Fortunately for the company and for us (tech enthusiast, gamers, etc.), the release of Alder Lake was very successful, bringing competitive processors to the table. The same can be said for Raptor Lake too.
Therefore, if you intend to opt for Intel and wish to obtain optimal performance within your budget, this article on the finest Intel CPUs will guide you in making the correct choice.
Let’s see which CPUs are actually the best ones Intel has to offer!
Intel Core i5-13600K – Best Intel CPU Overall
Specifications:rn•tP-Cores: 6rn•tE-Cores: 8rn•tThreads: 20rn•tP-core Base Clock: 3.5 GHzrn•tP-Core Boost Clock: 5.1 GHzrn•tTDP: 125W (181W – Maximum Turbo Power)rn•tCache: 24MB
The last couple of i5 generations offered great performance per price. Both the i5-10600K and i5-11600K proved as great CPUs for gaming. But AMD still offered better performance for a lesser price.
However, Intel’s Alder Lake i5-12600K changed the wind’s course. It offered more cores, and better single-core performance for the same i5 price tag.
The Intel Core i5-13600K is an improved version of the i5-12600K with 4 additional cores. It’s definitely Intel’s top CPU!
The Intel i5-13600K has a price tag of $329, about $40 more expensive than its predecessor, but for a good reason.
Current competition for this i5 is the $229 Ryzen 5 7600, the $329 Ryzen 7 7700 priced at $329, and the $250 i5-13500.
Keep in mind that DDR4 and Intel’s DDR4 platform is cheaper than AM5 (Ryzen) motherboards with DDR5 RAM.
In terms of gaming, the i5-13600K is undoubtedly one of the fastest processors in the world right now.
In the image above, we can see that the i5-13600K is undoubtedly one of the fastest gaming CPUs out there.
But, if you are looking specifically for a gaming processor, there are cheaper and better alternatives. The Ryzen 5 7600X, for example, is cheaper and faster even when the i5 is paired with DDR5 memory.
The Ryzen 5 7600 (not on this chart) is also just as fast as the i5-13600K with DDR5 and the same can be said for the i5-13500.
However, the i5-13600K is not a CPU for gaming only. This is a 14-core CPU that wipes the floor with AMD’s Ryzens in productivity workloads.
In this Blender chart, the i5-13600K needs 27% less time to finish the render than the R5 7600X and 5% less time than the (now) $350 R7 7700X.
So, if you’re looking for a CPU that performs well in all aspects, the i5-13600K is a no-brainer!
Power Draw And Thermals
The power draw isn’t Raptor Lake’s strong side, so expect a higher power draw from the i5-13600K.
In the Blender test mentioned earlier, the i5 used a total of 315W of power, which is around 100W higher than the Ryzen 5 7600X. Although the i5 has 14 cores, it’s worth noting that the significantly faster Ryzen 9 7900X only used 302W.
With this kind of power draw, you will need a bigger cooler to tame this processor.
But, if you are just gaming, temperatures will stay around the $80 mark even with cheaper air coolers.
Intel Core i9-13900K – Best Intel CPU
Specifications:rn•tP-Cores: 8rn•tE-Cores: 16rn•tThreads: 32rn•tP-core Base Clock: 3.0 GHzrn•tP-Core Boost Clock: 5.8 GHzrn•tTDP: 125W (253W – Maximum Turbo Power)rn•tCache: 36MB
Intel Core i9-13900K is Intel’s current best CPU (excluding Xeon or server CPUs) in both gaming and productivity. Although it is worth noting that the i9-13900KS is the faster CPU, it’s considerably more expensive and draws more power for a negligible increase in performance.
The i9-13900K has a $599 price tag, undercutting AMD’s Ryzen 9 7950X by $100 while performing much better in certain productivity workloads.
However, the Ryzen 9 7950X did get a major price cut and is now regularly priced around the $580 mark, so it is good competition for Intel’s flagship.
