Is a Quad-Core Processor Good for Gaming?

You must check a few boxes when building your gaming PC to avoid surprises or disappointments. It’s, therefore, a great idea to ask questions such as whether the quad-core processor is good for gaming.

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

But generally, the amount of cores you need for a game depends greatly on the game requirements. 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 improve performance.

So is a Quad-Core Processor Good for Gaming?

With modern CPUs having anywhere up to 64 cores, it’s not uncommon to wonder if a quad-core processor is 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.

Let’s look at some popular titles and how many cores they use ideally.

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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 a limited amount of cores. Here are some select titles, 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, a 4-core processor. However, the game is mainly single-core-based and utilizes two cores at best.

Similarly, Fortnite does not scale on more than two 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. Plenty of newer and older games, both online and single-player AAA titles, do not gain much performance difference when going beyond four 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 two cores.

In most of the strategy games and simulation games where a lot of processing is needed 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 eight 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 the single-core and multi-core performance of a CPU.

The single-core performance measures 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 will not use more than it is designed to use.

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

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

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Multi-Core 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 for all PCs since you will have background applications running while you game. The more applications you run beside the game, the more you will benefit from a CPU with a higher core count, as individual tasks can then be assigned a separate thread.

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

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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 the 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. It has been provided here for reference to highlight how far the CPU technology has come. What cost $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 goes, 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
Image Source: CPUMonkey

Also Read: Difference Between Pentium and Core i3 Processors

CPU Generation Matters

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

A 10th gen Intel quad-core with a certain clock speed will be much better than a 7th gen chip with the same 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 the 10th or 11th gen from Intel.

So when you have a quad-core processor good for gaming, the answer is relative to the generation you are looking at. Newer-generation 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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Final Words

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.

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

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

Also Read: Is Intel Pentium Good for Gaming?

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What other factors besides core count should I consider when choosing a processor for gaming?

Besides core count, clock speed and cache size are also important factors to consider when choosing a processor for gaming. Clock speed determines how fast the processor can execute instructions, while cache size affects how much data the processor can store for quick access.

2. Can a quad-core processor handle other demanding tasks besides gaming, such as video editing or streaming?

Yes, a quad-core processor can handle other demanding tasks besides gaming, such as video editing or streaming. However, the specific requirements of these tasks will vary depending on the software being used and the level of performance desired.

3. What is the ideal clock speed for a quad-core processor for gaming purposes?

The ideal clock speed for a quad-core processor for gaming purposes will depend on the specific games being played and other factors such as the graphics card and amount of RAM. Generally, a clock speed of around 3.5 GHz or higher is recommended for optimal gaming performance.

4. How does the cost of a quad-core processor compare to other processor types, and is it a good value for gaming?

The cost of a quad-core processor can vary depending on the specific model and brand, but generally falls within the mid-range price point compared to other processor types.

Whether or not a quad-core processor is a good value for gaming will depend on the specific needs of the user and the level of performance desired.

In general, a quad-core processor is a good choice for gaming and provides a good balance of performance and value.

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