When it comes to gaming, the right CPU can definitely help you have a smoother gaming experience.
Sure a good graphics card might be important but the CPU also plays a part in the game’s performance.
In fact, a computer wouldn’t be able to start or run any kind of game without a processor.
Thus, making sure you purchase the best CPU for gaming is not only a vital factor when it comes to your computer’s ability to run these games, but may also help you save a lot of money in the future – if you buy the right processor the first time, you will not have to constantly upgrade your processor in order to meet the demands of the latest games.
Table of Contents
- 1 What To Look For When Buying A CPU For Gaming
- 2 The Best CPUs For Gaming
- 3 Tier 1 – High End Gaming CPUs
- 4 Tier 2 – Mid-Range Gaming CPUs
- 5 Tier 3 – Budget Gaming CPUs
- 6 Which Is The Top CPU For Gaming in 2017?
- 7 How To Overclock Your CPU
- 8 Conclusion
What To Look For When Buying A CPU For Gaming
If you are looking to buy a new CPU for your gaming rig, then chances are you’ve come across a game that demands a better processor than the one you currently have installed in your desktop setup.
Buying a new CPU for your gaming PC can be a complicated task that requires some research and investigation. This is the only way you would be able to know which CPU would best suit your computer and help you play that game that won’t run on your current CPU.
When buying the best CPU for gaming, it is important that you know about all the elements to look for before making a purchase – not looking for the right elements may result in the purchase of a CPU that is not compatible with your current motherboard or a CPU that isn’t powerful enough to play more demanding games.
Before we take a look at the best CPUs you can currently buy for your gaming rig, let’s first discuss some of the important factors that should be considered when buying a gaming CPU.
First of all, you should know that there are only two companies that currently manufacture quality processors for desktop computers – these two are Intel and AMD. There is always a constant debate regarding which manufacturer is better, but, in the end, every gamer has their preference.
Once you have decided on a brand to choose, then you should consider other aspects of the CPU. Some of the most important aspects to look for:
- The number of cores the processor has.
- The processor’s frequency and overclocking abilities.
- The processor’s socket (this feature tells you if your motherboard supports the processor).
- If you’re not planning to use a separate graphics card, but rather the built-in graphics processor, then you also need to consider the integrated graphic solution.
- The supported RAM type – this will tell you if the processor demands a better type of RAM than you currently have or not.
- The processor’s cache memory.
- Additional features that are supported by the processor, such as Intel’s Hyper-Threading Technology, can also add an additional boost to the processor’s overall performance.
The Best CPUs For Gaming
Once you have decided to purchase a new CPU for your gaming rig, the final choice may be very difficult. There are hundreds of different processors on the market and many of them have similar specifications – so, how do you choose the best CPU for gaming?
To help you make the right decision when it comes to upgrading your rig’s processor, we have compiled a list of the best CPUs you can currently buy. These processors will mostly support the latest games that are being released for the PC platform.
They are all very powerful and meet demands of the latest technology.
Tier 1 – High End Gaming CPUs
The following processors are better suited towards those not on a tight budget and are looking to really push their performance to the max.
This processor is currently rated as one of the top gaming CPUs on the market. It has all the essential features that a PC gamer expects from a processor, plus additional features that give the user’s computer a power boost. It is also one of the latest entries in Intel’s range of high-end computer processors, released within the first quarter of 2017.
The best features of the Intel i7-7700K include:
- It is based on Intel’s powerful 14nm semiconductor technology.
- The processor features four cores and a total of eight threads.
- The processor has an 8MB memory cache and it features Intel’s SmartCache technology.
- The base frequency rate of the processor is 4.20 GHz, with a maximum turbo frequency of 4.50 GHz.
- The i7-7700K desktop processor supports a variety of Intel’s advanced technology features, including their Turbo Boost Technology, Hyper-Threading Technology, Virtualization Technology and the Enhanced Intel SpeedStep Technology.
When buying this processor, it is important to note that it features a Socket LGA 1151 compatibility. If your motherboard does not support this socket, then the processor may not be suitable for your gaming rig. Users should also note that the processor is still quite new to the market, which means it may be difficult to purchase the product, especially if the user does not live in the United States. The majority of online stores that has acquired stock of this processor does not ship to other countries.
Intel i7-7700K Pros:
- The processor features a powerful integrated graphic solution that supports 4K video playback and a maximum resolution of 4096×2304.
