Best Of

The Best CPUs – 2023 Update

With competition at an all-time high, the top CPUs on each bracket are hotly disputed, which is great news for customers. The ideal option will be determined by your use case, therefore we’ll go over the advantages and drawbacks of each part so you can decide what’s best for you. As is customary, we’ll begin with the most economical selections and work our way up. When making suggestions, we normally evaluate factors such as platform costs and potential future upgrade choices, and this conversation will be no exception.

The continuous competition between AMD and Intel has resulted in competitive pricing across the board, which is fantastic news. Intel E-cores have enabled them to provide really competitive performance in all settings, making them solid all-rounders in that regard, but lacking in future platform compatibility.

In terms of future CPU releases, we know that Raptor Lake Refresh is on the way, but it’s unclear what that implies for potential customers. Meanwhile, AMD’s Zen 5 series will not be available until 2024. Although reports of huge IPC improvements are appealing, if you need to create your system right away, waiting another year may not be an option. As a result, we consider that the current period is equally favourable.

Budget CPU ($80 – $130)

Intel Core i3-12100F | AMD Ryzen 5 5600

Starting with the most inexpensive CPUs, our primary focus here is on gaming performance, and there are just a few viable alternatives in this price range. Given that the most basic AM5 CPU costs $225, AMD’s next platform may not be suited for individuals on a limited budget. Instead, we recommend the AM4 platform, the Ryzen 5 5500, or, better yet, the Ryzen 5 5600. The Core i3-12100 series from Intel is also a possible choice.

At $90, the Core i3-12100F is a good starting point for individuals on a limited budget who are considering a new PC construction or even simply a platform update. When combined with low-cost DDR4-3600 CL16 memory, the 12100 surpasses the Ryzen 5 5500 in gaming, offering roughly 15% better performance. However, if you have no plans to upgrade beyond a Core i5, the Asrock B660M Pro RS works well for $95. Still, investing an additional $55 for the MSI model provides a more capable product in terms of power delivery.

We’d urge you to consider spending an extra $20 on a comparable 32GB kit, taking the total to just $300.
Having said that, our current suggestion is for DDR5. We recommend avoiding B660 boards in favour of B760, where you may buy quality ones for under $150. Several 32GB DDR5-5600 kits are currently available for around $80 USD, a little premium above DDR4-3600 kits. This takes the total to $320, with the additional memory bandwidth providing substantial advantages in CPU-limited titles such as Spider-Man Remastered, Hogwarts Legacy, and Star Wars Jedi: Survivor.

The only realistic option to the Core i3-12100 series, in our opinion, is AMD’s Ryzen 5 5600, which is still available for $135, a price it has maintained for over a year. The AM4 CPU may be utilised with a good B550 board for about $100. A nice 32GB DDR4-3600 CL16 memory kit costs $60. This implies that you may construct the AM4 combination for as cheap as $290, a $10 savings over the 12100F. Furthermore, you have the option of upgrading to the 5800X3D in the future, or to the 5900X or 5950X for improved productivity performance.

So, while considering platform expenses, you may choose between the Core i3-12100F and the Ryzen 5 5600. Both are solid options with viable upgrading pathways. It’s difficult to pick between them because their present performance is excellent and the upgrade opportunity to either the 13600K or 5800X3D is equally appealing. Both options offer compelling reasons in their favour, therefore we urge that you weigh yours options.

Mainstream CPU ($180 – $240)

Intel Core i5-12400F | AMD Ryzen 7 5700X

Increasing the CPU budget gives you more choices in the AM4, AM5, LGA1200, and LGA1700 CPU categories. There are several options, but we can quickly cut it down to only three. Intel’s 10th and 11th-generation CPUs priced above $150 should be avoided since they don’t deliver adequate competitive value. Most AM4 components, such as the 5600X, are likewise unsuitable; the 5600 would be a better choice.

The Ryzen 7 5700X appears to be a good value at $190, but it’s only worth considering if you’re already on the AM4 platform with an older and lower-end Ryzen 5 or slower. Another reason to think about it is if you’re interested in productivity performance, since the Ryzen 5 7600 on AM5 isn’t considerably faster.
Even though Intel’s 12th generation components are difficult to sell in today’s market, the 12400F for $150 isn’t a terrible way to get your foot in the door.

When combined with 32GB of DDR5-5600 memory, which costs roughly $80, the combo costs $380, which is just 20% more than the DDR5 Core i3 configuration while delivering 50% more cores. We saw a 32% performance gain from the 12400 over the 12100 in demanding titles like Cyberpunk 2077.

It should be noted that the Ryzen 7 5700X can provide equivalent gaming performance. For around $30 less, a 32GB DDR4 setup on an entry-level B550 board is available for $190. However, in high-bandwidth games the Intel combination performs better. If heavy-duty productivity activities are important, the 5700X is a better choice, with around 30% more robust performance.

As a result, the Core i5-12400F offers a stronger upgrade path and DDR5 memory capability, but the 5700X combination is less expensive overall. It often provides a comparable gaming experience while being far more effective for productivity activities. Finally, for those contemplating the $210 13400F, both the 12400F and the 5700X provide substantially superior value.

Mid-Range Performance CPU ($300 – $320)

AMD Ryzen 7 7700X / 7700 | Intel Core i5-13600K

Moving up in price, we come across the Ryzen 5 7600 series, Core i5-13600 series, Ryzen 7 5800X3D, and Ryzen 7 7700 series. In terms of value, the K-SKU 12th generation Core i5s, i7s, and i9s are no longer worth considering.

