Best Gaming CPUs for 2019


After your GPU, your CPU has the biggest impact on your computer's gaming capabilities. When you're shopping for a CPU, you'll need to balance performance and features with your build budget. Our quick tips and picks below should help you get started. But for detailed help on picking the best CPU for your build, you can check our 2019 CPU Buying Guide.

Credit: EKKAPHAN CHIMPALEE/Vladystock/ShutterstockCredit: EKKAPHAN CHIMPALEE/Vladystock/Shutterstock

Quick Shopping Tips

When choosing a CPU, consider the following:

  • You can't lose with AMD or Intel: So long as you’re considering current-generation parts (see our AMD Ryzen 2000 vs Intel Coffee Lake feature for more details), the performance debate is basically a wash. Intel does a bit better on gaming and browsing and AMD handles tasks like video editing quicker. That said, many Intel CPUs are currently selling for higher than MSRP due to ongoing production shortages. So you may find better deals on an AMD Ryzen CPU until the production issues ease, which Intel expects to happen later in 2019.
  • Clock speed is more important than core number: Higher CPU clock speeds translate to snappier performance in simple, common tasks such as gaming, while more cores will help you get through time-consuming workloads faster.
  • Get the latest gen: You won't save much money in the long run by going with an older chip.
  • Budget for a full system: Don't pair a strong CPU with weak storage, RAM and graphics.
  • Overclocking isn’t for everyone: For most people, it makes more sense to spend $20-$60 more and buy a higher-end chip.

MORE: Intel and AMD Processor Hierarchy

MORE: All CPU Content

1. Intel Core i7-9700K (9th Gen)

Best Overall

Rating: 4/5 (Editor's Choice)

Architecture: Coffee Lake | Socket: 1151 | Cores/Threads: 8/8 | Base Frequency: 3.6GHz | Top Boost Frequency: 4.9GHz | TDP: 95W

Pros: Great gaming performance • Eight cores excel in parallelized workloads • Strong single-threaded performance thanks to high Turbo Boost clock rates • Solder TIM improves thermal transfer

Cons: No bundled cooler • No Hyper-Threading Technology • Expensive

If you can spend over $400 (£380, $650 AU), our favorite gaming CPU overall right now is the Intel Core i7-9700K, which dominates thanks to its eight cores and excellent single-threaded performance. It's a much smarter choice for gaming than the pricey Core i9-9900K. It serves up similar gaming performance at a significantly lower price than the i9, making it the best gaming CPU you can buy today.

That said, at about $100 less with an in-box cooler (which Intel’s unlocked CPUs lack) AMD’s Ryzen 7 2700X is arguably a better value for gamers on a tight budget—especially if you’re gaming at or close to 4K resolutions, where frame rates tend to even out between Intel and AMD.

Read Review: Intel Core i7-9700K


Alternative Pick:

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2. Intel Core i5-8400

Best Value

Rating: 4/5

Architecture: Coffee Lake | Socket: 1151 | Cores/Threads: 6/6 | Base Frequency: 2.8GHz | Top Boost Frequency: 4GHz | TDP: 65W

Pros: Incredible Value • Six cores • Strong performance in games and applications • Affordable price includes bundled cooler

Cons: Locked ratio multiplier

The Core i5-8400 brings a powerful six-core design to the mid-range, offering class-leading gaming performance and competitive performance in heavier applications. More expensive models offer more performance in both categories, but the Core i5-8400 is easily the pound-for-pound gaming champion.

The chip packs six physical cores and no Hyper-Threading, which is 50% increase in cores compared to the Kaby Lake i5 Series. The 2.8 GHz base frequency jumps to 4.0 GHz on a single core, complimented by varying multi-core boost frequencies based upon the number of active cores.

The -8400 drops into the LGA1151 socket on 300-Series motherboards and comes with a bundled cooler and makes a good companion for B- and H-Series motherboards that start below $60.

