Buying a new CPU for your PC can be a daunting task, especially if this is your first time.
Even if you are helping someone build their PC, be ready for the heap of questions they will through your way.
That's why here we are are going to review the best gaming CPUs / processors for 2020.
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Best Gaming CPU 2020 Buying Guide
AMD Ryzen 3 3200G: Check Price On Amazon
Best Budget Gaming CPU 2020
If you are in the market looking for a budget gaming CPU and you are not in the mood to spend a lot of money, the good news is that there are going to be a lot of options available for you.
Gone are the days when the options used to be limited because nowadays, you can find a lot of great CPUs thanks to AMD’s triumphant return to the market.
With that said, the CPU that we are reviewing today is called the AMD Ryzen 3 3200G.
This is one of the cheapest Ryzen CPUs that you can buy but do not let the price fool you as it is still ample in most of the situations and you will not have to worry about dishing out a lot of money either.
For starters, this a quad-core CPU that is clocked at 3.6 GHz out of the box and boosts up to 4.0 GHz. This is already impressive when you look at the price of this CPU as it is one of the most affordable options available in the market.
With that said, the Ryzen 3200G works great in almost all the scenarios, it is great for gaming and when paired with the right GPU, it can easily crush through any games.
However, the same cannot be said for applications that revolve around productivity because the 3200G is by no means a workhorse and should not be treated like one either.
On the contrary, you do need to know that while the Ryzen 3200G is great for gaming and it cannot really be beat when you are looking at the overall price to performance ratio, the one thing that you must be aware of is that the CPU does have limitations.
For starters, if you want to use this for productivity tasks, you might not get the best possible results.
Overall, I would say that if you are just building your first gaming PC and you want something that has a good value, the Ryzen 3200G is definitely one of the best processors available in the market and will certainly give you great value for the money you are spending.
- Great performance in gaming.
- Runs at decent speeds.
- Not suitable for productivity tasks.
Intel Core i5 9600K: Check Price On Amazon
As always with a new generation, Intel had to release a gamer-oriented CPU that is more convenient for the gamers than it is for the other consumers or those who are into productivity tasks.
That is precisely how the Core i5 9600K came into being. A six-core, six-threaded beast that aimed for Z390 chipset by Intel. The CPU comes packed with an impressive base and boost clock, but is it good enough to stay relevant in the ever-shifting landscape?
Let’s find out.
Now the best thing about the Core i5 is that it boasts an impressive base clock of 3.7 GHz, with up to 4.6 GHz boost clock. However, with a good motherboard and the right cooler, you can easily push up to 5.0 GHz if you are looking for that sweet, sweet gaming performance.
The CPU is not made for multi-threaded tasks, as it is explained by the lack of hyper-threading, but that is fine since you are still getting a fantastic single-threaded performance, and for those who do not know, that is what matters in the gaming side of things.
This only goes to show that Intel has done a great job in keeping this CPU strictly for gamers, and that is exactly how it should be.
The best part is that despite being marketed as a “mid-range CPU for gamers”, it is pretty decent in some other tasks like video editing, as well as rendering.
However, avoiding pushing the limits here.
As the name suggests, the CPU does come with an unlocked multiplier, so the ability to overclock it right of the box is certainly there.
For users on the older, Z370 chipset, all you need is an updated BIOS from your motherboard manufacturer, and you will be able to run this processor without any issues.
Now as far as the downsides are concerned, there not many to begin with. Had this been a $300+ CPU, there could have been some room for improvement, but at the given price point, the Intel Core i5 9600K is a near perfect CPU that you should be getting for gaming.
Its only downside is that it does not come with a bundled CPU cooler in the box, which can be a problem for those who don’t want to shell out additional money on a 3rd party cooler right in the beginning of their build.
Overall, the Intel Core i5 9600K is a great gaming processor that boasts impressive numbers with great temperatures, and above all, an impressive price tag.
- The performance in gaming is excellent.
- Can handle light productivity tasks.
- Backward-compatible with Z370 chipsets.
- Easy to overclock.
- Impressive base and boost clocks.
- The processor does not come with a bundled CPU cooler.
AMD Ryzen 5 3600X: Check Price On Amazon
Best Midrange Gaming CPU 2020
If you are looking for something on the higher end of the spectrum, the good news is that you can always go for the AMD Ryzen 3600X. AMD has done a great job at making sure that there is something for everyone.
So, even if you are not looking to spend all your savings on a processor, you still have something to look forward to.
With that said, the good news is that the Ryzen 5 3600X is more than capable of delivering the performance that you have been looking for. If you want something that is not just good in gaming but also excellent in productivity tasks, then this is the CPU to go for. You do get a lot of amazing performance from this CPU.
It also supports the latest PCI-E 4.0, you get a really good looking bundled cooler that surprisingly performs well, and on top of that, the power consumption of this cooler is not that high, to begin with. So, rest assured, you are not going to have any issues as far as the performance is concerned.
