https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GH0GDxLL-RI

The central processing unit, or CPU, is the very core of a computer.

But just how important is it for gaming?

In this article, we will present you with the choice of the best gaming CPUs of 2018, as well as a short guide that will help you choose the one that fits your needs best!

Overview: The 7 Best Processors For Gaming In 2018

Without any further ado, here are the “winner” CPU’s that made it into our list.

ProcessorSocketPhysical/logical coresClock speed  
Intel Core i3-8100 (Editor’s Pick)LGA115143.6 GHz
Intel Core i5-8600KLGA115163.6 GHz
Intel Core i7-8700KLGA11516/123.7 GHz
AMD Ryzen 3 1200AM443.5 GHz
AMD Ryzen 5 2600X (Editor’s Pick)AM46/123.6 GHz
AMD Ryzen 7 2700XAM48/163.7 GHz
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1950XTR416/323.4 GHz

Intel Core i3-8100

best cpu for gaming

About the CPU

The first entry on this list is also the first 8th generation Intel Core i3 CPU in the series. Unlike the previous generation i3 models which were all dual-core processors that relied on hyperthreading as the means of matching quad-core performance, the latest i3 CPUs all have 4 physical cores.

This is Intel’s response to AMD’s new Ryzen 3 CPUs which dethroned the previous generation’s i3 processors mid-2017, which is evident from the increased physical core count. All in all, the Core i3-8100 is an excellent entry to mid-range solution for gaming, and we will see exactly why.

Specifications and Features

Modeli3-8100
Core count4
Clock speed3.60 GHz
SocketLGA1151
Lithography14nm
Cache size6 MB
Power consumption65 W
  • RAM support – The i3-8100 supports up to 64 GB of DDR4 RAM memory in single or dual-channel setups.
  • Integrated graphics – The CPU also utilizes the latest Intel UHD Graphics 630, a 4K-capable integrated graphics chip.
  • Intel Optane Technology – A technology introduced with the 7th gen CPUs, it relies on an additional PCIe module to optimize HDD performance and help it match SSDs. Keep in mind that both the CPU and the motherboard need to support Optane in order for it to work.

Downsides

  • Not cost-effective for overclocking – Indeed, the i3-8100 can be overclocked but the problem does not lie with it. Rather, it lies in the motherboard. Namely, there are no affordable Z370 motherboards currently available, and Z370 is the only 8th generation Intel chipset that supports overclocking. Needless to say, not many will be keen on spending roughly an equal amount of money on their CPU and their motherboard.

What We Loved

  • Low power consumption
  • Affordable
  • Great value for money

What We Didn’t Like

  • No affordable motherboards for overclocking at the moment

Intel Core i5-8600K

best cpu for gaming 2018

About the CPU

The Core i5 models were gamers’ favorites for a long time, as they did a remarkable job of balancing performance and price. And true enough, the most powerful 8th generation i5 CPU, the i5-8600K, continues this tradition.

Much like the i3 models, the i5 ones have also received an upgraded core count compared to the previous generation. Where we previously had 4, we now have 6 physical cores. Of course, it has been upgraded in almost every regard and is one of the most viable mid to high-end gaming processors.

Specifications and Features

Modeli5-8600K
Core count6
Clock speed3.60 GHz
SocketLGA1151
Lithography14nm
Cache size9 MB
Power consumption95 W
  • RAM support – Much like the i3-8100, the i5-8600K supports single channel or dual-channel RAM configurations, up to a maximum capacity of 64 GB.
  • Integrated graphics – Again, like the i3 model above, this i5 CPU uses the Intel UHD Graphics 630 chip, albeit it has a slightly higher clock. The performance remains mostly the same.
  • Intel Optane Technology

Downsides

  • Somewhat expensive – While they may have offered a great balance of performance and price, as stated in the intro, the i5 CPUs could never be called affordable. In this case, the processor is much closer to an 8th generation i7 model, and there are more affordable Ryzen CPUs in this range.

