Choose The Best CPU For Z97 Of 2023

If you have a z97 motherboard, (Amazon) ensure that you have the optimum CPU for it. A motherboard cannot function properly without a matching CPU. Z97 motherboards provide the finest gaming features. So, to find the best CPU for Z97, you should know what the motherboard demands from a CPU. Usually, users look for a compatible motherboard for the CPU they own, but if your motherboard is working fine and you want to upgrade the CPU, that is fine.

So, in order to select the best CPUs for Z97, you must first understand what the motherboard requires from a CPU. Users usually seek for a suitable motherboard for the CPU they own, but if your motherboard is working correctly and you want to update the CPU, that is fine as well. There are several criteria that might help you pick your processors, including the suitable socket, generation support, form factor, performance, graphics, and much more.

But the best CPU doesn’t only mean the best for your motherboard, it should be overall up to your mark for your other components of the computer also. Therefore, searching for the best CPU would take a lot of your time. For your facility, we have mentioned the things to consider for buying the best processor for Z97 motherboard and made a list of the top 5 options available at a reasonable price. 

What to look for before buying the best CPU for Z97?

Although you do need to get the finest quality cpu, that doesn’t mean you would have to spend a lot of money. There are some great options that will be under your budget and let you save some money. The best processor for the z97 motherboard means that it is a processor that is compatible and offers the best performance for general use as well as gaming. It should have a design that is compatible with the z97 motherboard.

Socket compatibility

Socket compatibility is the most important thing to consider while buying a CPU for z97 to make installation possible. For example, MSI Z97 Gaming 3 is designed with a socket LGA 1150 which is compatible with Intel’s 4th and 5th Generation Core, i7/Core, i5/Core, i3/Pentium/ Celeron processors. Also, it has a single chipset design, so for MSI z97 gaming 3, the best CPU will be the one having compatible specifications.

Memory type

The RAM of the processor should be supported by the motherboard. A z97 supports DDR3 modules. Therefore, the processor should have a DDR3 memory type.

Memory speed

The memory speed of the processor should be supported by the motherboard. If you are buying a processor for gaming purposes or for heavy usage, ensure that the overclocked speed for that will be supported by the motherboard. This memory is calculated in MHz and you can check it in the product description of both the motherboard and the CPU while buying. 

Motherboard size

Check the size of your board as well as the size of the case. Motherboard modules have either ATX, Micro ATX, Micro Mini ITX, Micro Nano ITX, or Micro Pico ITX. These are different sizes and fit in different sized cases. Therefore, check the form factor of your motherboard before buying a CPU case.

Cores and threads of processor

The number of cores and threads of the processor plays a great role in improving the speed and performing each task efficiently. Therefore, a cpu should have a minimum of 4 cores and 8 threads or 6 cores and 12 threads for gaming as most of the games need 4 or 6 cores. But you can go for more than that to increase the speed of your computer for other purposes.

List Of The 5 Best CPU For Z97 In 2022

After deciding what specifications you are looking for your z97 in a processor, go through the list below to find the one with those specs.

Best Pick
Intel Core i7 6700K
Intel Core i7 6700K (Image credit: Amazon)

Intel Core i7 6700K

Best Selling CPU for Z97


Brand: Intel | Cores: 4 | Threads: 8 | Multi-threading: Yes | Integrated graphics: Intel HD Graphics 530 | Socket: LGA 1511 | Base clock: 4.0 GHz | Boost clock: 4.4 GHz | Rated TDP: 91 W | Cache memory: 8MB LB Cache


Great performance than other recommendations

Temperatures remain low

Amazing quality 

Has additional features


High power usage

Intel i7-6700K started with a speed of 4 GHz and for my z97 I was able to overclock it without any problem. It can be overclocked up to 4.4 GHz. at both speeds, base speed, and overclocked speed, it runs efficiently and is able to offer considerably better speed than my previous processor. 

Also, The CPU runs at the overclocked speed for hours without getting too heated so It seems that it has improved thermal structure. Therefore, I consider it the best for its speed as it is the most crucial factor to consider while buying a cpu. Its temperature didn’t rise above 56 degrees even for heavy loads. 

Besides that, with the USB 3.1 feature, it also increases the speeds of USB which is reliable for gaming purposes. Another great addition is the DMI 3.0 which lets the user use up to 4 PCIe 3.0 lanes and 20 PCI express lanes which will be compatible with M.2 SSDs and let you achieve 8 GB of SSD speeds.

Not only the best one for gaming but also for video encoding, editing, photoshop, and much more. For video editing and gaming, the Intel HD Graphics 530 offers amazing performance which makes the system even smoother with the speed as well and it doesn’t lag at all.

For an estimation, I noticed an almost 8% to 9% increase in speeds for video encoding compared to my previous i7 model. However, it does use a lot of power 91 – 110 watts but it was the same for my previous board so it wasn’t an issue for me. 

