The Best Gaming CPU 2020: An Honest Top List & Guide

Every gamer knows that an effective computer is essential to compete in the world of gaming. Without a fast computer that can keep up with the in-depth graphics and quickly rotating frames, your game will lag and you won’t experience a hassle-free gaming experience. The processor is at the core of everything, and without a blazing fast processor, you’re not going to experience the most effective gameplay.

The processor is essentially the brains of the computer, and it is second only to the hard drive as a bottleneck in most systems. Some games are more dependent on your video card, so if you play first shooter types of games you’ll want to take that into consideration. Other MMORPG and RTS type games rely more on your processor to complete complex calculations quickly. Basically, the more graphic-intensive and quicker the graphics move, the better video capture card you’ll need. Complex games that process lots of information require a better processor.

Best Gaming CPUs Reviewed

Intel Core i7-7700K4.2GHz base up to 4.5GHz Turbo

Hyperthreading and Turbo Boost technology

Kaby Lake architecture
4.6 out of 5 Stars$$$$

Intel Core i5-7600K3.8GHz base up to 4.2GHz Turbo

Kaby Lake architecture

Intel HD Graphics 630 but does not support Hyper-Threading (you need the i7 for that)
4.6 out of 5 Stars$$$

Intel Core i5-46903.5 GHz base up to 3.9GHz Turbo

Intel Rapid Storage Technology

Quick Sync Video option
4.7 out of 5 Stars$$

Intel Core i5-45903.3 GHz, 4 core. No overclock

Intel Rapid Storage, Quick Sync Video and Turbo Boost technology
4.7 out of 5 Stars$$$

AMD FX-83203.5GHz Base, 4.0GHz overclocked (some say up to 4.5GHz)

A solid processor for people who only want to engage in gaming

You need a good cooling system for this.
4.6 out of 5 Stars$

AMD FX-83504 GHz base up to 4.2GHz Turbo - 8 Cores

AM3+ Socket Type

AMD Bulldozer architecture
4.6 out of 5 Stars$

AMD FX-95904.7 GHz base up to 5.0GHz overclocked

8 Cores and 8 MB Cache

Exceptional performance on high-end graphic-intensive games
3.9 out of 5 Stars$$

Intel Core i3-41603.7 GHz Dual Core with Hyper-Threading

Haswell Architecture

Intel HD Graphics 4400
4.7 out of 5 Stars$$


Intel Core i7-7700K

A processor that you can overclock is important to many gamers. This processor makes it possible to overclock your CPU, and it’s probably one of the best CPUs for the active gamer. It offers exceptional all-around performance, and it will perform the necessary calculations to play most any game. It comes with a 4.2 GHz processor that can be overclocked to 4.5 GHz. In all honesty, you’re not going to see a significant difference between the 4.2 GHz and 4.5 GHz processor. If you want to save a little money, you could go for the i7-6700K. It won’t offer much of a noticeable difference in speed, and you’ll still get outstanding gaming performance.

The processor comes with four cores, and it’s a good processor for anyone who wants to play extensive games or engage in video editing. It’s one of the more expensive processors. But, if you need something that is guaranteed to get the job done, this processor is right for you. It comes in two flavors, and you can choose to purchase one capable of overclocking or a fixed processor. If overclocking is important to you, make sure you spend a little more to get the unlocked version. This processor uses the Kaby Lake architecture.


Intel Core i5-7600K

If you’re looking to save money, choosing the i5-7600K is a good option as it’s a processor that is dedicated solely to gaming. If your sole purpose is to play video games, then this processor is a good option, and it provides outstanding gaming performance.

However, if you want a similar processor that is designed for a workstation, go with the i7-6820K. The i7-6820K CPU is built to act as a workstation processor, and it functions equally well in that capacity as well as in a gaming capacity. The i7 is a good choice if you plan on doing any video editing, or you want to play a wide range of games. The i5-7600K is best for people who want to play fast-paced first person shooter-type games.

This processor does require a more expensive motherboard, but this may be a necessity if you want to steam and record your gameplay. When it comes to sheer performance, you can get the most out of your video gameplay. The i5-7600K is an unlocked processor, which means you can overclock it. In its natural state, you get a 3.8 GHz processor that can be overclocked to 4.2 GHz. It also features 4 cores, and you’ll get 8 virtual cores (still only 4 physical) when you overclock it. It uses the Kaby Lake architecture, so make sure you get the right DDR4 memory to work with this processor.


Intel Core i5-4690

This is another Haswell processor. It is not capable of being overclocked, which does make it a bit cheaper. The processor uses the Haswell architecture, and it comes with four cores. One nice thing about this processor is that it has a turbo that gives you a boost up to 3.9 GHz. This can help save you power, but it may not be the best solution for a gaming machine. However, if you want a good processor that works all-around, this one offers a good compromise between gaming and workstation performance.

When it comes down to it, overclocking a PC isn’t really necessary any longer. Processors are already fast enough, and unless you have a state-of-the-art SSD drive, your processor is not going to be the bottleneck in your system. The processor is compatible with Z87 and Z97 motherboards. It uses Intel Rapid Storage Technology, and it comes with a Quick Sync Video option to enable faster video conversions. You can also buy the processor together with an SSD and save additional money.

This is by far one of the most affordable gaming-level processors on the market, and it’s an excellent choice for gamers who want to have the ability to do a little bit of everything.


