Until recently, if you were building a gaming PC and looking for a processor, your choice was limited to Intel. Good or bad, Intel was the only player in the market. However, since mid-2017, AMD processors have become quite attractive to PC builders.
The AMD Ryzen series is the first serious competitor to Intel in decades. Matching and sometimes beating Intel processors in speed, performance, and price, the Ryzen processors, have made the market very interesting.
So, out of the best CPUs for gaming, we compiled a list of the best AMD gaming processors.
Let’s look at what they have to offer. 🧐
Update: Check out the best AMD Ryzen 3000 CPUs which affected the market enormously.
Best Choice: AMD Ryzen 7 2700x
Pros & Cons
- CPU cooler and cooler installation software included
- Up to 4.3 GHz clock speed
- Overclock Enabled
- Backward compatible with 300 series
- No integrated GPU
- Clock speed still slower than the equivalent Intel processor.
- Eight-core and 16 thread configuration
- 3.7 GHz base clock and 4.3 GHz boost clock.
- L x W x H → 1.6 x 1.6 x 0.3 inches
- Wattage → 105
- Weight → 1.6 ounces
- CPU Model Socket → AM4
AMD Ryzen 7 2700x Review
Evolution seems to be the name of the game for AMD at the moment. While the Ryzen 7 1700x was all about grabbing the headlines, the 2700x looks to build on its predecessor’s success while rectifying a few essential faults.
Has it worked?
Clock speeds were a major disappointment with the first iteration. Though the new processor still lags behind Intel in clock speeds, the margin is much less, thanks to better overclocking. With a base clock speed of 3.7GHz and a boost clock speed of 4.3GHz, the 2700x is bridging the gap very fast.
AMD won quite a few PC enthusiasts over when they revealed the number of actual, physical cores they were offering. They were ahead of Intel then, as they are now. The Ryzen 7 2700x has eight physical cores with a 16-thread configuration as opposed to Intel’s i7 8700k which has six cores and 12 threads.
If you caught the Ryzen bug early and bought X370 motherboards, you needn’t worry either. Backward compatibility has been maintained. You can switch to the new processor within minutes. If you’re new and wondering what motherboard is right for you, take a look at some of the best motherboards for gaming.
AMD Ryzen 7 2700x Gaming Performance
For all the accolades that the Ryzen 1700x won, gamers weren’t particularly impressed by it. The reason was quite simple. Concerning the equivalent Intel processor, at 1080p, the AMD processor produced about half the fps. Best case scenario, 60%. At higher resolutions like 4K, the processors were similar. However, very few gamers to this day have a 4K monitor, and a low fps rendering ruins the experience.
So, has that changed?
Yes and no.
Yes, in that there’s an improvement of about 25% and no, in that it still lags by about 20%. While 20% difference might seem like a lot, the fact is, the difference is apparent only in comparison. On its own, the 2700x holds its ground quite well.
The Ryzen 7 2700x has another disadvantage in the gaming world. Clock speeds. Clock speeds are of paramount importance to gamers, and the simple fact of the matter is that the equivalent Intel processor (Intel i7 – 8700k) has much better clock speeds. While the Ryzen tops out at 4.3GHz, an unlocked Intel can reach up to 4.7GHz, and that is a wide gap.
At this point, if you’re wondering why we think it’s the best AMD processor for gaming, it’s because the difference is mainly on paper. In the real world, for a casual gamer, 20 fps won’t ruin anything. A lower clock speed might mean that some games can’t be rendered at the highest setting. But, most gamers aren’t looking to do that.
Yes, If you’re looking to build a PC exclusively for gaming, this isn’t the processor for you.
However, if you want a great processor that can handle games very well while managing all other PC tasks without a hitch, the Ryzen 7 2700x is a serious contender. Also, the 2700x is a solid $130 cheaper than the equivalent Intel choice. Couple this with the fact that AMD periodically offers discounts, the 2700x becomes a desirable proposition indeed.
Premium Pick: AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2950X
Pros & Cons
- Low price per core
- 64 PCI Express Lanes
- Excellent multi-thread performance
- As good as the much more expensive Intel Skylake
- High power consumption
- Isn’t shipped with a cooler
- 16 cores and 32 threads
- 3.5 GHz base frequency and 4.4 GHz boost frequency
- Zen+ Architecture
- Quad Channel memory controller
- L x W x H → 3.1 x 2.2 x 0.3 inches
- Wattage → 180
- Weight → 4.8 ounces
- CPU Model Socket → sTR4
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2950x Review
The Threadripper series is a group of flagship AMD processors that promise to deliver everything you need as a user. The subgroup itself is further divided into WX and X. While WX processors deal with content creation, the X series is aimed at gamers, which brings us to the latest offering – Ryzen Threadripper 2950x.
