The Best CPUs: Productivity and Gaming

Current generation flagship offerings consist of the Ryzen 9 7900X, 7950X and Core i9-13900K. On AMD’s side, the 7950X offers better value at $44 per core opposed to $46 per core for the 7900X. You should only buy the 7900X over the 7700X for productivity performance, and if you assume that time is money, in that case the better value 7950X is the obvious choice.

We’ll say it again. If you’re just gaming, the more affordable 7700X is a better choice than either the 7900X or 7950X, as the single CCD processor ensures lower latency between cores. The 7900X and 7950X are first and foremost productivity CPUs, that you’d only pick 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 usage, sucking down significantly more power than the 7950X for a similar level of performance. In our opinion, the 7950X is the better productivity CPU, for core-heavy work it either matches or beats the 13900K.

For gaming though, the 13900K is king — it’s not miles faster, just 3% faster on average according to our own testing, but there are examples where the Core i9 is around 20% faster, and that can be a big deal for competitive gamers.

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

Meanwhile, the 13900K costs $620 and you’ll want to spend at least $200 on a Z690 motherboard to avoid VRM throttling, chuck in the same G.Skill DDR5 memory and that combo comes to $1,005. That’s a rather large 25% premium for what amounts to similar gaming performance. The Core i9 was ~2.5% faster on average at 1440p with an RTX 4090 in our testing.

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

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