Read Review: Intel Core i5-8400


Alternative Pick:

MORE: Best Cooling

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3. AMD Ryzen 5 2400G

Budget Pick

Rating: 4.5/5 (Editor's Choice)

Architecture: Zen | Socket: AM4 | Cores/Threads: 4/8 | Base Frequency: 3.6GHz | Top Boost Frequency: 3.9GHz | TDP: 65W

Pros: Good value Higher frequencies Solid 720p gaming performance Passable 1080p gaming in some titles with low settings Unlocked multipliers

Cons: Eight lanes for PCIe slots Need to ensure motherboard BIOS compatibility Non-metallic TIM Requires a better heatsink for overclocking


AMD's latest Ryzen chips with onboard Vega graphics make gaming without a card a serious possibility. Don't expect to run games above 1080p, or even always at 1080p with the Ryzen 5 2400G. But if you're after a chip that will let you achieve smooth frame rates on recent titles at low settings without buying an overpriced card, the Ryzen 5 2400G is your best bet today.

Read Review:
AMD Ryzen 5 2400G

MORE: Best Graphics

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4. AMD Ryzen 3 2200G

Entry-Level Pick

Rating: 4/5 (Editor's Choice)

Architecture: Zen | Socket: AM4 | Cores/Threads: 4/4 | Base Frequency: 3.5GHz | Top Boost Frequency: 3.7GHz | TDP: 65W

Pros: Sub-$100 price Higher frequencies Solid 720p gaming performance Unlocked multipliers

Cons: Eight lanes for PCIe slots Need to ensure motherboard BIOS compatibility Non-metallic TIM Requires a better heatsink for overclocking

When money is tight, being able to game without a graphics card can lead to serious savings. And with RAM still fairly high, those working with small budgets need to tighten the strings anywhere they can.

That makes the four-core, four-thread Ryzen 3 2200G particularly appealing for budget gaming builders and upgraders. The $99 chip delivers solid 720p performance thanks to its Vega on-chip graphics, decent CPU muscle for mainstream tasks, and can be dropped into an older inexpensive 300-series motherboard (after a requisite BIOS update), to form the basis of a surprisingly capable low-cost PC. It’s also unlocked, so with proper cooling you can tune the graphics or the CPU to best suit your needs.

Read Review: AMD Ryzen 3 2200G



If your budget is tight and you're looking to build a system for modest gaming, you should check out our Best Cheap CPUs feature. Some of those chips can deliver passable gaming performance without a graphics card, and their prices start at just $55.

MORE: Best Motherboards

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  • abryant
  • davidm.maya
    mmm What about the i5-9600K ? Why are you actually recommending to buy earlier generation processors? Going against your own recommendations?

    I can understand why the i5-8400 got the 1st place but I can't get it why are you still recommending i5-8600K given that the i5-9600K is very close in price from the new generation and better.
  • totalinsanity4
    Given that the R5 2600 is only $1 more than the 2400G, why not replace that as the budget pick? Two more cores and four more threads are definitely beneficial, ESPECIALLY at that price point
  • gx240
    I'm actually curious about the i5-9600K too. Its price seems to be almost identical to the i5-8600K. For the last week I've seen it selling for about $10 to $30 dollars more for an appreciable increase in boost frequency. Any reason not to recommend it?
  • kiniku
    I just ordered the 9700K for my new build. It was splitting hairs between the 2700X, but I have a 35" G-Sync monitor, and I game 95% of the time. While the cost is higher, I feel the 9700K covers all the bases.
  • dekfin6
    CPU is one of the important parts of the computer or laptop so it I very important to have the best quality CPU and for my point of view AMD Ryzen 7 2700X, AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2950X, AMD Ryzen 5 2600X, Intel Core i5-8600K also can take help from <ModEdit> and also has any query then also it will help you.
  • gibo.w.tk
    I am going to play at 3440x1440p at 200hz and hdr with the new acer x35 should I get a 9900k or 8086k and a rtx 2080 ti for gaming only, for my upgrade of a fx 4300 and gtx 1050.
  • SR TEE
    I have my disagreements with these ratings. I'd still think an overclocked I7 8700K would be the best gaming CPU at the moment for the price and availability, but if I looked at it in a future sense the R7 2700X would be the best value choice considering how often Intel changes their sockets and leaves their customers high and dry with no upgrade path beyond two CPU generations.

