Gaming PC buyers often think that performance of their systems solely depends on the graphics card of GPU. What they don’t often realize is that the CPU, which is the PC’s brain, can be the bottleneck if it’s not powerful enough to keep up with the graphics processing.

This means that your GPU will only be able to perform at a certain level because it won’t receive the resources it requires for optimal performance since your CPU would be underpowered.

So essentially, a weak CPU is like a weak link in your team. That being said, it’s not always easy to pick the best processor for gaming either because it’s not just about spending money for the most advanced processor.

There are two major brands that manufacture PC CPUs – Intel and AMD – both of whom release regular chipsets with new features and better power efficiency. When you’re in the market for a new gaming processor you’ll see dual cores, quad cores, hexa cores and octa cores, which means, 2, 4, 6 and 8 core CPUs respectively.

What you need to remember is that more cores don’t always mean better gaming performance. Most games will actually run just fine on dual and quad core setups as long as you have a good graphics card to back them up.

We’ve put together this list of the best gaming CPUs to help you pick a CPU that fits your budget, won’t break the bank and still deliver bang for buck.

Finding the Best Processor for Gaming in 2016

#1. Intel Pentium Anniversary Edition G3258

intel anniversary gaming processor

This is the best budget gaming CPU available in the market currently. You can’t really beat it’s price at $66, especially when you get an unlocked and highly overclockable chip with a base frequency of 3.2 GHz that can go up to an insane 4.5 GHz without the need for dedicated cooling or heavy voltage tuning.

The only problem with this chip is that it’s dual core and has no turbo mode or hyper threading technology but this is still good enough for most games to run on medium and low settings. Just don’t try and get a heavy duty graphics card with it because the CPU will prove to be a bottleneck.

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#2. AMD FX-8300

amd gaming processor

Just like the Intel budget offering, the FX 8300 is AMD’s budget gaming CPU that also comes unlocked and can be overlocked easily to around 4.2 GHz. You will however require some aftermarket cooling.

If you’re building a budget gaming rig and want something from AMD, this can be a good processor choice.

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#3. Intel Core i3 6100

intel i3 gaming processor

You’ve probably heard about the i3 and perhaps know it as a low-end processor in Intel’s lineup of i5s and i7s. However, most people don’t realize that Intel keeps updating processor series every year and currently you can get the 6th generation of the i3 lineup – the i3-6100, which features Intel’s Skylake architecture.

In simple terms, this is a really good gaming processor with 2 cores and HT technology that can run all your recent games on medium to high settings with good FPS rates.

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#4. Intel Core i5 6600K

intel i5 processor

The i3’s elder sibling the i5 is a big step up when it comes to performance and the current model in the market – the i5-6600K also features the same Skylake architecture and is unlocked for overclocking.

It comes with a stock frequency of 3.5 GHz and can be easily overclocked to around 4.5 GHz if you add aftermarket cooling. All that being said, this is the most budget friendly i5 chipset for gaming performance.

amazon order#5. Intel Core i7 6700K

intel i7 gaming processor

If you’re looking for the big guns, this should be your processor of choice. The Intel Core i7 6700K is once again based on the Skylake architecture for power efficiency and is considered one of the best gaming processors in terms of bang for buck.

This is another unlocked gaming CPU with a stock speed of 4.0 GHz which can go over 4.5 GHz as well with a proper cooling system to back it up. Suffice to say, this is one of the more high-end CPUs for gaming and you can pair it with high-end graphics cards for optimum gaming performance.

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Frequently asked questions about gaming processors

Now that we’ve listed our best gaming CPUs of 2016, it’s time to answer the most frequently asked questions by beginners.

Q1. Does a faster CPU mean faster games and more frames per second?

Not always. The CPU works as the brain of your system and calculates a lot of things. If it’s underpowered, the calculations and operations take longer and you will see stutters and lags.

However, after a certain limit, it becomes irrelevant how fast your CPU is because it won’t positively affect your gaming performance. That is why you need to get a CPU that is adequate for your needs and pair it with a good graphics card.

Q2. Can I just buy any CPU and use it with my existing PC?

No. CPU chips are placed into your system’s motherboard, so they need to be compatible with each other in order for them to work.

Compatibility can be checked with the socket number and currently most CPUs are built for LG 1151 sockets.

Q3. How do I overlock my CPU?

Overclocking isn’t as simple as most people will tell you. You basically need to have a CPU that is overclockable, a motherboard that supports overclocking and preferably aftermarket cooling to help with heating issues.

Then you change the stock CPU voltage settings to send more juice to your processor so it can run at a higher frequency. This is also what makes overclocking dangerous because you can fry your CPU if you exceed it’s acceptable voltage limits.

The whole thing is about trial and error and we will be writing a new post on this soon.

Q4. Do gaming processors need to be compatible with gaming graphics cards?

Not exactly. The motherboard in your gaming PC decides which components are compatible with your machine and which are not – including the CPU, RAM and GPU. However, GPUs are generally compatible with older standards like PCI 2.0 and 3.0 as well – but that does come with a performance hit.

Another important consideration is your choice of power supply for your gaming rig because some GPUs need higher power, anywhere from 300W to 400W.

This is all for now, we hope you like this post on the best gaming CPUs and processors you can buy, whether you’re on a budget or looking to spend some serious money. If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments below.

About The Author
Jesse Afolabi
Hardcore Linux fan, Jesse loves writing for tech and covers stories on Linux, Android and Ubuntu as well. He believes Ubuntu phones can be just as good as Androids.

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