Buying a new gaming PC is fun. Whether you build it yourself or buy one of the best off-the-shelf gaming PCs, this is your preference. And at the heart of it all is which processor you get.
The processor is the heart of any PC, and it is critical to running it right. If you make the wrong choice, you may regret it. And when choosing the best processor, you should think about more than whether you go for Intel or AMD.
There are several key aspects to consider when choosing a processor that will make the buying process a little easier.
How to choose a PC gaming processor
The most obvious way is to set your budget, and you should definitely do this. Don’t spend more than you are willing to, because AMD Ryzen 9 might look amazing, but it might be too expensive for you.
But instead of focusing on budget, here are some of the other main considerations you should consider when choosing a gaming processor. The processor can affect many aspects of a game, including frame rate, scalable display elements, and more. Here’s how to get you the best option.
1. Decide what you want to do with your computer
Choosing a gaming PC is easy to get carried away. But before choosing any processor, you should be clear about exactly what you want from your gaming PC.
For example, say you’re going to use your new PC for gaming, streaming, professional work, content creation, or any other resource-intensive task.
Why is it so important? Because too much is one thing, and underestimation will affect the future.
2. Understanding how many cores you need
All modern Intel and AMD processors have multiple cores, ranging from 4 to 16. Games believe it or not, but it doesn’t actually require a huge number of cores to deliver good performance. Even on a quad-core processor, you can play demanding games.
The number of cores plays a role if you plan to perform resource-intensive tasks outside of games. For example, if you are playing and streaming from the same computer, then you will need more cores.
This is why AMD Ryzen processors have become popular lately, offering 8-core and even 16-core processors at a pretty attractive price. Extra headroom allows you to play and stream on a single PC with minimal system impact.
3. Clock speeds and overclocking
Many have heard that for a gaming processor, the higher the clock speed, the better. This is not so important for modern processors as clock speeds have improved today over past years, but this still needs to be considered. If a slightly higher clock speed is within your budget, then you should try to get it.
It’s also worth considering whether you want to get into overclocking. If you buy an AMD Ryzen processor, you’re all set, each unlocked, and you can tinker with overclocking to your heart’s content.
If you are interested in overclocking an Intel processor, you need to purchase the “K” option. The model number will be marked with a “K” at the end to indicate that the processor is unlocked for overclocking, such as the Intel Core i9-11900K.
4. Integrated graphics or not?
Not all processors come with integrated graphics, and if you buy one and don’t have a dedicated graphics card on hand, you won’t even be able to see Windows 10 on screen. In particular, this applies to AMD Ryzen processors not identified with the letter “G” in the model number, and to Intel processors identified by the letter “F”.
If you are into PC gaming, then one of the best graphics cards available today is likely to be on your shopping list. But, if you want to buy a graphics card later, or you are building a budget PC, you will need a processor with integrated graphics to be able to use your computer.
It is also possible to get good gaming performance on some of the latest modern integrated graphics cards. Of particular note is AMD’s line of APUs, which are a combination of a Ryzen processor and a Radeon GPU on a single chip. Depending on the game, even a stable 60 FPS is quite achievable.
5. Read reviews and tests
When choosing a new processor, it’s really worth taking the time to read the latest reviews and benchmarks. While reviewers will often not have the same system that you are targeting, they will all do one important thing, push the processor to its absolute limits.
A good overview will help you understand performance, power consumption, thermal characteristics and how well the processor is doing its job. You will also gain insight into gaming performance, which can help reinforce your preferences or help you change them towards something else.
When it comes to choosing a gaming processor, there is no single answer. Every person has different needs, but making a decision doesn’t have to be difficult.
Once you know what kind of gaming PC you want, everything else will fall into place. Set your budget before you start choosing a processor, and then see what Intel and AMD have to offer the best.