The Best CPUs (2022 Reviews)

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!

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 marketCompetitively priced in respect to Ryzen 5950XBest in both single-core and multi-core tasksSolid overclocking potential

The Cons:

Expensive platform (including DDR5)

Intel’s new flagship, the i9-12900K, is currently the fastest chip globally, 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.

The Intel Core i9-12900K 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 to 16 cores and 24 threads.

With 8 cores boosting at 5.2 GHz, a TDP of 125W (250W 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 can 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. 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 gamingExtremely power efficientOverclockableCan be found for $200 less than MSRPCheaper 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 a couple of years until Intel released Alder Lake.

Even with Intel’s new CPUs, the 5950X is still the second-fastest CPU. 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 considering that the i9 is almost $250 cheaper. However, considering this is an older CPU and platform, you can find the 5950X for around $600, while high-quality X570, B450, or B550 can be bought for $100 or less.

Pair that with cheap DDR4 RAM kits, and you’ve got yourself a pretty powerful system for around $800.

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 priceAlmost as fast as the i9-12900KRoom 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 performanceVery power efficientGood overclocking potentialOlder platform = cheaper buildDiscounts

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.

The Pros:

Another power-efficient AMD SKUGreat for OCHuge price cutsSolid performance

The Cons:

High MSRP compared to 12700K

Most people ignored the 5800X when Ryzen 5000 series was released. Not because of its performance, but because of its hefty price ($450).

However, since the 5800X is now much cheaper than it used to be, it is finally a value-based choice. Nowadays, you can grab it for as low as $350, making it more affordable than the i7-12700K. Combine the CPU’s cost with the price of cheap AM4 motherboards; the 5800X can offer great value for high-end performance.

In terms of gaming, the 5800X is slower than Intel’s flagship i7, but that difference is almost negligible. The i7 is no more than 5% faster in most games.

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 performanceGood 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:

Awesome valueSolid OC potentialVery power efficient considering its gaming prowessComes with a CPU cooler

The Cons:

Could use a price cut

AMD’s Ryzen 5 5600X was the best overall CPU, and then Alder Lake was released. Sure, the 12600K might have pushed the 5600X to second place, but this Ryzen is still a competent processor.

It has an MSRP of $300, which is a lot for 2022, but it’s possible to find it for cheaper. Unfortunately, it doesn’t go on discounts as often as the Ryzen 5800X, but you might find it for $280 or less.

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 95W from the PSU.

The Pros:

Best price-per-performance CPU on the marketPerforms well in games and applicationsSignificant performance gains through overclockComes 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 marketImpressive gaming performanceComes 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 valueOverclockableGreat box coolerSolid 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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