You are also getting an unlocked multiplier, so if you do want to go ahead and overclock this processor, you can easily do that without any issues.
There are a few things I would like to address here; for starters, you are going to need an X570 motherboard if you want to use PCI-E 4.0, if you want to overclock the CPU, you are going to be given a very limited headroom. So, that is another thing to note down.
Overall, I would say that when you are looking at a good CPU, the Ryzen 5 3600X is actually a great processor that will deliver great performance to you at an affordable price. This is one of the things that most people are always looking for whenever it comes to a good CPU.
- The CPU performs terrific in both games and productivity applications.
- You get PCI-e 4.0.
- You get an amazing bundled cooler.
- The power consumption is not a lot, either.
- For those who want to overclock, you have an unlocked multiplier.
- You will need an X570 motherboard in order to use PCI-E 4.0.
- There is not much overclocking headroom available.
Intel Core i7 9700K: Check Price On Amazon
All eyes were on Intel when they finally decided to bring the 9thgeneration into the mainstream.
With 9th gen, Intel finally released 8 core chips to the mainstream, with the Intel Core i9 9900K leading the charge with its 8 cores, and 16 threads.
However, what about the lesser expensive models? Well, Intel did not disappoint as they released a Core i7 9700K chip with some rather exciting hardware changes.
For starters, the biggest difference between this i7 and other chips is that this one does not come with hyper-threading. Meaning that you have access to 8 cores, and 8 threads.
However, there are a lot of good things as well.
For starters, the gaming performance remains the star of the show with the 9700K crushing games as far as CPU performance is concerned. The 8 cores are great for nearly all productivity, and gaming tasks, so if you are looking to maximize your workload and efficiently distribute it, this is the way to go.
Another great thing about the Core i7 9700K is that it comes with an even better single threaded performance, this is all thanks to the impressive boost clock of up to 4.9 GHz out of the box.
Intel processors, especially since last gen are known for having higher temperatures. However, this time, Intel changed things up with providing a soldered thermal interface material, this significantly improved the overall temperatures, giving much-needed relief to many gamers.
There are a few downsides though. Being an enthusiast CPU from Intel, it does not come with a CPU cooler, something that has been going on with all K SKU processors since Skylake.
Additionally, the lack of hyper-threading could be a rising concern in multi-threaded applications like Premiere Pro, or other video rendering options that are available in the market.
Last but not the least, as far as sheer gaming performance is concerned, the processor does not offer a considerable incentive over the Core i7 8700K; a much cheaper option
Overall, the Intel Core i7 9700K is more than capable of delivering heavy gaming and productivity performance.
There are a few downsides that a user must keep in mind, such as the lack of an out-of-the-box heatsink, no hyper-threading, and little value as compared to the 8700K.
- Excellent gaming performance.
- Great base and boost clocks.
- Readily available in the markets.
- Soldered thermal interface material provides better performance.
- Does not provide a good performance incentive over the 8700K.
- Does not come with a cooler out of the box.
- Lack of hyper-threading can be a concern for some.
AMD Ryzen 7 3700X: Check Price On Amazon
Best Gaming CPU 2020 For Value
If you are looking for something a bit more on the higher side of things, and you want something from AMD, then do not worry, they have you covered.
The good news is that the Ryzen 7 3700X is still available in the market, and it is one of the more capable options that you can invest in. Granted, it is more expensive but for the higher price, you are getting more cores, and stellar performance.
To start with the good things, the 3700X has an incredible price to performance ratio; buying this CPU will not leave you with any regrets that will come in the way.
The CPU itself is fairly affordable, so there is not much to worry about in terms of spending a lot of money, and you even get an included cooler that can actually give you a fairly decent performance if you want to run the CPU without any issues.
It can even provide you with slight overclocking headroom should you wish to go.
However, with all the good things aside, there are some downsides that you should also know about. Mainly, the biggest thing that might irk you is that even after 3 generations, the 3rd generation of Ryzen processors is still not as good in single-threaded applications as their counterparts. This can be an issue for a lot of people.
Overall, I believe that the Ryzen 7 3700X is a great value for money if you are looking for something good and it will deliver truly exceptional performance without running into any issues that might come in the way.
- The CPU is great at both gaming and productivity tasks.
- It is one of the more affordable options that still delivers a fantastic performance.
- You also get a bundled cooler that works rather well.
- The cooler does not really work well as far as single-threaded performance is concerned.
AMD Ryzen 9 3900X: Check Price On Amazon
The last processor that we are looking at is another amazing offering from AMD. In case you have not guessed it already, we are talking about the Ryzen 9 3900X. This is one of the highest-end consumer offerings from AMD and it delivers fantastic performance through and through.
The good news is that you do not have to worry about spending a lot of money either because you are going to get a great performance. The great thing about this CPU is that whether you are looking at productivity tasks, or you are just looking to game, you are going to get great performance in both cases.
