Is a Quad Core Processor Good for Gaming?

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You have to check a few boxes when building your gaming PC to avoid any surprises or disappointments. It’s therefore a great idea to ask questions such as is a quad core processor good for gaming or not.

Many games will run just fine on a quad core processor, including some modern triple-A titles. But if you want to squeeze out as many FPS as possible, particularly if you have a lot of background applications running at the same time, then you may need to go for a higher core count.

But generally, the amount of cores you need for a game depends a lot on the game requirements itself. Most games are designed to use a specific amount of cores at max.

Hence having a CPU with more cores than the stipulated amount will not result in much performance improvement.

So Is A Quad Core Processor Good for Gaming?

With modern CPUs having anywhere up to 64 cores, it’s not uncommon to wonder, is a quad core processor good for gaming. The simple answer is yes. You can easily play most games on a quad core CPU.

The main reason for this is that most games, older and newer, still leverage the single core performance of the CPU and do not scale well with multiple cores anyways.

However, there are exceptions. Simulation titles such as Cities Skylines or Microsoft Flight Simulator require a lot more cores than just four.

Lets a have a look at some popular titles and how many cores they use ideally.

Also Read:

Lighter Games that Do Not Have a High Core Requirement

Best PC Builds for Minecraft
Minecraft is primarily a Single Core game and can work sufficiently well with a dual core processor

Many FPS and online games work great with limited amount of cores. Here are some of the select titles and their minimum and recommended CPU requirements and their corresponding core count.

Note that if a game has a certain CPU requirement does not mean that it would utilize all of its cores.

For instance, Minecraft has a recommended CPU requirement of Intel Core i5-4690 which is a 4 core processor. However, the game itself is a single core based game mostly and utilizes 2 cores at best.

Similarly, Fortnite does not scale on more than 2 cores.

Minimum
Requirements
Recommended
Requirements
Minecraft Intel Core i3-3210
(2 Cores / 4 Threads)
Intel Core i5-4690
(4 Cores / 4 Threads)
Roblox Single Core Single Core
Rocket League 2.5 GHz Dual Core 3.0+ GHz Quad Core
Fortnite Intel Core i3-3225
(2 Cores / 4 Threads)
Intel Core i5-7300U
(2 Cores / 4 Threads)
CS:GO Intel Core 2 Duo E6600
(2 Core / 2 Threads)

This is just an example of titles that do not have a very high core requirement.  There are plenty of newer and older game both online and single player AAA titles that do not gain much performance different when going beyond 4 cores.

Heavier Games that Require A Lot of Cores

Is a Quad Core Processor Good for Gaming
Simulation and Strategy games like Ashes of Singularity are famous for utilizing multiple cores – a lot more than 2 cores.

Most of the strategy games and simulation games where a lot of processing needs to take place for so many objects and elements, you would benefit from a high core count.

  • Cities Skylines: Certain aspects of the game like simulation speed benefit drastically from a higher core count.
  • MS Flight Simulator: Needs a beefy processor with 8 or more cores to work smoothly.
  • Ashes of Singularity:  A strategy game built on Nitrous Engine and is notoriously famous for using as many cores as you can give it.

Single-Core Performance is Critical

Every benchmark stipulates both single core and multi core performance of a CPU.

The single core performance is the measure of how well a single core on a CPU with multiple cores performs. This is very important for games as most of their resources are designed to use single-cores due to their linear nature.

Even if a game utilizes more than a single core, it would not use more than what it is designed to use.

So for instance, if you have an 8 Core CPU, but the game is only designed to utilize 4 cores, then a quad core CPU with a better single core performance will outperform an 8 core CPU with a weaker single core performance, despite the later having more cores.

While games certainly are getting more and more complex and are scaling well with higher core counts, single-core performance is still the reigning king when getting a gaming CPU.

Also Read:

Multicore Performance

Since more and more games, particularly newer titles, are taking advantage of multiple CPU cores, this should not be ignored as well.

Also, a higher core performance and core count matters these days for all PCs since you will obviously have background applications running while you game. The more applications you have running besides the game, the more will you benefit from a CPU with a higher core count as individual tasks can then be assigned a separate thread.

