Whether you’re trying to accomplish the greatest PC gaming build known to mankind or you’re just looking for a simple upgrade, you’re probably curious about the best gaming processors that you can acquire.
Ever tried to play a game on PC only to realize that your computer isn’t strong enough for the task?
Dive into our guide of the best gaming processors out there and then read on to learn more about why you need a decent processor,
5 Best Gaming Processors (CPUs)
Regardless which option you pick, you want to make sure your processor is equipped to handle both your graphics requirements and CPU requirements. Luckily, every processor in this list is waiting and ready to digest any game you throw at it. Eager to reach gaming Nirvana? Add one of these processing brainiacs to your next build.
AMD’s Ryzen 7 1700X Processor is a worthy competitor to Intel’s i7. The new Zen core architecture (x86) takes AMDs chips to new heights. This CPU comes in a few bundle options: with a Gigabyte Motherboard, MSI motherboard, ASUS motherboard, liquid cooler, or as a standalone processor.
8 cores, 16 threads, PCIe 3.0, 4 MB/16 MB cache (L2/L3), 95 wattage, 3.8GHz speed are top tier specs that many a gamer have plugged into their builds. With all that juice, you’re going to need a cooling thermal solution which you can buy separately or get the liquid cooler bundle.
The precision boost tech allows you to fine tune this processor in 25MH increments. Even neater these micro adjustments can take place without interrupting your work. Simply open the AMD Ryzen Master Utility and tinker away for ultimate personalized overclocking.
This offering by Intel is one of the top picks for gaming builds and an excellent choice now that the 7th Gen i7-7700 is now available. That means you can pick this one up at a discount which is always a welcome treat. Still, Intel’s i7’s are never cheap. If money isn’t an object for you, this processor can give you lightning-fast speeds. It also comes with several features that will catapult your PC gaming experience to new heights.
If you want a surefire processor that will play whatever it can grab, this processor is the one for you.
Oh, but wait! Of course, it will play regular 2D games, even the most recent releases, but it’s also capable of playing any 3D game at the highest resolution it can handle. This gives you more detail, higher frame rates, and 3D graphics that are 30 times better than a 5-year-old computer.
The processor also offers technology that lets your computer resume regular, full functionality in less than a second.
Tech-wise, it’s a 4 core processor and supports 64GV of memory. It’s quiet, it cools easily, and it can handle up to 4.2GHz.
Maybe you can’t afford the newest, fastest processors on the market. That’s okay. There are still great options that fit in relatively neatly into a budget.
This next offering is under $200.00, and it can give your computer a nice jump start.
The Intel Core i5-6500 reaches up to 3.6GHz without damage to your PC. Like our last Intel choice, it’s 4 cores.
A neat feature with this particular processor is that it divvies out power to the applications that most need it!
Another older offering, this one’s a 4th generation processor. However, it’s also under $200.00, and it’s a reliable favorite to boost your gaming experience.
It runs 4 cores. On the box, it boasts a frequency of 3.3GHZ. However, it can be overclocked to 3.7GHX if speed is important to you.
It may not be the top of the line, but this processor will play anything you throw at it, and you don’t have to worry about breaking the bank.
5. AMD FX-8320
If you’re ready to go back to the modern day’s best gaming processors, we’ve got the AMD FX-8320 closing out our list. It’s an 8-core processor, and it’s a more budget-friendly option for those who want to stay closer to the future.
The default rate is a solid 3.5GHz, but it’s easy to overclock it up to 4.5GHz.
The 8 core come in very handy: with most games requiring under 4 cores to play, this means you’ll still have enough power for other tasks in the background.
Gaming Processor Guide Part I: What is a Processor?
When it comes to gaming, action is related to the CPU. Think of the processor as your computer’s brain.
Anything you do will be connected to the CPU. This means that if your game is mostly visual, it’s not going to require a ton of processing speed. Games that follow this include MMOs and FPS games with high graphics.
Why doesn’t your computer have to do much?
In these cases, it’s because most aspects of the game are being controlled by somebody else. That’s the point of the game, right? Get everyone online with their characters, have a party.
Aspects like this are typically the property of your GPU (graphics processing unit). If you don’t have a good GPU, it will show in the graphics quality, and you may need to upgrade.
