is reader-supported. When you buy something through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases

Best CPU For Programming In 2022 [7 Picks For Every Budget]

Programming is tough work, we know how much effort you put into every task.

It doesn’t matter if you’re working on the next big Indie game, AI, mathematics, mobile development, all of it is equally important and comes with their own set of challenges for you to overcome.

But how do you make the most of your PC? 

What you need is a CPU that’s able to cope with the amount of work you put into your projects. One that will let you overclock and reach new speeds so that you can put everything into your work.

But there are a lot of CPUs to choose from, and how are you supposed to know which is going to be best? Well, that’s why you have this guide to help you out. 

For us, the best CPU for programming is definitely the Intel Core 19-12900KF. It’s got everything you need for high-powered processing, and while we love it, every model in this guide has its own strengths. 

It doesn’t matter if you need a CPU that can cope with the complexities of AI development, software development, or creating a new mobile app – we’ve got exactly what you need ready to go so that you can get on with your work. 

To compile this list, our expert team performed intensive research on the market:

  • analyzing 37 CPUs 
  • Investing 100+ hours of research based on industry standards
  • Testing some CPUs ourselves
  • Reading expert reviews and consulting actual programmers

The best programming processors are here and waiting, are you ready to venture on?


Best CPU For Programming – A Comparison Table

Editor’s Choice
Intel Core i9-12900KF
Intel Core i9-12900KF
  • Max. Clock Speed: 5.2 GHz
  • Cores/threads: 16/24
  • Unlocked: Yes
  • Cooler included: No
Check Latest Price
Premium Choice
AMD Ryzen 5 3600
AMD Ryzen 5 3600
  • Max. Clock Speed: 4.2 GHz
  • Cores/threads: 6/12
  • Unlocked: Yes
  • Cooler included: AMD wraith stealth cooler
Check Latest Price
Budget Choice
New Intel Core 2 Quad Q9650
New Intel Core 2 Quad Q9650
  • Max. Clock Speed: 4 GHz
  • Cores/threads: 4/8
  • Unlocked: Yes
  • Cooler included: No
Check Latest Price
Intel Core i5-9600KIntel Core i5-9600K
  • Max. Clock Speed: 4.6 GHz
  • Cores/threads: 6/6
  • Unlocked: Yes
  • Cooler included: No
Check Latest Price
Intel Core i5-12600KFIntel Core i5-12600KF
  • Max. Clock Speed: 4.9 GHz
  • Cores/threads: 10/20
  • Unlocked: Yes
  • Cooler included: No
Check Latest Price
AMD Ryzen 9 5950XAMD Ryzen 9 5950X
  • Max. Clock Speed: 4.9 GHz
  • Cores/threads: 16/32
  • Unlocked: Yes
  • Cooler included: No
Check Latest Price
Intel Core i7-7700KIntel Core i7-7700K
  • Max. Clock Speed: 4.5 GHz
  • Cores/threads: 4/8
  • Unlocked: Yes
  • Cooler included: No
Check Latest Price

The Best Processors For Coding Reviewed

Editor’s Choice
#1 Intel Core i9-12900KF
10/10Our Score

Our top pick, we love the level of power that this CPU is able to offer. It has everything a developer needs for seamless programming - whether you’re working in video games, fullstack, or malware analysis. 16 cores and 24 threads mean you get seamless operation, and the fact that it’s unlocked for overclocking allows you to push it to new speeds and capabilities. 


  • Cores: 16
  • Thread: 24
  • Clock Speed: 5.2 GHz
  • Socket: LGA1700
  • Incredible core and thread count for fast processing that makes work easy
  • Unlocked to give you full access to overclocking capabilities
  • P-Cores for peak performance and E-Cores for multithreading and multitasking
  • Separate overclocking controls for each of the cores provided
  • Perfect for software development, coding basic programs, and game development
  • It doesn’t come with a cooling unit, so you’re going to need to get that set up

Highly compatible with a range of motherboards, installation is effortless so that you can get working quickly.

Separate P-Cores and E-Cores mean that you get peak performance in all areas, allowing for smooth multitasking and multithreading as well as optimising performance and productivity so that you have a coding experience that’s free from stuttering and lag. 

It’s the best of the best, the cream of the crop, but we also know that it’s a pretty pricey model.