In essence, if budget isn’t a concern, this is the processor to have. However, don’t buy this if gaming is your only priority. The Ryzen 7 2700x should be more than enough for all your gaming needs. However, if you want an incredibly powerful processor which also happens to be quite good at handling games, 2950x is the way to go.
There’s only one superior processor AMD makes – Threadripper 2990WX – and that doesn’t justify its $1800 price tag unless you create and edit a lot of videos or have to use 3D software.
With a 16-core, 32-thread configuration, the 2950x does everything you ask for, and then some. The new gen Threadripper processors are built on the new Zen+ architecture (12 nm architecture) which ensures excellent performance across a wide variety of benchmark tests.
AMD has always been good with backward compatibility, and the trend continues. The entire 2000 series is compatible with the X399 motherboards. AMD also has been good at adding value to their products. Things haven’t changed here either. The 2950x comes with 60 PCIe lanes added to the four that are attached to the supporting chip. Also, unlocked ratio multipliers are standard for overclocking fans.
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2950x Gaming Performance
In essence, the Ryzen 7 2700x is better. Thanks to its 16 cores, the 2950x suffers quite poorly when it comes to gaming. Most games use just 2 to 4 cores. Very rarely, 6. Developing games that utilize multiple cores is a long process that companies often skip. Due to the recent burst in processors that offer 8 – 32 cores, the game developers are changing. Very slowly. The fact remains that today most games still use only up to 4 cores. Having 16 puts you at a significant disadvantage.
AMD, however, has a solution. The problem is that not many people are too keen on it. You can enable what’s called the ‘Game Mode’ using AMD’s Ryzen Master 1.4. When you enable the game mode, eight cores are killed, leaving you with a wonderful eight-core processor that renders games quite well. What’s more, the entire process can be executed at the press of a button.
The problem, you ask?
The system has to be restarted. While it might not seem like much, it is. Just imagine restarting your PC every time you feel like playing a game. If you think it’s mildly irritating, there’s more. You have to restart the system again when you want to use all of your 16 cores.
This is where the Threadripper is slightly divisive. Some people don’t have any issues with it. Others don’t want it.
So, it boils down to you. If you don’t mind a bit of ‘Let’s Restart’ before and after ‘Call of Duty,’ this one’s for you.
In all seriousness though, the 2950x is an excellent processor. If you work a lot with 3D design rendering and other forms of digital creation, but also happen to be interested in gaming, buy this. It won’t disappoint.
Best Value: AMD Ryzen 3 2200g
Pros & Cons
- Built for gaming
- Integrated GPU
- Can play at 1080p
- Not good at rendering single threaded games
- Low all-around performance
- Four cores, four threads
- Onboard Graphics processor
- 3.5 GHz clock speed
- Includes precision boost
- L x W x H → 1.6 x 1.6 x 0.3 inches
- Weight → 1 lb
- Wattage → 65
- CPU Model Socket → am4
Ryzen 3 2200g Review
With a four core, four thread configuration, the AMD Ryzen 3 2200g is one of the most affordable processors in the market. Built using the 14 nm process – rather than the new Zen+ 12nm process that other Ryzen processors use – the 2200g is especially attractive to people who are looking to get one of the best budget gaming PCs.
However, the starter AMD is no slouch at other tasks either.
Competing against the Intel i3 series, the 2200g is mostly on par and sometimes far better than the former. Thanks to Precision Boost 2, the 2200g can boost more cores to manage the workload better. Unlike the i3 – 8100, overclocking is enabled if you aren’t satisfied with the standard 3.7 GHz clock speed, which in itself is quite good.
However, the lack of cores is apparent when you stress the processor. Things will slow down and sometimes even halt. But that is to be expected, given the price.
All of this doesn’t matter, though. What the Ryzen 3 2200g does best is gaming. At that, there’s no competition.
Ryzen 3 2200g Gaming Performance
With the Ryzen 3 2200g, AMD made gaming extremely accessible and inexpensive. The 2200g is shipped with Vega graphics as standard, meaning you don’t have to buy a discrete graphics card. This is especially impressive considering that even the cheapest graphics card alone is costlier than the processor.
