The best Intel CPUs available on the market right now.
Updated: Mar 2, 2023 2:59 pm
Intel recently released its flagship 13th generation CPU, the Core i9-13900KS, and with it, Intel conquered the record for the world’s fastest gaming CPU. There are a lot of advancements Intel has made recently with the last two CPU generations, we’ll be talking a lot about those today.
Now read: Best CPU for gaming 2023
Intel makes very formidable CPUs, and both AMD and Intel are locked in a constant battle for the best CPU. Great for us consumers because it forces one manufacturer to improve faster than the other to get ahead. Today, we’re going to discuss the best Intel CPU for gaming and productivity, and explain why that choice has been made. So buckle up, here’s the best Intel CPU in 2023.
Best Intel CPU 2023: Top picks
Most powerful Intel CPU
Intel Core i9-13900KS
Middle-ground Intel CPU
Intel Core i5-13600K
The best of Last-gen
Core i9 12900KS
How we choose
Choosing new hardware is never easy. It usually involves hours of intense product research, user feedback, and a whole host of other considerations to get anywhere close to a definitive decision.
If you aren’t tech-savvy and struggle to put the time aside to go through the above requirements, you may end up purchasing a piece of hardware that simply isn’t right for your specific needs.
Fear not though, friends! Here at WePC, we like to take the stress of research away and transform the whole process into an easy-to-follow, complete buyer’s guide. That’s right, our team of PC enthusiasts has done all the hard work for you!
Intel’s little.BIG technology
There have been some changes within the last two CPU generations, Intel has incorporated its little.BIG technology into its CPU. This technology differs massively from the cores we’re used to, and here’s why.
Intel’s little big technology is a CPU design strategy that combines two types of processor cores, a “big” core, and a “little” core, onto a single chip. The big core is designed for high performance and can handle demanding tasks, while the little core is designed for efficiency and can handle less demanding tasks with lower power consumption.
This approach is used to optimize the balance between performance and power consumption, allowing for better battery life in portable devices such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops. When the device is performing less demanding tasks, the little core can handle the workload and save power. However, when more demanding tasks require more processing power, the big core can kick in and provide the necessary performance boost.
Intel’s little big technology is similar to ARM’s big.LITTLE technology, which is also a CPU design strategy that uses a combination of big and little cores. However, Intel’s approach is different in that it uses Intel’s x86 architecture, which is different from ARM’s architecture. Additionally, Intel’s approach also allows for seamless switching between the big and little cores, which can be done on a per-thread basis, allowing for even more precise power management.
The task delegation in Windows is handled by the Task scheduler and will be handled by a similar system in other operating systems.
What’s new with lntel’s 13th gen CPUs?
A few changes have been made to the 13th-generation CPUs in comparison to Alder Lake. Despite this, many features have remained the same.
Intel has decided to redesign the cores in the 13th gen CPUs and has labeled them “Raptor Cove.” This modification has allowed for improved speed paths of up to 600MHz compared to the Alder Lake cores.
The 13th gen Raptor Lake CPUs are developed using the same Intel 7 manufacturing process as Alder Lake. However, this time, an upgraded 3rd gen SuperFin transistor has been incorporated, which has significantly enhanced channel mobility.
Moreover, Intel has allocated a larger L2 cache and has introduced a new dynamic prefecture algorithm called “L2P,” providing 2MB of L2 cache per core.
In some cases, the TDP has risen substantially to 253W, but this is only for the high-end CPUs, such as the 13900K and 13900KS. You will need a significant cooling solution to keep both CPUs within healthy operating temperatures.
Apart from these alterations and some enhancements to DDR5 memory speed compatibilities, not much has changed. The iGPU remains the same as the previous generation (UHD 770).
Best Intel CPU: Things to consider
Understanding the fundamental specifications of a hardware component is one of the most important things to know when purchasing PC products. Learning the specifications of a processor (and how each spec affects the performance of your build) will ensure your next purchase is right for your specific needs.
Below, we’ve taken the time to lay out most of the specifications that come with a processor, and how each can affect you from a gaming, workflow, and general-use scenario.
Cores And Threads
The number of CPU cores in a processor contributes significantly to its performance. Each CPU core is essentially a separate processor within the same physical CPU package. Therefore, having multiple cores means that a CPU can execute multiple instructions simultaneously, which can result in faster overall performance.
When a CPU has multiple cores, it can divide the workload among the cores, allowing each core to handle a different task simultaneously. This is known as parallel processing, and it can significantly increase the CPU’s throughput and overall performance.
