The Best CPUs To Buy For Gaming This 2018 – Intel and AMD

Planning to build a gaming PC? Then one of the questions you are more likely to ask is “what is the best CPU for gaming” or “what’s the best gaming CPU today”? That’s easy to answer actually. If you’re going to ask me that question now, then my straight answer to you would be “the best gaming CPU you can but today is the Intel Core i7-8700K”. That’s currently the best CPU for gaming that the current technology has offer. This is primarily due to its high clock speeds. Ah almost forgot, you could also go for the Intel Core i7-8086K Limited Edition CPU. It’s basically a binned i7-8700K with higher clock speeds out of the box; although, it’s more expensive as well. But I’m sure there are other factors to consider like: your budget, preference (Intel or AMD), availability and the likes. Or probably you want something that is not only good for gaming but for content creation, rendering and other multi-threaded workloads as well. In this article, let me introduce the best CPUs for gaming this 2018.

Best Gaming CPUs This 2018

CPUCoresThreadsBase ClockBoost ClockSocketUnlockediGPUTDPMSRPAvailability
Intel Core i7-8086K6124 GHz5 GHzFCLGA 1151YesIntel UHD Graphics 63095 W$
Intel Core i7-8700K6123.7 GHz4.7 GHzFCLGA 1151YesIntel UHD Graphics 63095 W$
AMD Ryzen 7 2700X8163.7 GHz4.3 GHzAM4YesNone105 W$
Intel Core i5-8600K663.6 GHz4.3 GHzFCLGA 1151YesIntel UHD Graphics 63095 W$
AMD Ryzen 5 2600X6123.6 GHz4.2 GHzAM4YesNone95 W$
Intel Core i5-8400662.8 GHz4 GHzFCLGA 1151NoIntel UHD Graphics 63065 W$
AMD Ryzen 3 2200G443.5 GHz3.7 GHzAM4YesRX Vega 865 W$

Intel Core i7-8700K / i7-8086K – The Best Gaming CPU Period

When it comes to gaming, especially at 1080p and 1440p, (generally speaking) the higher the clock speeds means the better performance. Number of threads doesn’t really have a huge impact yet on gaming. There are some exemptions though, but generally with the current game titles (especially FPS games), it’s the clock speed that matters.

Currently, the Intel Core i7-8700K, and the Limited Edition i7-8086K has the highest clock speeds among the mainstream CPUs. The Intel Core i7-8700K has 6 cores, 12 threads, and a base clock speed of 3.7GHz with a boost clock speed of 4.7GHz. On top of that, you can manually overclock an i7-8700K to get a clock speed of around 4.9GHz to 5GHz (sometimes even 5.1-5.2 GHz if you’re lucky). That’s why I wouldn’t really recommend the i7-8086K Limited Edition since it’s more expensive; unless you don’t know or have time to overclock and you have the budget to buy one. The i7-8086K does 4GHz base and 5GHz boost clock out of the box. It’s basically a binned i7-8700K but it’s more expensive at around $425 USD vs the $340 i7-8700K.

With higher clock speeds, you can basically squeeze out more frames per second when gaming on 1080p or 1440p. Of course, you will also need a good Z370 motherboard if you plan to do some overclocking adventure. You can use and i7-8700K on an H370 or B360 motherboard, but I would not recommend that since you can only overclock an unlocked (K) Intel CPU with a Z370 motherboard.

If you’re looking for an (AMD) alternative, that is closer to its price, the AMD Ryzen 7 2700X is what I can recommend. In fact, if you’re building that is not strictly for gaming, but for other productive purposes as well, I would highly recommend you get the Ryzen 7 2700X over the i7-8700K. The Ryzen 7 2700X has 8 core, 12 threads with a clock speed of 3.7Ghz and a boost clock speed of 4.3GHz (not all cores). It’s also cheaper compared to the i7-8700K, around $320 vs $340 i7-8700K. However, 4.2 or 4.3 GHz (all cores) is pretty much the highest clock speed you can squeeze out with this CPU after manually overclocking it. It may not be as fast in single-threaded performance vs the i7-8700K, but it will blow away the 8700K when it comes to multi-threaded workloads. By the way, the Ryzen 7 2700X is best paired with an X470 motherboard. This leads us to the next option, which is the Core i5-8600K.

