All of you have heard of the processor, also called CPU (Central Processing Unit), but just how important is a CPU towards your gaming experience or just the speed of your PC in general? The answer to both these questions is: a lot. If you don’t feel like spending lots of time digging through tons of benchmarks, or you are not confident that you can pick the best gaming CPU or best CPU for the money yourself, then fear not. We have done all the homework and the CPU’s listed below are the best desktop CPUs you can get for different price points and worth putting into your new or upgraded rig.
The CPU is hardest working component of your PC. It runs your operating system and programs. Some games, like for instance Battlefield 4, are CPU-intensive and require a powerful CPU in order to get high frame rates. CPU’s can also be overclocked, which means that you can get more performance, but they produce more heat in return, and you are going to need a CPU cooler as well.
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|Type||CPU||Cores (Threads)||Base Clock||Turbo Clock||Cache||TDP|
|Best Budget CPU||AMD FX-6300||6 (6)||3,5 GHz||4,1 GHz||8MB L3||95W|
|AMD FX-6350||6 (6)||3,9 GHz||4,2 GHz||8MB L3||125W|
|Best Mid-Range CPU||Intel Core i5-6500||4 (4)||3,2 GHz||3,6 GHz||6MB L3||65W|
|AMD FX-8320||8 (8)||3,5 GHz||4,0 GHz||8MB L3||125W|
|AMD FX-8350||8 (8)||4,0 GHz||4,2 GHz||8MB L3||125W|
|Best High-End CPU||Intel Core i5-6600K||4 (4)||3,5 GHz||3,9 GHz||6MB L3||91W|
|Intel Core i7-6700K||4 (8)||4,0 GHz||4,2 GHz||8MB L3||91W|
As a side note, be sure to pair your best CPU with a good graphics card and a CPU cooler as well, if you intend to overclock your CPU. A good gaming monitor is also highly recommended to give you a better gaming experience.
For gamers with a lower budget, an entry-level CPU is an excellent option in most gaming scenarios, because they will not hinder your graphics card in doing its job, by not using much power. First off, we have the AMD FX-6300, an excellent pick from AMD that consumes 95W. That should leave more than enough power for your GPU if you have a decent power supply unit.
If you don’t want to spend a lot of money on a gaming computer, then choosing this CPU will leave more money for your GPU. which will give you a much better performance in-game. This might even be the best CPU for gaming 2016, because most modern games are GPU-based anyways and this CPU is very cheap and effective.
The AMD FX-6300 is a great 6-core CPU that is overclockable as well and is relatively cheap. It has a base clock of 3,5 GHz, but can be turbo-boosted up to 4,1GHz. It has an L3 cache of 8MB as well.
If you want a little more beef, you can upgrade to the AMD FX-6350, which has a TDP of 125W and a base clock of 3,9 GHz, with turbo-boost up to 4,2 GHz. This also costs a little more, but is a good pick if you don’t want to compromise your CPU too much.
Both the FX-3600 and FX-6350 uses the AM3+ socket and is built based on 32-nm technology and the Vishera architecture. These processors can easily be considered the best AMD processor for gaming at this price level.
If you want to go the Intel route instead – which I don’t blame you for – an honorable mention is the Intel i3-6100, which only uses 51W and is built based on 14nm technology and fits to the LGA 1151 socket. It has only two cores and four threads, and it has a base-clock of 3,7 GHz, which can not be turbo-boosted. It is based on the Intel Skylake architecture.
Best Mid-Range CPU
This tier is comprised of better-performing CPU’s than the previous ones, but are naturally more expensive as well. They aren’t quite as powerful as the ones in the high-end tier, but they are more than enough powerful to deliver an ideal gaming performance. These CPU’s cost around $200, which is well fitted for those with a moderate budget.
If you are on a tight budget and can’t get any of the high-end processors for around $40 extra, which you want to spend on a graphics card perhaps, then picking the Intel i5-6500 is a great choice. It’s a Skylake CPU with a 3,2 GHz frequency with turbo-boost up to 3,6GHz. It also only uses 65W, leaving much power for your GPU to suck up. It is also based on the LGA 1151 socket technology. This CPU can not be overclocked, but that shouldn’t be much of an issue anyways since most games are GPU-dependent. This CPU will not bottleneck your GPU in any scenario you could think of.
