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The best CPUs for gaming: Core i9-10850K and Ryzen 5 3600 price cuts shake things up

Game on with these picks for every budget.

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Better yet, AMD infused its third-gen Ryzen chips with significant IPC and clock speed improvements, putting the 3950X and 3900X just barely behind Intel’s fearsome 9900K in 1080p gaming benchmarks. The divide shrinks even further if you play at 1440p or 4K resolution, as those shift more of the bottleneck onto your system’s graphics card. Third-gen Ryzen chips burn rubber in gaming, especially at higher resolutions that systems with high-end parts like these usually run. The Ryzen 9 pairing absolutely pounds Intel’s lineup in multi-threaded tasks.

If you can get by with fewer cores, the $3290 Ryzen 7 3700X is to the Ryzen 9 3900X what Intel’s Core i7-10700K is to the 10900K: a much more affordable chip that offers essentially the same gaming performance as its bigger sibling, as proven in reviews by PC Gamer, Tom’s Hardware, and PCGamesN. The Ryzen 7 3700X has 8 cores and 16 threads, and costs under $300 after recent price decreases.

Moving way up the line, AMD’s 32-core Ryzen Threadripper 3970X, 64-core Threadripper 3990X, and Intel’s 18-core Core i9-10980XE rule the high-end desktop roost for prosumers—particularly AMD’s chips, which manage to blow away the best Intel has to offer. None of these chips should be on your wishlist unless you’ve got specific production workload plans that can put all those cores to work, but if you do, both play games more than fast enough to moonlight as a gaming PC by night. Some games react poorly to Threadripper’s unique multi-die architecture (like Far Cry 5) but those tend to be the exception rather than the norm. 

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