To get the best PC from your budget, it is crucial to be up-to-date with the GPU and CPU market. Keeping up with GPUs is easy as there are considerably fewer SKUs than CPUs, and you won’t have to worry about compatibility issues.
Keeping up with CPUs is more complicated, considering how many SKUs are available. Intel’s 12th generation alone has dozens of SKUs. Picking the correct motherboard and RAM is another factor that complicates things even further.
To help you stay up to date with all the new CPUs, we wrote this article to explain the current market status in detail.
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Let’s get right into it!
March 16, 2022: Added AMD’s new SKUs: Ryzen 5800XD, 5700X, 5500, 4600G, 4500, and 4100 in the new “Newly released CPUs” segment.February 3, 2022: Minor layout fixes.January 25, 2022: Replaced i5-11400 with i5-12400 as the current best value CPU.December 16, 2021 : Added Alder Lake CPUs and adjusted comparisons accordingly.September 13, 2021: Added new information regrading the difference in performance between the 5900X and the 5950X.
About The CPU
Intel lost its number one gaming CPU title for a couple of years because of AMD’s beasts of CPUs.
However, Alder Lake turned the tide. Now, Intel’s latest flagship, the i9-12900K, is the fastest gaming CPU in the world. Not only is it faster than AMD’s flagship Ryzen 5950X, but it is also cheaper.
Overall, both reviewers and tech enthusiasts are satisfied with this release.
Judging by different reviews, the i9-12900K is about 5% to 7% faster than the Ryzen 5900X. Of course, that is not a massive difference in performance, but it’s enough for Intel to come out on top and earn that gaming crown.
For more gaming benchmarks, check out the video below from Gamers Nexus.
When it comes to productivity, the i9-12900K performs pretty well too. Even though it is a 24-thread processor, it beats the 32-thread Ryzen CPU thanks to its speed.
In terms of temperature and power consumption, it isn’t too impressive. This i9 can quickly get up to 100 degrees Celsius without a proper cooler which is the throttle point for Intel CPUs.
Power consumption is also very high as we have seen it peak well over 240W. That’s about twice the power draw compared to a stock 5950X.
If you don’t really care about power draw and you have a beefy cooler, the $599 price tag sounds tempting.
However, this is an entirely new platform which means you will also need a new motherboard (Z690) which can be very pricy, and DDR5 RAM if you want the most out of this i9.
The combined price of this new platform and the CPU can come out more expensive than an AMD alternative.
Base Clock3.2GHzMax Boost Clock5.2GHzCores16Threads24Socket/ChipsetLGA1700L2 Cache14MBL3 Cache30MBTDP125WProcess10nm Enhanced SuperFin
About The CPU
The CPU closest to the i9-12900K’s power is the Ryzen 9 5900X.
Before Alder Lake, it was undoubtedly the fastest gaming CPU available, with a price tag of $550. The 5950X (800$) is very close to its performance, but it still has that slight edge in gaming.
Although it no longer holds the gaming crown, it’s still a great pick considering it is both a cheaper CPU and has an affordable platform.
The performance difference between the top 5 processors is tiny even when running games at 1080p. So a 5% faster or slower CPU shouldn’t affect your gaming experience too much.
However, for the people looking for a CPU at the top of the CPU hierarchy, AMD’s Ryzen 5900X is the answer.
This is a 12-core and 24-thread CPU, making it ideal for productivity and streaming.
Here’s a benchmark
Its power draw is admirable, peaking at 120W with PBO disabled but jumping to 158W with PBO enabled. However, even when PBO is enabled, its power draw is lower than some Intel i5s. So that’s something you should definitely keep in mind.
The average temperature sits around 70C with a Corsair H115i during heavy loads.
Base Clock3.7GHzMax Boost Clock4.8GHzCores12Threads24ChipsetAM4L2 Cache6MBL3 Cache64MBTDP105WProcess7nm
About The CPU
The i9-12900K is Intel’s fastest processor, but it is also the most expensive of the entire Alder Lake lineup. The i7-12700K, on the other hand, is just as fast in gaming but costs almost $200 less.
If you are only interested in gaming and you’re on a budget, this i7 might be a considerably better option.
We cannot say much here as this Alder Lake i7 is very similar in gaming performance to the i9-12900K. The difference is anywhere from1% to 5%.
Below you can see an extensive review of the i7 from Hardware Unboxed.
Of course, for productivity, 8 P-cores and 4 E-cores won’t be as fast as the i9’s 8 P and E-cores.
In terms of power, we see another similarity with the i9. During heavy and prolonged benchmarks, the 12700K draws 200W+. However, with lighter loads, the total power draw should be much lower, thanks to the E-cores on the chip.
Regarding temperature, the i7 performs pretty well, averaging around 70 degrees Celsius. This is based on the review video we posted above, in which they use an AIO with a 360mm radiator.