What We Loved

  • Six physical cores
  • Good overclocking potential

What We Didn’t Like

  • More cost-effective solutions exist

Intel Core i7-8700K

best processor for gaming

About the CPU

And finally, we come to the mighty i7 models, the i7-8700K, to be exact. The i7 CPUs are some of the most powerful desktop processors, and this one is no different.

Like the rest of the Intel Core series, the i7 models have also received a core count bump. They have jumped to 6 physical and 12 logical cores, as opposed to the previous generation which has 4 physical and 8 logical cores. Moreover, the i7 CPUs are the only 8th generation Core CPUs to utilize Intel’s hyperthreading technology.

Ultimately, i7 processors are intended for demanding users, so they will not leave any gamer disappointed.

Specifications and Features

Modeli7-8700K
Core count6 (12)
Clock speed3.70 GHz (4.70 GHz with Turbo)
SocketLGA1151
Lithography14nm
Cache size12 MB
Power consumption95 W
  • RAM support – Like the rest of the 8th generation Core series, the i7-8700K supports up to 64 GB of DDR4 RAM memory in single channel or dual-channel configurations.
  • Integrated graphics – Once again, the i7-8700K utilizes Intel UHD Graphics 630 chip with a slightly higher clock speed when compared to the i5-8600K.
  • Intel Optane Technology

Downsides

  • Expensive – Seeing as the i7 processors are among the most powerful desktop CPUs, they naturally cost a lot. Therefore, make sure the performance offered by the i7-8700K is something that you truly need before investing several hundred dollars into this pricey piece of hardware.

What We Loved

  • Twelve logical cores
  • Remarkable overclocking performance

What We Didn’t Like

  • High price tag

AMD Ryzen 3 2200G

best processor for gaming 2018

About the CPU

The Ryzen 3 2200G is the successor to the first generation Ryzen 3 1200. This second generation Ryzen CPU has made some big strides, and not just in the CPU department. It offers everything that its predecessor did, and more, all the while coming at the same price tag.

It still has the same four physical cores as the 1200 model, although the performance has improved a fair bit due to optimizations. The biggest addition, however, is the integrated Vega 8 graphics chip which simply dwarfs the performance of Intel’s integrated graphics and can even compete with some low-end dedicated graphics cards.

Specifications and Features

ModelRyzen 3 2200G
Core count4
Clock speed3.5 GHz (3.7 GHz with Turbo)
Lithography14nm
L2 cache size2 MB
L3 cache size4 MB
Power consumption65W
  • RAM support – The Ryzen 3 2200G supports DDR4 RAM in single or dual-channel configurations and a total maximum capacity of 64 GB.
  • AMD SenseMI Technology – SenseMI was introduced with Ryzen CPUs as a form of smart technology that optimized CPU performance on every level: power consumption, clock speed, etc.
  • Vega 8 Integrated GPU – As mentioned above, AMD’s new integrated graphics solution is ahead of everything that Intel has to offer, making them a prime choice if you don’t intend on getting a dedicated graphics card.

Downsides

  • Needs a third-party cooler for overclocking – High heat generation of the AMD CPUs had been the running joke during the FX-series’ time, and while the Ryzen models are very well optimized in this department, this particular model’s high factory clock speed means that there is little room for overclocking unless you invest in an aftermarket cooler.
  • May require BIOS updates – If you intend on installing this CPU on a motherboard with a previous generation chipset, make sure that it is compatible and update the BIOS ahead of time, if necessary.

What We Loved

  • Very affordable
  • Good performance
  • Excellent integrated graphics

What We Didn’t Like

  • Stock cooler won’t handle overclocking
  • Last gen motherboards may need BIOS updates

AMD Ryzen 5 2600X

best amd cpu 2018

About the CPU

The Ryzen 5 2600X is the successor to one of the earliest Ryzen models to be released. It delivers a moderate performance boost compared to the older model, but doesn’t introduce any revolutionary new technology.

