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Gaming Processors

A powerful processor is one of the most important components of any gaming system, and this is doubly true if you want to take advantage of those spiffy Ultra settings. High-quality PC components are a must if you want to enjoy increasingly graphically intensive videogames. If you are buying a new processor, the first parameter that should interest you is the clock speed and number of cores. What are some other key parameters you need when choosing a gaming processor?

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Basic Gaming Processor Parameters

Processor Clock Speed

Clock speed is probably the best-known feature of any processor, familiar even to casual PC users. To put it simply, it’s essentially the processor speed, which is listed in GHz. The higher the number, the more powerful the processor, but the number of cores is also an important factor to consider.

How Many Cores for a Gaming CPU?

The number of cores indicates how many simultaneous tasks the processor can handle. The more cores, the more tasks. Your choice should therefore depend on what games do you want to run on your system.

  • For less demanding or old-school games, a dual core processor will do.
  • If you want an all-around good compromise, get a quad-core processor, such as the Intel Core i5 or the AMD FX series. These will run even performance-heavy games, but not necessarily at the highest settings.
  • If you want your system to be future-proof and enjoy playing PC games at Ultra, we recommend that you purchase an Intel Core i7 or AMD Ryzen processor with six core or more.

Automatic Overclocking

Most modern processors are equipped with automatic overclocking by default. These processors then have the so-called base clock speed, for example 3 GHz, and the OC clock speed that could be about 3.6 GHz. The processor can dynamically boost its base clock speed in response to the momentary performance requirements. For Intel processors this tech is called Turbo Boost, while AMD CPUs use Turbo Core.

Other Gaming Processor Features

  • Hyper Threading / Multi Threading - this is a feature that allows the processor to process twice the number of threads than it has cores. Essentially, each core behaves as if it were two standalone cores. You can usually find this feature on the more powerful and expensive processors.
  • Box - some processors come with a heatsink.
  • Integrated GPUs - some of the better processors also have an integrated GPU, powerful enough for everyday computer work; however, its performance is insufficient for gaming and you will need a dedicated graphics card.
  • Manual overclocking - for hardcore gamers, there are processors with an unlocked multiplier that can be overclocked manually. With Intel, you can identify these processors by the letters “K” or “X” in their designation (for example, Intel Core i7-7700K). AMD refers to them as Black Edition. All AMD Ryzen processors also have an unlocked multiplier.

Things to Watch out for When Choosing a Gaming Processor

When buying a gaming processor, you have to keep in mind the performance of other computer components, especially the gaming graphics card, which is the single most important component you need for gaming. The processor and the graphics card should be balanced in power to ensure there won’t be any performance bottlenecks—there is no point in investing in an expensive processor if your graphics card can’t keep up. As an inspiration, you can check out our article on How to Combine a Motherboard, CPU and GPU, where you can find several examples of what a balanced system looks like.

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