What's the best processor for games and video editing


 

It's a question we get asked often: "What processor do I need for games and video editing?". Here we explain the basics so you're better equipped to spend your cash more wisely. See also: Best gaming PCs

Let's take each in turn, as they have different answers.

What processor is best for PC games?

Many people mistakenly think that they need the fastest possible processor to play games. This isn't true. In fact, the brunt of the load is borne by your PC's graphics card, as this is the component which is responsible for rendering each frame of the game and delivering it to the screen.

It's a processor in its own right, most often referred to as the GPU, which stands for graphics processing unit.

We have many reviews of the latest graphics cards which explain how well they perform and whether they represent good value. Aside from supporting the latest graphical features (which isn't strictly necessary to play most games) what you really need from a graphics card is enough processing power to play your chosen game at the highest resolution of your monitor - usually 1920x1080 pixels.

You also want to be able to see the game at its best, which means turning all the graphics options to their highest level, and then for the card to be able to render a minimum of 25-30 frames per second for smooth game play.

In all of this, the main processor - the CPU - doesn't have quite as much to do. It looks after other aspects of the game, such as the artificial intelligence of characters and physics calculations. However, you don't need the latest Core i7 for this.

It's worth spending as much as you can on the best graphics card rather than a fast CPU if you have the choice. Ideally, though, you want a well-balanced system with no 'weak' components, which means a good helping of RAM and a fast hard drive - preferably an SSD.

To properly answer the question, the best processor for games is a relatively inexpensive one which leaves room in your budget for a fast graphics card. Our recommendation would be the Intel Pentium G3258 Anniversary Edition, which has an unlocked multiplier and is built for overclocking. You can find it for under £50.

For just under £80, try AMD's FX-6300 Black Edition. This is a six-core, multiplier unlocked chip which is also great value.

If money is no object, then go for the Intel Core i5 4690K. It's around £175, and is very overclockable. Beyond this, you're not going to notice much benefit for gaming, and it really is a case of diminishing returns: a Core i7 is overkill for gaming.

 What's the best processor for games and video editing

What processor is best video editing?

When you're editing video, the processor is much more important than the graphics card. Video is very processor (and memory) intensive, especially if you want to edit HD or even 4K video.

Here, it pays to get the fastest processor you can afford, with the most cores, and you'll certainly notice the benefit of a fast Core i7. You should also buy as much memory as you can afford and should consider 8GB a minimum, but you can never have too much.

If you're editing standard definition video, requirements are much lighter, and even (modern) budget laptops should be able to handle a few tracks of video and audio.

Check whether your chosen video editing software supports multiple cores, as otherwise three cores of a quad-core processor could be left idle when exporting or rendering your timeline.

You might also want to choose your graphics card based on your chosen software, or vice versa, since some editors can use the power of a GPU to accelerate rendering and playback. Adobe Premiere Pro, for example, works best with certain Nvidia graphics cards that support Cuda.

Our pick right now for a good-value video editing would be the same Core i5 we've already mentioned. At £175, the Core i5 4690K should be powerful enough for most casual users. For enthusiasts, it might be worth going for a six-core i7, such as the i7 5820K but the quad-core i7 4790K, running at 4.4GHz, is still plenty powerful at under £260.

Naturally, if you already have a motherboard and are looking to upgrade, you'll be limited to those CPUs that have a compatible socket type. Don't assume all Core i7 processors have the same socket: they don't.

 What's the best processor for games and video editing