Choosing a CPU for a PC build can be a difficult endeavour at times. Consumers are faced with a plethora of SKUs from varying brands that all offer different metrics when it comes to performance. This can be rather confusing for a first-time builder, as your CPU is often a good starting point when choosing components for a system.
However, for those wanting to play their favourite games at a specific resolution, this can serve as a better starting point when deciding on components. For consumers looking to play games at 1080p, there are a plethora of options to choose from, when it comes to CPUs.
Whether you’re looking to build a budget-oriented system, or build a PC with a little bit ‘more oomph’, we’ve covered these options with a renowned GeekaWhat roundup. We’ve looked at options from both AMD and Intel, providing a range of choices for consumers looking to play their favourite games at 1080p.
Suggested Article: Best Graphics Cards to Buy for 1080p Gaming in 2023
1. Intel Core i3 13100F
👑 The best budget 1080p gaming CPU.
First off in our roundup is Intel‘s Core i3 13100F. This particular CPU is one of the best budget options, coming in under $150, whilst offering excellent metrics in 1080p games. Specs wise, the 13100F offers four cores and eight threads at a boost clock speed of 4.5GHz. Although this isn’t the 5GHz mark that we’re used to seeing with modern CPUs, but this processor will easily hold up at a 1080p resolution.
Looking at power consumption, the 13100F has a max rated turbo power of 89W, allowing consumers to save a bit of money on their power supply. The 13100F is one of the more efficient options, so users won’t need to worry about getting an insanely high efficiency rating. Whilst this PSU won’t be able to handle workstation applications based on its specs, the lower price point and promising gaming metrics, makes this processor perfect for those on a budget.
|Key Specs||Intel Core i3 13100F|
|Max Boost Clock Speed||4.5GHz|
|Max Turbo Power||89W|
Things We Like
Perfect for budget systems: The Core i3 13100F is one of the cheapest CPUs on the market right now, sitting well below the $150 mark. If you’re looking to build a gaming PC on a budget, this CPU will be the go-to choice for many consumers.
Doesn’t require a top-end PSU: The 13100F has a maximum rated turbo power of 89W, which is pretty low. This means that the majority of consumers can pick up a relatively low-end power supply such as 500W, saving a fair bit of money when it comes to total build cost.
Things We Don’t Like
Not ideal for workstation systems: The low core and thread count of the Core i3 13100F makes this CPU a very weak option when it comes to productivity applications. If you’re looking to build a multifaceted system, you’ll want to consider alternative options.
Can’t really handle higher resolutions: Modern games are becoming all the more demanding requiring improved specs in order to play them at a reasonable framerate. We would only recommend playing games at 1080p with the 13100F, as higher resolutions will be too much for this CPU.
Intel’s Core i3 13100F is an excellent 1080p gaming CPU for those on a budget. If you’re looking to play at a higher resolution down the line, or run workstation applications, this processor won’t be a great option. But as a standalone budget processor, we wholeheartedly recommend the 13100F to get your started on your first PC build.
Value for Money: 3.9/5
- Excellent price point.
- Low power consumption.
- Perfect for a budget gaming system.
- Not ideal for a workstation system.
- Will struggle with higher resolutions.
Where to Buy
Buy the Intel Core i3 13100F on:
2. Intel Core i5 13400F
👑 The best mid-range 1080p gaming CPU.
Next up in this roundup is Intel‘s Core i5 13400F, which is more of a mid-range variant within Intel’s 13th-Gen range. The 13400F is another solid 1080p gaming CPU with a higher core count, and boost clock speed, improving framerates in certain titles. Whilst we wouldn’t necessarily recommend this CPU for as a standalone workstation option, the 13400F will have a better chance at handling productivity applications that demand a higher core and thread count.
Compared to the 13100F, this CPU sees a core improvement, adding six more to reach a total of ten, with an addition of eight more threads too. The clock speed hasn’t been drastically improved in comparison, with a slight bump up to 4.6GHz, this should improve speeds in a variety of games and applications. Most notably, the 13400F also has a higher cache (29.5MB in total), which should significantly aid gaming performance, providing a nice jump in framerates.
|Key Specs||Intel Core i5 13400F|
|Max Boost Clock Speed||4.6GHz|
|Max Turbo Power||148W|
Things We Like
Can handle higher resolutions: For consumers planning on picking up a 1440p capable GPU later down the line, or users wanting to provide more upgradeability to their system, the 13400F is more than capable of handling higher resolutions.
Solid price point: Although the 13400F is pricier than other some other budget options, it serves as a great entry point for consumers looking to build a mid-range oriented PC at a reasonable price point.
Things We Don’t Like
May struggle with some workstation applications: Whilst the 13400F does have a higher core and thread count, there are some applications that may prove too much for this CPU.
Higher wattage: Despite not having an insane set of specs, the 13400F does have a rather high boost wattage, so consumers will need to pick up a stronger PSU option to handle the boost capabilities of this CPU.
Intel’s Core i5 13400F is an excellent 1080p gaming CPU with plenty of room for higher intensity applications later down the line. Again, we wouldn’t necessary recommend this CPU for a workstation system, the higher clock speed, cache, and core count, makes it perfect for those planning on playing games at 1440p later down the line.
