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When it comes to putting together a gaming PC, many people neglect the CPU, but the truth is that it can be just as important a component as the graphics card. While it’s true that your GPU will drive graphics rendering and processing, a poor CPU can bottleneck performance in gaming, severely driving framerate down and compromising your gaming experience to an unacceptable degree.
With that in mind, you’re probably wondering what the best CPUs you can buy for gaming PCs in 2023 are. Right now, there are top-drawer offerings available from both AMD and Intel, who are the top dogs when it comes to CPU manufacture. You won’t find many CPUs worth bothering with outside of these two companies, so without further ado, let’s take a look at the best gaming CPUs 2023 has to offer.
Intel Core i9 13900K
Let’s kick things off with the undisputed champion of the gaming CPU space. The Intel Core i9 13900K is, to put it mildly, the king of CPU technology. It has a staggering 24 cores and a max frequency of 5.80GHz, along with 32 threads to make sure that it can handle whatever task you throw at it with aplomb.
If you’re putting together a simple gaming PC, you might find that the i9 13900K is overkill to some degree; it’s built for streamers, content creators, and anyone who’s going to be pushing their PC to the absolute limit. Still, if money is no object, this is definitely the CPU for you.
AMD Ryzen 7 5800X3D
In the red corner, we have the hat that AMD has thrown into the ring for the most powerful gaming CPU, the Ryzen 7 5800X3D. This is the first desktop processor that comes complete with an unprecedented 96MB of L3 cache, and if you’re not tech-inclined, just know that this makes the 5800X3D a staggeringly powerful gaming CPU.
If you’re looking to create content for video platforms or you want to use your PC for more than gaming, you may wish to look to Intel rather than AMD, because the Ryzen range is built more for entertainment. However, if you want the most powerful gaming CPU around and you don’t care about doing anything else with your machine, you definitely want to look into this monster.
AMD Ryzen 9 7950X
The Ryzen 7000 series has just arrived, and the 7950X is a staggeringly powerful monstrosity that won’t be troubled by even the most demanding and technically impressive games out there. It boasts incredible performance across single-thread and multi-thread, and it can be overclocked, which means you’ll never want for extra juice.
Of course, the 7950X boasts a price tag to match its ridiculous performance, so you can expect to pay hundreds upon hundreds of pounds for the privilege of fitting this monster into your setup. However, if you want the very best and you’re not a fan of Intel for some reason, the 7950X is pretty much the go-to chip. Just expect to be living hand-to-mouth for a while after you pony up for it.
Intel Core i5 13600K
As you’d expect, Intel continues to rule the roost when it comes to great gaming CPUs, and its Core i5 midrange offering is no exception. This isn’t going to give you the same monster power boost as the i9, but if you’re just going to be doing some gaming, you probably won’t notice the difference too much.
The Core i5 is capable of overclocking, too, although you will need a suitably beefy motherboard that supports this feature. Even if you don’t overclock the processor, though, you’ll find a 14-core, 20-thread beast that will more than match whatever gaming activities you want to throw its way.
AMD Ryzen 5 5600G
On the lower end of the budget spectrum, we have the AMD Ryzen 5 5600G, which comes complete with integrated graphics so you won’t need to plump for a separate graphics card. It’s worth saying that if you’re putting together a gaming PC, a graphics card is pretty much a must, but if you’re on a shoestring, then the 5600G is a great option.
It offers the best possible option for integrated graphics on a CPU, so you won’t find a better alternative if you’re determined not to buy a separate card. Bear in mind that if you’re playing more graphically demanding or intensive games, you’re probably not going to see the performance from this one that you might like, but it’s a lower-budget option that should suit more restricted setups.
Intel Core i7 13700K
Last but not least, we have this mid-to-high-range option from Intel, which is aimed mostly at those who like to stream while they game. Its 16-core, 24-thread setup makes it ideal for multitasking, so you can play a game in one window and run OBS in another without worrying about taxing your processor.
Even when it comes time to create and export your project, you’ll find that the Core i7 doesn’t slow down at all, making it the perfect accompaniment to your burgeoning career as a streamer. If you’re looking for the best all-round gaming chip and you don’t want to fork out for a Core i9 (no shame, they can be stupidly expensive), then the Core i7 remains the best option for you. It won’t match the i9, nor will it face down Ryzen’s 7000 series, but it’s solid nonetheless.