The best CPUs for gaming
Apr 06, · The new Intel Rocket Lake chips are out now, and while the best CPU of the 11th Gen lineup, the Core i9 K, is a bit of a mess, the Core i5 K offers excellent value for money today. AMD Author: Alan Dexter. Jan 28, · AMD's cheaper Ryzen 3 X remains a stellar value among gaming CPUs, but the Ryzen 5 X is enough of a brute at its midrange price to make it the best pure gaming CPU .
All that said, there are specific chips that stand out from how to evaluate your own emotional intelligence horde as the best gaming CPUs due to their price, performance, or nifty extras.
The bigger question is: Intel or AMD? The answer is complicated. After a decade of Intel dominance, AMD came back with a vengeance in recent years. Its Ryzen 5 and offerings conquered mainstream gaming. Supply of the chip has been more miss than hit since its November launch. Still, the chips offer effectively similar experiences, especially at the higher visual settings and resolutions that most PC gamers play at.
To repeat: Modern Core i5 and Ryzen 5 chips with six cores deliver nearly the same levels of gaming performance as pricier processors. You only need to step up to a high-end gaming CPU if you need more cores for productivity tasks, want eight cores for streaming or future-proofing against console hardware configurations, or simply demand the absolute fastest potential frame rates in any situation. It also lags far behind in productivity tasks, as the Core iK comes with only 8 cores and 16 threads.
The high-end Ryzen CPUs have been subject to even more extreme pricing volatility than the midrange X, and the Ryzen 9 chips often sell for hundreds of dollars more in the real world. Go with AMD if you can. The K is more of a side-grade how to read kindle books on nook touch even a downgrade to its predecessor, offering two fewer cores and only slightly faster gaming performance than the last-gen K.
The former flagship is hard to come by now, but the step-down Core iK remains widely available, with 10 cores and just MHz lower top speeds than the K. It offers the same thread count as rival Ryzen options and similar-to-better gaming performance, per TechSpot and TechPowerUp reviews, though it lags the K-class Core i5 chips by double-digit percentages in CPU-bound games.
If you want to game without a graphics card, consider the new Intel Core i The K is a better option if you do content creation on the side thanks to its faster speeds though. He tweets too. Note: When you purchase something after clicking links in our articles, we may earn a small commission. Read our affiliate link policy for more details.
1. AMD Ryzen 9 3900X
Jan 18, · Basic Specs. Core Count – 4 (8 with hyperthreading); Clock Speed – GHz (overclockable); Integrated Graphics – Radeon RX Vega 11 Graphics; Our top value pick is the current-gen Ryzen 5 G, and what a value it is. While boasting the same core and thread count as the , the G offers a slick 9% performance bump and a pretty powerful integrated GPU. AMD Ryzen™ processors have all the best features to keep you in the game. With great processing power comes the bleeding-edge technologies to support. All AMD Ryzen™ Series processors come with a full suite of technologies designed to elevate your PC’s processing power including Precision Boost 2, Precision Boost Overdrive 4 and PCIe. Apr 08, · Best high-end gaming CPU: AMD Ryzen 9 X Best budget gaming CPU: Intel Core iF Whether you’re on a budget or willing to pay for sheer face-melting speed, these are the best CPUs .
The best CPU for gaming is the one that gives that expensive new graphics card you've got your eye on a chance to work to its full performance potential, but will also allow you to do more with your machine. Whether that's streaming or editing gameplay vids, the best CPU will enable you to get some much more done.
With more cores than ever available, you needn't worry about multi-tasking pushing your gaming PC to the limits anymore with one of the best processors. AMD is still the king of all it surveys, however, with its excellent Zen 3 chips, notably the stunning Ryzen 9 X , being our absolute favourite processor today. There is a slight problem in the CPU market right now: stock levels.
They're amazing chips, but actually getting your hands on one can be a struggle. The Ryzen 5 X and Ryzen 7 X are in better shape, stock-wise, but the core X is still frustratingly tough to find.
Once you've worked out which CPU you want to build a machine around, the next question is what sort of motherboard you should pick.
