Top Intel CPU for Gaming (2020)

We thoroughly researched over 15 Intel CPUs and discovered that the Intel Core i9-9900K is the best Intel CPU for gaming. Find out more about it as well as the rest of the Intel Core processors by reading the article below.

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Top Pick
Intel Core i9-9900K Desktop Processor 8 Cores up to 5.0 GHz Turbo unlocked LGA1151 300 Series 95W
Intel Core i5-9400F Desktop Processor 6 Cores 4.1 GHz Turbo Without Graphics
Intel Core i7-9700K Desktop Processor 8 Cores up to 4.9 GHz Turbo unlocked LGA1151 300 Series 95W
Intel Core i5-9600K Desktop Processor 6 Cores up to 4.6 GHz Turbo Unlocked LGA1151 300 Series 95W
Intel Core i3-9100 Desktop Processor 4 Cores up to 4.2 GHz LGA1151 300 Series 65W
Title
Intel Core i9-9900K
Intel Core i5-9400F
Intel Core i7-9700K
Intel Core i5-9600K
Intel Core i3-9100
Clock Speed
3.6/5.0 GHz
2.9/4.10 GHz
3.6/4.9 GHz
3.7/4.6 GHz
3.6/4.2 GHz
Cache
16MB
9MB
12MB
9MB
6MB
Core/Thread Count
8/16
6/6
8/8
6/6
4/4
Top Pick
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Intel Core i9-9900K Desktop Processor 8 Cores up to 5.0 GHz Turbo unlocked LGA1151 300 Series 95W
Title
Intel Core i9-9900K
Clock Speed
3.6/5.0 GHz
Cache
16MB
Core/Thread Count
8/16
Price
Image
Intel Core i5-9400F Desktop Processor 6 Cores 4.1 GHz Turbo Without Graphics
Title
Intel Core i5-9400F
Clock Speed
2.9/4.10 GHz
Cache
9MB
Core/Thread Count
6/6
Price
Image
Intel Core i7-9700K Desktop Processor 8 Cores up to 4.9 GHz Turbo unlocked LGA1151 300 Series 95W
Title
Intel Core i7-9700K
Clock Speed
3.6/4.9 GHz
Cache
12MB
Core/Thread Count
8/8
Price
Image
Intel Core i5-9600K Desktop Processor 6 Cores up to 4.6 GHz Turbo Unlocked LGA1151 300 Series 95W
Title
Intel Core i5-9600K
Clock Speed
3.7/4.6 GHz
Cache
9MB
Core/Thread Count
6/6
Price
Image
Intel Core i3-9100 Desktop Processor 4 Cores up to 4.2 GHz LGA1151 300 Series 65W
Title
Intel Core i3-9100
Clock Speed
3.6/4.2 GHz
Cache
6MB
Core/Thread Count
4/4
Price

Best Intel CPU for Gaming

Critics and users reviewers alike will always come to the conclusion that the Intel Core i9-9900K is truly an outstanding CPU for high-end gaming. With enough cores to multitask without much risk and remarkable overclock speeds, this truly is a CPU to die for.

Pros:
  • Very fast performance
  • Lots of cores
  • Great overclock speeds
Cons:
  • Some hiccups with multi-threading
  • Painfully expensive
  • Overclock not as effective as high-end AMD Ryzen

The Intel Core i9-9900K marks as the brand flagship which many reviewers regard as the standard for high-end gaming to compare with AMD’s premium CPUs. If you want the least risky CPU for overclocking and multitasking, it is the Intel Core i9-9900K that you want. It has 8 cores and 16 threads that allow you to multitask at lightning speeds while maintaining normal temperatures. It is also a future-proof CPU that will stand the test of time and of more resource-heavy upcoming games. The critics and avid PC gamers will always agree that the i9-9900K is always the best Intel CPU for gaming – at least one of the best, that is.

 

Best Value Intel CPU for Gaming

The Intel Core i5-9400F is the best budget Intel CPU for gaming according to many critics and experienced users. It may not perform as grand as any i9 CPU but it still makes a great choice for mid-end PC gamers.