The Ryzen 7 7600, priced at $225, is the most cheap of all possibilities, especially given that the least costly K-SKU 13th gen component, the Core i5-13600KF, costs $290. The 7600X costs $245, and based on our 50-game benchmark, the AMD CPU was 5% quicker overall, implying that the 13600K and 7600 should be comparable across a wide range of games.

The Core i5 has a substantially higher productivity performance, albeit at the expense of power. In contrast, the Ryzen 5 is less expensive, provides comparable gaming performance while consuming less power, and is backed by a platform that is projected to see at least two more generations of CPUs.

Both solutions have similar motherboard and memory pricing, and there is no incorrect decision here because both options perform well, particularly when it comes to gaming performance. The 13600K, on the other hand, is priced more in line with the Ryzen 7 7700 and even the 5800X3D, both of which are now $320.

The Ryzen 7 7700 surpasses the 5800X3D for novice system builders. Despite the performance of the Zen 3 3D V-Cache portion, the 7700 delivers comparable gaming performance and more productivity on a newer platform for around the same price. The choice is thus between the 7700 at $320 and the 13600KF at $285.

The 7700 consumes substantially less power than the 13600K, but the Core i5 portion can be up to 30% quicker for productivity applications that benefit from the E-Cores. The performance is nearly the same in cases when the E-cores are not especially beneficial. In gaming, they often trade punches, with the 7700 coming out slightly ahead in our testing.

The 7700 versus. 13600K fight is comparable to the 7600 vs. 13600K duel in that both solutions provide similar outcomes. There is no wrong answer here. However, because to its greater power efficiency and prolonged platform longevity, we would personally choose the Ryzen 7700.

High-end Performance CPU ($400 – $440)

Ryzen 7 7800X3D | Ryzen 9 7900X | Core i7-13700K

Moving up to the $400 price bracket, this is a battle between the different Core i7-13700 flavours and AMD’s Ryzen 9 7900 series, as well as the Ryzen 7 7800X3D. If gaming is the primary aim, the 7800X3D is unquestionably the best option for around $400. As capable as the 13700K is, it is often slower, and in numerous situations, the 3D V-Cache component was 20% or more quicker. This is when the Core i7 is paired with costly DDR5-7200 memory, which starts about $160.

In comparison, the DDR5-6000 CL30 memory used to test the 7800X3D is now available for $120. It’s worth mentioning that using the same RAM with the 13700K only reduces performance by about 5% on average. So, while getting the 13700KF for $385 saves money on the CPU, it is a less effective device for gaming, albeit it is still quite fast. When gaming, the Core i7 consumes much more power, which may be an issue for your power bill but is usually a bigger issue for your motherboard’s VRM, CPU cooler, and potentially even room temperature.

If productivity is also a factor, the 7800X3D isn’t the best choice, and the 13700KF has a little advantage. However, for an extra $30, the Ryzen 9 7900 becomes a possibility, and with PBO enabled, it can equal the performance of the 13700K while using less power, even in synergistic applications. However, the Ryzen 7900 is less of an all-rounder, and the 13700K offers superior gaming performance overall. So, if power consumption isn’t a problem, one could surely argue that Intel’s 13700K is the finest all-around alternative at $400.

Intel’s only other area of contention is platform support. While we expect a refresh on the LGA1700 platform, it should be just that, whereas AM5 will see meaningful architectural enhancements, at least two of them. Thus, for gaming, we’d undoubtedly go with the 7800X3D, while for a more productivity-focused system, we’d go with whatever CPU produces the greatest performance in your programmes, Intel’s 13700K or AMD’s 7900.

CPU Performance Kings ($550 – $700)

Core i9-13900K/KF | Ryzen 9 7950X | Ryzen 9 7950X3D

Finally, the Ryzen 9 7900X3D, 7950X, 7950X3D, and Core i9-13900 series are available.

The $700 Ryzen 7950X3D is a niche product that makes sense only for individuals who want to construct a single PC and want the highest gaming performance possible, along with top-tier productivity performance, without the PC running hotter than a portable oven. It performs similarly to the Core i9-13900K in terms of gaming and productivity for $700, but consumes substantially less power and is supported by a stronger platform in terms of future support.

In the Blender Open Data benchmark, for example, the 7950X3D is 8% quicker than the 13900KS utilising DDR5-7200 memory, yet it consumes nearly half the power – 279 watts against 497 watts.
The 7950X3D, of course, costs substantially more than the $560 13900K, but the 7950X, at $580, does not, so if productivity is your primary priority, we recommend the 16-core 7950X for its higher power efficiency and platform lifetime.

You might also argue that the Core i7-13700K is the finest all-around performer in its pricing range. There’s some truth to it, but you have to make major sacrifices in terms of power consumption and platform support. The 7900X3D is a fairly stupid CPU option that makes little sense even at the reduced $499 price point. If productivity is a priority, try the less expensive 7900 for $420 or the 7900X for $430 instead.

If gaming is your major goal, the Ryzen 7 7800X3D is the way to go, while the Ryzen 9 7950X3D is the way to go if you want a combination of gaming and productivity. We find it difficult to recommend the 13900K these days, despite its overall good performance.

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