Last edited: June 13, 2017

Good gaming processors AMD

Whether you’re building your own desktop from scratch or upgrading parts of a current one, AMD processors are always viable options. In this CPU buying guide, we will be discussing some of the best gaming processors that AMD offers. As with most desktop parts, generally the higher the price of the processor, the faster and more useful it will get for your desktop. You want to mix and match parts correctly. For example, if you have a relatively expensive card like the Radeon RX 580 or the R9 290X, you’re going to want a CPU that matches performance to avoid bottlenecking. In contrast, if you have a cheaper card such as the RX 460 or R9 270, there is no sense in buying the fastest AMD processor out there.

For our list we’ve mentioned CPUs in various price ranges. This is for you guys to browse around and check which of AMD’s gaming processors suits your needs and budgets. If you’re looking to upgrade your chip so your PC build will last years of high-def gaming, check out the section below that lists out the best of the best AMD CPUs. If you’re just looking for an affordable but worthwhile processor upgrade, jump to the section that highlights the best budget AMD CPUs. We looked at the best processors at varying budgets, so you will undoubtedly find something for you here.

AMD's headquartersBelow this guide synopsis is a handy table of contents to make navigation easy for you. We tried our best to make this a comprehensive, all-in-one gaming CPU buying guide. With that said, there is a lot of content and so we highly encourage the use of the table of contents. We also have a few more separate posts regarding other gaming processors coming soon.

Note: To the very bottom of this article is an extremely helpful, easy-to-view processor comparison chart that displays the models we recommended. This chart is made for readers to quickly gloss over some specs compare the different products. If anything, we suggest you at least take a look at the comparison chart.

  1. The best AMD processor for gaming
  2. Best AMD processor period (for any computing purpose)
  3. Our pick for the best gaming CPU, regardless of brand such as Intel or AMD
  4. Latest AMD CPU: keep up with the newest AMD models
  5. AMD processor list/comparison table

Best AMD processors for gaming

This sector is the original vision for this buying guide, hence the title and URL name. Here you’ll find our pick(s) for the processors by AMD most suitable for your gaming desktop. Keep in mind these are different from the best overall CPUs, as some of AMD’s chips have special features that accelerate gaming performance. We’ve hand-tested each of our recommendations on this entire page. For this section, we did manual game benchmarks in combination with an assortment of the top graphics cards. This is to examine each processor’s gaming power in tandem with various cards, as you most likely will not be using the exact same video card as everyone else. We also benchmarked using custom desktops that have strong gaming power in order to avoid bottlenecking during play-tests. For each CPU listed from here on out, the exact desktop build used to benchmark that chip will be posted for your reference.

For simplicity sake, we’ve listed the best AMD processors that are reasonably affordable for gamers. Obviously, the best of the best will be something like the newly announced Ryzen Pro or the 16-core/32 thread Ryzen ThreadRipper. However, these are both extremely new and expensive, catering mainly to the highest end of the gaming market. There is just no sense in including them into this guide when their power is excessive, even for the most demanding AAA games.

#1: AMD Ryzen 7 1800X

Hands down the best AMD gaming processor as of now is the Ryzen 7 1800X. This is AMD’s top multi-core model, designed for PC enthusiasts with high-performance needs. The Ryzen 7 1800X is considerably expensive for a CPU, but our tests show that it is consistently AMD’s top-performing product. It successfully competes in the high-end CPU industry with beefier and better-performing cores as well as simultaneous multi-threading (SMT), which allows programs to utilize each physical core (8 total) as two logical cores for optimized use of hardware resources. As an octa-core processor using this multi-threading technology, the Ryzen 7 effectively features 16 total threads for multi-tasking performance that is nothing short of incredible.

For your reference, there are three Ryzen 7 processors in the family (ordered by price, highest to lowest): Ryzen 7 1800X, Ryzen 7 1700X, and the Ryzen 7 1700. They are all solid CPUs in their own right, but we made the indisputable decision to pick the 1800X as our #1 AMD processor because of its ultimate performance as well as it being within reasonable price range, despite being on the high-end in terms of cost.

