The Best Gaming CPUs in 2021 – Our Best AMD & Intel CPUs For Gaming

A closer look at the market's leading processors, comparing each for gaming performance, price, and overall value for money

Best CPU 2021

Last Updated: 16th June 2021

The CPU, or central processing unit, is one of the most important hardware components in your gaming PC. Most people prioritize it as the second most essential hardware consideration, with only the GPU having more of an impact on your overall gaming experience. This makes sense as the GPU manages the quality, resolution, and frame rates of your PC games. However, contrary to many people’s beliefs, the CPU plays an intricate role in how well your PC runs games, making it worth finding the best CPU for gaming.

Having said that, picking the best gaming CPU for your needs can be a little strenuous, especially if you aren’t up-to-speed with the latest offerings. Annoyingly, the CPU market is forever changing with new, more powerful options altering prices all too often. How are you meant to know which CPU is best?

Well, that’s where we come into the picture. Our team of PC enthusiasts spends countless hours researching and benchmarking hardware to make sure you guys are up-to-date with what’s best. Whether it’s the Intel i9-10900K or one of Ryzen’s hugely popular APUs, the team makes sure no stone is left unturned when putting every processor through its paces.

So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at what we’ve chosen for the best gaming CPUs currently available. Furthermore, let’s finally answer that age-old question of; who’s better, AMD or Intel?

Our Top Picks

01
Editor's AMD Choice
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AMD Ryzen 9 5900X

The Best CPU For Gaming
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02
Editor's Intel Choice
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Intel Core i9 11900K Rocket Lake CPU

Best High-End Intel CPU For Gaming
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Intel 11th Gen Core i9 11900K 768x768 1
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03
Best Overall Intel CPU
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Intel Core i5 11600K Rocket Lake CPU

Great Value And Gaming Performance
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11600k
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Watch Our Video Rundown

Best Gaming CPUs In 2021

01
Editor's AMD Choice
The Best CPU For Gaming
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AMD Ryzen 9 5900X

0 /5
Editor's Rating

Our top gaming CPU pick goes to AMD – that’s right, AMD. Their Ryzen 9 5900X offers up the best gaming performance on the market, surpassing Intel’s 10900K and the disappointing 11900K release. With 12 cores and 24 threads, the latest flagship CPU from team red really does tick all the right boxes.

If you’re looking for a well-balanced mix of high-end gaming and productivity performance, then look no further, the Ryzen 9 5900X is the standout performer in today’s market.

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02
Editor's Intel Choice
Best High-End Intel CPU For Gaming
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Intel 11th Gen Core i9 11900K 768x768 1

Intel Core i9 11900K Rocket Lake CPU

0 /5
Editor's Rating

Intel’s 11th Gen processor marks an improvement over the previous Comet Lake 10900K with rapid single-core clock speeds.

When it comes to choosing the most powerful processor for Intel, the Core i9-11900K is a standout performer. It may not compete well against AMD’s flagship 5900X, but if you’re dedicated to sticking with an Intel CPU it will handle 4K gaming and VR with the minimum of fuss.

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Best Overall Intel CPU
Great Value And Gaming Performance
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11600k

Intel Core i5 11600K Rocket Lake CPU

0 /5
Editor's Rating

The Intel Core i5-11600K is a superb mid-range card and certainly the best offering of the 11th Gen range.

This CPU comes with great single-core performance, vital for gaming, and the best power per price of any CPU on this page. Although it runs hot, it packs a mighty punch, running between 4.1GHz base clock speed to 4.9GHz boost clock.

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Best all-round AMD CPU
A solid gaming CPU that showcases excellent value for money
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AMD Ryzen 5 5600X

0 /5
Editor's Rating

The AMD Ryzen 5 5600X is a solid choice for mid-range gaming builds. You get 6 cores and 12 threads and it can go as fast as 4.8GHz right out the box. With this CPU you can get similar performance to some of the more premium options with a light overclock – making it one of the most sort-after CPUs in this guide.