Intel Core i5-4590

This processor is another good choice if you want to get a processor that comes in around the $200 mark. While you can’t overclock it, it’s not really necessary to be able to overclock your processor for most games. The CPU comes with a bundled deal that also offers you an SSD at a reduced price. The processor and SSD bundle is really the best option for your gaming computer, and you’ll get the most performance by combining these two components.

It’s not compatible with Intel motherboards. You’ll need the Z87 or Z97 motherboard to use this processor. It comes with the same technologies as the i5-4690, including the Intel Rapid Storage Technology and Quick Sync Video, and it also has the Turbo Boost technology. However, it costs a little less and a good recommendation if you’re on a budget is to choose this processor and a higher-end GPU. The CPU comes with a heat sink fan and it already has arguably the best thermal paste on it.

This processor really screams on most games, and it performs as well as any of the dedicated gaming chips. Chances are that if your game doesn’t work properly with this processor installed, then you have some other component on your computer slowing down your performance. This is a solid processor that will give you value performance.


AMD FX-8320

While the FX-8350 is a higher model number than the FX-8320, the FX-8320 is a better processor for the money when you consider it offers similar performance when overclocked. This processor is incredibly fast, and it will provide you with an exceptional level of performance for all of your gaming needs. This processor is capable of loading multiple apps at once without breaking a sweat, and it’s low price point makes it one of the most attractive options in the list for someone on a budget.

The recommendation on this processor is to buy this one and get more RAM for your gaming PC, a better motherboard and a better graphics card. With this processor, you’ll get the best performance at an incredible low price. The only drawback is heat. You’re going to need a highly effective cooling system, and you’ll want to make sure you’re running the processor with a closed liquid cooling system. The listed overclock rate is about 4 GHz, but many users have reported success with overclocking up to 4.5 GHz. Stability tends to falter if you try to overclock it any higher.

This is a fun processor to play with, and it’s low price point makes it an attractive option for gamers. It’s not going to give you the same kind of all-around performance as an Intel processor, but it’s a solid processor for people who only want to engage in gaming.


AMD FX-8350

This processor comes with a 4 GHz base frequency, and you can overclock it up o 4.2 Ghz. It also has eight cores, and it comes with an 8 MB L2 cache. If you overclock the processor, it acts as an L3 cache. It uses the AM3+ socket type, and it’s a good processor for people who want a dedicated gaming machine. Make sure to use DDR3 SDRAM for the memory modules, as well as the appropriate motherboard.

It bears repeating that with modern computers, the processor is simply not going to be the major issue with most games. This processor will perform very similarly to the i5-4690K or the i7-4790K. This is a good option for gamers, but when you consider you’re going to need a better cooling mechanism and a more expensive motherboard than the i5-4460, it’s a tough choice between the two.

While the frequency of this processor is lower than that of an FX-8320, the 8320 offers the same performance as the FX-8350 when you overclock it. All of this, and it costs less too.


AMD FX-9590

Octa-core processors are where it’s at, and this device is an incredible addition to any gaming computer. It offers the ability to overclock to 5 GHz, and it’s very likely that you will be able to overclock it even further. However, don’t expect to get much more out of this processor. Many users have reported that they could only get up to 5.1 GHz before it become unstable. This isn’t much of an added boost for what is considered a fully unlocked processor.

It comes with a fairly standard 8 MB cache, and it is compatible with a large range of motherboards. This is a processor that is suitable for the most demanding gamers. It’s able to optimize performance over all of the cores, and it provides an ideal computing experience for even the most work-intensive workloads. It comes with a Turbo, and the processor is fully unlocked. You will need to purchase a heat sink fan for this processor.

The processor outperforms most of the other processors on this list, but as it’s been stated many times, faster is not always better for gaming. This processor costs a significant amount more than some of the other processors on this list, and the extra cost could be used to better utility by buying other components. The processor devours frame rates, and it provides exceptional performance on high-end graphic-intensive games.


Intel Core i3-4160

The final processor that you might want to consider if you’re on a budget is the i3-4360. This processor is a good, solid processor that won’t break the bank. It offers all of the Intel technology that is available on the more expensive processors, and it also comes with Turbo boost technology for additional performance. If you can get a really good deal on this processor, then you may want to consider purchasing it. Otherwise, there are better processors available for your money.

The processor has a graphics card RAM size of 1740 MB, which isn’t going to do much to help your gaming, but it’s a nice benefit. It features a 3.7 GHz processor, which is about as low as you’re going to want to go to take advantage of most games. You’re going to see a frames-per-second boost over processors like the Core 2 Quad Q6600, and it’s a good option for those who aren’t quite ready to make the leap to an i5 or i7.

If you have a Z board, you might want to pass on this processor. The Z boards are really made for overclocking, and those boards won’t provide much of a performance boost with this processor. It features two cores, and this processor is really only mentioned because so many gamers swear by it. However, there are better processors that cost even less. The FX-6300 is one such option that will give you better performance, and they can also save you a bit of cash as well.


Some gamers may argue that AMD processors are just as good as Intel processors. In many cases, this may be true. Considering you’ll likely want to use your computer for things other than gaming, the Intel processors provide better all-around performance. Intel processors will meet the performance of any AMD processor, but a few AMD processors have been listed as well for those who want an exclusive gaming system and need to save a little money.

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