Choosing a good processor to play is essential for the performance and experience within your favorite titles, especially if it is AAA. The CPU influences gaming performance more than many think since it is not only the amount of RAM and the GPU that matters, as you will see in this article.
How does the CPU influence video game performance?
A video game is nothing more than software made up of a series of instructions and data that the CPU must process. This program is made up of the following parts:
- Based on the API instructions, the CPU will obtain information on the objects that appear in a scene, as well as keystrokes from the input peripherals (mouse, keyboard, controls,…).
- With this data, the processor updates the status of each of the elements that will appear on the screen.
- In this way, the microprocessor will send commands or instructions to the GPU so that it draws the next frame and appears on the screen.
All this loop is executed in a few moments, being able to repeat up to hundreds of times in a single second. But, for this to be possible, the processor must be able to perform complex calculations (FP) related to logic, the physics of objects (trajectories, waves, shocks, lighting…), etc. In short, you need a CPU with a great calculation capacity that can handle several processes at the same time.
So, having said that, the processor will have a substantial influence on the latest games, especially:
- Frame rate per second (FPS)
- Scalable game elements (animations, physics,…)
Although today’s CPU is more powerful than in the past and is constantly evolving, AAAs are very demanding. For this reason, you should choose one of the newer CPUs with faster clock speeds, larger cache sizes, and higher thread counts, which can improve performance when paired with compatible modern hardware.
However, the best gaming processor for your PC depends on what you hope to get out of your gaming experience and how you use your system.
Also, remember that if the CPU is the bottleneck, it will not matter how powerful your graphics card is, since it will be at the expense of the CPU getting the instructions to process the graphics. For this reason, the CPU is more important than many gamers think. So, so that the FPS rate does not drop in your gaming sessions, you should choose a good CPU as we will show you later.
In short, for a good gaming configuration, the essential elements (CPU, RAM, and GPU) must be in harmony and not interfere with each other due to bottlenecks. A balanced configuration will allow them all to work well, without investing heavily in one of these components and neglecting another.
On the other hand, before finishing this section, I would like to point out that the motherboard is not as important as some people think. Even with a good motherboard at an affordable price, good results can be achieved. What you should think about is getting a good PSU or power supply, since it must be able to power the hardware you have chosen optimally.
How do the different parameters or specifications of the processor influence the game?
To know how to choose a good processor to play, it is best to know how the characteristics of the processor influence the execution of the video game:
Microarchitecture and generation
Remember that the microarchitecture or generation of a processor is the great forgotten, but it affects more than you imagine. With each generation, important changes are made to the CPU, achieving better performance and IPC. Therefore, make sure that your processor is of the latest generation.
Number of physical cores or cores
With time, the number of cores in processors has increased, so it depends on the game whether or not you need a CPU with two, four, or more cores. However, I have to say that the cores are not that important in some cases, since many video game titles do not take good advantage of parallelism in this regard.
For this reason, don’t obsess over products like an Intel Core i9, AMD Ryzen 9, or Threadripper, it would be investing too much for little gain in gaming performance. Unless the game has been specifically optimized after release, it will not use all the cores of a quad-core CPU.
Building a PC can be expensive, but the processor we recommend depends on your financial situation at the time. Most of the games have low requirements compared to what you find in stores, so we can conclude that it is not expensive to build a decent gaming rig. The reason is that many processors have many cores that are not used. With 8 cores it would be more than enough, and even less could also achieve a good result.
There is a situation where we suggest going for a higher number of cores. The first is if you want to stream professionally and want to be able to deliver data to your audience without interruption while gaming. We suggest 6 or 8 core configurations. Choose the Ryzen 7 or a Core i7. In case you are only going to play, you can also opt for an AMD Ryzen 5 or an Intel Core i5 for a tighter budget.
Logical cores or threads
Over time, both Intel and AMD increase the number of cores and their working capacity. Game developers often use multi-core systems, where each core performs a different task. Although there are times when multiple cores are used simultaneously in parallel, it is crucial to distinguish between threads and cores.
A thread occurs when a process running on one core is divided into multiple tasks that can run simultaneously on a physical core. In this way, a job can be completed while the CPU is working on something else, thus speeding up processing. A game running on a CPU with four cores and eight threads may not perform in the same way as one with eight cores. Therefore, it is preferable to look at the number of physical cores than the number of threads or threads per core for gaming.
The clock frequency is very important for gaming, as many video games benefit from it more than the number of cores. Therefore, always choose CPU models that have high working frequencies.
That is, when choosing between two identical processors, one of which runs at a higher frequency than the other, go for the faster processor, as the extra speed will come in especially handy in shaving a few milliseconds off the graphics card. , which can be crucial for antialiasing techniques like AMD FSR or NVIDIA DLSS.
Cache memory is also important for video games, since many times loops are repeated with data that is going to be needed over and over again, and having a large cache is crucial. That’s why AMD V-Cache improves gaming performance.
However, it’s not the most important either, so don’t obsess over it, as cores and a high clock rate are preferable to a slightly larger cache.
As for the iGPU or GPU integrated into the processor, the best option is to opt for a dedicated GPU (AMD, NVIDIA, or Intel). These integrated GPUs often don’t have the performance needed for demanding to the game, so it’s best to avoid them.
AMD and Intel processors with iGPU can be an option as long as they are accompanied by an additional graphics card. In this way, you can choose the dedicated graphics card to run the video game and leave the iGPU aside.
Finally, I would also like to point out something about processor models for laptops, such as those marked with the letters M, U, etc. These types of chips have been optimized to lower consumption and make autonomy longer but at the cost of sacrificing some performance. Therefore, an ultrabook or laptop with this type of processor is not the best option for gamers.
Now you know how to choose a good CPU, or processor, to run your favorite video games. Which one do you choose?
Read more about Tips For Buying Your First Gaming PC What should I look for?
Abram left his e-business studies to devote himself to his entrepreneurial projects. In 2017, he created the company Inbound Media and wrote articles about high-tech products for his Chromebookeur site. In 2019, Chromebookeur was renamed Macbound and became a general purchasing advice site. Today, Abram manages the development and growth of Macbound, surrounded by a young and talented team.