Despite not matching up to the 11600K in single-core performance or price, the AMD Ryzen 5 5600X is still a decent value mid-range gaming CPUs that won’t break the bank. If you also intend to use the CPU for some multi-core workloads, where it excels – this is where the 5600X excels, pulling significantly ahead of the competition.

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05
The Best Multi-tasking CPU
High-end performance that destroys the competition for productivity workflows
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AMD Ryzen 9 5950X

0 /5
Editor's Rating

Like the look of the 5900X but feel that it doesn’t quite fill your needs for productivity type workflows? Then let me introduce the Ryzen 9 5950X. This CPU almost falls into the HEDT spectrum, offering up 16 cores and 32 threads for the best of both worlds performance.

This HEDT-class CPU offers up some of the best productivity performance the market has to offer. Not only does it blast through any multi-tasking work you may require, it’ll also perform very well in an abundance of modern AAA titles.

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06
Best Gaming APU
The best integrated graphics gaming CPU
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AMD Ryzen 5 3400G

0 /5
Editor's Rating

If you’re looking for a processor that’s cheap and efficient, then look no further – the Ryzen 3400G offers you everything you could want a very impressive price tag. Whilst this APU won’t blow you away in terms of raw gaming performance, it does offer great clock speeds and a quad-core design that is unmatched in value.

The $100-$200 range is where we start mixing with CPUs geared towards lower-end builds. Even though this an APU with integrated graphics, it can still provide a decent gaming experience in esports titles.

The Ryzen 3400G fits that description perfectly and is an excellent CPU for gamers on a tight purse string.

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How We Test & Choose

When choosing our recommendations, whether it’s an ultrawide monitor or a budget gaming mouse, we do extensive research first. Being gamers, we only want to bring the best products to your attention, accompanied by accurate information based on real-world testings. This involves several steps to ensure the highest performance standards are met.

Even though the team is already well versed in the latest hardware offerings, the first thing the team does is make sure nothing new is due for release. We want to keep you up-to-date with the latest hardware offerings, especially when it comes to high-end products.

Next, comes benchmarking. We usually do all of our benchmarking in-house; however, if we can’t get our hands on a particular processor, we’ll scour online sources for gaming CPU benchmarks. With benchmarking, we see what CPUs are doing best in each field and how they stack up against each other. This helps ensure that the processors we suggest are rated highly in the gaming category.

It is important to note that we have purchased all the recommended CPUs (plus a few others) for benchmarking, testing, and a bit of gaming, which enables us to create a clearer picture of what truly is the best CPU for gaming.

Check Out The Best CPU Temperature Monitoring Software Here

Things To Consider

The first thing to consider when choosing your gaming CPU is what you intend to use it for. Just because a CPU is “the best” in one category doesn’t mean it’s the best CPU for you.

But what are you looking for in a CPU? How do you know it’s the one for you? Should it have more cores or faster speeds? Let’s look at a few key factors that may help you decide:

  • Casual/ hardcore gaming
  • Streaming
  • Content creation
  • Overclocking

Black Friday CPUs

Terms To Know

Choosing a CPU can be daunting for first-time buyers, and there are a few things you should consider before buying one. You wouldn’t want to buy one of AMD’s latest Ryzen chips and find out it isn’t compatible with the rest of your system!

There are a lot of terms that get thrown around in regards to CPUs, so let’s go over some of the most common phrases before breaking down what the best gaming CPU is.

Cores And Threads

A processor is made up of cores and threads. Nowadays, CPUs have multiple cores which allows them to do multiple tasks, think of it as the literal embodiment of the old saying; two heads are better than one.

The computer treats threads as virtual CPUs. The amount of threads is the number of tasks each core can handle. Threads can only do one thing at a time, but they can switch extremely fast. As such, threads serve as an efficient way for your CPU to effectively switch between handling multiple tasks.

Clock Speed

Clock speed, sometimes known as cycle speed, refers to how many cycles a core will perform every second. This is measured in megahertz. So 4MHz would be four million cycles per second.

