Getting the best CPU for gaming that you can afford is a good investment. While the price of a new CPU might be intimidating, and yet another expense, it's also at the heart of any gaming PC build and will likely stay with you while you upgrade other parts of your rig. It's also vital for the performance of other apps, outside of play, and having the best CPU for gaming will also cover the programs you use day to day. It's vital if you're multi-tasking too, so a good PC for streaming or recording footage needs a great CPU inside it.
The best CPUs for gaming come from either Intel or AMD, who continue to totally dominate the CPU landscape. The newest and most powerful CPU is the AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX, which brings 32 cores and and 64 threads with it (along with quite a hefty $2000 pricetag too). For anyone looking for a good, solid, not too expensive CPU for a gaming build, we'd recommend either the Intel i5-8600K, or the Ryzen 5 2600X, although the Intel chips are generally better for gaming. If you're looking for a PC that handles other usage as well as gaming, you may need a slightly faster chip like the Ryzen 7, especially if budget is an issue.
The fastest processor for games, streaming, and more
Cores: 8 | Threads: 16 | Base Clock: 3.6GHz | Turbo Clock: 5.0GHz | Overclocking: Yes, 4.9-5.0GHz typical | L3 Cache: 16MB | TDP: 95W | PCIe 3.0 lanes: 16
Excellent gaming performance at a lower price
Cores: 8 | Threads: 8 | Base Clock: 3.6GHz | Turbo Clock: 4.9GHz | Overclocking: Yes, 4.9-5.1GHz typical | L3 Cache: 12MB | TDP: 95W | PCIe 3.0 lanes: 16
The previous gen king is still a great choice
Cores: 6 | Threads: 12 | Base Clock: 3.7GHz | Turbo Clock: 4.7GHz | Overclocking: Yes, 4.9-5.0GHz typical | L3 Cache: 12MB | TDP: 95W | PCIe 3.0 lanes: 16
The best mainstream CPU: great performance and a great price
Cores: 6 | Threads: 6 | Base Clock: 3.8GHz | Turbo Clock: 4.0GHz | Overclocking: No | L3 Cache: 9MB | TDP: 65W | PCIe 3.0 lanes: 16
Our favorite AMD CPU, with six cores and great performance at a bargain price
Cores: 6 | Threads: 12 | Base Clock: 3.6GHz | Turbo Clock: 4.2GHz | Overclocking: Yes, 4.1GHz typical | L3 Cache: 16MB | TDP: 65W | PCIe 3.0 lanes: 20
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