Best CPUs for gaming 2020

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Best CPUs for gaming 2020

Buying a processor for a gaming rig isn’t as hard as it used to be. Now that Ryzen 3000-series and Intel’s 10th-gen Core CPUs come with more performance and cores than ever before, it’s hard to buy a stinker these days—especially because most games favor graphics firepower over CPU oomph. All that said, there are specific chips that stand out from the horde as the best gaming CPUs due to their price, performance, or nifty extras.

Whether you’re on a budget or willing to pay for sheer face-melting speed, these are the best CPUs for gaming PCs that you can buy.

Editor’s note: We updated our picks and news throughout the article on May 26, 2020 after the release of Intel’s 10th-gen Core processors and AMD’s Ryzen 3 CPUs.

Latest gaming CPU news

Intel just launched its 10th-gen Core desktop processors, while AMD recently released its affordable 3rd-gen Ryzen 3 processors. Both earned spots in our overhauled picks below. AMD also said that its B450 and X470 motherboards will support next-gen “Zen 3” processors, in a reversal of controversial earlier plans. If you want a modern B550 motherboard to go with your new Ryzen 3 chip to unlock blazing-fast PCIe 4.0 storage speeds, look for those to arrive on June 16.

The best gaming CPU for most people

AMD Ryzen 5 3600X ($235 on Amazon)

Intel’s ruled the gaming roost for seemingly time eternal, but in 2019, AMD seized the mainstream crown. Overall, the $200 to $235 Ryzen 5 3600X is the best gaming CPU for most people, though Intel’s rival 10th-gen Core processors compete much more fiercely than 9th-gen chips did. The $275 Core i5-10600K is a bit faster than the AMD chip at gaming, but costs significantly more overall. You can’t go wrong with either chip. Meanwhile, the $175 Ryzen 5 3600 provides outstanding value.

ryzen 9 3900x 3 Gordon Mah Ung/IDG

AMD bestows its Ryzen parts with simultaneous multi-threading, giving the six-core Ryzen 5 3600X a full twelve threads. That gives some serious productivity chops for a mainstream CPU. But for the first time in recent memory, AMD’s mainstream chip hangs tough with its Intel counterparts, too. AMD infused its third-gen Ryzen chips with massive instructions-per-clock (IPC) improvements and faster clock speeds, with the 3.8GHz Ryzen 5 3600X capable of boosting up to 4.4GHz.

amd wraith spire AMD

The Ryzen 5 3600X comes with AMD’s Wraith Spire cooler, while Intel’s rival K-series processors require you to bring your own.

Together, those gains help propel the 3600X past Intel’s Core i5-9600K in Tom’s Hardware’s testing, and the beloved Core i7-8086K in Tech Radar’s testing. Most AMD motherboards support overclocking for the adventurous if you want to try your hands at even better performance.

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