The CPU, or Central Processing Unit, is the silicon brain of your gaming PC. Its inherent intelligence will allow that expensive new graphics card you’ve been eyeing to reach its full potential and produce a high quality gaming experience. But, of course, you want powerful performance at a reasonable budget, with plenty of cores for content production, streaming, productivity, and everything else you do with your computer.
It isn’t easy to pick the most significant gaming CPU in 2021 because there are many excellent possibilities. Four cores and eight threads are commonplace, even on low-end processors. In addition, affordable CPUs may deliver excellent single-core gaming performance not only in less intensive games like Fortnite but also in many triple-A titles like Call of Duty: Black Ops – Cold War and CPU-heavy programmes that use all cores. All of this means that those wishing to create content, stream, play games, and use CPU-intensive applications at a low cost have more possibilities than ever before.
Because AMD has opted to compete with Intel in terms of core count, six-core CPUs are becoming more widespread due to this Intel vs AMD struggle. However, despite the prevalence of multi-core CPUs in today’s gaming rigs, the difficulties of optimising games and programmes for many cores means that few game engines are taking full advantage of the powerful CPUs many of us now have in our workstations.
Having the finest graphics card in your rig is still the best way to make games run as smooth as butter, but that doesn’t mean any old processor will suffice. To get the most out of your graphics card, you’ll need a top-of-the-line processor too. So, we’ve compiled a list of our favourites to include in the best gaming PC build.
AMD Ryzen 9 5900X
AMD’s Zen architecture has gotten better with each iteration. Still, the fact that Zen 3 saw a 19% increase in IPC is nothing short of amazing. The most important lesson for us as gamers is that this advancement means AMD can now compete with Intel in gaming.
This processor can handle whatever resolution you’re gaming at and keep your graphics card churning out plenty of frames per second. In addition, the fact that this is a 12-core, 24-thread beast means it can handle whatever else you throw at it. So, suppose you’ve ever fantasised about doing 3D rendering, video editing, or any other processor-intensive activity. In that case, you’ll know you’ve got the raw power to do it. Even better, it won’t slow you down when you’re gaming.
Intel Core I9 10900K
The Intel Core i9 10900K is currently the world’s fastest gaming CPU. Still, its exorbitant price and poor thermal efficiency prevent it from being the most excellent CPU for gaming. Nevertheless, the deca-core from Intel is the most refined processor to pair with your high-end graphics card if money isn’t an issue for you and you have a monster CPU cooler. Of course, an NVMe SSD would be an ideal pairing with this super-fast CPU.
When it comes to upcoming PC games, there isn’t much of a difference between Intel’s top chip and AMD’s lower-cost high-end CPUs in-game, especially at 4K. It’s a fantastic processor in terms of technology and performance. Still, it’s a bit challenging to endorse, especially given AMD’s stiff rivalry.
AMD Ryzen 5 5600X
It’s a fantastic feat of engineering: it outperforms the whole 10th-generation Intel Core line in terms of pure gaming performance, as well as the i5-115600 and i5-11600k. That’s noteworthy because they’re the processor’s direct competitors (and because Intel has long dominated the roost). This success can be attributed to AMD’s ability to optimise their chipsets for modern gaming performance – the only goal of these CPUs from the start.
Intel Core I5 11600K
The Intel Core i5-11600K is a great mid-range card and the best of the 11th Gen lineup. This CPU has the best single-core performance of any CPU on this page, which is essential for gaming and the best power-to-price ratio of any CPU on this page. Although it runs hot, it packs a powerful punch, with a base clock speed of 4.1GHz and a turbo clock of 4.9GHz.
AMD Ryzen 5 3400G
If you’re looking for a low-cost, high-performance processor, go no further! The Ryzen 3400G delivers everything you could want at a competitive price. While this CPU won’t blow you away in terms of sheer gaming performance, it does provide excellent clock rates and a quad-core design at an unbeatable price.
The CPU is one of the most crucial hardware components in your gaming PC. Most people believe it to be the second most important piece of hardware. However, only the GPU has a more significant impact on the total gaming experience. This makes sense because your PC games’ quality, resolution, and frame rates are all controlled by the GPU. Contrary to popular opinion, the CPU plays an integral part in how well your PC runs games, which is why choosing the best CPU for gaming is worthwhile.