HP TECH TAKES /...

Exploring today's technology for tomorrow's possibilities
The Best CPUs for Gaming in 2018

The Best CPUs for Gaming in 2018

Jolene Dobbin
|
When it comes to the cast of a gaming PC, the graphics processing unit (GPU) is often and rightfully the central character. However, a key part of the production behind the scenes is the central processing unit (CPU) or processor for short, which can be characterized as the director or “brain” of a laptop or desktop PC.
In fact, it’s often one of the most critical components of a PC, especially when it comes to gaming. So what is the best CPU for gaming? Well the simple answer is that there are more than a few choices. Here are just a few of the best gaming CPUs in 2018.

AMD and Intel processors

Any lists featuring the best CPUs for PC gaming would be remiss to leave out AMD® and Intel®. Both AMD and Intel are leaders in the CPU market, and are constantly innovating with new and improved products targeting a number of industries.
They both offer an array of CPUs that happen to work really well for PC gamers, even if some weren’t necessarily built with only gaming in mind. As these two front-runners continue to compete, the end results are faster, more improved, higher performing, and lower-cost CPUs. And gamers can continue to reap the benefits.
There are far too many models to cover in this short overview, so consider what we’re presenting here to be a sampling of some of the best of their products. We’ve separated the products by each manufacturer and their leading offerings for best CPUs for gaming and streaming, as well as both the best budget gaming computer CPUs and high-end picks.

Best AMD CPU for gaming: AMD Ryzen 5 2600X

  • Number of cores: 6
  • Threads: 12
  • Base/Turbo clock speed: 3.6 GHz/4.2 GHz
  • Overclocking capabilities: Yes
  • Average price: $220
Kicking off the AMD processor list, the AMD Ryzen 5 2600X is one of best gaming CPUs with 6 cores and 12 threads for outstanding performance at a decent price. This second-generation Ryzen model is a solid processor for gaming performance in particular.
This gaming CPU offers nearly the same stats as some of the slightly more expensive models that are next in line (e.g., the 2700X). And that’s probably because it can get up to 4.2 GHz of boosted speeds.
It also ships with a Wraith Spire Cooler, featuring a circular design and fan with a top-down airflow design for excellent thermal performance. The AMD Ryzen 5 2600X will also let you stream and perform other non-gaming related applications.

Best AMD CPU for gaming and streaming: AMD Ryzen 7 2700X

  • Number of cores: 8
  • Threads: 16
  • Base/Turbo clock speed: 3.7 GHz/4.3 GHz
  • Overclocking capabilities: Yes
  • Average price: $320
Live game streaming is enormously popular today. And Twitch is probably the most popular platform on which to showcase your skills, build your audience, and ply your trade. If you’re streaming games, you’ll want to use a processor that has a high number of cores in addition to other important measurements such as frames per second (FPS).
The AMD Ryzen 7 2700X is one of the best CPUs for gaming and streaming with 8 cores and 16 threads, making it ideal for streaming some of the more power and resource demanding triple-A (AAA) rated and multithreaded games. It’s capable of speeds boosted up 4.3 GHz.
It’s also bundled with AMD’s premium Wraith Prism Cooler cooling solution for air-cooled processors, with RGB color-configurable LED illumination, offering transparent fan blades, quiet acoustics, and high-performing thermal capabilities.

Best Intel CPU for gaming: Intel Core i5-8600K

  • Number of cores: 6
  • Threads: 6
  • Base/Turbo clock speed: 3.6 GHz/4.3 GHz
  • Overclocking capabilities: Yes
  • Average price: $250
First on the Intel side of the best CPU for gaming, is the Intel Core i5-8600K, which is a solid processor with 6 cores and 6 threads and, like the Intel Core i7-8700K featured below, is based on Intel's Skylake architecture.
While it lacks the i7-8700K’s Intel Hyper-Threading Technology (which delivers two processing threads per physical core), it makes up for it with its outstanding overclocking capabilities, which let you adjust your PC’s core, power, memory, and more for enhanced performance and gameplay.
It’s capable of delivering similar levels of multi-threaded CPU performance as the competing 12 thread Ryzen 5 (see AMD Ryzen 5 2600X above).