Processors that are “unlocked” can be overclocked to reach a higher clock speed than their stock speed. However, overclocking has to be done right. If done incorrectly, you might find yourself with a costly paperweight at the end of the day. Nevertheless, it’s a rule of thumb to ask: “Is overclocking worth it?” before doing so.

If you’re unsure which processor you should get, read our article on which CPU do you really need? Or you can check our CPU hierarchy to see a detailed list of CPUs and which category they belong to.

Cores And Clock Speed Combined

Together these will give you a general idea about how well the processor in question will perform, but let’s delve a little deeper. For instance, IPC (instructions per cycle) tells us how many actions can be taken every cycle and is often much harder to find. Moreover, specific tasks utilize fewer cores, like gaming, which means you’ll want strong single-core performance (it’s still good to have at least four cores for gaming, though). On the other hand, tasks such as video rendering utilize a lot of resources, meaning you’ll want extra cores (at least eight +) for a smooth experience.

Ultimately, this is why we always benchmark the CPUs and test processors performing different types of tasks.

Socket Types

The socket is the physical mount on your motherboard that holds the processor in place. As such, the first thing you’re going to want to check is that the socket on your motherboard matches your processor (or vice versa!).

Each brand and (sometimes) line of processors have their own socket type and won’t fit in an alternative one. For example, an AMD Ryzen 7 uses the AM4 socket type and won’t fit into Intel’s LGA 1151 socket.

If you’re purchasing a new CPU and a new motherboard together, check the specs to make sure they’re both the same socket type (I suggest deciding on your processor first, then find a matching motherboard).

If you’re upgrading one or the other, check the specs online and make sure the new piece of hardware matches up accordingly.

Chipsets

Each processor will have a set of chipsets that it’s compatible with. These chipsets are important when choosing your motherboard, as they determine whether or not some features will be disabled.

The more advanced the chipset, the more features that will be unlocked (More PCIe lanes, more USB 3.1 ports, SATA ports, etc.). As with the socket types, check your hardware specs to see what chipsets are compatible, and what each one will unlock on your board.

For example:

Terms To Know

Choosing a CPU can be daunting for first-time buyers, and there are a few things you should consider before buying one. You wouldn’t want to buy one of AMD’s latest Ryzen chips and find out it isn’t compatible with the rest of your system!

There are a lot of terms that get thrown around in regards to CPUs, so let’s go over some of the most common phrases before breaking down what the best gaming CPU is.

Cores And Threads

A processor is made up of cores and threads. Nowadays, CPUs have multiple cores which allows them to do multiple tasks, think of it as the literal embodiment of the old saying; two heads are better than one.

The computer treats threads as virtual CPUs. The amount of threads is the number of tasks each core can handle. Threads can only do one thing at a time, but they can switch extremely fast. As such, threads serve as an efficient way for your CPU to effectively switch between handling multiple tasks.

Clock Speed

Clock speed, sometimes known as cycle speed, refers to how many cycles a core will perform every second. This is measured in megahertz. So 4MHz would be four million cycles per second.

Processors that are “unlocked” can be overclocked to reach a higher clock speed than their stock speed. However, overclocking has to be done right. If done incorrectly, you might find yourself with a costly paperweight at the end of the day. Nevertheless, it’s a rule of thumb to ask: “Is overclocking worth it?” before doing so.

If you’re unsure which processor you should get, read our article on which CPU do you really need? Or you can check our CPU hierarchy to see a detailed list of CPUs and which category they belong to.

Cores And Clock Speed Combined

Together these will give you a general idea about how well the processor in question will perform, but let’s delve a little deeper. For instance, IPC (instructions per cycle) tells us how many actions can be taken every cycle and is often much harder to find. Moreover, specific tasks utilize fewer cores, like gaming, which means you’ll want strong single-core performance (it’s still good to have at least four cores for gaming, though). On the other hand, tasks such as video rendering utilize a lot of resources, meaning you’ll want extra cores (at least eight +) for a smooth experience.

Ultimately, this is why we always benchmark the CPUs and test processors performing different types of tasks.

