May 31, 2022

Best CPU for Gaming in 2022

By Paul Alcorn published 24 days ago

Here are the best gaming CPUs for the money.

 Comments (22)Included in this guide:

Intel Core i5-12400

AMD Ryzen 5 5600X

Intel Core i9-12900K

AMD Ryzen 9 5950X

AMD Ryzen 7 5800X3D

Intel Core i7-12700k

AMD Ryzen 9 5900X

Intel Core i5-12600K

Intel Core i3-12100

AMD Ryzen 5 5600G

Best CPUs for Gaming

Best CPUs for Gaming (Image credit: Shutterstock)

When shopping for the best gaming CPU, you’ll want to balance performance and features with your PC budget. Our tips and picks below will help you choose the best CPU for gaming. You can also see how all of these processors stack up in our CPU Benchmarks Hierarchy. But for detailed help on picking the best processor for your gaming rig, you can check out our 2022 CPU Buying Guide. And if you’re on the fence about which CPU company to go with, our AMD vs. Intel article dives deep into the topic and comes up with a winner.

Intel recently launched the Core i9-12900KS, but its price-and-power-be-damned approach to attempting to stay at the top of our gaming performance charts isn’t worth the premium. Instead, AMD’s new Ryzen 7 5800X3D joins our list of Best CPUs for gaming, taking the title as the fastest gaming CPU on the market in addition to being the best AMD CPU for gaming.

As you can see in the gaming performance album below, the Ryzen 7 5800X3D lives up to AMD’s claim that 3D V-Cache delivers an increase in gaming performance equivalent to what we would normally only see from a new microarchitecture. However, the 58000X3D isn’t as fast as comparable chips in other types of single- and multi-threaded work beyond gaming. So you’ll need to be aware of the pros and cons before buying this specific chip. Also, its $449 price point is a bit higher than we typically recommend for most gaming-centric builds. 

If you’re looking for the hands-down best CPU for gaming with a more accessible price point, the Alder Lake six-core 12-thread Core i5-12400 is your chip. Recent price cuts have made this chip an even greater deal for a mere $160, catapulting it to the top of our list of recommendations. With the right tuning, it’s even faster at gaming than the previous-gen $549 Core i9-11900K flagship, so it should go without saying that it’s also faster than competing AMD chips in its price range. The latest price cuts are just the cherry on top.

If you’re looking for the fastest blend of gaming and application performance on the market, you need to look at our review of the Core i9-12900K and Core i5-12600K. The $589 Intel Core i9-12900K delivers incredible levels of threaded performance, often rivaling or beating the $599 Ryzen 9 5950X. However, the $380 Core i7-12700K offers essentially the same gaming performance as the $589 flagship Core i9-12900K — but for ~$200 less. The 12900K serves up extra cores and extra boost speed for those looking for the utmost in productivity performance, but the Core i7-12700K is a well-rounded chip that provides impressive pricing and performance in both gaming and applications.  

The $280 Intel Core i5-12600K is easily the best CPU for gaming in its $260 to $300 price bracket. The 12600K delivers up to 38% more threaded performance than the Ryzen 5 5600X and 7% more than the Ryzen 7 5800X. Meanwhile, the Core i3-12100 serves as the best budget gaming CPU on the market with a superb blend of price and performance.

AMD’s Ryzen 7 5700G and Ryzen 5 5600G APUs have the fastest integrated GPUs on the market, offering nearly twice the performance of Intel’s iGPUs. The $259 Ryzen 5 5600G’s is the best value, with performance that lands within 4% of the $359 Ryzen 7 5700G, but for 30% less cash, making it the best AMD APU processor for gaming. 

If you’re looking for the quick blow-by-blow, you can see all of these chips in dedicated head-to-head comparisons in our recent faceoffs:

Our AMD Zen 3 Ryzen 5000 article has all the details on AMD’s latest CPUs, but you can check our full lineup of detailed reviews of each model, like the Ryzen 9 5950X and Ryzen 9 5900XRyzen 7 5800X, and Ryzen 5 5600X, for the detailed rundown that will help you suss out which is the best AMD CPU for gaming.

Best CPUs for Gaming at a glance (more info below):

Overall Best CPU for Gaming:
Intel Core i5-12400(opens in new tab)
Alternate: AMD Ryzen 5 5600X(opens in new tab)

High Performance Value Best CPU for Gaming:
Intel Core i9-12900K(opens in new tab)
Alternate: AMD Ryzen 9 5950X(opens in new tab)

Overall Value Best CPU for Gaming:
AMD Ryzen 7 5800X3D(opens in new tab)
Alternate: Intel Core i7-12700K(opens in new tab)

Mid-Range Best CPU for Gaming:

Intel Core i5-12600K(opens in new tab)

Budget Best CPU for Gaming:
Core i3-12100(opens in new tab)

Entry-Level Best CPU for Gaming:

AMD Ryzen 5 5600G(opens in new tab)

Choosing the Best Gaming CPU for You

For a list of all processors by performance, check out our CPU Benchmarks Hierarchy for CPU comparisons backed by processor benchmarks. We also maintain a list of best CPUs for workstations, for those who frequently tackle high-end content creation, or other tasks that benefit from high core counts. Higher-end chips benefit the most from the best thermal paste, so check out our guide if you’re shopping for a new processor. But if you’re after the best gaming CPU, you’re in the right place.

If your main goal is gaming, you of course can’t forget about the graphics card. Getting the best possible gaming CPU won’t help you much if your GPU is under-powered and/or out of date. So be sure to check out Best Graphics Cards page, as well as our GPU Benchmarks Hierarchy to make sure you have the right card for the level of gaming you’re looking to achieve.      

CPU Gaming Benchmarks

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Ryzen 7 5800X3D
(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

We rank all the Intel and AMD processors based on our in-depth CPU benchmarks. You can see some of those numbers in the charts above, including overclocked performance results (marked as PBO for AMD processors) and benchmark results in Windows 10 and Windows 11.  

This group of results comprises only the chips that have passed through our newest test suite, while the tables in our CPU benchmark hierarchy include rankings based on past CPU benchmarks, and also include breakdowns of single- and multi-threaded performance across a broad spate of processors. Finally, be aware that the pricing in the charts above can fluctuate.

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