I've been looking at upgrading my gaming rig recently, and that got me to thinking, why not share in my research? If you're looking to build or upgrade a gaming rig this year, then the CPU is one area that is often skimped on and later regretted.
After your GPU, the CPU is the most important component in the system when it comes to gaming performance, and it becomes even more critical if you throw streaming or video editing into the mix like I do.
So here's what I consider to be the best CPU's money can buy for gaming right now;
5. Intel Core i3-8100
This isn't ideal if you've got a budget, for those looking to save money and can't afford a higher end CPU, this is an amazing bang for the buck. It features a 4 core, 4 thread CPU with a 3.6 GHz clock and 6MB cache, which is pretty impressive for the price. Previously the i3 line was purely dual core only, so the jump here brings it on par with older i5 class CPUs. For those of you looking to do some gaming and not much else on a budget, this is a pretty serious contender when paired with a decent GPU.
4. Intel Pentium G4400
If you're really on a budget, and you can't go for the i3 8100, then this CPU is also a pretty decent bang for the buck. It's a good stepping stone CPU as you can always upgrade to a more powerful LGA 1151 CPU further down the road, like the i3 above, but at just $47, it'll get you up and running and perform well enough for most games at modestly decent settings.
It's only got two cores and a 3.3GHz clock speed, but depending on your needs that may be plenty enough, especially for older titles. If you pair it with a good enough graphics card, it'll get you by until you're in a position to upgrade a year or so down the line, which isn't too bad of a proposition at the low price point.
3. AMD Ryzen 5 2600X
The AMD Ryzen 2600X is a very powerful CPU from Team Red and is an ideal multitasking workhorse. If you're looking to do other things on top of play games, such as livestreaming or lets-play videos, then this is where you're going to want to start.
It's perfect for doing something else in addition to playing your games, with it's 6 cores and massive 12 threads, clocking in at 3.6GHz. It's an absolute monster when it comes to multitasking, so modern games and streaming will shine.
The downside is single core games may suffer performance wise, so if you're after a CPU for older games, then this may not be the ideal choice.
2. Intel Core i5-8600
Much like the Ryzen above, if you're after doing something other than just playing games, the i5 is where you want to be at a minimum when it comes to the blue side. The i5 lineup has always been the perfect middle ground for gamers, with cost being reasonable and performance more than enough for most gaming needs.
It's got less threads than the Ryzen, with 6 threads and 6 cores, but it's base 3.1GHz clock speed and 9MB cache should serve you well. It's at a great price to performance ratio at about $219, and that high base clock speed will keep your frame rates buttery smooth.
1. Intel Core i7-9700K
And finally, if you can afford the $400+ price tag, then you need to consider the Core i7-9700K. It's a beast of a CPU, with a stonking base clock of 3.6GHz with an eye-watering 4.9GHz boost out of the box, not to mention the 8 cores and 8 threads.
There's little this processor won't do, with both fantastic multi and single core performance thanks to it's massive clock speeds. It's the perfect spot in the i7 line-up for gamers, with the more higher priced variants and the i9 range bringing little else to the table for most use cases while costing a lot more.
For me, it's the smart choice, and the one I'll be going with for my new build.
Do you agree with our choices? Let us know down below!