Best Intel CPU for gaming and streaming: Intel Core i7-8700K

  • Number of cores: 6
  • Threads: 12
  • Base/Turbo clock speed: 3.7 GHz/4.7 GHz
  • Overclocking capabilities: Yes
  • Average price: $340
Part of the 8th Generation Intel Core i7 processors (and one of Intel’s fastest family of processors) the Intel Core i7-8700K is also one of the fastest processors for gaming and streaming.
It’s a 6-core CPU with 12 threads from hyper-threading, delivering 2 processing threads per physical core, allowing more work to be accomplished in parallel, completing tasks sooner, with performance benefits for gaming.
The Intel Core i7-8700K provides some of the highest clock speeds (boost speed at 4.7 GHz) that Intel offers. It’s especially useful for streaming, as most games don’t use more than 4 cores, so you’ve got two more for streaming in addition to other applications.
One of the best CPUs for PC gaming, the Intel Core i7-8700K is also perfect if you’re looking to build your own gaming PC. If you’re looking for one that’s already built, you’ll find the non-K SKU of 8700, which runs cooler but has a lower base clock speed than the 8700K, in the top-performing HP Pavilion Gaming Desktop 790.

Best budget AMD CPU: AMD Ryzen 3 2200G

  • Number of cores: 4
  • Threads: 4
  • Base/Turbo clock speed: 3.5 GHz/3.7 GHz
  • Overclocking capabilities: Yes
  • Average price: $99
The AMD Ryzen 3 2200G is a leader in the best budget gaming CPU category. It was one of the first AMD processors to ship with integrated Radeon Vega graphics, delivering smooth and fast performance for gaming applications.
While it may be a bit slower than a dedicated GPU, the integrated graphics also means you can inexpensively play games without a dedicated GPU. When building your own system, not needing to buy a graphics card may make all the difference with being able to budget appropriately and save substantially.
The 4-core, 4-thread Ryzen 3 2200G also delivers a solid turbo clock speed of up to 3.7 GHz. It’s unlocked, which means its clock multiplier is not permanently set, so with the appropriate amount of cooling you can tune it to meet your needs.

Best high-end AMD CPU for gaming: AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1920X

  • Number of cores: 12
  • Threads: 24
  • Base/Turbo clock speed: 3.5 GHz/4.0 GHz
  • Overclocking capabilities: Yes
  • Average price: $535
The AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1920X is 12-core, 24-thread CPU that’s built on AMD's Zen architecture, which is designed to better use available resources by enabling higher throughput and performance over previous architecture configurations. The base clock speed is 3.5 GHz and it can get up to 4.0 GHz boosted speeds while overclocking.
The Ryzen Threadripper 1920X is a powerful CPU at a decent price, especially considering the number of cores and threads that it offers (although that price may be somewhat steep depending on your application/s).
Keep in mind that AMD does offer other Ryzen Threadripper CPUs with 18, 24, and now 32 cores, but that kind of power might not be necessary for all gaming applications.

Best budget Intel CPU for gaming: Intel Core i5-8400

  • Number of cores: 6
  • Threads: 6
  • Base/Turbo clock speed: 2.8 GHz/4.0 GHz
  • Overclocking capabilities: No
  • Average price: $180
The Intel Core i5-8400 is one of the best budget CPUs for PC gaming as it features 6 powerful cores with 6 threads, offering leading PC gaming performance in a more cost-effective choice.
While it doesn’t feature Intel Hyper-Threading Technology (two processing threads per physical core), it does come bundled with thermal monitoring technologies and it boasts higher clock speeds than the previous generation’s models as well as matching performance levels.
You can get the most of out of this processor without having to worry about overclocking: the 2.8 GHz base speed can reach 4.0 GHz on a single core. It’s speedy, affordable, and ideal for most gaming applications as well as other tasks.

Best high-end Intel CPU for gaming: Intel Core i9-7900X

  • Number of cores: 10
  • Threads: 20
  • Base/Turbo clock speed: 3.3 GHz/4.5 GHz
  • Overclocking capabilities: Yes
  • Average price: $960
The Intel Core i9-7900X is one of the leaders of the high-end pack for the best gaming CPU for the PC. It features a whopping 10 cores and 20 threads for exciting multi-threaded performance capabilities, though it’s a rather expensive model that also needs a lot of cooling, preferably liquid cooling.
Part of the newer Intel Core X-Series processor family, the i9-7900X can scale to your gaming needs by offering more cores for extreme performance. This CPU offers Intel Turbo Boost Max Technology 3.0 to identify the two best performing cores on a processor and provide increased performance on those cores through increasing frequency as needed by taking advantage of power and thermal headroom.
In addition, the turbo speed clocks in at a high 4.5 GHz on the Intel Core i9-7900X.

