The CPU is one of the most important parts in a PC, and today we'll be scouring the web for some bang for buck deals. It's important to consider your platform when buying a CPU: AMD Ryzen 7000 processors must be built on AM5 and are only compatible with DDR5 RAM, while Intel Raptor Lake is backwards compatible with DDR4.
Intel and AMD's current-gen flagships are very evenly matched, and you can't really go wrong with either one. It's simply a matter of finding a good deal. We like the i9 13900K at $552, and if you're running a discrete GPU you can shave off a few dollars by going for the 13900KF model at $531. The Ryzen 9 7950X is a bit more expensive at $587, but we're not going to be overdramatic about $30 when discussing sub $600 CPUs. The 7950X is also part of the Starfield game bundle special on Amazon!
Get the Intel Core i9 13900KF for $531
Get the Intel Core i9 13900K for $552
Get the AMD Ryzen 9 7950X for $587
The 13600K cannot be beaten in terms of value. Intel's XX600 chips have always been a great combination of performance and value, and Raptor Lake continues that trend. The 13600K is faster than the Ryzen 7 7700X, a chip that's going for over $30 more. It also impressively beats AMD's previous-gen flagship, the Ryzen 9 5950X. This is a stellar gaming chip with performance that comes close to matching current-gen flagships.
Get the Intel Core i5 13600KF for $286
Get the Intel Core i5 13600K for $318
AMD's 3D V-Cache chips are known for their unstoppable gaming performance, courtesy of the extra L3 cache. The Ryzen 7 7800X3D offers an unbeatable combination of gaming performance and power efficiency. It even beats the current-gen flagships in gaming benchmarks. The key to its success is the single CCD design, eliminating the latency of multiple CCDs. The tradeoff with AMD's X3D chips is lower clock speeds, which impacts productivity performance. The 7800X3D runs a little slower than the 7700X in application benchmarks, which isn't great considering it's $60 more. This CPU also qualifies for the Starfield bundle on Amazon.
Get the AMD Ryzen 7 7800X3D for $399
One advantage of going back a generation is juicy discounts, and the i5 12400F is dirt cheap at $150. This chip is performant while being energy efficient in comparison to Zen 3 and Raptor Lake. With a base power rating of only 65W, this is the perfect build for an energy-saving budget system. It's very flexible as it has support for DDR4 and DDR5. We could've just as easily recommended the Ryzen 5 5600X, as there is very little to separate these two chips in productivity, gaming, and efficiency—plus the 5600X has integrated graphics while the 12400F model requires a discrete GPU.
Get the Intel Core i5 12400F for $150
Get the AMD Ryzen 5 5600X for $158
If you're looking to build a super-budget CPU, there simply isn't anything that comes close to the i3 12100F. This is a quad-core chip with immense productivity and gaming performance, still very capable in modern-day workloads. The i3 12100F goes toe to toe with the Ryzen 5 5600, a chip that is going for almost $50 more. Like the 12400F, this CPU has a very small footprint with a power rating of 58W.
Get the Intel Core i3 12100F for $93