For example, if a CPU has four cores, it can handle four separate tasks simultaneously, each core handling one of the tasks. This can result in much faster performance than a single-core CPU that would have to complete each task sequentially, one after the other.
Additionally, having multiple CPU cores can also help with multitasking. For example, if you are running several applications simultaneously, each core can handle a different application, allowing them to run simultaneously without affecting each other’s performance.
As a general rule, the following guidelines are recommended when purchasing a new processor:
- 4 Cores – General use, light browsing, and very light gaming
- 8 Cores – Decent for gaming, moderate multi-tasking, and all general-use purposes
- 16 Cores + – Enthusiast level CPU. Handles pretty much everything you can throw at it. Very good for rendering, multi-tasking, and other CPU-intensive processes
CPU clock speed refers to the frequency at which a CPU executes instructions. Generally speaking, a higher clock speed means that a CPU can execute more instructions per second, which can result in faster overall performance.
In terms of gaming performance, CPU clock speed is one of the factors that can affect game performance, especially in games that require a lot of CPU processing power. For example, games that involve a lot of physics calculations, AI calculations, or large-scale multiplayer games can put a heavy load on the CPU.
In such scenarios, a higher clock speed can help the CPU to execute instructions more quickly, allowing the game to run more smoothly. This is particularly true in games where the CPU is the bottleneck, meaning that the CPU is the limiting factor that prevents the game from running at a higher frame rate.
Overall, whether you’re gaming or doing high-intensive workflows, you always want to get the highest clock speed your budget can afford.
IPC (Instructions per Cycle or Instructions per Clock) refers to the number of instructions a CPU can execute in a single clock cycle. It is a measure of the CPU’s performance efficiency, indicating how many instructions the CPU can process with each clock cycle.
The higher the IPC, the more instructions a CPU can execute in a given amount of time. A high IPC is desirable because it means that a CPU can complete tasks faster and more efficiently. However, the IPC can vary depending on the type of instruction being executed, as some instructions are more complex than others and take longer to execute.
IPC is affected by many factors, including the CPU’s architecture, clock speed, cache size, and memory bandwidth. CPUs with larger cache sizes and faster memory bandwidth tend to have higher IPC because they can access data more quickly, while CPUs with higher clock speeds can execute more instructions per second.
IPC is a difficult one, and it’s a metric that you don’t really see advertised. All you need to do is note that CPUs in a higher generation will usually have a higher IPC because the cores are better. Even if the newer CPU has the same clock speed as the older CPU with the lesser cores, it will still most likely have a higher IPC.
CPU socket types refer to the physical interface between a CPU and the motherboard. Each CPU socket type is designed to fit a specific type of CPU, and they are not interchangeable. Different CPU socket types support different CPU architectures, meaning you cannot install a CPU designed for one socket type into a different socket type.
There are many different CPU socket types, each with its own unique set of specifications. It’s important to note that CPU socket types are not compatible with each other. Therefore, when building a computer, it’s important to select a motherboard that supports the CPU socket type of the CPU you plan to use.
Each CPU belongs to a socket type, and whilst all of the CPUs in this guide belong to the same socket, that won’t last forever. We feel that Intel always fell behind AMD in terms of backward compatibility, this is because Intel practically released a new socket type with every new CPU. This time. however, it seems that socket type LGA 1700 is here to support multiple generations of Intel processors, for the first time in a long time.
When speaking of backward compatibility, some motherboard manufacturers may release BIOS updates that add support for newer CPU models, but it’s important to check the compatibility before attempting to install a new CPU.
TDP (Thermal Design Power) refers to the amount of heat a CPU generates and the amount of power it requires to operate under normal operating conditions. It is measured in watts and is an important factor to consider when selecting a CPU for a computer.
A CPU’s TDP is based on the maximum amount of power it will consume under typical usage conditions, such as running applications, gaming, or performing other tasks. It includes not only the power consumed by the CPU itself but also any other components, such as memory and storage, that are connected to the CPU.
For example, the 13900KS can generate a massive 253W TDP at peak load, meaning running anything other than a 360mm AIO or full custom loop would be a stupid idea.
We even managed to make the Core i9-13900K throttle by 13% when stress testing it with Aida64
The TDP is an important consideration because it determines the amount of cooling required to keep the CPU operating at a safe temperature. CPUs that have higher TDPs generally require more robust cooling solutions, such as larger heatsinks or liquid cooling systems, to dissipate the heat generated by the CPU.
