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A Complete Intel Processor List By Performance and Budget

Intel processors are dominating the CPU market, all thanks to their 12th generation Alder Lake line of processors. Despite having a slow couple of years, Intel processors are on the verge of a comeback, but that won’t last long as AMD will be releasing their Ryzen 7000 processors very soon.

In this list, we’ll be going over the best Intel processors in the market right now, both high-end ones and budget-friendly ones.

The Best High-End Intel Processors

This section covers all the best processors, assessed based on their overall performance. Note that these processors are on the higher side of the price ranges, but every one of them is considered a great buy.

So, without further ado, let’s get on with the list.

Intel Core i7-12700K

The Best Intel Processor for Gaming

Intel Core i7-12700K Intel Processor List by Performance

What makes it good?

  • Cheaper than the Intel Core i9-12900K
  • Higher performance in gaming compared to other processors
  • Overclocking

What makes it bad?

  • Definitely not as good as the i9-12900K
  • Needs additional cooler

Price range

  • About $350

One of the most solid choices for overall performance is the Intel Core i7-12700K, and is a considerable alternative to the i9-12900K (for those who don’t want to spend a lot of money on the golden waffle).

The Intel Core i7-12700K is part of the Alder Lake line of Intel processors, so performance and price are right up there. The Intel Core i7-12700K comes with 12 cores, 8 allocated for performance and 4 for efficiency, and almost comes close to the i9’s core count at 16 cores. The base speed is 3.6GHz and overclocked to 5.0GHz.

If you want to avoid thermal throttling, the i7-12700k needs a serious cooling system (either a high-powered air cooler or an AIO cooler).

Did we mention that the Intel Core i7-12700K is $200 cheaper than the i9-12900K with only a marginal gap in terms of performance?

Intel Core i9-12900KS

Fastest Intel Processor In The Market

Intel Core i9-12900KS Intel Processor List by Performance

What makes it good?

  • Amazing performance for single-core and multi-core
  • DDR5 memory support
  • The industry leader in gaming performance

What makes it bad?

  • Expensive
  • Needs adequate cooling solutions
  • Power consumption is high

Price range

  • About $700 to $730

The Intel Core i9-12900KS is dubbed the king of processors right now, and the Intel Corporation has done such an amazing job with this beast of a CPU.

The Intel Core i9-12900KS is specially-binned and overclocked 12900K that’s able to push its overall performance further than any of the other Intel CPUs. Now, the 12900K may be a bit ahead of the Intel Core i9-12900KS, but it’s still the fastest CPU you can get your hands on in 2022.

The Intel Core i9-12900KS has 16 cores, 8 designated for performance and 8 for efficiency, and 24 threads. The clock speed of the Intel Core i9-12900KS is higher than the 12900K, sitting at 5.5GHz (the 12900K sits at about 5.2GHz). And yes, 16 cores are more than enough for gaming.

The Intel Core i9-12900KS is the best Alder Lake processor right now, or up until we see an Intel Raptor Lake processor. But that’s still a few years down the road.

But even though it’s the fastest CPU in the market, it has a few downsides to it. First, it’s an expensive processor. You’re looking at about $700 or so to purchase the Intel Core i9-12900KS, and compared to the other midrange processors, you’re not exactly looking at a huge jump in overall performance. Sure, the Intel Core i9-12900KS has higher performance but it’s not noticeable when you compare it to a Core i7-12700K.

On top of that, the Intel Core i9-12900KS is a power-hungry CPU as it has higher TDP demands compared to the other processors on this list, or any other CPUs in the market.

But if budget is not an issue and you just want the best performance possible that money can buy, the Intel Core i9-12900KS is a solid pick.

Intel Core i9-12900K

The Best High-End Intel Processor Right Now

Intel Core i9-12900K Intel Processor List by Performance

What makes it good?

  • Outperforms a lot of the AMD Ryzen processors, most specifically the Ryzen 9 5950X
  • Also cheaper than the Ryzen 9 5950X
  • DDR5 Support
  • Excellent overclocking
  • PCIe 5.0 for supported motherboards

What makes it bad?