To start with the good things, you are going to get top of the line performance from this CPU. It is one of the best performers available in the market in terms of performance. You are also getting the support for the latest PCI-E 4.0; so if you do want the latest and greatest technology, this is the way to go.
Another great thing about this CPU is that you are going to be getting top of the line performance when you are comparing it with some of the other processors from the same budget.
As far as the downsides are concerned, there are some concerns that need to be addressed. For starters, the heatsink that you are going to get is not something that will cool the processor down for extended time.
Another downside is that the single-threaded performance of this processor leaves a lot to be desired because when the time to play games is there, the CPU does not perform as good as we would have liked. If you want to use PCI-E 4.0, you are going to have to spend money on the more expensive X570 motherboard.
Overall, the one thing is for sure. If you are looking to get your hands on a processor that more or less can do everything there is, then going for the Ryzen 9 3900X is not a bad decision at all.
It is one of the most capable processors available in the market that will really give you the performance that you have been looking for.
- The CPU has one of the best performances you could hope for.
- You have support for PCI-Express 4.0.
- Ahead of everything in the same price range.
- The heatsink that comes with the processor might not be enough.
- The single-core performance is average at best.
- You need the X570 motherboards to use PCI-E 4.0.
Factors You Should Consider When Buying a Gaming CPU
The reason why I am using the term “Gaming” here and not just CPU is because that way, readers will have a better idea that we are strictly focusing on the gaming aspect of these CPUs, even though they can easily handle other tasks.
When you are in the market looking for a gaming CPU, there are some factors you need to consider that will make your purchase a lot smoother than you might imagine.
Although these factors are rather common and I am sure most people already are aware of them, it is still better to list them down.
We are not going to ask you to consider the usage of the CPU, because as the article title suggests, we are strictly looking at the gaming aspect of things.
Which means that we will not be looking at other performance metrics such as the rendering speed and synthetic benchmarks etc.
Modern games, as well as other applications, are getting more and more demanding by every new release, and that is not something surprising. It means that they are asking for more cores so they can adequately run without any issues.
If you are in the market looking for a gaming CPU, the first thing that I would suggest you do is considering the core count.
Dual cores are a big no, and quad cores are slowly being pushed out of the way as well. This leaves you with hexacores and above.
However, I have done some testing on a few quad-cores, and they were pretty promising in terms of performance, as well as workload management.
The conclusion here is that you should not go below a quad-core CPU, because you might not get the proper performance.
When we use the word “unlocked” for gaming CPUs, it basically means that they can be overclocked using a supported motherboard.
Overclocking is not all that bad when it comes to giving you an extra performance boost, but speaking strictly from the gaming point of view, it is kind of unnecessary.
The performance between an overclocked CPU and a stock CPU in gaming is marginal at best. However, overclocking DOES mean that there will be a higher power draw, and higher temperatures as well.
Therefore, if you are adamant about overclocking, you should definitely consider this factor.
Related Post: Gaming Motherboard Review Roundup For 2020
Before AMD’s return to the processor market, Intel was running the show, and they had an impressive range of products.
However, things are different as of now since AMD is back in the game. I am talking entire lineups of processors that are built for those who just want productivity, those who want to game, and those who want top of the line performance.
This only means that whenever you are in the market looking for a good gaming CPU, you need to consider the platform that you are going to go with.
AMD offers higher cores and much lower costs, but the tradeoff is that you do not get processors that are with high clock speeds, or good overclockers.
On the other hand, Intel offers you the processors with higher clock speeds, but you do have to spend a lot of money.
As far as raw gaming performance is concerned, Intel is still the king, and while AMD is still trying its best to dethrone Intel in gaming performance, it is too early to say anything.
There is a heap of gaming CPUs available in the market, not just for one socket, but for several others as well. You have Intel’s Z370/Z390 lineup for the high end, unlocked processors; then at the same time, you have their X299 for extreme CPUs.
On the other hand, you have AMD’s X399 for their Threadrippers, and X370 and X470 for their Ryzen chips.
Both AMD and Intel are actively releasing new sockets, and aside from what we mentioned above, there are lower end models of these sockets as well. So you have plenty of options when it comes to buying a gaming CPU.
Last but not least, I would advise you to shed some light on the gaming benchmarks of whatever CPU you are considering to buy. Since gaming is the main concern of your purchase anyway, it is just better to put that into consideration first than anything else.
For a lot of people, finding the right gaming CPU is something that can be a lot more difficult than you might understand. There are so many options available in the market that it can become a lot more difficult than you might imagine in the first place.
This list caters to everyone who is in the market looking for a good gaming processor. When making this roundup, and testing all the CPUs, the main aim was to focus this list on the ideology that there is something for everyone.
That is why in this list, you will see something as expensive and powerful as a Threadripper, and at the same time, you will find some lower end options as well. For those who prefer Intel, there is nothing to worry as we did cover some amazing offerings from Intel as well.
If you think you have more suggestions for us, then feel free to let us know, and we will surely update this article.