Are you looking for the best CPU for gaming 2021 to get optimum performance? In this article, we breakdown the top 10 CPU picks for gaming.

Best Gaming CPUs

SSD Images

SSDs

Features

Rating

Price

Intel Core i9-9900KS

  • 5.0GHz 8 cores

  • 16 threads

  • LGA1151

Intel Core i7-9700K

  • 4.9GHz 8 cores

  • 8 threads

  • LGA1151

AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3970X

  • 4.5GHz max boost

  • 32 cores

  • 64 threads

Intel Core i9-9980XE Extreme Edition

  • 4.4GHz

  • 18 cores 36 threads

  • LGA2066

AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3960X

  • 4.5GHz

  • 24 cores

  • 48 threads

AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3990x

  • 4.3GHz

  • 64 cores, 128 threads

  • TRX4

AMD Ryzen 9 3900x

  • 4.60 GHz

  • 12 cores

  • 24 threads

Intel Core i7-8700K

  • 4.70 GHz

  • Six cores

  • 12 threads

AMD Ryzen 7 3800x

  • 4.5GHz

  • Eight cores

  • 16 threads

AMD Ryzen 7 3700x

  • 4.4 GHz

  • 8 cores

  • 16 threads

1. Intel Core i9-9900KS.

Intel Core i9-9900KS Desktop ProcessorThis is a processor that contains 8 cores and 16 threads, making it a really powerful processor right out of the gate.

This includes up to 5.0 GHz of All Core Turbo unlocked.

If speed and high performance are what you need, this might be the one feature that you’ll be excited about.

If you plan on using this, it’s important to note that it is compatible with an Intel Z390 chipset-based motherboard. This Intel chip is fairly common.

This is hands down one of the best CPU processors and is reserved for the most hardcore gamers out there.

Performance should always matter most when it comes to a gaming computer, and this Intel Core Processor is perhaps one of the most powerful on the market.

The more cores your CPU processor has, the better.

And this processor is living proof of that.

On top of that, Intel is known for making some really reliable processors for PCs, gaming or otherwise.

The i9-9900KS is our top rated and best gaming CPU.

PROS

  • Great gaming performance
  • 5.0 GHz at stock settings
  • Can be overclocked
  • Compatible with 300 series motherboards
  • Good efficiency when it comes to power consumption

CONS

  • Only has a 1 year warranty
  • Does get quite hot

2. Intel Core i7-9700K.

Intel Core i7-9700K Desktop ProcessorThis contains up to 8 cores with 8 threads. With this Intel processor you get fantastic single core performance.

The turbo levels have the ability to reach up to 4.9GHz, giving you a really good rate of speed whenever you are playing online.

This will only work with motherboards that are part of the Intel 300 Series Chipsets.

The high end Intel CPU supports Intel Optane Memory, a super-fast memory module.

This also includes Intel UHD graphics, so you get a discrete graphics card in the form of a gaming CPU.

Keep in mind that this is just a processor, so it won’t include any cooling units.

Purchase cooling fans and units separately if you need them.

Another thing worth mentioning is that most gaming processors will be unlocked right out of the box.
This means that you’ll be able to overclock the CPU for your gaming PCs right away and play games with a much more powerful processor.

That way you’ll get a good amount of speed and input/output for your gaming rig.

This pick does have fewer cores than our top pick, but the core count shouldn’t matter too much as its still one of the best CPUs.

PROS

  • Requires less power than the i9
  • Strong single threaded performance
  • Overclockable 8 cores
  • Thermal transfer improved with Solder TIM
  • Integrated graphics handles demanding 3D graphics

CONS

  • Doesn’t support Hyper-Threading
  • No cooling fan included

3. AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3970X.

AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3790X Unlocked ProcessorThis is a beast of a processor that contains a total of 32 cores and 64 threads.

Not only is the perfect for gamers, but this is a high-powered processor for graphic designers and artists that are looking for a powerful unit to do all of their work.

The turbo boost comes out to about 4.5MHz, along with a cache of 144MB…which is huge by most standards.

This processor is unlocked right out of the box, which will make it easier to overclock if you choose to go down that route.

It also contains a Quad-Channel DDR4 and a total of 88 PCle 4.0 lanes.

