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Best CPU For Streaming: Intel & AMD

In this guide, we will walk you through our selection of the best CPU for streaming based on encoding performance, gaming prowess, and value.

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Streaming is a resource-intensive activity, and you need a pretty powerful rig to be able to stream while gaming simultaneously. At the heart of a streaming PC is the CPU, which is responsible for software encoding as well as multitasking. For this reason, you will need one of the best CPUs for streaming in order to make the process easier for you.

Here’s a quick look at the best CPUs for streaming and gaming, alongside a brief comparison of their specs:

CPU
AMD Ryzen 9 7950X3D
AMD Ryzen 9 7950X
Intel Core i9-13900K
Intel Core i5-13600K
AMD Ryzen 5 5600X
Intel Core i7-13700K
Looks
AMD Ryzen™ 9 7950X3D 16-Core, 32-Thread Desktop Processor
AMD Ryzen 9 7950X 16-Core, 32-Thread Unlocked Desktop Processor
Intel Core i9-13900K Desktop Processor 24 (8 P-cores + 16 E-cores) with Integrated Graphics - Unlocked
Intel Core i5-13600K Desktop Processor 14 (6 P-cores + 8 E-cores) with Integrated Graphics - Unlocked
AMD Ryzen 5 5600X 6-core, 12-Thread Unlocked Desktop Processor with Wraith Stealth Cooler
Intel Core i7-13700K Gaming Desktop Processor 16 cores (8 P-cores + 8 E-cores) with Integrated Graphics - Unlocked
Award
Best CPU for Gaming and Streaming
Best AMD CPU for Gaming and Streaming
Best Intel CPU for Gaming and Streaming
Best CPU for Streaming 1080p
Best Budget Streaming CPU
Best 1440p Streaming CPU
What We Liked
Gaming and Multi-Core performance, CPU Encoding, L3 Cache
Productivity Performance, CPU Encoding, Gaming, Overclockable
Gaming Performance, Overclocking Potential, DDR5 and DDR5 support
Affordability, 1080p Encoding Performnace, Supports DDR4 and DDR5
Affordable, Decent Multi-Core Performance, Efficient
Superb Multi-Core and Gamign Performance, Supports DDR4 and DDR5
What We Disliked
Very Expensive, Locked Multiplier
Expensive, Power Consumption
Very expensive, Ridiculous power draw
Relatively Power Hungry, May Struggle With High Bitrate Encoding
Older Platform, Struggles With High Bitrate Encoding
Expensive, High Temperature, High Power Draw
Socket
AMD AM5
AMD AM5
LGA 1700
LGA 1700
AMD AM4
LGA 1700
Cores
16
16
24 (8+16)
14 (6+8)
6
16 (8+8)
Threads
32
32
32
20
12
24
Base Clock
4.2 GHz
16MB
2.20 GHz
2.6
3.7 GHz
2.5 GHz
Boost Clock
Up to 5.7 GHz
4.5 GHz
Up to 5.8 GHz
Up to 5.1 GHz
Up to 4.6 GHz
Up to 5.4 GHz
L2 Cache
16MB
Up to 5.7 GHz
32MB
20MB
3MB
24MB 
TDP
120W
170W
125W
125W
65W
125W
CPU
AMD Ryzen 9 7950X3D
Looks
AMD Ryzen™ 9 7950X3D 16-Core, 32-Thread Desktop Processor
Award
Best CPU for Gaming and Streaming
What We Liked
Gaming and Multi-Core performance, CPU Encoding, L3 Cache
What We Disliked
Very Expensive, Locked Multiplier
Socket
AMD AM5
Cores
16
Threads
32
Base Clock
4.2 GHz
Boost Clock
Up to 5.7 GHz
L2 Cache
16MB
TDP
120W
Amazon
CPU
AMD Ryzen 9 7950X
Looks
AMD Ryzen 9 7950X 16-Core, 32-Thread Unlocked Desktop Processor
Award
Best AMD CPU for Gaming and Streaming
What We Liked
Productivity Performance, CPU Encoding, Gaming, Overclockable
What We Disliked
Expensive, Power Consumption
Socket
AMD AM5
Cores
16
Threads
32
Base Clock
16MB
Boost Clock
4.5 GHz
L2 Cache
Up to 5.7 GHz
TDP
170W
Amazon
CPU
Intel Core i9-13900K
Looks
Intel Core i9-13900K Desktop Processor 24 (8 P-cores + 16 E-cores) with Integrated Graphics - Unlocked
Award
Best Intel CPU for Gaming and Streaming
What We Liked
Gaming Performance, Overclocking Potential, DDR5 and DDR5 support
What We Disliked
Very expensive, Ridiculous power draw
Socket
LGA 1700
Cores
24 (8+16)
Threads
32
Base Clock
2.20 GHz
Boost Clock
Up to 5.8 GHz
L2 Cache
32MB
TDP
125W
Amazon
CPU
Intel Core i5-13600K
Looks
Intel Core i5-13600K Desktop Processor 14 (6 P-cores + 8 E-cores) with Integrated Graphics - Unlocked
Award
Best CPU for Streaming 1080p
What We Liked
Affordability, 1080p Encoding Performnace, Supports DDR4 and DDR5
What We Disliked
Relatively Power Hungry, May Struggle With High Bitrate Encoding
Socket
LGA 1700
Cores
14 (6+8)
Threads
20
Base Clock
2.6
Boost Clock
Up to 5.1 GHz
L2 Cache
20MB
TDP
125W
Amazon
CPU
AMD Ryzen 5 5600X
Looks
AMD Ryzen 5 5600X 6-core, 12-Thread Unlocked Desktop Processor with Wraith Stealth Cooler
Award
Best Budget Streaming CPU
What We Liked
Affordable, Decent Multi-Core Performance, Efficient
What We Disliked
Older Platform, Struggles With High Bitrate Encoding
Socket
AMD AM4
Cores
6
Threads
12
Base Clock
3.7 GHz
Boost Clock
Up to 4.6 GHz
L2 Cache
3MB
TDP
65W
Amazon
CPU
Intel Core i7-13700K
Looks
Intel Core i7-13700K Gaming Desktop Processor 16 cores (8 P-cores + 8 E-cores) with Integrated Graphics - Unlocked
Award
Best 1440p Streaming CPU
What We Liked
Superb Multi-Core and Gamign Performance, Supports DDR4 and DDR5
What We Disliked
Expensive, High Temperature, High Power Draw
Socket
LGA 1700
Cores
16 (8+8)
Threads
24
Base Clock
2.5 GHz
Boost Clock
Up to 5.4 GHz
L2 Cache
24MB 
TDP
125W
Amazon