If you want a processor that has plenty of capabilities for you as a programmer and coder, but at a lower price point, you might want to try out the AMD Ryzen 5 3600 instead.

Premium Choice
#2 AMD Ryzen 5 3600
9.5/10Our Score

One word to describe this CPU? Crisp. We love it, and the level of power you get is enough to leave you speechless. You have an impressive thread and core count that allows for slick work and smooth processing for development results that will leave your peers nodding their heads in appreciation. Game development has never been easier, and it’s a highly compatible model.


  • Cores: 6
  • Thread: 12
  • Clock Speed: 4.2 GHz
  • Socket: AM4


  • Has an impressive thread and core count for seriously slick work
  • Offers excellent speeds and overclocking capabilities
  • Perfect for game development, computer science, and all forms of programming  
  • Multitasking has never been easier than this
  • Exceptional value for money when you consider the sheer power it has
  • The cooling system it comes with could definitely be better

You get a great thread and core count as well as the knowledge that this CPU is unlocked so that you are free to explore the various overclocking capabilities that it provides.

Multitasking is easy, and it helps to prioritize workloads to ensure peak productivity and give you an experience that is free from lag and stuttering when working on those massive projects. 

We really like this as an option for game development, definitely the best CPU for the genre, but sometimes you need to push the power level up and give it a boost.

Whether you want more power for developing games or you want to branch to AI, the AMD Ryzen 9 5950X is an exceptional upgrade (those threads/cores).

Budget Choice
#3 New Intel Core 2 Quad Q9650
9/10Our Score

We were drawn to the budget price that comes with this CPU, a processor that allows programmers to get work done while also being kind to your bank account - winner right here. It’s an ideal match for those who are working on mobile or cross-platform development due to the 4 cores and 8 threads offered, and it’s able to give older PCs a much-needed boost. 


  • Cores: 4
  • Thread: 8
  • Clock Speed: 3 GHz
  • Socket: LGA775


  • Good number of threads and cores for fast processing power
  • Best processor for mobile or cross-platform development due to the core count
  • Brings life to older PCs that need a little boost
  • Offers a nice clock speed to help keep things running smoothly
  • Highly compatible for a smooth transition
  • Fantastic budget price that is ideal for programmers just starting out
  • It does tend to run hot, so you’re going to want to have a good cooling system

It has nice speeds that allow you to work on projects without interruption, and its high levels of compatibility with motherboards means that you’ll have an easy time installing it (we did).

It actually makes an ideal model for those who are just starting out with programming and coding, giving you an opportunity to learn your trade and get practice in before splashing out. 

It’s a fantastic model and the best CPU if you’re on a budget, but we also understand that some programmers might want something with a little more oomph.

The Intel Core i5-9600K is double the price, but it also offers greater power capabilities if you can squeeze your budget a little.

And it combines just well with the widely popular Geforce GTX 1660 Super.

#4 Intel Core i5-9600K
8.8/10Our Score

We loved the fact that this is a nice all-rounder that offers fantastic capabilities for game development, mobile apps, and cross-platform work without costing you an arm and a leg. Unlocked for overclocking, it even allows you to boost the speed so that you can get a little more power out of your processor. It’s the kind of CPU that seems small but is also mighty.


  • Cores: 6
  • Thread: 6
  • Clock Speed: 4.6 GHz
  • Socket: LGA1151
  • Unlocked for overclocking so that you can boost those speeds
  • Very nice idle temperatures that are surprisingly low for the power
  • Great for game development, mobile apps, data science, and mathematics
  • Offers brilliant multitasking capabilities
  • Very nice thread and core count for smooth operation 
  • The power level means that it can run a little hot, so you’re going to need a good cooling system

Multi-threading capabilities mean that multitasking is a much simpler task, and it ensures smooth processing power no matter what project you’re working on.

You’ll find it juggles tasks effortlessly and will help to optimize workloads and productivity so that you always get the most out of its functionality.

Did I mention it’s great for video/imaging development as well? 

This is a great mid-range model that offers you a lot as a coder and for software development.

However, if you want more power for game development or even to extend to AI work, you should give the Intel Core i5-12600KF a look as it offers more cores and threads for higher capabilities.

#5 Intel Core i5-12600KF
8.5/10Our Score

It’s pretty obvious what we love most here, the 10 cores and 20 threads are enough to cause ungodly sounds to come from any programmer (guilty here, too). It offers you power levels that will leave you clinging to your desk for dear life, and it’s perfect for all forms of programming - even those in the high-powered AI development department as well as game development.