Gaming Processors: What’s the Big Deal?
If you’re just playing basic games on your computer, then you probably won’t be interested in the best gaming processors.
Although – let’s be honest: you’re not satisfied with your regular computer’s menu of solitaire and minesweeper. While those may have served to kill a bunch of time when you were younger, it takes something stronger now. Something a little more realistic.
Generally, the type of CPU you need depends on the game you want to play. If you’re evolved in your gaming tastes, you’ll want one of the best gaming processors.
Gaming Processor Guide Part II: So What’s a CPU?
CPU = Processor. Same thing. CPU is short for central processing unit. A CPU comes into play if you’re looking to get involved in games that operate in real time. Real-time strategy games against computers are going to actively use the CPU since the computer actually needs to do things.
To go off of the brain analogy, it needs to “make decisions,” or calculations. It needs to employ algorithms to keep up your gaming experience.
In some cases, the graphics may not be as good as games that focus on the GPU.
All in all, you’ll want to have a decent processor for both your CPU and your GPU. This will allow you to play all the games your heart desires, without sacrificing either computer ability or graphics immersion.
Gaming Processor Guide Part III: A Word on the Ryzen Gaming CPUs
AMD changed the game with their Ryzen CPUs and at the very least it can be said Intel is no longer complacent. Ryzen 3 has taken the gaming scene by storm, making its way into the hands of PC gamers everywhere; and for good reason. Since the release, it has eliminated Intel’s i3 lineup from the realm of budget gaming CPUs, as it is cheaper and more effective than Intel’s closest offerings. Ryzen 3 is the perfect choice for any budget gaming PC.
Some might say Intel featured hyperthreading in their most recent line of Pentium CPUs to prepare for the launch of Ryzen 3. For quite a while, Pentium only featured two physical cores and two threads. Intel included hyperthreading in their new line to compete with AMD, and now Intel’s Pentium line has two physical cores and two theoretical cores. However, AMD’s Ryzen 3 line defeats Intel’s offerings in just about every test besides single threaded performance. Ryzen 3 provides four true cores for around $110.
Moreover, Ryzen 3 is made up of 2 of AMD’s CCXs or Core Complexes. Though Ryzen 3 has half the cache of Ryzen 5 and 7, it still boasts all of the same features including SenseMI, Precision Boost, and XFR.
The Ryzen 3 line features two CPUs: the Ryzen 3 1200 and the Ryzen 3 1300X. From a gaming standpoint, the Ryzen 3 1200 makes much more sense, so it is what we will be primarily focusing on. In fact, when slightly overclocked with the stock cooler it performs similarly to the 1300X. Overclocked performance is only one of the many benefits of Ryzen.
Right out of the box, Ryzen’s stock coolers dominate Intel’s stock coolers. Ryzen is very ‘overclocker friendly’ and using the stock cooler to do so will save extra money on an aftermarket cooler. Although, if you truly want to push your CPU to its limit, you’ll want to purchase an aftermarket CPU cooler.
The Ryzen 3 1200 shows similar gaming performance to the Pentium G4560 at stock speeds. Once overclocked, there is no competition, as Ryzen 3 significantly outperforms all of Intel’s closest offerings. In fact, not only is it superior in nearly every game tested, it also outperforms Intel’s offerings in other workstation tasks as well. This is all thanks to Ryzen’s four true cores.
The Pentium G4560 still has a place among budget gaming CPUs, but only for those building on an extreme budget. Often the G4560 can be found sub $100, especially with mail-in rebates. With hyperthreading, it acts as a quad core CPU and can compete with the stock Ryzen 3 1200 (until it is overclocked).
Despite this, it’s always smart to save your money for quality components rather than spending it on the cheapest parts you can find. The difference between a $400 and $600 gaming PC is astronomical. The performance gap between a $500 and $1000 gaming PC is further still. If you’re in the market for a new PC, we recommend you save as long as possible for the highest quality parts.
Ryzen 3 is the best budget option for those looking to build a cheap gaming PC. It includes four true cores, two of which are CCX cores that provide the features Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 7 offer. Considering the price tag of just $110, it’s a steal.