The ideal gaming processor: Buying tips for AMD and Intel CPUs from 70 euros

Which CPU is ideal for PC games – we’ll tell you what to look out for and have a buying tip ready for every budget.

Intel’s comeback succeeds with the 12th series of core processors – the semiconductor giant is now again on an equal footing with AMD. The duel of the fastest gaming CPU (click here for the test) between the

AMD Ryzen 7 5800X3D

(from 480 euros) and the

Intel Core i9-12900KF

(from 570 euros), however, wins the AMD processor – albeit narrowly. AMD also has advantages in terms of platform costs: suitable mainboards are cheaper for the AMD Ryzen 5000 series (link to the test) than for the 12th core generation from Intel. The AMD processors also usually offer better multi-core performance per euro.

Intel’s 11th core generation “Rocket Lake” (link to the test) attracts with attractive prices – all CPUs have 6 or 8 cores and support Hyperthreading – so they can process twice as many tasks at the same time.

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.

Entry-level gaming CPU

Intel Core i3-10105F

+ high clock rate (3.7 to 4.4 GHz)

+ 8 threads

– Multiplier not freely selectable

– only 4 CPU cores

Entry-level gaming CPU 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

+ Multiplier freely selectable

Price-performance tip

AMD Ryzen 5 5500

+ high clock rate (3.6 to 4.2 GHz)

+ 6 CPU cores / 12 threads

+ 24 PCIe 4.0 lanes

+ Multiplier freely selectable

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

CPU test:

The best desktop processors in a big comparison

Future-proof gaming CPUs

AMD Ryzen 9 5900X

+ very high clock rate (3.7 to 4.8 GHz)

+ 12 CPU cores / 24 threads

+ 24 PCIe 4.0 lanes

+ Multiplier freely selectable

– expensive

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

+ Multiplier freely selectable

– expensive

Best Gaming CPU

AMD Ryzen 7 5800X3D

+ very high clock rate (3.4 to 4.5 GHz)

+ 8 CPU cores / 16 threads

+ 24 PCIe 4.0 lanes

+ Multiplier freely selectable

– expensive

Intel Core i9-12900KS

+ very high clock rate (3.4 to 5.5 GHz)

+ 16 CPU cores / 24 threads

+ Multiplier freely selectable

+ 16x PCIe 5.0, 4x PCIe 4.0

– very expensive

Buyer’s Guide: Gaming CPUs

Sure: The better the graphics card, the smoother games run and the higher you can screw the quality settings. But the CPU must match the graphics card, otherwise the processor slows down the graphics card. As a rough rule of thumb: For a reasonable gaming PC, around 60 percent of your total budget should flow into the graphics card-CPU combination in a 2:1 ratio. With a 1000 euro PC, for example, 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 take part in the outrageous price gouging of graphics cards, you can get one for around 230 euros

AMD Ryzen 5 5600G

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

A gaming CPU should be able to do that

High beat:

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 instructions/clock cycle (IPC = instructions per cycle) between AMD and Intel is difficult. Roughly speaking, it can be said that Intel achieves the highest IPC value with the 12th core generation. The Ryzen 5000 performs slightly better than the 11th core generation.

Good overclockability:

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

Indirect factors include greater cooling. For best results, use water cooling. But also make sure that the case is well ventilated, otherwise the best water cooling is useless. 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 every last bit of performance 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 be standard in game development in one to two years. There are two reasons for this: Firstly, the gaming industry is increasingly developing cross-platform games. 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 cheap Ryzen 7 series lowers the entry price and thus ensures an increasing spread of eight-core CPUs. For example, you can get the octa cores for just under 300 euros

AMD Ryzen 7 5800X

or the

Intel Core i7-11700F

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

Intel Core i3-10100F

are even available for less than 70 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 running game, for example playing with TeamSpeak, listening to Spotify playlists or reading Whatsapp messages on the second screen and playing YouTube videos.

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