— If perhaps the Ryzen 1800X is too expensive, definitely go for the 1700. It is far more affordable, yet still features the same 8 core/16 thread architecture we discuss below. However, for the purposes of naming the overall best AMD CPU for gaming regardless of price, the 1800X takes the crown —

Zen architecture

The 1800X uses “Zen” cores, relatively new architecture that AMD has been developing since at least 2012. This new core design improves core performance and efficiency by using a branch-prediction system. Without getting too wordy, it basically attempts to predict and load paths in software code before it has even been processed. This kind of innovation is AMD’s direct answer to Intel’s architecture, which has beaten them in core efficiency seemingly year after year.

The Ryzen 7 1800X has a base clock rate of 3.6Ghz and is able to be overclocked to 4.0Ghz. We can definitely feel AMD’s attempt to improve single-core performance in order to better compete with Intel hardware. It has usurped previous hardware as the fastest AMD processor right now. It also has 16MB of shared L3 cache.

For compatibility, do keep in mind that the 1800X uses the AM4 socket. For new PC builders, this means you cannot use the ever-popular LGA1151 socket or any other Intel-based chip socket. When purchasing a motherboard, look for one that specifically states it uses an AM4 socket. Examples of these types of motherboards include: Crosshair VI Hero ATX AM4, Gigabyte Aorus GA-AX370-Gaming 5 ATX AM4, or ASRock AB350M Pro4 Micro ATX.

AMD Ryzen 7-1800X benchmarks

Here we will list a few of the PC game playtests we did on custom PCs with the Ryzen 7 installed. Also included are some important benchmarks we retrieved from actual benchmarking software. While there are already a plethora of these on the web, our own inclusion is for your quick reference and comparison to the other AMD processors on this list. Directly below are specs for the custom desktop we benchmarked with:

  • AMD Ryzen 7 1800X 3.6 GHz (base clock rate)
  • Gigabyte GA-AX370-Gaming 5 motherboard
  • Corsair Dominator Platinum 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR4-3200 RAM
  • MSI Radeon RX 480 8GB Gaming X
  • Sandisk SSD Plus 240GB
  • EVGA SuperNOVA G3 850W 80+ Gold Fully-Modular ATX
  • Windows 10 Home (64 bit)

To stay consistent across the board for all processors internally tested from this list, we used our RX 480 from another build as a guideline graphics card. It is a nice medium between high-end and low-end cards. We determined the RX 480 will also be a good baseline to use for a variety of different processors, from expensive ones such as the 1800X to the budget-oriented one further down.

1800X PerformanceTest score: 16641

We did a standard performance test using v9.0 of PassMark’s benchmarking software. The benchmarks were done off a fresh Windows 10 install, prior to the installation of the games we would later test. Our average CPU Mark came out to 16641, which is right in line with the overall average.

1800X Cinebench R15 multi-core score: 1611

Cinebench R15 is a great tool to benchmark the power of multiple cores. Unlike the PassMark tool which uses tests such as mathematical operations, vector and bitmap processing, and memory speed tests to come up with a final score, the Cinebench focuses 3D animation to test the CPU’s ability to render realistic three-dimensional environments. For comparison, our previous Cinebench R15 benchmarks for the Intel i7-6700K (OC) and Intel i7-7700K (OC) were 910 and 979, respectively.

1800X Cinebench R15 single-core score: 165

We decided to include the single-core score on Cinebench R15 here. AMD has done a fine job improving single-core performance and efficiency, but it still lags behind some of Intel’s products in the same price range.

Ryzen 1800X game benchmarks

Here they are. For each game, we used the same custom desktop (specs above) and played at maximum settings. We focused on playing games at 1080p resolution just so there is an even playing field for the more budget-oriented processors. However, for the more expensive AMD CPUs such as this Ryzen, we may have included 1440p gameplay benchmarks.

