The 8 Best CPUs For Gaming

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This wiki has been updated 15 times since it was first published in October of 2018. While the graphics card gets all the publicity these days, gaming can use significant amounts of CPU power, as well. Depending on what you like to play and the budget you have to work with, there are quite a few models to wade through, and the alphabet soup can quickly get confusing. We've selected the best at running the most demanding software, and offering just the features you'll likely need. When users buy our independently chosen editorial selections, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.

1. AMD Ryzen 5 5600X

2. Intel Core i7-10700K

3. AMD Ryzen 7 3700X

Editor's Notes

January 13, 2021:

Just to be clear, all of these work with recently released motherboards, although there's a longer lifespan of AMD boards because of their backwards compatibility, compared to Intel's practice of each generation or two requiring a new chipset. One caveat to that is that the late-2020 Zen 3-based models like the AMD Ryzen 5 5600X and AMD Ryzen 7 5800X do require a 500-series motherboard at the time of this publication, but in the relatively near future, the 400 series should see firmware updates to allow use of the new lineup.

Also, while Internet forums may disagree with us, the rumors of Intel's demise have been greatly exaggerated. In fact, with the Intel Core i7-10700K and especially Intel Core i5-10600K costing less than their AMD counterparts, Intel is in the unusual position of offering CPUs with better bang for the buck.

November 02, 2018:

You'll notice there are no 200-series CPUs on the list; that's because if you have a 200-series motherboard, it's actually far more cost-effective to invest in a good Z370 mobo, plus a stopgap low-end Coffee Lake CPU. On the other hand, if you have a 300-series board already, the 8th-generation is the all-around top performer for the price. 9th-gen Core CPUs are soldered, too, so overclockers should consider those. Also, welcome AMD back to the game; you can't go wrong with their higher-clocked X-series chips.

4. Intel Core i5-10600K

5. AMD Ryzen 7 5800X

6. Intel Core i5-10400

7. AMD Ryzen 5 3600

8. Intel Core i3-10100

Christopher Thomas
Last updated by Christopher Thomas

Building PCs, remodeling, and cooking since he was young, quasi-renowned trumpeter Christopher Thomas traveled the USA performing at and organizing shows from an early age. His work experiences led him to open a catering company, eventually becoming a sous chef in several fine LA restaurants. He enjoys all sorts of barely necessary gadgets, specialty computing, cutting-edge video games, and modern social policy. He has given talks on debunking pseudoscience, the Dunning-Kruger effect, culinary technique, and traveling. After two decades of product and market research, Chris has a keen sense of what people want to know and how to explain it clearly. He delights in parsing complex subjects for anyone who will listen -- because teaching is the best way to ensure that you understand things yourself.

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