If you are looking for the best gaming processors or just powerful CPUs for heavy computing tasks, then this is a great article for you. Find out what is the best gaming processor and also how to choose the best CPU for gaming and office automation.
The processor is a fundamental component in your gaming PC configuration and plays a vital role in the performance of your machine. Along with your graphics card, it remains one of the most sought-after elements in gaming, and its choice will have a direct impact on the performance and stability of your PC.
But the most important thing is to buy the best gaming processors lest you end up with an average gaming PC configuration.
There are different types of gaming processors. Some are limited to gaming only, while others take advantage of the power of their processor to try advanced office automation, such as video editing or photo editing.
Intel and AMD share this colossal processors market and offer complete ranges, with processors generally between $50 and $800. To play in optimal conditions, set a budget between $200 and $400.
What are the Best Gaming Processors in 2018?
• Intel Pentium G4560
• AMD Ryzen 3 1200
• AMD Ryzen 3 1300X
• Intel Core i5-8400
• AMD Ryzen 5 1600X
• Intel Core i5-8600K
• AMD Ryzen 7 1700X
• AMD Ryzen 7 2700X
• Intel Core i7-8700K
The Best Gaming Processors (Entry-Level)
|Feature||Intel Pentium G4560||AMD Ryzen 3 1200||AMD Ryzen 3 1300X|
|Base frequency||3.5 Ghz||3.1 Ghz||3.5 Ghz|
|Turbo frequency||N/A||3.4 Ghz||4.7 Ghz|
Intel Pentium G4560
Currently listed in our under $500 PC gaming configuration, the Intel Pentium G4560 is the most affordable processor in the market. While it will obviously not put forward outstanding performance, the CPU will adapt perfectly to the light to medium titles. Built on Kaby Lake architecture and engraved in 14 nm, it boasts a frequency of 3.5 GHz on two cores / 4 Threads. Compatible with the 1151 socket, it is possible to upgrade later to a higher performance processor, like an Intel i5 or i7.
Cores: 2 | Threads: 4 | Basic frequency: 3.5 Ghz | Turbo Frequency: N / A | Socket: 115
AMD Ryzen 3 1200
Retailing under the $100 mark, the Ryzen 3 1200 stands out as the ideal option if you want to set up a gaming rig on a budget. Unlike the Pentium G4560, this is a model with four cores / four threads bringing a significant gain in terms of performance, both gaming and office. Combined with a small GTX 1050 Ti or a GTX 1060, the CPU will deliver more than adequate results for its price. If you want to set up a $500 – $700 gaming PC, this is a top choice.
Cores: 4 | Threads: 4 | Basic frequency: 3.1 GHz | Turbo Frequency: 3.4 GHz | Socket: AM4
AMD Ryzen 3 1300X
Once again, AMD presents a particularly impressive Ryzen processor. For just over $100, this Ryzen 3 1300X rivals some Intel Core i5 CPUs. Combined with one of the many B350 motherboards currently available, it is the perfect place to start without breaking the bank. Thanks to its affordable price, it can save you a few bucks which you can channel to a more powerful GPU, maybe going from a GTX 1050 Ti to a GTX 1060 for example.
Cores: 4 | Threads: 4 | Basic frequency: 3.5 Ghz | Turbo Frequency: 3.7 GHz | Socket: AM4
The Best Gaming Processors (Mid-Range)
|Feature||AMD Ryzen 5 2600X||Intel Core-i5-8400||Intel Core-i5-8600K|
|Base frequency||3.6 Ghz||2.8 Ghz||3.6 Ghz|
|Turbo frequency||4.2 Ghz||4.0 Ghz||4.2 Ghz|
|Socket||AM4||LGA 1151||LGA 1151|
AMD Ryzen 5 1600X
Despite the arrival of the Zen + generation (an upgrade of the first Ryzen processors), the AMD Ryzen 5 1600X remains one of the most versatile CPUs in the industry. With a price revised downwards, it is an excellent value for money for players who want to set up a gaming PC and even office automation. Between its architecture stands 6 Cores / 12 Threads and 4 GHz Turbo frequency.
