How Much Does A CPU Matter In Relation To Playing Games?

Video Game PC
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If you love playing games on your computer, you might wonder how much your CPU matters. A CPU is the brain of your computer that does all the calculations and instructions for your games. In this article, we will explain what a CPU does, how it affects gaming performance, and how to choose the best CPU for gaming.

What is a CPU and what does it do?

A CPU stands for the central processing unit. It is a small chip that sits on your motherboard and communicates with other components like memory, graphics card, storage, etc.

A CPU has many cores and threads that can work on different tasks simultaneously. For example, a 6-core CPU can handle 6 tasks at once, while a 12-thread CPU can handle 12 tasks at once.

CPU Close-up Image
CPU Close-up Image

Image courtesy of TrustedReviews website. Click the following link to learn more about what a CPU is in their detailed article.

A CPU performs various functions for your games, such as:

  • Loading and running the game code
  • Processing user input from keyboard, mouse, controller, etc.
  • Calculating physics, AI, sound effects, etc.
  • Sending data to the graphics card for rendering

It is basically considered to be the “brain” of the computer. While many other chips in the computer motherboard do many tasks, the CPU is the main node. It is the part that gets hot as well and needs cooling. Higher computation load to the CPU higher will be the heat that needs to be dissipated.

In this other article, I discuss How To Choose The Best Laptop Or Desktop PC For Your Needs. There I provide some insight on how to choose your next computer based on the CPU benchmark score.

How does a CPU affect gaming performance?

A CPU affects gaming performance in different ways depending on the game and the settings. Some games are more CPU-intensive than others. This means they require more calculations and instructions from the CPU to run smoothly.

For example, strategy games like Civilization or simulation games like Flight Simulator tend to be more CPU-intensive than action games like Doom or racing games like Forza. Some settings also affect how much load is put on the CPU.

For example:

  • Resolution: The higher your screen’s resolution (such as 1080p vs 4K), the more pixels your graphics card has to render. This reduces the load on your CPU because it has fewer data to send to the graphics card.
  • Graphics quality: The higher the graphics quality of your game (such as low vs ultra), the more details and effects your graphics card has to render. This also reduces the load on your CPU because it has fewer calculations to do for physics, AI, sound effects, etc.
  • Frame rate: The higher the frame rate of your game (such as 30 fps vs 60 fps), the more times per second your CPU has to update and send data to your graphics card. This increases the load on your CPU because it has more work to do in less time.

How to choose the best CPU for gaming?

Choosing the best CPU for gaming depends on several factors such as:

  • Your budget: How much money are you willing to spend on a new CPU? You can find CPUs ranging from $100 to $700 depending on their features and performance.
  • Your preferences: What kind of games do you play most often? What resolution and frame rate do you aim for? Do you care about overclocking or power consumption?
  • Your compatibility: What motherboard do you have or plan to buy? What socket type does it support? What memory type does it support?

To help you choose the best CPU for gaming in 2023, we have compiled a list of some of our top picks based on our own testing and reviews from reputable sources like Tom’s Hardware, PC Gamer, etc.

Best Overall Gaming CPUs

Intel Core i5-13400

The Intel Core i5-13400 is our overall best pick for gaming CPUs in 2023. It offers excellent performance for its price ($221) thanks to its 6 cores and 20 threads that can boost up to 5.1 GHz. It also supports DDR4 memory which is cheaper than DDR5 memory used by AMD’s Zen 4 CPUs. The i5-13400 can handle most games at high settings with smooth frame rates at 1080p and 1440p resolutions.

AMD Ryzen 5 7600

The AMD Ryzen 5 7600 is another great option for gaming CPUs in 2023. It offers slightly better performance than the i5-13400 thanks to its 8 cores and 24 threads that can boost up to 4.9 GHz. It also supports DDR5 memory which is faster than DDR4 memory used by Intel’s Alder Lake CPUs. The Ryzen 5 7600 can handle most games at ultra settings with smooth frame rates at 1080p and 1440p resolutions.

Best High-Performance Gaming CPUs

AMD Ryzen 9 7950X3D

The AMD Ryzen 9 7950X3D is our high-performance pick for gaming CPUs in 2023. It offers amazing performance thanks to its 16 cores and 64 threads that can boost up to 5.0 GHz. It also uses a unique 3D-stacked V-Cache design that adds 64 MB of fast cache memory to each core. This boosts gaming performance by up to 15% in some titles. The Ryzen 9 7950X3D is the fastest gaming chip in the world and can handle any game at any resolution with ease.

Intel Core i9-13900K

The Intel Core i9-13900K is another high-performance option for gaming CPUs in 2023. It offers impressive performance thanks to its 8 cores and 24 threads that can boost up to a record-breaking 6.0 GHz. It also supports DDR5 memory which is faster than DDR4 memory used by AMD’s Zen 3 CPUs. The Core i9-13900K is a close competitor to the Ryzen 9 7950X3D and can handle any game at any resolution with ease.

Best Budget Gaming CPUs

Intel Core i3-12100F

The Intel Core i3-12100F is our budget pick for gaming CPUs in 2023. It offers decent performance for its price ($97) thanks to its 4 cores and 16 threads that can boost up to 4.8 GHz. It also supports DDR4 memory which is cheaper than DDR5 memory used by AMD’s Zen 4 CPUs. The i3-12100F can handle most games at medium settings with playable frame rates at 1080p resolution.

AMD Ryzen 5 5600G

The AMD Ryzen 5 5600G is another budget option for gaming CPUs in 2023. It offers good performance thanks to its 6 cores and 12 threads that can boost up to
4.4 GHz. It also has an integrated Radeon Vega graphics card that can run some games without a discrete GPU. The Ryzen 5 5600G can handle most games at low settings with playable frame rates at 1080p resolution.

Conclusion

A CPU is an important component of your gaming PC that affects how well your games run. Depending on your budget, preferences, and compatibility, you can choose from different types of CPUs that offer different levels of performance.

We hope this article helped you understand what a CPU does, how it affects gaming performance, and how to choose the best CPU for gaming in 2023.

Thanks for reading.

References
CPU Benchmarks and Hierarchy 2023: Tom’s Hardware. Link to the resource
The best CPU for gaming in 2023. PC gamer. Link to the resource

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Endri Bedini
Endri Bedini

Endri Bedini is a laureate in Mechanical Engineering with over 20 years of experience in various technology fields, including Electronics, IT, and Healthcare Equipment. Throughout his career, Endri has honed his skills and expertise, earning a reputation for his exceptional problem-solving abilities and innovative thinking. In addition to his work in technology, Endri has a deep interest in Science, Astronomy, AI, Psychology, Sociology, Nature, and Evolution. He is committed to staying up-to-date with the latest developments in these fields, and his insights are informed by his broad range of knowledge and interests.

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