- The processor can support up to 64 GB of RAM and is compatible with DDR4-2133/2400 and DDR3L-1333/1600 RAM modules.
- The processor’s core frequency can be boosted through a Turbo Boost technology feature, making it even more powerful.
- The 8MB memory cache means the user’s computer will have an overall improvement in performance.
Intel i7-7700K Cons:
- The processor only supports a maximum of two memory channels. This, however, isn’t necessarily a negative feature as many PC gamers choose to use larger RAM modules so that they do not have to install too many different modules on one motherboard.
- The supported RAM types are quite limited, but the majority of PC gamers already use these types of RAM modules, which means it should not necessarily pose as a negative factor.
Overall, the Intel i7-7700K is a beast. The added threads will give you a performance boost if you’re doing heavy video editing, graphics design work, streaming your gameplay, or most CPU-intensive tasks.
- Socket LGA 1151
- Intel 200/1001 Series Chipset Compatibility (1. Excludes Intel Optane Technology support)
- Intel HD Graphics 630
Intel Core i7 6700K
While the Intel Core i7-6700K has been on the market for some time now, it still outperforms a lot of the competitor processors and delivers an excellent set of specifications that allow PC gamers to push their gaming experience to the limits. The processor was released in the third quarter of 2015, but is still rated as one of the top processors for gaming rigs.
The best features of the Intel Core i7-6700K include:
- The processor has been designed with Intel’s 14nm semiconductor technology.
- The processor features quad-core power, with four cores and eight threads.
- An 8MB cache with Intel’s SmartCache technology.
- The base frequency of the processor is 4.00 GHz, but it can be boosted to 4.20 GHz.
- A wide range of advanced technologies that are exclusive to Intel processors is supported by the Intel Core i7-6700K. The supported features include Turbo Boost Technology, Hyper-Threading Technology and more.
The i7-6700K has been on the market since 2015 and is relatively easy to find all over the world, which means gamers that are looking to buy the processor should not have any trouble finding a store that stock the processor. The processor is often combined with a Corsair Hydro Series cooler. Potential buyers should note that the processor is compatible with motherboards that support the LGA 1151 socket.
Intel Core i7-6700k Pros:
- The processor has support for different types of RAM modules, including DDR4 and DDR3L.
- A resolution of up to 4096×2304 can be used with this processor.
- The processor features a total of 1740MB usable VRAM (Video RAM).
Intel Core i7-6700K Cons:
- Even though this processor still packs a punch, newer models are available in the same price range.
- Gamers with a newer or older motherboard model may be unable to use this processor as it may not fit into their motherboard’s socket.
- LGA 1151
- Unlocked Processor. DDR4 & DDR3L Support
- Display Resolution up to 4096x2304
Intel Core i7-5820K
For gamers who are seeking performance that extends past the average four cores that are featured by quad-core processors, the Intel Core i7-5820K is a perfect fit. This processor offers six cores in total, a powerful set of specifications and perfect compatibility with the latest Virtual Reality gaming headsets. The processor is also able to use Intel’s Turbo technology to give gamers that extra boost in performance just when they need it.
The best features of the Intel Core i7-5820K include:
- The processor features a total of six cores and twelve threads, which is more than the average gaming processor (which usually offers four cores and eight threads).
- The processor utilizes Intel’s 22nm semiconductor technology.
- A 15MB cache with SmartCache technology means extra performance.
- Support for up to 64GB of RAM means a gamer does not have to worry about RAM limitations.
- The processor has support for Intel’s Turbo Boost Technology, which increases its performance and base frequency.
The Intel Core i7-5820K was released back in 2014, but is still able to outperform some of the newer processors that have been released since. Its price depends on whether it is bought as a standalone product or with its recommended cooler. The average price of this processor is around $369.98, but the price can go up, depending on where the gamer buys it.
Intel Core i7-5820K Pros:
- While the base speed of the processor is 3.30 GHz, with the help of Intel’s Turbo Technology, it can be boosted up to 3.60 GHz.
- While most of the competitor processors have an 8MB cache, this processor features a much larger cache, at 15MB, and also includes SmartCache technology.
Intel Core i7-5820K Cons:
- Since the processor was released in 2014, it may not be compatible with some of the features that newer game titles demand.
- The processor can only be coupled with DDR4 1333/1600/2133 RAM modules, which means gamers with a DDR3L or other type of RAM module will not be able to use this processor.