The new Ryzen chips still use the AM4 socket and are compatible with X, B, and A motherboards with B and X motherboard support coming later. Unless you're desperate for the awkward PCIe 4. Thankfully, our picks for the best gaming motherboard are compatible with the CPUs on this list. Cores: 12 Threads: 24 Base Clock: 3.
The key takeaway for us as gamers is that this improvement means that AMD can now stand toe to toe with Intel when it comes to gaming. Honestly, there's so little between these two now that anyone claiming otherwise is delusional. Whatever resolution your gaming at, this processor can handle it and keep your graphics card of choice fed with lots of juicy frames.
The fact that this is a core, thread monster means that it can cope with anything else you throw at it as well. So if you have dreams of 3D rendering, video editing, or any other serious tasks, you'll know that you have the raw grunt to handle it. The fact that it won't hold you back when gaming makes it even sweeter.
The only real downside is the pricing and the dropping of the Wraith cooler—don't forget to factor in when you buy. You do get what you pay for, though, and this is a phenomenal chip for gaming and anything else you might want to do. If you're in the market for real power, you could step up to the Ryzen 9 X , which gives you 16 cores and 32 threads. Cores: 6 Threads: 12 Base clock: 3. Okay, with the K being a frustrating chip maybe it's not a total return to the old days, but the K is still an outstanding six-core, thread gaming processor.
It's also incredibly affordable too, with a price tag well underneath the Ryzen 5 X, and performance figures that have it trading blows with AMD's otherwise excellent Zen 3 chip. The Cypress Cove 14nm backport may have made it rather power hungry, but that doesn't stop it from being a great gaming CPU, and one that delivers a lot of processor silicon for not a lot of cash. And PCIe 4. Though that is of dubious benefit at the moment as our testing has not so far gone well with supported PCIe 4.
That will hopefully change, but even so, this is still one of the best cheap gaming CPUs around. Read our full Intel Core i5 K review. Cores: 6 Threads: 12 Base Clock: 3. When it comes to gaming, everything that's great about the X rings true for this more affordable Zen 3 chip as well. There's nothing between any of the Ryzen chips in games, which means you'll hit the same frame rates with this chip as you will our number one pick. Which is incredible when you think about it—top-tier performance from the most affordable Zen 3 CPU?
We'll say yes to that every single day. This does have half the core count of that top chip, rolling in as it does with 6 cores and 12 threads. This is really only an issue with those more serious workloads, though, and for more reasonable stuff, this is more than sufficient. You could argue that gaming could go beyond the threads we have here, but there's no evidence that is the case so far, and that's even though the next-gen consoles are rocking 8-cores and threads.
The Ryzen 5 X also bucks the Ryzen family's trend by shipping with a Wraith Stealth cooler, so you don't have to drop extra money on a third-party chiller. You don't need to, but if you do, you'll hit higher clocks for longer and also open up the wonderful world of overclocking, which could make it worthwhile. This is a decent little overclocker, and while it won't affect gaming much, it'll help in other areas nicely. Cores: 8 Threads: 16 Base Clock: 3. In a world where the Intel Core i7 doesn't exist, this would be an incredible chip and would have made it into our top three recommendations, no sweat.
It's great for gaming, producing the same figures that can be seen for the X and X. Still, it also appears to hit the sweet spot in configuration terms, with its eight cores and 16 threads surely seeing it right for the future, seeing as that is what the Xbox Series X and Playstation 5 are rocking.
Unfortunately for AMD, Intel does exist, and the blue company's Core i7 K matches this in plenty of the more important metrics but has this chip beat in one major way—value for money.
This is faster in serious tasks, and if that's what you've got an eye on, then buy this and don't give it a second thought. But if you're mainly looking at gaming, Intel does pretty much the same but costs less. And that's hard for AMD to get away from. Competition aside, this is still Zen 3 strutting its stuff, and it does that impressively well. Throw in the support for PCIe 4. Cores: 10 Threads: 20 Base Clock: 3. Intel's top Comet Lake gaming chip, the Core i9 K, lost a lot of what made it special with the release of Zen 3.
