3950XAMDRyzen 9 3950X Best CPU for Gaming Video Editing£749.99Pentium Gold G6400IntelPentium Gold G6400 Best Super Cheap CPU for Gaming£73.92Ryzen Threadripper 3960XAMDRyzen Threadripper 3960X Best High-End Desktop Processor for Gaming£1,349.99Ryzen Threadripper 3990XAMDRyzen Threadripper 3990X Best Streaming Gaming Processor£3,479.49

What to Look in for a CPU for Gaming

If you’re looking for a CPU, the first step is determining which type of processor you want to use. Of the mainstream options, you can go with either Intel’s Core lineup of i3,i5, i7, and i9 products or AMD’s Ryzen 3, 5, 7, and 9 series. Intel does slightly edge out AMD in price versus performance thanks to their recent release of 13th Gen Raptor Lake chips, but they are still pretty neck and neck with Ryzen’s new 7000 processors. Both offer the latest connectivity like PCIe 5.0, DDR5 memory, and newer sockets, along with plenty of cores to cruise through PC games.

Speaking of cores, as a general rule of thumb, the more, the merrier. CPU cores essentially receive instructions and in turn, perform specific actions. Therefore as you increase the core count, the more the processor can do for you.


When it comes to gaming, you should aim for a Hexa core processor or higher. With six cores, you should have no problem running most games. However, you may want a higher core count for more processor-intense titles – like RTS games and management sims. A faster, more robust CPU can power more AI elements and help raise frame rates.

Intel also introduced two different types of cores with its 12th gen processors, P-cores and E-cores. P-cores do most of the heavy lifting, hitting higher speeds and taking on beefier workloads like games—essentially the cores you’re used to seeing in CPUs. E-cores are much less powerful, generally working on background tasks to help ease the load of the P-cores. AMD has yet to differentiate its cores.


Though core count is important, speed may be just as, if not more. You generally get a base clock and boost clock, telling you how fast the CPU runs, with a higher number of gigahertz (GHz), meaning a snappier performance in your games. Many options we’ve chosen are also unlocked for overclocking—letting you push the CPU past its listed clock speed limits—though there’s always a risk of damaging the chip when you do this.


Threads should also be kept in mind. These act like schedulers, telling the cores what to do next. It’s not super important if you’re just gaming, but say you also want to stream simultaneously, then grab a chip that offers hyper-threading (Intel) or multi-threading (AMD). Those terms are essentially the same, where one core has multiple threads, which is helpful in multitasking.

Danielle Abraham is a freelance writer and unpaid music historian.

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