  • Can get too hot
  • High power consumption

Price range

  • $580 to $620

When we’re talking about speed, performance, and power, nothing really comes close to the Intel Core i9-12900K (except for the KS counterpart). The Intel Core i9-12900K sports 16 cores and single-core boost speeds hitting 5.2 GHz. Other than the Intel Core i9-12900KS, the Intel Core i9-12900K is currently the best CPU in the market for gaming, productivity, and everything else in between.

Its AMD counterpart, the AMD Ryzen 5950X, is 30% underpowered and also relatively more expensive than the Intel Core i9-12900K. But the closest thing that could ever come close to the Intel Core i9-12900K from the AMD processors is the AMD Ryzen 7 5800X3D, and proves itself to be a solid rival.

But what really sets the Intel Core i9-12900K processor is not its gaming power but rather, its content creation capabilities. From video editing to graphics design, the Intel Core i9-12900K is powerful enough to carry out heavy rendering processes.

The downside to the Intel Core i9-12900K is that it’s a power-hungry processor, which is pretty much a standard of most of Intel Alder Lake’s hybrid architecture.

If you can spend $100 more for a processor, the Intel Core i9-12900KS would be a better choice. But if not, the Intel Core i9-12900K is still solid enough and can get you through at least 5 more years of gaming or content creation without upgrading it.

Intel Core i5-12600K

A Great Intel Processor For Multitasking and Gaming

Intel Core i5-12600K Intel Processor List by Performance

What Makes It Good?

  • Great price-to-performance ratio
  • The excellent gaming performance and productivity performance
  • Multitasking is solid thanks to its hybrid architecture

What Makes It Bad?

  • Not the most powerful CPU on the market, but decent enough for its generation

Price Range

  • $230 to $250

If there was ever one CPU that you need to purchase for gaming or for productivity, it’d be the Intel Core i5-12600K. It’s not the best or the fastest processor in the market, but it’s a solid overall processor in itself.

The Intel Core i5-12600K comes with 10 cores, with 6 cores designated for performance and 4 for efficiency. Now comparing this to the Intel Core i7 and i9 processors, the Intel Core i5-12600K puts up a fight as it provides gamers with extra bandwidth for those heavy processing tasks.

The Intel Core i5-12600K outpaces even the AMD Ryzen 9 5950X, and the latter just so happens to be three times more expensive. But when we’re talking about CPUs for gaming desktops, the Intel Core i5-12600K reigns supreme.

While the hybrid architecture makes it breeze through AAA games without difficulty, the Intel Core i5-12600K doesn’t shy away from being a decent processor for workstations. Content creation such as streaming or video editing using the Intel Core i5-12600K is smooth as silk.

Intel Core i5-11600K

Excellent Previous Generation Intel Processor

Intel Core i5-11600K Intel Processor List by Performance

What Makes It Good?

  • The best midrange CPU
  • Gaming performance is superb
  • Cheaper than the latest CPUs

What Makes It Bad?

  • Previous generation CPU
  • Not worth paying at full price

Price Range

  • $200 to $220

Just because it’s a previous generation processor doesn’t mean that it doesn’t deserve to be on the list. The Intel Core i5-11600K proves to be a decent option for gaming and productivity-based workstations, even though we have some of the latest processors within the same price range.

Intel Core i5-11600K’s architecture isn’t exactly perfect, and it’s far worse than the Core i5-12600K honestly. However, the Intel Core i5-11600K is a decent pick if you’re on a tight budget, or if you’ve spent more on your graphics cards than you should’ve.

In terms of gaming performance, the Intel Core i5-11600K stands its ground with AAA games such as Death Stranding and proves that you don’t need current generation processors for high-end gaming.

For productivity and other non-gaming tasks, the Intel Core i5-11600K blows the AMD processors out of the water thanks to its superb single-core performance.

All in all, the Intel Core i5-11600K makes it to this list for what it has to offer in terms of speed and performance. Is it worth paying the full price? Nope. For $20 more, you could already purchase the i5-12600K. But if the Intel Core i5-11600K is discounted, then it’s worth considering.

Intel Core i9-12900H

Best 12th Generation Intel Core i9 Mobile Processor

ASUS ROG Strix Scar 15 Intel Processor List by Performance

What Makes It Good?

  • The best mobile processor in the market for laptops
  • The best laptop processor for gaming and productivity
  • Decent power consumption even at higher performance levels

What Makes It Bad?

