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Best CPU 2024: Our top rated processors

The CPU is often thought of as the brain of your PC. From browsing the web to gaming, almost every workload will depend on the speed of your processor for a smooth and seamless experience. But what is the best CPU you can find?

Our team of experts have thoroughly tested all of the latest desktop processors from AMD and Intel, using benchmark tests to get an accurate gauge of performance. While performance is certainly important, there are plenty of other important factors to consider, so we’ve made sure to also test the likes of power consumption and thermal performance. 

Every processor that receives a high score in our review is considered for this list. We’ll also be reviewing plenty more desktop CPUs as they become available, so we’ll be continuously updating this list to keep you up to date. 

Can’t find a CPU to your liking? Then make sure to check out our Best Gaming CPU list, as well as our Best Intel Processor guide.

Best CPU at a glance:

How we test

Learn more about how we test CPUs

We always review multiple CPUs at once to compare data, using consistent components for fair testing where possible.

We use a mix of both synthetic and in-game benchmarks to gauge performance, while also considering additional features and pricing.

We also measure the likes of power consumption and peak temperature under stress to get an idea of performance efficiency.

Intel Core i9-14900K

Best CPU overall
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  • Impressive gaming performance
  • Versatile across multiple fields
  • APO could be a game changer
  • No price increase compared to last gen


  • Insane temperatures & power draw
  • Far better value CPUs available
  • Little difference compared to last gen

According to our tests, the Intel Core i9-14900K is the most powerful consumer desktop processor you can buy. It excels at both gaming and content creation, making it an excellent all-rounder for any task. 

It packs in an astonishing 24 cores, although they are made up of a mix of performance cores and power-efficient cores thanks to Intel’s hybrid design. Nevertheless, this absurd number of cores enables the processor to juggle multiple complex workloads simultaneously, which is especially useful if you’re a professional creator working with animation or 4K video. 

Our gaming benchmark tests also saw it consistently beat the competition. It’s admittedly not too much more powerful than the preceding Intel Core i9-13900K since they’re based on the same architecture, but the i9-14900K shares the exact same price point, making it great value for money. 

The Intel Core i9-14900K certainly isn’t perfect, as our tests show it to have a high temperature and power draw under stress. But if you’re happy to invest in a top-notch cooler and PSU, then you’ll be treated to the absolute best performance you can get from a consumer CPU.

Reviewer: Zak Storey
Full review: Intel Core i9-14900K review

AMD Ryzen 9 7900X

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  • Fantastic multi-core performance
  • Top class gaming speeds
  • Future-proofed with PCIe 5.0 and DDR5
  • Great power efficiency


  • Requires a powerful cooling system
  • Can find better value gaming CPUs elsewhere
  • Worth waiting for Intel Raptor Lake before buying

The AMD Ryzen 9 7900X is our top recommended processor from AMD. It’s not the fastest option, beaten by the AMD Ryzen 9 7950X3D, but we believe it represents the best balance of performance and affordability. The Ryzen 7000 Series runs on AMD’s new Zen 4 architecture that not only brings a performance boost, but also support for DDR5 and PCIe 5.0, enabling you to upgrade to the latest and greatest RAM and SSDs.

AMD claims the Ryzen 9 7900X has a max boost clock speed of 5.6GHz. The only part that seemingly hasn’t been upgraded is the amount of cores and threads from the previous gen – there’s still 12 cores and 24 threads.

Those specs didn’t seem to hold back multi-core performance though. In Cinebench R23, a program which simulates CPU-heavy and intensive tasks such as rendering, AMD’s latest flagship chip managed to beat off Intel’s older generation Alder Lake chip (the i9-12900K) by some margin. The AMD chip has since been taken over by the Intel Core i9-14900K in terms of performance, but the Ryzen 9 7900X consumes considerably less power under stress, making it the more efficient option.

In testing, the Ryzen 9 7900X offered outstanding performance for both gaming and intense creative workloads. If you want even more speed, then AMD also offers the Ryzen 9 7950X which packs more cores, while the Intel Core i9-14900K tops the charts for all of our benchmark tests.

Reviewer: Ryan Jones
Full review: AMD Ryzen 9 7900X review

AMD Ryzen 9 7950X3D

Most powerful AMD CPU
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  • Strong overall gaming performance
  • Decent in multi-threaded tasks
  • 3D V-cache is still a game changer
  • Temps and power draw solid


  • Can’t quite keep up in pro workloads
  • Not all games benefit from V-cache
  • No support for DDR4

If you’re loyal to AMD and want the most powerful chip that the company has to offer, then look no further than the AMD Ryzen 9 7950X3D. This takes the excellent performance power of the preceding AMD Ryzen 9 7950X, and then boosts it with the clever AMD 3D V-Cache technology that further boosts performance for supported applications and games. 