The most notable feature remains the same one that was available with its predecessor: 6 physical cores and 12 logical cores. As such, this CPU offers twice the thread count of its similarly-priced Intel counterpart. Combine that with the relatively high base clock speed, and it becomes clear as to why this CPU is one of the top picks for gaming PCs.

Specifications and Features

ModelRyzen 5 2600X
Core count6 (12)
Clock speed3.6 GHz (4.2 GHz with Turbo)
Lithography12nm
L2 cache size3 MB
L3 cache size16 MB
Power consumption95W
  • RAM support – The Ryzen 5 2600X also supports DDR4 RAM in single or dual-channel configurations and a total maximum capacity of 64 GB.
  • AMD SenseMI Technology
  • AMD StoreMI Technology – StoreMI is a new technology developed by AMD that is designed to fulfill the same function as Intel’s Optane tech. It uses an SSD to optimize the performance of an HDD by relying on the former to cache data.

Downsides

  • Performance still lagging behind – While the many threads give the 2600X an upper hand when it comes to multi-threaded tasks, the single-core performance is lacking compared to the competing models made by Intel.

What We Loved

  • Most affordable 6-core 12-thread CPU
  • Unprecedented value for money

What We Didn’t Like

  • In-game performance not as good as Intel’s competing models

AMD Ryzen 7 2700X

best ryzen cpu 2018

About the CPU

Finally, we come to the high-end solution from the 2nd generation of Ryzen CPUs – the Ryzen 7 2700X. But is it as impressive as the 1700X when it was first introduced?

It has the same 8 cores and 16 threads, which is the most you can get in a mainstream CPU at the moment. However, much like the rest of Ryzen’s 2nd generation it introduces little more than minor performance improvements.

Specifications and Features

ModelRyzen 7 2700X
Core count8 (16)
Clock speed3.7 GHz (4.3 GHz with Turbo)
Lithography12nm
L2 cache size4 MB
L3 cache size16 MB
Power consumption105W
  • RAM support – The 2700X doesn’t change anything when it comes to RAM support, as it still supports up to 64 GB of DDR4 RAM, like the cheaper variants.
  • AMD SenseMI Technology
  • AMD StoreMI Technology

Downsides

  • Performance still lagging behind – Just like with the cheaper 2600X model, the 2700X is also fairly capable of giving the competition a hard time. However, it also only surpasses Intel’s beefy i7 models in the multitasking department, all the while lagging behind when it comes to single-core tasks.

What We Loved

  • Great price-quality ratio
  • Unrivaled multithreaded performance

What We Didn’t Like

  • In-game performance not as good as Intel’s competing models

AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1950X

best ryzen cpu for gaming

About the CPU

And for the final entry on this list, we have the very pinnacle of AMD’s desktop computing, the Ryzen Threadripper 1950X. This massive CPU has its own unique TR4 socket, 16 physical cores, and 32 threads, specifications becoming those of a CPU designed for servers, not desktop gaming computers.

The Threadripper 1950X is a high-end solution fitting for the hardcore gamer, the avid overclocker and anyone else who needs a powerful CPU ideal for multi-tasking.

Specifications and Features

ModelRyzen Threadripper 1950X
Core count16 (32)
Clock speed3.4GHz (4GHz with Turbo)
SocketTR4
Lithography14nm
L2 Cache size8 MB
L3 Cache size32 MB
Power consumption180 W
  • RAM support – The Threadripper 1950X supports RAM running in single, dual or quad-channel. Moreover, it supports a maximum RAM capacity of 128 GB.
  • AMD SenseMI

Downsides

  • High power consumption – With a base power draw of 180W, the Threadripper 1950X is roughly twice as demanding as the Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 7 processors.
  • Slightly weaker at singlethreaded tasks – As the other Ryzen models, the Threadripper lags behind even the previous generation i9 CPUs when it comes to single-core performance.

