Conventional wisdom says you need to invest in the best GPU for a better gaming experience. While this may be true, even the high-end graphics cards can sometimes give you laggy images and a low frame rate. If you ask a gaming pro to diagnose the issue, they’ll tell you your CPU is bottlenecked.
The CPU is the brain of the computer. It receives user inputs and tells other components of the computer what to do. In gaming, the CPU affects streaming ability, frame rates, and other gameplay elements.
Thus, choosing the right gaming CPU can significantly affect your gameplay and how well your computer performs, but with the power and complexity of CPUs having grown considerably, it can be hard to pick the ideal processor.
Here are some things to consider when choosing your CPU.
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Why is a Gaming Computer Different Than a Regular Computer?
If you have closely examined a gaming PC, I am sure you’ve noticed a few differences from a regular computer. Specifically, you may have noticed the distinctions in price, display, cooling systems, OS, sound systems, CPU, GPU, RAM, and other core components.
For instance, you may have seen that gaming PCs have high-end discrete graphics cards that most regular computers do not have. Also, these computers will likely have higher computing power, higher RAM, a dedicated cooling system, and high-quality audio headsets.
So why the difference between the computers?
The answer is simple: gaming computers need powerful, fast core components to process 2D and 3D graphics and map textures faster. For instance, it’ll need a faster GPU and CPU to play the power-hungry games.
What Is a CPU, and What Does It Do?
Also known as the processor or microprocessor, the Central Processing Unit (CPU) is the brain of your PC build. It runs tasks, does complex calculations, logic, arithmetic, and much more.
In other systems, like mobile phones, CPUs also house essential computer components, including sound and graphic displays.
The CPU receives instructions from components like RAM and executes them. It also instructs other components like the GPU on what to do. This means that the CPU needs every component in your computer to achieve its functions.
According to Digital Trends, the CPU is made using billions of microscopic transistors placed on a single computer chip. These transistors enable the CPU to make the calculations needed to run programs stored on your PC’s memory.
Why Would a Gaming Computer Need a Faster CPU?
If you’ve ever tried playing a game on a computer with a powerful GPU and RAM but a low-quality CPU, chances are that you noticed the gameplay isn’t the best. The game is likely to lag, displaying the images at a slower rate because matching a terrible CPU with an excellent GPU means you end up with an underperforming system.
Yes, the CPU is less important than the GPU when gaming, but balancing both is necessary for the best gaming experience. The CPU processes actions in your game and transmits data to the GPU for further processing.
This means the GPU can’t work without the CPU, and although the GPU’s central role is to generate graphics, a weak CPU will affect the game’s frame rate.
How Is CPU Speed Measured?
Your CPU’s speed is a vital factor in the performance of your computer. Although many individuals use the clock speed to measure the CPU’s performance, it’s not the only variable that can be used.
Digital Trends outlines the following variables for use to gauge your CPU’s performance.
The clock speed is the rate at which your CPU carries out instructions. It’s controlled by a clock, with the CPU fetching and executing instructions per every clock tick.
Clock speed is measured in cycles per second (hertz). So, if your CPU has a clock speed of 2 GHz, it can carry out two billion cycles per second.
Unlike in the past, when processors had only a single core, modern CPUs have two or more cores. The more cores a computer processor has, the faster it will be.
A CPU with two cores (dual core) will fetch and execute two instructions simultaneously, saving time.
The cache is tiny memory found on your PC’s processor. It stores the most commonly used data and instructions for easy fetching and executing.
The bigger your cache is, the faster the commonly used data and instructions will be fetched and used.
How Do I Choose the Right CPU for My Gaming Computer?
I know I have mentioned it, but it bears repeating: your CPU plays a significant role in your gaming experience. Make sure you buy a PC with a suitable processor, one that has a higher core count and clock speed for smoother gameplay.
According to Tom’s Hardware mid-range CPUs from AMD (Ryzen) and Intel are good choices if gaming is the primary focus of your PC. However, more powerful CPUs will make your gaming endeavor more exciting.
How Do I Keep My Gaming CPU Cool?
As with all electrical components, the CPU heats up from usage, especially from intensive tasks like gaming. If not dissipated, the heat can destroy the CPU and other computer components, so a cooling solution for your CPU is a must-have.
Tech Guided recommends regularly cleaning the dust from your gaming PC and ensuring the air can easily flow through the case to keep your PC cool. Other recommended methods of cooling your PC include:
- Adding more case fans
- Reapplying thermal paste
- Speeding up your current fans
- Upgrading your PC case
CPUs play a vital role in the gaming experience. The best gaming CPUs work hand-in-hand with other components to offer high-detail settings, a good-looking and good-feeling gaming experience, and high frame rates, regardless of the game you play.
However, remember that even the best gaming CPUs require GPUs, RAM, cooling systems, and other components to serve you well for a long time. So, make sure to balance these components for the best gaming experience.
The bottom line
Your PC may have the best graphics card and enough RAM, but can its CPU handle new power-intensive games? Let us know your thoughts on the importance of the CPU in a gaming computer in the comments!