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The Best Desktop CPUs (2023)

Find out which Intel and AMD desktop processors are best for your high-performance computing needs.

Gaming PC Timur Garifov / Unsplash

Last Updated: January 18, 2023

Written by Kevin Jones

As your demand for high-performance computing grows, finding the best CPU for your needs becomes essential.

When selecting a CPU, the most important characteristics are the clock speed (or frequency), number of cores and threads, and type of memory it supports. Additional considerations like integrated graphics and overclocking needs may also influence your selection.

This article will discuss these key CPU characteristics and, based on them, provide an overview of The Best CPUs for general usage.

Top Intel CPU
Top AMD CPU

Factors to Consider When Choosing a CPU

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Core Count

Increased core counts can improve the performance of games and professional tools that use them. Most modern games don't benefit from having more than 6–8 cores. Even general apps can benefit from many cores when numerous applications are open simultaneously. Web browsers don't significantly take advantage of multiple cores when loading a single page. However, more CPU cores can improve performance when running demanding web apps in multiple windows.

Intel's 12th generation and newer CPUs have performance (P) cores and efficiency (E) cores. The P cores are comparable to previous generation cores. E cores are focused on adding additional threads in an energy-efficient manner. They take up much less room on the CPU and generate less heat. However, their smaller cache and minimal interconnect capabilities make them more appropriate for offloading background tasks.

CPU Clock Speeds

Single-core performance is essential for some games, as many don't take full advantage of multiple cores. Professional tools depend on high single and multi-core boost frequencies to maximize their processing speed.

Boost frequencies are only achieved under ideal circumstances. The safest strategy for consistent gaming performance with a basic cooler is to get a processor with a higher base clock speed. However, with adequate cooling, you may be able to maintain speeds near the max boost frequency.

DDR Support

You can exceed these stock speeds officially supported by CPUs when overclocking memory, such as with an XMP profile. Motherboard specifications will indicate their supported overclocked-memory speeds. To be able to overclock DDR memory, your motherboard chipset needs to support memory overclocking.

Faster PC memory can improve game and professional tool performance by reducing the time it takes to perform calculations and data operations.

Using the quickest RAM may not have as much of an impact as upgrading your CPU and graphics card or adding more RAM.

Learn more about DDR in DDR4 vs. DDR5? Which You Should Buy.

Cache Size

A CPU's cache is a small amount of memory, close to the CPU cores, containing recently used data. An L3 cache capacity of at least 20 MB is ideal for games and professional tool performance.

Games and professional tool performance can improve as cache size increases, as it can reduce delays when retrieving commonly used assets from memory. While nearly any task will use a CPU's cache, a large cache becomes less impactful for general PC usage, such as browsing webpages.

Remember that cache sizes often increase with core counts, so if you want to increase your L3 cache, you may need to get a CPU with more cores.

Overclocking

Overclocking is mainly relevant for PC gamers who want to maximize their game framerates. CPU overclocking increases frequencies past their default limits. Excellent heat dissipation via fans or another solution is required to maintain system stability while overclocking.

Professional tools can benefit from overclocked frequencies. However, overclocking may introduce some possibility of system instability, which may be less acceptable in business scenarios.

The Best CPUs

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AMD Ryzen 9 7950X3D:

  • When using AMD's Ryzen 9 7950X3D CPU for general apps, you can expect excellent app performance with either a high-performance CPU cooler or a stock CPU cooler.

  • When using AMD's Ryzen 9 7950X3D CPU for gaming, you can expect excellent game performance with either a high-performance CPU cooler or a stock CPU cooler.

  • 128 MB of L3 cache is excellent for performance

  • 16 cores allow for excellent performance

  • 4.2 GHz base frequency

  • 5.7 GHz single-core max boost frequency is excellent for performance (requires a high-end cooler)

  • DDR5 support with a max stock speed of 5200 MHz can be excellent for performance

  • Overclocking support can be excellent for performance (requires a high-end cooler)

  • PCIe 5.0 support can be excellent for performance (with the fastest SSDs and GPUs)

  • Check out our recommended Motherboards, CPU Coolers, Power Supplies, and RAM to pair with the 7950X3D.

