While FPS (Frames Per Second) in games mostly relies on a graphics card, a CPU is also responsible to get stable frames alongside.
A processor’s per-core performance will ensure you a smoother gaming session. So pairing a good CPU with a powerful GPU is also vital.
In this article, I will clear up the confusion, if you’ve ever doubted your four-core processor’s capability in games. Let’s dive in.
Is Quad Core CPU Enough for Gaming?
A CPU is the brain of a computer. So it controls all the tasks you instruct. Due to the expansion of workloads & complex calculations, Intel & AMD had to produce Multi-Core chips. Thus, Dual-core, Quad-core, Octa-core, etc are invented.
A chip’s capability depends on IPC (Instructions Per Cycle) with its core frequency. The faster instructions a chip can complete, the faster result you will get.
Talking about IPC, a Quad Core processor utilizes Four Physical Cores to complete all the instructions. For being limited to 4 cores, this CPU is capable of running games at a lower resolution to get a stable FPS or rendering video at a slow pace.
But that doesn’t mean a four-core chip is not proper for gaming. Though the limitation of the cores can cause CPU bottlenecks in games, it solely depends on the games you are playing.
For modern games, 4 core processors lost their legs. Though it can run a game, the quad-core chips will not give a pleasant gaming experience. Most games keep quad-core processors as their minimum requirement, but they are not very helpful to get the best performance. So a minimum six-core chip is recommended.
Check out our separate post on how many CPU cores do i need.
When is It Optimal for a Four-Core CPU?
Most of the time, gamers spend a big portion of their budget on a beefy GPU. As a result, they don’t focus on the CPU & often ended up buying a quad-core or a hexa-core processor hoping it will run fine with the graphics card.
Assuming you are one of those gamers, who cut the budget for the processor & purchased a quad-core chip. Orrr… you want to buy a new one? Then when is a quad-core CPU superior for games?
As you know about the cores, you will also hear about threads. A quad-core chip can have 4 cores/ 4 threads or 4 cores/ 8 threads, depending on the model.
Now, how these cores or threads will be utilized heavily depends on the games you will play. Some games can scale well with high core CPU & utilize multi-cores to get more performance. However, there are some games that use only single cores & don’t count the extra cores.
|Minecraft||Intel Core i3-3210|
|Intel Core i5-4690|
|Valorant||Intel Core 2 Duo E8400(2C/ 2T)||Intel Core i3-4150(2C/ 4T)|
|Apex Legends||Intel Core i3-6100(2C/ 4T) or AMD FX-4350(4C/ 4T)||AMD Ryzen 5 or equivalent|
|Fortnite||Intel Core i3-3225|
|Intel Core i5-7300U|
(2C/4T) or AMD Ryzen 3 3300U(4C/ 4T)
|CS:GO||Intel Core 2 Duo E6600|
(2C/2T) or AMD Phenom X3 8750(3C/ 3T)
From the table, you can find some older games with some newer popular title’s requirements. These games don’t need more core counts. Instead, they rely on single-core performance more.
That being said, for these types of games, per-core performance is what matters. So, you may have an i7-7740X(4C /8T)@4.3GHz frequency per core & i7-7800X(6C /12T)@3.5GHz. For these games, 7740X will outperform 7800X for high per-core frequency, even though 7800X has more cores.
But if you are into workstations, during editing or rendering high core count matters. As those software scales well with more cores.
On a side note, check out the differences between the P-Cores and the E-Cores.
When a 4-Core Processor is Incompetent?
As technology advances & gaming consoles like Xbox Series X & PlayStation 5 use Eight cores, soon it will be mainstream for desktop gaming too. As many modern AAA games started to use the advantages of having multi-cores.
Open-world RPG games, Cities Skyline, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, Microsoft Flight Simulator, Battlefield V, etc are some games that require high cores to enjoy smooth gaming. With quad-core chips, these games will be heavily bottlenecked & the stutters will make you fret.
Besides these, nowadays, gamers are not limited to gaming only. They stream into Twitch or YouTube, voice communicate with Discord, or even browse with multi-tabs opened in a web browser.
With these multitasking & background apps, a quad-core CPU will find it tough to cope with its capability to handle such many workloads. Not to mention, it will begin to throttle the system. These will create the game stuttering & for these cases, four-core chips will be inadequate.
Follow our ultimate guide if you want to enable all CPU cores in Windows 11.
Which Matters Most for Gaming? CPU Cores or Speed?
Either a quad-core or octa-core chip, what matters most in gaming depends on the games & varies for applications.
Gamers are becoming multitaskers, & new modern games are scaling with the benefits of higher cores & threads. So, does GHz really matter in gaming or is the core count more important? Let’s find out.
Generally, a CPU with higher frequency will give more performance in games than with higher cores. That being said, it depends on the game & CPU specification. As the game engines & the game developers decide, how CPU cores will be utilized. But, are more cores better?
If you are a sweaty competitive online multiplayer, you will also get benefits with a higher-clocked chip. Because in these types of games, there are multiple players & they move in real-time. For this reason, the CPU requires high processing to complete all the movements & actions every player does.
However, if you are a casual gamer & play some GPU-intensive games like The Witcher, Halo Infinite, Red Dead Redemption 2, etc, then a good investment in a powerful GPU will be more worthwhile.
Keep in mind, CPU cores and logical processors/threads are two completely different things, don’t confuse one with another.
Is a quad-core twice as fast as a dual-core?
As the core gets doubled, that doesn’t mean the performance will be doubled too. It depends on the chip’s architecture & computer configuration. Though, quad-core will be able to handle more data for the advantage of extra cores.
What is CPU-Bottlenecking?
The bottleneck is when you can’t pass the full items through the neck due to its congestion. The CPU bottleneck is when the GPU is done its job & waiting for the CPU’s instruction, but the CPU is still working & can’t feed the graphics processor data. To find out a CPU bottleneck in the game, a very easy, quick way is to check CPU & GPU usage. If the CPU usage is max & GPU usage is around 60% or below, then the game is CPU bottlenecking.
How many cores should a gaming PC have?
Due to the improvement in game engines, game developers are focusing on optimizing games to use multi-cores to take advantage of extra cores. This is why a Hexa-core CPU is recommended for a gaming PC. Below that the CPU may get bottlenecked considering the PC has a decent GPU.
How much RAM do I need for gaming?
As CPUs become faster day by day, thus a faster with higher bandwidth memory is beneficial for more performance. Besides, gamers tend to stream & use other background apps, so a minimum of 16 GB RAM is recommended for a gaming PC.
Nowadays, gamers are not only bound to gaming, they also stream & talk with discord or other apps. Besides, modern gaming is trying to scale with higher cores.
If you are a quad-core chip owner, this chip is not obsolete yet. However, a six-core CPU will give a noticeable boost depending on your games & the processor. Cause, not all six-core CPUs are the same performant either.
In this article, I explained the importance of cores in games & how a quad-core chip can behave in games. If you have further queries, don’t hesitate to come back & leave a comment.