This is a good thing when you want something that will give you plenty of bandwidth and input/output.

You’d be hard-pressed to find anything else that will give you that ability for your PC

This processor will support many operating systems including 64-bit versions of Windows 10, RHEL, and Unbuntu.

Whatever your operating system you prefer, you can easily install it and get this in running operation.

It’s a powerhouse of a processor for anyone that wants to do a combination of work and play. Whether you need it for video editing or just a great gaming CPU the 3970x is a great choice.

Any way you slice it, you get plenty of power, performance, and speed all inone of the most powerful desktop processors.

PROS

  • Great gaming performance with 32 cores and 64 threads
  • Support for ECC memory
  • Competitively priced per core
  • Overclockable
  • Very power efficient

CONS

  • Not backwards compatible
  • Overclocking ceiling is low

4. Intel i9-9980XE Extreme Edition.

Intel Core i9-9980XE Extreme Edition ProcessorThis processor has a total of 18 cores and 36 threads.

At the start, it has 3 GHz of speed with the ability to go up as high as 4.40 GHz.

You also get a pretty good amount of cache space with 24.75 MB.

If you are looking for plenty of memory, you got it.

That’s because it has Quad DDR4-2666 Memory Channels.

Plus, it’s Intel Optane memory supported.

If you have an Intel x299 chipset motherboard, then you have a CPU that is compatible and ready to run.

Aside from gaming, this is the perfect processor for those who are more productive than normal.

If you have plenty of projects to work on and need the best support possible as far as speed and performance are concerned, this CPU just might take the cake frosting and all.

Other than that, it has Solder Thermal Interface Material.

This will help maximize heat transfers from the processor to the cooling system itself.

This means you can be able to push your CPU processor to the limit and not have to worry about the PC overheating.

Overall with the memory overclocking, dedicated graphics, multiple cores and more, the i9-9980XE is one of the best gaming processors.

PROS

  • Efficient thermal construction
  • Good overclocking potential
  • Great performance
  • Handles multi-threaded workloads very well
  • Turbo boost frequencies improved

CONS

  • Very expensive
  • Consumes a lot of power

5. AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3960X.

AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3960XIf you are looking for a CPU that you can overclock right out of the gate, you can do just that.

That’s because it is another unlocked processor that will give you that much flexibility.

As mentioned, it has 24-cores and 48-threads.

Once again, this isn’t a CPU just for gamers but also for graphic designers and artists.

Who says work and play can’t mix?

This has a max boost frequency of 4.5MHz and a sizeable cache of 140MB.

This also contains a Quad-Channel DDR4 and 88 total PCle 4.0 lanes.

Lastly, it includes a 280 TDP which is useful when you want to install a cooling system.

PROS

  • Great price to performance ratio
  • Performs fantastically in games
  • Faster then Intel’s similarly priced competitors
  • Supports ECC memory

CONS

  • Awkward and difficult to overclock

6. AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3990x.

AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3990xThe difference between this and the previous AMD CPU that the number of cores and threads.

This one has 64 cores and 128 threads.

The speed boost you’ll get is 4.3 GHz along with a spacious cache of 188MB.

And yes, it is unlocked so you’ll be able to overclock the processor whenever you feel that it’s necessary.

With Quad-Channel DDR4 and 88 PCle 4.0 lanes, you are going to get plenty of bandwidth and input/output.

We dare say it might be the best you’ll get when you stack it up against competing CPUs on the market.

PROS

  • Indium solder
  • Fantastic rendering performance
  • Can be overlocked
  • PCIe 4.0 support
  • ECC support
  • Pricing is great per core

CONS

  • Benefits a narrow cross-section of workloads

7. Ryzen 9 3900x.

AMD Ryzen 9 3900xIf you are looking for what might be the world’s most advanced CPU processor on the market for gamers, look no further.

At 100 plus frames per second, it proves itself beyond a doubt that it can perform much faster than any processor you can think of.

If speed is one thing you don’t want to compromise on or if you don’t want to settle for less than the best, this processor will definitely be right up your alley.

This contains 12 cores and 24 threads.

It also contains AMDs Prism Cooler with color controlled LED support, making your gaming PC stand out a lot more esthetically pleasing.