When the K was unveiled, it came with the reassurance that it was the world's fastest gaming processor, but that's not a claim it can really hold on to anymore, with plenty of games handing wins to AMD's Ryzen X.
It's still a cracking gaming chip, don't get us wrong, but it traded on being the very best, and once that went, it lost a lot of its shine. What hasn't overshadowed it is Intel's latest release. The Rocket Lake i9 K is almost as powerful overall, but it's more expensive and still misses out on the multi-threaded side.
The K is still overkill for the vast majority of cases, apart from possibly at the very, very high-end, and for serious workloads, AMD chips make more sense, but there's still a bizarre charm to this CPU. You probably don't need it, but if you build a machine around it, you know it won't be this chip that's holding you back. The Core i9 K is the first time Intel has managed to squeeze 10 processing cores into its mainstream line up, and given it's capable of hitting 5.
Gaming still benefits from high clock speeds, and this still delivers; it just doesn't make a lot of sense given the competition. You'll need to invest in a Z motherboard to go along with this chip and some serious cooling a decent PSU wouldn't go amiss either.
Don't be fooled by that reasonable 95W TDP, as it'll push way beyond that, especially if you're thinking of exploring its overclocking chops. Read the full Intel Core i9 K review.
Cores: 6 Threads: 12 Base Clock: 2. The Core i5 F is a surprisingly exciting option. It's slightly faster than the previous-gen Core i5 , but that F-suffix means it ditches the Intel integrated graphics completely. Overall, it's an excellent budget-friendly choice that doesn't cost much more than a Core i3 part.
There are other compromises, like the locked multiplier—no overclocking here. But you can save money and grab an H motherboard. At least you get a cooler in the box, something we'd like to see as an option with every CPU. Most boards will happily run the F at 3.
Future games may start to push beyond its 6-core capabilities, but probably not before you're ready for an upgrade. Right now, the i5 F is plenty fast and extremely affordable. This may be last-gen hardware now, but there's still a strong case to be made for AMD's Zen 2 CPUs, with their solid performance and efficiency.
The Ryzen 5 is slightly behind the X when it comes to gaming and other tasks, but the emphasis is on the word 'slightly' for a reason—it's typically a 5 percent difference or less. Either way, the won't hold you back. You still get a 6-core, thread processor, and outside of games, the is faster than Intel's F. But then, the Ryzen 5 also costs more.
Again, fast memory with tight timings helps performance with Ryzen CPUs. Cores: 4 Threads: 8 Base Clock: 3. At the budget end of the CPU spectrum, there are numerous tasty options to be had. We wanted to put the AMD Ryzen 3 X here, but it's been sold out since launch, so there doesn't seem much point it's a great chip if you can find it. The Ryzen 5 G is the true budget gaming solution. However, it includes relatively potent integrated graphics. If you're planning on using a dedicated GPU, though, we'd recommend you stick with the X because this chip also limits the PCIe lanes to your discrete graphics card.
Where Intel's UHD often struggles to break 30fps even at p and minimum quality, AMD's Vega 11 can legitimately handle p and low to medium quality at playable framerates. Or you can drop to p and usually break 60fps. Your best bet is an inexpensive B board, which should have everything you need.
We haven't tested and reviewed every CPU made, but here's the list of processors we've reviewed during the past three years, from each manufacturer:. That's overkill compared to many of the CPUs, but at p, it shows the most significant difference in gaming performance you're likely to see.
Upgrading your graphics card is a piece of cake compared to swapping out your CPU and potentially motherboard and RAM. We've also used high-end G. Again, this is to eliminate any potential bottlenecks and let the CPUs reach their maximum performance. Liquid cooling was used on all CPUs, though for stock performance, we saw zero difference between that and the box coolers on those parts that included cooling.
CPUs contain caches designated as Level 1, 2, and 3, with L1 being the fastest and smallest and L3 being the slowest and largest. Clock speed - The speed at which a CPU can execute instructions, measured in hertz. A processor with a 3. Clock speed is one of the most critical factors for determining performance in games and workload functions. Heat sink - A cooling solution for PCs that either utilizes fans or liquid cooling active or aluminum radiators passive that rely on convection to regulate a component's temperature.