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Gaming And Streaming: Which CPU Is Best For Both?

AMD Ryzen 7 & Intel Core i7

Paying more for a processor should also get you more performance, right? With that in mind, we're stepping up to the "faster" encoder preset for this CPU class.

Battlefield 1

The Core i5-7600K disappointed us in the previous round of tests, and Core i7-7700K picks up where the i5 left off. This chip just isn't well-equipped for streaming, despite the additional four threads enabled by Hyper-Threading. The -7700K dropped 94.3% of our frames using the normal settings, which comes as a side effect of excessive CPU utilization. We triggered the high priority setting to try rectifying this situation, but were presented the same bipolar behavior as Intel's Core i5-7600K. There just isn't a straightforward way around saturated CPU cores. You can either stream well or game well, but you can't do both with Kaby Lake-based processors and OBS streaming at 1920x1080/60FPS.

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The Ryzen 7 1800X bears down with eight cores and 16 threads to provide solid streaming and gaming performance.

Core i7-8700K, which brings Coffee Lake up to a Hyper-Threaded six-core design, also performs well in this test. Overall, it offers the best gaming performance while streaming, 99th percentiles included. It even ekes past Ryzen 7 1800X with 100% of frames encoded to the stream. AMD's Ryzen 7 delivers 99.9% of the frames, and dropping 0.1% doesn't concern us. The stream is still smooth.

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Overclocked, Ryzen 7 1800X delivers an ever-so-slightly better stream. But the Core i7-8700K leads in overall gaming performance. Of course, the 1800X's 117.8 FPS average, while streaming, is plenty impressive. Both processors prove up to this task.

Our encoding workload pegs the -7700K's cores at 100%, while the high priority settings help bring down CPU utilization. Simply, that's because the CPU has fewer frames to encode as a result of lower gaming performance.

Grand Theft Auto V

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The Core i7-8700K takes a healthy lead during the baseline and streaming tests. It even provides more in-game performance while streaming than an unencumbered Ryzen 7 1800X.

Ryzen 7 1800X again achieves lower gaming performance, but a slightly superior stream than Intel's -8700K. The differences are pretty much imperceptible, though. Kaby Lake, on the other hand, simply can't compete.

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Turning up the clocks benefits Coffee Lake greatly. Core i7-8700K offers the best overall performance, while Ryzen 7 1800X is competitive.

Middle-earth: Shadow of War

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Coffee Lake continues to impress with strong in-game and streaming performance. The Ryzen 7 1800X does encode a higher percentage of frames than -8700K within the desirable 16.667ms range, but it also generates fewer frames. AMD's Ryzen does have more headroom to spare during our streaming workload though, so it'd likely accommodate more taxing encode presets.

We find that the stream frame time variance isn't very noticeable unless the 16.667ms percentage drops below a 90% threshold, such as what we see from Intel's Core i7-7700K. The -7700K does serve up better frame rates while it's streaming, even besting AMD's Ryzen 7 1800X. But that goes to show why we need to keep an eye on performance from every angle. Core i7-7700K drops 40% of its frames during this test! That makes any gaming performance advantage meaningless.

Ryzen 7 1800X musters a solid 75.4 FPS during the streaming test and provides a crisp stream to YouTube, as well.

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Overclocking amplifies the trends we've been talking about. The same inherent strengths and weaknesses are still apparent. Ryzen 7 1800X and Core i7-8700K are both solid choices for streaming.

The Core i7-7700K demonstrates lower CPU utilization than usual during this test. Surprisingly, that doesn't equate to a usable combination of in-game and streaming performance, though, suggesting other architectural influences may be affecting our numbers.


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  • SonnyNXiong
    Core i7 7700k is the best, can't get any better than that except for a high OC speed and high core clock speed on that core i7 7700k.
    Reply
  • InvalidError
    This benchmark will need a do-over once the patch for Intel's critical ring-0 exploit comes out and slows all of Intel's CPUs from the past ~10 years by 5-30%.
    Reply
  • mcconkeymike
    Sonny, I disagree. I personally run the 7700k at 4.9ghz, but the 8700k 6 core/12 thread is a badass and does what the 7700k does and better. Please do a little research on this topic otherwise you'll end up looking foolish.
    Reply
  • AndrewJacksonZA
    20553340 said:
    This benchmark will need a do-over once the patch for Intel's critical ring-0 exploit comes out and slows all of Intel's CPUs from the past ~10 years by 5-30%.
    Yeah. It'll be interesting to see the impact on Windows. Phoronix ( https://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=article&item=linux-415-x86pti&num=2 ) shows a heavy hit in Linux for some tasks, but apparently almost no hit in gaming ( https://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=news_item&px=x86-PTI-Initial-Gaming-Tests )

    Although gaming in Linux, seriously?! C'mon! ;-)
    Reply
  • ArchitSahu
    20553303 said:
    Core i7 7700k is the best, can't get any better than that except for a high OC speed and high core clock speed on that core i7 7700k.

    What about the 8700k? i9? 7820X?
    Reply
  • AgentLozen
    What a great article. It really highlights the advantage of having more cores. If you're strictly into gaming without streaming, then Kaby Lake (and Skylake by extension) is still an awesome choice. It was really interesting to see it fall apart when streaming was added to the formula. I wasn't expecting it to do so poorly even in an overclocked setting.
    Reply
  • Soda-88
    A couple of complaints:
    1) the article is 10 months late
    2) the game choice is poor, you should've picked titles that are popular on twitch

    Viewer count at present moment:
    BF1: ~1.300
    GTA V: ~17.000
    ME - SoW: ~600

    Personally, I'd like to see Overwatch over BF1 and PUBG over ME: SoW.
    GTA V is fine since it's rather popular, despite being notoriously Intel favoured.

    Other than that, a great article with solid methodology.
    Reply
  • guadalajara296
    I do a lot of video encoding / rendering in Adobe cc premier pro
    It takes 2 hours to render a video on Skylake cpu. would a Ryzen multi core improve that by 50% ?
    Reply
  • salgado18
    20553388 said:
    20553303 said:
    Core i7 7700k is the best, can't get any better than that except for a high OC speed and high core clock speed on that core i7 7700k.

    What about the 8700k? i9? 7820X?

    Please, don't feed the trolls. Thanks.
    Reply
  • lsatenstein
    To be able to respond to Paul's opening comment about reputability testing, the rule is to have at least 19 test runs. The 19 runs will provide a 5 percent confidence interval. That means or could be understood to be 19/20 the results will be within 5 percent of the mean, which is about 1 standard deviation.
    Reply