- Unlike the majority of Intel processors, this processor that not come with an integrated graphic chipset.
- The price of the processor may be a bit steep for gamers when they consider the release date. Fortunately, the cache, frequency, and the number of cores often make up for this problem.
Tier 2 – Mid-Range Gaming CPUs
The following processors are better suited for those looking for great gaming performance but don’t want to max out their budget. The following CPUs will also handle video editing and graphics design work quite well.
Intel Core i5-4690K
The Intel Core i5-4690K offers the perfect balance between performance and price. The processor was released in 2014 and has a long list of features that makes it a powerful processor to use for gaming. It is compatible with various technologies that make it more powerful and also features an integrated graphic solution with quite an impressive frequency.
The best features of the Intel Core i5-4690K include:
- The processor utilizes the 22nm processor technology of Intel. This means greater performance, coupled with lower energy consumption.
- An integrated graphics solution means the gamer has a backup option should their graphic card fail.
- Apart from the fact that the processor supports Intel’s Turbo Boost Technology, it is also compatible with Intel’s Virtualization Technology and their Enhanced SpeedStep Technology.
- The integrated graphics solution features up to 1740MB of VRAM and supports multiple monitors at the same time.
- The processor is compatible with one of the most popular sockets.
While the Intel Core i5-4690K may seem like it is a bit outdated, it is still a powerful CPU that can be used to play some of the most demanding games that are on the shelves right now. The processor not only makes gaming a breeze, but also easily handles other complex tasks, such as graphic designing. It is compatible with the LGA 1150 socket. Since the processor had been released a while ago, it is also relatively easy to purchase it at any local computer hardware store.
Intel Core i5-4690K Pros:
- The processor is equipped with four cores and four threads, which makes playing games that utilize multi-core technology easy and lag-free.
- The base frequency rate of 3.50 GHz can be boosted to 3.90 GHz by using the Turbo Boost feature.
- The processor is cheaper than many of its competitors that offer similar features, especially newer models.
- Gamers can combine this processor with up to 32GB of RAM, which makes gaming lag-free and effortless.
Intel Core i5-4690K Cons:
- The price of the processor may be a bit high considering the fact that it was released in 2014, but it is still an affordable processor for gamers that are on a tighter budget.
- A lot of gamers enjoy the power DDR4 RAM has to offer. This processor is only compatible DDR3 RAM modules, which means players who utilize DDR4 RAM in their computers will not be able to witness the power of this processor.
- The cache of the processor is a bit lower than the average cache of newer processors. It does, however, still offer the SmartCache technology.
Overall this processor is great for a gaming rig, it overclocks easily and handles most games extremely well.
- Processor Type: Core i5
- Processor Speed: 3.50 GHz
- Socket Size: 22 nm
Intel Core i5-4690
Equipped with multiple cores, the power of the Core i5 technology from Intel and powerful advanced features; the Intel Core i5-4690 offer gamers a chance to experience powerful performance without having to dig too deep into their wallets. This processor also utilizes some of the more unique Intel features, such as their Quick Sync Video technology, which makes video conversion quick and easy.
The best Intel Core i5-4690 Desktop Processor features include:
- The processor is compatible with some of the most popular and most powerful motherboards that are used by PC gamers.
- The frequency of the processor can easily be boosted by simply turning on the accompanied Intel Turbo Boost Technology option.
- The added support for Quick Sync Video and Intel’s Rapid Storage technology provides the gamer with additional features that will make their experience more convenient.
- The product is priced below $250, which is a big plus for many gamers that are working on a smaller budget.
- The processor is readily available in most computer stores throughout the entire world, thanks to its popularity.
The average price for the Intel Core i5-4690 is not high at all, but also depends on where it is purchased and whether it is accompanied by additional items, such as a cooler that helps to keep the processor cool while games are running. This CPU is unfortuanately locked so you won’t be able to overclock it. It can be purchased at almost any worldwide location for a reasonable price. Users should note that the processor features an LGA 1150 socket and it is compatible with the Z87 and the Z97 motherboards.
Intel Core i5-4690 Pros:
- The base frequency of 3.5 GHz can be boosted up to 3.9 GHz with the Turbo Boost technology that is built into the processor.
- The processor offers a technology that is unique to Intel processors. The technology is called “Intel Device Protection” and is accompanied by Boot Guard.
Intel Core i5-4690 Desktop Processor Cons:
- Gamers who has a Z97 motherboard needs to upgrade their bios in order to use the processor as it may have compatibility issues with older BIOS versions.
