Minimum CPU Required for Mainstream Gaming

Discussion in 'Computer Hardware, Devices and Accessories' started by PityOnU, Jul 10, 2013.

  1. PityOnU
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    PityOnU GBAtemp Advanced Fan

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    Back in the day, you needed a top of the line CPU to run games at full speed (60fps). Nowadays, it doesn't seem like this is the case anymore.

    Assuming you have a strong GPU, what is the minimum strength CPU you can get (sans overclocking) and expect it not to limit your gameplay to below 60fps?

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    EDIT: Assume you have an unlimitedly powerful GPU (nVidia GTX 4280973 or AMD Radeon HD 2918379). Here are the categories:

    Laptop Intel
    Laptop AMD
    Desktop Intel
    Desktop AMD
     
  2. Fishaman P

    Fishaman P Speedrunner

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    Hmm... a 2nd Gen i5 should be able to handle anything but Dolphin and PCSX2, and you might even be able to get away with a 3rd Gen i3 or newer.

    I'm personally rocking an i3 540 (1st Gen), but I can overclock it up to 20% if I really need the speed. SC2 is fine with it though.
     
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  3. The Real Jdbye

    The Real Jdbye Always Remember 30/07/08

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    Dolphin should work fine, as long as the CPU is clocked high enough. I have a 2.4ghz quad core i7 (Ivy Bridge) in my laptop and it has no problems running Dolphin.
     
  4. Tom Bombadildo

    Tom Bombadildo Honk!

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    I forgot
    I have a 2nd Gen i3 and I can run Dolphin and PCSX2 at nearly full speed for most games.

    The minimum I would say is an i3. I have a GTX 650 along with my i3 2100, and I can run most games at high settings without any problems. Emulation isn't too much of a problem, either. Only the most demanding PS2 games give me issues, like Shadow of the Colossus, but it's still playable.
     
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  5. Fishaman P

    Fishaman P Speedrunner

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    "Works fine" is subjective. My i3 at stock has no trouble with most games, but it struggles in Super Mario Galaxy, Pokémon Battle Revolution, Brawl with 4 players (esp. Ice Climbers), and even Melee on Fountain of Dreams.
     
  6. The Real Jdbye

    The Real Jdbye Always Remember 30/07/08

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    I meant, running at 60 fps. I've ran Super Mario Galaxy 1 & 2 at full speed and everything else I've tried has also ran at full speed. The only issue I have is slowdown during loading but you might need to load the games off a SSD to remedy that problem, which would get pricy.

    The i3 lacks turboboost though, which makes a difference. My CPU can turboboost to 3.2ghz but won't go over 2.8 (IIRC) while running Dolphin. In fact I don't think I've ever seen it go above 3.1ghz.
     
  7. Foxi4

    Foxi4 On the hunt...

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    Emulation isn't mainstream gaming. Focus on the GPU and the RAM rather than the CPU - you don't really need a strong one for playing video games.

    A second or third generation i5 will do the job just fine. An i7 would provide some performance boost, so if you can afford one, go on ahead and get it, but the GPU is the most crucial part in gaming these days - it handles AI, physics and a whole lot of other mechanics outside of graphics, so it takes the toll off the CPU to a huge extent.
     
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  8. Fishaman P

    Fishaman P Speedrunner

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    For me, PBR won't go above 35FPS ever. Your i7 is also Ivy Bridge, which is 20% faster than an equivalent 1st Gen.
    You also have the option of running sound on a 3rd core, which doesn't help me.

    But back on topic, you shouldn't have to spend more than $200 on a CPU for native software titles.
     
  9. trumpet-205

    trumpet-205 Embrace the darkness within

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    Define mainstream gaming.

    I know for a fact that i3-2100 can run PCSX2/Dolphin or most games near full speed. Emulation cares about CPU and RAM, but NOT GPU. You can actually use HD4000 from Intel and use AVX instead of DirectX under PCSX2 to run games. A quad core i5 will run nearly all of them at full speed assuming nothing slows them down.

    Some games such as FSX (once you started to load all paid extensions) will benefit from overclocking or even i7-3930K (flight simulation happens to be one game that push CPU to the limit).
     
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  10. The Real Jdbye

    The Real Jdbye Always Remember 30/07/08

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    I never run sound on a separate thread, it only causes issues and doesn't speed up things much.
    A 1st gen i3 is indeed not that fast, but current gen i3s should be able to do the job, as they're clocked pretty high (3ghz+)

    As for PC games, it really depends a lot on the game. They tend to be more GPU than CPU intensive, but that's not always the case. I'm not sure what the minimum you could get away with is, though I don't think there's a lot of games that take advantage of a quad core CPU, so a dual core should be enough.

