The Best CPUs (2022 Reviews)

Looking for a new CPU but not sure which one to get? Need one for your gaming PC or one for your workstation perhaps? Here are the best CPUs for everyone.

Back in 2019, if you asked any tech enthusiasts, tech reviewers, or PC experts about a CPU suggestion, they would immediately recommend a Ryzen processor.

Fortunately, things have changed over the past few years, and Intel is finally competitive again in all aspects. So, whether we’re talking about gaming, productivity, or just running basic computer tasks, Intel delivers.

However, both companies offer great CPU options, so the AMD vs. Intel CPU battle continues.

To help you with that, we’re writing this article to tell you about the best CPUs in all categories.

Let’s get to it!

Table of ContentsShow

Best Gaming Performance CPUs

First off, let’s have a look at the most exciting category – the best high-end gaming processors available.

In this category, expect high FPS, but high prices too. So, if you are looking for budget-oriented solutions, we recommend heading over to our budget selections below.

The Pros:

  • Current fastest CPU on the market
  • Competitively priced in respect to Ryzen 5950X
  • Best in both single-core and multi-core tasks
  • Solid overclocking potential

The Cons:

  • Expensive platform (including DDR5)

Intel’s new flagship, the i9-12900KS, is currently Intel’s fastest chip, easily pushing the Ryzen 9 5950X back to second (or even third) place.

Not only is it faster than AMD’s flagship processor, but it is also cheaper. Priced at $589, it is a much better choice than AMD’s $799 MSRP.

However, it does have trouble surpassing the new Ryzen 7 5800X3D unless paired with expensive ($800+) DDR5 kits.

The Intel Core i9-12900KS is based on Intel’s big.LITTLE architecture, which works something like Apple’s M1 CPUs. Instead of cramming it with high-performance cores only, Intel has put high-performance and efficiency cores together in their Alder Lake chips.

With this method, this i9 comes with 8P cores and 8E (E-cores don’t support hyper-threading) cores which sums up to 16 cores and 24 threads.

With 8 cores boosting at 5.5 GHz, a TDP of 150W (275W peak), 30MB L3 Cache, and DDR5, the i9-12900K can deliver gaming performance unlike any other processor in the market.

But, the E-cores shouldn’t be underestimated either. These cores boost up to 3.9 GHz, which activate when needed. By combining E-cores and P-cores, the i9 can also deliver excellent performance in productivity tasks.

Additionally, Alder Lake CPUs support PCIe 5.0 which is another big benefit.

The only downside to this CPU is the expensive platform, especially if you want DDR5. High-end Z690 motherboards can cost up to several hundred dollars, and 16GB DDR5 kits can also go up to $800.

Of course, users can go with a DDR4 motherboard and kit, which are cheaper.

The Pros:

  • Exceptionally fast in productivity tasks and gaming
  • Extremely power efficient
  • Overclockable
  • Can be found for $200 less than MSRP
  • Cheaper platform

The Cons:

  • Still more expensive than faster competitor

The Ryzen 9 5950X is AMD’s flagship processor, and it was the fastest CPU in the world for some time until Intel released Alder Lake.

Even with Intel’s new CPUs and the Ryzen 7 5800X3D in play, the 5950X is still one of the faster gaming CPUs on the market. So it’s still more than capable.

With this SKU, you will get 16 cores, 32 threads at 4.9GHz boost clocks, 64MB L3 cache, and all of that with a power usage peak of just 135W (without PBO). Considerably more efficient than Intel’s i9.

Specifications like this help the CPU deliver incredible performance in every aspect. The abundance of threads easily handles any kind of rendering, image processing, coding, etc. In addition, the high L3 cache and boost clock speeds supply high FPS in gaming.

Unfortunately, an $800 MSRP makes this a hard buy (for gaming) considering that the i9-12900K is almost $250 cheaper.

But, this is an older CPU, so it’s possible to find it for around $600 and you can get a high-quality X570, B450, or B550 for $100 or less. Still, Alder Lake i7s and the 5800X3D provide similar or better FPS for a better value.

The Pros:

  • World’s fastest gaming CPU
  • Best gaming performance for a fair price
  • Low power consumption (compared to competition)

The Cons:

  • Non-overclockable CPU (3D L3 Cache does not scale above 1.35V)

The Ryzen 7 5800X3D is AMD’s latest and probably one of the last CPUs introduced for AM4 motherboards. But, it may be the last, but it’s definitely not the least.

In fact, we can safely say that the Ryzen 7 5800X3D is now the fastest gaming CPU in the world at a competitive price.

Intel tried to beat AMD to the punch with the i9-12900KS, but that’s an $800 CPU and it is slower based on the benchmarks we’ve looked at Gamers Nexus and Hardware Unboxed.

The 5800X3D on the other hand costs $450 and can be paired with a much more affordable platform and RAM kits.

This processor is so powerful for games because of its 96MB of L3 cache which was achieved with AMD’s 3D V-Cache technology. That’s three times more than the original 5800X.

Even with a 4.5 GHz clock speed (200MHz slower than the 5800X), it’s still performs insanely well in-game.

Value High-End Performance CPUs

This category is for high-end processors that offer a considerably better value than the flagship CPUs we previously mentioned.

The Pros:

  • Great price
  • Almost as fast as the i9-12900K
  • Room for overclocking

The Cons:

  • Higher power draw than AMD contenders

The i7-12700K is Intel’s second-fastest processor and can easily be compared with the 12900K or the 5950X with its performance. So much power for a price of $419 is definitely an attractive offer.

Eight performance cores boosting up to 4.9 GHz, four efficiency cores boosting up to 3.8 GHz for a total of 20 threads, 30MB of L3 cache, and TDP of 125W will ensure that any game gets high FPS.