  • Cores: 10
  • Thread: 20
  • Clock Speed: 3.7 GHz
  • Socket: LGA1200


  • 10 cores and 20 threads for the kind of power that will blow you away
  • Exceptional performance for game developers, mobile developers, and all programming
  • Unlocked so that you can overclock to your heart’s content
  • P-Cores and E-Cores to make multitasking easy and enhance productivity
  • Intel Thread Director to prioritise workloads and ensure smooth operation
  • It doesn’t come with integrated graphics because this is the 12600KF and not the 12500K. If you need integrated graphics this is important to remember
  • Doesn’t come with CPU cooler

You have a brilliant selection of P-Cores and E-Cores, which means you get balance for optimal multitasking thanks to the advanced multi-threading capabilities.

It will prioritise workloads and ensure consistent smoothness in terms of operation.

Furthermore, it is unlocked so you can work the overclocking and increase the speeds for programming results that leave you smug. 

It’s beautiful, a gift from the gods to programmers and coders. However, there are no integrated graphics.

If you want something that is definitely on par with this CPU but has a little more to offer, you should definitely check out the Intel Core i9-12900KF.

#6 AMD Ryzen 9 5950X
8.2/10Our Score

16 cores and 32 threads, this is what I like to call a god-tier processor, and I love it. AMD often leaves everyone else in the dust, and programmers are sure to feel like they’ve stepped into the future with this CPU. It’s known as one of the best processors for creators because of its high speeds and multi-threading capabilities that just make everything run so smoothly. A complex game development project has never looked simpler.


  • Cores: 16
  • Thread: 32
  • Clock Speed: 4.9 GHz
  • Socket: AM4
  • 16 cores and 32 threads, where have you been all my life?
  • Programming of all kinds has never been easier than with this CPU
  • Unlocked, overclock, get those sweet speeds you need for slick results
  • It’s known as one of the best processors for creators and software development for a reason
  • Simple installation, a BIOS update is often all you need to get started
  • It runs fast and hot, so make sure you have a good cooling system in place

Unlocked so that you can overclock, you’ll reach dazzling new speeds without causing your work to stutter or lag in the process.

It offers a careful balance that ensures multitasking is handled well and that you are always working as productively as possible.

What’s more, we were hyped by how easy it is to install. Usually, a simple BIOS update was all we needed. 

The price is a little high, and you might not need the level of power this absolute beast is able to offer you.

If this is the case, the AMD Ryzen 5 3600 still offers you a lot of programming and coding capabilities while also coming down in terms of price.

And if you’re on a tight budget, you will definitely like our guides on the best processors under 200 dollars and the top CPUs under $300.

#7 Intel Core i7-7700K
8/10Our Score

We love the simplicity behind this model, bringing it back to a lower core and thread count that still offers exceptional power and is perfect for game development, video/imaging development, and even mobile programming tasks. It contains the classic Hyper-Threading technology that we know and love from Intel, and this definitely makes multitasking much easier to deal with.


  • Cores: 4
  • Thread: 8
  • Clock Speed: 4.2 GHz
  • Socket: LGA1151
  • Offers brilliant power with 4 cores and 8 threads
  • Best processor for game development and video/image programming tasks
  • Unlocked for overclocking so that you can take things up a notch
  • Hyper-threading technology to make multitasking and working easier
  • Simple installation so that you can get on with the important stuff
  • If you overclock the heat gets intense so you’re going to need good cooling

It’s unlocked for overclocking, allowing you to increase the speed and work on your projects to the best of your abilities.

Furthermore, it ensures that you get a good balance between high-performance and ensuring you get the most out of your workloads when you are juggling multiple tasks at once time.

Not to mention, the installation is so simple you don’t often need a BIOS update (woop!). 

Great for game development and video/imaging programming, it’s a brilliant model to have on hand.

However, the Intel Core i5-9600K provides some seriously good programming capabilities, a higher thread and core count, as well as a lower price if you want to check it out.

How To Choose The Best Processor For Programming?

I’m sure you can agree that we have a pretty sweet selection of CPUs, right? 

How To Choose The Best Processor For Programming

We’d agree, completely unbiased. The thing is, it’s so easy to just click the Buy button and zip off to checkout without taking a moment to really think about the processor you’ve chosen.

