Best CPU For Gaming PC Builds in 2020

A processor is the core component of a computer system and is also one of the most important components for a good gaming experience. During a game, a processor sends the draw calls to the graphics card which then renders the gaming scenery, etc. The games mostly focus on the single-core performance which is why it is very necessary to use a processor that operates at a high frequency. Intel is performing quite better in this area as many of Intel’s new processors can be easily overclocked up to 5.0 GHz. The latest AMD Ryzen processors, on the other hand, have a hard time getting even a 4.3 GHz clock frequency on all cores.

The newer game titles, however, are well optimized in terms of parallel processing and some AAA games can easily use up to 8 threads. This is quite good news for the octa-core processor owners as their processors can finally be utilized completely in gaming. Both AMD and Intel use algorithms for splitting one thread of a core into two threads resulting in increased performance, which is good if you own a processor with low number of cores, however, despite this technology (Intel Hyper-Threading/ AMD Simultaneous-Multi-Threading) being free of cost, it is not used in the latest generation of Intel’s processors on Core-i3/i5 level.

1. Intel Core i7-9800X

Extreme Performance

  • Quad-channel RAM gets handy in memory-intensive games
  • More than twice PCIe lanes than mainstream Intel processors
  • Larger surface area results in a cooler operation
  • Needs expensive X299 platform motherboard
  • Stock clock rates are not very impressive

28 Reviews

Cores : 8 | Threads : 16 | Base Clock : 3.8 GHz | Turbo Clock : 4.5 GHz | No. of Memory Channels : 4 | Socket : LGA-2066 | Lithography : 14 nm | Unlocked : Yes | L3 Cache : 16.5 MB | TDP : 165 W | PCIe Lanes : 44

Intel recently released the ninth generation processors to compete with the AMD’s 2nd generation Zen+ based processors. Core i7-9800X is a HEDT processor which is priced slightly higher than the high-end mainstream processor, Core i7-9900K. Apart from using a different socket, i7-9800X provides us with double the number of memory channels which results in much better frame-rates in the memory-hogging games, especially the minimum frame-rates.

Since this processor requires an X299 motherboard, it is worthy to note that these motherboards cost quite a bit more than the mainstream motherboards. The stock frequency of this processor is not very satisfying which is why one should overclock it to 4.8-5.0 GHz as long as a high-end cooler is used. A good advantage of this processor is that due to a lot of PCIe lanes, the user can even couple it with 2 x 2080 Ti without having a bottleneck in the PCIe lanes.

We observed that the temperatures of this processor were extremely cool, although with an adequate overclocking of 0.4 GHz, the temperatures were greatly increased and reading close to 75C was recorded. As per the gaming performance of this processor is concerned, one can play almost any game at 120+ average FPS which means that it can easily handle high-refresh-rate gaming. If you can afford a luxurious processor like this, you should not delay any longer as there is no substitute for this beauty.

2. Intel Core i7-9700K

Great Value

  • As good as the high-end i7-9800X in most gaming scenarios
  • Top of the line single-core performance
  • No Overclock Needed - comes with high factory-core-clocks
  • Needs to be coupled with high-end coolers
  • No Hyper-Threading in a ~400$ chip

4,254 Reviews

Cores : 8 | Threads : 8 | Base Clock : 3.6 GHz | Turbo Clock : 4.9 GHz | No. of Memory Channels : 2 | Socket : LGA-1151 | Lithography : 14 nm | Unlocked : Yes | L3 Cache : 12 MB | TDP : 95W | PCIe Lanes : 16

Intel Core i7-9700K is a valuable alternative to the extreme series processor i7-9800X with some minor disadvantages. First of all, since it is based on socket LGA-1151, it will work with cheaper Z370/Z390 motherboards. The major disadvantage lies in the memory channels which is why this processor will have much lower memory performance. The latest games like Assassins Creed Odyssey take the memory performance very seriously and can drastically affect the FPS, although the average FPS in most of the games is going to be quite similar to the i7-9800X.

These ninth-generation processors use solder instead of TIM and that is why the thermal performance of these processors is somewhat better than the eighth-generation processors. However, since the clock frequency of 9700K is quite high, it is needed to be coupled with a sophisticated cooler so that the processor is not thermally throttled. This processor can achieve 100+ FPS in even the most CPU-intensive games and provides quite a good value for 144Hz gaming.