In general, the Intel Core i9-14900K saw a faster performance than the AMD Ryzen 9 7950X3D in our benchmark tests. This was the case for both content creations and gaming workloads, although it fared better for the latter scenario thanks to its excellent single-core performance and 5.7GHz max clock speed. 

Select games will also be given a great performance boost by the AMD 3D V-Cache technology, potentially even leapfrogging its Intel rival. But this is very dependent on the game, and there’s no easy way to know which games will benefit beforehand. 

Arguably the Ryzen’s biggest trump card is its superb power efficiency, as our tests showed that it drew far less power than the Intel Core i9-14900K. It also impressed in terms of thermal performance, remaining relatively cool under stress. The AMD Ryzen 9 7900X arguably offers better value, but if you want the fastest possible AMD chip, this is it.

Reviewer: Zak Storey
Full review: AMD Ryzen 9 7950X3D review

Intel Core i5-14600K

Best value for gaming
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  • Strong performance in game
  • Best value processor right now
  • Reasonable temps and power draw
  • Price remains the same as last gen


  • No major hardware advancement
  • Better professional picks elsewhere
  • Lacks Intel’s APO tech

The Intel Core i5-14600K offers remarkable value for money, even outperforming more expensive desktop processors such as the AMD Ryzen 7 7700X. 

Its single-core performance is especially impressive, with our benchmark results showing it to excel at gaming. This is no one-trick pony either, with its 14 cores and 20 threads ensuring a great performance for multi-threaded workloads such as 3D animation and editing 4K video. It’s still far behind the Intel Core i9-14900K in this regard, but it’s in a league of its own at its price point. 

The Intel Core i5-14600K also offers support for DDR5 and PCIe 5.0, which means you’ll be able to team this processor up with the latest and greatest RAM and SSDs to drive up the overall performance ceiling of your PC. 

So if you’re looking for a versatile desktop processor that can handle both content creation and gaming at high speeds, but without spending a huge chunk of your savings, then the Intel Core i5-14600K is the current best option.

Reviewer: Zak Storey
Full review: Intel Core i5-14600K review

AMD Ryzen 5 7600X

Best value gaming CPU
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  • Outstanding gaming performance
  • Support for DDR5 and PCIE 5.0
  • Great power efficiency
  • Affordable price


  • Subpar multi-core performance
  • Requires a high-end cooler
  • Worth waiting for Intel Raptor Lake

The AMD Ryzen 5 7600X offers the benefits of the Zen 4 CPU architecture at an affordable price, supporting both DDR5 and PCIe 5.0, enabling you to make use of the speediest RAM and SSDs.

The Ryzen 5 7600X shines at gaming performance. In testing, it beat off a pair of formidable Intel Alder Lake processors, including the flagship i9-12900K. This is all thanks to the high frequency speeds, hitting a peak of 5.3GHz without overclocking.

While this chip may excel with its price-to-performance ratio for gaming, the same unfortunately can’t be said for its multi-core performance for tasks such as rendering. This is evident when taking a look at the results for Cinebench R23. In this benchmark, the 7600X’s result put it behind Intel 12th gen options (Intel Core i9-12900K and Intel Core i5-12600K).

In more general computing benchmarks such as PCMark 10 though, the 7600X performed very well, which suggests it’s a great cheap for general computing and gaming, although we suggest looking elsewhere for high-end content creation.

Reviewer: Ryan Jones
Full review: AMD Ryzen 5 7600X review

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How much RAM is enough?

We recommend having at least 8GB of RAM for general tasks, but if you’re looking to play games or edit video etc, then we suggest upping that to 16GB of RAM and beyond.

What is better: GHz or cores?

It really depends on your workload. Having high frequency speeds is obviously very important, especially for intensive tasks such as gaming and content creation. But it’s also important to have multiple cores to improve the efficiency of multi-tasking, especially when using apps such as Adobe Premiere Pro.

Can CPU affect FPS?

Yes, a more powerful CPU can have a positive impact on your FPS when gaming, but a GPU will be more influential here.

Full specification

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Boosted Clock Speed
Base Clock Speed
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Motherboard Chipset
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