  • You can learn more about the 7950X3D in our article, Is the Ryzen 9 7950X3D CPU Good for Gaming?

AMD Ryzen 9 7950X:

  • When using AMD's Ryzen 9 7950X CPU for general apps, you can expect excellent app performance with either a high-performance CPU cooler or a stock CPU cooler.

  • When using AMD's Ryzen 9 7950X CPU for gaming, you can expect excellent game performance with either a high-performance CPU cooler or a stock CPU cooler. AMD Ryzen 9 7950X AMD Ryzen 9 7950X Check Price on Amazon Amazon Affiliate Link

  • 64 MB of L3 cache is excellent for performance

  • 16 cores allow for excellent performance

  • 4.5 GHz base frequency

  • 5.7 GHz single-core max boost frequency is excellent for performance (requires a high-end cooler)

  • DDR5 support with a max stock speed of 5200 MHz can be excellent for performance

  • Overclocking support can be excellent for performance (requires a high-end cooler)

  • PCIe 5.0 support can be excellent for performance (with the fastest SSDs and GPUs)

  • Check out our recommended Motherboards, CPU Coolers, Power Supplies, and RAM to pair with the 7950X.

  • You can learn more about the 7950X in our article, Is the Ryzen 9 7950X CPU Good for Gaming?

AMD Ryzen 9 7900X3D:

  • When using AMD's Ryzen 9 7900X3D CPU for general apps, you can expect excellent app performance with either a high-performance CPU cooler or a stock CPU cooler.

  • When using AMD's Ryzen 9 7900X3D CPU for gaming, you can expect excellent game performance with either a high-performance CPU cooler or a stock CPU cooler.

  • 128 MB of L3 cache is excellent for performance

  • 12 cores allow for excellent performance

  • 4.4 GHz base frequency

  • 5.6 GHz single-core max boost frequency is excellent for performance (requires a high-end cooler)

  • DDR5 support with a max stock speed of 5200 MHz can be excellent for performance

  • Overclocking support can be excellent for performance (requires a high-end cooler)

  • PCIe 5.0 support can be excellent for performance (with the fastest SSDs and GPUs)

  • Check out our recommended Motherboards, CPU Coolers, Power Supplies, and RAM to pair with the 7900X3D.

  • You can learn more about the 7900X3D in our article, Is the Ryzen 9 7900X3D CPU Good for Gaming?

AMD Ryzen 9 7900X:

  • When using AMD's Ryzen 9 7900X CPU for general apps, you can expect excellent app performance with either a high-performance CPU cooler or a stock CPU cooler.

  • When using AMD's Ryzen 9 7900X CPU for gaming, you can expect excellent game performance with either a high-performance CPU cooler or a stock CPU cooler. AMD Ryzen 9 7900X AMD Ryzen 9 7900X Check Price on Amazon Amazon Affiliate Link

  • 64 MB of L3 cache is excellent for performance

  • 12 cores allow for excellent performance

  • 4.7 GHz base frequency

  • 5.6 GHz single-core max boost frequency is excellent for performance (requires a high-end cooler)

  • DDR5 support with a max stock speed of 5200 MHz can be excellent for performance

  • Overclocking support can be excellent for performance (requires a high-end cooler)

  • PCIe 5.0 support can be excellent for performance (with the fastest SSDs and GPUs)

  • Check out our recommended Motherboards, CPU Coolers, Power Supplies, and RAM to pair with the 7900X.

  • You can learn more about the 7900X in our article, Is the Ryzen 9 7900X CPU Good for Gaming?

AMD Ryzen 9 7900:

  • When using AMD's Ryzen 9 7900 CPU for general apps, you can expect excellent app performance with either a high-performance CPU cooler or a stock CPU cooler.