Cores: 6 | Threads: 12 | Basic frequency: 3.6 Ghz | Turbo Frequency: 4 GHz | Socket: AM4
With the arrival of the first Ryzen processors, Intel was quick to counterattack by unveiling several 6-core CPUs under an 8th generation called Coffee Lake. The Core i5-8400 shows on paper frequencies lower than those to which the brand had accustomed us to. Its Turbo mode clocked at 4 GHz and can offer excellent performance even with heavier games. For FPS lovers, note that the Intel processor has slightly better performance than AMD in most benchmarks. However, with the arrival of Zen + processors, the new models of AMD are in our opinion the best concerning quality to price ratio.
Cores: 6 | Threads: 6 | Basic frequency: 2.8 GHz | Turbo Frequency: 4 GHz | Socket: LGA 1151
AMD Ryzen 5 2600
With its new Ryzen 5 2600, AMD presents a processor capable of competing with its direct competition from Intel regarding gaming. The immediate successor of the RYZEN 1600, the Ryzen 5 2600 has twice as many threads as the Core i5-8400 and is now closer to a Core i7-8700K. Though the 8400 does slightly better regarding performance, the Ryzen 5 2600 is a better value for money. Its capabilities regarding multi-threading are superior to those of its competitor, making this CPU particularly suitable for versatile users, wishing, for example, to play and stream. Also, the various tests demonstrated that it was possible to overclock the CPU to achieve frequencies similar to those of the Ryzen 5 2600X. Make sure to opt for a cooler or an efficient AIO water cooling.
Cores: 6 | Threads: 12 | Basic frequency: 3.4 Ghz | Turbo Frequency: 3.9 GHz | Socket: AM4
AMD Ryzen 5 2600X
The big brother of the Ryzen 2600, the AMD Ryzen 5 2600X retakes the principal characteristics but has slightly higher frequencies. We thus go from 3.4 to 3.6 GHz in base frequency, and from 3.9 to 4.2 GHz in turbo. This processor can run some FPS games seamlessly, something the predecessor can’t do unless it is overclocked. It’s up to you to see if this extra speed justifies the $30 difference between the two models.
Cores: 6 | Threads: 12 | Basic frequency: 3.6 Ghz | Turbo Frequency: 4.2 GHz | Socket: AM4
Positioned a step above the i5-8400, the Intel Core i5-8600K also has excellent results if you want to set up a powerful gaming set up. I understand that this model is much expensive than the likes of AMD Ryzen 5 2600x and in fact, with the same 3.6 GHz speed. But fortunately, this processor can be overclocked to 5 Ghz as long as you have an efficient cooling system. With its 6 Cores / 6 Threads architecture, the 8600K is also doing very well on multi-threaded applications. Of course, there is the question of price, to which we must add the purchase of a Z370 motherboard now that Coffee Lake processors are not compatible with Skylake and Kaby Lake.
Cores: 6 | Threads: 6 | Basic frequency: 3.6 Ghz | Turbo Frequency: 4.2 GHz | Socket: LGA 1151
The Best Gaming Processors (High-End)
|Feature||AMD Ryzen 7 1700X||AMD Ryzen 7 2700X||Intel Core-i7-8700K|
|Base frequency||3.4 Ghz||3.7 Ghz||3.7 Ghz|
|Turbo frequency||3.8 Ghz||4.3 Ghz||4.3 Ghz|
AMD Ryzen 7 1700X
Despite the arrival of the 2nd Gen Ryzen processors, the 1700X remains one of the most versatile CPUs on the market. From one angle, it is expensive now that it costs almost $300 and offers much less performance than a similar $300 Intel processor but what’s the catch? Ryzen 7 has better multi-threading. The eight cores work wonders on many applications, and also if you want to broadcast your live parts on Twitch or YouTube. It is less potent than the 2700X, but unfortunately, the latter is best suited for more expensive configurations.