So you should definitely get this CPU if you want to save more money for your video card or any other component. If you want to go the AMD route, then the AMD FX-6320 is the obvious choice here. This CPU often go on sale and you can find it for around $120-$130 some times, which is extremely cheap compared to the performance you get with it. It’s an 8-core processor (all physical!) with a base frequency of 3,5 GHz and an 8MB L2/L3 cache. THe FX-6320 uses the AM3+ socket type and has a TDP of 125W.
If you want to beef things up a little and are willing to spend some extra cash, then the AMD FX-8350 is definitely worth looking at. This CPU is essentially a slightly better version of the FX-8320, since this one has a base frequency of 4,0 GHz with turbo boost up to 4,2 GHz. It uses the same amount of power and everything else is basically the same as well. Our study and tests show that this is the best AMD processor for gaming 2016.
If you absolutely want the best CPU 2016 for gaming, multitasking, everyday work or anything else really, then Intel’s single-core performance is favored, since CPU really doesn’t do much of an impact on gaming performance, unless you’re playing Minecraft or Battlefield 4, which are CPU-intensive and a powerful CPU is favored.
To start this category off, we have the Intel Core i5-6600K, a quad-core Skylake processor with a 3,5GHz base clock speed and 3,9 GHz turbo clock speed. This GPU uses only 91W and is based on 14nm process technology. It uses the LGA 1151 socket type and is overclockable. This CPU handles pretty much everything you throw at it and is extremely efficient. If you are doing CPU-intensive tasks, such as video rendering, CAD work or heavy calculations, the i5-6600K can handle it with ease, but for these tasks, a CPU that supports hyperthreading is favored and this is where the Intel Core i7-6700K comes in.
This processor has 8 threads, where 4 of them are virtual. It is also very power efficient as it only consumes 91W. The Intel i7-6700K is also overclockable and has a base clock frequency of 4,0 GHz and 4,2 GHz turbo frequency. The added threads over the Intel Core i5-6600K will not give in-game performance boosts in most scenarios, but will give you some good performance boosts in graphics design, video editing, rendering, streaming and other CPU-intensive tasks that you might do. This is currently the best CPU 2016 for the money that we wanted to include. We have not included Intel’s extreme processors, because they are very expensive and you probably won’t end up buying one.
If you have a really high budget and want to push your system to the max, we suggest the relatively popular Intel Core i7-5960X, which costs over $1000 on Amazon. With Haswell-E some months away, we suggest saving the money and wait, so you can grab the extra cores and smaller process shrink.
The Future of CPU’s
Everything is constantly changing in the computer world, as you might very well be aware of. The biggest upcoming change is the Intel Broadwell-E architecture, where we will be introduced to the following CPU’s:
- Intel Core i7-6950X – 10 cores (20 threads), 3GHz clock frequency, 25MB L3-cache and LGA2011-v3 socket ($1500) – the best CPU 2016 when it gets released
- Intel Core i7-6900K – 8 cores (16 threads), 3,3GHz clock frequency, 20MB L3-cache and LGA2011-v3 socket ($1000)
- Intel Core i7-6850K – 6 cores (12 threads), 3,6GHz clock frequency, 15MB L3-cache and LGA2011-v3 socket ($550)
- Intel Core i7-6800K – 6 cores (12 threads), 3,4GHz clock frequency, 15MB L3-cache and LGA2011-v3 socket ($400)
So if you are serious on buying a very high-end CPU for over $1000, you should wait until these CPU’s are released so you can get the extra cores and the process shrink. The 10-core i7-6950X will cost $1500, which is a lot of money to put down on a processor, but it sure looks promising and it will most definitely deliver an amazing performance.
Moving over to AMD, we also have news on the Zen architecture, which will move to a new socket called AM4. This socket will be used by both CPUs and APUs. Zen will also support SMT (Simultaneous Multi-Threading, similar to Intel’s Hyper-Threading) instead of CMT (Clustered Multi-Threading) modules from Bulldozer.
Broadwell-E will launch in the Q2 2016 and Zen will launch in Q4 2016.