Intel Core i5-8600K – Best (Cheaper) CPU for Gaming

If the Intel Core i7-8700K (or i7-8086K) is out of your budget range, your next best option would be the Intel Core i5-8600K. The i5-8600K also has 6 cores but 6 threads only; a base clock speed of 3.6GHz and a boost clock speed of 4.3GHz. But what’s good about the i5-8600K is that you can overclock the CPU to get as high as 4.8GHz to 4.9GHz, even 5GHz if you’re lucky. This will give you a near i7-8700K gaming-like performance but at a much lower cost.

This CPU actually offers the best price to performance ratio compared to the i7-8700K, when it comes to gaming. Of course, you’ll have to do some (manual) overclocking to achieve that, since 4.3GHz is the highest you’ll get without manually overclocking the CPU. As far as I can remember, the Core i5 series has been the favorite choice of gamers, as it’s more “bang for buck” when it comes to gaming.

Again, if you’re looking for an AMD alternative, the best at this price range would be the AMD Ryzen 5 2600X. Just like in the case of i7-8700K vs Ryzen 7 2700X, the Ryzen 5 2600X would be a good CPU if you’re building a system that is not strictly or limited for gaming use only. The Ryzen 5 2600X has 6 cores, 12 threads, a base clock speed of 3.6GHz and a boost clock speed of 4.2GHz. The 2600X and 8600K has almost the same clock speeds, but the 2600X has more threads. This means the Ryzen 5 2600X will do better with more multi-threaded workload compared to the i5-8600K. On the flip side, 4.2 to 4.3GHz (on all cores after manually overclocking) is pretty much what you can get with the 2600X. But like I said above, the i5-8600K is capable of reaching clock speed as high as 4.8GHz to 5GHz.

Intel Core i5-8400 – A More Affordable Gaming CPU

Though the Core i5-8600K offers a good balance of price and performance, getting an i5-8600K and a Z370 may be (a bit) expensive for some. Others may not be into overclocking at all and it’s best to a lot the extra budget to other PC components, like graphics card or a good SSD. The best and more affordable gaming CPU would be the Intel Core i5-8400. It’s a non-K CPU, meaning you can’t overclock it, so it’s best to pair it with an H370 motherboard or a B360 motherboard. Both motherboards can’t overclock a CPU, even if you use an unlocked CPU like the 8700K or 8600K. Also, I would suggest that you consider a B360 motherboard over the H370 since it’s cheaper or a more ideal partner with the i5-8400; not unless there is a specific feature or look/aesthetics that you want and it’s not available on any of the B360 motherboards.

The Intel Core i5-8400 features 6 cores and 6 threads, it has a base clock speed of 2.8GHz and boost clock speed of 4GHz. Again, it’s a non-K CPU, meaning it’s locked and you can’t overclock it. Like all the Intel Core CPUs mentioned here, the i5-8400 has a built-in integrated graphics processor – Intel UHD Graphics 630, something that the AMD CPUs mentioned above doesn’t have. Like, I said before, the Core i5-8400 is an ideal partner for a B360 or H370 motherboard. These motherboards are (much) cheaper compared to Z370 motherboards.

AMD Ryzen 3 2200G – Best Budget Gaming CPU

And the most affordable, best budget gaming CPU is the budget-friendly AMD Ryzen 3 2200G. This is has 4 cores, 4 threads with a base clock speed of 3.5GHz and a boost clock speed of 3.7GHz. It has a built-in integrated graphics RX Vega 8 and currently retails for around $96 USD. This processor may not be as fast as the other CPUs mentioned above, but it’s great for entry level or budget constraint gaming system. The best part is, the RX Vega 8 iGPU gives you an entry-level like discrete GPU performance that is much better than the Intel UHD Graphics 630 iGPU. It is also possible to overclock this CPU and hit around 3.9GHz on all cores.


There you have it guys! Which gaming CPU do you prefer? Let us know in the comment section below.

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