3. AMD Ryzen 7 3700X

Low Price

  • A sixteen thread processor was never this cheap
  • The RGB cooler looks fabulous
  • Stunning multi-threaded performance
  • Overclocking demands a 3rd-party cooler

8,680 Reviews

Cores : 8 | Threads : 16 | Base Clock : 3.6 GHz | Turbo Clock : 4.4 GHz | No. of Memory Channels : 2 | Socket : AM4 | Lithography : 7 nm | Unlocked : Yes | L3 Cache : 32 MB | TDP : 65W | PCIe Lanes : 24

AMD’s first-generation Ryzen processors were quite an innovation and a big improvement from the company’s previous generation of processors. It featured a wide range of processors in the mainstream market ranging from low-end quad-core to high-end octa-core processors. The 3rd generation of Ryzen processors improved things greatly over the first and second-generation processors and there was noticed some increase in the core clocks too. Ryzen 7 3700X is one of the finest processors of the Zen2 architecture and due to its low price, provides a great value.

The IPC of this processor is higher than the Intel’s latest generation processors, however, it cannot achieve as high clocks as Intel, which is why the gaming performance is quite similar, with Intel ahead in few titles. Since high-end games are easily utilizing eight threads, this processor takes this thing as a big advantage and is capable of pushing 120+ FPS in most of the games.

The temperatures of this processor at stock clocks were quite good but if you are into overclocking, we will recommend that you use a good enough cooler which will allow you to push it to 4.3 GHz on all cores. If you are into competitive gaming, rest assured, this processor will easily provide you with 150+ FPS in games like Overwatch, PUBG, and Fortnite, as games like these are not very much demanding.

4. Intel Core-i5 9400

Balanced Features

  • Better Performance per Dollar Ratio
  • Efficient with even the stock cooler
  • Powerful integrated graphics cards
  • Upgrading from previous platform requires new motherboard
  • Scant overclocking potential

1,837 Reviews

Cores : 6 | Threads : 6 | Base Clock : 2.9 GHz | Turbo Clock : 4.1 GHz | No. of Memory Channels : 2 | Socket : LGA-1151 | Lithography : 14 nm | Unlocked : No | L3 Cache : 9 MB | TDP : 65 W | PCIe Lanes : 16

Intel Core-i5 9400 is quite similar to Core-i5 8400, which physically had six cores. Previously, i5 processors only provided a maximum of four cores. This processor, despite having a relatively lower clock rate, provides great performance, and even surpass the mighty i7-7700 in some games. The processor comes with its multiplier locked, which means that it will not have any major overclocking potential, however, this also means that the maximum power it will take is around 65-watts and this much heat can be easily dissipated through the provided stock cooler.

We observed that the processor reached around 75 degrees during stress tests with the stock cooler while the temperatures during gaming sessions were much lower. These temperatures are totally fine and you should not worry about the thermals while using this processor. This processor will limit your high-refresh-rate gaming but still, you can couple it with a high-end graphics card and a 100-Hz ultra-wide display for a great gaming experience.

5. AMD Ryzen 5 1600X

Very Low Price

  • Provides best bang for the buck
  • Capable of providing 60 FPS in any game
  • Does not entertain with a stock cooler
  • Requires high-frequency RAMs for adequate performance
  • Integrated graphics could have been helpful

1,134 Reviews

Cores : 6 | Threads : 12 | Base Clock : 3.6 GHz | Turbo Clock : 4.0 GHz | No. of Memory Channels : 2 | Socket : AM4 | Lithography : 14 nm | Unlocked : Yes | L3 Cache : 16 MB | TDP : 95W | PCIe Lanes : 24

AMD Ryzen 5 1600X has gained a lot of popularity among gamers due to its extremely low price and strong performance. We have not included the Ryzen 5 3600 because the performance-gap in these two processors is not worth the price and this processor seems a great choice for budget users. Apart from the number of cores, the processor is similar to the higher-end Ryzen 7 1800X and features the same core clocks and cache size. The X-variant of the processor, unfortunately, does not come with the AMD cooler, which is why you should consider buying at least a cooler with 150 Watts of TDP.

The thermal performance of the processor is quite impressive and with a 240 mm AIO cooler, the processor achieved 4.0 GHz on all cores staying in the 70s. This processor is definitely not suitable for high-refresh-rate gaming but if you own a 4K display, it can surprisingly push 60 FPS in any game at the maximum settings possible.

Bill Wilson

Bill is a certified Microsoft Professional providing assistance to over 500 remotely connected employees and managing Windows 2008 to 2016 servers.