Building a gaming PC in 2017 isn’t just about buying the best graphics card. RAM and CPU are just as important and in some games, the processor is more, yes MORE, important. This means you need an equal balance between graphics power, RAM and CPU (processor) in order to get the most from your computer. You don’t want to have a great graphics card with an underperforming CPU. With fast paced games like first-person shooters (Battlefield 1, Titanfall 2 etc.) you would generally favour a graphics card over a CPU but other types of games (Cities: Skylines, Crysis 3, etc.) can favour the CPU over the graphics. There is generally no connection between the type of game and what you should focus the more power on. This is exactly why you should look to get a CPU that compliments your graphics card, existing hardware, preferences and more importantly your budget.
In this CPU buying guide, we will take a look at the best CPU for gaming in 2017 and into the future. We will break down the list into options for both Intel and AMD processors as well as budget and best value options.
Overall Best Processors For Gaming
The table below covers the best processors for gaming. You will notice that they are all Intel CPUs, this isn’t because AMD processors are bad or not capable of gaming but Intel processors provide more features, better performance and better value for money.
The key to buying a CPU is to buy one which will not hinder your graphics card. While doing that we also need to take into consideration if you use the computer for other tasks such as video editing, content creation etc. Overall the same Best Intel processors will work across all tasks but in some cases, it’s better to invest a little more to have a processor that is best for gaming as well as video editing, work, etc. We will have a blog post about the differences between the best CPU for gaming and for work in the coming weeks but in a sentence, it all comes down to hyperthreading and I7 processors from Intel.
Update: In January 2017 Intel announced their new 7th generation Intel CPUs. In the grand scale of things, it doesn’t mean too much right now as the CPUs (at the time of writing) are not released. With that in mind when they do become available the 6th Generation will still likely be on par with the 7th when we talk about gaming. Why is that? Well, like every gamer we measure things on value so if the 6th Generation is better based on a cost to FPS measure then we will recommend that first and foremost.
Best Intel CPU for Gaming
Intel CPUs are arguably the best when it comes to a processor. It is a well-known fact that if you’re looking for performance then Intel is by far the best option at this moment in time. Intel processors tend to get better benchmarks when compared to the AMD counterparts. For example, when you compare the Intel i7-6700K with the FX9590 the clear benchmark winner is Intel. So, even though AMD have double the cores as the Intel it means very little.
In reality, most gamers will opt for an Intel i7 or i5 and pair it up with something like a Nvidia GTX 1070 or 1080 which should allow for great performance on high or ultra settings (depending on exact configuration and game).
Something to note: To get the most from the new 7th generation CPU you would be best served looking for the best Z270 motherboard.
Best AMD CPU for Gaming
Having read about the Intel CPUs above you might be thinking why even bother with AMD CPUs. If you’re looking for sheer performance and you have the budget for a good Intel-powered PC then I would urge you to go down that route. I will be honest and say that in the past two years I haven’t recommended anyone to buy AMD when buying new or when they have a medium to high budget. That being said when you find a good AMD processor for a low price then snap it up, or even if you’re on a low budget then AMD might be best the CPU for your gaming requirements.