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The best CPUs: productivity and gaming

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The current-gen flagship offering consists of the Ryzen 9 7900X, 7950X, and Core i9-13900K. On the AMD side, the 7950X offers better value at $44 per core, as opposed to $46 per core for the 7900X. You should only buy the 7900X over the 7700X for productivity performance, and if you think time is money then the more affordable 7950X is the obvious choice.

We’ll say it again. If you’re just gaming, the more affordable 7700X is a better choice than the 7900X or 7950X, as the single CCD processors provide lower latency between cores. The 7900X and 7950X are primarily productivity CPUs, which you’d only choose over the 7700X if you’re focused on work, or work and play, and if work is on the agenda then the 7950X makes the most sense.

As for Intel, the Core i9-13900K is a beast, a literal beast when it comes to power consumption, consuming significantly more power than the 7950X for a similar level of performance. In our opinion, the 7950X is the CPU with the better productivity, for core-heavy work it matches or exceeds the 13900K.

However, for gaming the 13900K is king – it’s not miles faster, only an average of 3% faster according to our own tests, but there are examples where the Core i9 is about 20% faster, and that could be a big deal for competitive gamers.

A good quality AMD B650 card can be had for around $200 and G.Skill’s Trident Z5 DDR5-6000 CL36 32GB memory can be had for $205, bringing that combination to $805.

Meanwhile, the 13900K costs $620 and if you want to spend at least $200 on a Z690 motherboard to avoid VRM throttling, pop in the same G.Skill DDR5 memory and that combo comes in at $1,005. That’s a pretty big 25% premium for what amounts to comparable gaming performance. The Core i9 averaged ~2.5% faster at 1440p with an RTX 4090 in our tests.

Unless you’re looking for the absolute fastest possible gaming experience, there’s little point in investing in the Core i9-13900K. For productivity, we’d go with the 7950X, and for gaming, the cheaper 7700X and 13700K are better options.


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