The Best CPUs for Gaming in 2019


Chris Stobing See Full Bio” itemprop=”description”> The Best CPUs for Gaming in 2019 Buying the right processor for PC gaming can be complicated—especially in these days of Ryzen, Threadripper, Core X, and “Coffee Lake.” Here’s everything you need to know to go chip shopping along with our top-rated reviews Which Is the Best CPU to Buy for PC Gaming? These days, you’re definitely not suffering for choice if you’re shopping for a new desktop CPU. That’s true whether you’re after a new chip you’ll use for PC gaming, one packed with cores for speedy content creation and media crunching, or a slice of silicon that aces all of those tasks. In the past two years, the desktop CPU market has gotten a complete reboot, and now, you’ll get more cores (and more threads) for your CPU dollar than ever. AMD kicked off the new-CPU revolution early in 2017 with its eight-core Ryzen 7 chips. That platform’s current flagship is the Ryzen 7 2700X, with third-generation Ryzen chips expected this summer. The AMD lineup also includes six-core or four-core/eight-thread Ryzen 5 chips (like the Ryzen 5 2600X and Ryzen 5 2400G), and quad-core, four-thread Ryzen 3 options like the AMD Ryzen 3 1300X. Intel countered with impressive, expensive enthusiast-class offerings in a new family called the Core X-Series, now in its second generation and topped by the 18-core Core i9-9980XE Extreme Edition. That $2,000 mega-chip makes AMD’s competing counterparts in its own high-end Threadripper chip line, the 16-core Ryzen Threadripper 1950X and Ryzen Threadripper 2950X, seem downright reasonable at half the price or less. Of course, Intel and its plain-vanilla Core CPUs are still the major force in the consumer market. As its current line, Intel offers its 8th Generation Core (“Coffee Lake”) and 9th Generation (“Coffee Lake Refresh”) desktop processors, such as the Core i9-9900K, Core i7-8700K, and Core i5-8400 we’ve tested. These chips are built around essentially the same architecture as the 7th Generation Core “Kaby Lake” processors (which were, in turn, very similar to the 6th Generation “Skylake” chips). But with the Coffee Lake CPUs, you get higher top clock speeds and a shift from Intel’s familiar four-core design to, in some chip versions, a choice of six cores, six cores with 12 computing threads (thanks to Intel’s Hyper-Threading tech), or eight cores and 16 threads (in the 9th Generation Core i9). Intel’s latest top-end processors in the mainstream Core line (as opposed to the Core X-Series) are the Core i9-9900K, the Core i7-9700K, and the Core i5-9600K. Despite the considerable performance improvements that these CPUs represent in the world of content creation, as far as gaming goes, benchmarks prove that you’re not going to get much more than a few extra frames per second out of these versus a cheaper Core i7-8700K. This is because even though CPUs like the Core i9-9900K have more cores in their architecture, the cores themselves tend to be clocked lower than they would be on a processor more skewed toward gaming performance. Not only that, but most modern games don’t take advantage of more than four cores at once, which means any extra cores on top of that will essentially lie dormant during your gaming sessions (unless you’re say, streaming your game to Twitch at the same time). To be clear: The Ryzens and the Cores are the mainstream chip lines, while the high-end AMD Ryzen Threadripper and Intel Core-X Series CPU families only come into the gaming-PC mixture under certain circumstances. We’ll get into the where and when below, but for most folks, a gaming-PC CPU is a choice between a Ryzen and a straight-up Core. Integrated vs. Dedicated GPU While more cores, higher clock speeds, and the latest chip architectures are all nice to have, picking the best processor specifically for gaming is about more than basic specs and speeds. Let’s jump into some of the considerations to keep in mind when shopping for a gaming chip, before diving in to our favorite recent picks. We’re going to go ahead and assume that most people searching for a CPU for PC gaming are going to be using a dedicated graphics card with it. A given graphics card’s average frame rates can vary when paired with different CPUs, and from platform to platform. Generally, this is resolution-dependent. If you’re gaming…

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