Best CPU for Gaming in 2022

Our tips and picks below will show you the best CPU for gaming. When shopping for the best CPU for gaming, you'll want to balance performance and features with your PC budget. You can also see how all of these processors stack up in our CPU Benchmarks hierarchy which includes CPU overclock benchmarks. 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.

We break our gaming CPU recommendations into different price ranges. If you're looking for the overall best gaming CPU with an accessible price point, the six-core 12-thread Core i5-12400 is hands-down the best CPU for gaming. Recent price cuts have made this chip an even better deal, catapulting it to the top of our list.

The Ryzen 5 5600 is the best AMD CPU for gaming for ~$175, but Intel still holds the overall lead in this price range. If you're upgrading a first-gen Ryzen system there isn't a better deal because the 5600 brings the best of Zen 3 to even the oldest Ryzen motherboards. If you're looking for the best AMD CPU for gaming, the new Ryzen 7 5800X3D is the fastest gaming CPU on the market. This chip and its 3D V-Cache isn't as fast as comparable chips in other types of work beyond gaming, though, so you'll need to be aware of the pros and cons. Also, its $449 price point is a bit higher than we typically recommend for gaming-centric builds.

If you're looking for the fastest blend of gaming and application performance on the market, you need to look at the Core i9-12900K. The $589 Intel Core i9-12900K delivers incredible levels of threaded performance, beating AMD's best. However, the $380 Core i7-12700K offers essentially the same gaming performance as the flagship Core i9-12900K — but for ~$200 less. The 12900K serves up the utmost in productivity performance, but the Core i7-12700K 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, while the $110 Core i3-12100 is the best budget gaming CPU.

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 5900X, Ryzen 7 5800X, Ryzen 5 5600X, and Ryzen 5600 and 5500 for the detailed rundown of the best AMD CPUs for gaming.

Our list of best CPUs for workstations is for those who frequently tackle high-end content creation or professional work. Processors benefit 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 CPU for gaming, you're in the right place.

Best CPU for Gaming Benchmarks

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

Quick Shopping Tips

When choosing the best CPU for gaming in 2022, consider the following:

You can't lose with AMD or Intel: As noted in our recent AMD vs. Intel feature, Intel tends to make the best CPUs for gaming for mainstream PCs lately. 
For gaming, clock speed is more important than the number of cores: Higher CPU clock speeds translate to snappier performance in simple tasks like gaming, while more cores will help you get through heavy workloads faster. 
Budget for a full system: Don't pair a strong CPU with weak storage, RAM and graphics.
Overclocking isn’t for everyone, but if you follow our How to Overclock a CPU guide, you can scrape out extra performance gains. 

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