Are you thinking of building a gaming PC or do you just want to upgrade your graphics card? Well in this case you need to get a good CPU that will not bottleneck your expensive graphics card. So will an Intel CPU be the best choice for gaming?
An Intel i5 CPU will be the best choice for a gaming PC, while an i7 CPU will offer great multitasking capabilities. In the past, Intel was the single choice when it comes to gaming due to its CPU single-core performance, but now the battle for gaming supremacy is tighter than ever between AMD and Intel.
All of that being said things aren’t that simple so in this article, I will explore if Intel is the best choice for 4k and high frame rate gaming. Things will be interesting so keep reading!
Is Intel Really Better for Gaming?
In the past, Intel was the only choice for a gaming PC but AMD had really up their game and is able to fight neck in neck with Inter these days. Just keep in mind that for gaming your main focus needs to be the graphics card because modern triple-A games are more GPU-focused.
This doesn’t mean that the CPU is not important but it should not be your main focus. Intel is still the big dog when it comes to single-core performance and for this reason, it is still the main choice for gaming but this doesn’t mean that AMD CPUs are very far behind, practically the battle is as close as it has ever been.
According to the benchmarks and numerous in-game tests, the Intel® Core™ i5-12600K is the best CPU if you are building a gaming PC but if you need a PC that is good for production work as well as gaming the best choice will be the Intel® Core™ i7-12700K.
Let us not forget that Intel was dominating the gaming scene for years and for this reason many developers are optimizing their games with Intel in mind because a larger part of the gaming market is using Intel CPUs. So yes many games will be better optimized for Intel’s CPU architecture and will run smoother on Intel processors.
Intel’s CPU architecture is very different from AMD’s CPU architecture and for this reason, there will be games that will run better on Intel and some games will run better on AMD but the majority of triple-A games will favor Intel’s CPU architecture.
But if you need a PC mainly to play one game (your favorite online shooter or whatever) my recommendation is to do some research online, so you know if it will run better on Intel or AMD.
Is Intel Better for Gaming at High Refresh Rates?
When gaming at a high refresh rate the CPU becomes important because it doesn’t matter if you have a GPU able to render an incredible amount of frames per second if you have a CPU that is unable to keep up.
At high refresh rates, the most important aspect of a CPU is the single-core performance. So yes Intel CPUs will outperform their AMD counterparts if we are talking about the 12 generations of processors. The 11’t generation of Intel processors have a harder time staying in the first place and even some of them fall behind AMD.
Now do not think that the gap between an i5 and a Ryzen 5 will be huge, practically the CPU will start to bottleneck the GPU (assuming you will have a graphics card that is top of the line) after hitting 90-100 FPS and even then the difference between them is small.
When you game at over 100 FPS 10-20 FPS difference is really untenable unless you are a pro gamer and this can have a small effect on your performance in a high-pass game.
Is Intel Better for 4k Gaming?
4K gaming is less demanding on the CPU because the GPUs on the market can’t output many frames at this resolution, and so if you have a CPU that offers a good single-core performance you are in the safe spot regardless of whether you have an Intel or AMD CPU.
A good i5 or Ryzen 5 processor will have no problem in handling gaming at 4K and you will experience no GPU bottleneck even if you have an RTX 3090 graphics card. If you want to know more about the role of a CPU in gaming and if you need a good CPU for gaming, I encourage you to read this article!
Practically the higher the resolution the more important the GPU becomes and the less relevant the CPU becomes. So there is no need to know if Intel is better here because you will not experience too much of a difference between an i5 and a Ryzen 5 CPU.
Single-Core Performance of Popular Intel CPUs
Regarding gaming, the most important aspect of a CPU is single-core performance because most games aren’t able to take advantage of the multicore architecture of modern CPUs.
On paper, many game developers declare that their games are optimized to take advantage of multi-core CPUs but the reality shows us different results. Now let us see what the benchmarks are seeing about the more popular Intel CPUs for gaming, and why not, let us see how well they hold up against AMD CPUs:
|CPU||Average CPU Mark Score|
|1||Intel Core i7-12700K||3982|
|2||Intel Core i5-12600K||3981|
|3||Intel Core i7-12700||3944|
|4||Intel Core i5-12500||3836|
|5||Intel Core i5-12400||3646|
|6||AMD Ryzen 9 5900X||3494|
|7||AMD Ryzen 7 5800X||3493|
|8||Intel Core i7-11700K||3448|
|9||Intel Core i5-11600K||3382|
|10||AMD Ryzen 5 5600X||3381|
After analyzing the data from the table below we can easily say that intel with its 12-generation CPUs dominates the single treaded benchmarks and so they are the better choice when it comes to gaming. But when it comes to the 11th-generation processors they are very close and more than that slightly outperformed by AMD.
Why Are Intel CPUs Better for Gaming?
In the end, I want to tell you what are the true reasons why Intel CPUs are better for gaming:
- Best single-core performance: the most important advantage a CPU can have is to be good for gaming in the single-core performance department.
- Market leader for many years: because they dominated the gaming market for so many years game developers are forced to optimize their products for Intel CPUs because they hold the majority of market shares.
- CPU architecture: Intel’s CPU core architecture suffered small changes over the years and this gave time to games developers to improve over the optimizations that are done already without the need to start the optimization process from scratch like on a completely new CPU architecture.
Practically it all comes to the CPU architecture, market cap, and single-core performance but the good news for gamers is that now there is a real competitor in the PC gaming parts that will force Intel to up their game or they will lose the first spot, more competition means better CPUs and maybe less expensive ones as well. So in the end gamers win!
As a distinguished Professor of Computer Science, my expertise lies at the intersection of PC hardware, software development, and system troubleshooting. My foray into the realm of computer technology began during my high school years, where I honed my skills in building and repairing PCs. Subsequently, I provided consultancy services to a renowned PC repair establishment, solidifying my reputation in the field. Today, I am the trusted authority among peers and colleagues for insights and solutions related to PC and laptop challenges.