From a flagship CPU like the i9-13900K, you can expect only the best and that’s exactly what this CPU provides.
Hardware Unboxed’s testing shows that the i9-13900K comes out on top when it comes to gaming. In this 12-game test, on average, the i9-13900K is about 4% faster than the R7 7700X.
It’s not a huge margin, but it gives Intel the bragging right for the fastest gaming CPU.
However, when the i9 is paired with DDR4 memory, it falls behind the Ryzen 7 and Ryzen 9.
The i9-13900K has 8 performance and 16 efficiency cores, with boost clocks of 5.80 GHz. It is comparable to the Ryzen 9 7950X.
However, Ryzen does perform better in certain applications such as Blender, 7-Zip decompression, Corona, Adobe Premiere, etc.
Still, the i9 is an incredibly fast CPU, at the top of the CPU hierarchy and slower than the R9 by a very small margin.
Power Draw And Thermals
We mentioned previously that Raptor Lake suffers from poor power consumption and the i9-13900K is probably the worst culprit.
Intel’s flagship is very power-hungry, making the Ryzen 9 7950X miles more efficient. This also leads to high temperatures, so if you plan to get this processor for productivity workloads, we suggest getting adequate cooling.
Even in gaming, with a cheaper cooler, the i9-13900K will start throttling while its competitor, the 7950X will maintain its boost clocks.
Intel Core i7-13700K – Best Value High-End Processor
Specifications:rn•tP-Cores: 8rn•tE-Cores: 8rn•tThreads: 24rn•tP-core Base Clock: 3.4 GHzrn•tP-Core Boost Clock: 5.4 GHzrn•tTDP: 125W (253W – Maximum Turbo Power)rn•tCache: 30MB
While the Core i9-13900K is undoubtedly Intel’s fastest CPU, it’s no secret that the real value lies in the processors under it, like the i5-13600K and, the best-value high-end processor, the Intel Core i7-13700K.
The i7-13700K is priced at $420, which puts it in a bit of an awkward position because the Ryzen 9 7900X is now often priced at around $420 too. The 7900X is faster most of the time, especially if the i7 is paired with DDR4 memory.
However, for $20 less, the i7-13700KF is also an option. It is practically the exact same CPU without an integrated GPU.
That’s not all, the i7-13700F and i7-13700 are $384 and $359 respectively. These are substantially cheaper with a lower TDP, which leads to a lower clock speed/boost clock, but even that won’t affect performance too much.
From a CPU like the i7-13700K, you can only expect top-tier performance and that’s what you will get.
The i7 paired with fast DDR5 memory is on par with the Ryzen 7 7700X. This puts the i7 in a bad light considering the 7700X is about $70 cheaper and the 7700 non-X $90 cheaper.
However, the i7 isn’t just for gaming. This 24-thread CPU can handle high-end gaming, streaming, video editing, rendering, and everything else you throw at it.
Hardware Unboxed’s testing in Blender shows that the i7-13700K finishes the render 26% faster than the 7700X and it’s about 8% slower than the 7900X.
Power Draw And Thermals
Again, this is where the 13th-Gen’s bad side shines. It’s a hot CPU and it demands a high-end cooler, otherwise, it will throttle in most productivity workloads.
A mid-end cooler might be able to keep the i7 in place during gaming workload, but it’s still better to go with something that can handle the 13700K’s peak power consumption. Why? Check out the image below.
At peak power draw, the i7 brings the total system power draw up to 391W, almost 30% higher than the 7900X.
Intel Core i5-12400 – Best Gaming Value CPU
Specifications: rn•tP-Cores: 6rn•tE-Cores: 0rn•tThreads: 12rn•tP-core Base Clock: 2.5 GHzrn•tP-Core Boost Clock: 4.5 GHzrn•tTDP: 65W (117W – Maximum Turbo Power)rn•tCache: 18MB
The i5-12600K and i5-13600K are undoubtedly Intel’s best overall CPUs because of the combination of high clock speeds, an abundance of cores/threads, and price.
