Comparison reviews

Best CPUs of 2021 – Top Gaming CPUs for the Money

When shopping for the best gaming CPU, you’ll want to balance performance and features with your PC budget. Our tips and picks below will help you choose the best CPU for gaming. You can also see how all of these processors stack up in our CPU Benchmarks Hierarchy. But for detailed help on picking the best processor for your gaming rig, you can check out our 2021 CPU Buying Guide. And if you’re on the fence about which CPU company to go with, our AMD vs. Intel feature dives deep and comes up with a clear winner.

We recently jumped ahead of AMD’s official launch for its Ryzen 7 5700G, and we found that the chip has the fastest integrated GPU on the market, offering nearly twice the performance of Intel’s integrated graphics. The Ryzen 5000G series is now the uncontested champ for the normal APU target audience – like extreme budget gaming, small form factor, and HTPC rigs. This chip could also slot in as a much-needed temporary solution for enthusiasts that can’t find a graphics card at reasonable pricing.

At launch, AMD’s Zen 3-powered Ryzen 5000 processors took the lead as the fastest gaming CPUs on the market, largely due to a 19% increase in IPC and unified L3 cache that reduces latency, but Intel’s Rocket Lake chips have tightened the race. Our AMD Zen 3 Ryzen 5000 article has all the details on AMD’s new CPUs, but you can check out our full lineup of detailed reviews of each model, like the Ryzen 9 5950X and Ryzen 9 5900X, Ryzen 7 5800X, and Ryzen 5 5600X for the detailed rundown.

Intel’s Rocket Lake processors have arrived, too, as you can see in our Core i9-11900K and Core i5-11600K, Core i5-11400 and Core i7-11700K reviews. Rocket Lake comes with Intel’s first new architecture in the last six years, albeit with the caveat that the company still uses the 14nm process, and the chips top out at eight cores. We weren’t too impressed with the 11900K given its price point — it basically matches the Ryzen 9 5900X in gaming but trails in application performance, making its price tag a bit hard to swallow. However, the complete lack of meaningful supply of the Ryzen 9 5900X means that many will choose the 11900K by default. 

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