This also includes 4.6GHz of maximum speed boost.

It’s also unlocked for overclocking and contains 70MB of cache for gaming.

This CPU is for the advanced socket AM4 platform and can support PCIe 4.0 on x570 motherboards.

If you want a pretty powerful CPU and prefer AMD to Intel, this might be exactly what you need for all of your gaming needs.

PROS

  • Good performance
  • PCIe 4.0 support
  • Efficient architecture

CONS

  • Not the best overclocking potential
  • Included heatsink isn’t the greatest

8. Intel i7-8700K.

Intel Core i7-8700KThis processor contains six cores and twelve threads for a solid overall performance.

You get a turbo max frequency of 4.70 GHz along with a 12 MB cache.

You must have an Intel 300 Series Chipset motherboard if you want this CPU to work properly.

This supports Intel Optane Memory and UHD Graphics 630.

It’s a pretty solid Intel CPU if you are looking for something that is manageable for most PC builds.

PROS

  • Overclocking is low-impact
  • Good performance in productivity applications
  • Great performance in games

CONS

  • Requires Z-Series motherboard

9. Ryzen 7 3800x.

AMD Ryzen 7 3800xThis is another CPU processor that offers a ridiculous amount of speed.

If you want 100+ FPS of speed at your disposal, this is the processor to go with.

It’s exceptional for all kinds of PC gaming no matter what your level of expertise.

Say goodbye to lagging and dragging forever when you have speed like this at your hands.

This includes 8 cores and 16 threads along with an AMD Wraith Prism Color with color control LED support.

You get a turbo boost of 4.5GHz along with a 36MB cache for games.

It’s unlocked, ready to be overclocked and will perform at the highest level possible.

This CPU is for serious gamers looking for maximum performance.

Especially if you are in eSports leagues or a hardcore multiplayer.

PROS

  • PCIe 4.0
  • Compatibility with X470
  • Comes with a stock cooler
  • Unlocked
  • Midrange CPU

CONS

  • To utilize PCIe 4.0 you’ll need an X570 motherboard which are expensive
  • Very limited overclocking headroom

10. AMD Ryzen 7 3700x.

AMD Ryzen 7 3700xThis is similar to other AMD counterparts on our list.

It is unlocked and can be overclocked for maximum performance.

This has 8 cores and 16 threads along with an AMD Wraith Prism cooler with color controlled LED support.

Also included is 4.4MHz of turbo speed along with 36MB cache for gaming.

This is a CPU that will be compatible with PCI4.0 on x570 motherboards. We recommend you get yourself some decent RAM for gaming and a good SSD.

If you are looking for something that will give you power, speed, and reliability at a price that is reasonably affordable then you might want to consider purchasing this budget CPU.

PROS

  • Very affordable
  • Good price to performance ratio
  • Comes with stock cooler included
  • PCIe Gen4

CONS

  • Limited overclocking
  • Single-threaded performance lags behind Intel CPUs

What are some honorable mentions of other gaming CPUs?

  • Intel Core i5 10600k
  • Intel core i5 11600k
  • Intel core i9 10900k
  • AMD Ryzen 3 3300x
  • AMD Ryzen 5 5600x
  • AMD Ryzen 9 5900x

What is a good CPU speed for gaming?

An ideal clock speed of 3.5 GHz to 4.0 GHz is great. In most games your frame rates are affected by your graphics cards, but most mainstream processors should have speeds in the ideal range. You can check processor benchmarks before you buy, to ensure you get solid performance.

Is 3.6 GHz good for Fortnite?

3.6GHz is more than enough for Fortnite. You’ll find most gaming hardware on the CPU market offer higher clock speeds, regardless if you pick an Intel CPU or AMD. We recommend a CPU with high amount of CPU cores, good multi threaded performance and a decent clock speed.

Is Intel or AMD better?

AMD is currently better in 2021 for CPUs. Intel processors are more efficient and some run a lot cooler for longer durations. AMD processors are more powerful and give you a cheaper price per core. Overall for the best gaming CPU, go with AMD.

Can CPU affect FPS?

If you are bottlenecked from your CPU, then it can affect FPS. FPS is mainly affected by your graphics card. A powerful graphics card will ensure you have high FPS at all times.