Total War: Warhammer

1920 x 1080, DX 12, ultra settings: 87.5 fps (graphical settings toned down but “max troops” settings kept on yielded an average frame rate of 110.2)

2560 x 1440, DX 12, ultra settings: 55.7 fps

Real-time strategy games such as the Total War series are worthwhile benchmarks to do, despite not being able to find many posts that actually use them. They are some of the most CPU-intensive games simply because of how many objects and characters the game needs to be processed at one time. Warhammer is an excellent example of this because it features hundreds of troops fighting simultaneously. The Ryzen did not falter and offered smooth frame rates at either resolution. Keep in mind that these were done on the highest settings possible. If we lowered the graphical presets just a bit while asking the game to still process the maximum amount of simultaneous troops, average frame rate shot up to around 110.

Ghost Recon: Wildlands

1920 x 1080, high preset: 65.9 fps

Wildlands, while the sheer number of in-game objects to process is far lower, is still a decent game to benchmark. Like the 1800X, the game released in early 2017. Ryzen processors are supposed to keep up with the most recently released games so we decided to benchmark. This Ryzen 1800x processor, in combination with our RX 480 card, produced an average of almost 66 fps at 1080p resolution with the high preset.

Why it’s our top pick for best AMD gaming CPU:

Though very expensive, the Ryzen 7 1800X is impressively fast when it comes to gaming. It was able to keep up with the chaos we put it through in Total War: Warhammer, as well as helped produce solid frame rates for Ghost Recon: Wildlands. It produced high processing scores for the benchmarking software we tested. We even noticed the 1800X made everyday work tasks like video editing and rendering much quicker. The cost is among the top when it comes to processors, but for a fast gaming CPU there are few that compete.

#2: AMD Ryzen 5 1600/1600X

Our second pick for the best all-around AMD gaming CPU goes to the Ryzen 5 1600 or 1600X. We certainly do have love for AMD’s FX processors (more of them below) but the fact of the matter is that Ryzen CPUs are more equipped for intensive gaming. FX processors have their place in the PC gaming world, though. They are consistently some of the best CPUs for gaming due to their affordability and capability of being paired up with a good graphics card.

The Ryzen 5 1600 is the best value Ryzen 5 processor, with an MSRP of only $219. For a little bit more, you can get the 1600X for under $250. The 1600X has a base rate of 3.6Ghz and is overclockable to 4.0Ghz. The regular 1600 has a base rate of 3.2Ghz and is overclockable to 3.6Ghz. The main difference between the two is that, thanks to XFR (extended frequency range), the 1600X is actually able to boost a little bit more to a clock rate of 4.1Ghz or even 4.2Ghz, if cooling is sufficient. Both are hex-core processors (6 physical cores) that utilize Zen architecture technology (SMT) to bring logical thread count to 12.

Like the Ryzen 7, it uses the AM4 socket. Among the AM4-based chipsets available, only the X370 type supports SLI as of now. This means that if you are planning to SLI your Nvidia cards, be sure to get an X370 chipset motherboard. Crossfire is supported on the X370 as well as the B350. Look for motherboards with these chipset names if you wish to use a dual-card setup.

AMD Ryzen 5 1600 benchmarks

For these performance tests, we used our Ryzen 5 1600 as it is more affordable with only a minor decrease in speed. We used the same desktop from before, but we’ve gone ahead and listed the specs anyway:

  • AMD Ryzen 5 1600 3.2Ghz
  • Gigabyte GA-AX370-Gaming 5 motherboard
  • Corsair Dominator Platinum 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR4-3200 RAM
  • MSI Radeon RX 480 8GB Gaming X
  • Sandisk SSD Plus 240GB
  • EVGA SuperNOVA G3 850W 80+ Gold Fully-Modular ATX
  • Windows 10 Home (64 bit)
1800X PerformanceTest score: 13510

Our PassMark score was a 13510. The average as of now is 13499, so we’re good to go there. Compare this score with the Ryzen 7’s score and we have a very competent processor for about half the price.