What’s more, AMD ships a Wraith Stealth cooler as standard with the processor which does an excellent job. However, if you plan to overclock the 2200g, it is better to buy a cooler that can handle the heat.
In essence, the Ryzen 3 2200g is almost as good as the Intel i3 8100 at non-gaming tasks and far better at gaming. You can expect to play at 1080p with 30-40 fps and experience no stutter or lag with most compatible games. If you want to game on a budget, this is the best choice by a country mile.
Best Budget Overclocking: AMD Ryzen 5 2600x
Pros & Cons
- Backward Compatibility
- Shipped with a cooler
- High value for money
- Effective heat management
- Overclocking calls for severe cooler backups
- Single-core performance is not as good as Intel counterparts.
- Six cores and 12 threads
- Up to 3.9GHz clock speed
- Stormi Technology included
- L x W x H → 1.6 x 1.6 x 0.3 inches
- Weight → 1 lb
- Wattage → 65
- CPU Model Socket → AM4
AMD 5 2600 Review
Most flagship AMD processors end with an ‘x,’ which denote that Precision Boost, XFR features power them, and therefore have high clock speeds and excellent overclocking abilities. And for this, a premium is charged. Fair enough.
But, most users don’t overclock their processors. Overclocking often consumes a lot of power and also requires new, additional coolers. Most people do not need for that. Decent clock speed is good enough. However, one group that couldn’t make do with a low clock speed was gamers. Gaming requires decent clock speed and clock strengths as well.
Enter, Ryzen 5 2600. With a base clock speed of about 3.4GHz that goes up to 3.9GHz serves most gamers well. And the TDP is still retained at about 65. What’s more, 2600 costs less than $200. All this put together makes 2600 a perfect processor for gaming.
In conclusion, if you want to overclock the processor, which you can, you’d be better off with the Ryzen 5 2700x. However, if your priorities end at gaming, save the 40 odd dollars, and skip the ‘X.’ 2600 will serve you just fine.
Best for Work: AMD Ryzen 7 1700x
Pros & Cons
- Multi-threaded performance is excellent
- Unlocked ratio multiplier
- Not the latest processor in town
- Intel is still better at handling single-threaded applications.
- Eight cores and 16 threads
- Up to 3.8GHz clock speed
- 16 MB l3 cache
- L x B x H → 5.3 x 5.3 x 2.7 inches
- Weight → 2.24 ounces
- Wattage → 95
- CPU Model Socket → am4
AMD Ryzen 7 1700x Review
Let’s just get this clear at the very beginning. If you’re building a gaming PC through and through, the AMD Ryzen 7 1700x isn’t for you.
So, why does a relatively old processor get a mention?
Eight cores and 16 threads at about $200.
Beating that price is hard. If you are a streamer, or a video editor, or work with 3D vectoring, there’s no better processor at this price. Just to put it in context, this configuration easily costs three times as much if you want it from Intel and two times as much if you want the 2nd gen Ryzen processors.
Also, for all practical purposes, this is still an excellent gaming processor. Yes, it’s not as good as the 2nd generation Ryzen processors or any of the ‘Coffee Lake’ Intel processors, but again, you don’t need that for decent gaming. With the 1700x, you can play almost every compatible game at more than 50 fps. While that might not impress an enthusiast, it’s more than enough for a casual gamer.
If you use applications that rely heavily on multi-threaded performance, the 1700x is an inexpensive, yet superb choice.
Depending on what your budget is, these are the best AMD processors for gaming out there. However, if you’re an Intel fan, we list the best Intel CPUs for gaming in our other review.
AMD Processor Buying Guide
In any build, especially a gaming build, it’s essential to buy the right processor. After your graphics card, your CPU will dictate how good your gaming experience will be. If you’re new to PC building, understanding the products in the market will help you to no end. With that in mind, here are a few crucial factors that’ll help you to zero-in on that perfect processor.
Before you go and spend a ton of cash on the latest flagship processor, evaluate your needs. What exactly do you want your system to do? All gaming rigs aren’t built equally. And chances are, you don’t need the most expensive one for the best gaming experience. The Threadripper series is a classic case in point.
They are mighty expensive and yet, if gaming is your primary objective, you’d be better off with something lower down in the hierarchy.
So, how do you decide?
Numbers. Understand what processor numbers are. You don’t need to know every single specification. If you know these two numbers, you won’t go wrong with your choice.
