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CPU for gamers: buying tips and knowledge tips

CPU for gamers: buying tips and knowledge tips

Today’s special is all about processors, including the new AMD models released this week: Ryzen 3 4100, Ryzen 5 4500, 5500, and 5600, and Ryzen 7 5700X. We also want to explain some basics about processors, like what a socket is and what chipsets mean on motherboards. To make it easier for you to make a purchase decision, we will name the recommended sockets for gamers, and also address the issue of overclocking. Finally, it’s about the processors from AMD and Intel that are currently recommended for gamers.

CPU: How important is it for gaming?

With most games, the goal when buying hardware is above all good graphics. When it comes to 3D graphics, the graphics card is the most important component of the PC. But: The processor also remains important. Because regardless of the graphics, the game has to calculate some basic content that forms the basis of the game in the first place. These are, for example, the AI ​​of opponents and NPCs, physical calculations or rule calculations that run in the background, as well as administrative tasks in multiplayer modes to record the actions of other players or for anti-cheating measures.


Therefore, a good CPU can always generate a more or less large FPS increase, that is, generate more frames per second. With too weak a processor, the FPS values ​​that the graphics card itself could calculate would be limited, so a weak CPU can make buying a new graphics card a flop.

To put that in perspective, let’s say an old Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 only manages 30 FPS in a game and you replace it with an AMD Radeon RX 6600, which is a good twice as fast, to enjoy 60+ FPS. However, if the CPU is so weak that basic calculations alone do not allow more than 35 FPS, the additional performance of the RX 6600 will almost completely evaporate: the CPU would be an extremely weak point and should be replaced urgently.

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Battlefield 1 is an example where multiplayer experiences significant drops in performance with a CPU that is low on cores.

Source: PC Gaming




But even if you use the same graphics card, a stronger CPU can generate more FPS. The lower the resolution and graphics details, the more noticeable the effect that can be attributed to the CPU. For this reason, gaming CPU tests are often run at low details and only 720p (1280×720 pixels).

But: Such tests are often unrealistic, since as a gamer you are often using a graphics card that allows for higher resolutions and detail levels. At Full HD, the 25 percent advantage that’s available at 720p drops to perhaps less than 10 percent at 4K (3840×2160 pixels). So you shouldn’t necessarily expect the extra performance you can read in tests when buying a new CPU in gaming with Full HD, WQHD or even 4K and at least medium detail levels.

When is a new CPU necessary?

The often quite small performance gain of a new CPU and the fact that gaming demands on CPUs have only increased very slowly for years are also reasons why processors can be kept for a relatively long time. Even a six to seven year old CPU, which was considered at least mid-range when purchased, is still sufficient as a foundation for a modern game, provided you have a powerful enough graphics card.

It is not possible to give a general answer as to whether you should already change the CPU and thus usually also the motherboard. But if you have an Intel 7000-series or earlier CPU, or if you’re still running an AMD Ryzen 1000-series or earlier, it’s usually worth an upgrade.

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Of course, you can also decide for yourself that it’s time for a more modern platform, although the performance increase in games may not be very big. Even those who now use applications as a hobby or even professionally, where a strong CPU with many cores is useful, can upgrade sooner. An example would be if you create Let’s Play style live streams and have other tools running parallel to the game.