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Selecting a CPU and CPU cooler for a gaming computer

The performance of a gaming computer depends to a large extent on the Central processing unit or CPU which has been used. Most games contain thousands of lines of code, and the speed at which the game will be actually played depends to a very great extent on the speed of the CPU. The CPU also interfaces with the peripherals, processing input data, and producing the output, which is displayed on the screen. Though most gamer’s would like to purchase the fastest CPU available, their purchase decision will be determined to a large extent by their budget for the gaming computer, since the latest and fastest CPU will be significantly more expensive than older models of CPU.

There are many criteria which determine the performance of the CPU. The number of cores and threads in the CPU is directly proportional to the computing power, and Intel has released processors with eighteen cores recently. The clock speed also determines the speed of the processor, and higher speeds imply faster processing. For each processor, the base clocking frequency, turbo clocking frequency and overclocking frequency is also defined. The L3 cache memory and the specifications of the PCIe bus, like the number of lanes, also determines the speed with which the processor handles inputs from the peripherals like the mouse, keyboard.

Intel is the most popular CPU manufacturer for gaming computers. Though the specifications of the CPUs are being enhanced frequently, in end 2018, Intel Core i9 9900K is the fastest and most powerful affordable CPU available from Intel for gaming. This CPU has eight cores, sixteen threads, base clocking frequency of 3.6 Ghz, turbo clocking frequency of 5.0 Ghz, and overclocking frequency of 4.9-5.0 Ghz. The L3 cache memory is 16 MB and PCIe bus has 16 lanes. However, this CPU is fairly expensive costing approximately $900, so gamer’s with a limited budget can opt for cheaper Intel CPUs, which have fewer threads, cores. The Intel CPUs are the top rated CPUs by gaming experts. Most of the top end CPUs require a separate cooler.

Compared to Intel, AMD has fewer CPUs designed for gaming, however they are more affordable. Like the Intel Core i9 9900K, the AMD Ryzen 7 2700 also has eight cores, and sixteen threads. However, the base clock, turbo clocking and overclocking frequencies are lower at 3.2 Ghz, 4.1 Ghz, and 4.1 Ghz respectively. Like the top end gaming Intel CPU, the L3 memory is also 16 MB, however the number of lanes in the PCIe bus is more at 20 lanes for faster memory reading and writing. The price of this AMD CPU is less than half of that of the top end Intel CPU. However, when tested for gaming, AMD Ryzen 5 2600X offers better performance and value for money since it has a slightly higher base clock frequency of 3.6 Ghz. Since the 2600X has six cores and twelve threads, it is marginally cheaper than the AMD Ryzen7 2700, so is preferred by gamers with a limited budget.

The AMD Ryzen 3 2200 G is considered the cheapest CPU for gamers with limited budget, since it costs less than $130. It also includes an integrated graphics card, so a separate graphics card does not have to be purchased. This CPU has only 4 cores, 4 threads, however its base clock frequency of 3.5 Ghz, is similar to that of more expensive CPUs. The Intel Core i9-7980XE with 18 cores, 36 threads and AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX with 32 cores, 64 threads are the CPUs with the largest number of cores, however these are extremely expensive, so they are more suited for professional applications rather than gaming.

Most of these CPUs are generating a lot of heat when they are being used for gaming which can adversely affect their performance and also reduce their life. Hence, they require a cooler which will dissipate the heat generated and ensure that the temperature remains low. A large number of liquid and air cooled coolers are available for the CPUs, and are usually rated on the basis of their thermal capacity. While the NZXT Kraken X62 and Noctua NH-D15 are considered the best liquid coolers and air coolers respectively by gaming experts, the Corsair H60 is the most affordable liquid cooler for gaming laptops. The compatibility of the cooler with the motherboard should be considered while selecting a cooler.

Hence based on the above information and budget, a gamer can select the best CPU and CPU cooler for his gaming computer.

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