After all, you want to make sure you’re getting something that actually works for you.

We don’t want you to feel overwhelmed by whether single core performance is a good thing, if it works with your Visual Studio, let us take the hard work out for you.

As a programmer, you know that your work means the kind of power you need from a CPU is going to vary.

It can get a little complicated when you are trying to sift through and discover exactly what you need for the very specific type of programming or coding work you’re doing. It’s alright, we’ve got you covered on what to look for.

Type of Programming Work

Before we dive into core and additional features found in a CPU, let’s take a look at some key requirements for many programming fields.

Game Development

An Intel i5-12600K or higher is exactly what you need here. Pair it with a powerful GPU (hello, 3090 my old friend) and at least 16 GB RAM.

You’re going to massively benefit from multicore performance here, and you need the best processor for the job.

Video and Imaging Development

This can really depend on the size of the images and videos, but we recommend going with high core and thread counts as well as pairing it with a powerful GPU such as the 3080/3090 so that your Visual Studio gets the best treatment.

AI Development and Research

You need the most powerful of everything here. Fast processors, 2-4 GPUs that are at least 3080s (ideally 3090s), and an easy 16GB RAM. 

Mobile Development

For this, you are going to need a minimum of six cores as well as 32GB RAM to get the best results from your work. 

Cross-Platform Development

A minimum of 8 cores is needed here, but we recommend going as high as possible, alongside 64GB. You’re also going to need a Mac for iOS development. 

Full-stack Development

Ideally, you need plenty of cores for fast speeds and a minimum of 8GB RAM, but 16GB is the number you should be aiming for. 

Mathematical Development

An Intel CPU works best with the classic MKL library that mathematical developers need. You can use an AMD Ryzen, but the MKL compatibility isn’t great for AMD processors.  

Quantitative analyst is drawing different math formulas on the glass screen. A concept of professional financial consulting services.

Malware Analysis and Reverse Engineering

Since this takes a lot of memory and power, you’re going to need at least 8 cores and a good 32GB RAM as your base level. For this, the higher, the better. 

General Development

If we’re looking at the basics, you will want a minimum of 4-6 cores and a base of 8GB RAM. However, there is never anything wrong with cranking up the power – don’t forget that.

Core Features

There are core features that you need to look for in your CPU before you buy it. The first of these is the thread and core count. Ideally, you should be looking for a quad-core or six-core if you want to meet minimum requirements.

programmer occupation - writing programming code on laptop

However, a 16-core can work wonders that the lower-level models couldn’t even dream of. It all depends on your work (see above).

The core design also speaks to its development power. The more threads and cores you have, the more your CPU is capable of doing for you.

This is why certain forms of development such as video games and AI require you to have a higher thread and core count.

What you want is a reliable processor with multicore performance because excellent singe core performance doesn’t exist in this field.

You will also want to keep an eye out for a high clock speed. This is because it refers to the number of cycles your CPU can execute in a second.

So, if you want your programs to run smoothly while you work, you’re going to want to snatch up that high clock speed

Overclocking is also a popular aspect, and most CPUs are unlocked so that you can achieve this.

It allows you to boost the speed of the processor and increase the power levels for higher performance and smooth results. Just make sure your chosen CPU is capable of overclocking.

Additional Features

You’re going to need to think about the thermal design of your next CPU for programming as well. Many of them run hot, namely when they are overclocking, which means you are going to need an expert cooling system.

Even if your CPU comes with a cooling fan, many of them require additional work to develop a flawless system that keeps it cool when running normally and overclocking. 

Multithreading is also important as it allows you to multitask, run multiple applications, and balance it all so that you remain productive and your work continues smoothly.

It focuses on the ability to provide multiple threads of execution, which is absolutely essential for development. All programmers should look for execution power from their CPUs, which high thread counts provide.

What Other PC Components are Important to Combine with the CPU?

A CPU is a central aspect of your programming build, and I always recommend going big with your processor because it allows you the space to develop larger projects and gives you more power to play with through all aspects of the development process.

PC Components

But what about the rest? Here are the other important components to combine with your CPU:

  • GPU (you can’t go wrong with a 3090 for any project)
  • SSD (HDD isn’t fast or powerful enough for programming)
  • RAM (8GB minimum, 16GB highly recommended)
  • Fans and cooling system (CPUs run hot when overclocking)
  • Motherboard (especially if you want to overclock)
  • Monitor that can cope with increased power levels

What is the Processor Requirement for Coding?

