How Many CPU Cores Do I Need for Gaming? Guide 2022

To get the most out of your gaming laptop or desktop, the CPU should have at least 6 cores. The 4-core processors are still considered as the threshold of gaming, but if you want to get into serious or professional gaming, then you may hit for a 6-core or even 8-core gaming processor. However, you’d have to consider the depth of your pockets. They do come expensive. 

So, here we come up with a detailed guide about how many CPU cores do I need for gaming? as well as the guide about GPU and CPU relationship.

The GPU-CPU Relationship – Bottlenecking

Having the right GPU for gaming makes sense. But you should know that the relationship between the two is very viable. You cannot ignore one for another because that will seriously impede the optimal performance of your machine. 

So, to perfectly gauge the smooth performance of a GPU, you need a powerful CPU and vice versa. 

In case there’s a mismatch between the two, you’d experience bottlenecking. This is the term given to the condition of your PC when the GPU cannot perform to its fullest because the CPU isn’t powerful enough. 

What Makes a CPU Powerful?

How many cores a CPU will have determines how powerful it is. As a rule of thumb, more cores should mean more processing power. That is the case. However, not just that, but other components such as RAM and hard drive also mean a lot when it comes to playing different demanding games better. 

Talking about online games, you definitely need a better internet connection with at least 15 MB/s  CPU speed for more frames per second. 

Coming back to the cores, a single core performs a single basic task. If you were one of those earliest humans who used single-core CPU PCs, you’d remember that they couldn’t handle multi-tasking. 

With the advent of multi-cores, that became a reality. Now, multi-core processors are easy to multitask. They have the technology and ability to switch between tasks in seconds. 

This is also used when you open and play games. Some games require additional cores because they have a lot of processes to run. You might have noticed in that sense that performing other tasks when you’re gaming puts your PC through a lot. 

So, you may wanna buy a PC that has a powerful processor with more than 4 cores but at the same time, the single-core gaming performance is good enough to deal with individual tasks of a game or even software. 

What Are The Best Starting CPUs for Gaming?

By the logic I explained above, the best starting CPUs in Intel and AMD are Core i5 9th generation and Ryzen 5 3600X. They perform well when it comes to mid-range gaming or even some top and modern games but with low frames per second. 

The Core i5 9th gen has a CPU mark of 10795 with 6 cores and 6 threads and the AMD Ryzen 5 3600X has about 18302 scores with 6 cores and 12 threads. 

It is clear that the AMD Ryzen 5 is a clear winner here but obviously it comes with its fair share of the expense. 

Talking about these two processors does not mean that the quad cores are to be left or not bought at all. As I said, that’s the threshold, but going towards 6 or 8 cores will future-proof your system. 

What do I mean by future-proofing your system? Well, you’re going to use your PC in the future to play advanced games. So, why not buy something that will be relevant even after a few years? 

Buying a quad-core will surely make a good case for future bottlenecking. 

Hyperthreading and Multithreading – How Do These Help in CPU Performance?

How do single cores perform more than one task so easily? That’s something to do with hyperthreading or multithreading. 

Both of these mean the same thing – a single-core having more than one thread. Intel has hyperthreading while AMD has multithreading just for the sake of bringing a little difference. 

This is certainly better. Fortunately, most of the CPUs today come with more than one thread. If you’re thinking about choosing the one with only cores and no threads, then you may wanna reconsider your choice. 

Even the benchmarks tell this story. Consider the 3DMark of 4 Cores, which is 1,093,886, and then 4 Cores with 4 Threads, which jumps to 1,105,294. So, there’s a marked difference or should I say improvement in the performance of the CPU when multiple threads are added. 

Besides, having more than one thread improves single-core performance as well. For multitaskers, that should be good news as a single core will suffice for running multiple programs, even some popular games. 

The newest series of both Intel and AMD are vying to get the top position when it comes to their performance based on threads. Although AMD wins that battle for now with its processors featuring more threads per core, the Intel Core i9 takes a different edge in the Intel processor regime. 

So, the answer to the question is that yes, multi threads or hyper threads do aid in the overall performance of a CPU. However, at the same time, you should understand that choosing a GPU breaks or affects performance when playing AAA games. 

The Perfect Combination of CPUs and GPUs 

I highly suggest you should go for Ryzen 5 or i5 and beyond for gaming. But don’t use RTX 2070 with these because your PC will end up in a bottleneck. This GPU is quite powerful and you’ll do justice to it if you have it with Ryzen 7 or Core i7 9th generation CPUs. 

How many CPU cores is best for gaming?

Anywhere around 4-6 cores would be more than sufficient in order to play most high end games.

Is a CPU with 6 cores enough for gaming?

As newer and newer franchises are built upon the logic of utilizing multiple cores, it is quite favorable to have a higher core count. In other words, 6 cores most certainly hit the sweet spot for gaming.

How many cores does GTA V use?

GTA V requires 4 cores at minimum to play it smoothly without any sort of hindrance of frame drops.

How Many CPU Cores Do I Need for Gaming – Conclusion 

As a general rule of thumb, going for more than one core is the right choice. You could start with a quad core processor to play low-tier games. However, if you’re into serious gaming, you should consider 6- or even 8-core CPUs. 

At the same time, make sure that you have the right GPU to get the most out of your PC. I’ve listed the right combination, so if you have the budget, go for it by all means. 

Lisa Antonio
Lisa enjoys technology & has built many laptops and enjoys tinkering with technology!