Best CPU for 4K gaming in 2024

Best CPU for 4K gaming in 2024
Jack Howarth Updated on by

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Smooth 4K gaming has been the goal for the majority of high-end PC enthusiasts and PC gamers for years now, and with every generation of new hardware, that goal becomes evermore achievable. Here are what we believe to be the best CPUs for 4k gaming.

Regardless of possessing a high-end GPU, it is crucial to pair it with a top-tier CPU that can effectively support its performance when rendering frames. Now, let’s delve into the finest CPU option available for an optimal 4K gaming experience.

Here are the top picks for the best CPU for 4k gaming. We devised this list based on the raw performance of each CPU and its ability to support a high-end GPU when rendering frames in 4k.

Best CPU for 4K gaming – Reviews

Here we will review the CPUs we have chosen as the best CPUs for 4k gaming in a more rounded capacity, covering performance and why we think they’re ideal for 4k gaming. Without further delay, let’s delve into the best CPU for 4k gaming.

Best overall CPU for 4K gaming

AMD Ryzen 9 7950X3D





Boost speed:

5.7 GHz


144 MB



  • High boost clocks
  • Tons of L3 Cache
  • Lower TDP
  • On the pricier end of things

Designed for gamers seeking amazing CPU performance in games and demanding productivity workloads, the AMD Ryzen 9 7950X3D is an impressive choice. With its 16-core processing power, it excels at multitasking.

The processor features 16 Zen 4 cores and AMD’s second-generation 3D V-Cache technology, unlocking a substantial 128MB of L3 cache. This results in the fastest gaming performance available in the market. Extensive tests have shown the 7950X3D beating Intel’s flagship Core i9-13900KS, delivering an average performance boost of 13% and up to 40% in select games that effectively utilize the 3D V-cache technology.

To enable the impressive 128MB L3 cache, AMD employs their advanced 3D chip-stacking technique called 3D V-Cache. This method stacks a 3D SRAM chiplet on top of the processor using hybrid bonding, similar to what was done in AMD’s Zen 3 Ryzen 7 5800X3D.

The increased cache significantly enhances gaming performance in many titles. Additionally, AMD has implemented a new thread-targeting approach that optimizes performance gains across a wide range of games.

However, it’s important to note that using 3D chip-stacking technology has its downsides. The Ryzen 9 7950X3D may exhibit lower performance in certain productivity applications, and its gaming acceleration may not be consistent across all games.

Potential buyers should carefully consider the advantages and disadvantages of this chip before making a purchase decision. Nevertheless, one fact remains – the 7950X3D is currently the fastest gaming chip available, solidifying its position as an impressive contender in the 4k CPU market. Regardless of these shortcomings, we believe that the 7950X3D is the best CPU for 4k gaming.

Best workstation CPU for 4K gaming

Intel Core i9-13900K


Raptor Lake

Core Count


Thread Count


Boost Speed




  • Leading boost performance
  • Second-gen hybrid architecture
  • Strong gaming performance
  • Gets hot

Considered the best Intel CPU, the i9-13900K is an incredibly powerful CPU that outperforms its competitors. With its 24 cores and 32 threads, it excels in both single and multi-core tasks, making it the top choice for multi-threaded performance after a long time.

The 13900K has a higher power consumption than its predecessor, Alder Lake, with a base TDP of 125W and a boost TDP of 253W. However, this increase in power also translates to a significant boost in performance. The 13th-generation Raptor Lake CPUs offer improved single-core performance by up to 15% and multi-core performance by up to 41%. These improvements make a noticeable difference, especially at 4k resolution, thanks to the ultra-fast CPU cores.

The good news is that you don’t necessarily need to upgrade your motherboard to take advantage of this performance. However, there are some advantages to doing so.

This time, the L2 CPU cache has doubled in size, allowing the CPU to access larger and faster storage. This ensures the smooth processing of instructions without any slowdowns.

With a maximum core speed of up to 5.8 GHz, which is currently the fastest on the market, the 13900K delivers lightning-fast performance.

However, it’s worth noting that all this power comes at a cost. The 13900K generates a significant amount of heat under extreme stress. While most users won’t push the CPU to the limits we did in our stress test, we observed the CPU throttling up to 13% when using a 360mm AIO cooler.