  • When using AMD's Ryzen 9 7900 CPU for gaming, you can expect excellent game performance with either a high-performance CPU cooler or a stock CPU cooler. AMD Ryzen 9 7900 AMD Ryzen 9 7900 Check Price on Amazon Amazon Affiliate Link

  • 64 MB of L3 cache is excellent for performance

  • 12 cores allow for excellent performance

  • 3.7 GHz base frequency

  • 5.4 GHz single-core max boost frequency is excellent for performance (requires a high-end cooler)

  • DDR5 support with a max stock speed of 5200 MHz can be excellent for performance

  • Overclocking support can be excellent for performance (requires a high-end cooler)

  • PCIe 5.0 support can be excellent for performance (with the fastest SSDs and GPUs)

  • Check out our recommended Motherboards, CPU Coolers, Power Supplies, and RAM to pair with the 7900.

  • You can learn more about the 7900 in our article, Is the Ryzen 9 7900 CPU Good for Gaming?

AMD Ryzen 7 7700X:

  • When using AMD's Ryzen 7 7700X CPU for general apps, you can expect excellent app performance with either a high-performance CPU cooler or a stock CPU cooler.

  • When using AMD's Ryzen 7 7700X CPU for gaming, you can expect excellent game performance with either a high-performance CPU cooler or a stock CPU cooler. AMD Ryzen 7 7700X AMD Ryzen 7 7700X Check Price on Amazon Amazon Affiliate Link

  • 32 MB of L3 cache is excellent for performance

  • 8 cores allow for excellent performance

  • 4.5 GHz base frequency

  • 5.4 GHz single-core max boost frequency is excellent for performance (requires a high-end cooler)

  • DDR5 support with a max stock speed of 5200 MHz can be excellent for performance

  • Overclocking support can be excellent for performance (requires a high-end cooler)

  • PCIe 5.0 support can be excellent for performance (with the fastest SSDs and GPUs)

  • Check out our recommended Motherboards, CPU Coolers, Power Supplies, and RAM to pair with the 7700X.

  • You can learn more about the 7700X in our article, Is the Ryzen 7 7700X CPU Good for Gaming?

AMD Ryzen 7 7700:

  • When using AMD's Ryzen 7 7700 CPU for general apps, you can expect excellent app performance with either a high-performance CPU cooler or a stock CPU cooler.

  • When using AMD's Ryzen 7 7700 CPU for gaming, you can expect excellent game performance with either a high-performance CPU cooler or a stock CPU cooler. AMD Ryzen 7 7700 AMD Ryzen 7 7700 Check Price on Amazon Amazon Affiliate Link

  • 32 MB of L3 cache is excellent for performance

  • 8 cores allow for excellent performance

  • 3.8 GHz base frequency

  • 5.3 GHz single-core max boost frequency is excellent for performance (requires a high-end cooler)

  • DDR5 support with a max stock speed of 5200 MHz can be excellent for performance

  • Overclocking support can be excellent for performance (requires a high-end cooler)

  • PCIe 5.0 support can be excellent for performance (with the fastest SSDs and GPUs)

  • Check out our recommended Motherboards, CPU Coolers, Power Supplies, and RAM to pair with the 7700.

  • You can learn more about the 7700 in our article, Is the Ryzen 7 7700 CPU Good for Gaming?

Intel Core i9-13900KS:

  • When using Intel's Core i9-13900KS CPU for general apps, you can expect excellent app performance with either a high-performance CPU cooler or a stock CPU cooler.

  • When using Intel's Core i9-13900KS CPU for gaming, you can expect excellent game performance with a high-performance CPU cooler or good game performance with a basic or stock CPU cooler. Intel Core i9-13900KS Intel Core i9-13900KS Check Price on Amazon Amazon Affiliate Link

  • 36 MB of L3 cache is excellent for performance

  • 8 Performance cores allow for excellent performance

  • 3.20 GHz base frequency

  • 6.00 GHz single-core max turbo boost frequency is excellent for performance (requires a high-end cooler)

  • 5.40 GHz max turbo boost frequency of the Performance cores are excellent for performance (requires a high-end cooler)

  • DDR5 support with a max stock speed of 5600 MHz can be excellent for performance

  • Overclocking support can be excellent for performance (requires a high-end cooler)

  • PCIe 5.0 support can be excellent for performance (with the fastest SSDs and GPUs)

  • Check out our recommended Motherboards, CPU Coolers, Power Supplies, and RAM to pair with the 13900KS.

