We rated, reviewed, & compared 22 of the best processors for gaming across various budgets. These top gaming CPUs are perfect for gamers or anyone else looking for a solid desktop processor.
|Intel Core i7-7700K||8(16)||3.6GHz(4.0GHz)||9.6/10|
|AMD Ryzen 5 1600||6(12)||3.2GHz(4.6GHz)||9.2/10|
|AMD Ryzen 5 1400||4(8)||3.2GHz(3.4GHz)||9.1/10|
|Intel Pentium G4560||2(4)||3.5GHz||8.4/10|
The processor is at the center of everything in your computer. It is the “brains” of the operation. And, in order to build a solid gaming computer in 2017, you’re going to need a quality CPU. While some games (like first person shooters) are heavily dependent on your graphics card, other games (like RTS’ and MMORPGs) have many more calculations that need to be carried out and therefore utilize your processor more.
This should factor into your decision when looking for the best gaming CPU for your build.
Another thing you’ll need to take into account is the total budget you’ve set for your build. You obviously don’t want to spend $300 on a processor if you’re building a $400 budget gaming PC, because you wouldn’t have very much money left over for other parts.
And, likewise, putting a $100 processor in a high-end $1,000 gaming PC probably isn’t a good use of your budget as well.
In this post, we will take a look at the best CPUs for gaming in 2017. I’ve broken down the categories into five different price ranges: the best processors over $400, the best processors under $400, the best processors under $300, the best processors under $200, and the best processors under $100.
For each price range, there are multiple CPUs listed and each one has a brief overview of the processor as well as a list of specifications.
With the introduction of AMD’s new Ryzen CPUs, the landscape of desktop processors has shifted.
AMD has long held value in the budget sector for desktop processors, but now they have entered into the conversation when discussing the best all-around CPUs on the market.
And, while nobody expects AMD’s newest chips to end Intel, for the first time in a long time, it is worth considering either of the top two CPU manufacturer’s high-end processors.
Of course, Intel’s 10-core i7-6950X is still the highest performing CPU on the market.
However, it is priced well over $1,500 and is, therefore, not very plausible, especially when you consider that AMD’s Ryzen 7 1800x and Intel’s i7-6800K and i7-7700K—which in terms of in-game performance will perform similarly to the i7-6950X—costs under $500.
Ultimately, though, while the i7-6950X might be a worthy option if you have an enormous budget for your upcoming build, as of right now you’d get better value out of the i7-7700K or a Ryzen 7 1700.
A COMPARISON OF THE TOP CPUS OVER $400 (CLICK ‘READ REVIEW’ TO EXPAND)
The CPUs listed in this price range are split with two AMD CPUs and two Intel CPUs. As of right now, the consensus among most benchmarks shows that Intel’s Kaby Lake CPUs still outperform AMD’s CPUs by a decent margin in gaming.
However, the CPU you choose will not have nearly as big of an impact on your in-game performance as will your video card. Rather, when choosing a processor for your gaming computer, you want to choose one that will not hinder the performance of your video card.
It’s important to note that all of the CPUs in this price range will handle any game just fine and will not hinder even the most powerful of video cards. Even the processors below $300 that are listed below are very viable options and will not create a bottleneck in the majority of situations.
So, then why choose one of these processors if you can save money and go with a sub-$300 CPU?
Well, mostly because these CPUs offer better overall processor performance. While they may not offer more in-game performance, they will provide better performance outside of gaming. So, if you’re looking to do more than just game and high processing power is important to you, then the processors listed below are a good choice.
A COMPARISON OF THE TOP CPUS UNDER $400 (CLICK ‘READ REVIEW’ TO EXPAND)
With AMD’s release of their new Ryzen 5 processors, the market for mid-range CPUs is now completely up in the air. AMD’s newest mid-range processors definitely give Intel’s mid-range options a run for their money.
Where Intel’s CPUs win in single-core performance, AMD’s new CPUs win with extra cores and threads. And, while extra cores and threads used to not be as big of a deal, with modern games starting to utilize them more, they are becoming increasingly important.
So, AMD’s Ryzen 5 processors have really given gamers something to think about in the $200-$300 price range (as well as in the $100-$200 price range.)
Also, while Intel’s CPUs currently outperform AMD’s new Ryzen CPUs slightly in most gaming-specific scenarios, the Ryzen processors aren’t that far behind. And, because they are multi-threaded, can be overclocked, and cost quite a bit less (their stock cooler is acceptable for mild overclocks and their motherboards are cheaper), they actually make more sense than the Intel CPUs in this price range in a lot of different scenarios.
If your main goal is to build a computer solely for gaming and nothing else, then going with Intel makes sense. However, if you are going to be using your computer for CPU-intensive tasks like streaming, or CPU rendering, then the Ryzen 5 options would be your best bet. Also, if you’re looking to save as much money as possible, then Ryzen also makes sense as the cost to build around it as a platform is quite a bit lower.
A COMPARISON OF THE TOP CPUS UNDER $300 (CLICK ‘READ REVIEW’ TO EXPAND)
For gamers who have a lower budget, the CPUs in the under $200 price range are excellent options. In fact, in most gaming scenarios, they offer enough power to not be a hindrance to your video card.
Therefore, if you have less to spend on your gaming computer, you can choose one of these CPUs to help you allocate more to your video card–which will ultimately give you better in-game performance.
The Ryzen 5 1500X and 1400 are probably the best options in this group as they are both very affordable, can be overclocked, and will not hinder even the top video cards in most situation.
All-in-all, these CPUs aren’t the top processors on the market, but they are affordable, powerful for the price, and will get the job done for anyone looking to build a mid-range (or even better) gaming computer.
A COMPARISON OF THE TOP CPUS UNDER $200 (CLICK ‘READ REVIEW’ TO EXPAND)
If you have an extremely tight budget, then you will want to consider take a look at these sub-$100 CPUs.
They won’t offer the best performance, but if you’re just looking to build a system that will at least play most games on lower settings, then they will easily accomplish that.
As mentioned above, the video card you choose will play a bigger role in determining your in-game performance. So, by choosing one of these more affordable CPUs you can allocate more money towards a better video card and you’ll be able to build a solid entry-level gaming PC.
If your budget is so tight that you can’t afford a video card, then the two APUs listed will allow you to build an entry-level system that relies on integrated graphics. This won’t be the best solution, but it will allow you to get your feet in the door.
A COMPARISON OF THE TOP CPUS UNDER $100 (CLICK ‘READ REVIEW’ TO EXPAND)
While list covers my opinions on what the best CPUs for gaming are, it’s inevitable that others will disagree with me. And, that’s fine!
I based this list off of what I believed were the best options in terms of overall performance and value. And, because I mainly looked at price-to-performance, I left some CPUs completely off of the list.
Ultimately, though, if you’re in the market for a new gaming computer and you are planning on buying a new system, or if you are just looking for an upgrade for your current system, and you have questions, please post them below.