Before starting to choose, we must be clear about what elements define a good processor for gamers, that is, what requirements are essential for a CPU to be considered as good if we plan to use it to play.
If we limit ourselves to taking a short-term look, it is quite easy to outline those requirements:
- It must have at least four cores and eight threads.
- Its IPC should be at the level of Intel’s Core 4000 processors (Haswell series) or at the level of the Ryzen 1000 series (Zen series).
- The actual working frequency, whether in turbo mode or after applying stable overclocking, should not drop below 3.6 GHz.
Well, based on those three requirements, we can say that, for example, the Ryzen 5 1500X is a good processor for games, and the same would happen for the i7 4770K and with others such as the Core i7 7700K or the Ryzen 5 2600.
As we can see, it is not difficult to find, today, good processors to play, but what is it that makes some can be considered the best processors to play? In this case, we have to add, to those three requirements that we have seen and that serve as a basis, other fundamental ideas that we are going to see below:
- That they have a competitive price and according to the real value that they offer compared to other equivalent models.
- They must have a balanced and reasonable efficiency and working temperatures.
- It must be integrated into a modern, complete platform and have a reasonable lifespan.
- Good performance both in the medium and long term, but without unnecessary excesses.
If we apply those four points together with the previous three, we see that the list of candidates for the best processors to play with is considerably reduced.
For example, the Core i9 9900KS is a high-performance processor that is integrated into a modern platform but has very high operating temperatures and a price that is too high for what it offers. This makes it not one of the best processors to play, at least in the strict sense, that is, if we stick to those requirements.
Another example, but this time on the side of AMD. The Ryzen 9 3900X is a very powerful processor that has a high potential in parallelized workloads; thanks to its 12 cores and 24 threads, it is integrated into a very complete and updated platform and has very good working temperatures. Its price is also balanced, but its real potential is not being used today, and it will not be used in the medium and long term, so it represents an “unnecessary” excess. Therefore, it is not one of the best processors to play games.
The best processors for gaming are not the ones that offer the most raw performance, but those that offer the best price-performance value, also fulfilling those ideas of efficiency, lifespan, and platform that we have seen previously.