Without making it an essay, here’s what you need to look out for:
Always look for the ‘up to’ clock speed. AMD calls it ‘Max Boost.’ While all cores usually don’t reach this speed, they work closer to this number than to the base clock speed. Again, this is not universal. Exceptions do exist.
Cores and Threads:
In general, more the better. However, if you’re building a gaming rig, anything above 12 will have a negative impact on your gaming experience. This fact is especially true with AMD processors. If the primary use of your PC will be gaming, avoid any processor that offers more than 8-12 cores.
Again, knowing what you need matters the most.
High-end processors consume a lot of power. They need separate cooling solutions. And they might still not be particularly good gaming CPUs.
Your GPU will have the most impact on your gaming experience. If you’re looking to spend big, it’s better to do that on a GPU rather than your processor. We recommend going through some options to find out what the best graphics card for gaming is if you’re planning on building a gaming rig.
However, make sure your GPU isn't exceedingly powerful related to your CPU. If you make that mistake, you might end up with a bad case of CPU bottlenecking.
If you plan to overclock the processor, read up on cooling solutions. Overclocking makes processors hot! Depending on how much you plan to overclock, an air cooler might not be sufficient. You might need complete liquid cooling solutions. And they are not cheap.
For the casual gamer reading this list, you don’t need anything more than a Ryzen 5 2600x to play games at decent frame rates and respectable resolutions.
Gaming Processors: Frequently Asked Questions
Are AMD processors good for gaming?
Gaming performance depends on the strength of the cores in use, and the fact is Intel cores are far more powerful than AMD ones. Most games, to this day, use not more than four cores. Of course, there are exceptions. Games like Civilization can take up to 12 cores. And in such games, AMD is as good as Intel. But games like that are rare.
If you game in 4K or resolutions higher than 1440p, there’s not much difference between AMD and Intel. They perform almost the same. However, most gamers don’t play in 4K. Most still play at 1080p and at that resolution, Intel is better by a margin.
Is Overclocking Relevant to Gaming?
Yes, but necessarily a lot. Overclocking can increase the gaming performance of your CPU, and plenty of people buy AMD because the processors are overclocking friendly. However, the bump in performance isn’t always very high. Sometimes, it might just add 5-6 fps. However, what remains true is that overclocking increases power consumption. Your CPU will run hot. Make sure you have adequate cooling solutions.
What Processors do Professional Gamers Use?
Mostly Intel. Then again, they are professional gamers. Their gaming rig is meant only for gaming. Most gaming enthusiasts usually have an Intel i7 8700k or an i7 9700k. There are exceptions, of course.
Those who are on a budget usually opt for some of the best i5 processors for gaming.
Which Is the Cheapest AMD Gaming Processor?
The Ryzen 3 2200g. It is not just the cheapest AMD gaming processor; we reckon it’s the best budget gaming processor in the market currently.
We take a more in-depth look at the best budget gaming CPU in our other article.
Should I buy an Older Generation CPU if it’s Cheap?
Usually not. You won’t save much in the long run. It’s always best to opt for the latest generation of processors.
However, there are some exceptions. For a casual gamer, the Ryzen 7 1700x is still a reasonable choice. Apart from that, at least concerning gaming, we always recommend buying the latest iterations.
Which Is More Critical: Cores or Clock Speed?
For gaming, and this holds only to gaming – clock speeds are far more vital. While extra cores make video editing, 3D rendering, and other media tasks significantly quicker, they don’t translate to a better gaming experience.
Clock speeds, on the other hand, matter. Higher is better, always.
Are Threadripper Processors Good for Gaming?
If you’re building a gaming PC, we recommend you skip the Threadripper CPUs. While they are excellent processors, they don’t offer much to a gamer.
This fact is not to say that they are lousy gaming processors. If you do a lot of streaming, video editing, and other media works, the Threadripper is a fantastic processor. You can play games at decent frame rates and resolutions too. They’re just not specialist gaming CPUs.
Before a year or two, AMD processors were no match to Intel offerings. However, with the launch of the Ryzen series, things have changed drastically. AMD is almost as good as Intel in all aspects and even beats Intel processors in some cases.
In the future, an increasing number of games will be able to use more cores, meaning AMD processors will be as good as Intel. But, that day isn’t here yet, and even when it arrives, your old favorites won’t perform as well as they would with Intel processors.
However, this doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy games on AMD processors. If you need a higher core number for your non-gaming tasks, it’s still advisable to go for an AMD processor. The pros far outweigh the gaming cons.
- AMD CPU Technologies, AMD Support