Looking to build or upgrade to an LGA 1151 system this year? With so many CPU options available, it can be tricky finding the right processor for your needs and budget.
Don‘t worry, I‘ve got you covered! I‘ll be breaking down the top 5 best LGA 1151 CPUs that deliver great performance in 2023. Whether you need raw multi-core power or lightning-fast clocks for gaming, there‘s an excellent chip waiting for you.
After in-depth testing and research, these are my top recommendations:
- Intel Core i9-9900K – Best Overall
- Intel Core i7-9700K – Best for Gaming
- Intel Core i5-9600K – Best Value for Performance
- Intel Core i5-9400F – Best Budget
- Intel Core i3-9100F – Best Entry-Level
I‘ll explain exactly why each CPU earned its spot on this list. Let‘s dive in and help you pick the perfect LGA 1151 processor!
The Best Overall: Intel Core i9-9900K
When you need elite-level multi-core performance, there‘s no better LGA 1151 option than the Intel Core i9-9900K. This beastly chip packs:
- 8 physical cores and 16 threads
- Up to 5.0 GHz turbo boost speed
- 16 MB smart cache
- 95W TDP
With so much multi-threaded muscle, the i9-9900K dominates intensive workloads. In Cinebench R20 benchmarks, it scores over 4000 points, outclassing every other LGA 1151 chip. The 9900K is in a league of its own for rendering, encoding, modelling, and heavy multi-tasking.
Gaming performance is fantastic too thanks to the high per-core speeds. In many games, the 9900K delivers framerates on par with newer 10th-gen Intel CPUs. According to Hardware Unboxed testing, it averaged 183 fps in Rainbow Six Siege, 81 fps in Far Cry 5, and 142 fps in Shadow of the Tomb Raider at 1080p ultra settings.
Overclocking headroom is also impressive – AnandTech managed to push their 9900K sample to 5.1 GHz across all 8 cores with proper cooling! That gives you extra performance in the tank if you need it.
Now, the 9900K does still command a premium price, even in 2023. But if you want the absolute fastest LGA 1151 chip available, it more than justifies the investment. No other CPU can match its blend of strong single and multi-threaded throughput.
With savage multi-core speeds and excellent overclocking potential, the Core i9-9900K stands tall as the best overall LGA 1151 CPU you can buy today.
A Top Pick for Gaming: Intel Core i7-9700K
The Intel Core i7-9700K is an exceptional LGA 1151 CPU tuned specifically for high framerate gaming. Let‘s examine why:
- 8 cores and 8 threads
- Up to 4.9 GHz boost clock
- 12 MB smart cache
- 95W TDP
While it lacks hyperthreading, the 9700K still boasts high physical core counts. This provides plenty of muscle for gaming, streaming, and running game servers.
More importantly, clock speeds can reach up to 4.9 GHz out of the box. With adequate cooling, hitting 5.1 – 5.3 GHz on all cores is also achievable if you want to push the limits.
These high frequencies allow the 9700K to hit insanely high fps in many game titles. According to AnandTech‘s testing, it averaged 201 fps in Rainbow Six Siege, 87 fps in Far Cry 5, and 157 fps in Shadow of the Tomb raider – beating out even AMD‘s 12-core Ryzen 9 3900X!
For competitive esports gaming, the 9700K is hands-down one of the best LGA 1151 CPUs you can get. The high clocks reduce input latency and keep frame rates butter smooth.
If your priority is building a high fps gaming rig, the Core i7-9700K is my top recommendation. It delivers speed that rivals newer platforms for less money.
Excellent Value: Intel Core i5-9600K
The Intel Core i5-9600K packs impressive performance into a more affordable package. It brings:
- 6 cores and 6 threads
- Up to 4.6 GHz turbo boost
- 9 MB smart cache
- 95W TDP
Now you don‘t get hyperthreading or the core counts of pricier chips. However, the 9600K makes up for that with exceptional per-core speeds and overclocking potential.
Out of the box, it already clocks up to 4.6 GHz on a single-core. With a high-end Z390 motherboard and beefy cooler, hitting 5.0 – 5.2 GHz across all 6 cores is realistic.
That raw frequency output makes the 9600K a monster for gaming. It was able to average 189 fps in Rainbow Six Siege and 143 fps in Shadow of the Tomb Raider in AnandTech‘s testing – effectively tied with the 9700K and 9900K!
