The ideal gaming processor: Buying tips for AMD and Intel CPUs from 100 euros

Which CPU is ideal for PC games – we tell you what to look out for and have buying tips for every budget.

With the AMD Ryzen 5000 CPU series (link to the test), Intel’s years of supremacy have come to an end. The AMD processors currently offer the highest single and multicore performance in the mainstream desktop. In the meantime, Intel has reacted and holds back with attractive prices and improved functionality of the current 11th core generation “Rocket Lake” (link to the test): All Intel CPUs have 6 or 8 cores and support hyperthreading – so they can do twice as many tasks process at the same time.

At the same time, the high demand for AM4 CPUs is causing the price of AMD processors to rise. So it’s a good time to compare what AMD and Intel have to offer. With our recommendations you will find the ideal gaming processor for every budget. Immediately afterwards, we have summarized the most important tips that you should consider when buying a CPU.

CPU test: the best desktop processors in a large comparison

Gaming CPU for beginners

Intel Core i3-10105F

+ high clock rate (3.7 to 4.4 GHz)

+ 8 threads

– Multiplier not freely selectable

– only 4 CPU cores

Gaming CPU for beginners with integrated graphics chip

AMD Ryzen 5 5600G

+ high clock rate (3.9 to 4.4 GHz)

+ with onboard graphics suitable for gaming (Radeon with 7CU / 448SP at 1.9 GHz)

+ six CPU cores / 12 threads

+ Freely selectable multiplier

Inexpensive gaming CPUs

Intel Core i5-10400F (G1)

+ high clock rate (2.9 to 4.3 GHz)

+ 6 CPU cores / 12 threads

– Multiplier not freely selectable

Price-performance tip

Intel Core i5-11400F

+ high clock rate (2.6 to 4.4 GHz)

+ 6 CPU cores / 12 threads

+ efficient CPU architecture Rocket-Lake-S

+ 20 PCIe 4.0 lanes

– Multiplier not freely selectable

Future-proof gaming CPUs

Intel Core i7-12700K

+ very high clock rate (3.6 to 5 GHz)

+ 12 CPU cores / 20 threads

+ efficient CPU architecture Alder Lake-S

+ 16x PCIe 5.0, 4x PCIe 4.0

+ Freely selectable multiplier

– expensive

AMD Ryzen 7 5800X

+ very high clock rate (3.8 to 4.7 GHz)

+ 8 CPU cores / 16 threads

+ 24 PCIe 4.0 lanes

+ Freely selectable multiplier

– expensive

Best gaming CPU

Intel Core i9-12900K

+ very high clock rate (3.2 to 5.2 GHz)

+ 16 CPU cores / 24 threads

+ Freely selectable multiplier

+ 16x PCIe 5.0, 4x PCIe 4.0

– very expensive

AMD Ryzen 9 5900X

+ very high clock rate (3.7 to 4.8 GHz)

+ 12 CPU cores / 24 threads

+ 24 PCIe 4.0 lanes

+ Freely selectable multiplier

– very expensive

Buying advice: gaming CPUs

Sure: the better the graphics card, the smoother games run and the higher you can adjust the quality settings. But the CPU must match the graphics card, otherwise the processor will slow down the graphics card. As a rough rule of thumb: For a sensible gaming PC, around 60 percent of your total budget should go into the graphics card-CPU combination at a ratio of 2: 1. For example, with a 1000 euro PC, you put 400 euros in the graphics card and around 200 euros in the CPU – assuming “normal” graphics card prices.

If you don’t want to participate in the outrageous price gouging for graphics cards at the moment, you can get the for around 250 euros

AMD Ryzen 5 5600G

with onboard graphics chip suitable for gaming and upgraded later with a graphics card. However, the 5600G is only suitable for gaming in Full HD in the test, and you have to reduce the image quality for graphically demanding games.

A gaming CPU should be able to do that

High cycle:

The most important criterion for a gaming processor is still the highest possible clock frequency. It should be at least 3 GHz, frequencies from 4 GHz are ideal. Due to the different microprocessor architecture, a direct comparison of the clock rates, or rather the commands / clock cycle (IPC = Instructions per Cycle) between AMD and Intel is difficult. It can be roughly said that Intel achieved the highest IPC value with the 11th Core generation. Compared to the 10th core generation, the Ryzen 5000 does a little better.

Good overclockability:

When buying a gaming CPU, pay attention to the overclocking properties in order to screw the clock rate even higher than the manufacturer intended. The direct factors here include a freely selectable multiplier that makes overclocking very easy. With Intel this is the case with all Extreme Editions and models with a “K”, with AMD all Ryzen models have a freely selectable multiplier.

Increased cooling is one of the indirect factors. You will achieve the best results with water cooling. But make sure that the case is well ventilated, otherwise the best water cooling will not do anything. A high-quality motherboard with robust voltage converters and numerous setting options in the UEFI is also helpful for overclocking (OC), so that you can tickle the last bit of power out of your CPU.

At least 4 CPU cores:

Most demanding games these days are optimized for four to six processor cores. However, only CPUs with at least eight cores are future-proof, as we believe that octa-cores will become the standard in game development in one to two years. There are two reasons for this: On the one hand, the gaming industry is increasingly developing games across platforms. And in the current console generation of Xbox Series X and PS 5 – as in the previous consoles – eight cores from AMD are installed.

On the other hand, the comparatively inexpensive Ryzen 7 series lowers the entry-level price and thus ensures that eight-core CPUs are becoming more widespread. For around 300 or 260 euros, for example, you can get the Octa-Cores

AMD Ryzen 7 5700G

or the

Intel Core i7-10700F

– virtual eight-core (4 cores with SMT, i.e. 8 threads) like the one

Intel Core i3-10100F

are even available for less than 80 euros. It is therefore increasingly worthwhile for game developers to optimize games for more than four CPU cores.

In addition, more cores offer another important advantage: You can use more programs more efficiently in parallel without slowing down the ongoing game, for example playing with Team Speak, listening to Spotify playlists or reading WhatsApp messages on the second screen and playing YouTube videos.

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