  • You can learn more about the 13900KS in our article, Is the Core i9-13900KS CPU Good for Gaming?

Intel Core i9-13900K:

  • When using Intel's Core i9-13900K CPU for general apps, you can expect excellent app performance with either a high-performance CPU cooler or a stock CPU cooler.

  • When using Intel's Core i9-13900K CPU for gaming, you can expect excellent game performance with a high-performance CPU cooler or good game performance with a basic or stock CPU cooler. Intel Core i9-13900K Intel Core i9-13900K Check Price on Amazon Amazon Affiliate Link

  • 36 MB of L3 cache is excellent for performance

  • 8 Performance cores allow for excellent performance

  • 3.00 GHz base frequency

  • 5.80 GHz single-core max turbo boost frequency is excellent for performance (requires a high-end cooler)

  • 5.40 GHz max turbo boost frequency of the Performance cores are excellent for performance (requires a high-end cooler)

  • DDR5 support with a max stock speed of 5600 MHz can be excellent for performance

  • Overclocking support can be excellent for performance (requires a high-end cooler)

  • PCIe 5.0 support can be excellent for performance (with the fastest SSDs and GPUs)

  • Check out our recommended Motherboards, CPU Coolers, Power Supplies, and RAM to pair with the 13900K.

  • You can learn more about the 13900K in our article, Is the Core i9-13900K CPU Good for Gaming?

Intel Core i9-13900KF:

  • When using Intel's Core i9-13900KF CPU for general apps, you can expect excellent app performance with either a high-performance CPU cooler or a stock CPU cooler.

  • When using Intel's Core i9-13900KF CPU for gaming, you can expect excellent game performance with a high-performance CPU cooler or good game performance with a basic or stock CPU cooler. Intel Core i9-13900KF Intel Core i9-13900KF Check Price on Amazon Amazon Affiliate Link

  • 36 MB of L3 cache is excellent for performance

  • 8 Performance cores allow for excellent performance

  • 3.00 GHz base frequency

  • 5.80 GHz single-core max turbo boost frequency is excellent for performance (requires a high-end cooler)

  • 5.40 GHz max turbo boost frequency of the Performance cores are excellent for performance (requires a high-end cooler)

  • DDR5 support with a max stock speed of 5600 MHz can be excellent for performance

  • Overclocking support can be excellent for performance (requires a high-end cooler)

  • PCIe 5.0 support can be excellent for performance (with the fastest SSDs and GPUs)

  • Check out our recommended Motherboards, CPU Coolers, Power Supplies, and RAM to pair with the 13900KF.

  • You can learn more about the 13900KF in our article, Is the Core i9-13900KF CPU Good for Gaming?

Intel Core i9-13900F:

  • When using Intel's Core i9-13900F CPU for general apps, you can expect excellent app performance with either a high-performance CPU cooler or a stock CPU cooler.

  • When using Intel's Core i9-13900F CPU for gaming, you can expect excellent game performance with a high-performance CPU cooler or good game performance with a basic or stock CPU cooler. Intel Core i9-13900F Intel Core i9-13900F Check Price on Amazon Amazon Affiliate Link

  • 36 MB of L3 cache is excellent for performance

  • 8 Performance cores allow for excellent performance

  • 2.00 GHz base frequency

  • 5.60 GHz single-core max turbo boost frequency is excellent for performance (requires a high-end cooler)

  • 5.20 GHz max turbo boost frequency of the Performance cores are excellent for performance (requires a high-end cooler)

  • DDR5 support with a max stock speed of 5600 MHz can be excellent for performance

  • Lack of overclocking support cannot benefit performance

  • PCIe 5.0 support can be excellent for performance (with the fastest SSDs and GPUs)

  • Check out our recommended Motherboards, CPU Coolers, Power Supplies, and RAM to pair with the 13900F.