  • Difficult to find
  • Expensive as the laptops they come in

Price Range

  • $1,500 to $2,500 (depending on the laptop)

Gaming laptops are now getting the best processors packed into them, and Mobile Alder Lake processors are slowly becoming the new standard. In this case, the Intel Core i9-12900H is the best one in the industry.

As seen in the image, the Intel Core i9-12900H is found in a lot of high-end laptops like the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 15 and ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17. And believe us when we say that the Intel Core i9-12900H does not shy away from performing.

The Intel Core i9-12900H is a high-end processor packing 14 cores (six for performance and eight for efficiency) and 20 cores combined with 24MB of Intel Smart Cache. Clock speeds are capped at 5.00 GHz on Turbo mode.

Combined with the RTX 30-series graphics cards, the Intel Core i9-12900H is a beast. There are other powerful mobile processors out there, but nothing compares to what the Intel Core i9-12900H can do in terms of performance, speed, and power.

Best Budget Intel Processor List by Performance

We’ve covered the high-end processors from the Intel Corporation, and you’re paying a lot of money for higher performance that’s guaranteed at best. But believe it or not, there are budget options out there that can still get you the performance that you need.

In terms of benchmarks, these may not be the best for the most demanding games, but they’ll get you through.

Intel Core i5-10400F

The Best Budget Intel Core Processor

Intel Core i5-10400F Intel Processor List by Performance

What Makes It Good?

  • Really affordable
  • Price-to-performance ratio is solid
  • Best for non-demanding games or older games

What Makes It Bad?

  • You need a discrete GPU

Price Range

  • $120 to $130

First on the list is the Intel Core i5-10400F which is a solid pick for the $100-price ranges. The Intel Core i5-10400F comes with 6 cores and 12 threads and runs on 2.9 GHz base clock speed. Overclocking puts you through 4.3 GHz easily, which is impressive, to say the least.

The Intel Core i5-10400F is $80 to $100 cheaper than the 10600K, but bears the same specs. However, the Intel Core i5-10400F requires a discrete GPU or graphics card. Other than that, the Intel Core i5-10400F is great for what you need out of it.

Rendering videos isn’t a problem with the Intel Core i5-10400F, and gaming on the Intel Core i5-10400F is decent enough. Combine it with a nice graphics card and you’ll get yourself a midrange gaming rig that could run the latest games, albeit not just at the highest settings possible.

Intel Core i3-12100F

The Best 12th Generation Processor Under $100

Intel Core i3-12100F Intel Processor List by Performance

What makes it good?

  • An upgrade from the Core i3-10100F
  • The best processor for light gaming and productivity tasks
  • Good price-to-performance ratio

What makes it bad?

  • Needs a discrete GPU

Price range?

  • Less than $100

Older Intel processors became relevant as soon as the current-generation Intel Alder Lake processors were released. Much of the previous generation processors were dethroned by their 12th generation counterparts, but to say that the previous generation is underperforming would be unfair.

The Intel Core i3-12100F is one of those processors who were dethroned, but don’t underestimate this CPU. It’s considered as the best entry-level CPU for both gaming and productivity tasks, but don’t expect a lot from it.

The Intel Core i3-12100F is equipped with 4 cores and 8 threads, with overclocking speeds hitting 4.3 GHz, so it still packs a punch to say the least for the price range. While the Intel Core i3-10100F is from the Alder Lake line of processors, it doesn’t share the same hybrid architecture as the current generation processors as it only has P-cores (cores intended for performance). But it doesn’t mean that the Intel Core i3-12100F is unstable.

The Wrap Up

If we have to recommend one processor for highest performance possible, it would be the Intel Core i9-12900K. While the KS version is a little bit more powerful, the performance leap from the Intel Core i9-12900K is barely noticeable.

You’re looking to spend about $600 to$700 for the Intel Core i9-12900K, less so if you get it at a discounted price. Combine this processor with something like an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 or RTX 3090, you’d have one hell of a gaming rig that should run the latest AAA games on ultra settings.

James Stephenson

james stephenson profile picJames is a gaming and tech enthusiast. He has been playing computer games since the Commodore 64 days in the 80s. He has worked as a Broadcast Engineer with BBC News and knows a thing or two about building, fixing, and playing with PCs.