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Every day, systems are evolving, and new games are launching, offering an endless buffet of entertainment for your daily needs. However, not all PCs may be up to the task for that brand-new, power-hungry game with upgraded graphics.
Before you buy a new CPU, it is important to consider which model is the right fit for your needs and the type of gaming you enjoy. This list is a great place to start with the best CPU gaming systems of 2022.
Warranty: Intel offers a three-year limited warranty with the Core i5-12600K
The 12th Generation Intel Core i5-12600K is a fantastic mid-range option. At around $300, it is an affordable option with decent speeds at around 3.70 GHz, although it is the slowest CPU on our list. The 10-core processor combines solid speeds with fast processing using six performance cores and four efficient cores. It is a three-speed system that uses an LGA 1700 socket. Its design incorporates hyper-threading architecture, which means you can count on this system to still perform well despite demanding, power-hungry programs. It also features a signature turbo boost with new, revamped Intel UHD graphics. The L3 cache is capable of holding up to 16 MB of data for improved performance with exclusive Intel 7 Architecture and incorporated microarchitecture for power efficiency.
The Intel Core i9-12900K uses an LGA 1700 socket, allowing for PCB installation. The L3 cache includes 30 MG of memory, which is about average for the models on our list of 2022's best gaming CPUs. This model features a 12th Generation Intel Core i9-12900K desktop processor and a maximum clock speed(1) of up to 5.2 GHz. Experience improved 10 nm performance per watt with the benefit of added power efficiency, thanks to integrated micro-architecture. The Intel Thread Director is able to sort and coordinate multiple workloads so your system does not get bogged down from internal minutiae. There are a whopping 16 performance cores and eight efficient cores for a total of 24 threads. Plus, the Intel Smart Cache enables 30 MB of storage with 600 series(3) motherboard capacity and a 1700 socket. This comes both unlocked and overclockable.
Warranty: Your purchase of the AMD Ryzen 5 5600X includes a limited warranty period of three years for both parts and labor.
The AMD Ryzen 5 5600X features a 6 core processor, a limited processor compared to others on our list, but it is AMD's fastest offering with an affordable price tag to match. There are only 12 processing threads for average graphics, but the Max Boost 4.6 GHz processing speeds help make for it. Enjoy faster speeds than the Intel Core i5-12600K with maximum speeds of 4.6 GHz and a generous cache of 35 MB. This system works with all of your favorite games, providing 100+ FPS performance, and unlike most other CPUs, you also receive the AMD Wraith Stealth cooler to help save you some money on your total purchase. The system comes unlocked for overclocking with DDR-3200 support. With an impressive Socket AM4 platform, this CPU can also support PCIe 4.0 on X570 and B550 motherboards.
Warranty: The AMD Ryzen 5 5600G includes a warranty for parts that lasts three years
The AMD Ryzen 5 5600G is our pick for the best cheap CPU for gaming. Because of the lower price, you will get slower speeds with 4.4 GHz and only a 6 core processor using a 7nm "Zen 3" core. There are 12 threads for 1080P graphics, plus 19 MB of cache storage with a CPU Socket AM4. Like the Ryzen 5 5600X, it also comes unlocked for clocking with Precious Boost Overdrive to offer faster clock speed and power limits. DDR4-3200 is supported. The AMD Ryzen Master is a nifty addition that allows you to personalize CPU performance for a fully customized experience, but in every aspect, this CPU fails to offer the power, speed, and memory of other models. However, it is a great option when you do not have a lot of money to spend.
Warranty: A three-year warranty is included with the purchase of the AMD Ryzen 9 5950X.
The AMD Ryzen 9 5950X is the most expensive on our list with a super-fast 16 core processor. The CPU speed operates with 4.9 GHz Max Boost with a Socket AM4. Because of this, it works with PCIe 4.0 on X570 and B550 motherboards. 16 cores support it with 32 processing threads, the most by far of our picks, delivering AMD's elite 100+ FPS performance for today's top games. The CPU is unlocked for overclocking with 72 MB of cache and DDR-3200 support. However, the cooler is not included, so an additional purchase is required. It is a pricey inconvenience since this CPU is already expensive.
