The Top 5 Best CPUs for Gaming (2018-2019)

best Gaming CPUs

The Best Gaming CPUs (2018-2019)

?Thinking about a new CPU for your gaming rig? Good, this isn't an area to skimp on. The CPU is a major factor in your gaming experience. Look no further. Get the scoop on the top five best CPUs for gaming.

Number One: Intel Core i5 8600

Cores: 6 | Threads: 6 | Base clock: 3.1 GHz | Cache: 9 MB | Socket: LGA 1151

Why should you buy this: The Intel Core i5 8600 is a workhorse. It’s fast, durable and gets the job done without a struggle.

Who’s it for: This CPU is best for gamers looking for high quality at an acceptable price. Gamers making this choice won’t need to upgrade for quite some time.

How much will it cost: currently, $219

Why we picked it: It’s a CPU gamers of every level can appreciate. It’s honestly the best CPU performance wise for the money spent. On a technical level we love the base 3.1 GHz clock speed. Modern games are adding more detailed graphics and effects, that 3.1 GHz clock speed mixed with Intel’s architecture not only keeps your GPU idle times down, but it helps reduce bottlenecks. Not everyone is looking to overclock and the i5 8600 doesn’t leave much room to think about it. It starts out fast and stays that way until you smash it with a hammer.

Number Two: Intel Core i3 8100

Cores: 4 | Threads: 4 | Base clock: 3.6 GHz | Cache: 6 MB | Socket: LGA 1151

Why should you buy this: It’s a steal. Everyone loves more cores, Intel just added two and kept it the same price as last generation.

Who’s it for: The gamer on a budget. It’s an excellent performer for the price.

How much will it cost: currently, $118

Why we picked it: It’s an amazing deal. Modern games are getting better at utilizing multiple CPU cores. The change from two to four cores made the i3 a serious choice in a gaming build. The i3 8100 shares the same Intel architecture as the i5 above and it even boasts a higher base 3.6 GHz clock speed. Depending on the game, you may not even notice a difference in performance between our number one and number two choices. In fact, in games focused on single core performance, the i3 might even jump out ahead.

Number Three: AMD Ryzen 5 2600X

Cores: 6 | Threads: 12 | Base clock: 3.6 GHz | Cache: 16 MB | Socket: AM4

Why should you buy this: The AMD Ryzen 5 2600X is the direct competition to the i5 we listed as number one. It’s close in performance but where it really shines is multitasking.

Who’s it for: Gamers who like to keep something running in the background. Streamers who need to record their session, torrent lovers with a couple downloads going, or even the gamer with 50+ tabs open in their browser.

How much will it cost: currently, $209

Why we picked it: The AMD Ryzen 5 2600X provides more than a great gaming experience. It provides adaptability. With 12 threads we get double the potential instruction streams of Intel’s i5. This means that all 6 cores can be working on two tasks at once. As we said, it’s a multitasker. But this comes at a cost. Splitting its execution resources in two, the AMD Ryzen 5 2600X falls short in single core performance. Otherwise it’s a great contender.  

Number Four: Intel Pentium G4400

Cores: 2 | Threads: 2 | Base clock: 3.3 GHz | Cache: 3 MB | Socket: LGA 1151

Why should you buy this: it’s a great stepping stone into a gaming build. You can also easily pick up one of our first two choices If you ever decide to upgrade. With a $47 price tag, it’s minimal risk. I think I spent more on the dirt in my garden.

Who’s it for: The penny pincher. The super budget builder. The gamer who just wants to play. Your cheap friend who never gets his build together but constantly talks about joining you online someday.

How much will it cost: currently, $47

Why we picked it: The Intel Pentium G4400 is an amazing budget CPU under $50. First off it has built-in graphics. That’s a huge plus in any budget CPU. You will have to turn down your settings a bit if you decide to use the built-in graphics. But with a 3.3 GHz clock speed the G4400 is no slouch. It can handle most games old and new.

It’s not high end by any means but when paired with a dedicated GPU it can offer some medium to high level graphics. The G4400 also shares the same LGA 1151 socket as our i5 and i3 choices. So, as we mentioned above, you can easily upgrade in the future.

Side note for our AMD fans: If you’re thinking about upgrading into our number three choice, the AMD Ryzen 5 2600X, you can look at the AMD A6-9500 which is the G4400 equivalent on the AM4 socket.

Number Five: Xeon E5-1620 v4

Cores: 4 | Threads: 8 | Base clock: 3.5 GHz | Cache: 10 MB | Socket: LGA2011-3

Why should you buy this: The Xeon E5-1620 v4 mouthful is a specialty choice. It's not on here for bragging rights. Most gamers will be better off with our other choices. But if you fit the profile, this might be the perfect CPU for you.

Who’s it for: The game maker. This is a great workstation CPU. It’s perfect for gamers looking to do a little development of their own. This is for the gamers working with code, rendering, modeling and other heavy load applications. The best part, it plays games just as well as it can help you make them.

How much will it cost: currently, $299

Why we picked it: The Xeon E5-1650 v4 is a heavy-duty multitasker with a respectable 3.5 GHz clock speed. But where it stands out is Intel’s Hyper-Threading Technology. Similar to our number three AMD choice, the Xeon E5-1650 v4 has double the thread to core count. Which means that each core can take on double the potential instruction streams. The major difference though is how Intel’s Hyper-Threading manages this process. Instead of splitting each cores resource pool, each thread executes from the same resource pool. This allows more flexibility in the draw of each application and maintains better single core performance.

Another important factor is ECC (Error Correction Code) memory support. The average gamer won't ever need it. In fact, it will only slow you down. ECC is for those who need to keep data corruption to an absolute minimum. As we mentioned above, this is a specialty choice. Most gamers will be extremely satisfied with the other choices in the top 5.

How We Decided

We wanted to make a list of the top 5 best CPUs for Gaming. We also wanted it to be realistic. It’s easy to pick out a bunch of top of the line CPUs, not so easy for everyone to afford them. Our list is about providing value in performance for money spent.

You should notice that we didn’t include any CPUs over $300. In fact, our number one choice, the Intel Core i5 8600 is only $219. Why? We didn’t need to. Most games don’t have the ability to fully utilize the potential of modern CPUs. Aside from our super budget choice, every CPU on the list should allow high to maximum graphic settings when paired with a dedicated graphics card.

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Jack is a certified jack of all trades. Seriously, his certifications range from computer hardware to neurological disorders. He is even a certified Olympic boxing coach, the man has an obsession.
Gamer Since: 1997
Favorite Genre: RPG
Currently Playing: r/outside
Top 3 Favorite Games:Baldur's Gate, Bastion, Metro 2033
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