As one of the most vital components in any computer, the processor is responsible for the proper performance and functionality of the entire machine. Unsurprisingly, it considerably influences the gaming experience.

AMD and Intel CPUs dominate the gaming hardware market. But with the latest 14th-gen Intel Core processors, the selection became even more massive, which means buying the right one may require time and effort.

New processors offer higher thread counts or faster clock speeds, but you can still use an older (and cheaper) model like the Intel i3, i5, or i7. Use this comprehensive guide to learn what they offer and why the right CPU is essential for a satisfying gaming experience.

What is CPU?

The Central Processing Unit (CPU) coordinates all tasks. In a word – its job is to tell other components what to do within the computer system. That includes the graphics card translating CPU requests into video game visuals content on screen. But processors are not universally tailored to all motherboards.

Before purchasing a new component, you should check the specifications of your computer’s motherboard to learn which product would be compatible. This rule also applies to the type of computer you plan to upgrade with a new CPU – will it be a laptop or a desktop PC?

A handful of necessary terms

Now that you know the equipment you plan to play on, let’s proceed to some crucial terms in the product descriptions. Understanding how they affect your potential gaming experience can help you choose the right CPU.

CPU Clock Speed – indicates how many calculations a processor can perform each second. Such calculations occur in cycles and present themselves in gigahertz (GHz). Running video games is one of the most CPU-intensive tasks.

The higher the GHz value, the better overall performance – especially since clock speed is still responsible for any processes running in the background.

Cores – these are the physical elements of the processor that determine how many tasks the computer can perform simultaneously. More cores mean faster processing, so they are essential for satisfying gameplay.

Modern processors have up to 32 cores, but around 6-10 may be enough to run any title, as all higher values are overkill just for gaming.

What else should you consider before making a purchase?

When purchasing a new processor, think about your budget. The most expensive models with 32 cores are excellent for professionals operating many graphics, video editing, or streaming programs. A cheaper product is fine if you plan to play games, use office tools, and enjoy online entertainment.

Also, remember about compatibility with the motherboard and graphics card. A weak processor may limit the best card, and a poor card may bottleneck the CPU. The system board must have a dedicated socket for the new processor, and if it does not, consider replacing the entire motherboard or purchasing a gaming laptop with an integrated graphics card (IGPU).

Last but not least – overlocking. This mysterious term means speeding up your processor. Try this solution on the current CPU in your computer if you are considering purchasing a new component due to minor performance issues.

Overlocking increases the clock speed, provided that the processor has an unlocked multiplier. Your CPU can achieve higher results if it has the letter K (Intel) or FX (AMD) in its chip description.

Guide to the best Intel CPUs for gaming

Regarding the above factors, we selected three Intel CPUs in various price ranges, offering different performance results. In 2023, they should all be enough to run your dream video games, but most require a standalone compatible graphics card.

Intel Core i3-12100F

Although the Intel i3 is over a year old, it may be excellent if you’re looking for the most cost-reasonable option without integrated graphics. This CPU balances price with performance and does not require additional cooling solutions.

Offering 4 cores and 8 threads, with DDR4 and DDR5 memory support, i3 delivers smooth performance when paired with a GeForce RTX 3060, Geforce GTX 1650, or Radeon RX 6700 XT. It is compatible with motherboards equipped with the LGA 1700 socket.

Key features:

  • CPU Model – Core i3-12100F
  • CPU Socket – LGA 1700
  • Cores/Threads – 4/8
  • Base Clock Speed – 3.3 GHz
  • Boost Clock Speed – 4.3 GHz
  • Cache – 12MB
  • Max TDP – 89 W
  • iGPU – N/A
  • Average price – around $95

Intel Core i5-13600K

This innovative example of the 13th generation represents the mid-price category, offering a hybrid combination of larger P cores and smaller E cores.

It includes 14 cores reaching a clock speed of 5 GHz. These values are noticeably higher than in the already-mentioned Intel Core i3 from the Alder Lake family. Moreover, it has integrated graphics, but if you prefer a version without iGPU, choose the model with the KF marking.

Key features:

  • CPU Model – Core i5-13600K
  • CPU Socket – LGA 1700
  • Cores/Threads – 14/20
  • Base Clock Speed – 3.5 GHz
  • Boost Clock Speed – 5.1 GHz
  • Cache – 24 MB
  • Max TDP – 181 W
  • iGPU – Intel UHD 770
  • Average price – around $300

Intel i7-13700KF

It’s still a cheap but incredibly efficient processor for multi-threaded demanding tasks. Equipped with 16 cores, 3.5 GHz clock speed, and an unlocked multiplier, it can run even the most recent video games, streaming software, and office apps. However, the Intel i7 requires a decent cooling system, as it absorbs much more power than other models on this list. You will also need a compatible standalone graphics card like the RTX 4080.

Key features:

  • CPU Model – core i7-13700KF
  • CPU Socket – LGA 1700
  • Cores/Threads – 16/24
  • Base Clock Speed – 3.4 GHz
  • Boost Clock Speed – 5.4 GHz
  • Cache – 30 MB
  • Max TDP – 253 W
  • iGPU – N/A
  • Average price – around $379


As you can see, the most crucial questions you need to ask yourself before buying a new CPU are how much you can spend and what are your expectations. The Intel Core i3-12100F runs most of the recent games and is perfect for users desiring a smooth gaming experience.

Intel i5 answers the needs of gamers who want to play recent video games but do not necessarily consider themselves professionals. Our last high-performance alternative is perfect for streaming, gaming, and running several applications simultaneously. The best part is all these CPUs balance the price-performance ratio rather expertly, so you get quite a deal here!