However, the true worth for gaming is found in the more affordable 6-core CPUs. In this inventory, we selected the i5-12400 instead of the i5-13400 due to the miniscule difference in performance and the higher price of the newer i5.
The i5-12400 initially costed $220, just like the i5-13400. However, after being on the market for a year, the i5-12400 is now often priced under $200, mainly around the $180 range.
The i5-13400 on the other hand is often above its original price without providing any considerable gains over the previous generation.
So, the obvious choice here is the 12th gen i5.
The Intel Core i5-12400 is one of the best-value CPUs for gaming. At just $180, you can get high-end-like performance. Even with a GPU like the RTX 4090, the little 6-core i5 can still surprise.
Looking at this 12-game average chart, we can see that the i5-12400 and i5-13400 show a minuscule difference even when paired with a flagship GPU.
The i5-12400 is closely following the Ryzen 7 5700X, which initially debuted at $300.
However, the Ryzen is often around the $200 price point, so if you can find it at a discount, going with the Ryzen might be a better option.
For productivity workloads, you can’t expect too much out of this CPU since it is just a 6-core processor. The 5700X is the better option if you plan to do more than gaming on your computer.
But, for light video rendering work, photo editing, or code compiling, the i5-12400 is more than enough.
Power Draw And Thermals
One of the stronger points of the i5-12400 is its power draw.
In this Cyberpunk 2077 test, the i5-12400 draws less power than the Ryzen 5 5600X, i5-12600K, and most of the other CPUs.
Since this is a very efficient CPU, any CPU cooler should be able to handle it (including the Intel box cooler.)
Intel Core i3-13100F – Best Budget CPU
Specifications:rn•tP-Cores: 4rn•tE-Cores: 0rn•tThreads: 9rn•tP-core Base Clock: 3.4 GHzrn•tP-Core Boost Clock: 4.5 GHzrn•tTDP: 58W (89W – Maximum Turbo Power)rn•tCache: 12MB
Unlike AMD, Intel does offer quite a few budget-oriented CPUs. With the 13th generation of CPUs, the best budget option is undoubtedly the Intel Core i3-13100F.
Yes, the i3-13100 is still an option, but the non-F edition is simply not worthwhile.
Let’s talk about that!
The i3-13100 has a $150 price tag, while the i3-13100F is often sold below $125. Sure, $25 might not sound like a lot, but for a budget-oriented PC build, every dollar counts!
So, for $25 less, it’s the same performance just without an integrated GPU. Of course, if you require an iGPU, then go for the non-F version.
Alternatively, check out the i3-12100/F, which hovers around the $100 mark.
These little 4-core CPUs are surprisingly fast. Both the i3-12100F and i3-13100F provide more than enough performance for a budget computer.
Looking at this chart by Gamers Nexus we can see the i3s offer similar performance, but what’s interesting is that they are faster than AMD’s 16-thread Ryzen 7 3700X (2019) and Intel’s 12-thread i5-10600K from 2020.
Power Draw And Thermals
From a 4-core CPU, the power draw is quite low as expected.
In Gamers Nexus’ testing, the i3-13100F draws only about 66W, matching the Ryzen 5 5600 and 5600X.
Which Intel CPU Should You get?
So, out of these 5 different CPUs on this list, ranging from $100 and up to ~$600, which is the one that should end up in your PC build?
If you’re looking for a no-compromise and good-value CPU, the i5-13600K is the one that makes sense. For $330 (sometimes less), you get performance for gaming and productivity work.
If you’re on a tighter budget and want a gaming-only Intel CPU, the i5-12400/F is the go-to option since it cost around $180 (less for the F variant). To cut down on CPU costs even further, the $120 i3 is also a good option.
However, for high-end Intel performance, the i7-13700K is king. At $420, it offers performance in gaming that is comparable to the i9-13900K and it keeps up in productivity too.
However, if you desire the top tier and have the funds, the i9-13900K is the sensible choice.