When building a gaming PC, you might think that the GPU determines how powerful your PC becomes. The choice of GPU in building a gaming PC is crucial, but the CPU is equally important in determining how powerful your PC gaming can become. This is because a premium-quality GPU with a mid-range CPU will bottleneck your gaming PC, and the game will start to lag.
The CPU controls the operation of your computer and handles the operational requirements of any game you are playing. That is why you have to pay immense attention in picking the best CPU for assembling your next gaming PC. There are a plethora of CPUs available in the market, so you need a proper guide in picking the best CPU for your gaming PC. Here is a complete buying guide that will help you identify the most powerful CPU for gaming based on important parameters.
How to Choose the Best CPU for Your Next Gaming PC Build?
Here are all the important parameters based on which you can easily decide which is the best CPU you should buy for assembling your gaming PC.
1. Intel and AMD
First of all, you have to decide which CPU brand you should go for. There are two main popular CPU brands – Intel and AMD. Both brands have different generations of processors(CPUs), and every generation has a wide range of processors with varying specifications. For example, you can access Intel Core i3, i5, i7, and i9 generation. Similarly, there is AMZ Ryzen 3, 5, 7, and 9 generations.
We recommend you choose the latest generation of processors from any of these brands for gaming PCs. Even if you choose a previous generation, such as Intel i7 or Ryzen 7 gen, you should opt for the high-end processor of that generation. Check out our recommendations for gaming CPUs from Intel and AMD. All these processors have perfect specifications for building a powerful gaming PC. You can choose any of them as per your budget.
|Intel Core i9 13900K||AMD Ryzen 9 7950X|
|Intel Core i9 13900KF||AMD Ryzen 9 7900X|
|Intel Core i7 13700K||AMD Ryzen 9 7900|
2. Cores and Threads
Cores are the processing units in a CPU. Therefore, the more the number of cores, the more processing the CPU can do at the same time. Along with cores, threads are important as they dictate the tasks performed in each core. The more the number of threads in a CPU, the more the number of tasks the cores of the CPU can process simultaneously.
For a gaming computer, the processor should have at least 12 cores and 24 threads. If you are going to play high-end games, you should opt for higher cores and higher threads for a smooth gaming experience.
|CPUs||Cores and Threads (Number)|
|Intel Core i9 13900K||24 and 32|
|Intel Core i9 13900KF||24 and 32|
|Intel Core i7 13700K||16 and 24|
|AMD Ryzen 9 7950X||16 and 32|
|AMD Ryzen 9 7900X||12 and 24|
|AMD Ryzen 9 7900||12 and 24|
3. Clock Speed and Boost Speed
The clock speed of a CPU determines how fast the processor can process instructions per second. The higher the clock speed, the faster the processor can execute instructions every second. Higher clock speed indicates better multitasking, higher performance, and improved efficiency. The clock speed is measured in gigahertz(GHz).
The clock speed mentioned in any CPU is considered to be the base speed. Under normal circumstances, the CPU will be operating at that base speed. But under intense workload, the CPU needs to work faster to process the instructions timely and not face bottleneck situations. That is when the CPU increases the clock speed beyond the base speed, referred to as boost speed.
When you are playing high-end games, the base speed of the processor may not be enough. That is why your processor needs to be eligible for boost speed to increase its speed as per the demand from the game. Here are the clock and boost speeds for the processors we selected for gaming.
|CPUs||Clock Speed and Boost Speed(GHz)|
|Intel Core i9 13900K||3.0 and 5.8|
|Intel Core i9 13900KF||3.0 and 5.4|
|Intel Core i7 13700K||3.4 and 5.4|
|AMD Ryzen 9 7950X||4.5 and 5.7|
|AMD Ryzen 9 7900X||4.7 and 5.6|
|AMD Ryzen 9 7900||3.7 and 5.4|
CPU cache is the memory space that is present directly integrated into the processor. CPU can fetch data faster from its own cache than RAM even though CPU cache is significantly small in capacity compared to RAM. A CPU cache is important for gaming because there are lots of repetitive instructions from games that the CPU needs to perform.
Therefore, storing data on the CPU cache can help the processor execute repetitive instructions faster than usual. There can be multiple cache memories in one process, which are perceived as L1, L2, & L3 cache memory. The L1 is the quickest cache, while L3 is the slowest. Naturally, the higher the capacity of the CPU cache, the faster the processor can become in executive instructions from games.
|Intel Core i9 13900K||36|
|Intel Core i9 13900KF||36|
|Intel Core i7 13700K||30|
|AMD Ryzen 9 7950X||64|
|AMD Ryzen 9 7900X||64|
|AMD Ryzen 9 7900||64|
5. Integrated Graphics Processing Unit(GPU)
The CPUs designed for gaming, generally come with integrated graphics processing units. Such an integrated GPU is useful in executing regular graphical demands for the running applications. But an integrated GPU is unsuitable for handling high-end games’ high demands. The combination of CPU and GPU integrated on one chip reduces heat generated, uses less power, and costs less.
If no integrated GPU is available in your CPU, you can install a dedicated graphics card on your motherboard. In fact, the performance of a dedicated graphics card is far better than an integrated GPU on your processor. That is why even when there is an integrated GPU on your CPU, you must purchase a dedicated gaming graphics card.
|Intel Core i9 13900K||Intel UHD 770 Graphics|
|Intel Core i9 13900KF||Not Present|
|Intel Core i7 13700K||Intel UHD 770 Graphics|
|AMD Ryzen 9 7950X||AMD Radeon™ Graphics|
|AMD Ryzen 9 7900X||AMD Radeon™ Graphics|
|AMD Ryzen 9 7900||AMD Radeon™ Graphics|
6. Thermal Design Power
The thermal design power is a measurement of the heat that the processor can generate. Heat directly affects the performance of the CPU. Depending on the thermal design power, you have to choose a CPU cooling solution accordingly. Dissipating heat and keeping the processor cool is important so that its performance does not degrade due to components getting heated up.
That is why you have to understand the thermal design power of the CPU you are about to purchase and invest accordingly in purchasing a CPU cooler. You should be purchasing a powerful CPU that has minimum thermal design power. This is because the CPU can perform optimally even when you do not have the best cooling system. Moreover, it can perform overclocking more effectively without facing a thermal bottleneck situation.
|CPUs||Thermal Design Power(W)|
|Intel Core i9 13900K||125|
|Intel Core i9 13900KF||125|
|Intel Core i7 13700K||125|
|AMD Ryzen 9 7950X||170|
|AMD Ryzen 9 7900X||170|
|AMD Ryzen 9 7900||170|
7. Socket Compatibility
The CPU you are about to purchase must be compatible with the motherboard you have already purchased or you are about to purchase. The CPU is the interface that connects the CPU with the motherboard. That is why the CPU can only be compatible with the motherboard when it is compatible with the CPU socket. Different CPUs have different CPU socket compatibility and they are as follows.
|Intel Core i9 13900K||LGA1700|
|Intel Core i9 13900KF||LGA1700|
|Intel Core i7 13700K||LGA1700|
|AMD Ryzen 9 7950X||AM5|
|AMD Ryzen 9 7900X||AM5|
|AMD Ryzen 9 7900||AM5|
Does the CPU Need Overclocking for Gaming?
Certain high-end games demand more than usual for the processor. If the demand is more than the processor can handle under normal circumstances, overclocking is required to boost its performance and meet the demands smoothly. When you purchase a very high-end processor, overclocking will not be required for most of the games.
But a gaming processor must support overclocking because an extraordinary situation can occur where you are playing games, streaming the gameplay, and running other applications. Therefore, the bottom line is that the processor you purchase needs to support overclocking for high-end gaming. The processors we have recommended, support overclocking of the CPU as well as RAM.
To sum it up, you must choose the CPU as dedicatedly as the GPU for your gaming PC. You must choose a high-end CPU of the latest generation from any brand. You must watch out for the number of cores and threads available first. After that, you should opt for a higher cache, a lower thermal design power, and an integrated GPU is a bonus. Lastly, the CPU should have socket compatibility so that it fits into the motherboard perfectly.