High-end gaming CPUs can be very expensive, especially Intel products, but you do not need to spend a lot of money on the latest CPU for gaming, particularly if you are only going to game at 1080p.
You can easily save some money on an older CPU and use that money towards a better graphics card for gaming.
Here we are going to look into some older CPUs that are great for gaming. Not only can you use these for gaming at 1080p but higher resolutions as well. Even today, 4 cores are ideal for gaming at 1080p.
You are not going to need more than 16 GB of RAM in most cases, and you are not going to rely on the integrated graphics that your CPU comes with. That is why older CPUs are great if you are interested in saving some money.
Over the years, Intel has not really provided consumers with groundbreaking performance through the different generations of its CPUs. The performance boosts have been minor.
These CPUs are roughly 3-4 years old, and that is why you can get some killer deals. Not to mention that they are still great for gaming and come with the essentials that you need, including 4 cores, 8 threads, and support for 32 GB RAM if not more.
Top 5 Best LGA 1150 CPUs for Gaming
The following are all the CPUs that we are going to look into and some of the specifications that you might be interested in learning about at a glance:
|SKU||Cores/Threads||Clock Speeds||Integrated Graphics||Memory Support|
|Intel Core i7-4790K||4/8||4-4.4 GHz||HD Graphics 4600||32 GB||Check Price|
|Intel Core i7-4790||4/8||3.6-4 GHz||HD Graphics 4600||32 GB||Check Price|
|Intel Core i7-4770||4/8||3.4-3.9 GHz||HD Graphics 4600||32 GB||Check Price|
|Intel Xeon E3-1230V3||4/8||3.3-3.7 GHz||No||32 GB||Check Price|
|Intel Core i5-4690||4/4||3.5-3.9 GHz||HD Graphics 4600||32 GB||Check Price|
The Best LGA 1150 CPU for Gaming in 2020
1. Intel Core i7-4790K
The Intel Core i7-4790K is a few years old but it was the top of the line SKU back in its day. The CPU has an unlocked multiplier which means that you can overclock it. This was actually the first Intel CPU that could run at 4 GHz across all cores out of the boss. This is an overclockable CPU so you can take the clock speed even higher provided that you have proper cooling.
4 GHz is great for gaming and the CPU does come with 4 cores and 8 threads. In 2020, more cores and threads are coming to the mainstream but game developers are not catching up as fast as you might think. Most of the mainstream users still use 4 cores for gaming and only enthusiasts use more than 4 cores. 4 cores and 8 threads are ideal for gaming even in 2020 and it is safe to say that you will be able to play pretty much any game with such a CPU in the upcoming few years as well provided that you have a decent graphics card to do the heavy lifting.
The CPU uses the LGA1150 socket like all the other CPUs on this list and we recommend using a Z97 motherboard with this CPU if you are interested in overclocking. You can use the CPU with Z87 motherboards as well but you will need to update the BIOS which could be tricky keeping in mind that this is an older CPU. If you do find a way to do that then you could save some additional money in the process.
The CPU supports 32 GB of RAM which is more than ideal for gaming. Keep in mind that this is an older CPU so you will be limited to DDR3 memory rather than the latest DDR4 standard. The CPU does feature Hyper-Threading which improves performance when multi-tasking or multi-core workloads such as video editing.
The CPU comes with Intel HD Graphics 4600 integrated graphics which is fine for display purposes but you are not going to use it for gaming. The CPU does run a bit hotter than older versions but it also offers more overclocking potential. Be sure to use a decent cooling solution and the heat should not be a problem.
Read also: Best Motherboard for i7 9700K
Interestingly, I had this CPU paired with the Nvidia GTX 1060 6GB and upgraded to the Intel 9400F a while back. The older CPU was able to run games such as The Division 2 and Destiny 2 perfectly well at 1080p at more than 60 FPS with all the graphics settings reasonably high. The CPU did its part and performed well. It would have lasted me a few more years but I wanted to build a better-looking gaming PC with RGB goodness.