However, that’s just a small price to pay when you see the absolute monster this CPU is when gaming at 4k.

Intel’s little.big technology

Intel’s Little.Big technology is a CPU architecture that combines high-performance cores (P-cores) with power-efficient cores, (E-cores) in a single processor.

The “Big” cores are designed for demanding tasks that require maximum performance, while the “Little” cores are optimized for power efficiency and handle lighter workloads. This approach allows the processor to dynamically allocate tasks to the appropriate core type, balancing performance and power consumption based on the workload’s requirements.

It improves energy efficiency, prolongs battery life in mobile devices, and enhances overall performance by effectively utilizing the available processing resources.

Best Zen 4 CPU for 4K gaming

AMD Ryzen 9 7900X





Base speed


Boost speed



L3 64MB



  • Good thread count
  • Strong base speeds
  • Competitive pricing
  • Lower L3 Cache
  • High TDP

The AMD Ryzen 7900X belongs to Zen 4 architecture, representing a significant performance boost for the AMD platform. With the AM5 socket, it supports DDR5 and PCIe Gen 5, aligning the 7000 series with current technological standards and pleasing AMD users worldwide.

Equipped with 8 cores and 16 threads, the Ryzen 7900X delivers impressive multi-core performance while also excelling in single-core tasks, thanks to its substantial 5.6 GHz boost clock speed. AMD has made notable enhancements to single-core performance, placing it on par with Intel’s previous-generation Alder Lake CPUs. This makes the 7900X a great choice for 4k gaming.

The Ryzen Zen 4 CPU cores now boast double the cache, with each core having 1MB instead of the previous 512KB. This increase enables the CPU to handle more instructions, resulting in faster processing speeds.

However, it’s important to note that the TDP (thermal design power) of the 7900X is higher compared to its predecessor. With a base core speed of 170W and a boost speed of 230W, the CPU generates more heat, similar to the i9-13900K. Unfortunately, CPU cooler technology hasn’t kept up with the power packed into these latest CPUs.

The reason we have the 7900X sat third in our list and not the 7950X, is because we believe the 7900X is a far better choice, in terms of efficiency and price to performance.

Best 5000 Ryzen CPU for 4K gaming

AMD Ryzen 7 5800X3D

MD Ryzen™ 7 5800X3D Desktop Processor (8-core/16-thread, 96MB L3 cache, up to 4.5 GHz max boost)

Core Count


Thread Count


CPU Speed

4.5 GHz



  • Low TDP
  • Good base clock speed
  • Am4 socket
  • Last generation

The Ryzen 7 5800X3D is a remarkable achievement in CPU engineering and has been recognized as the “best gaming CPU,” besting Intel’s Core i9 12900K. However, there are a few factors to consider that prevent it from being the top choice in all cases.

This CPU boasts eight multi-threaded cores and an impressive 96MB of AMD’s innovative 3D V-cache, making it highly suitable for gaming and providing a significant advantage in certain games.

What distinguishes this CPU from others on the market is its use of 3D V-cache. Unlike standard 2D cache, the 3D cache is stacked vertically using advanced 3D printing technology. This stacking technique allows for a greater number of chiplets to be present in a given area, resulting in larger cache capacities without compromising access speeds.

Thanks to this vertical stacking, AMD can offer a substantial 96MB L3 cache with a total access speed of 2TB/s in their 5800X3D CPUs.

The 5800X3D operates at lower core speeds compared to its counterparts, starting at 3.4GHz and reaching a maximum speed of 4.5GHz. This is because higher core speeds become unstable when paired with the 3D V-cache. Consequently, the 5800X3D may not be well-suited for tasks that heavily rely on a single core or for professional workstations.

Furthermore, it lacks support for overclocking. However, when it comes to gaming, the 5800X3D is a fully capable CPU that excels.

Although the new caching technology offers significant advantages in certain gaming workloads, its benefits may not be as present in all scenarios.

The lower core speeds and absence of overclocking support mean that the 5800X3D can sometimes be outshined by more affordable CPUs that do not incorporate cache technology, even in gaming situations.

Regardless of this, the Ryzen 7 5800X3D is still incredibly capable of 4k gaming.