Socket Types

The socket is the physical mount on your motherboard that holds the processor in place. As such, the first thing you’re going to want to check is that the socket on your motherboard matches your processor (or vice versa!).

Each brand and (sometimes) line of processors have their own socket type and won’t fit in an alternative one. For example, an AMD Ryzen 7 uses the AM4 socket type and won’t fit into Intel’s LGA 1151 socket.

If you’re purchasing a new CPU and a new motherboard together, check the specs to make sure they’re both the same socket type (I suggest deciding on your processor first, then find a matching motherboard).

If you’re upgrading one or the other, check the specs online and make sure the new piece of hardware matches up accordingly.

Chipsets

Each processor will have a set of chipsets that it’s compatible with. These chipsets are important when choosing your motherboard, as they determine whether or not some features will be disabled.

The more advanced the chipset, the more features that will be unlocked (More PCIe lanes, more USB 3.1 ports, SATA ports, etc.). As with the socket types, check your hardware specs to see what chipsets are compatible, and what each one will unlock on your board.

For example:

Chipsets

AMD Ryzen 7 2700 supported chipsetsIntel Core i7-8700K supported chipsets
A300B360
A320H370
B350H310
B450Q370
X370Z370
X470

Hardcore Gaming Builds

Sometimes, you want to build a powerful gaming rig. You don’t care about streaming or content creation. Your bottom line is getting those high FPS numbers.

When it comes to a pure gaming build, speed is your friend. Unlike highly taxing programs and tasks, games aren’t as dependant on CPU cores and threads. Anything quad-core or higher is sufficient for gaming.

Most games will run on a dual-core processor, but more and more games are starting to require a quad-core or higher to install and run. That being said, most modern-day CPUs come equipped with at least 4-cores.

For a hardcore gaming build, I would suggest looking for processors that have at least the following speeds:

Pure Gaming Builds

 High-end buildMid-range buildBudget build
Clock Speed4.0 Ghz or higher3.5 Ghz or higher3.0 Ghz or higher
Core/Thread Count6C/12T4C/8T2C/4T

Pairing a fast processor with a good SSD, a powerful graphics card, and some quality RAM will really increase your FPS overall.

Casual Gaming

Maybe you don’t care about high FPS figures or saving your content for the world to see. Perhaps you’re more the casual type, the type who just likes to game now and then in your free time. AAA games titles aren’t really your thing, and you don’t require all that processing power.

If all you’re looking for is a gaming build that will run some low-intensive steam games and esports titles, then a casual gamer setup might be more suited to your needs. Typically, a casual gaming build doesn’t need the latest hardware offerings. It’s also much more affordable than a hardcore gaming build.

When looking for a casual gaming CPU, you should look for one that is at least a quad-core if your budget allows. It also doesn’t need to be extremely fast.

Let’s see what you should be looking for:

Casual Gaming

 High-end buildMid-range buildBudget build
Clock Speed3.5 Ghz or higher3.0 Ghz or higher2.5 Ghz or higher
Core/Thread Count6C/12T4C/8T4C/4T

Streaming

A growing trend over the last five years has been to stream and share gaming content. Platforms like YouTube and Twitch are hugely popular amongst the gaming community at the moment, and more people seem to be jumping on the stream build bandwagon. This, however, can be somewhat taxing on your processor if you don’t have a sufficient amount of power.

This means you’re going to need a processor with more cores and threads than your typical hardcore gaming build. Here’s what you should look for if you’re thinking about building a computer for gaming and streaming:

Streaming

 High-end buildMid-range buildBudget build
Clock Speed4.0 Ghz or higher3.5 Ghz or higher3.0 Ghz or higher
Core/Thread8C/16T6C/12T5C/8T

Having a higher core and thread count will help your computer multitask, allowing it to record your game as well as process and everything else that’s going on in the background without the lag.

Content Creation

Let’s say you’ve already got a following on your YouTube channel/ Steam account, and you’re ready to kick production up to the next level and start creating better videos.

You’ve decided to build a PC that can do it all. It needs to be capable of gaming, streaming, and pumping out good quality videos. This is going to require more computing power.