It’s good to know the minimum requirements for any line of work, and coding is one of them. Here are the basic specs you should have before you start:

Anything more than this is a bonus, and when you are working on heavier programming projects you can look at increasing these specs as well as adding a powerful GPU.

Going with Intel can also be a good option because you get Intel Optane memory support as an added bonus – even if AMD Ryzen boasts incredible power.

Check out the video below for more information on that:

Single vs Multi-Core Performance

It’s a question we get a lot, and is there really a major difference between single and multicore models? 

Well, here’s a quick look at what each option offers. 

If you have a multicore processor, it has two or more separate processing units known as cores. These read and execute program instructions as if the computer had several processors installed.

This makes it ideal for all forms of programming, from data science and machine learning all the way to software development and game creation.

When we look at a single-core processor, the overall performance is limited by the time it takes for it to communicate with the cache and RAM.

In fact, 75% of the CPU time is spent waiting for these communication results – making single core performance less efficient when compared to a multi-core model. 

Generally speaking, a processor that uses multiple cores will tend to perform better than one that is using a single core.

It allows you to run multiple processes at the same time with ease, increases performance when multitasking, and can meet the demands of powerful apps and programs. This is why you don’t often see a single core CPU offered for programming.

While you don’t necessarily need a high-performance CPU for programming, it is recommended.

Man working with a computer, High performance text on the screen, office background

This is because while the coding side of things remains fairly low-impact in terms of processing power, and professional coding tasks require less memory, it’s the compiling aspect of programming that takes up time and memory in your CPU. 

When you have a high-performance processor, it means that the compilation time will be shorter, and you get a smoother work experience overall.

Furthermore, it allows you to tackle larger projects if you want to and means that you won’t need to worry about upgrades if you are landed with something new and large. 

Yes, they tend to be more expensive, but you get a lot of bang for your buck and those high-performance CPUs have greater longevity as well as brilliant programming capabilities.


Does CPU Matter for Programming?

Absolutely, CPU does matter for programming. While the CPU doesn’t matter for writing the actual code, when it comes to compiling that code then it absolutely does matter. The bigger the applications that you’re creating, the more powerful you’re going to need your CPU to be.

Is 4GB RAM Enough for Coding?

Not really, you’re going to want a minimum of 8GB of RAM for coding and programming. 16GB tends to be the ideal number – especially if you’re taking on powerful development tasks. However, a solid 8GB tends to be a good baseline to work with.

Do You Need a Powerful Computer for Coding?

You don’t necessarily need a powerful computer for coding, but you do need a good CPU and plenty of RAM if you want to get your projects done without too much hassle and with the best possible level of performance. A powerful processor means quick code compilation.

Do You Need a Good Graphics Card for Coding or Programming?

It depends on the kind of programming or coding you are doing. If you are working on video games or AI, you are going to need a good graphics card in order to get things up and running. Editing high-quality videos may also benefit from a good GPU. Standard coding work though? You aren’t going to need strong graphics for that.

Final Verdict

Here we are at the end of our search for the best CPU for programming, and we hope this guide has been able to help you explore your options and find something that doesn’t just work with your PC, but also gives you the ability to put all of your passion into your latest projects.  

But which CPU stood out above the rest? For us, the Intel Core i9-12900KF really made itself known as the clear winner of our little gathering and the best CPU for programming.

Editor’s Choice
#1 Intel Core i9-12900KF
10/10Our Score

Our top pick, we love the level of power that this CPU is able to offer. It has everything a developer needs for seamless programming - whether you’re working in video games, fullstack, or malware analysis. 16 cores and 24 threads mean you get seamless operation, and the fact that it’s unlocked for overclocking allows you to push it to new speeds and capabilities. 


  • Cores: 16
  • Thread: 24
  • Clock Speed: 5.2 GHz
  • Socket: LGA1700

Those core and thread counts, the Hyper-Threading, and speeds that every programmer will be immensely grateful for. It’s a powerful processor that has a lot to offer.

What did you think of our programming CPU guide? Did you find the perfect model for your next best project?

Make sure you leave us a comment, we’d love to hear more about your ideal build and the kind of work you use your processor for.