How Many CPU Cores Do You Really Need for Gaming?

Conventional wisdom seems to be that quad-core CPUs are dead as a viable gaming solution. Even a mid-range PC has more than four cores, but what is the right number when it comes to your gaming PC?

The basis of cores and threads

The main processor is actually a complete, independent processor. A quad-core processor has four efficient processors. Until the introduction of dual-core processors in desktop computers, the CPU would have a single core, so the word “CPU” was used interchangeably.

Today, “CPU” generally refers to the CPU package and “core” refers to the number of independent processors in the package.

The word “string” is short for “string of execution” and it is simply an instruction given in the order of the order. The operating system manages the threads sent to the processor for processing. This includes both the hardware required by the operating system and the software that runs on that operating system.

If you have only one CPU core that can process one thread, the operating system will quickly change the thread that the CPU is currently working on. So multitasking is useless if you listen to music, browse the web, copy files in the background on a single-core computer. The system performs various functions so quickly that, to our human perception, everything seems to be happening at the same time.

However, if you have multiple CPU cores, you can schedule multiple threads on each other, allowing multiple tasks to be performed. Most importantly, it increases processing power since each thread has access to the entire CPU instead of sharing one.

Bad games have been written over the years

PC gaming setup with monitor, gaming chair and lighting. Goodenkoff/
In addition to running multiple single-threaded applications at the same time, having multiple CPU cores allows applications to be split into multiple threads, using the processing power that this allows.

The problem is that some types of applications are difficult to split into multiple threads. This means that they benefit from one or two cores at higher speeds rather than from four or more cores at lower speeds.

Tasks like using the CPU to make 3D movies can be almost as efficiently distributed between as many cores as you want, but video game developers have struggled to use more than two cores for a long time. That’s why quad-core processors have been the go-to for gaming for a long time, having two cores to run the game and other cores to manage the operating system and other background processes.

However, the “stringing” of video games has continued to improve as developers become more adept at programming for multiple CPU cores. Modern gaming machines can “pump” more than four threads, although there are usually only one or two “heavy” threads that are limited by one-point speed.

Consoles have eight cores

Black and white game isolated on white background. Miguel Lagoa/
One of the reasons why the question of the number of cores for PC games arises is that game consoles have more than four cores. For example, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 have eight physical processor cores. It follows that games designed to run on these consoles will be coded to use as many cores as possible, because individual cores in game consoles often provide limited performance. limit.

Most PC games are cross-platform releases, making consoles a common commodity. The PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series consoles use a PC hardware configuration, and in the case of the Xbox, we use a modified version of Windows. Still, the games brought from these consoles to PCs work best on quad-core or six-core systems that seem to be a popular choice for entry level and middle game system. . It is worth noting that in most cases, modern games list quad-core processors as the minimum requirements, the minimum does not mean that you will get the best performance. Hyperthreading makes music awesome
In the discussion of processor cores and threads, we should take a moment to talk about hyperthreading. It is Intel’s trademarked name for a process known as symmetric multi-threading (SMT), but is generally used to describe all SMT, regardless of manufacturer type.

What is Hyperthreading?

In SMT, each physical CPU core appears as two “logical” cores in the operating system. Each logical core can handle two threads at the same time. The total amount of CPU power in each core remains the same, but it ensures that the CPU is used as efficiently as possible.

When it comes to multi-threaded gaming, a quad-core CPU with SMT won’t work as well as an eight-core CPU without it. However, it will perform better than quad-core without SMT.

Almost all modern processors have SMT; the important thing is that you remember to look at the number of cores and not the number of threads when you choose a processor!

Players become multitaskers
While most video games use more than four hyperthreaded cores, PCs do more than just play video games. Modern gamers may want to run multiple apps around the games they play. Think apps like Discord, streaming software, backup downloads, browser windows open on a second screen, and more. How to buy a new motherboard for your motherboard
So having more than four CPU cores is a good idea, as it frees up resources for non-gaming tasks that will share CPU resources. If you plan to run other applications alongside your video games, you will want to consider this when choosing a processor. It depends on the type of game
Make a racing simulator setup with a driving suit and a steering wheel.

Video games come in many different styles and features, and not all of them have the same CPU requirements. Racing simulation games can have multiple threads to simulate different aspects of racing such as aerodynamics, brake physics, and weather. A real-time strategy game can have multiple threads for the AI ​​system to run hundreds of game minutes. Open world games are great for multi-threading, as they often have multiple systems simultaneously driving different parts of the world. Even GTA V, released on PC in 2013, is developing more than a quad-core system.

Our advice Obviously, anyone building a gaming PC for modern gaming, regardless of budget, should leave quad-core processors if they want a long-lasting system. We think six-core (hexacore) processors are the obvious entry-level choice. This provides four cores for modern games and two cores for handling non-gaming tasks without affecting performance.

Eight-core processors (octa-core) are your preferred target, since this is the CPU configuration in modern consoles and will last for many years to come until at least the end of the generation PlayStation 5 and Series X | S.

What are P-Cores and E-Cores in an Intel processor?

There’s also a hint of Intel’s hybrid CPU architecture, where high-performance cores are combined in a single CPU package. For example, the Intel Core i5-12600K processor offers six high-performance hyperthreaded processor cores and four non-hyperthreaded performance cores. This means that four performance cores can handle non-game applications and Windows background processes, while the game has exclusive access to these application cores.

Going over eight cores is not something we recommend just for gaming. These are best if you are someone who does video editing or other non-gaming tasks that work well with as many cores as you can throw at them.

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