You’re going to need a high core and thread count with fast speeds so that you can render your content as quickly as possible. Here’s what to look for if you want your gaming computer to be an all-round beast:

Content Creation

 High-end buildMid-range buildBudget build
Clock Speed4.0 Ghz or higher3.5 Ghz or higher3.0 Ghz or higher
Core/Thread Count8C/16T6C/12T4C/8T

Overclocking

Perhaps you’ve had a gaming machine for a while, and you’re looking to upgrade with overclocking in mind. Maybe you want to get into overclocking and push your current system to its limits?

If you’re looking to overclock an Intel CPU, you’ll have to buy a model that ends in a “K,” such as the Intel i9-9900K, that currently resides in our $2,000 build.

You have less to worry about with an AMD CPU, all Ryzen models (which is AMD’s current gaming line) are unlocked for overclocking.

That being said, there isn’t a great amount of overclocking headspace to be gained from Ryzen chips because they are so well optimized out-the-box.

K, KF, KS: Which Is Best For You?

One of the big questions we get asked when referencing Intel CPUs is, what is the difference between K, KF, and KS SKUs? Luckily, the differences between the three are only small, and, nine times out of ten, probably won’t sway your purchasing decision.

Intel’s K CPUs are possibly the most common in this list. The K SKUs simply refer to CPUs that can be overclocked and come with integrated graphics.

KF SKUs are very similar to the K, only KF does not come with any form of integrated graphics. They still have the exact same amount of overclocking potential.

Lastly, we have KS. KS is slightly different, referencing specially selected (binned) CPUs that have much higher overclocking headspace. KS are usually more expensive than the previous SKUs as they house the potential for much greater performance.

Ryzen Or Intel: Which Is Better For Gaming?

Thanks to AMD making huge waves in the CPU spectrum over the last couple of years, we now get asked hundreds of questions on whether Ryzen is now better for gaming over Intel. And, thankfully, the answer is still pretty simple.
Despite AMD improving massively when it comes to gaming performance, Intel still holds the crown for best gaming CPU. That being said, the gap has narrowed exponentially in the last couple of years, with AMD now offering very good gaming performance to its users.

I suppose choosing your next CPU comes down to the following thoughts; if you’re looking for all-out gaming performance and nothing else, choose an Intel. However, if you want good gaming performance but also require high levels of multitasking performance on the side, AMD is definitely the one to go for.

Best CPU For Gaming In 2021

01
Editor's AMD Choice
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Editor's Intel Choice
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03
Best Overall Intel CPU
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04
Best all-round AMD CPU
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The Best Multi-tasking CPU
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Best Gaming APU
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In-depth Review

01
Editor's AMD Choice
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Pros

PCIe 4.0 Support

Unlocked Overclocking

Compatible With 500-series Motherboards

Fantastic Gaming Performance

Excellent single and multi-core performance

Cons

Expensive price tag

Does not offer integrated graphics

It took AMD a while, but finally, they’re at the top of the CPU hierarchy with their extremely impressive Ryzen 9 5900X. This CPU pretty much does it all – gaming performance, overclocking, productivity work, the lot. If you’re looking for the best all-round CPU on the market, look no further – team red have you covered.

The flagship CPU from AMD offers up uncontested gaming performance and fantastic multi-tasking productivity work – all of which is great for gaming, streaming, rendering, and video editing. When you pair that alongside its current price tag, you’d have to say that the 5900X also shows some of the best value in today’s market too.

The 5900X is a 12 core 24 thread part, offering up a 3.7GHz base frequency right out of the box. Furthermore, with PBO, the 5900X can be boosted to 4.8GHz when it needs the additional power most – think gaming or productivity type workflows. AMD, like always, have unlocked the Ryzen 9 5900X for excellent overclocking capabilities, with many users hitting 5.0GHz respectively. This all translates to very good performance in gaming – with single-core performance having the ability to push 100FPS + in the most demanding of modern titles.

