How to pick the perfect gaming CPU

The CPU (Central Processing Unit) or processor is the second most important component in a gaming PC after the graphics card, impacting its performance and governing the number of concurrent tasks that can be performed at any one time. Learn more about the brands of CPU we recommend if you’re building a new PC or upgrading your current system.

Intel Processors

The ultimate CPUs for gaming PCs

The Intel Core Range Explained

Intel’s market-leading Core CPUs deliver unmatched speed in games and cutting-edge features.

Intel Core CPUs are available in a wide price range and are divided into four different series, i3, i5, i7 and i9, each with their own set of features and benefits. To help you choose between the different CPUs the table below compares the core and thread counts of the different series and rates the gaming and streaming performance out of 10. It also shows comparative pricing and buy buttons which link off to all the relevant CPU categories, as each series has many different CPU models.

Not sure what to buy?

Read our buyers guides for additional help.

Intel Core CPUs


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CPU - Intel

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Intel Core i9 Socket 2066 Cascade Lake-X Processors

These new high-end Core X CPUs are based on the Cascade Lake X architecture and are designed to fit into the Socket 2066 and so require an Intel X299 motherboard. These CPUs support up to 18 cores plus HyperThreading and so are ideal for heavy multitasking and content creation applications.

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Tekspek An in-depth guide into tech: Intel Core i9 10980XE Processor

Intel Core i9 Socket 1700 Alder Lake 12th Gen Processors

Intel 12th generation Core i9 Alder Lake processors have a brand new hybrid architecture with 8 P-cores and 8 E-cores, delivering outstanding performance in all games and applications.

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Intel Core i7 Socket 1700 Alder Lake 12th Gen Processors

Intel 12th generation Core i7 Alder Lake processors have a brand new hybrid architecture with 8 P-cores and 4 E-cores, delivering outstanding performance in all games and applications.

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Intel Core i5 Socket 1700 Alder Lake 12th Gen Processors

Intel 12th generation Core i5 Alder Lake processors have a brand new hybrid architecture with 6 P-cores and 4 E-cores, delivering outstanding performance in all games and applications.

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Intel Core i3 Socket 1700 Alder Lake 12th Gen Processors

Intel 12th generation Core i3 Alder Lake processors have a brand new architecture with 4 P-cores, delivering competitive performance in entry-level games and everyday applications.

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Intel Core i9 Socket 1200 Rocket Lake 11th Gen Processors

Intel 11th generation Core i5 Rocket Lake processors have 6 physical cores plus Hyper Threading technology, allowing them to work on up to 12 threads simultaneously.

These Socket 1200 CPUs are ideally paired with a 500-series motherboard, although some older 400-series motherboards are not compatible after a BIOS update. However, you will not get the full benefit of the CPU, such as PCIe 4.0 using a 400-series motherboard.

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Intel Core i7 Socket 1200 Rocket Lake 11th Gen Processors

Intel 11th generation Core i7 Rocket Lake processors have 8 physical cores plus Hyper Threading technology, allowing them to work on up to 16 threads simultaneously, but have slower clock speeds than Core i9 processors.

These Socket 1200 CPUs are ideally paired with a 500-series motherboard, although some older 400-series motherboards are not compatible after a BIOS update. However, you will not get the full benefit of the CPU, such as PCIe 4.0 using a 400-series motherboard.

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Intel Core i5 Socket 1200 Rocket Lake 11th Gen Processors

Intel 11th generation Core i9 Rocket Lake processors have 8 physical cores plus Hyper Threading technology, allowing them to work on up to 16 threads simultaneously.

These Socket 1200 CPUs are ideally paired with a 500-series motherboard, although some older 400-series motherboards are not compatible after a BIOS update. However, you will not get the full benefit of the CPU, such as PCIe 4.0 using a 400-series motherboard.

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Intel Core i9 Socket 1200 Comet Lake 10th Gen Processors

Intel 10th generation Core i9 Comet Lake processors have 10 physical cores plus Hyper Threading technology, allowing them to work on up to 20 threads simultaneously.

These CPUs use the new Socket 1200 so require a new Z490 motherboard and are not compatible with Z390 motherboards. However, most Socket 1151 coolers are compatible with Socket 1200 CPUs.

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Tekspek An in-depth guide into tech: Intel 10th Gen processors

Intel Core i7 Socket 1200 Comet Lake 10th Gen Processors

Intel 10th generation Core i7 Comet Lake processors have 8 physical cores plus Hyper Threading technology, allowing them to work on up to 16 threads simultaneously.

These CPUs use the new Socket 1200 so require a new Z490 motherboard and are not compatible with Z390 motherboards. However, most Socket 1151 coolers are compatible with Socket 1200 CPUs.

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Tekspek An in-depth guide into tech: Intel 10th Gen processors

Intel Core i5 Socket 1200 Comet Lake 10th Gen Processors

Intel 10th generation Core i5 Comet Lake processors have 6 physical cores plus Hyper Threading technology, allowing them to work on up to 12 threads simultaneously.

These CPUs use the new Socket 1200 so require a new Z490 motherboard and are not compatible with Z390 motherboards. However, most Socket 1151 coolers are compatible with Socket 1200 CPUs.

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Tekspek An in-depth guide into tech: Intel 10th Gen processors

Intel Core i3 Socket 1200 Comet Lake 10th Gen Processors

Intel 10th generation Core i3 Comet Lake processors have 4 physical cores plus Hyper Threading technology, allowing them to work on up to 8 threads simultaneously.

These CPUs use the new Socket 1200 so require a new Z490 motherboard and are not compatible with Z390 motherboards. However, most Socket 1151 coolers are compatible with Socket 1200 CPUs.

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Tekspek An in-depth guide into tech: Intel 10th Gen processors