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 the hardest working component of your PC. It runs your operating system and programs. Some games, like for instance Battlefield 1, 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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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 budget CPU for gaming 2017 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 budget AMD processor for gaming under 100 USD.
If you want to go the Intel route instead – which I don’t blame you for – an honorable mention is the Intel Core i3-7100, which only uses 51W and is built based on 14nm technology and fits the LGA 1151 socket. It has only two cores and four threads, and it has a base clock of 3.9 GHz, which can not be turbo-boosted. It is based on the Intel Kaby Lake 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 powerful enough to deliver an ideal gaming performance. These CPU’s cost around $200, which is well fitted for those with a moderate budget. Moreover, with these gaming CPUs, you won’t have to worry about replacing them anytime soon, as they won’t bottleneck any graphics card in the same price range.
For an additional $85 to the price of the i3-7100 CPU, you could get the Intel Core i5-7500 for $200 flat at the moment (June 2017). It’s a Kaby Lake CPU with a 3.4 GHz frequency with turbo-boost up to 3.8 GHz. It also only uses 65W, leaving less power for your GPU to suck up. It is also based on the LGA 1151 socket technology. It also has four cores/four threat as opposed to the two cores of the i3-7100.
For an extra $40, you could settle with the Intel Core i5-7600K for a long time. Nowadays, it is considered as a mainstream CPU as well as the best gaming CPU for the money. It will serve you well all the way up to Nvidia GTX 1080 GPU where it could be considered as the bottleneck, although that largely depends on the video game as well. With a proper gaming motherboard and cooling you can effortlessly overclock it up to 4.8 GHz). It also features 4-core and 4-thread build but offers considerably faster native frequency of 3.8 GHz and turbo-boost of 4.2 GHz.
While the Intel Core i5-7600K CPU can currently ensure smooth high-end gaming at a reasonable price, you might be wondering why the new AMDRyzen 5 1600 is even cheaper yet it features 6 cores and 12 threads. The reason behind this is that most of the games cannot utilize more than 4 cores. However, if you like to stream as well while playing and have multiple other applications, the Ryzen 5 1600 will take care of all those processes with ease, at an appealing price. In comparison to the Ryzen 5 1600, the Intel i5-7600K has faster single and quad-core speed, faster base turbo frequency, and better OC value; The Ryzen 5 1600 is based on Zen structure, features AM4 socket, and DDR4-2666 dual-channel memory support. Overall, it’s the best 6-core CPU for the money – by far.
Although these mid-range CPUs can assure fluent high-end gaming experience if paired with proper GPUs, they are still not as fast and future-proof as the high-end processors we’ll soon get into. If you’re on a budget, but not in a rush to get a new CPU, we recommend saving for one of these mid-range processors. A great CPU between the entry-level and mid-range is the AMD Ryzen 5 1400 with 4-cores and 3.4 GHz turbo frequency.
If you’re a really serious gamer looking for the fastest CPU for gaming available in 2017, look no further than the Intel Core i7-7700K. It features 4-cores 8-threads, just as many as you need, and rapid 4.2 GHz base frequency and 4.5 GHz turbo. With proper cooling, you can easily overclock this bad boy to a stunning 5 GHz. It’s based 14 nm technology, Kaby Lake architecture, and offers integrated Intel HD graphics 630. Although future-proof and insanely quick, the Intel Core i7-7700K CPU may overkill your setup, depending on video games that you play. So, if you’re on a fixed budget, you may want to consider investing the extra 100 USD on a graphics card and go with a mid-range processor. If you want the fastest overclocked CPU for gaming, the i7-7700K is the way to go.
Once again, if you’re not looking for a CPU primarily for gaming, you should consider the AMDRyzen 7 1700 as the cheaper and more efficient alternative for multi-core workstations as well as smooth gameplay. It’s slightly cheaper yet it offers 8 cores and 16 threads as opposed to the 4-core 8-thread build of the i7-7700K CPU. It even consumes less power and offers quite fast boost frequency of 3.7 GHz. Moreover, it comes with the Wraith Cooler which delivers an astonishing performance regardless of the fact that it’s just a stock cooler. You can also get the MSI X370 mobo, which can be considered as the best gaming motherboard for the AMD Ryzen processors, as a bundle deal along the CPU and cooler.
Note that the AMD Ryzen 7 1800X costs $140 more than the R7 1700, yet it doesn’t come with the stock cooler and with proper overclocking, you can get the R7 1700 to work as good as the R7 1800X. Therefore, we recommend either the i7-7700K as the best Intel CPU for gaming in 2017, or the Ryzen 7 1700 as the best AMD counterpart more suited for multi-threaded tasks and video rendering aside gaming. Both CPU’s offer fantastic value/price and will serve you good for a long time.
When it comes to gaming, you shouldn’t go for any more expensive CPU than these as you wouldn’t benefit much from it, or even not at all – well, at least for now. However, there are some quite exciting and powerful CPU’s that will be released throughout 2017 and 2018, and surprisingly, AMD seems to have the edge over Intel for now. The best Intel processor you could get at the moment (June 26) is the Intel Core i9-7900X which sports 10-core 20-thread build, 44 PCIe lanes, and 4.5 GHz turbo frequency. Priced at $1,000, it’s 40% cheaper than the last-gen best 10-core processor by Intel, the Intel Core i7-6950X, yet it’s effectively better. However, it requires the latest X299 chipset motherboard 2066 LGA socket and consumes a lot of power – 140W.
The Future of CPU’s
Earlier this year, AMD released the surprisingly good and valuable Ryzen series of CPU’s which blew the current Broadwell-E processors out of the water in terms of performance/value. Intel responded by releasing the new Sky Lake-X series with 4, 6, 8, and 10-core processors by June 26 to battle the Ryzen; however, the alluring price and performance combination of Ryzen CPUs seems unmatchable. Moreover, Intel has some even more powerful Skylake-X CPU’s in the works ranging from 12 to 18 cores that will be released later this year.
Core i9-7980XE: 18-core/36-thread, 2000 USD
Core i9-7960X: 16-core/32-thread, 1700 USD
Core i9-7940X: 14-core/28-thread, 1400 USD
Core i9-7920X: 12-core/24-thread, 1200 USD
Additionally, Intel is working on Coffee Lake architecture which is a precursor to the Kaby Lake. This 8th generation of 14nm Core processors will include up to 6-core/12-thread CPUs at 3.5GHz and 4.2GHz turbo. As there isn’t much official information but rather leaks, we won’t go any further into the Coffee Lake for now.
As far as AMD is concerned, they have an entry-level quad-core Ryzen 3 1200 CPU in the works which will be released sometime in August 2017, although its price and specs are unknown at the moment. Their high-end asset includes the so-called AMD Ryzen Threadripper series which will feature up to 16-core 32-thread build, it will be released before the i9-7980XE, and it will be more affordable. We will get more into all of this statements once we have confirmed and official information.
Until then, you can safely get any of the CPU’s ranging from the mid-range to high-range listed here and enjoy the high-end gaming experience. Or, you can wait a couple of months and see whether any of the current CPU’s have dropped in price. Feel free to visit us again, as we will keep the list updated with the best deals that deliver an amazing performance at reasonable and affordable prices.
One more thing to note is that you should ensure that your CPU can fit in your gaming motherboard and that your motherboard can fit in your gaming case.