The flagship offering also brings excellent future-proofing to your new build, supporting PCIe 4.0 for the next generation of hardware that’s just around the corner. You’ll be able to slot the 5900X into newer 500-series boards alongside older 400-series alternatives, making it not only powerful but versatile too. The only downside is the lack of a cooler – something that AMD’s more budget-oriented alternatives don’ have to worry about.

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Editor's Intel Choice
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Pros

High clock speeds

Great overclocked headspace

Excellent single-core performance

Cons

Outperformed by AMD, particularly for multi-tasking

Expensive price point

Underwhelming generational improvement

The 11th gen 11900K is the successor to the 10th gen Intel i9-10900K, utilizing the new ‘Rocket Lake’ architecture as opposed to the ‘Comet Lake’ of the older CPU. The initial release of the 11900K was very disappointing and the processor did little more than match the 10900K in many areas, despite being $50 more expensive. However, one or two BIOS updates since the launch and the 11900K performs up to 10% faster.

The 11900K comes with a 125W TDP which, yes is higher than the AMD counterpart – meaning it does get a little toasty under the hood. The 11900K is compatible with either the older LGA 1200 socket or with the new X590 chipset. In what may a surprise to some, the 11900k actually has 2 fewer cores than the preceding Core i9 10900K with just 8 cores and 16 threads; however most games don’t use the 10 cores of the 10900K, so Intel’s strategy has been to focus on what actually matters for gaming performance. Intel has put their efforts into architectural improvements, including on its cache. The 11900K has nearly doubled its L1 and L2 cache size per core to 96 KB and 512 KB respectively, even as the overall L3 cache has reduced somewhat to 16MB from the 20MB of the 10900K.

Despite this though, there’s no avoiding that overall 11900K is inferior to AMD’s Ryzen 9 5900K flagship, despite retailing for around the same price: although it can compete fairly well with the AMD Ryzen 9 5900x on certain games thanks to its strong single-core performance, overall the 5900K still beats it, and with regards to multicore performance, the 5900K trounces it. Still, if you’re a blue team die-hard, the 11900K is still a powerful CPU. If you’re looking to save a bit of money, the older 10900K may also still also be worth considering if you can pick it up for a decent price (we’ve seen it go for up to $70 cheaper).

03
Best Overall Intel CPU
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Pros

Superior single core performance

Respectable multi-core performance for the price

Superb CPU for gaming

Great value for money

Cons

Runs hot, requiring more expensive cooling

Another of Intel’s latest arrivals comes in the shape of their i5-11600K – their latest mid-range offering. This CPU comes equipped with a much more affordable price tag, but don’t let that fool you, it comes jam-packed with performance, including plenty of overclocking to boot.

The i5-11600K offers up 6 cores and 12 threads, the same as its predecessor the 10900K, but improvements to the architecture bring significant improvements in performance, with up to 30% increase in FPS on some titles. Although AMD’s 5600X still beats the card in multi-core tests, making it the better CPU in this price range for workstation uses, the 11900K RRPs for around $80 cheaper at just $269, which is a massive saving. On top of this, the 11600K typically (though not in all cases) beats the 5600X in single core and gaming scenarios.

This performance is thanks to the impressive 4.2GHz base clock speed of the 11600K, with a tasty max single core boost frequency of 4.9GHz. If you’re into overclocking, there’s also a ton of potential to be had by doing so with this chip. Pushing it up to 5.3GHz is not out of the question, putting it right up there with the likes of the 10900K, but be aware you will need a pricey cooling rig to do so. Even pre-overclocking the 11600K runs hot, which is the only real drawback of this chip, and this does necessitate slightly more being spent on cooling, eating into the savings somewhat.

Nevertheless, assuming you have an LGA 1200 socket motherboard (the chipset is not backward compatible) you won’t go far wrong picking this processor for your gaming rig. Overall, as far as gaming is concerned, at this price range, you’ll struggle to find anything that can match the 11600K’s performance. A fantastic CPU from Intel.

