The CPU is the computer’s brain, and who doesn’t want a brain that can think at lightning speed? A rapid processing speed is non-negotiable when it comes to gaming. But how fast does a CPU really have to be for gaming?
The processing speed you’ll need depends on what games you want to play and what hardware you have at your disposal. Read further to learn what GHz are possible with which devices and why GHz matter for gaming.
What Does GHz Do For Gaming?
In gaming, CPUs with high GHz allow for better simulations, higher FPS, and fast communication between the CPU, GPU, and RAM. If a CPU has low GHz, games will take longer to load, and there will be severe in-game lagging.
The CPU works like a clock, and every tick of the clock represents data being processed. A good speed for gaming is widely considered anything from 3.5 to 4.0 GHz—that’s 3.5 to 4 billion commands a second. The amount of cycles that the CPU executes per second is known as clock speed.
CPU speed is a key piece of any gaming PC. A fast CPU means seamless gameplay, clean animations, and flawless simulations.
How Many GHz Do You Need For Gaming?
You need from 3.5 GHz to 4.0 GHz for gaming. CPUs with higher clock speeds can handle tasks faster. You should also consider getting a CPU with a high core count. The more cores, the more tasks the CPU can handle at the same time.
That said, GHz is usually more important than core count for gaming.
Some games rely more on your CPU than others. This means that depending on the games you want to play, you’ll have a different baseline for CPU speed.
For example, Total War: Warhammer III has a lot of simulations and animations happening at the same time. Here, a fast CPU is crucial. Minecraft runs entirely on CPU, and grand strategy games such as Stellaris are very GPU intensive.
Most new games rely more on the GPU than the CPU. Therefore, it’s important to get a CPU fast enough to support a powerful GPU, but your GPU may have a greater impact on in-game experience for most games.
How Many GHz Is Considered Fast?
3.5 to 4.0 GHz are considered fast for gaming. Some CPU-intensive games will need 5GHz to run at the highest settings, but most games can run well with lower GHz.
When it comes to gaming, a high processing speed is essential for a smooth gaming experience. However, GHz aren’t all that matter. A new-generation CPU with a lower clock speed might be faster than an old CPU with a higher clock speed.
Besides, there’s no point in having a top-of-the-line CPU if you don’t have a GPU to match it.
Threads And Cores
There are different types of processing that a CPU can take on.
When reading about CPUs, you might see a lot of talk surrounding threads and cores. It’s crucial not to get them confused.
A core is a physical part of a CPU—the part that does the processing. Having multiple cores is similar to having multiple CPUs, and they allow your computer to handle multiple tasks at the same time.
Meanwhile, threads are virtual processes—a chain of tasks.
A single-thread process doesn’t benefit from having multiple cores, but a multi-thread process will run much faster on a multi-core CPU.
Most modern CPUs have multiple cores, which allow your device to understand and process multiple tasks at once.
The use of multiple cores allows your PC to initiate a process called hyper-threading. This allows the computer to handle two separate command threads or tasks simultaneously.
It’s vital to understand that multicore processing doesn’t necessarily improve overall performance. Double the number of cores does not equal double the performance. Unless they’re very CPU-intensive, most games rely on single-thread processing more than multi-thread processing.
Simply put, Gigahertz is the measure of clock speed—the number of cycles your CPU executes per second. In other words, the number of instructions the CPU can understand and complete in a second.
An internal oscillator synchronizes a pulse within the CPU. This is referred to as a cycle. For example, a 3.5 GHz processor executes 3.5 billion cycles per second.
Does More GHz Improve FPS?
More GHz can improve FPS up to a certain point. The CPU feeds the GPU with the frames that need to be rendered. If the CPU processes frames faster than the GPU can render them, there won’t be an increase in FPS.
This concept is frequently called bottlenecking. If your CPU is not fast enough to supply instructions to your GPU, then you may experience a bottleneck, resulting in lag and dropped frames.
To check if your CPU is bottlenecking, open up task manager while your game is running and check the “Performance” tab. There, you can see what percent of your CPU is being used. If your CPU is peaking at 100% usage, then it’s possible that your CPU is bottlenecking your PC’s performance.
What Is FPS?
Frames per second (FPS), or frame rate, refers to the number of images a GPU can produce per second. The higher this number, the smoother the visuals will appear, and the more seamless your gaming experience will be.
The minimum FPS modern gaming computers aim at is 60 FPS. However, PCs with high-range specs can handle over 120FPS in most games.
Is 2.2 GHz Processor Good For Gaming?
2.2 GHz is not good for gaming. A 2.2 GHz CPU will manage to do some light gaming, but it will struggle to run new AAA or CPU-intensive games, even if you have a good GPU.
It all depends on what you want to play. If you’re only playing light games that aren’t graphically intensive, then a 2.2 GHz processor will do the job—provided you have a decent GPU.
But as games become more demanding, it wouldn’t be wise to build a gaming PC with such a weak processor. Newer games with advanced graphics will not run well on a 2.2GHz processor.
Is 3.5 GHz Processor Good For Gaming?
3.5 GHz is good for gaming. However, most newer AAA games will need a higher clock speed to run at high settings. The advertised GHz refers only to the CPU’s base speed. In practice, it will be able to reach much higher speeds.
Is 4.0 GHz Processor Good For Gaming?
4.0 GHz is good for gaming. It should allow you to run most modern games at high settings. However, some CPU-intensive AAA releases might need even higher speeds.
Clock speed is the most important measure for a gaming CPU, but core count shouldn’t be ignored either. Most new games use multiple cores, even though they are primarily single-threaded.
Also, most gamers run multiple applications simultaneously. For example you may want to stream with OBS while gaming, or chat with friends on Discord. In this case, core count becomes crucial to maintain performance on several applications at once.
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GHz is an important measure of your CPU’s speed, but it shouldn’t be the only thing you look at. There are many other factors that affect a CPU’s performance, such as its architecture and generation.
Look at online benchmarks to get a good idea of how fast a CPU is.
- Gigabyte Kingdom: How Many GHz Do I Need for Gaming These Days?
- HP: What is Processor Speed and Why Does It Matter?
- TechTarget: What is a multicore processor and how does it work?
- GPU Mag: What Does FPS Mean In Gaming? [2022 Answers]
- Just In Tools: Convert Gigahertz to Frames Per Second (GHz to FPS)
- PCMag: The Fastest Laptops for 2022
- Quora: Does GHz matter in gaming?
- Intel: CPU Speed: What Is CPU Clock Speed?