THE BEST GAMING CPU

Although the graphics card is the most important component in a gaming system, choosing the right CPU for your gaming system is still important as it make a difference in some games. Choosing a more capable CPU will also enable you to do more with your PC, such as creating great videos.

Today's CPU market is dominated by Intel, which produces a huge range of different processors at price points varying from as little as £30 to as much as £2,200. The reason for such a huge span is that each of these models is optimised for different tasks, be it basic internet browsing, word processing, watching films, playing games or digital content creation such as creating and editing graphics, video and music.

The latest Intel processors are based on the Skylake architecture which delivers excellent performance while consuming less power than earlier CPUs. This is important as it means modern PCs cost less to run and are quieter than their predecessors. With so many CPUs to choose from here is our guide to the most popular models.

Intel Gaming CPUs
Core i3 These dual-core processors are much faster than the cheaper Celeron and Pentium models thanks to having more cache memory and support for Hyper-Threading which enables them to process up to four threads at a time. A Core i3 is the cheapest CPU we recommend for a gaming PC.
Core i5 The most affordable quad-core Intel processors, Core i5 CPUs provide the most bang-per-buck and so are a great choice for a gaming PC. Look out for models with a K on the end of the name as they can be overclocked for even greater performance.
Core i7 These quad-core processors have more cache memory than the Core i5s and also support Hyper-Threading, allowing them to work on up to eight threads simultaneously. A Core i7 is the ideal choice for a high-end gaming PC, with the K edition CPUs being overclockable for an added performance boost.
Core i7 Enthusiast Sitting above the normal Core i7 processors is a special range of Core i7 Enthusiast CPUs which require a LGA2011-3 motherboard. Available with either six, eight or ten cores plus Hyper- Threading these CPUs are incredibly fast, delivering the ultimate performance.

While the graphics card has the biggest influence on the performance of a gaming PC, selecting the right CPU is important. For instance, while most first person shooter type games will run happily on a Core i3 or above, the faster CPUs will show more of a benefit in strategy games and more complex simulators. Here are some benchmarks of the most popular CPUs in a variety of games, showing the difference choosing a more expensive CPU may make.

When gaming you should be looking for a CPU that produces a minimum frame rate of at least 25fps for a smooth experience, anything less than 25fps and games will appear jerky and won't be fun to play. All benchmarks were carried out at 1,920 x 1,080 with a GeForce GTX Titan X graphics card. .

Grand Theft Auto V

Core i7

92
138

Core i7 Enthusiast

90
136

Core i5

87
131

Core i3

67
113

The Witcher 3

Core i7

90
104

Core i7 Enthusiast

88
102

Core i5

87
97

Core i3

74
84

Company of Heroes 2

Core i7 Enthusiast

30
41

Core i7

29
40

Core i5

26
37

Core i3

19
28

Project Cars

Core i7 Enthusiast

58
71

Core i7

57
70

Core i5

51
62

Core i3

37
48

Overclocking

If you're after the best-possible performance then our engineers can overclock the CPU in your gaming PC. Overclocking is the process of boosting the CPU frequency above what Intel normally sets it at. Only Intel Core i5, i7 and i7 Enthusiast CPUs with the name ending in the letter K or X can be overclocked, and you can choose how far you want the CPU to be overclocked using our online configurator.

Overclocking will boost performance in some games, but as a side effect it generates additional heat. Our overclocked systems account for this heat by using high quality air and watercooling systems from companies such as Noctua, Be Quiet! and Corsair. These keep an overclocked CPU cool, ensuring that you get the best possible performance without any additional noise. Choosing an overclocked CPU in the configurator does not affect system stability as we stress test all overclocked PCs for 24 hours before shipping and overclocked systems are covered under our Premium 3 Year Warranty.

Grand Theft Auto V

Core i7

93
139

Core i7 Enthusiast

92
138

Core i5

91
137

Core i5

90
136

Core i5

88
132

Core i5

87
131

The Witcher 3

Core i7

90
104

Core i7 Enthusiast

90
104

Core i5

88
102

Core i3

88
102

Core i5

87
97

Core i3

87
97

Company of Heroes 2

Core i7 Enthusiast

30
41

Core i7

30
41

Core i5

29
40

Core i3

29
40

Core i5

26
37

Core i3

26
37

Project Cars

Core i7 Enthusiast

60
73

Core i7

58
71

Core i5

60
72

Core i3

57
70

Core i5

53
65

Core i3

51
62