Pros:
  • Very affordable
  • Smooth performance on a budget
  • Cooler included
Cons:
  • No overclocking
  • Limited to 6 cores
  • Only slightly faster than i5-8400F

The 9 series of the i5 has always been a great lineup for everything budget gaming as opposed to its AMD Ryzen counterparts. The Intel Core i5-9400F is the prime example of value within a reasonably small price. Compared to its other Intel sisters, the Intel Core i5-9400F can only perform at 6 cores – which is more than ample for mid-range gaming. However, you can never do overclocking with this CPU unless you fiddle with it, only to break the capacity of the 9400F. Generally, this is a great choice for budget gaming – and the safest one too especially if you are not planning to overclock anyway.

Best Intel i7 CPU for Gaming

The Intel Core i7-9700K acts like a budgeted i9-9900K; it is still great for high-end gaming but it has limits. If you are looking for a processor SOLELY for the sake playing video games, this CPU is definitely a great choice. This is also the best Intel i7 CPU for gaming.

Pros:
  • Good 8 cores
  • Best for high-end gaming
  • Performs at quick speeds
Cons:
  • Limited overclocking
  • No multi-threading
  • Expensive than Ryzen 7 3700X

Think of the Intel Core i7-9700K as the i9-9900K’s younger sibling – it performs the same but it has some limits. While the latter is amazing for its multi-threading and multitasking features, the i7-9700K is mostly intended just for gaming. For the most part, it does not have hyperthreading and it has only limited overclocking performance, but do not let those turn you off. Majority of it, the Intel Core i7-9700K is still a great gaming CPU, so if you are not building a PC as both a workstation and a gaming hub but rather building a pure gaming computer, then this is the Intel that you want.

Best Intel i5 CPU for Gaming

The Intel Core i5-9600K is both best in budget gaming and, arguably, in the i5 series. Powered with 6 cores and a base clock speed of 3.70 GHz, low to mid-range gamers get to appreciate the prowess of modern games with ease in both performance and affordability.

Pros:
  • Great overclocking
  • One of the best in i5
  • Overall good performance
Cons:
  • Performs only slightly better than 6600K
  • Only 6 cores
  • No extra threads

The Intel Core i5-9600K is one of the most sought-after i5 CPUs of the modern era of PC gaming. This is because it performs very well on low to mid-range gaming, excelling in decent core performance and a subtle clock speed that runs tasks fluidly. Of course, you should be able to overclock it at peak performance (hence the “K” in the name), resulting in it as just generally a great processor for the budget gamer. Also included are the Intel Optane Memory and the Intel UHD Graphics 630 – allowing for crisp graphics at fast rates without overheating.

Best Intel i3 CPU for Gaming

When it comes to the ultimate budget Intel CPU, you go with the Intel Core i3-9100; a great processor for a low-end PC. It gives the computer a much-needed “oomf” to the overall performance, allowing you to play modern games with ease without worrying about overheating on a potato PC.

Pros:
  • User-friendly for budget gaming
  • Best for low-end PC
  • Very affordable
Cons:
  • Only 4 cores
  • No overclocking
  • Long loading times

If you find yourself stuck with a very low-end PC, the Intel Core i3-9100 is a good choice when you are desperate to play modern games at the lowest settings possible. This 9 series in the i3 lineup serves as a sort of booster in order for you to play current-gen games with an office computer without ever overheating. However, it only has 4 cores included, resulting in obviously longer loading times compared to its bigger i5, i7 and i9 versions. While it is more expensive than the average AMD Ryzen budget CPU, its Intel reputation is already tried and tested to perform decently even on a potato computer.

What We Would Buy

Each of these is considered as the best Intel CPU for gaming in their own terms. But of course, if you want the most optimal experience above all else, the i9-9900K is the most obvious choice. Yet, if you think that is too much for you, there are multiple options as well. One of which is the i5-9400F which is good enough for mid-range gaming. And then there is the i7-9700K – which is a good choice if you are building a PC solely for gaming and nothing else. The i5-9600K is still one of the best i5 gaming CPUs ever and holds up when it comes to stability and performance. But if you are at a low-end spectrum of PC gaming, consider getting the i3-9100.

Editor & reviewer of gear from iOS control pad’s to high-end PC gaming hardware. He’s been gaming since the 1980s and mostly plays CS GO & Overwatch.