Best CPU for gaming in 2022

Best CPU for gaming in 2022. 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. NVIDIA’s new Grace 144-core CPU Superchip, 600GB of GPU memory. Nvidia has launched the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 Ti graphic card. NVIDIA LHR, Everything you need to know about Lite Hash Rate GPUs

Buying a processor for a gaming rig isn’t as hard as it used to be. Now that AMD’s Ryzen 5000-series and Intel’s 12th-gen Core CPUs come with more performance and cores than ever before, it’s hard to buy a stinker these days—especially because most games favor graphics firepower over CPU oomph. All that said, there are specific chips that stand out from the horde as the best gaming CPUs due to their price, performance, or nifty extras. And they won’t all break the bank like the Core i9-12900KS and Ryzen 7 5800X3D flagships revealed in recent weeks to slug it out for gaming supremacy, either.

If you’re looking for the fastest gaming chips 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 $799 Ryzen 9 5950X, but at a much lower price point. However, the Core i7-12700K offers essentially the same gaming performance as the $589 flagship Core i9-12900K — but for $180 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 an impressive blend of pricing and performance in both gaming and applications.  

The $289 Intel Core i5-12600K is easily the best CPU for gaming in its $260 to $289 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 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. We also recently tested the Ryzen 3 5300G, but that chip remains OEM-exclusive, meaning that you can’t buy it at retail. The Ryzen 5600G could also slot in as a temporary solution for enthusiasts that can’t find a graphics card at reasonable pricing during these times of severe GPU shortages.

Whether you’re on a budget or willing to pay for sheer face-melting speed, these are the best CPUs for gaming PCs that you can buy.

  • Overall Best CPU for Gaming: Intel Core i5-12600K
    • Alternate: AMD Ryzen 5 5600X
  • High-Performance Value Best CPU for Gaming: Intel Core i9-12900K
    • Alternate: AMD Ryzen 9 5950X
  • Overall Value Best CPU for Gaming: Intel Core i7-12700K
    • Alternate: AMD Ryzen 9 5900X
  • Mid-Range Best CPU for Gaming: Intel Core i5-12400
  • Budget Best CPU for Gaming: Core i3-12100
  • Entry-Level Best CPU for Gaming: AMD Ryzen 5 5600G

Intel Core i5-12400 – Best gaming CPU for most people

Midrange CPUs are the sweet spot for PC gamers. In fact, if you don’t need the additional cores of pricier CPU options, this class of chips offers essentially the same gaming experience as processors that cost hundreds more. The reason? Most of the computing burden falls on your graphics card.

At an MSRP of about $200, the Intel Core i5-12400 strikes a smooth balance between performance and affordability. Sure, you don’t get the fancy mix of performance cores and efficiency cores found in the faster Alder Lake chips, but this six-core, the 12-thread processor doesn’t suffer by having only performance cores. The Core i5-12400 usually trails behind the $320 Core i5-12600K and $589 Core i9-12900K by only a handful of frames at 1080p, 1440p, and 4K. You also don’t need to upgrade to Windows 11 to get the most out of this chip.

This CPU also outperforms AMD’s rival Ryzen 5 5600 slightly, which was also just launched. If you’re upgrading from an older AM4 B450 motherboard, you may find it more cost-effective to stick with AMD, but otherwise, the 12400 is the chip to get.

Intel Core i9-12900K – Best high-end gaming CPU

Need more cores for productivity tasks, want eight cores for streaming or future-proofing against console hardware configurations, or simply demand the absolute fastest potential frame rates in any situation? The $589 Intel Core i9-12900K is the 16-core, 24-thread processor for you.

It’s an even faster variant, the newly released Core i9-12900KS, now holds the title of “fastest gaming processor,” but this standard version is the one you want. Paying an extra $150 nets you just a tiny bump in gaming performance. You may as well invest that money instead into cutting-edge (read: pricey) DDR5 memory and get the most out of the 12900K.

AMD’s $550 Ryzen 9 5900X is another solid option that offers high frame rates, but paying that much for a 12-core chip doesn’t make sense if pure gaming is your goal.

If you simply want ultra-fast gaming frame rates and don’t need a borderline insane amount of CPU cores for productivity work, consider the step-down Core i7-12700K and Ryzen 7 5800X as well. Each costs roughly $450 and offers 12 and 8 cores, respectively.

Intel Core i3-12100F – Best budget gaming CPU

At last, builders on a budget finally have affordable chips to choose from. In a throwback to better times, you have several options in the $100 to $135(ish) range, with one extremely compelling standout among them. Intel’s $110 Core i3-12100F doesn’t just offer a hefty boost in frame rates compared to AMD’s comparable offering. It also posts gaming performance nearly on par with Intel’s last-gen Core i5-11600K—a processor that costs twice as much.

You must have a dedicated graphics card to pair with this CPU, however. This variant of the $135 Core i3-12100 lacks integrated graphics, which is how you save cash. If you’re still saving your pennies for a (reasonably) affordable graphics card, you may instead want one of AMD’s APUs, which we discuss in the next entry below.

Ryzen 5 5600G – Best CPU if you can’t get a graphics card

It’s a rough time to build a gaming PC on a budget, especially given the availability and pricing of graphics cards. One workaround is to purchase an APU, or CPUs with supercharged integrated graphics. Both the $260 Ryzen 5 5600G and $360 Ryzen 7 5700G processors let you play most games at 720p or 1080p resolution. And after you snag a graphics card, you can simply drop it into your system, because the CPU cores are very good for mainstream gaming.

The 5600G offers 6 cores and 12 threads, paired with 7 Radeon graphics cores clocked at 1.9GHz. The step-up 5700G bumps that up to 8 cores and 16 threads, alongside 8 Radeon cores running at 2GHz. Most shoppers on a budget are better off with the cheaper part unless you have a specific need for the higher CPU core count in the Ryzen 7 chip.

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