Summary

You may not need all of this power for certain gaming applications, but you’ll be primed for future extreme gaming needs as well as having a premier platform for other gaming and non-gaming needs like live streaming, content creation, desktop video editing or graphic design on your laptop.
About the Author: Jolene Dobbin is a contributing writer for HP® Tech Takes. Jolene is an East Coast-based writer with experience creating strategic messaging, marketing, and sales content for companies in the high-tech industry.

Disclosure: Our site may get a share of revenue from the sale of the products featured on this page.

Disclaimer

Prices, specifications, availability and terms of offers may change without notice. Price protection, price matching or price guarantees do not apply to Intra-day, Daily Deals or limited-time promotions. Quantity limits may apply to orders, including orders for discounted and promotional items. Despite our best efforts, a small number of items may contain pricing, typography, or photography errors. Correct prices and promotions are validated at the time your order is placed. These terms apply only to products sold by HP.com; reseller offers may vary. Items sold by HP.com are not for immediate resale. Orders that do not comply with HP.com terms, conditions, and limitations may be cancelled. Contract and volume customers not eligible.

HP’s MSRP is subject to discount. HP’s MSRP price is shown as either a stand-alone price or as a strike-through price with a discounted or promotional price also listed. Discounted or promotional pricing is indicated by the presence of an additional higher MSRP strike-through price

The following applies to HP systems with Intel 6th Gen and other future-generation processors on systems shipping with Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 Pro systems downgraded to Windows 7 Professional, Windows 8 Pro, or Windows 8.1: This version of Windows running with the processor or chipsets used in this system has limited support from Microsoft. For more information about Microsoft’s support, please see Microsoft’s Support Lifecycle FAQ at https://support.microsoft.com/lifecycle

Ultrabook, Celeron, Celeron Inside, Core Inside, Intel, Intel Logo, Intel Atom, Intel Atom Inside, Intel Core, Intel Inside, Intel Inside Logo, Intel vPro, Itanium, Itanium Inside, Pentium, Pentium Inside, vPro Inside, Xeon, Xeon Phi, Xeon Inside, and Intel Optane are trademarks of Intel Corporation or its subsidiaries in the U.S. and/or other countries.

In-home warranty is available only on select customizable HP desktop PCs. Need for in-home service is determined by HP support representative. Customer may be required to run system self-test programs or correct reported faults by following advice given over phone. On-site services provided only if issue can't be corrected remotely. Service not available holidays and weekends.

HP will transfer your name and address information, IP address, products ordered and associated costs and other personal information related to processing your application to Bill Me Later®. Bill Me Later will use that data under its privacy policy.

Microsoft Windows 10: Not all features are available in all editions or versions of Windows 10. Systems may require upgraded and/or separately purchased hardware, drivers, software or BIOS update to take full advantage of Windows 10 functionality. Windows 10 is automatically updated, which is always enabled. ISP fees may apply and additional requirements may apply over time for updates. See http://www.microsoft.com.

“Best All In One Printer” and “the easiest printer you’ve ever had to set up” from Wirecutter. ©2020 The Wirecutter, Inc.. All rights reserved. Used under license. https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/reviews/best-all-in-one-printer/

Get Marvel’s Avengers when you purchase HP gaming PCs with qualifying 9th gen or 10th gen Intel® Core™ i5, i7 and i9 processors. Redemption code will be sent out by email within 60 days of purchase. Limited quantities and while supply lasts. Offer valid thru 12/31/2020 only while supplies last. We reserve the right to replace titles in the offer for ones of equal or greater value. Certain titles may not be available to all consumers because of age restrictions. The Offer may be changed, cancelled, or suspended at any time, for any reason, without notice, at Intel’s reasonable discretion if its fairness or integrity affected whether due to human or technical error. The Offer sponsor is Intel Corporation, 2200 Mission College Blvd., Santa Clara, CA 95054, USA. To participate you must create an Intel Digital Hub Account, purchase a qualifying product during the redemption period, enter a valid Master Key, and respond to a brief survey. Information you submit is collected, stored, processed, and used on servers in the USA. For more information on offer details, eligibility, restrictions, and our privacy policy, visit https://softwareoffer.intel.com/offer/20Q3-19/terms.

© 2020 MARVEL. © Intel Corporation. Intel, the Intel logo, and other Intel marks are trademarks of Intel Corporation or its subsidiaries in the U.S. and/or other countries. Other names and brands may be claimed as the property of others.

The personal information you provide will be used according to the HP Privacy Statement (https://www8.hp.com/us/en/privacy/ww-privacy.html)