What We Loved

  • Unrivaled multi-tasking capabilities
  • Unprecedented core/thread count

What We Didn’t Like

  • Very high power consumption
  • Still can’t compete with 7th gen i9 CPUs for single-threaded tasks

Intel vs AMD

intel vs amd

This is something of an age-old question in gaming circles: which is better, Intel or AMD? And as recently as 2016, Intel would have been an obvious winner. But with the release of AMD’s Ryzen series, the playing field has become much more balanced.

AMD continued doing what they do best, offering affordable CPUs with high clock speeds which can all be overclocked, while Intel’s superior technology led to generally better performance, particularly in single-threaded tasks.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KEU6gk8N5yc

Performance

Looking at them side by side on paper, the Ryzen will almost always appear superior to an Intel Core processor. However, when looking at benchmarks, the real truth becomes apparent.

Without getting into the details, it can be said that Ryzen has the upper hand when it comes to multi-tasking and that Intel fares better in single-threaded tasks. The significance of this disparity varies from model to model and actual in-game performance varies from game to game.

Price

Ryzen CPUs are always cheaper than their Intel-produced counterparts, and this comes at no significant loss in performance apart from what we have mentioned above.

Is 2nd Generation Ryzen Worth the Upgrade?

Recently, the second generation of Ryzen processors has been released, and this article has been updated to reflect that. Now, while the new models are definitely a better choice if you’re getting a Ryzen for the first time, the same can’t be said if you already own a first-gen model.

The new Ryzen CPUs did not make any truly remarkable advances over the old ones, and the improvements come down mostly to just minor performance boosts of about 10% – one that you won’t even notice in games.

The Final Word

So ultimately, which is better? At the moment, we have to go with the AMD Ryzen. Not only are they more affordable, with higher core/thread count and with minimal loss in performance that will be unnoticeable in gaming, but they are also more future-proof.

How so?

The new AM4 socket was introduced this year specifically for Ryzen CPUs. Meanwhile, the 8th generation Coffee Lake Intel CPUs are the third generation in a row that has been running on the LGA1151 socket. As such, Intel is far more likely to introduce a new socket in the future. Even if that weren’t the case, it should be noted that the Coffee Lake CPUs are not compatible with older chipsets, which may continue to be the case with their successors.

So, in the end, this is the best time to go with a Ryzen processor. The only rational reason as to why you’d want to invest more in an Intel CPU is if you absolutely need that extra single-core performance, which just might be the case with some professionals out there.

Our Picks

As for which of these CPUs we deem to be the best for gaming, they are the Core i3-8100 for those in the Intel camp, while it is the Ryzen 5 2600X for the AMD team.

Core i3-8100 – A Powerful Budget Solution

best gaming cpu 2018

Most will shun an i3 CPU as an entry-level solution not fitting for any serious gaming PC, but we beg to differ.

Generation after generation, benchmarks have proven that the newer i3 models always outperform a number of the previous generation’s i5 ones, all the while being noticeably cheaper. This is the case with the i3-8100, too.

Combine that with the above statement on current future-proofing concerns with Intel and it becomes abundantly clear as to why we don’t recommend buying any pricey Intel CPU at the moment.

Ryzen 5 2600X – The Best Value

best amd cpu 2018

Indeed, the Ryzen 5 2600X lags slightly behind a similarly-priced Intel i5 counterpart when it comes to gaming, but it makes up for it when it comes to:

  1. Multitasking
  2. Overclocking
  3. Future-proofing

Unlike the 8th generation i5 CPUs, the Ryzen 5 2600X has multithreading, which gives it an edge in regards to multitasking. It is also unlocked, allowing for easy and efficient overclocking. And lastly, there is the question of future-proofing that we have already addressed above.

And there you have it, our guide on the best gaming CPUs currently available. If you’re looking to build a new gaming PC, be sure to check out our article on the best gaming motherboards for 2018 and find one that goes with the CPU you’ve chosen!

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