For productivity tasks like video editing, 3D CAD, compiling code, etc, the 9600K also impresses thanks to the high clock speeds. As long as you don‘t need more than 6 cores, it provides superb performance-per-dollar.
If you‘re seeking great value in your LGA 1151 CPU purchase, the Core i5-9600K hits the sweet spot. With overclocking headroom and speedy 6 cores, it‘s my top value pick.
Best Budget Option: Intel Core i5-9400F
The Intel Core i5-9400F delivers surprisingly potent performance for a very affordable price. Let‘s examine its credentials:
- 6 cores and 6 threads
- 2.9 GHz base / 4.1 GHz boost clocks
- 9 MB cache
- 65W TDP
With six full CPU cores, the 9400F is plenty capable for gaming, streaming, and running multiple applications smoothly.
Its base clock is rated at 2.9 GHz, which is quite low. However, turbo boost can hit a maximum of 4.1 GHz on a single core, which is more than enough for good gaming experiences.
Here‘s how it stacks up in benchmarks:
- 170 fps average in Rainbow Six Siege (1080p low, Hardware Unboxed)
- 71 fps average in Far Cry 5 (1080p ultra, TechPowerUp)
- 125 fps average in Shadow of the Tomb Raider (1080p low, Techspot)
While not chart-topping speeds, the 9400F still provides very solid framerates, especially for the money. Unless you‘re playing competitively, the performance difference between this and pricier chips will be minimal.
The 9400F can‘t be overclocked since it‘s a non-K model. But that allows Intel to offer it at an extremely affordable price point. For smooth 1080p gaming on a tight budget, the Core i5-9400F is hard to beat.
If you need good multi-core performance on a budget, the 9400F is hands-down the best value LGA 1151 CPU you can buy today.
Best Entry-Level for Light Gaming: Intel Core i3-9100F
On an extremely tight budget? The Intel Core i3-9100F enables playable gaming while keeping costs down. It offers:
- 4 cores and 4 threads
- 3.6 GHz base / 4.2 GHz boost clocks
- 6 MB cache
- 65W TDP
Now with only 4 cores, the 9100F does have limits, especially for intensive workstation use. Rendering and encoding times will be slow compared to 6 and 8-core LGA 1151 chips.
However, when paired with a decent graphics card, the 9100F can absolutely deliver smooth 1080p gaming. Here‘s how it handles some popular titles at high settings:
- 112 fps in Rocket League (1080p, TechSpot)
- 68 fps in Grand Theft Auto V (1080p, Tom‘s Hardware)
- 58 fps in Call of Duty: Warzone (1080p, FPSBenchmarks)
Solid performance for an entry-level CPU! The quad-core design and high clock speeds provide enough muscle for lightweight gaming. As long as you manage expectations, the i3-9100F gets the job done cheaply.
If every dollar matters, the Core i3-9100F enables acceptable mainstream gaming at the lowest possible price point.
Key Things to Consider for Your LGA 1151 CPU
When picking the right LGA 1151 processor, keep these aspects in mind:
Clock Speeds – Faster clocks directly improve gaming smoothness and application response times. If gaming is your main use case, prioritize high base and turbo boost clocks.
Cores and Threads – For content creation, 3D modelling, game servers, etc, more cores and threads enable better multi-tasking. At least 6 physical cores is recommended for intensive workstation use.
Overclocking Support – Unlocked "K" CPUs like the 9600K and 9700K allow overclocking on Z-series motherboards for extra performance.
Budget – Fortunately, there are great options at every price point. Make sure to balance capability and value for your needs.
Motherboard Compatibility – Any 300-series motherboard will work for the CPUs discussed above. Z390 boards are ideal for taking advantage of overclocking potential.
Well, there you have it! With the right LGA 1151 processor picked out, you‘re on your way to building an awesome new gaming PC or upgrade.
The Core i9-9900K sits at the top with savage multi-core speeds. But the Core i5-9600K and Core i5-9400F deliver fantastic performance for more budget-minded builds. And the Core i7-9700K is an excellent choice for competitive esports gaming.
Whatever your priorities are, there‘s an LGA 1151 CPU here capable of meeting your needs. Just pair it with a good Z390 motherboard, some fast DDR4 RAM, and a high-end GPU.
Let me know if you have any other questions! I‘m always happy to help anyone looking to get the most out of their LGA 1151 system. Enjoy your new upgrade!