Best Processor (CPU) for Your Custom PC

The greatest CPU for your custom PC is one that meets your requirements, doesn’t slow down the rest of your system, and isn’t too expensive. When shopping for a new CPU, it’s easy to default to the more expensive option in the hopes of gaining performance, and in most circumstances, you’d be correct. However, the question is whether you require such authority and whether you are willing to pay such a high price for it.

The Intel Core i5-12600K should be a good balance of performance and price for most individuals. This CPU is one of the most cheap SKUs in Intel’s 12th Gen processor family. If it’s not precisely what you’re searching for, we’ve compiled a list of additional CPU possibilities for you.

Best Processor (CPU) for Your Custom PC

Intel Core i5-12600K

Overall winner
+Excellent gaming performance 
+Adequate TDP and thermals 
+Can be overclocked 
+Excellent value Plus
+DDR5 RAM and PCIe 5.0 are supported.

-No cooling supplied 
-New motherboard required

Intel’s Alder Lake processors are a work of art. The company has been struggling to stay up with AMD’s Ryzen CPU performance advances, but that changed when it switched to a 10nm technology. The Intel Core i5-12600K is one of the best CPUs to come out of this generation, while being one of the entry-level options.

The Core i5-12600K processor has ten cores and sixteen threads. Because Intel uses a hybrid core design, the layout is uneven. There are eight hyperthreaded high-performance cores and two more efficient cores for performing smaller tasks. We’re looking at 3.7GHz and 2.8GHz for frequencies (4.9GHz and 3.6GHz for boost speeds).

There’s little incentive to go higher than 12600K unless you really need the extra performance (and are willing to pay for it). This CPU is capable of running demanding software such as video editing suites as well as heavy gaming. This is the processor that made even the AMD Ryzen 7 5800X tough to recommend.

Best Processor (CPU) for Your Custom PC

AMD Ryzen 7 5800X

+8 cores, 16 threads 
+Awesome gaming power 
+Zen 3 architecture 
+PCIe 4.0

-There is no cooler included
-The Intel Core i5-12600K is a better value
-No DDR5 RAM or PCIe 5.0 
-Ryzen 9 performs better

The AMD Ryzen 7 5800X is a 7nm processor that is part of AMD’s Zen 3 microarchitecture. This CPU has 8 cores and 16 threads for excellent multitasking, and its basic rate of 3.8GHz may be increased to 4.7GHz if necessary. Its 105W thermal design point (TDP) is greater than the previous generation Ryzen 7 3700X, yet it delivers significantly more performance regardless of the task.

This processor has been unlocked and is ready to be overclocked. It doesn’t come with a factory cooling, so make sure you pick something capable of handling overclocking. You’ll need to add a dedicated GPU to your PC setup because this CPU doesn’t have integrated graphics. Our list of the top graphics cards will help you get started.

PCIe 4.0 and Wi-Fi 6 support are available on the finest AMD Ryzen 7 5800X motherboards, but if you’re upgrading a PC with an X470 or B450 motherboard, rest assured it will work.

For most consumers, the Ryzen 7 5800X should prove to be a sensible buy if they’re looking for a well-rounded, high-performance CPU for just about every work. More information regarding this CPU can be found in our AMD Ryzen 7 5800X review.

Best Processor (CPU) for Your Custom PC

Intel Core i9-12900K

best Intel CPU
+Excellent performance 
+125W TDP out of the box 
+PCIe 5.0 support 
+DDR5 RAM support 
+Affordable price

-No cooler included
-Requires a new motherboard 
-Can get quite hot when loaded/overclocked

The Intel Core i9-12900K, like the Intel Core i5-12600K, is a member of the Alder Lake processor family. Because this is an altogether different CPU, the similarities end there. It has a total thread count of 16 and has 8 performance and 8 efficiency cores.

This CPU was created with demanding gaming and workloads in mind. A workstation with an Intel Core i9-12900K would be quite powerful if you are a video editor or other professional. All of this excellence comes at a price, and that price is heat. The 12900K can generate a lot of heat, thus it’s preferable to use an AIO liquid cooler with it.

Even if you’re utilizing an existing 11th Gen Intel CPU, you’ll need a new motherboard, which has some significant advantages. DDR5 RAM and PCIe 5.0 are supported by the majority of Z690 motherboards. The former enables the installation of ultra-fast memory modules, while PCIe 5.0 enables even faster SSD storage. We’ve compiled a list of the finest Intel Core i9-12900K motherboards.

Best Processor (CPU) for Your Custom PC

AMD Ryzen 9 5950X

best AMD CPU
+16 cores, 32 threads 
+PCIe 4.0 +Overclockable 
+Excellent performance 
+Zen 3 with 105W TDP

-No cooler supplied 

The AMD Ryzen 9 5950X is the company’s most powerful product to date, excluding the highly monstrous Threadripper CPUs. This is where you should spend your money if you’re buying a new PC and want to stick with Team Red. For many individuals, the Ryzen 9 5900X is a better deal, but it won’t equal the performance here.

This Zen 3 processor boasts a massive 16 cores, 32 threads, and a turbo speed of 4.9GHz from 3.4GHz. All of this at a TDP of 105W. Intel’s Core i9-10900K, for example, offers 10 cores and 20 threads with a 125W TDP. The Ryzen 9 5950X is pricey, but if you have the funds, it’s a fantastic option. For optimum performance, pair it with the finest Ryzen 9 5950X motherboard, which includes PCIe 4.0 and Wi-Fi 6.

If you want to understand more about this powerful processor, check out our AMD Ryzen 9 5950X review.

Best Processor (CPU) for Your Custom PC

AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3990X

best enthusiast CPU
+64 cores, 128 threads 
+PCIe 4.0 
+Insane performance 
+Boost up to 4.3GHz

-No cooling system supplied 
-280W TDP

AMD’s Threadripper processors are beasts. The Threadripper 3990X is the top-of-the-line processor, but it comes at a high price. While the processor is more expensive than typical desktop PC designs, it is simply unmatched in terms of features by whatever AMD or Intel has to offer.

Let’s start with the core and thread count, which is 64 cores and 128 threads respectively. To put that into perspective, our favorite CPU in this lineup is the Intel Core i5-12600K, which only has 10 cores and 16 threads. Because of the numbers involved, the 3990X can only achieve a boost clock speed of 4.3GHz.

To keep this CPU safe, you’ll need some substantial cooling, and I’d recommend at least a 360mm AIO cooler or a bespoke loop for the best results. Check out our selection of the best AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3990X motherboards to help you choose the perfect board.

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