If you are a streamer, then you will need far more than 4 cores to have a stable gameplay. This is because streaming using services like Twitch or YouTube, or if you any screen recoding software for that matter, will eat up your CPU core count.

Also Read:

Benchmarks of Some Popular Current Gen CPUs

Passmark Benchmark Scores

This benchmark tests the overall performance of the CPUs. We have selected the CPUs from newer 10th and 11th Intel Gen and 3000 and 5000 AMD series.

CPU Release
Year
Specs Passmark
Benchmark
Intel Core 2
Extreme
QX9775
(MSRP $1499)
2008
*Provided for Reference
4 Cores
4 Threads
3.2 GHz
2780
Intel Celeron
G5905
(MSRP $42)
2020 2 Cores
2 Threads
3.5 GHz
2846
Intel Pentium
Gold G6400
(MSRP $64)
2020 2 Cores
4 Threads
4.00 GHz
4173
AMD Athlon
3000G
(MSRP $50)
2019 2 Cores
4 Threads
3.5 GHz
4455
AMD Ryzen
3 3200G
(MSRP $99)
2019 4 Cores
4 Threads
4.0 GHz
7226
Intel Core
i3 10100
(MSRP $122)
2020 4 Cores
8 Threads
4.3 GHz
8823
AMD Ryzen
5 3400G
(MSRP $$150)
2019 4 Cores
8 Threads
4.2 GHz
9372
AMD Ryzen
3 3100
(MSRP $$99)
2020 4 Cores
8 Threads
4.0 GHz
11723
AMD Ryzen
3 3300X
(MSRP $120)
2020 4 Cores
8 Threads
4.3 GHz
12739
Intel Core i5 11600K
(MSRP $272)
2021 6 Cores
12 Threads
4.9 GHz
19980
AMD Ryzen 5 5600X
(MSRP $299)
2020 6 Cores
12 Threads
4.6 GHz
22173

The Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9775 released in 2008 was the eminent 4 core processor of its time. It has been provided here for reference to highlight how far the CPU technology has come. What costed $1500 in 2008, is surpassed by a mere 2 core CPU costing $42 (MSRP) i.e the Intel Celeron G5905 released in 2020.

The point to note here is that core count is not the only measure of how the CPU will perform in the game. A CPU with a powerful single core performance can outperform CPUs with much higher core counts.

As far as the performance of the current gen CPUs go, the single core performance of the quad core AMD Ryzen 3 3300X would more or less be similar to the six core AMD Ryzen 5 3600X as can be seen below:

Cinbench R20 Single Core Performance AMD Ryzen 3 3300X vs AMD Ryzen 5 3600X:

AMD Ryzen 3 3600X vs AMD Ryzen 5 5600X
Source: CPUMonkey

Also Read: Difference Between Pentium and Core i3 Processors

CPU Generation Matters

Intel Core i3 10100 vs Intel Core i5 7600 passmark
Always go for the newest gen processors. Source: cpubenchmark.net

A 10th gen Intel quad core with a certain clock speed will be much better than a 7th gen chip with the same speed speed. This has a lot to do with CPU design, as newer CPUs are built to be more efficient with smaller transistors.

You can see above that the newer 10th gen Core i3-10100 quad core CPU scores much higher than the older 7th gen Core i5-7600 processor despite being much cheaper.

That said, if you are looking to play new titles on a quad core CPU, consider getting a newer generation chip. That’s the 5000 series (5th gen) for AMD and 10th or 11th gen from Intel.

So when you is a quad core processor good for gaming, the answer is relative to the generation you are looking at. Newer gen quad core processors would easily suffice for the latest titles compared to a quad core processor from five or more years ago.

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Conclusion

To sum up, is a quad core processor good for gaming? Well, it is. Of course, this will depend on the CPU’s performance and the generation it’s from; not to mention the games you’ll be playing.

When aiming to play on a quad core CPU, consider getting the newer processors from Intel or AMD with high single core scores. With as few as four cores, the single-core performance of the chip is vital.

You may have trouble on certain simulation and strategy games, but other than, on most FPS, online games RPG etc, a new gen quad core CPU should suffice.

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Author:

Atif Qazi
Atif Qazi is the founder of PCGuide101. He is a digital nomad who loves everything PC. He is a PC builder, tech enthusiast, engineer, and a lover of single player lore-rich RPG games.

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