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
1. Intel Core i5 9600K: Check Price On Amazon
Best Gaming CPU 2020 For Value
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.
2. Intel Core i7 9700K: Check Price On Amazon
Best High-End Gaming CPU 2020
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.
3. Intel Core i5-8400: Check Price On Amazon
Intel’s Coffeelake line up of CPUs was a massive success, and the same goes with the Intel Core i5-8400. Although it was released much later than its elder siblings, it's very capable in gaming.
The good part here is that Intel has managed to cram 6 cores into this processor, but had to sacrifice the base clock. The base of the processor is just 2.8 GHz, with 1 core boosting up to 4.0 GHz, 2 and 4 cores at 3.9, and all 6 cores at 3.8 GHz. Needless to say, the boost is certainly impressive.
Aside from the impressive number of cores, another strong factor about the Intel Core i5-8400 is that it performs really impressively in both applications and games. The processor was able to hold its ground against all the titles we threw at it.
Sadly, the same cannot be said about applications that focus more on multi-threaded performance, as it lacks behind in those.
One great thing about the processor is that you are getting excellent value for money. I was honestly surprised when I saw the price tag on this processor and found out that it is actually a hexacore chip rather than a quad-core one.
As far as price to performance ratio is concerned, I believe that the Intel Core i5-8400 gives the best dollar to dollar value for when it comes to gaming.
To top it all off, Intel even bundles a cooler with the processor, and while it is not much, the good news is that the 8400 does run a lot cooler, and should not need any aftermarket coolers at all.
There are a few downsides though.
For starters, the processor does come with a locked multiplier which means that you will not be able to overclock it. Aside from that, another thing that I did not like is the base frequency of the processor, which is rather low by the modern standards.
But if you are a hardcore gamer, and gaming is the only factor that holds any importance to you, then the Intel Core i5-8400 is undoubtedly one of the best processors money can buy right now.
- Great price to performance ratio.
- Remarkable performance in both games and applications.
- You get a bundled Intel cooler.
- Pretty good thermals.
- Six cores are a blessing to have in a budget processor.
- You cannot overclock the processor.
- The Base frequency is on the lower side.
- The lack of hyperthreading means that multi-threaded applications will be on the slower side.
4. Intel Core i5-8600K: Check Price On Amazon
For the longest time, the Intel Core i5 series has been the fan favorite of people who do not want to spend a ridiculous amount of money on the Core i7 just for having higher clock speeds, and hyperthreading.
Right now, we are looking at the Intel Core i5-8600K: Intel’s crown jewel in the Coffeelake. I am saying this because if you are looking for the best bang for your buck, and something that can overclock like a champion, then you cannot find something better than this one.
Whether you are gaming or running other applications, the Intel Core i5-8600K gives a great performance. Yes, it does lack the hyperthreading from its elder brother, but that does not mean it is any less competitive.
For those worried about bottlenecking, I did pair this with a GTX 1080Ti from Asus and did not experience any issues. However, I cannot say the same about the upcoming RTX GPUs as that might introduce some bottlenecking depending on different games.
The processor comes with a base frequency of 3.6 GHz, with all 6 cores boosting up to 4.1 GHz together. I know it might not sound enough to a lot of people, but since it is a K SKU, you can easily overclock this process after coupling it with a decent cooler and get the job done.
Another great thing I noticed during the testing of this CPU is that it can easily compete with several of the Core i7 CPUs from the previous generations.
And not just compete with them but actually outperform them as well - something worth taking notice.
For those who want to overclock this processor, there is enough headroom to do so. With a good cooler, you can easily push this baby up to 4.5 GHz, and even 5.0 GHz, if you have struck the silicon-gold.
But I will just advise you to be careful, and if you really want to overclock, make sure that you have a good cooler, and motherboard.
As far as the downsides are concerned, there are no deal-breaking issues here.
But to keep things simple, if you want to be able to overclock this CPU, you are going to need a Z370 motherboard, which adds up to the additional cost.
Additionally, just like all the K series CPU since the 6th generation, this one does not come with a heat sink out of the box, meaning that you have to buy a separate one.
In conclusion, the Intel Core i5 – 8600K is one of the most, if not the most competitive and compelling gaming processors in the market that gets the job done.
- High performance in both games, and productivity programs.
- Plenty of overclocking headroom.
- Faster than some of the older Core i7 processors.
- Pretty impressive boost frequency.
- Does not come with a heatsink out of the box.
- Even the most basic Z370 motherboard is on the expensive side.
5. AMD Ryzen 7 2700: Check Price On Amazon
Best AMD Gaming CPU For Value
It did not take AMD too long to capture most of the processor market from Intel after the original Ryzen architecture. However, we knew from the start that AMD was not done with the processors, and that was true.
Soon after the original Ryzen, the Ryzen 2 came into the market with a lot more improvements.
We are looking at the AMD Ryzen 7 2700: a higher end Ryzen 2 processor that aims to deliver a pretty great performance and a higher core clock as well.
The best thing about AMD Ryzen 7 2700 is that it does come with overclocking potential, and for those who do not know, it also boasts an impressive 8-core, 16-thread configuration.
During my testing of the AMD Ryzen 7 2700, it was pretty evident that the 2700 is much faster than most of the previous generation Ryzen CPUs. This is surprising because Intel does not walk the same path, and most of their updates are iterative.
It also comes with a Wraith Spire LED cooler that actually looks wicked, and happens to be one of the best-looking stock coolers you can buy at the moment.
However, if you are looking to push the CPU to its limit in terms overclocking, then you are going to need more than just that.