    I also disagree with the Ryzen 2400G for that price range, the R5 2600 is going for around $160(on some sites has gone up to $200 though) and if gotten at that price it beats out the R5 2400G.

    Now with an R5 2600 at $160 that kind of displaces the Intel I5 8400 a little bit. If that's the case you may as well go up to the R7 2700 or maybe an Intel I5 8600K.

    Just my opinions, but as prices change and the value propositions are altered my opinion will change as well.
  • xravenxdota
    1339641 said:
    I have my disagreements with these ratings. I'd still think an overclocked I7 8700K would be the best gaming CPU at the moment for the price and availability, but if I looked at it in a future sense the R7 2700X would be the best value choice considering how often Intel changes their sockets and leaves their customers high and dry with no upgrade path beyond two CPU generations. I also disagree with the Ryzen 2400G for that price range, the R5 2600 is going for around $160(on some sites has gone up to $200 though) and if gotten at that price it beats out the R5 2400G. Now with an R5 2600 at $160 that kind of displaces the Intel I5 8400 a little bit. If that's the case you may as well go up to the R7 2700 or maybe an Intel I5 8600K. Just my opinions, but as prices change and the value propositions are altered my opinion will change as well.


    I personally would pick the 8700k over any 99xx series as i agree the price to performance on the 99x models are just not there.The 9900k are almost double the price of a 2700x here.

    On the second one.I built my brother a 2400g which was a budget built for the fact he doesn't need a dedicated gpu to play games.I went with the 2600 as i have a gpu so it made more sense.I will agree the 2600 are by far the budget king but for the same price the 2400g as a igpu.

    My brother will get this 1050ti of mine when i upgrade during this month but as when i built his pc his value was far better as mine as he did not have to by a gpu to play games out of the box.
  • xravenxdota
    Here it's reversed.Between the 2600 and the 8400.The 2600 are better price to performance.Problem is they are sold out and when they do have stock they overprice it.Personally the 8400 are only better in games.The 2600 are a more all round cpu.
  • Alec Karfonta
    According to UserBenchmarks the 2600x is 4% faster and $10 cheaper than the 8400. But by all means keep shilling for a dying company Toms. Hope it was worth trading your credibility for cash.
  • Alec Karfonta
    Also your first link is to a 8400T with a base of 1.7ghz instead of the 8400's 2.6, nice work
  • Alec Karfonta
    Do you not have editors? Your first link to a Pentium Gold G5600 is actually a laptop bag... The thumbnail is right there.
  • Petaflox
    Some comment are one month old, some prize are one month old, the only update of this month is the date.
  • SR TEE
    1496570 said:
    According to UserBenchmarks the 2600x is 4% faster and $10 cheaper than the 8400. But by all means keep shilling for a dying company Toms. Hope it was worth trading your credibility for cash.


    Actually Tom no longer runs for the company nor works for it and when this website did a review on the RTX 2000 series the reviewer say in his article that people MUST BUY THIS GPU. Ironically Tom replied to this and said I would of never let this happen when I was running things and to tell people to buy a product before it's out for sale is ridiculous, wait for real reviews.
  • shabbo
    how can 'Best Value' go to a $313 no-cooler i5-8400, when a 2700X costs $309 and also comes with a decent cooler? Makes no sense.
  • KaiserPhantasma
    what about for laptops? curious what are the current offerings for gaming CPUs and its respective form factors and weight