Value for Money: 4/5
- Good price point.
- Can handle 1440p as well as 1080p gaming.
- Ideal for a mid-range system.
- Requires a higher wattage PSU.
- Not ideal for top-end workstation applications.
Where to Buy
Buy the Intel Core i5 13400F on:
3. AMD Ryzen 5 7600X
👑 The best AMD 1080p gaming CPU.
For our third option in this roundup, we’ve picked out AMD’s Ryzen 5 7600X. This CPU is the cheapest option in the most recent Ryzen 7000 range, utilising AMD’s brand new AMD platform with a fresh set of features such as DDR5 compatibility, USB4, and CPUs with high clock speeds out of the box. The Ryzen 5 7600X isn’t particularly ideal for a budget system based on motherboard and RAM cost, but it does offer excellent upgradeability.
Consumers can expect solid 1080p gaming performance with solid metrics in 1440p, and even capability at a 4K resolution. We wouldn’t urge consumers to buy this CPU purely for 4K, but if you’re not able to afford an alternative CPU, the 7600X is a great option. Specs wise, the 7600X offers six cores, 12 threads, and a boost clock of 5.3GHz which is one of the highest speeds you’ll see, especially considering the price metrics.
|Key Specs||AMD Ryzen 5 7600X|
|Max Boost Clock Speed||5.3GHz|
Things We Like
Room for upgrades: Unlike Intel’s 13th-Gen range, we’re likely to see multiple more generations of new Ryzen CPUs on the AM5 platform. This means that if you’re unhappy with performance, all you’ll need to do is install a new CPU and change the BIOS.
Excellent single threaded performance: During our testing of the Ryzen 5 7600X, we discovered that this CPU was one of the best options when it comes to single core performance, making it absolutely perfect for gaming.
Things We Don’t Like
Insanely high thermals: The biggest caveat to all of the new Ryzen 7000 CPUs are the insane thermals. These CPUs are designed to handle a higher TDP, but you’ll need to pair up a solid cooler with your processor, to ensure temperatures stay low under higher loads.
Build cost is expensive: Although the CPU is quite well priced, motherboards and the required DDR5 RAM can make your total build cost ramp up very quickly. This CPU definitely isn’t geared towards budget builds.
The Ryzen 5 7600X is one of AMD‘s best options sitting on a modern platform, offering strong metrics at a 1080p resolution with decent legs in 1440p and 4K. There is a bit of a price hike when it comes to build cost, compared to Intel systems, but the cost is worth it if you’re looking to build a modern system with plenty of upgrading room for more powerful components.
Value for Money: 4/5
- Plenty of room for upgrades.
- Great single threaded performance.
- Ideal for a mid-range 1080p or 1440p system.
- Build cost is quite expensive.
- High thermals under all-core workload.
Where to Buy
Buy the AMD Ryzen 5 7600X on:
4. Intel Core i5 13600K
👑 The best performing 1080p gaming CPU.
Our fourth and final selection appearing in this roundup is Intel’s Core i5 13600K, an absolute powerhouse of performance. The 13600K is one of the best value options for consumers building a mid-range PC. Consumers can expect performance comparable to a 12900K, which means this processor is more than capable in 1080p games, with solid legs at 1440p and 4K too. Not only is the 13600K great for gaming, but this CPU also has excellent workstation capability.
The high core and thread count, coupled with the strong boost clock speed, makes this CPU ideal for those wanting to push their PC with some productivity workloads during the day, and play games in the evening. There are obvious limitations to this CPU, namely when it comes to core and clock speeds, however, the solid price point will be a big decider for many consumers.
|Key Specs||Intel Core i5 13600K|
|Max Boost Clock Speed||5.1GHz|
|Max Turbo Power||181W|
Things We Like
Excellent value proposition: The Core i5 13600K is one of the best value for money CPUs on the market. Consumers can expect to pick up this CPU for around $300 or so, which is very solid considering how capable this processor is when it comes to gaming and workstation applications.
Solid thermals: Despite the excellent performance metrics, the 13600K tends to stay pretty cool across the board. Consumers won’t need to stress about picking up an insane cooler for their 1080p gaming system, saving you some money!
Things We Don’t Like
Platform will become deprecated: The 13th-Gen platform is unfortunately at the end of its lifespan, which means you’ll need to pick up a new motherboard, or possibly new RAM if you plan on picking up Intel’s potential 14th-Gen series of processors.
Somewhat overkill for 1080p: 1080p doesn’t tend to pose much of a problem for modern and older CPUs, as the overhead isn’t significant. If you’re the kind of consumer playing Esports games, or older titles, this CPU will be a bit overkill, and you can definitely save some money by picking up a cheaper alternative.
Intel’s Core i5 13600K is one of the best performing CPUs on the market offering excellent performance in pretty much everything you throw it is. This processor is a bit overkill for 1080p, but if you plan on pushing your system a little bit harder with a higher resolution, or some more intense productivity applications in the future, the 13600K will fit right in!
Value for Money: 4.3/5
- Excellent gaming and workstation performance.
