Choosing the Best CPU for
Your Gaming Computer
Choosing the best CPU for gaming can be a confusing decision for you if you don't understand much about CPUs and what's happening in the PC market. There are many different models to choose from, all with different features and speeds, so how do you know which CPU is right for you?
The following information will help you understand a little bit about the world of CPUs, so that you can make a smarter choice in choosing the best CPU for your gaming needs. We will also provide specific recommendations on the best-rated gaming CPUs to buy right now if you are looking for both value and performance.
So what exactly is the CPU anyway? The CPU (Central Processing Unit) is one of the most important components in any computer system, and could be described as the brains of a computer. It contains the logic circuitry that performs the instructions of the software you run. The performance of your games and other applications will be directly related to this tiny little microprocessor.
Picking the latest, fastest or most expensive processor on the market won’t always result in the right CPU for your particular system. The first thing to know is that you will need to make sure the CPU you choose will match your motherboard. Not all CPUs work with all motherboards, so you should check to see that your CPU has the same 'processor interface' as your motherboard.
The Major Players: Intel and AMD
If you weren't already aware there are two companies that dominate the CPU market, Intel and AMD (Advanced Micro Devices). Both make a range of different processor models at different price ranges. For example, Intel have the Core i7 and Core i5 processor models, while AMD have the Athlon and Phenom series.
The Intel versus AMD debate is always a popular one, and at the time of writing I would recommend either as they both have excellent processor models out on the market right now.
The Best CPU for Gaming
For gaming you will need a capable CPU in your system to be able to run the latest games smoothly. I would highly suggest either the Intel Core i5 or the Intel Core i7 series of processors for gaming. They are the most popular, and provide the best performance for your money at the time of writing.
Choosing between an i5 model or an i7 will largely depend on how much you want to spend on your processor, as i7 models are slightly faster yet usually more expensive. If you want to go with AMD instead, consider the AMD Phenom X4 models which are more suited to those on a tighter budget but still want top performance for gaming.
Cooling Your CPU
These days the best CPUs produce so much heat they require their own cooling system. Processors usually come with a default heatsink/fan to help cool itself down. But if you feel that the stock fan won't cool your CPU enough, then it can replaced with a better-performing aftermarket cpu cooler if you want improved cooling. If you're going to be overclocking your CPU, then chances are you probably need to get a better cooler than the standard CPUs cooler.
Choosing the best CPU for gaming can be a confusing task, but hopefully this article has shed some light on making a more informed choice. Since the processor is such a critical component in any gaming system, I would recommend buying the best CPU you can afford for a high-performing gaming system that will last.
If you're looking for specific recommendations on the best CPUs to buy right now, take a look at the CPUs I recommend in the Recommended Custom Gaming Builds. The builds are updated monthly and the CPUs chosen for them are some of the best-rated CPUs for value and performance.
Screenshot from EA's Crysis 2
Choosing the Best CPU Cooler
About Quad Core CPUs
Intro to Computer Overclocking
How a CPU Works
What Is Cache Memory?
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