Over the years, gaming has changed exponentially. Once upon a time, games were known to rely more heavily on the CPU when it came to system requirements. However, thanks to the way gaming has evolved over time, that is no longer the case - in most scenarios.
Nowadays, games rely much more heavily on the GPU when it comes to in-game performance and frame rates. That being said, there are still a few games that put similar levels of demand on the CPU as they do the GPU.
The following guide will be a closer look at some of the most CPU intensive games out there, followed by a few noteworthy CPUs that are more than capable of handling the demand they require.
So, with that in mind, let’s waste no further time and dive straight into it!
Total War: Warhammer 2
As many know, Total War: Warhammer 2 is one of the latest versions to arrive in the hugely-popular Total War series. The strategy game developed by Creative Assembly is a turn-based, time tactics strategy game that sees users take control of an empire and try to take over the world. This particular version is set in the Warhammer Universe, bringing with it a much deeper backstory than you’d usually expect from a game within the Total War series.
The physical gameplay of Warhammer 2 is broken up into two clear areas; one being the building and management of your army, the other is actually taking your army to battle and facing off against enemies.
Whilst the latter is the most fun from a player’s standpoint, it’s also the most taxing when it comes to the demand it places on your CPU. The size of the two armies obviously plays a major role in this particular department, with larger armies requiring more CPU power to run at optimal levels. Ultimately, Total War: Warhammer 2 is a fantastic game, however, it’s one of the most demanding when it comes to your CPU. For those looking to gain a few extra FPS, we recommend turning down some of the in-game settings, including resolution and texture detailing.
Best CPU for Total War: Warhammer 2
Seeing as though Total War: Warhammer 2 is one of the most CPU demanding games out there, you're going to need one of the most powerful CPUs to drive it - especially those large battle scenes that can scale 1000s of units. For that reason, we've gone for the 3900X as the best CPU to go for when it comes to this specific game. It's going to have more than enough power to drive large armies and should scale well with the Ryzen's high core count.
Rainbow Six Siege - Single-Core
Rainbow Six Siege is a highly-competitive online tactical first-person shooter game developed by Ubisoft. It was first released back in December of 2015 and quickly climbed the ranks amongst the competitive gaming scene, soon becoming one of the biggest online games out there.
The classic Counter-Strike format focuses teams on attack and defense style situations, with players having to complete various missions such as rescuing hostages or defusing a bomb in order to win the round.
Whilst this game is fairly basic in terms of design and function, it’s part of the older generation of games that demand more from the CPU than it does the GPU. Whilst this is great for people playing on PCs that don’t accommodate a high-performance GPU, it can still be taxing for those that can’t support single-thread performance. Like always, if you’re looking to gain a few extra frames per second, we recommend toning down the resolution and some of the shadow detailing settings.
Best CPU For Rainbox Six Siege
The Ryzen 3300X is a fine choice for the lesser-intensive Rainbow Six Siege. It offers up good single-core performance and should be able to drive high frame rates in 1080p - the most used resolution when it comes to this older competitive title.
Shadow Of The Tomb Raider
Shadow of the Tomb Raider is an action-adventure video game where the main character, Lara Croft, explores the tropical regions of the Americas in her quest for Paititi - the legendary Inca lost city. Along her way, she’ll be battling the paramilitary organization, Trinity, and racing to end a Mayan apocalypse that she unleashed.
As always, Lara must traverse the dense landscape during her mission, combating enemies using both firearms and stealth - looting as she goes. You’ll be exploring semi-open hubs and raid challenging tombs to unlock new rewards and side missions, whilst scavenging for resources which can be used for craft materials and useful items.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider is the latest in the long line of games to come out of the Tomb Raider series, and one that is particularly taxing on your CPU. Whilst this game offers up some of the highest levels of immersion you can experience from an action-adventure game, it also applies some of the most demanding pressure on your hardware too. Like a lot of modern open-world titles that utilize complex, heavily-populated scenes, Shadow of the Tomb Raider can be particularly taxing on your CPUs performance. During benchmarking, the jump in performance from 4 cores to 6 cores yielded almost 20% performance gains. After this, the performance increase was much less apparent. Ultimately, Shadow of the Tomb Raider is an extremely demanding game when it comes to CPU performance.
Best CPU For Shadow Of The Tomb Raider
Shadow of the Tomb Raider is a fairly demanding title, requiring good multi-core processing to drive the highest frame rates possible. For that reason, we've opted for the 3600 as a well-balanced, affordable CPU option for this game. It not only offers good single-core performance and overclocking ability, but it also takes full advantage of SOTTR's demand for numerous cores.