Cores: 8 | Threads: 16 | Basic frequency: 3.4 GHz | Turbo Frequency: 3.8 Hz | Socket: AM4
AMD Ryzen 7 2700X
Do you want the best processor for gaming and more, intensive office automation? No need to look any further, the AMD Ryzen 7 2700X is the CPU you need. The numbers speak for themselves: with a Zen + architecture in 8 Cores / 16 Threads and a 4.3 GHz Turbo frequency, the 2700X is a real powerhouse. Particularly comfortable with applications that take advantage of Multi-Threading, AMD’s new processor also competes with the best Intel processors in the field of gaming. If you are the type to want to play in 1440p, stream your parts on Twitch then edit your videos as soon as possible on Adobe Premiere, it’s the ideal CPU. The cherry on the cake? If you have a first generation Ryzen CPU, you do not need to buy a new motherboard, and only an update should be enough. Speaking of longevity, it should be noted that AMD should continue on the socket AM4 until at least 2020.
Cores: 8 | Threads: 16 | Basic frequency: 3.7 GHz | Turbo Frequency: 4.3 GHz | Socket: AM4
This is among the best gaming processors now that it is from the most popular CPU brand, Intel. However, with the coming of AMD Ryzen processors, it is facing quite some stiff competition both regarding performance and price. With “only” 6 Cores / 12 Threads against the 8 Cores / 16 Threads of the Ryzen 2700X, the top range of Intel is positioned one step below its opponent regarding productivity, especially on applications requiring multi-threading. For gaming-only users, the Intel CPU is apparently one of the best models in the industry. After all, with a 4.7 GHz Turbo frequency, the 8700K is a real powerhouse.
Cores: 6 | Threads: 12 | Basic frequency: 3.7 Ghz | Turbo Frequency: 4.7 GHz | Socket: LGA 1151
Buying Guide: Factors to Consider when Buying the Best Gaming Processors
If your computer lacks speed, responsiveness or you want to adopt the latest sockets, then you need a new processor. With our buying guide, choosing your CPU according to your gaming requirements and needs will be a snap.
Processor: the essentials to understand everything
- Finesse of engraving
- The total cache
- System bus
It is customary to say that the processor of a computer is the brain of the machine. On paper, this may be true, but it does not mean that it is the main component of a gaming PC.
- Gigahertz – It was formerly judged only by the frequency expressed in gigahertz. As the processor can process information, the higher it is, the higher the performance of your gaming PC. This is no longer true today; we must consider the architecture of the processor, the number of cores, turbo modes and hyperthreading. It is, therefore, a significant datum, but one that is not sufficient in itself.
- Cores – The best gaming processors have at least two cores (dual core). Even though the standard is 4, the number is growing with the latest CPUs Intel and AMD having up to 10 cores, and future processors of up to 16 cores already announced.
Good to know: Some applications require multiple cores to gain speed. This is the case with greedy AAA games or heavy video editing software.
- Finesse of engraving – The processors contain billions of transistors etched on a semiconductor material (silicon). The finer their etching given in nm (nanometers), the more the fluxer gives power to its processors (more transistors on the same surface), increases the number of cores and decreases the release of heat (more distant transistors)
- TDP – Thermal Design Power is the thermal envelope of a processor, expressed in watts that must be taken into account to adapt the appropriate cooling solution. Remember that the lower the TDP, the less the CPU heats up.
Another advantage: the machine may be less noisy since it requires less cooling and finally, it is more durable.
- Cache – Given in MB, this is the amount of information temporarily stored by the processor to optimize its processing capacity. The higher the number of megabytes, the more the processor has “memory” and increases in speed.