Instead of launching an all-new platform and cutting the support for the older one, AMD did better and made the Ryzen 2 backward compatible with older motherboards, and not just that, they even launched newer 400 series motherboards for those who want to upgrade completely.
While AMD graphic cards are often roasted on the internet for having higher thermals, the company has done right with the AMD Ryzen 7 2700, and instead of opting for traditional soldering methods, they have gone for a technique called Indium soldering which is supposedly better for thermal performance.
There are some downsides to the otherwise amazing AMD Ryzen 7 2700 that need to be addressed.
Firstly, if you are going to overclock this processor, you are going to need a better cooler to do so. Sure, the Wraith Spire LED does work for moderate overclocks, but cannot handle anything more than that.
While the Ryzen 7 2700 itself is not that expensive, you will not be able to find a budget-oriented 400 series motherboard as of yet. Meaning you will have to spend extra.
In conclusion, the AMD Ryzen 7 2700 is a great CPU that can definitely pull some serious punches without showing signs of slowing down or lagging behind in games or productivity workloads, thanks to a great performance.
- Great performance leap.
- The Wraith Spire LED cooler looks great.
- Unlocked multiplier.
- Great thermal performance.
- Backward compatible with 300 series motherboards.
- Hard to find a value-oriented motherboard.
- The bundled cooler is not enough to handle heavier overclocks
6. AMD Ryzen 3 2200G: Check Price On Amazon
Best Budget AMD Gaming CPU 2020
So far, the biggest crux of the AMD Ryzen CPUs was the fact that they did not support integrated graphics which meant that people, who bought the Ryzen CPUs, had to purchase separate graphics cards as well.
The good news is that with Ryzen 2, you will not have to buy separate graphics cards if you just want to power your computer and play some lightweight titles on them.
Today, we look at the AMD Ryzen 3 2200G; it is one of the budget-oriented Ryzen CPUs that aims to deliver decent CPU and GPU performance packed into one.
For those who do not know, the AMD Ryzen 3 2200G does come with a Vega integrated GPU, and at first, I thought it would not be enough, but I was wrong.
The CPU is competitively priced which is great because you do not have to spend a lot of money just to get a decent performance out of it.
If you are looking to build an HTPC, I do not think you can find a better CPU from AMD’s side of things than this one. Sure, it might sound like overkill to some, but it more than makes up for it.
You also get a pretty decent frequency with the AMD Ryzen 3 2200G with the base clock of 3.5 GHz and the boost of 3.7 GHz.
I know the clock speeds certainly look lower by 2018 standards, but we are looking at a budget CPU, not a high-end chip.
If you want to play some lightweight games, then the good news is that the integrated Vega GPU will certainly provide you with a decent 720p gaming performance, and I can assure you that you will be able to play most of the eSport titles without any issue whatsoever.
Lastly but not the least, you would expect AMD to sell this chip with a locked multiplier, but you would be wrong. As a matter of fact, the AMD Ryzen 3 2200G can be overclocked, but if you need higher clocks, then you are going to need a better cooler.
The only other thing that bugs me is the fact that this processor only has 8 lanes for PCIe slots,
In conclusion, the AMD Ryzen 3 2200G gets the job done for the most part and is a wonderful processor for those who are looking to build a budget gaming PC.
- Surprisingly good performance in 720p gaming.
- Great value for money.
- Can overclock.
- Decent frequencies.
- PCIe slots only get eight lanes in total.
- You will need a better cooler if you want to overclock.
7. AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1950X: Check Price
Best High End AMD Gaming CPU
AMD kind of realized that taking the HEDT market from Intel was never an easy job, and they started working on something even more powerful than the mainstream Ryzen processors that were for the consumers.
So, they came out with the Ryzen Threadripper, an HEDT lineup of CPUs that offered higher core counts and amazing performance for much cheaper.
Today, we are looking at the famous AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1950X, a 16-core, 32-thread monster that supports the TR4 socket by AMD and runs on their X399 platform.
Now the thing about AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1950X is that it compensates for the insanely high core count by offering lower frequencies. The 1950X is clocked at 3.7 GHz and can boost up to 3.6 GHz on all cores.
It gives you great performance in all loads, meaning that if you want to use it as a workstation processor, a productivity monster, a gaming powerhouse, or all three tasks mentioned above, you are going to get amazing performance in all those aspects.
It offers one of the best prices per cores, which means that AMD is not overcharging you in any way. As a matter of fact, you are kind of getting what you are paying for.
AMD has done a great job in setting the price of the 1950X, and more often than not, you are likely to find it on sale as well.
It should not come as a surprise, but the processor is also very capable of delivering amazing multi-threaded performance.
All thanks to the fact that it comes with 32 threads, and 16 cores. Regardless of the workload you have, I believe that the Threadripper will not be slowing down any time soon.
Thanks to the way this chip is designed, there are enough PCIe lanes for you to connect all your storage and expansion devices without any issue whatsoever.
But like all processor in this roundup, this one isn't without any flaws.
First of all, the settings for this processor are confusing at best, and if this is your first time using an AMD HEDT processor, you are going to need some time figuring things out.
Additionally, the low-resolution gaming performance is not as good as I thought it would be as it easily ends up bottlenecking even the best of the best GPUs out in the market.
This is not a bad thing, but if you really want to play games without any bottlenecking issues, you need a higher resolution monitor that could keep up with it.
All in all, the AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1950X is a great processor, and actually suitable for all the tasks you might want to carry out with the processor.
- Excellent price per core performance.
- Great for all sorts of workloads.
- Fast in multi-threaded applications.
- Enough PCIe lanes for all the tasks.
- The setting up process is somewhat confusing.
- The CPU can easily cause a bottleneck.
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.