    Not entirely true. GPU matters a lot in Dolphin. It just doesn't matter much for earlier generation consoles, as they had very limited or nonexistant GPUs anyway.
     
  11. GreatCrippler

    GreatCrippler Greatness Fallen

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    I guess my standard for modern gaming may be a touch lower, but I can't imagine most games struggling with even a high end core 2 duo. I threw together a "Retro" (I dunno about term) gaming system for fun the other day. E8400 (3.0 C2D) 4 Gigs DDR2 800, and a 9800 GT Video card. Only a DX 10 capable machine, but runs like a dream. /shrug.
     
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  12. PityOnU
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    PityOnU GBAtemp Advanced Fan

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    Thanks for the great responses all.

    To clear up some of the confusion, when I say mainstream gaming, I mean PC native AAA titles - things like Skyrim or Dead Space or Mass Effect or Need for Speed (heh, most of those are EA games, sorry).

    I understand that for emulation you need a lot more oomph, so that's something completely different. I'm just talking about PC native titles.

    Also, all of you are focusing on Intel desktop processors. What about mobile, or AMD?
     
  13. Tom Bombadildo

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    I forgot
    Honestly, Intel is better for gaming than AMD is (IMO, anyways). If you're building a gaming rig, stick to the Intel i series and you'll be fine.
     
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  14. Rydian

    Rydian Resident Furvert™

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    Intel's been beating AMD in performance for like the past 10 years or something, so people usually just go AMD for budget builds (you can get really cheap then).

    As far as mobile, it depends on what you mean. If you mean average android device hardware, they're still weak as shit.

    If you mean laptops, then your main issue is that laptops have to be tiny, not make much heat, and run off a battery. GPUs don't like that, so laptop GPUs are cut-back models. If you want to game and a desktop is an option, get a desktop.
     
  15. PityOnU
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    PityOnU GBAtemp Advanced Fan

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    Edited the first post to hopefully better explain the question.

    I'm not building a gaming PC or anything, I'm just intellectually curious.
     
  16. trumpet-205

    trumpet-205 Embrace the darkness within

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    Like I said, minimum modern CPU for gaming is Sandy Bridge Core i3. Alternative would be FX-4300.

    And yeah, Intel has been beating AMD ever since 2008. AMD had the chance of turning the table with Bulldozer, but it was delayed for more than a year; by then it competed against Sandy Bridge. Obviously it didn't do well against Sandy Bridge and it had slower performance than Phenom II (K10).
     
  17. the_randomizer

    the_randomizer The Temp's official fox whisperer

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    If it helps clear things up, I can run many mainstream games at 1920 x 1080 at 60 fps while being at high settings on the GPU (Skyrim, Sonic Generations, etc). Currently running on a Core i5 3570 (not the K version since I don't overclock); four cores with two threads per core, Ivy Bridge. So far runs everything I've thrown at it. PSP, Gamecube/Wii, PS2 emulators all run fantastically. :P I personally like Intel's CPUs because they have efficient thermal dissipation, generally have higher performance for the price, plus they seem to be quite stable.
     
  18. Nah3DS

    Nah3DS Madre de Dios! Es El POLLO DIABLO!!!

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    what GPU do you have?

    actually, the i5 3570 doesn't have 2 threads per core...
     
  19. Fishaman P

    Fishaman P Speedrunner

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    For laptops, my friend recently got an Ivy Bridge i5 laptop (3210M), and the CPU is surprisingly weak.
    For a laptop, you might get away with an i5, but after seeing ^, I would never go lower than an i7 personally.

    AMD really isn't even a consideration right now. Their cores are in packs of 2 that share resources, effectively making even 2 cores @ 4.5GHz equivalent to 1 Intel core @ 3.2GHz.
     
  20. the_randomizer

    the_randomizer The Temp's official fox whisperer

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    Ah, whoops. Oh well :rofl2: My GPU is an MSI GeForce GTX 660 with 2 GB GDDR5. Sure, it ain't high end, but it gets the job done :P It also has a very nice heatsink on it and never had a single issue. Suffice to say, both my CPU and GPU get the job done, and they get it done very well.

    i7's tend to output more heat though, at least on my laptop it does. It's a Lenovo Y570 and it has a Core i7 2670QM sandy bridge, but if I didn't have a cooler, it'd easily reach 90 Celsius. :blink: i5's should be enough for most peoples' need I would guess.