This processor supports both DDR4 and DDR3L memory and thus is compatible with many latest models of motherboards. 4 cores and 8 threads were sufficient for me and for the games that I run. It was quite easy to install just like all other Intel processors and the hardware is the best in quality thus it will last for years. 

Intel Core i5 4670K
Intel Core i5 4670K (Image credit: Amazon)

Intel Core i5 4670K

Best Overall CPU for Z97


Brand: Inte | Cores: 4 | Threads: 4 | Multi-threading: No | Integrated graphics: Intel HD Graphics 4600 | Socket: FCLGA1150 | Base clock: 3.4 GHz | Boost clock: 3.8 GHz | Rated TDP: 84 W | Cache memory: 6 MB Intel Smart Cache


Better performance than previous models

Beneficial technologies

Does Not heat up


No hyperthreading technology

Lacks iris graphics core

Intel Core i5 4670k has a speed of 3.8 GHz which can be overclocked up to 4 GHz and deliver smooth performance to keep the performance of your computer stable. You can run games and edit or encode videos and also multitask without any lagging. 

This cpu was very easy to install. After using i5 3470k for a long time, I wanted to upgrade my computer and choose this board. Compared to the previous models of i5, for this price, this processor offers a considerably improved performance even for hours of usage.

However, this build does not have hyperthreading technology which most of the users look for. But the speed, although not better than those models with hyperthreading technology, is still satisfactory for the amount you pay for it.

Also, the Intel HD graphics 4600 allows the PC to display the graphics with the best results. As it has a compatible socket for the Z97 motherboard. I bought it for my board and have been using it for almost 6 months. Up till now, I haven’t faced any issues with the performance. 

For gamers, the good news is that it offers the technologies of the i5 series such as the Intel Wireless display so that you can connect to a compatible smart TV or adapter and see the display on it. 

No doubt that this is a better model than its previous models and is better in terms of quality and performance but the same base clock speed and boost clock speed alone do not make such a big difference as it could with more cores or hyperthreading.

Staff Pick
Intel Core i7-4790
Intel Core i7-4790 (Image credit: Amazon)

Intel Core i7-4790

Best Mid Range CPU for Z97


Brand: Intel | Cores: 4 | Threads: 8 | Multi-threading: Yes | Integrated graphics: Intel HD Graphics 4600 | Socket: FCLGA1150 | Base clock: 3.6 GHz | Boost clock: 4.0 GHz | Rated TDP: 84 W | Cache memory: 8MB Intel Smart Cache


Stable performance

Reliable for gaming

Fairly priced

Easy to install

Best graphics for videos


Stock coolers are not reliable for heavy games

Cannot be overclocked

Intel Core i7-4790 with LGA 1150 socket is compatible with Z97 motherboards. I bought it for my MSI ATX Z97 GAMING 5 board and it offers great performance. It runs really fast at a boost speed of 4.0 GHz. However, this processor cannot be overclocked for higher speed than that so you cannot rely on it for overclocked speeds.

I replaced my old i5-4430 CPU to get something better for gaming and this best Z97 motherboard processor can run any heavy game efficiently. I didn’t hurry to write the review and tested this board with all the games I run and after using it for over a year, I would totally put it in the list of best CPU for MSI z97 gaming 5 for the stable performance that it offers.

While testing, I also used this cpu for video editing and video encoding, and overall the performance was amazing in terms of speed and graphics. Everything runs quite smoothly without any kind of lag. As it has hyperthreading technology, you can experience faster performance by using more cores. 

Installing it was a matter of a few minutes with an effective thermal paste which you will have to buy separately as it is not included in the package. Also, the stock fans are reliable for using it for hours. As a general user, you can rely on the stock cooler but for running heavy games, they kept the temperature at 65 to 70 degrees. You can get any aftermarket cooler for more heat dissipation. 

Overall for this price range, this is one of the best CPU for Z97 with a durable and stable performance for years. Paired with my board, SSD, graphics card, and cooler master hyper 212 Evo, it runs flawlessly with high build quality.

Budget Pick
Intel Core i5-4690K
Intel Core i5-4690K (Image credit: Amazon)

Intel Core i5-4690K

Best Budget CPU for Z97


Brand: Intel | Cores: 4 | Threads: 4 | Multi-threading: No | Integrated graphics: Intel® HD Graphics 4600 | Socket: FCLGA 1200 | Base clock: 3.5 GHz | Boost clock: 3.9 GHz | Rated TDP: 88W | Cache memory: 6 MB Intel Smart Cache


Stable performance and durable quality

No lagging

Can be overclocked 

Reliable for heavy gaming


Heats up at overclocked speed with the stock cooler

Pre applied thermal paste is not effective

If you are looking for the best CPU for MSI z97 PC mate, Intel Core i5 4690K is the best compatible CPU for that. Although it does not offer multithreading support and has 4 cores, still the cpu runs efficiently at a speed of 3.8 GHz and yes it can be overclocked for heavy gaming or multitasking, I have been using it at a speed of 4.5 GHz for hours. Besides, 4 cores are still reliable for gaming purposes.