- Brilliant price point.
- Perfect for a mid-range system.
- Somewhat overkill for 1080p.
- Platform will be deprecated soon.
Where to Buy
Buy the Intel Core i5 13600K on:
Is My CPU Important for Gaming?
Your CPU will affect your gaming experience, but it is worth noting that your processor isn’t the most important component to consider. Principally, your CPU will determine how fast the data from your GPU is processed. This effectively means, the faster your CPU clock speed is, the quicker games should run based on this metric.
It is worth noting that your clock speed won’t massively improve framerates, but you may see improvements in certain titles based on this. Another important area that can affect gaming performance is your CPU’s cache. As we’ve seen with AMD‘s ‘3D’ SKUs, cache can significantly improve performance, boosting framerates across the board, so a CPU that has more cache will generally perform better in your favourite games.
When it comes to choosing a CPU, don’t get caught in the trap of picking a CPU that has more cores and threads. Although this is important for productivity applications, the vast majority of games will only ever use one or two cores at most. This effectively means that your clock speed becomes one of the big factors that can decide performance in games. To summarise, yes your CPU is important for gaming, but don’t get trapped by silly marketing schemes to buy the biggest and most powerful CPU money can buy, as this likely won’t change performance if you’ve already got a good CPU and GPU combo.
One of the big points of contention users are faced with when building a PC, tends to be compatibility. There are a myriad of components on the market, which can cause confusion for even a well-rounded system builder. If you’re building an AMD or Intel-oriented PC, it is worth looking at compatibility first to ensure that you won’t have any installation issues out of the gate.
When it comes to motherboard compatibility, the main point to consider, is whether you’re choosing AMD or Intel. Neither of these manufacturers offer cross-compatibility, so it won’t be a simple process to change over to a different manufacturer if you’ve decided already. Once you’ve decided which CPU brand you’d like to pick up, now is the question of compatibility and chipsets.
To help with compatibility, we’ve provided a table below that highlights which CPUs work with which motherboard chipsets. To briefly break down the table, Intel 12th and 13th-Gen chipsets are entirely cross-compatible, which means your 12th-Gen CPUs will work in 13th-Gen motherboards, and vice versa. For AMD, there is only one generation of motherboards that work with the new AMD CPUs. The X670 and B650 chipsets will work with no issues, but older chipsets such as X570, and B550 use an entirely different socket, and therefore Ryzen 7000 CPUs can’t be installed on these boards.
|CPU Range||Compatible Chipsets|
|Ryzen 7000 (Ryzen 9, 7, & 5)||X670E, B650E, X670, B650, A720|
|Intel 13th Gen (Intel Core i9, i7, i5 & i3)||Z790, Z690, B760, B660, H770, H670|
|Intel 12th Gen (Intel Core i9, i7, i5 & i3)||Z790, Z690, B760, B660, H770, H670|
|Ryzen 5000 (Ryzen 9, 7 & 5)||X570, X470, B550, B450, A520|
Why You Can Trust Us
After reading through our recommendations, you’re probably wondering why you should trust our input and opinions on this subject, allow us to explain. Our team of hardware enthusiasts and PC gamers are constantly testing all of the latest products and components that we can get our hands on, in a range of different scenarios including gaming and productivity applications. We then take all of our benchmarking data and provide a general overview of each product which is then relayed to our audience via a variety of content such as YouTube videos and articles. More detail can be found out about our editorial team by heading over to the About Us section.
How We Tested the Best CPUs for 1080p Gaming
In order to test and evaluate the best CPUs for 1080p gaming, there are a number of factors that we take into account, these are:
- Value for Money
Best CPU for 1080p Gaming: Intel Core i5 13400F
To conclude, we’ve picked out Intel’s Core i5 13400F as the best CPU for 1080p gaming. This processor offers solid performance at a 1080p resolution, with legs in more intense resolutions with the right graphics card pairing. The 13400F strikes a fine balance between price and performance, making it a strong value-proposition in the 1080p gaming space!
Read our full Intel Core i5 13400F review, or Buy the Core i5 13400F on Amazon
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I Need Loads of CPU Cores for Gaming?
In short, no! Games only tend to use one or two cores, so picking up a CPU that has more cores and threads won’t be much of a benefit, unless you need the cores for more intense applications.
Do I Need DDR4 or DDR5 RAM?
This entirely depends on the motherboard you’ve chosen. For Intel users you can choose between DDR4 and DDR5, but for AMD users, you can only pick up DDR5 RAM for your Ryzen 7000 build.
Can I Use a Ryzen 7000 CPU with a Ryzen 5000 Motherboard?
Unfortunately no. Ryzen 7000 CPUs use an entirely different socket to the Ryzen 5000 SKUs. This means that even if you wanted to install one into your Ryzen 5000 motherboard you couldn’t, because they simply won’t fit.
Do I Need a Good CPU Cooler?
Again, this hugely depends. As a general rule, the majority of budget or mid-range Intel CPUs won’t need an insanely expensive cooler. On the AMD side, the most recent Ryzen 7000 range can get quite hot, so you may want to pickup a stronger cooler to offset the higher temperatures.