Ryzen 5 1600 game benchmarks

Here is where the real meat shows up, at least if you’re comparing processor power. Again, we used the exact same build in this test with only the CPU switched out. This is to get a nice baseline among all AMD processors and evaluate how the CPU affects in-game performance.

 

Grand Theft Auto V

1920 x 1080, high preset: 74.7 fps

Total War: Warhammer

1920 x 1080, DX 12, ultra settings: 82.8 fps (graphical settings toned down but “max troops” settings kept on yielded an average frame rate of 106.1)

2560 x 1440, DX 12, ultra settings: 53.7 fps

So far, the performance was very close in frame rate to the Ryzen 7. The RX 480 we used in our build obviously contributed the most to our frame rate, but we do notice some slight frame rate changes going from the 1800X to the Ryzen 5 1600.

Why it’s a top pick for best gaming AMD processor:

The 1600 is an excellent all-around gaming CPU. It performs well when combined with a decent graphics card, being able to process hundreds of objects in games quite easily. The Zen architecture is spectacular, finally shining bright on multi-thread performance. Even if you bought the 1600X (for its higher base and overclock rate, as well as XFR additional clock boost), you would still have a fast AMD chip for under $250.

Overall, it will not top the Ryzen 7 in performance. However, it is still highly suitable for gaming and is far more affordable. If you are interested in the Zen technology of the 1800X but to a lesser degree, get the more budget-friendly Ryzen 5-1600.


Best AMD CPU (not just for gaming)

This is just a brief section we included while we’re talking about the best processors AMD has to offer. Gaming is still this guide’s focus, but while we’re on the subject we might as well list our pick for best overall CPU. This will be useful for those that use their desktop for more than just PC gaming. We’re talking about video editing, photo editing, or audio production. Processors are also good for other less-intensive work, such as Microsoft Office or mere file processing and converting. Our pick combines performance of the above, as well as other important factors such as affordability, compatibility, and longevity.

AMD FX-8320 OC

After looking at everything you might need for PC-intensive work, the best overall AMD processor to build a PC (or upgrade a current one) with is the FX-8320. It has a base clock speed of 3.5Ghz. With Max Turbo we’re looking at 4.0Ghz. It also has 8 cores and despite not having multi-threading (8 cores/8 threads), it is still highly competitive for multi-core processing. The FX-8320 faces fierce competition with some Intel i5 chips, but there is considerable value in its octa-core architecture at a fraction of the price. It’s not the fastest AMD processor, but the true value in the FX-8320 is in its multi-threading as well as affordability.

That brings me to my next point: the FX-8320 is extremely budget-friendly. It launched with an MSRP of $169, but nowadays you can find it for less than $130, making it a good target for a budget gaming PC. We’ve repeatedly called this CPU the best bang for your buck processor before. Even the next step up, the FX-8350 (with a base and max. frequency of 4.0Ghz and 4.2Ghz, respectively), can be had for much less than competing Intel i5 CPUs. The 8 cores are excellent for multi-tasking and for the asking price, there aren’t much better value options right now. On top of that, the 8320 is among the best AMD FX processors.

Be sure to overclock the FX-8320 for better performance, though. While it is perfectly fine to do work with without OC, bringing the clock frequency to 4.0Ghz will help you see massive increases in productivity. It’s a cheap alternative to purchasing an over-$200 AMD chip.

 Best gaming CPU: Intel or AMD?

We’ve looked at a ton of units between both Intel and AMD. But it is finally time to settle the dust and pick just one gaming processor that beats them all. To be fair, this is for all gaming CPUs that are both available and reasonable for the general gaming population to purchase (this means the $1700+ Intel i7-6950X is out of the picture). With that exception, this is regardless of price since we’re looking at the very best processor for gaming. Expect to pay considerable money for either the top pick or the runner up.