- System bus – Expressed in bits, it indicates the volume of information transmitted simultaneously. The system bus communicates with the RAM of your computer. The chipset, to which we will return later, is responsible for routing data between components via the bus.
CPU and the motherboard
In this section, we want to talk about the processor and the CPU, very fundamental components in a gaming PC configuration
- Ability to overclock
- Turbo mode
- The graphics controller or IGP
- Maximum memory frequency
- Motherboards and processor – the indissociable
- Microarchitecture – Many PC gaming enthusiasts upgrade their processors according to the criteria seen in the previous chapter: improve the engraving fineness, increasing the cache or the number of cores, etc.
With each advance, there’s a name that characterizes it: Haswell, Broadwell, Skylake, Kaby Lake, Coffee Lake for Intel CPUs. Piledriver, Steamroller, Ryzen for AMD products. Note that the different architectures coexist, the oldest eventually disappear, replaced by products of the same range more modern. If you do not have all the evolution of the processors in mind, consider looking at the finesse of engraving; the finer it is, the more recent the processor is.
- Hyperthreading – Also called HT. A processor can simulate two “logical” cores from a single “physical” heart. This speeds up the information processing capacity by around 20% in the best case.
Good to know: Do not imagine that an 8-core processor with hyperthreading equals a 16-core configuration! This is just 8 cores whose processing capacity has been optimized.
- What is overclocking? – Overclocking is to increase the frequency of the components of your machine to gain computing power. There are two ways to do it:
(a) Expanding the base frequency of the motherboard, which in turn increases that of the processor in proportion.
(b) Modifying the multiplier coefficient of the processor only. It is this process that interests us here. You find this information about our products in the “Unlocked Coefficient” line. A “Yes” indicates that the processor can be overclocked.
- What is the processor’s Turbo mode? – To put it simply, it is about overclocking automatically managed by your processor. Intel uses the term Turbo boost, AMD has chosen Turbo Core, but the interesting information is the line just below in our data sheets: “Maximum frequency on a heart,” expressed in GHz. Note that you can overclock your processor to go beyond the turbo mode.
- Graphics controller or IGP – Some processors ship graphics controllers to prevent you from buying a video card. Ideal for office setups, internet browsing, and some multimedia tasks.
- Maximum memory frequency – Indicates the maximum rate and type of RAM (DDR3, DDR 4) that your processor can handle.
- Motherboard and processor – Motherboards do not host any processor. There is a link between the two elements is called the socket. Physically, this is the plate on which is installed the processor, but it’s a little more than that. It connects the processor and the chipset that links to all the components of the motherboard (RAM, PCI port, etc.).
What socket for my processor?
- Socket 1150: Celeron, Pentium, Core i3 to i7 generation Haswell and Broadwell
- Socket 1151: Pentium and Core i3 to i7 Skylake, Kaby Lake, Coffee Lake
- Socket 2011-v3: Core i7 high-end Broadwell-E and Haswell-E
- Socket FM 2+: Athlon, A6, A8, A10
- Socket AM3 +: FX
- Socket Am4: for Ryzen 5 and 7
The main controller (chipset) is also important because it can limit the frequency of the processor and RAM. The unlocked coefficient, even positive, will then have no impact on the power of the processor. This is usually the case with entry-level motherboards. It’s all about homogeneity. If you want to overclock your processor, it means that you need power, this must be reflected in all components of the machine.
You now have all the keys to understand the processor of your PC, but the most important thing is to know what you want to do. Office, multimedia, media center, video games are the big trends, but that is not enough to make the right choice. Each category is divided into several typologies that we describe in the next chapter, but it is first necessary to better understand the different ranges of processors.
What is the price of gaming processors?
The entry-level, less than $100 – These processors boast 2 cores and little cache. In contrast, recent models benefit from the latest technologies regarding microarchitecture. With such a fine engraving and a measured power, you make sure a TDP low enough, so a silent cooling system (even if it depends on the models and your complete configuration) and a machine that withstands time.