04
Best all-round AMD CPU
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Pros

High performance in both single and multi-core scenarios

Great gaming performance

Doesn’t require an elaborate cooling solution

Comes with a cooler

Cons

More expensive than previous generations

The 5600X was one of the most anticipated CPUs to be released when Ryzen announced their 5000 series CPU lineup – mainly thanks to some impressive benchmarking rumors. It came to the table offering a shocking mix of Intel-beating value and performance in both gaming and workflow scenarios. If you’re looking for a well-priced CPU that can smash out AAA game titles at over 100fps and has excellent multi-tasking abilities, the 5600X should be high on your list of recommendations. It’s the very reason why it finds itself in our list of best CPUs for gaming.

Price/performance, this chip is one of the best we’ve seen in a long time. It has a base clock speed of 4.1GHz alongside a 4.8GHz boost clock frequency – putting it next to some of the top performers in this guide. Furthermore, with a 19% increase in IPC, this thing really does leave the last generation of 3000 series CPUs in the dust. It comes with its own CPU cooling fan which AMD says is newly designed with excellent efficiency and almost no noise output – a feature the premium CPU options in AMD’s 5000 series lineup can’t boast.

Overall, whilst the 11600K offers better single-core performance at a cheaper RRP, the 5600X is still one of the best CPUs you can get at this respective price point.

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The Best Multi-tasking CPU
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Pros

Good overclocking headspace

High out-the-box clock frequencies

Solid price-per-core value

Very power efficient

Cons

Very expensive

Beaten by alternatives for gaming performance

No integrated graphics

From a gaming standpoint, the Ryzen 9 5950X isn’t quite as good as the 5900x or 10900K. That being said, it still offers very good performance and actually outperforms them both when it comes to multi-tasking type workflows.

The 5950X is another step in the HEDT direction for desktop CPUs – offering up 16 cores and 32 threads for truly unparalleled workstation performance in this guide. Unlike HEDT’s though, you won’t have to purchase a custom board to run this bad boy, it’ll slot right into your AM4 motherboard without a hitch.

In terms of raw gaming performance, the 5950X does show a decent account of itself in this guide. Whilst it’s not as good as the 10900K or 5950X, it still offers very stable FPS figures when playing modern AAA titles. With a base clock frequency of 3.4GHz and boost up to 4.9GHz, you’ll have more than enough juice to drive the most intense of rendering and multi-tasking workflows.

All being said, this is an excellent all-round CPU – but mainly tailored towards the individual that really needs that extra productivity performance. Gamers will be better suited towards fewer cores and higher single-core performance.

06
Best Gaming APU
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Pros

Extremely well priced, powerful APU with onboard VEGA 11 graphics

Compatible with 300/400 series AM4 motherboards

Get 30fps on most AAA games titles (with optimized graphics)

Cons

Bios update needed if you want to use older motherboards

The Ryzen 5 3400G is AMD’s leading flagship APU and features their impressive Vega 11 graphics. This CPU offers some of the best price-to-performance value on the market, giving first-time gamers an extremely cheap avenue to play less-intensive titles

The 3400G is the successor to the highly-rated 2400G, bringing a faster base clock speed of 3.7GHz to the table – including the ability to boost up to 4.2GHz. The new line of CPUs comes with AMD’s latest Wraith cooler, meaning not only will you get excellent cooling right-out-the-box, but you also won’t need to splash out on an aftermarket CPU cooler either.

In terms of performance, the VEGA 11 graphics can provide solid frame rates in games such as CS:GO, LOL, and DOTA 2 if the settings are on low-medium. If you’re looking to play more intensive games in 1080p and above, you may struggle to hit the frames needed for smooth gameplay.

These chips run best with fast RAM, so be sure to pair this with at least 3000MHz or above. We have run numerous tests on the 3400G in the past, with all results concluding faster RAM is better for performance.

Ultimately, if you want to game but are on an extremely strict budget, this is probably the way to go.

Related CPU Page

If you need more information on what the best CPU option for you is, then check out our thorough guides to the best CPUs for your requirements below.

You can also check out our great CPU cooler guides:

FAQs

What type of CPU is best for gaming?

