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Specifically for gaming, how much does a CPU really matter?

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The CPU needs to be fast enough to run the game's code and keep the GPU fed with data (draw calls) to work on. The faster your GPU, the faster your CPU generally needs to be. Also depends on the game, some contain more game logic that requires a faster CPU. Aside from that, a fast CPU is usable for more than just gaming, some people use it for video encoding or other stuff.

I was looking at some benchmarks of all AM4 CPU generations at 1440p, even 4 vs 8+ cores.

 

Quite honestly... IMO the difference is not worth so much, even when comparing Ryzen's 1st gen vs 5000 series the difference is minimal.

 

The biggest change pretty much comes down to upgrading the GPU (or so it seems)

 

So why does it matter having the best CPU?

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The CPU needs to be fast enough to run the game's code and keep the GPU fed with data (draw calls) to work on. The faster your GPU, the faster your CPU generally needs to be. Also depends on the game, some contain more game logic that requires a faster CPU. Aside from that, a fast CPU is usable for more than just gaming, some people use it for video encoding or other stuff.

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3 minutes ago, Hi P said:

So why does it matter having the best CPU?

It doesn't. You just need a CPU that's enough to feed your GPU in the games you play, at your chosen res/refresh and settings. Most people don't have the best CPU, yet most people do just fine.

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56 minutes ago, Hi P said:

I was looking at some benchmarks of all AM4 CPU generations at 1440p, even 4 vs 8+ cores.

 

Quite honestly... IMO the difference is not worth so much, even when comparing Ryzen's 1st gen vs 5000 series the difference is minimal.

 

The biggest change pretty much comes down to upgrading the GPU (or so it seems)

 

So why does it matter having the best CPU?

 

I am not allowed to have my PC specs in my signature.

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It depends on what frame rates you want. If you're going 240hz then you need a fast CPU. If you're going for 144hz you don't really need anything over a 5600x. If you go too low end you'll get frame inconsistency which you can definitely feel and won't show in benchmarks that are only looking at average FPS. 

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it matters alot when u hit the "wall" on a cpu, if you don't it's just gonna be pumping out a bit less frames

 

zen 1 to zen 3 is about a double for games that are cpu intensive, so let say u buy a 4090 for 2000usd, 50% of that goes to waste with a zen 1. a 5800x3d +motherboard is about 500usd, making it an efficient buy with a 4090.

 

Generally for a new build atm, i'd go with ddr5 or a 5800x3d minimum with existing ddr4 ram.

 

I'm pushing the limits of my 9900k atm, it will slow a 4090 down by 30-40%, the 5950x will hold it back too, so i wont be getting a gpu ungrade til i do a ddr5 build.

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1 hour ago, Sorenson said:

It depends on what frame rates you want. If you're going 240hz then you need a fast CPU. If you're going for 144hz you don't really need anything over a 5600x. If you go too low end you'll get frame inconsistency which you can definitely feel and won't show in benchmarks that are only looking at average FPS. 

Yes, its the CPUs job to deliver the frames that the GPU has to draw out, so the higher the FPS the harder it is on the CPU. This is why you can see bigger difference between CPUs on low resolution. At higher resolution like 1440p and 4K the load is shifted more to the GPU.

In addition to the frames its also the CPUs job to do physics simulation and tracking objects, so if there are a big open world with a lot of movement, explosions and things falling its harder for the CPU than in more closed off linear games.

So the CPU utilization depends a lot on the type of game you are playing

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Keep in mind it is not a linear relationship between CPU performance and fps. Too weak a CPU will hurt gaming performance. Once you get to "good enough", going much higher makes much less difference. Today I'd say "good enough" could be hit with a 6 core Zen 2 or Coffee Lake CPU, or newer. 4 cores work for sure, as do older generations, but you will encounter more limitations. 8 cores can offer a smoother experience, but once you're into 12, 16 or more cores, it doesn't really matter.

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