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Best CPU 2023: Our top rated processors


Whether you’re looking to build a new PC from scratch or fancy upgrading an existing system, the CPU is one of the most important considerations. But what are the current best CPU options in 2023?

To answer that question, our team of experts have reviewed as many processors as they can get their hands on. This ranges from budget-friendly chips, to monstrously powerful CPUs for those who crave the fastest speeds possible.

In order to test each CPU, we use multiple synthetic benchmarks, as well as in-game tests to see what kind of performance you can expect. We make sure to keep consistent components for our test rig to ensure fair testing when comparing the performance of the desktop processors.

It’s not all about performance speed, as we also make sure to check out compatible features, power efficiency and thermal performance. And of course, the retail price is always taken into consideration when giving a CPU a final score and verdict.

But before you go rushing off to buy one of our recommendations, be warned, Intel has new chips and we’ll be publishing our 13th Gen Raptor Lake desktop CPUs soon.

With that caveat out of the way, scroll down to see our picks of the best CPUs we’ve reviewed that are currently on sale.

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.

AMD Ryzen 9 7900X

Best CPU overall
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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 one of the most powerful CPUs AMD has ever released, offering faster speeds than any Intel Core chip currently on the market. 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, which leapfrogs the 12th gen Intel Core i9-12900K’s 5.2GHz boost clock. 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 top Alder Lake chip (the i9-12900K) by some margin. The same story proved true in more general benchmarks such as with PCMark 10 Extended, which evaluates the performance of your entire system. Here, the Ryzen 7900X achieved a score of 10,865, while the i9-12900K clocked in with a score of 10,602, which is a fair margin.

In testing, the Ryzen 9 7900X offered outstanding performance and it proved to be the most powerful desktop chip we’ve ever tested 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 Intel is expected to launch its new Raptor Lake chips in the coming weeks.

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

AMD Ryzen 9 7950X

Most powerful AMD CPU
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If you want the cream of the Team Red crop, the AMD Ryzen 9 7950X CPU is the one for you. This chip is really all about power, so ideal for those with a well-cooled system who are looking to truly get the most out of their setup.

The combination of 16 cores and 32 threads makes for excellent multi-core results, comfortably coming out on top in our Geekbench 5 test against AMD’s current best as well as Intel’s Core i9-13900K. For single-core, it comes up slightly short compared to Intel’s top CPU but still provides top-tier performance.

It’s top-performing against its AMD stablemates in Cinebench R23 testing but is slightly beaten by the i9-13900K. Nevertheless, this is an extremely competent CPU for dealing with very demanding processing workloads.

Multi-core work is really where this chip shines but its no slouch in gaming. Our testing rig offers up an average of 54fps in Horizon Zero Dawn and 38fps in Borderlands 3, both at 4K resolution. Cheaper CPUs do offer comparable gaming performance, so there’s value elsewhere if gaming is your priority, but the Ryzen 9 7950X offers a more complete package.

That package is kept up to speed with contemporary standards, with support for PCIe 5.0 and DDR5 also onboard.

Reviewer: Gemma Ryles
Full Review: AMD Ryzen 9 7950X review

AMD Ryzen 7 7700X

Best mid-range CPU
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  • Solid single-core performance
  • Similar gaming results to high-end processors
  • Future-proofed with DDR5 and PCle 5.0
  • Will not require a massively powerful cooling system


  • Cheaper CPUs are available with similar gaming performance

As you’d expect, this cheaper AMD Ryzen 7 7700X CPU doesn’t reach the heights of the Ryzen 9 7950X but it offers good bang-for-you-buck in the mid-range.

The new Zen 4 architecture equates to a solid jump in performance compared to the previous generation, with a new and improved single core power standing out the most. You’ll find a base clock speed of 4.5GHz, along with a boosted 5.4GHz. For multi-core workloads, the 8 cores and 16 threads do a decent job, but aren’t as standout impressive.

This is very much a modern chip too, offering support for DDR5 and PCIe 5.0, enabling you to enhance your build across the board with the latest and greatest components.

The full AMD Ryzen 7 7700X performance picture is a strong one, especially in gaming. Our testing should comparable power in games to the more expensive AMD Ryzen 9 7900X. Our test rig managed 53fps in Horizon Zero Dawn at 4K, 95fps at Quad HD and 118fps at Full HD. The only difference being that the cheaper CPU managed one extra frame per second than the Ryzen 9 7900X at a QHD resolution. An impressive showing that continued across all of our games testing.

It’s a CPU that’s a great all-rounder at a reasonable price, offering powerful single-core performance, impressive gaming capabilities and satisfactory multi-core results.

Reviewer: Gemma Ryles
Full Review: AMD Ryzen 7 7700X review

Intel Core i5-12600K

Best value CPU
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  • Excellent gaming performance
  • Huge improvements to multi-core performance
  • Future-proofed with PCIe 5.0 and DDR5
  • Great power efficiency


  • Teething issues for game compatibility
  • Requirement of Z690 motherboard drives up cost

Intel’s Core i5 line has consistently been the chips we tend to recommend to most buyers. This is because they typically offer the best value for money, providing a competitive performance and price. Following our latest string of benchmark tests, this remains the case with the Intel Core i5-12600K, which is the CPU we’d recommend to most people.

The chip’s based on the same Alder Lake architecture as the more expensive i9, which gives it the same future-proofed DDR5 and PCIe 5.0 support, letting you enjoy truly next-generation performance and loading speeds. It’s worth noting Intel’s 13th Gen Raptor Lake CPUs are inbound and you can expect our reviews soon. So keep in mind, while there’s still value to be had here, new models are en route.

But what truly blew us away during testing is quite how good it is at gaming. Running big name titles, like Horizon Zero Dawn, Borderlands 3 and Total War: Warhammer 2, the i5 managed to offer radically better speeds than its predecessor. In 1080p resolutions, we regularly saw 30fps gains on the older i5. But more impressively, the CPU also came close to matching the gaming frame rates of the more expensive i9.

The new mid-range AMD Ryzen 5 7600X offers a similar price and an improved performance, but it still can’t quite match the i5-12600K for multi-core performance. This makes the Intel i5 the best value processor for those who plan on using the chip for both gaming and content creation.

The Intel Core i5-12600K also delivered one of the lowest peak power consumption of all the recent processors we’ve tested, meaning you won’t need an uber-expensive, high-capacity PSU to get it running smoothly. As a result, this is a very cost-effective option.

Reviewer: Ryan Jones
Full review: Intel Core i5-12600K 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. As these new Ryzen 7000 CPUs work with a new socket, AM5, you will also need to purchase a new motherboard. It will be expensive, but once you’ve made the initial outlay, you’ll be futureproofed for a number of years.

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 offered a score that was only bested by the more expensive 7900X and i9-12900K, 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

We also considered…

We’ve reviewed

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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

Release Date
First Reviewed Date
Power Consumption
Boosted Clock Speed
Base Clock Speed
Number of Cores
Number of Threads
Motherboard Chipset
Manufactoring Process

Trusted Reviews test data

PCMark 10
Cinebench R23
Geekbench 5 single core
Geekbench 5 multi core
Power consumption
Peak temperature
Borderlands 3 frame rate (4K)
Borderlands 3 frame rate (Quad HD)
Borderlands 3 frame rate (Full HD)
Horizon Zero Dawn frame rate (4K)
Horizon Zero Dawn frame rate (Quad HD)
Horizon Zero Dawn frame rate (Full HD)
Dirt Rally (4K)
Dirt Rally (Quad HD)
Dirt Rally (Full HD)

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