- The processor is not compatible with newer RAM technologies and only supports DDR 3 SDRAM modules.
- Compatible with Z87 and Z97 motherboards. Z87 motherboard users may need to apply a BIOS update for compatibility.
- LGA 1150 ,Processor Base Frequency 3.5 GHz, Max Turbo Frequency 3.9 GHz
- Intel Rapid Storage Technology
AMD FX-8350 FX-Series
Gamers who are looking for a cheaper option to help them power up their gaming rig should take a look at the AMD FX-8350 Black Edition processor. With its multiple cores and multi-cache technology, it offers gamers maximum performance – not only while they are playing the latest gaming title, but also while they are performing other tasks. The processor is one of the most affordable choices in its class.
The best features of the AMD FX-8350 include:
- The processor offers a powerful feature-set that has been developed to offer maximum performance at an affordable price.
- The processor utilizes a 32nm die shrink technology that increases the headroom for the clock rate, as well as improves thermals.
- The processor has been designed to offer excellent performance and to utilize all of its cores without increasing its power consumption.
- By utilizing AMD’s silicon enhancement technology, the performance of the processor can be used at its maximum without having to worry about performance degrading and memory allocation.
- The AMD FX-8350 is not only perfect for gaming, but also delivers excellent performance for tasks such as 3D modeling, video editing and graphic design.
When a gamer is considering the AMD FX-8350 processor, they should realize that the processor can only be installed on motherboards that feature compatibility for the AM3+ socket type. The processor can be purchased at most computer retailers, both online and offline, and is usually available for under $200. It also features some of AMD’s unique design techniques and technologies in order to deliver a powerful performance.
AMD FX-8350 Pros:
- This is one of the cheapest processors with such a high frequency.
- The processor has a total of eight cores that can be utilized to improve gaming performance.
- The processor features an 8MB cache.
- Additional features that have been added to the processor makes it more valuable, such as the access control, address translation and support for virtual machines.
AMD FX-8350 Cons:
- The processor is only compatible with specific types of motherboards, which may be a problem if the potential buyer has another type of motherboard.
- Frequency: 4.0/4.2GHZ (Base/Overdrive)
- Cores: 8
- Cache: 8/8MB (L2/L3)
AMD FX-8320 FX-Series
Another processor from the other player in the CPU industry – AMD. This processor is also not a bank breaker, but still offers a set of powerful features that makes it an excellent addition to any gaming rig. Not only is this processor affordable, but it is also backed by positive feedback from PC gamer communities, which means it is surely a processor that packs a punch.
The best features of the AMD FX-8320 include:
- The processor can be overclocked easily by simply utilizing the built-in “Overdrive” technology.
- Multiple cores have been added to the processor in order to enhance the performance of the user’s gaming rig. Many games also utilize multiple cores in order to improve performance.
- The processor is packaged with a stock fan that allows the user to save even more money.
- The AMD FX-8320 FX-Series desktop processor is part of AMD’s black edition range, which means it is one of their processors that was specifically designed for gaming rigs.
- The processor is very popular; thus it can be picked up almost anywhere in the world. Gamers who are unable to pay the full price may even be able to easily pick up a good deal in their local community as the processor is widely used by many gamers.
The AMD FX-8320 FX-Series 8-Core Black Edition processor can be picked up for less than $150 brand new. This includes a stock fan that is packaged in its box. The price makes it one of the most affordable processors that have been developed for gaming purposes, especially when you consider its base frequency, its ability to overclock and the fact that it features a total of eight cores.
AMD FX-8320 Pros:
- The processor has eight cores, which means games can be pushed to their limits when they have the ability to take advantages of multiple cores in a processor.
- The base frequency of 3.5 GHz can be overclocked to as much as 4.0 GHz when the user takes advantage of AMD’s Overdrive technology.
- The processor features an 8MB cache, which adds to its powerful performance.
AMD FX-8320 Cons:
- The AMD FX-8320 is relatively old. It was first released in 2012, which is almost five years ago. This, however, does not mean it is not still a powerful desktop processor for gamers on a small budget.
- The power consumption of the processor is relatively high.
- The processor is only compatible with mothers that support the AM3+ socket.
- Frequency: 3.5/4.0GHZ (Base/Overdrive)
- Cores: 8
- Cache: 8/8MB (L2/L3)
Tier 3 – Budget Gaming CPUs
The following processor is better suited towards those on a tight budget.
