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What CPU Should I Choose/How Much CPU Do I actually need?

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For gaming, probably not as much as you think. Don’t believe the hype – unless you’re doing hardcore content creation, you don’t need a Core i9/Ryzen 9 or even Core i7/Ryzen 7. For just gaming, as well as most other tasks, a Ryzen 5 3600 or Core i5 10400 is a more than adequate pairing with even the most expensive graphics cards. The money saved going with one of these chips over a Ryzen 7 or 9 is much better spent on a higher-end GPU.

Modern CPUs are very powerful, and CPU performance has continued increasing at a much greater pace than most games’ demand for it.

The graphs in the gallery below show how little difference there is between modern CPUs for gaming, especially as resolution increases. These tests were performed with a 2080 Ti, which ensures no GPU bottleneck – differences will be even smaller with a less powerful GPU.

*Click Images To Open Fullscreen Versions*

To boil it down – even the most basic CPUs we offer will still offer a great experience in the vast majority of available PC titles. Note that there is less than a 20% difference in framerates between the Ryzen 2600 and the Core i9 10900K at 1080p. 

Here’s our picks, ranked by use case:
For Basic Mid-Range Gaming (no streaming), Web Browsing, etc – Ryzen 3 3100 or Core i3 9100F. 

For Mid-Range to High-End Gaming (and some streaming), as well as Web Browsing, etc – Ryzen 5 2600 or 3600, or Core i5 10400. 

For High-End Gaming (and streaming seriously), as well as Content Creation- Ryzen 7 3700X, Core i7 10700.

For Ultimate Gaming, Streaming, and Content Creation – Ryzen 9 3900X, Core i9 10900. 

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