The 5 Best Intel CPUs To Supercharge Your PC In 2023

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The processor is the heart of your computer. Whether you're building your own PC from scratch or trying to make sense of the specifications of a laptop you've been eyeing, the processor will play a massive part in the way your new PC performs. But with so many processors to choose from, which Intel model is the best? We're here to give you some options.

Intel and AMD have been the two rivals in the consumer processor (CPU) market for years now. Both have their strengths, but Intel controls a larger share of the market and is the go-to choice for more people. If you've set your heart on Intel, you'll be pleased to learn that there are budget and high-end options to choose from.

In this article, we'll talk about Intel's best processors, including their core counts, frequencies, and everything else you need to know when you decide which one is best for you. Let's start with a budget option: the Core i3-12100F.

Intel Core i5-13600K

For the most well-rounded pick, we recommend the Core i5-13600K. This processor belongs to the Raptor Lake generation of Intel CPUs. It offers solid performance for gaming, but also for professionals who need a CPU that supports multi-tasking. 

Being a Raptor Lake CPU, the Core i5-13600K sports Intel's new hybrid core architecture. This means that it has a mix of performance (P) and efficiency (E) cores, each focused on supporting different workloads. All in all, the CPU has 14 cores (6 P-cores and 8 E-cores) as well as 20 threads. It can be overclocked up to 5.1 GHz, but the frequency will vary across different core types.

This generation of processors is most likely the last one that still offers support for DDR4 memory. When buying, you can choose between a motherboard that supports DDR4 RAM and one that supports DDR5 — the processor itself works with either. Obviously, going with a DDR4 board and memory will be cheaper, but DDR5 memory is faster and the prices of it are slowly normalizing.

In terms of future-proofing, it's important to note that all 13th Generation Intel processors will make for difficult upgrades in the future. This is because Intel is rumored to introduce a new socket type in the next generation, meaning that any upgrades will also require a motherboard change. The Core i5-13600K is powerful enough to last you years, though, and it's very affordable for how good it is — you can get it for around $318 on Amazon.

Intel Core i3-12100F

A decent processor for less than $100? It's been possible for a while, but, now, you can have one of Intel's latest CPUs for roughly that amount — and it's a decent processor all around. This Intel Alder Lake chip comes with four cores and eight threads. It has a pretty high clock speed that can reach as high as 4.3 GHz. 

The core count appears measly when you compare it to Intel's other CPUs in that generation (or the one that comes after), but it's sufficient for office work, browsing the internet, watching movies, and even light gaming.

One thing to note with this model is that it doesn't come with integrated graphics — that's what the "F" in the name means. Because of that, you need to be prepared to spend a little extra to buy a discrete graphics card from Nvidia or AMD (or even Intel itself, although the lineup of Arc Alchemist cards is rather small right now). 

The Core i3-12100F costs around $100 on Amazon. The version with an iGPU costs around $130

Intel Core i5-12400F

If you don't need a top-shelf CPU but still want a few more cores and better performance, the Core i5-12400F is an inexpensive solution. This CPU should be well-suited to handle gaming in an entry-to-midrange PC. It's also a good pick for various productivity-related tasks. Don't expect it to be a beast, but it's a reliable option that's still better value than older Intel processors.

The Core i5-12400F comes with a total of six cores, and they're all of the Performance variety; it doesn't have any Efficient cores. It also has 12 threads and a maximum turbo frequency of 4.4 GHz. It doesn't consume much power (65W at base level and up to 117W in turbo mode), so it'll fit nicely into more budget-oriented builds.

Remember that this particular model doesn't feature graphics, so you'll need to buy a separate GPU too. Without an integrated graphics card, it costs $157 on Amazon. The model with an iGPU only costs $22 more — you can grab it for $179.

Intel Core i9-13900K

We've made it to the top of the line with the Intel Core i9-13900K. Right now, this is as good as it gets — with a small exception. There is a processor that's even more powerful, the Core i9-13900KS. However, due to the small difference in performance margins but a large difference in price, there is almost no point to buy the 13900KS over the 13900K. You'd spend around $400 more (the Core i9-13900K costs $570 on Amazon while the Core i9-13900KS costs $740) for a minimal upgrade. We're leaving that decision up to you.

For now, let's shift our focus back to the Core i9-13900K. This is a powerful processor with a total of 24 cores (8 P-cores and 16 E-cores) and 32 threads. It has clock speeds reaching as high as 5.8GHz, and that's without any overclocking, which you can definitely do since this is a K model. For reference, the Core i9-13900KS hits 6 GHz out of the box, but again, it's just not worth it.

 You can use it for high-end gaming and professional workloads, such as video editing and rendering. It's overkill for gaming and you're better off getting the Core i5-13600K or the Core i7-13700K instead. 

Intel Core i7-13700K

The Intel Core i7-13700K is a step above the Core i5-13600K. Unless you're a professional or have an unlimited budget, this is as high as you should go when you shop for an Intel CPU. This processor can handle all kinds of gaming, productivity, and CPU-heavy tasks like video rendering and encoding. Sure, the Core i9-13900K is better, but the difference in price between the two makes this one the better pick for most people.

This Intel CPU comes with 8 P-cores and 8 E-cores, 24 threads, and a pretty outstanding 5.4 GHz frequency. The slight increase in core count over the Core i5-13600K can be nice for certain workflows, but benchmarks prove that the Core i7-13700K is more of a bonus than a necessity. Its performance falls fairly close to the i5 chip. Still, it is a powerful CPU, and it's much better value than the flagship.

This processor belongs in high-end gaming builds and other kinds of rigs where the budget is of little concern, but still not outrageous. If you're budget-conscious, the Core i5-13600K is a strong contender and it is cheaper. For the Core i7-13700K, be prepared to pay around $415 on Amazon.