Also, it has Intel HD graphics 4600, So don’t worry about the lagging of the display. With sufficient storage and cache memory, it is able to upkeep the performance of your PC. 

As I have to use it at overclocked speed a lot, I didn’t rely on the stock coolers only and got some cooling solution for it as it gets too hot with all the heavy gaming if you run it for hours. Therefore, don’t forget to buy a nice cooler for it. 

It was easy to install for me as a man with a lot of computer knowledge. It came in nice packaging. I am totally satisfied with the build quality and hope to get the same stable performance by my computer for years using this processor. It is indeed a solid product and is heavy. Which reminds me, don’t rely on the pre applied thermal paste on the CPU. Use your own thermal paste for it to fit properly. 

In short, other than the stock coolers and thermal paste, there are no significant cons of this CPU in my opinion. At this price, this is a great board and competes with many of those with higher prices. However, I also don’t see any significant improvements in this model of Intel compared to the previous ones.

Intel Core i5-10400
Intel Core i5-10400 (Image credit: Amazon)

Intel Core i5-10400

Best Premium CPU for Z97


Brand: Intel | Cores: 6 | Threads: 12 | Multi-threading: Yes | Integrated graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 630 | Socket: FCLGA 1200 | Base clock: 2.9 GHz | Boost clock: 4.3 GHz | Rated TDP: 65W | Cache memory: 6 MB Intel Smart Cache


Sufficient speed

Reliable coolers and TDP 

Durable quality

No lagging with amazing graphics


Cannot be overclocked

With the speed of 4.3 GHz, Intel Core i5 10400 is the best processor for MSI z97 gaming 5 motherboards. The speed is definitely at its best with the specs and price that you pay for this processor. 

Just like it is needed for gaming, this processor has multi threading support to upkeep the smooth performance. Besides being easy to install, you can’t but also don’t need to overclock it. I bought this for my gaming motherboard and have been using it for over 3 months, and it is one of the best CPU For Z97 I ever had in terms of both build as well as performance.

Besides, to ensure the best graphics for high quality videos, the processor has HD graphics 630 which is reliable and prevents any lagging. While looking for the cpu I thought the 1150 socket will be most compatible with my mobo, but after looking at the reviews I got this one and yes the 1200 socket goes well with any gaming 5.

You can rely on this processor for general use, multi tasking, gaming, video encoding, and video editing as well. The CPU knows its job and with 6 cores and 12 threads performs every task efficiently! 

About the coolers, I don’t use the stock cooler because I had an aftermarket cooler available but I tested it once while gaming and it was working great. The temperature didn’t rise above 60 degrees. Also, the 65 W TDP is sufficient for its task.

I know the Ryzen would perform better for multitasking but from the ones that are compatible with z97, this is the best option. In short, the processor is worth the price.

Frequently Asked Questions

What CPUs are compatible with Z97?

Following are the best compatible cpus with z97 
Intel Core i7 6700K
Intel Core i7-4790
Intel Core i5 4670K
Intel Core i5-10400
Intel Core i5-4690K

Does Z97 support 4th gen?

Yes, a lot of gaming Z97 models of motherboard support 4th as well as 5th Gen.

Does Z97 support DDR4?

No, the z97 chipset does not support DDR4. being an old chipset, it only supports DDR3 memory. 

Does Z97 support overclocking?

Yes, Z97 motherboards support overclocking for better speed but you should know the limit and proper way of overclocking a specific model.

What is the Intel Z97 chipset?

The Intel Z97 chipset offers better performance and speed with the M.2 slots for PCs and supports Intel’s Haswell as well as Devil’s canyon CPUs.

What is the Intel 9 Series chipset?

Intel 9 series chipset supports the recent and forthcoming generation models of Intel processors and uses the newest technologies for them.

Key Takeaways

From the above list of best CPU for z97, each product has its own pros and cons. But the best one should be able to match the specs of your model of the motherboard to deliver the best performance.

Intel Core i7 6700K, Intel Core i7-4790 as well as the Intel Core i5-4690K are the most reliable for gaming, multitasking, and high quality video editing or encoding. Therefore, if you are a professional gamer or video editor, get any of these processors for your PC without any hesitation.

Mathew Robinson
Mathew Robinson is an IT professional who has worked for 5 years in gaming PC industry. He has completed his MSc from Australia in advanced manufacturing and has a good grip in his field. He currently works on websites related to computer components to provide valuable information to buyers.