The best gaming CPU is the Intel Core i5-12600K, however if you are looking for a more high-end option, the Intel Core i9-12900K should be your choice.
Intel Core i5-12600K
AMD Ryzen 5 5600X
AMD Ryzen 5 5600G
Intel Core i9-12900K
AMD Ryzen 9 5950X
Which is the right CPU for you?
There are many different options available for a gaming CPU these days, but they can all be very different.
To help you find the right CPU for your gaming needs, consider our expert tips.
Choose this CPU...
If you need...
Intel Core i5-12600K
A powerful and well-rounded CPU
Intel Core i9-12900K
A high-end CPU for demanding games
AMD Ryzen 5 5600X
A CPU upgrade on a budget
AMD Ryzen 5 5600G
A CPU that gives you the most bang for your buck
AMD Ryzen 9 5950X
A CPU that prioritizes performance over speed
How did we choose these CPUs?
Shopping for a gaming CPU can be overwhelming if you do not know the right lingo. CPUs have their own language, which can often be confusing to the novice user.
When searching for a new CPU for gaming, these are some of the considerations you should make to help you find the right CPU model for your needs.
Manufacturer: For better reliability, consider who makes your CPU. Both AMD and Intel are leading manufacturers for CPUs, and they both dominate our list.
Launch date: Technology is quickly and constantly evolving, so a newer model may offer you features. Of course, you will likely pay for this with a higher price tag.
Generation: The type of generation can tell you which programming and processor the CPU uses.
Core: The CPU core count tells you how fast a CPU can operate with cores working to process several different instructions at the same time. Today's CPUs generally use multiple cores for greater performance.
Clock speed: Also known as the clock rate or frequency, the clock speed shows how many cycles per second that a CPU can execute. It is measured in gigahertz (GHz).
Overclocking: Overclocking allows you to increase the clock speed of your CPU. For example, the Intel® Performance Maximizer is one of the leading ways for overclocking with greater performance.
Integrated graphics: For better imaging, consider if integrated graphics are available with your CPU. This is especially important if you plan to edit and stream videos.
Another great way to find the best CPU for gaming in 2022 is to look at which PC games you intend on playing. The specifications can help ensure that you buy the right CPU for your personal needs.
What is a CPU?
A CPU is a central processing unit. Working as the brain of your device, it is the mastermind behind the scenes to keep your device running smoothly, regardless of whether it is your computer or your thermostat.
How much does a CPU for gaming cost?
A CPU for gaming can cost anywhere from a couple of hundred dollars to over $1,000. Our picks for the best CPUs range from less than $250 to more than $725.
What temp should my CPU be while gaming?
A normal operating range for a CPU while you're playing games should be between 142 and 164 degrees Fahrenheit (61 and 73 degrees C). Your CPU may run a bit hotter at times, depending on graphical load and ambient temperature, but that shouldn't cause any damage. If your CPU is running at a much hotter temperature, you may need to invest in a better cooling fan, some thermal paste to help draw excess heat to the dissipation fins, or even a liquid cooling system. There are all kinds of programs out there to help you monitor your CPU temperature, and I highly recommend using one so you can catch issues before they can ruin your gaming rig.
What is the best budget CPU for gaming?
We chose the AMD Ryzen 5 5600X as the best budget gaming CPU. It offers 10 cores, 16 threads, and a max frequency of 4.90GHx for plenty of power to handle just about any kind of game you want to play. It offers all of this for just a couple hundred dollars, so you don't have to drain your bank account to upgrade your gaming rig.
Are there alternative CPUs worth considering?
In our search for the best gaming CPUs, we came across several options that might be worth your consideration. These are some of the other CPUs we considered for 2022's best CPUs for gaming: