The Best CPU For Gaming PC In 2020
This post should serve as your ultimate buying guide to get the best gaming CPUs for 2020 and beyond. CPU/processor has the largest impact on your gaming PC’s capabilities.
The best gaming PC has to be an exhilarating combination of the best processing units capable of offering a robust overall performance, some serious multi-purpose processing juice, and an affordable price tag.
Next to the Graphics card, your CPU/processor has the largest impact on your gaming PC’s capabilities.
So essentially, when you’re out looking to buy the best gaming CPU, you must know how to strike a balance between performance features and your budget.
You must learn how to recognize crippling bottlenecks and avoid them, while also grabbing the vital components that will optimize in-game performance.
This post should serve as your ultimate buying guide to get the best gaming CPUs for 2020 and beyond.
The tips & curated selections we’ve made below should assist you with getting started on your discovery of the best gaming CPU built specifically for your needs.
RECOMENDED: Best CPU For Gaming PC
How to Identify the Best Gaming PC for Your Needs
When choosing your CPU, the following pointers must be considered:
Should You Use Intel or AMD?
If you want to use the most up-to-date parts, the performance debate essentially ends here.
Your satisfaction is guaranteed with either of these two top processors.
Some Intel processors fare better during gameplay, while AMD also handles other tasks such as video editing faster (due largely to extra cores & threads).
Generally speaking, however, most gamers will agree that AMD processors are the better option for gaming currently because they tend to offer better cash value and they have a superior core/thread count to their Intel counterparts.
That said; Ryzen – yet another contender for top CPU processors – is supposedly an excellent choice for gaming presently, since the Ryzen CPUs typically offer improved overall performance for a reasonable amount of money.
Core or Thread Count?
Simply put, a PC with more cores is built to handle several tasks simultaneously.
If your CPU has more cores, it means that it can handle multiple tasks simultaneously.
A single core cannot really multitask; it can merely emulate multitasking by randomly switching between different tasks, which is not a true reflection of real-time performance.
Intel still dominates the single-core CPU performance sector while AMD copes better with multitasking issues.
All things considered, this difference might not matter too much because, during actual gameplay, the variations are insignificant at best.
The issue of enhanced gaming CPUs cannot be discussed fully without touching upon the topic of Overclocking.
Is Overclocking really useful for gaming? Also, which developer does it better?
Overclocking can be described as the process of increasing a CPU’s clock rate so that it runs at an increased pace than it was originally intended to run.
It usually affects the GPU or CPU, but other components of your computer can be Overclocked as well.
To Overclock a computer, its CPU must first be unlocked.
It must be said at this point that Ryzen CPU’s are usually unlocked, while it is only the Intel Core CPUs with the letter “K” written after their model numbers that are unlocked.
You can squeeze more juice out of an unlocked Intel CPU; allowing them to attain higher performance levels than with a locked CPU.
In terms of gaming, the advantages of Overclocking aren’t very obvious, although a CPU that you can Overclock is more futuristic.
Integrated graphics are not exactly a high-priority gaming feature since most mainstream gamers will typically use a dedicated GPU.
Still, if you have a limited budget, you will be pleased to know that integrated graphics can offer a good means of saving funds, so how do AMD and Intel cope with this aspect?
Most Intel Core CPUs feature integrated graphics, except for the latest “F” models.
Also, the UHD in-built graphics chips from Intel are quite basic and are mostly intended for casual use on desktops.
Hence, they don’t perform very well with most games and are usually able to achieve playable framerates only in lower resolutions.
For now, the only Ryzen CPUs that feature integrated graphics are APUs like the Ryzen 3 3200G that has in-built Vega graphics cores.
These CPUs offer significantly improved performance levels than the UHD graphics from Intel.
Hence, if you have a small budget and still want to assemble a gaming PC with no dedicated graphics card, a Ryzen APU is an excellent choice.
Bottlenecking is yet another essential topic to consider if you wish to build the ideal gaming PC. So what is bottlenecking?
A CPU will bottleneck if it cannot perform certain tasks at the pace of other hardware, especially the graphics card.
Common signs of a bottlenecking experience include slowdowns, subpar FPS, or in the worst cases, a stuttering and almost unplayable gaming experience.
Whenever a CPU can’t “keep up with” a stronger GPU, the processing power of the GPU won’t be harnessed to its maximum potential due to the inability of the CPU to transmit instructions quickly enough.
This explains why it is usually a bad idea for you to pair a strong GPU with a weak CPU.
Without any further preamble, we will now proceed to present you with our curated selection of the best gaming CPUs you should own in 2020:
The 8 Best CPUs For Gaming PC In 2020
Image Credit: AMD
The first CPU recommendation on our list comes with a remarkable in-built graphics processing system, given the price.
Also, the Ryzen 3 3200G from AMD isn’t technically a CPU.
Instead, it is more of an APU (Accelerated Processing Unit), a kind of AMD processor that has both GPU and CPU cores, which makes it a well-balanced, multipurpose type of processor.
This is among the latest model of AMD CPUs that have integrated graphics processing — identifiable by 2 chips with serial numbers ending with the letter “G” — developed to provide top-level computing performance for a solid budget.
The only downside here is you get only 4 cores and no multi-threading support, and the integrated Vega 8 graphics card comes with less compute units than the Ryzen 5 version.
With the AMD Ryzen 3 3200G, you can’t lose as it represents good value and a minimal budget.
But, the Ryzen 5 alternative serves up an enhanced performance for only a little more money.
Furthermore, like every other Ryzen CPU and APU from AMD, thus one is unlocked and can satisfy most performance requirements.
The price is 94.99 USD.
Image Credit: Intel
This next minimal budget CPU on our list was developed by Intel and it will run close to 900 of the best PC games available out there.
Its most distinctive feature is the lack of integrated graphics; which also means that it can easily be found and purchased at a lower rate, despite having an official MSRP that is almost the same as the standard i3-9100 models.
The Intel Core i3-9100F CPU features 4 cores and up to 4.2 GHz clock speeds.
With the i3-9100F you’ll have a CPU that performs really well and also has a slight raw performance edge over the aforementioned Ryzen 3 3200G.
Moreover, it outperforms the earlier-generation i3-8100, which makes it a feasible budget alternative if you wish to use an Intel product.
However, this CPU also has some major limitations that eventually make it less tempting than its Ryzen 3 counterpart.
For the most part, the i3-9100F does not feature any in-built graphics; and while this option is not crucial for gaming CPUs, it still remains a suitable feature for any PC.
The price is 82.65 USD.
Image Credit: AMD
We already mentioned earlier in our introduction that the 5 3600 CPU AMD is one of the latest model processors that were developed based on the most up-to-date Zen 2 7nm architecture.
Besides that, these new AMD CPUs still make use of the AM4 socket; thus upgrading from the older Ryzen model to the latest one shouldn’t be a problem.
When it comes down to performance, this 12-thread, 6-core CPU can cope with almost any gaming software you throw at it.
Combine all that with its power-efficient architecture, unlocked CPU, as well as a reasonably affordable price, and you can easily see why this item is rated among the best mid-range CPUs for gaming available on the market right now.
The only drawback here is its restricted Overclocking performance.
The price is 189 USD.
Image Credit: Intel
Introducing the i5-9600K, from Intel.
This ninth-generation CPU represents a solid mid-range contribution from Intel, even though it doesn’t quite stand out when compared to the AMD Ryzen model we’ve spotlighted above.
It is worth noting that the Intel Core i5-9600K CPU will require a Z390 chipset motherboard as well as a good cooler to function properly.
The Core i5-9600K is also powerful enough to handle demanding tasks and applications with about 10 to 15% more speed than the Core i5-8600K, its predecessor, thanks to its architectural enhancements and slightly improved clock speeds.
The i5-9600K CPU is a hexa-core model, and sadly, it does not come with any hyperthreading.
Although, it is an unlocked CPU and can be pushed to attain considerably higher clock rates especially when paired with a suitable cooler.
All these features ultimately make this CPU a practical mid-range selection, in spite of the fact that the AMD model appears to have the advantage on paper.
This is unsurprising since an Intel Hexa-core CPU with no hyperthreading cannot hope to compete against the12-thread CPU from AMD in terms of multi-tasking.
Still, Intel’s i5-9600K CPU has a slightly superior single-core performance, which can be amplified even further.
The price is 189.99 USD.
Image Credit: AMD
This is a High-end CPU which features 8 cores & 16 threads; hence, providing an opportunity for superior multi-core performance.
It has a Zen 2 architecture which makes it quite power efficient and its substantial thread count makes this CPU a viable workstation.
Furthermore, while its Overclocking performance still won’t be able to compete with its Intel kin, an impressive RGB Wraith Prism cooler has been paired with the CPU, so there’s really no need to pay out extra for any third-party cooler.
Overall, the Ryzen 7 3700X represents an attractive high-end solution for people who desire to own a more robust and potentially futuristic gaming CPU.
It features a considerable amount of threads and serves up an outstanding multi-threaded performance, even though it is still lagging behind Intel in terms of single-threaded tasks.
The price is 324.99 USD.
Image Credit: Intel
This next CPU is the closest rival to AMD’s Ryzen 7 3700X model.
Also, like its AMD 7 3700X counterpart, this CPU is an improvement on the 5 3600 model or the i7-9700K Ryzen CPU models.
You will be pleased to discover that it has up to 8 cores. Sadly, however, it still does not come with any hyperthreading.
But just like its Ryzen counterpart, the Intel Core i7-9700k CPU can also boast of vast Overclocking potentials.
Thanks to its 8 physical cores, Intel’s i7-9700K CPU provides superb multi-core performance which allows it to maintain the edge it has over the CPU line-up from AMD in terms of single-core tasks.
Overall, its Overclocking potential is probably what makes this a worthwhile gaming CPU, although this means you should also invest in top-quality cooling, as well.
This is arguably one of the most improved CPU models available in Intel’s current lineup.
Image Credit: AMD
Let us introduce you to the breathtaking Ryzen 9 3900X CPU!
This particular model of CPU represents the first real attempt by AMD in recent years to compete with Intel in the enhanced gaming market for regular desktop computers – and is it an excellent contribution!
This Zen 2 integrated CPU can boast of a substantial thread count, along with 24 threads and 12 physical cores, providing an almost unparalleled multi-core performance – when it comes to mainstream desktop processors.
With the Ryzen 9 3900X, you can discover firsthand why this CPU is widely regarded as the embodiment of AMD’s success in recent years.
This is clearly a remarkable CPU that is priced competitively but will deliver awesome rewards for your investment on most fronts.
Also, if you want to get a CPU that can also run more demanding, specialized software besides just gaming, then you should look to the 3900X CPU from AMD.
Moreover, just like with the AMD Ryzen 7 3700X model, the 3900X CPU features the RGB Wraith Prism cooler; therefore you won’t need to purchase another third-party cooler.
The price is 493.00 USD.
8. INTEL CORE I9-9900K
Image Credit: Intel
When it comes to Intel’s mainstream CPU lineup, Intel’s Core i9-9900K sits right at the top of the list.
This high-end CPU presents some major competition for other processors in the same range.
It also keeps up with (and sometimes overshadows) the Ryzen model in some performance aspects.
Most remarkably, this is the only ninth-generation CPU in the current Intel lineup that comes with hyperthreading, which enables it to provide an improved performance during multi-threaded tasks.
It also has awesome Overclocking performance and a massive thread count which makes it easy to see why this CPU has ranked among the most tempting high-end gaming solutions at the moment.
The price is 523.89 USD.
Naturally, there is no such thing as the best single gaming CPU for everyone.
You will ultimately have to decide what best suits your performance requirements and budget.
Feel free to go over the details above carefully before making your final decision.