Best Intel CPU
Here we will outline our picks for the best Intel CPU for gaming. These CPUs are the best of the best that intel has to offer, we worked hard in selecting a good range of CPUs to choose from.
Intel Core i9-13900KS
- Powerful single and multi-core performance
- High boost speeds
- improved L2 cache capacity
- 32 logical processors
The i9-13900KS CPU is an extremely powerful processor that surpasses its competitors in both single and multi-core workloads. Its 24-core and 32-thread capabilities make it the top-performing multi-threaded CPU in recent years.
Despite its impressive performance, the 13900KS has a high TDP of 150W base and 253W boost, which is a significant increase over Alder Lake. However, this also translates to a massive performance increase, with Raptor Lake CPUs boasting up to a 15% improvement in single-core performance and up to 41% in multi-core performance. Upgrading the motherboard is not necessary to access this performance, although it has its benefits.
One of the improvements made to the 13900KS is the doubling of the L2 CPU cache, enabling the CPU to access larger and faster storage more swiftly. This prevents the CPU from experiencing backlogs that can slow down its processing speed. The 13900KS is also incredibly fast, with a boost core speed of up to 6GHz, making it the fastest core speed currently available. Not to mention the fastest naturally boosting CPU in the world.
However, the 13900KS does have a downside. It tends to run very hotly under immense stress, our testing found that even the lesser 13900K throttled up to 13%, even with a 360mm AIO. While it is unlikely that users will experience this level of usage, it’s important to consider cooling solutions to prevent the 13900KS from overheating.
Intel Core i5-13600K
P-cores 3.5 GHz / E-cores 2.6 GHz
P-cores 5.1 GHz / E-cores 3.9 GHz
- High core count for an entry level CPU
- High base and boost speeds
- backwards compatible with 12th gen motherboards
The Intel i5-13600K is a very power-efficient CPU, especially due to it being a 14-core, 20-thread CPU clocked over 5GHz. It gets nowhere near as hot as its 13900K bigger brother. This is a testament to just how well Intelo can do at the low end, as well as the high end.
The 13900K is incredibly cost-effective, costing between the 7600X and the 7700X on team red’s side, but pretty well outperforming the former and just getting the latter, Intel is seriously a force to be reckoned with this time around.
The 13600K is perfect for average gamers looking to upgrade their CPU without breaking the bank, and it has a full 20 threads to back it up when you want to do some multi-core-based workloads. This is a special balance that not many other CPUs have, they weather aim for one or the other. The 13600K is very much a jack-of-all-trades.
Core i9 12900KS
- Very powerful
- Cool packaging
- No bundled cooler
- very expensive
- Barely more powerful than the 12900K
- Hard to cool
The Intel i9-12900K is Intel’s latest flagship CPU, coming to the table boasting an abundance of high-performance benchmarking results and great overclocking potential – when paired with the right Z690 motherboard. Whilst Ryzen held the crown in terms of best overall CPU, the 12900K may have just snuck it back – especially when it comes to out-the-box gaming and overclocking. As far as gaming is concerned, the 12900K outperforms the Ryzen in almost every scenario. You can see the full results here.
The new 16 core/ 24 thread processor is clocked at a base speed of 3.9GHz and can be boosted to 5.20GHz quite easily. It can smash pretty much everything you throw at it out of the box and will only be slowed by the inevitable GPU bottleneck.
That being said, the real fun comes when users want to overclock this CPU. It is one of the best out there for overclocking and initial reports have seen extreme cooling setups reach 7GHz on a single core. That’s pretty damn impressive, to say the least. If you don’t have liquid Nitrogen at hand, don’t worry, you’ll still be able to see healthy improvements in clock speed with a decent AIO cooler thanks to the Z690 being so supportive of overclocking.
Overall, whilst this probably isn’t the best value for money Intel CPU, it’s definitely the best right out the box.
Best Intel CPU: Final Word
There you have it, the best CPUs that we think Intel has to offer right now. Thankfully, all of these CPUs belong to the same socket type, so if you have an LGA 1700 motherboard, you can go ahead and acquire any one of these CPUs. The motherboards even come in both DDR4 and DDR5 versions if you need to upgrade but don’t want to shell out for DDR5 – We don’t blame you.
You’ll be in good hands here, whichever you pick. Whether you want to blaze through every game on the market with a 13900KS or chill out with some light gaming and work-related tasks with the 13600K. We have you covered.