Base Clock3.6GHzMax Boost Clock5.0GHzCores12Threads20Socket/ChipsetLGA1700L2 Cache12MBL3 Cache25MBTDP125WProcess 10nm Enhanced SuperFin
About The CPU
The Ryzen 5 5600X was the best six-core processor on the market for multiple years. It was even the best all-rounder, but now it has some competition, so we’ll see how it fares.
For $300, it’s still a pretty good CPU for anyone looking to create a budget computer. However, consider that this AMD processor goes on sale down to $260.
It has enough threads, is fast, has a cheaper platform, and is at a reasonable price point.
However, don’t ignore the i5-12600K either. We’ll have a look at that processor later.
As mentioned previously, the top 5 or even top 10 CPUs globally have no more than a 10% difference in gaming performance. This means whether you have a flagship i9 or a Ryzen 5, your gaming experience will be very similar.
Here’s a look at a 10 game average benchmark:
We can clearly see that the i7-12700K outputs only about 4% more FPS than the Ryzen 5600X. So sure, the i7 is faster, but it is also $100+ more expensive with a far more costly platform.
Currently, getting on an AM4 platform can be very cheap. For example, you can find a good B450 board for less than $80. If you want to go an even more affordable path, there are A520 motherboards available. Just make sure you get a fast DDR4 kit.
Even if you want to perform multi-core tasks such as rendering, encoding, or compression, the 5600X is still incredibly fast, almost as quick as the previous-gen 8c/16t 3700X. The speed of the cores makes up for the lack of cores.
Like all other Ryzen 5000 Series CPUs, the 5600X has a low power drop and operates at low temperatures. With a Corsair H150i, it stays around 60C.
Base Clock3.7GHzMax Boost Clock4.6GHzCores6Threads12Socket/ChipsetAM4L2 Cache3MBL3 Cache32MBTDP65WProcess7 nm
About The CPU
Although Intel’s i9 and i7 perform incredibly well, especially against AMD’s CPUs, the most appealing offer from Intel has to be the i5-12600K.
This is a 10-core processor (16-thread). Six of them are P-cores, while the other four are E-cores. The gap between the Ryzen 5 and this i5 is not huge, though the i5 is faster.
However, thanks to those extra 4 E-cores, the 12600K is much faster for productivity work such as Photoshop, video editing, and more.
We will immediately start with Hardware Unboxed’s chart of 10-game average as it gives a comprehensive look at all CPUs surrounding this i5.
You can find the chart in the 5600X review above or the video below (at the linked timestamp).
The i5-12600K is only about 1% faster than the 5600X, which is within the margin of error. It’s also slightly slower than the i7-12700K. In other words, for $120 less, you’re getting effectively the same gaming performance.
If you go back to some of the other benchmarks in the same video, you will also see that the i5 utilizes those 16 threads efficiently and dominates the Ryzen 5 in terms of productivity.
With these benchmarks in mind, this seems like the best overall CPU on the market right now.
Base Clock3.7GHzMax Boost Clock4.9GHzCores10Threads16Socket/ChipsetLGA1700L2 Cache9.5MBL3 Cache20MBTDP125WProcess10nm Enhanced SuperFin
About The CPU
Intel’s i5-11400/F was undoubtedly the best value processor for a time. Luckily for Intel, the processor that took over that position was an Alder Lake SKU. The i5-12400 comes at just $209, while the F-edition is around $180.
AMD still hasn’t offered a Zen 3 alternative because the Ryzen 5 3600 is still selling like hotcakes, so Intel now rules the $200 and sub-$200 price range.
Far Cry 6, Hitman 3, and Shadow of the Tomb Raider place the i5-12400 in a similar performance range with the 5600X. In other more CPU-reliant titles such as Rainbow Six Siege, CS: GO, and F1 2021, the 5600X is faster.
Overall, the 5600X is about 6% faster than the i5, but it is also 50% more expensive (at MSRP). So realistically, the Ryzen has a 25% higher price tag.
In terms of power consumption, it’s pretty similar to the 5600X. For example, an i5-12400 system draws about 430W in Cyberpunk 2077, while a 5600X system draws around 450W.
When it comes to heat, the i5 CPU runs much cooler using Corsair’s H150i, hitting an average of 50 degrees Celsius, which is around 10 degrees cooler than the Ryzen counterpart.
Another massive benefit to this i5 is that it is overclockable even though it is a non-K SKU (with the right motherboard). Der8auer’s overclock pushes the 12400 faster than the i9-12900K.
Base Clock2.5GHzMax Boost Clock4.4GHzCores6Threads12Socket/ChipsetLGA1700L2 Cache7.5MBL3 Cache18MBTDP65WProcess 10nm Enhanced SuperFin
About The CPU
When talking about the fastest processors, we usually focus on gaming performance. The Ryzen 9 5950X is absolutely a gaming beast, often trading blows with the 12900K.