- Intel: Celeron, Pentium
- AMD: Sempron, Athlon, A4, A6, FX
The mid-range between $150 and $200
4-core processors are beginning to appear on the side of AMD. We even find 6 or 8 cores on old microarchitectures, and the closer you get to $150, the more you gain in power (in GHz) and in cache memory. Attention in contrast to the TDP, it may be interesting to take a more powerful cooler. On the Intel side, we find the top of the basket regarding Pentium, the first Core i3 emerge.
- Intel: Pentium, Core i3
- AMD: A8, A10, FX
High end between $200 and $400
Obviously, such a wide range gives processors already very different between the floor price and the ceiling. However, all highlight the power with each their characteristics. The more you invest, the more you focus on products that, in addition to having a fairly impressive GHz power, offer turbo modes. The i5 mark the arrival of the 4 cores, but we find at AMD products with 6 cores on the last generations of processors (Ryzen).
- Intel: Pentium Core i3, i5
- AMD: FX, Ryzen 5
Very high end, more than $500
This time, more compromises. We are on the most powerful processors: the gigahertz are at the highest and can for the vast majority be boosted with turbo modes, hyperthreading, and unlocked coefficients. The number of cores is also on the rise, from 6 to 10. The cache memory is never below 6 MB. They are installed on new sockets with maximum memory frequencies so that the information circulates as quickly as possible between all the elements via the chipset. We also find some old glories of older architectures, products that have proven themselves in overclocking.
- Intel: Core i5, i7
- AMD: Ryzen 7, Threadripper
Choosing the right processor
- 1 – Office
- 2 – Home cinema, media center
- 3 – Editing, retouching, computer graphics and games with low resource requirements
- 4 – Demanding video games, streaming, virtual reality
Your computer is primarily a work tool. You use an Office suite, check the web, but you’re not against the idea of listening to music or watching videos in 1080p. No need to go beyond the entry level. A dual core will support very well the launch of an audio player or streaming listening in parallel with an office task. Especially since the Pentium now offer hyperthreading.
Prefer the latest microarchitectures for a quiet desktop and low power consumption. This configuration allows you to perform photo editing or video editing with non-professional software, and even have fun if you like flash games, card games or retro gaming.
- Home theater, media center
If you want to integrate your PC in your TV stand or next to your stereo, the power requirements are not so different from the office, because the latest generations of processors are not impressed by the multimedia tasks. But they suffer from the silence of ARM chips that are also found in TV boxes. Nevertheless, if you are basically attached to the PC or if the one you want to put in the living room must know as well read videos (HTPC) that propel a game, a dedicated configuration can be welcome.
However, we recommend considering the mid-range if only to have a scalable product and the latest chipsets (which ensure better compatibility with your devices). Be sure to take a custom-made cooler if the TDP is high and you do not want to hear any noise. Also, consider equipping your configuration with a graphics card even entry-level (less than $100) to consider higher resolutions to full HD more comfortably.
- Editing, retouching, computer graphics and games with low resource requirements
If your ambitions go beyond photo editing and video editing with Windows tools, you certainly need 4 cores otherwise your computer will show its limits as soon as you start an encoding phase.
The processor is no longer the only one to come into play. SSD, RAM and video cards will be essential to make the machine even more comfortable.
This type of equipment is also aimed at players. If you are on a 4-core processor with a graphics card of the same range (think of the homogeneity), the games indie, MOBA, point’n’click and other platform games will turn out wonderfully. FPS and racing games will be “limited” to full HD with a medium or high level of detail, so a picture already beautiful and fluid.
No hesitation here, you need the high-end gaming processor to play the AAA titles. Turbo mode, hyperthreading and overclocking guarantee you to stay on top and see the future serenely. That said, they all need to be the highest, but this is not necessary for all games. Light games have lesser performance requirements while heavy games are very greedy on the processor power, RAM, and graphics card.