Best CPU for 4K gaming – Things to consider

Here we have a list of carefully derived things to consider when shopping for the best desktop processor to get you through games at 4k. Please take these considerations into account when purchasing your 4k CPU.

Performance and Cores

The performance of a CPU is essential for 4K gaming. Look for CPUs with high clock speeds and multiple cores, as they offer better multitasking capabilities.

More cores allow the CPU to handle complex calculations, physics simulations, and AI tasks, resulting in smoother gameplay and reduced lag. Consider CPUs with at least eight cores to ensure optimal performance for 4K gaming.

Single-Core Performance

While multi-core performance is important, single-core performance shouldn’t be overlooked. Some games rely heavily on a single core for certain tasks.

Look for CPUs that offer strong single-core performance, enabling them to handle these tasks efficiently. High clock speeds and optimized architecture contribute to better single-core performance.

Compatibility and Socket

Check the compatibility of the CPU with your motherboard’s socket. Ensure that the CPU you choose is supported by your motherboard’s chipset and socket type.

This information can usually be found in the motherboard’s specifications. Choosing a compatible CPU and motherboard combination is crucial to ensure a smooth and hassle-free setup.

Thermal Design Power (TDP)

Consider the TDP of the CPU, as it indicates the amount of heat generated and the cooling requirements. CPUs with higher TDP tend to run hotter and may require more advanced cooling solutions, such as liquid cooling or high-performance air coolers.

Ensure that your PC’s cooling system can effectively handle the heat generated by the CPU, especially during intense 4K gaming sessions.


Set a budget for your CPU purchase. While top-of-the-line CPUs offer the best performance, they often come with a hefty price tag. Determine your budget and strike a balance between performance and affordability. Consider mid-range CPUs that offer a good blend of performance and value for 4K gaming.

It’s important to allocate a reasonable portion of your budget to ensure you get a CPU that meets your gaming needs. If you need a more budget CPU, we have an article for that.

Future Upgrade Possibilities

Consider the upgrade possibilities for your chosen CPU. Opting for a CPU and motherboard combination that offers future upgrade options can help extend the lifespan of your gaming system.

Check if the CPU is compatible with upcoming technologies, such as DDR5 RAM and PCIe Gen 5. This allows for future enhancements and ensures your system remains up to date.

What frame rates should you expect when playing at 4K?

When playing games at 4K resolution, the achievable frame rates can vary based on various factors, including the specific game, hardware specifications, graphics settings, and optimization. Generally, for modern and more taxing games, achieving a consistent 60 frames per second (fps) at 4K resolution may require a high-end gaming PC with a powerful graphics card.

However, it’s important to note that some visually demanding games may still require lower graphical settings or compromises in order to maintain a smooth 60 fps experience. Alternatively, if you have a high-refresh-rate monitor, you may aim for even higher frame rates, such as 120 fps or 144 fps, but that would typically require more powerful hardware.

Ultimately, the achievable frame rates at 4K will depend on the specific game and the performance capabilities of your PC’s hardware.

What GPU should you pair with your 4K gaming CPU?

To achieve smooth gaming performance at 4K resolution, it is recommended to invest in a high-end graphics card to pair with your 4k-capable CPU. Here are some of the top GPUs for gaming at 4K:

  • NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4080: This powerful GPU offers excellent 4K gaming performance and ray-tracing capabilities. It provides high frame rates and can handle demanding games with ease.
  • NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090: This flagship GPU from NVIDIA delivers exceptional 4K gaming performance and is designed for enthusiasts and content creators. It offers immense power and can handle games at 4K with high frame rates.
  • AMD Radeon RX 7900 XT: AMD’s high-end GPU, the RX 7900 XT, competes with NVIDIA’s offerings. It provides a strong 4K gaming performance, offering an alternative choice for gamers.

It’s worth noting that the GPU market is dynamic, and new models are released regularly. It’s essential to research and compare the latest GPUs based on your budget and specific requirements to ensure the best fit for your gaming needs.

Best CPU for 4k gaming – Final Word

Selecting the best CPU for 4K gaming requires careful consideration of factors such as performance, cores, single-core performance, compatibility, TDP, budget, frequency, and future upgrade possibilities. A well-chosen CPU will provide the processing power needed for seamless 4K gaming experiences. Remember to balance your requirements with your budget to make an informed decision. Happy gaming!