The best CPUs

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You need the best cpus Buying a processor for a gaming rig isn’t as hard as it used to be. Now that Ryzen 3000-series and Intel’s 10th-gen Core best CPUs come with more performance and cores than ever before, it’s hard to buy a stinker these days—especially because most games favor graphics firepower over CPU oomph. All that said, there are specific chips that stand out from the horde as the best gaming CPUs due to their price, performance, or nifty extras.

the best cpu are the sweet spot for PC gamers. In fact, if you don’t need the additional cores of pricier CPU options, this class of chip offers essentially the same gaming experience of processors that cost hundreds more. The bigger question is: Intel or AMD? The answer is complicated.

After a decade of Intel dominance, AMD came back with a vengeance in recent years. Its Ryzen 5 2600 and 3600 offerings conquered mainstream gaming. The company’s newer 6-core Ryzen 5 5600X delivers killer gaming speed for the class and solid productivity results. However, Intel’s solid Core i5-11600K earns our nod for two simple reasons: price and availability.

AMD raised prices by $50 over previous generations for the Ryzen 5 5600X thanks to its newfound gaming supremacy, then got hit by the same semiconductor shortages and logistics woes plaguing the GPU industry. Supply of the chip has been more miss than hit since its November launch. When you can find it at retailers, it’s usually going for $350 (or more!) rather than its $300 MSRP.

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Enter Intel’s $270 Core i5-11600K. Launched in late March, it offers the same 6 cores and 12 threads as the Ryzen 5 5600X and top-notch gaming performance, per reviews from TechPowerUp, Tom’s Hardware, and PC Gamer. It doesn’t win every battle—the Ryzen chip comes out slightly ahead on average in TechSpot’s gaming tests—and Intel’s aging 14nm process makes the 11600K less power-efficient than AMD’s 7nm 5600X. Still, the chips offer effectively similar experiences, especially at the higher visual settings and resolutions that most PC gamers play at. They’re both excellent.

the best cpu

We’d give the AMD chip the nod in a world where parts flowed freely, but the Core i5-11600K’s $80-plus price advantage gets our recommendation in today’s market. Note that you’ll need to buy a cooler for it, however, while AMD’s Ryzen 5 5600X comes with one bundled. You may want to factor that into your buying decision if you aren’t dead-set on outfitting your chip with a nice third-party cooler.

If you don’t mind giving up PCIe 4.0 support and a wee bit of potential speed, give last generation’s Core i5-10600K a long, hard look. It’s another 6-core, 12-thread, highly clocked gaming chip, and currently you can find it going for just $230 on Amazon and other retailers. That’s a great price for a good chip, especially if you plan on playing at 1440p or 4K resolutions, where games become more GPU-bound than best CPU-bound.

Modern Core i5 and Ryzen 5 chips with six cores deliver nearly the same levels of gaming performance as pricier processors. You only need to step up to a high-end gaming best CPU if you need more cores for productivity tasks, want eight cores for streaming or future-proofing against console hardware configurations, or simply demand the absolute fastest potential frame rates in any situation.

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