Intel i7 7700K

Strictly for gaming, the best CPU will have to be Intel’s i7 7700K. When overclocked, this processor helps provide nice frame rates at ultra high resolutions. It’s become something of a standard when it comes to gaming, providing stable performance across numerous builds.

The i7-7700K is part of the newest Kaby Lake generation. It has a 4.2Ghz base frequency and 4.5Ghz max turbo, using Intel’s Turbo Boost. This is among Intel’s fastest processors and if you overclock it (it’s the 7700K, you absolutely should), the i7-7700K outperforms the overwhelming majority of the CPU market when it comes to gaming. At around $350 give or take, the 7700K is also reasonably affordable for a top-tier gaming CPU.

AMD Ryzen 7-1800X

Yes, it’s here again. The fact of the matter is that the 1800X is a high-performing CPU that crushes it when it comes to gaming. Its performance goes head-to-head with the i7-7700K but because it’s more of a multi-thread processor (versus the single-core speed focus the i7 has), the types of games both are optimized for are vastly different. If you’re looking for a processor to play high fps games with, the 7700K leads by a comfortable margin. However, for other CPU-intensive games like Total War: Warhammer as well as other work-related programs, Ryzen is the better option. Keep in mind that they aren’t mutually exclusive. The Ryzen 7 is an excellent choice for gaming. Likewise, the i7-7700K is still has considerably high performance levels in real-time strategy games as well as software that require lots of processing.

Latest AMD processor (as of mid-2017)

Latest AMD processor: Ryzen series

For those that wish to keep a tab on the latest computer processor by AMD, we will update this section. The newest AMD CPU right now comes from the Ryzen family. The new Zen architecture we’ve consistently mentioned here is groundbreaking, at least for AMD. It heavily focuses on both improving multi-threading as well as catching up to Intel’s single-core throughput. The new features, also known as AMD SenseMI Technology, in Zen are: Neural Net Prediction, Smart Prefetch, Pure Power, Extended Frequency Range, and Precision Boost.

Here are the most recent official dates so far, ordered with the latest AMD CPU release first:

Ryzen 5 series – April 11, 2017

Ryzen 5 1600X/1600
Ryzen 5 1500X
Ryzen 5 1400

Ryzen 7 series – March 2, 2017

Ryzen 7 1800X
Ryzen 7 1700X/1700

What about Ryzen 9? When’s that launching?

The Ryzen 9, aka Threadripper, is a new confirmed AMD processor that will be considerably more powerful than anything in the market. According to AMD, the Zen-based Threadripper will feature up to 16 cores (multi-threading to 32 threads) and expanded memory. The official timetable for the Ryzen 9 is a summer 2017 release date.

Any other new AMD CPUs?

Both the Ryzen 5 and 7 series chips have taken the market by storm. But a new Zen-based chip will be introduced to the family as well: the Ryzen 3 series. AMD has stated those will launch sometime in Quarter 3 of 2017.

AMD processor list:

Finally to wrap this huge guide all up is this comparison table for the processors discussed. CPU specs won’t be close to telling good gaming processors apart, but they do give you a rough idea of what each component consists of. I urge you to look through customer reviews, AMD CPU benchmarks like the ones we did, and research before buying. Here is our AMD processor list for quick comparing.

 Core/thread countBase/Turbo clock speedSocket typeBest for:MSRP at launchPrices
Ryzen 7-1800X8 cores/16 threads3.6 GHz / 4.0 GHzAM44K/1440p gamingMSRP $499Current online price
Intel i7-7700K4 cores/8 threads4.2 GHz / 4.5 GHzLGA 11514K/1440p gamingMSRP $330Current online price
Ryzen 5-16006 cores/12 threads3.2 GHz / 3.6 GHzAM41440p/1080p gamingMSRP $219Current online price
Ryzen 5-1500X4 cores/8 threads3.5 GHz / 3.7 GHzAM41440p/1080p gamingMSRP $189Current online price
FX-8320 OC8 cores/8 threads3.5 GHz / 4.0 GHzAM3+1080p gamingMSRP $169Current price online