Intel Core i3-6100
The gamer that’s on a budget that won’t allow for an expensive processor, but still wants something that they can use to play some of the latest games with, should opt for the Intel Core i3-6100 Desktop Processor. While this processor might not be at the top of the line, it still packs a punch and will surely be able to run even some of the latest gaming titles that have been released for PC. Thanks to the Dual-Core Hyper-Threading Technology support, the process may even be able to catch up with some of the higher-end CPUs that’s currently on the market.
The best features of the Intel Core i3-6100 include:
- The processor has a built-in graphics unit that supports 4k video playback and even some demanding game titles.
- The processor is compatible with different RAM modules, which means a larger number of users can use this processor to power their gaming rig.
- The socket featured in this processor is supported by the most popular motherboards used by gamers worldwide.
- The processor has a very low power consumption, leaving more power available to other components in the gamer’s computer.
- This is the most affordable processor that gamers can buy that can still run some of the more demanding games on the market.
The Intel Core i3-6100 can be picked up at most locations for just over $100. The product is also popular and utilized by many gamers who are working on a very low budget. It features some of Intel’s advanced technologies and even offers Hyper-Threading for a performance boost. The processor has an FCLGA-1151 socket, which means a lot of budget gamers will be able to install the CPU into their gaming rig without any problems.
Intel Core i3-6100 Pros:
- Users can combine the use of this processor with different types of RAM modules, as it supports DDR4 1866/2133 and DDR3L 1333/1600.
- Even at such a low price, the Intel Core i3-6100 supports up to 64GB of RAM and can be combined with up to two RAM modules.
- The processor has two cores and four threads, which means games that take advantage of multiple cores and multithreading technology will have no problem utilizing this processor’s features.
- The integrated graphics processor supports 4k video, Intel’s InTru 3D technology and even Intel’s Wireless Display technology. It also supports up to three displays at the same time.
Intel Core i3-6100 Cons:
- The processor only has a 3MB cache. It does, however, feature Intel’s SmartCache technology.
- While the processor has support for Intel’s Hyper-Threading technology, it does not support Turbo Boost. This might’ve been useful for boosting its base frequency.
- Dual-Core with Hyper-Threading Technology
- Intel HD Graphics 530 with 4k support (at 60 hz)
- DDR4/DDR3L memory supported
Which Is The Top CPU For Gaming in 2017?
Now that we have taken a look at eight of the best CPUs a gamer can buy to power their gaming rig, it is time to decide on a winner. We have compared all of these CPUs and looked at their individual specifications, pricing, availability and more in order to determine which ones provide the best value for a gamer’s money.
In the end, we give the spotlight to the Intel Core i7-7700K. Yes, this might be one of the more expensive processors, but it is also one of the most powerful processors that you can buy at the moment.
You might be wondering why we have decided to name the Intel Core i7-7700K the winner. Let us explain.
First of all, for high end gaming this processor is hard to beat especially at it’s price range. The processor has a total of four cores, accompanied by 8 threads. While the base frequency is quite high, running at 4.2 GHz, it can easily be boosted by simply utilizing the Turbo Boost technology – which the Intel i7-7700K supports. This can boost the frequency to as much as 4.5 GHz.
In addition to these benefits, the CPU also offers full support for the latest gaming headsets that utilizes Virtual Reality technology and can easily handle any type of video editing you can throw at it. The processor supports a large number of desktops and can be coupled with one of the most powerful types of RAM modules. It also has an integrated graphic solution that is more powerful than most competing processors.
Not only that, the processor is unlocked so you can squeeze even more power out of it by overclocking.
- Socket LGA 1151
- Intel 200/1001 Series Chipset Compatibility (1. Excludes Intel Optane Technology support)
- Intel HD Graphics 630
How To Overclock Your CPU
Overclocking is a great way to get the most performance out of your CPU and it’s relatively easy to do. I suggest you watch the following video and check out this guide to learn more:
Shopping for a gaming CPU may be a tough task.
There’s research to be done and, just as you find the processor that you would like to buy, you cannot find a store that actually stocks it. This can be unfortunate and take you a long time.
The list of processors we have compiled include some of the best choices you can make at the moment – so we have done all of the research for you. Now, the next step to buying the best CPU for gaming is simply to consider your budget and requirements, read through our list and choose the one that fits your criteria.
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