It’s definitely good for gaming, but that is not where it truly shines. Instead, this $800, 16 core, and 32 thread CPU is a powerhouse for productivity work.
This is a perfect choice for people who want to encode videos, compress them, or use apps such as Blender or Photoshop.
Regarding gaming performance, expect the 5950X to perform a bit slower than the 5900X in certain games and slower than Intel’s i9. However, even that performance difference is minimal.
Let’s have a look at productivity performance in the video below.
It used to be that the 5950X dominated any multi-threaded competitor, but that isn’t the case anymore since the i9-12900K was released. It is apparent from the video that the i9 is faster in the bulk of the benchmarks.
However, some aspects are not taken into consideration in the video. The first of these is power consumption. During heavy loads, the power consumption of the i9 is considerably higher, and temperatures rise to 100 degrees Celsius.
The 5950X draws considerably less power and is much easier to cool. This means you don’t need a beefy cooler and a case that can fit it.
Additionally, as the power gap is so large, that leaves a lot of potential for the 5950X. By enabling PBO (Precision Boost Overdrive), the 5950X comes much closer to the 12900K, while the power draw is still competitive.
In the end, the best choice is the cheaper option. The Intel flagship is definitely more affordable, but you also need to consider the cost of the motherboard, a DDR5 kit, cooler, and case (if required).
Base Clock3.4GHzMax Boost Clock4.9GHzCores16Threads32Socket/ChipsetAM4L2 Cache8MBL3 Cache64MBTDP105WProcess7nm
Best Budget CPU
About The CPU
Most of the time, Intel’s i3s have not been recommended or regarded as good gaming CPUs. Mostly because they’re extremely limited in core count. But, they are definitely affordable, so they are recommended for budget systems.
The i3-12100F has just 4P cores, no E cores, and 8 threads, but it performs considerably better than expected.
Because of the $104 price point and that kind of performance, this CPU is easily the best budget option right now.
After looking through different reviews, the i3’s performance is comparable to the i5-11400 and sometimes even the i5-11600K.
In Far Cry 6, at 1080p, the 12100F outperforms the i5-11400 and comes near the 10900K, a 10-core i9. In Red Dead Redemption 2, the i3’s FPS is closer (but slower) to the 3700X and 3900X.
CPU-bound games like CS: GO push the i3 right over the Ryzen 3000 series and almost as fast as the 11600K.
Overall, performance is off the charts for such a cheap CPU with low-core count.
Base Clock3.3 GHzMax Boost Clock4.3 GHzCores4P/0EThreads8Socket/ChipsetLGA 1700L2 Cache5MBL3 Cache12MBTDP58WProcess10nm Enhanced SuperFin
Newly Released CPUs
We have looked at some of the most popular, fastest, and overall best processors based available on the market right now. However, there might be some new processors that didn’t end up on this list.
If you want to know which CPUs are the newest, here’s a list detailing their specifications and release date.
Note: Some processors on this list might not be available in retail.
SKURelease DateArchitectureCores/ThreadsBase ClockBoost ClockL3 CacheTDPPrice
Ryzen 7 5800X3DApril 20, 2022Zen 38/163.4 GHz4.5 GHz96MB 105W$449
Ryzen 7 5700XApril 4, 2022Zen38/163.4 GHz4.6 GHz32MB65W$299
Ryzen 5 5600April 4, 2022Zen 36/123.5 GHz4.4 GHz32MB65W$199
Ryzen 5 5500April 4, 2022Zen 36/123.6 GHz4.2 GHz16MB65W$159
Ryzen 5 4600GApril 4, 2022Zen 26/123.7 GHz4.2 GHz8MB65W$154
Ryzen 5 4500April 4, 2022Zen 26/123.6 GHz4.1 GHz8MB65W$129
Ryzen 3 4100April 4, 2022Zen 24/83.8 GHz4.0 GHz4MB65W$99
Intel i9-12900KNovember 5, 202110nm Enhanced SuperFin (Intel 7)16(8P+8E)/243.2 GHz (P)
2.4 GHz (E)5.2 GHz (P)
3.9 GHz (E)30MB125W$599
Intel i7-12700KNovember 4, 202110nm Enhanced SuperFin (Intel 7)12(8P+4E)/203.6 GHz (P)
2.7 GHz (E)5.0 GHz (P)
3.8 GHz (E)25MB125W$99
Intel i5-12600KNovember 4, 202110nm Enhanced SuperFin (Intel 7)10(8P+2E)/163.7 GHz (P)
2.8 GHz (E)4.9 GHz (P)
3.6 GHz (E)20MB125W$299
If none of these CPUs have caught your eye and you want a more significant upgrade to your system, consider waiting for the new CPU generations.
The soonest next generation of CPUs is AMD’s Ryzen 7000 Series which should provide a nice upgrade over Ryzen’s 5000 series.