  • You can learn more about the 13900F in our article, Is the Core i9-13900F CPU Good for Gaming?

Intel Core i9-13900:

  • When using Intel's Core i9-13900 CPU for general apps, you can expect excellent app performance with either a high-performance CPU cooler or a stock CPU cooler.

  • When using Intel's Core i9-13900 CPU for gaming, you can expect excellent game performance with a high-performance CPU cooler or good game performance with a basic or stock CPU cooler.

  • 36 MB of L3 cache is excellent for performance

  • 8 Performance cores allow for excellent performance

  • 2.00 GHz base frequency

  • 5.60 GHz single-core max turbo boost frequency is excellent for performance (requires a high-end cooler)

  • 5.20 GHz max turbo boost frequency of the Performance cores are excellent for performance (requires a high-end cooler)

  • DDR5 support with a max stock speed of 5600 MHz can be excellent for performance

  • Lack of overclocking support cannot benefit performance

  • PCIe 5.0 support can be excellent for performance (with the fastest SSDs and GPUs)

  • Check out our recommended Motherboards, CPU Coolers, Power Supplies, and RAM to pair with the 13900.

  • You can learn more about the 13900 in our article, Is the Core i9-13900 CPU Good for Gaming?

Intel Core i7-13700K:

  • When using Intel's Core i7-13700K CPU for general apps, you can expect excellent app performance with either a high-performance CPU cooler or a stock CPU cooler.

  • When using Intel's Core i7-13700K CPU for gaming, you can expect excellent game performance with a high-performance CPU cooler or good game performance with a basic or stock CPU cooler. Intel Core i7-13700K Intel Core i7-13700K Check Price on Amazon Amazon Affiliate Link

  • 30 MB of L3 cache is excellent for performance

  • 8 Performance cores allow for excellent performance

  • 3.40 GHz base frequency

  • 5.40 GHz single-core max turbo boost frequency is excellent for performance (requires a high-end cooler)

  • 5.30 GHz max turbo boost frequency of the Performance cores are excellent for performance (requires a high-end cooler)

  • DDR5 support with a max stock speed of 5600 MHz can be excellent for performance

  • Overclocking support can be excellent for performance (requires a high-end cooler)

  • PCIe 5.0 support can be excellent for performance (with the fastest SSDs and GPUs)

  • Check out our recommended Motherboards, CPU Coolers, Power Supplies, and RAM to pair with the 13700K.

  • You can learn more about the 13700K in our article, Is the Core i7-13700K CPU Good for Gaming?

Intel Core i7-13700KF:

  • When using Intel's Core i7-13700KF CPU for general apps, you can expect excellent app performance with either a high-performance CPU cooler or a stock CPU cooler.

  • When using Intel's Core i7-13700KF CPU for gaming, you can expect excellent game performance with a high-performance CPU cooler or good game performance with a basic or stock CPU cooler. Intel Core i7-13700KF Intel Core i7-13700KF Check Price on Amazon Amazon Affiliate Link

  • 30 MB of L3 cache is excellent for performance

  • 8 Performance cores allow for excellent performance

  • 3.40 GHz base frequency

  • 5.40 GHz single-core max turbo boost frequency is excellent for performance (requires a high-end cooler)

  • 5.30 GHz max turbo boost frequency of the Performance cores are excellent for performance (requires a high-end cooler)

  • DDR5 support with a max stock speed of 5600 MHz can be excellent for performance

  • Overclocking support can be excellent for performance (requires a high-end cooler)

  • PCIe 5.0 support can be excellent for performance (with the fastest SSDs and GPUs)

  • Check out our recommended Motherboards, CPU Coolers, Power Supplies, and RAM to pair with the 13700KF.

  • You can learn more about the 13700KF in our article, Is the Core i7-13700KF CPU Good for Gaming?

Other Considerations When Building a PC

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