When it comes to choosing the best CPU for gaming, our top choice is the AMD Ryzen 9 5900x. Not only are they compatible with AMD GPUs that are some of the best on the market, they provide a great performance too.

The AMD Ryzen 9 5900X has a total of 12 cores and 24 threads, both of which surpass the amount needed for gaming. Given this, the CPU will be able to multitask well, and run games with no issues.

It is one of AMD’s flagship CPUs, and it is easy to see why. The clock and core speeds are great, and it features all the specifications you will need in order to game well.

When it comes to choosing a CPU, while there are many competitors available to choose from, the two you will want to consider are AMD and Intel. While gamers will have their specific preferences, AMD often provides better options.

Before choosing a CPU, you will need to take into consideration your build. Components such as your motherboard and GPU will have an effect on the type of CPU you can purchase and the compatibility.

Does CPU really matter for gaming?

Yes, when it comes to gaming the CPU does matter. While it may not be the most important factor to consider, it still needs to perform well enough to run games with no issues.

For gaming, you will want a CPU that has a sufficient amount of cores and threads. If you are planning to stream, or listen to music while you are gaming, you will need a CPU with significantly good multitasking.

In general, for gaming, the higher the amount of cores and threads a processor has, the better it will be. If there are not enough present, the CPU will become slow and will struggle to load larger games.

A lot of gamers tend to focus mainly on the performance of their GPU. While this is important, your CPU is important in the running of your computer. You will need to take into consideration aspects such as clock speeds, and cache too.

How much CPU do I need for gaming?

When looking at the specifications of a CPU, there are a few things that you will need to take into consideration. While you should always try and choose the best possible specifications within your price range, there is a set amount of cores and threads that your CPU should have at a minimum.

The minimum amount of cores and threads needed is 4 cores, and 4 threads. However, the optimum amount of cores is 6, and the threads is 12. This is to allow your games to run as best as possible.

When looking at other specifications, you will want the CPU to have clock speeds of around 3.5 GHz, and around 6 MB of cache.

Should I upgrade CPU or GPU first?

When it comes to upgrading your PC, your priority should always be to upgrade your GPU first. As this is the most important component for gaming, it is always worth choosing the best possible GPU within your budget.

The better the GPU is, the better it will be able to run newer, next-gen games. As with all PC components, as the years progress, the parts will begin to become less future proof.

With the constant release of better technology, and games, the GPU is the most important aspect to consider. However, with future proofing, over time, you should consider upgrading your CPU to ensure that it can handle demanding game play.

Is RAM or CPU more important for gaming?

The CPU is far more important for gaming in comparison to RAM. While RAM is important, as long as you have the sufficient amount needed, which is around 8 GB, there is no need for it to be upgraded.

With the CPU, as it is the brain of the PC, it needs to be good enough to run games, and delegate tasks without any issues. Given this, it is far more important as your gameplay will be impacted more if you do not have a good CPU in comparison to RAM.

Final Word

Choosing the best CPU for gaming can be a fun and rewarding experience, but it can also be a challenge. Now that you’re familiar with the best gaming CPUs of 2020, it should hopefully make an informed decision when it comes to buying a lot easier. Don’t forget to pick the right cooling solution for your CPU to ensure it runs at optimal levels at all times!

Deciding which gaming CPU you’re going to get will come down to what your personal needs are going to be. Using this list should help you decide which one is best for you.

If you’re looking for the fastest processor for gaming, then you’re going to want to be looking at the Intel Core i9-11900K.

Maybe your needs lie elsewhere, and you want an all-round balanced processor. In this case, you may want to consider the Ryzen 9 3900X as no other processor on this list will beat its multitasking capabilities

For a solid, mid-range, gaming-only PC, the reasonably priced Intel Core i5-10600K will give you great bang for your buck

Perhaps you’re on a tight budget and need a CPU that is going to handle low-intensive esports titles. If that’s the case, we recommend the Ryzen 5 3400G

So what do you think? Did we leave out a CPU that should’ve made the list? Let us know what you think, and we’ll get back to you!

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