Far Cry 5 - Single-core
Far Cry 5 was released back in 2018 and is a first-person shooter action game published by Ubisoft. The game is based in Hope County, a fictional region of Montana, and surrounds a doomsday cult led by its powerful leader, Joseph Seed.
Your character is an unnamed junior deputy sheriff who quickly becomes trapped inside this hostile region and has to join forces with factions of a resistance to help liberate the county from Seed’s rule.
This hugely popular first-person shooter is based in an open-world environment in which players can explore the landscape freely via foot and various vehicles. Whilst exploring, you have to take on Seed’s army and Edge Gate to try and reclaim the region. You have access to a number of different explosive weapons in order to achieve this goal, with an added emphasis on close-combat for this particular title in the series.
Unlike most of the other titles in this article, Far Cry 5 seems to thrive on single-core performance. Whilst others have their AI spread across numerous cores and threads, Far Cry 5 seems to focus all its demands on one core. This is great for Intel CPUs as they excel in this area, however, for AMD users, you might not be so happy - especially if you’re using one of the less powerful offerings.
Best CPU For Far Cry 5
For Far Cry 5, We've opted for the Intel Core i5-10600K, one of the best gaming CPUs out there. With excellent single-core performance, you won't be bottlenecked by the demand this more-intensive title puts on your system. It'll also drive high resolution and high graphical settings if paired with a great GPU.
Red Dead Redemption 2
The massively popular Rockstar Games title is a prequel to the 2010 game Red Dead Redemption, set in an 1899 fictionalized version of the wild west. The game revolves around the outlaw Arthur Morgan, a member of the Van der Linde gang, who is currently surviving the decline of the west and battling government forces, rival gangs, and a number of other adversaries as he goes.
The action-adventure game is played in both first and third-person perspective, with an open-world style which allows players to roam freely on foot or horse. It offers up a single-player campaign mode alongside a less-popular online mode where players can roam landscapes and engage in combat with enemies via close combat, firearms, and explosives.
Being an open-world title, the game puts most of its demand on the CPU - albeit still requiring decent graphics. Unlike the previous title which makes better use of single-core performance, Red Dead Redemption 2 is better equipped with multi-core CPUs - specifically 6-8 cores.
Best CPU For Red Dead Redemption 2
Lastly, we have Red Dead Redemption 2. Like Total War, this is another highly demanding game that requires the highest performing CPU to run optimally. For that reason, we again think the 3900XT is the choice to go for. With a high core count and excellent clock frequency, this game will be running smoother than ever.
Best CPUs For CPU Demanding Games
So, these are some of the most CPU demanding games out there right now, but they're not the only ones. And, who knows what kind of games will be released in the future - making sure you have the best CPU for these demanding games is always worthwhile. So, with that in mind, even though many of the above titles can be played on lesser components, to get the best experience from your games, we recommend one of the following CPUs. We've broken the CPUs into specific price categories, including info on roughly how they should perform.
For low-intensive games such as CS:GO and Rainbow Six Siege, the 3300X will serve you well. Using 1080p and medium graphics should yield around 60FPS in these titles.
For more intensive games that require multi-core performance, the Ryzen 5 3600 is an excellent CPU choice. It'll push around 100FPS in lesser titles and will provide good performance for games that share their AI over several cores/threads.
For the best gaming performance, the Intel Core i5-10600K is one of the best gaming CPUs out there. It offers up great performance right out the box and can be overclocked to similar (single-core) performance to that of the 10900K.
Understanding how games work and what demand they put on your PC is a fairly steep learning curve - especially if you're new to PC building and computers in general. For that reason, we've created a tonne of content around this to try and make your lives that little bit easier. Below, are some of our most popular:
- Best Gaming CPU
- Best GPU for gaming
- Best cheap gaming PC
- How to build a gaming PC
- Video Game Statistics
So, there you have it guys, our comprehensive roundup to the more CPU demanding games in 2020. Whilst there other noticeable mentions in this category - Assassin's Creed Odyssey and Kingdom Come Deliverance to name but a couple - the games we've displayed are some of, if not the, most demanding out there.
If you think we've missed any games out, why not drop us a comment in the section below. Better still, why not head on over to our Community Hub where you can discuss everything games-related with like-minded individuals.