The 12700K won’t have any issue handling productivity tasks either with 20 threads in the CPU die.

Like the i9, getting a high-end DDR5 RAM kit and a motherboard supporting DDR5 can be expensive. So, we recommend going down the DDR4 route to save some money.

Overall, the Intel Core i7-12700K probably offers the best value for high-end performance.

The Pros:

  • Outstanding productivity/gaming performance
  • Very power efficient
  • Good overclocking potential
  • Older platform = cheaper build
  • Discounts

The Cons:

  • High MSRP

The Ryzen 9 5900X is AMD’s second-fastest CPU and is also AMD’s best value offer for high-end performance.

A great 24-thread CPU with great power usage efficiency and tons of other advantages, but unfortunately, it is overshadowed by cheaper contenders. Its MSRP is $549, but it should go for less considering its age.

Whether that kind of discount can compete against Intel’s $400 i7 is debatable. But, at least you can pair the 5900X with a good $50 B450 board.

Overall Best Value CPUs

Most gamers are always looking to get the best performance out of their money. This category is focused on CPUs that offer the best value.

The Pros:

  • Great price-per-performance
  • Impressive productivity and gaming performance
  • Good overclock

The Cons:

  • No CPU cooler

The i5-12600K is currently the overall best CPU. A price point of $320, good performance in gaming, and productivity tasks. What else can you ask for?

Even though the $320 price point puts the i5 more expensive than AMD’s Ryzen 5600X, you’re still getting 10 cores, 16 threads, and a lot more core power. It may not be a lot faster than the 5600X in games, but it is quite a bit faster in different applications such as Blender, Photoshop, etc.

Overall, the i5-12600K is an excellent choice for a CPU. We heavily recommend it!

The Pros:

  • Great price
  • Very power efficient
  • Great gaming and productivity tasks performance

The Cons:

  • No apparent downsides

AMD’s Ryzen 7 5700X is basically the 5800X, at a lower price and lower TDP. For an MSRP of $300, the 5700X is a no-brainer for anyone looking to upgrade from older generations of Ryzen.

More expensive than the 5600 (non-X), but you get a bit more performance and two more cores.

The 100 MHz lower clock speed than the 5800X (4.6 GHz compared to 4.7 GHz) does not hinder its performance at all. In fact, many benchmarks show that the performance is almost identical.

The lower power draw makes the 5700X an even more attractive offer. This thing doesn’t even go over 65W.

The Pros:

  • Awesome value
  • Solid OC potential
  • Very power efficient considering its gaming prowess
  • Comes with a CPU cooler

The Cons:

  • No apparent downsides

While the Ryzen 5 5600X was AMD’s best CPU, it was quickly overshadowed after the release of the Ryzen 5 5600. This non-X version is considerably cheaper while delivering the same performance.

It has an MSRP of $200, which is considerably cheaper than the $300 5600X. This huge difference in pricing makes the 5600X obsolete.

Overall, AMD’s CPU hits the sweet spot in all aspects. It delivers high-end-like performance in games, it’s good enough in productivity tasks, and its power efficiency is astounding; you won’t see this CPU pull any more than 70W from the PSU.

The Pros:

  • Best price-per-performance CPU on the market
  • Performs well in games and applications
  • Significant performance gains through overclock
  • Comes with a cooler

The Cons:

  • Overclockable only with an appropriate motherboard

The Intel Core i5-12400 is the CPU that delivers the best price-per-performance on the market right now. In addition, it’s relatively cheaper than the Ryzen 5600X and i5-12600K. Its MSRP is just $192.

Even though there is a huge price gap, the performance is quite close between these CPUs. Sure, it is about 6% slower than AMD’s Ryzen, but it’s also around 30% cheaper.

Great performance, 12 threads, low power draw, and the ability to overclock make for a perfect CPU option. Some i5-12400 users managed to overclock it up to 5.0 GHz, leading to a 20-30% performance uplift.

Budget CPUs

Thanks to AMD’s and Intel’s innovation over these past couple of years, even budget CPUs are quite fast in gaming nowadays.

Here are our best budget CPU picks!

The Pros:

  • Best budget CPU on the market
  • Impressive gaming performance
  • Comes with a cooler

The Cons:

  • Not overclockable

Despite the fact that the Intel Core i3-12100F has only 4 cores and 8 threads, the performance is not hindered. On the contrary, these cores are so powerful the i3 delivers performance comparable to the i5-10600K for an MSRP of just $120.

It also outperforms the Ryzen 3700X and the previous budget king, the Ryzen 5 3600X.

Pair this CPU with a cheaper motherboard and DDR4 kit, and you’ll have yourself a solid gaming system for less than $300. Heavily recommended!

The Pros:

  • Good value
  • Overclockable
  • Great box cooler
  • Solid performance

The Cons:

  • Intel counterparts offer a better price point

The Ryzen 5 3600 was the CPU budget king for a couple of years. But, with Intel’s interest to offer good value with Alder Lake, that’s no longer the case. Still, the non-X 3600 is a great processor if you manage to grab it at a fair price.

The original MSRP back in 2019 was $199. These days, you can probably grab it for less than that. It will be a couple percent slower than the i3-12100, but at least you’ll have 6 cores and 12 threads. It’s still a great budget pick, and we heavily recommend it.

With overclocking, it is possible to push this CPU up to 4.4 GHz.

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Branko Gapo
Branko Gapo

Keeping up with the incredibly fast evolution of computer technology is almost impossible. That's why Branko will be using his knowledge on this matter to share news and information on all the latest essential technological innovations and advancements related to CPUs.