2. Intel Core i7-4790
This is the locked version of the 4790K that we have mentioned above. This means that you cannot overclock it but it still has similar specifications. The CPU can boost to 4 GHz but the base clock speed is a bit lower at 3.6 GHz. That is still decent for gaming. You get support for 32 GB of RAM which is pretty overkill for gaming. The CPU cannot be overclocked so you do not need to get a fancy Z series motherboard. You can save some money by getting any mainstream motherboard that supports the CPU.
If you are not looking to overclock your CPU and are more comfortable using the CPU with the stock speeds then this is a better option then the K variant. This SKU is going to be a bit cheaper and you do not need to spend as much money on the motherboard either. It still has 4 cores and 8 threads which will give you plenty of performance for gaming and multitasking.
The CPU comes with Intel HD Graphics 4600 integrated graphics which is fine for display purposes but you are not going to use it for gaming. Other than that, you will still be limited to DDR3 memory. If you are looking for a non-overclockable CPU then this is a great option to go with.
3. Intel Core i7-4770
Here we have yet another Intel 4th generation CPU. This one also comes with 4 cores and 8 threads and cannot be overclocked. The CPU has a base clock of 3.4 GHz and can boost to 3.9 GHz which is decent for gaming. The CPU cost around $300 when it first came out but you can pick one up for a much cheaper price. This is not an unlocked CPU so you can make do with a mainstream motherboard as well.
Other than that, the features are pretty similar to that of the 4790. You get support for 32 GB of RAM which is plenty for gaming and you also get the Intel HD Graphics 4600 integrated graphics. These can be used for display output but for gaming you will rely on your graphics card. As mentioned before, the leap in performance through the generation is not very significant so you can play all the modern games with this CPU provided that you have a decent graphics card to render all those pixels.
Not only can you use this CPU for gaming at 1080p but you can also use it for 1440p gaming as well. If you are looking for a locked CPU for a reasonable price then this is an impressive option to consider.
4. Intel Xeon E3-1230V3
Xeon CPUs are not typically for consumers as they are not designed for gaming but they can be used for that purpose. The Intel Xeon E3-1230V3 features the same LGA 1150 socket and comes with 4 cores and 8 threads like the i7 variants that we have looked into above.
Read also: Best Motherboard for i7 7700k
The power requirement is similar as well and the CPU supports 32 GB of RAM like the other SKUs that we have looked into here. The CPU has a base clock speed of 3.3 GHz and can boost to 3.7 GHz, which is lower than the i7 models that we have looked into here. This is because Xeon CPUs are made for industrial use where they will run around the clock. That is why the clock speed is lower.
The processor does not come with integrated graphics but that is not going to be a problem as you are going to use a graphics card for gaming anyways. Even though this is not a traditional consumer CPU, you can still get some good deals on it which makes it great value for money in 2020. You still get plenty of performance, cores and threads which will deliver smooth gaming experiences and the ability to muti-task.
5. Intel Core i5-4690
The Intel Core i5-4690 was a decent mid-range CPU back in the day and it still is. It still has 4 cores but instead of 8 threads, it only has 4. That does mean lower multithreaded performance but you still have the 4 cores so gaming is going to be fine. If you are only going to play games at 1080p then this is an ideal CPU to go with as you can save some money, compared to the i7 and this CPU is going to work with a mainstream motherboard rather than high-end Z series board.
You still get support for 32 GB of RAM which is more than what you need for gaming. The CPU has a base clock of 3.5 GHz and can boost to 3.9 GHz.The clock speeds are higher than the Xeon SKU and you will get impressive performance in games. The CPU does not support Hyper Threading but you do get the HD Graphics 4600 like the more expensive models.
This is an ideal CPU if you are interested in saving some money and putting your savings towards a powerful graphics cards which is going to do most of the heavy lifting in games.
Which LGA 1150 CPU Should You Get For Gaming?
If you are interested in the best performance and overclocking then the Intel Core i7-4790K is the option to go for.
If you would rather stick with the stock speeds and save some money by going with a mainstream motherboard then the Intel Core i7-4790 is the clear winner.
If you are looking for value for money then the Intel Core i5-4690 is a great option to pick keeping in mind that it comes with 4 cores and 4 threads at a lower price and works with mainstream LGA 1150 motherboards.