Best CPU for Streaming

Here is a selection of the best CPUs for streaming that you can buy right now:

  1. Best CPU for Gaming and Streaming: AMD Ryzen 9 7950X3D
  2. Best AMD CPU for Gaming and Streaming: AMD Ryzen 9 7950X
  3. Best Intel CPU for Gaming and Streaming: Intel Core i9-13900K
  4. Best CPU for Streaming 1080p: Intel Core i5-13600K
  5. Best Budget Streaming CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 5600X
  6. Best 1440p Streaming CPU: Intel Core i7-13700K

AMD Ryzen 9 7950X3D

Best CPU for Gaming and Streaming

AMD Ryzen 9 7950X3D
AMD Ryzen 9 7950X3D

Socket: AMD AM5 | Cores: 16 | Threads: 32 | L2 Cache: 16MB | Base Clock: 4.2 GHz | Boost Clock: Up to 5.7 GHz | TDP: 120W | Unlocked: No

Pros

  • Best-in-class gaming performance
  • Impressive multi-core performance
  • Great for CPU encoding as well
  • Unique 3D V-Cache technology

Cons

  • Very expensive
  • Locked multiplier

Performance: With 16 cores and 32 threads, AMD has made no compromises regarding the core layout of its new flagship CPU. The 7950X3D can hit a maximum boost clock of a whopping 5.7 GHz, which allows it to really excel in gaming scenarios. What really sets it apart; however, is the extra L3 Cache of 96MB, which improves single-core performance.

Cooling: The 120W default TDP is quite a bit less than the 170W of the regular Ryzen 9 7950X, hinting towards a reduction in the power budget. Despite that, it still runs very hot, so you will need a good-quality CPU cooler to go along with it. I recommend getting a 360mm AIO for the best experience.

Future Proofing: The Ryzen 7950X3D ranks among the fastest processors in the market, making it perfect for those looking to future-proof their system. The AM5 platform is also designed to support the next generation of Ryzen CPUs, which is an added benefit. That said, you likely won’t feel the need to upgrade anytime in the near future.

WARNING: 3D V-Cache variants of Ryzen 7000 series processors come with a locked multiplier, which means you won’t be able to manually overclock them.

Buy It If:

AMD Ryzen 9 7950X3D
AMD Ryzen 9 7950X3D

✅You want top-of-the-line performance: The gaming performance of the Ryzen 9 7950X3D is second to none, and the streaming performance is among the best in the industry as well.

✅You stream and game with the same PC: If you are a streamer who wants to play the game while streaming from the same computer, then the Ryzen 9 7950X3D is the best option for you.

Don’t Buy It If:

❌You want to overclock: Apart from being a very expensive CPU, the Ryzen 9 7950X3D has a locked multiplier. 

❌You want a cheaper option: The Ryzen 9 7950X3D comes with a premium price-tag.

What Makes It The Best CPU For Gaming and Streaming?

The extraordinary gaming performance of the Ryzen 9 7950X3D, combined with its superb multitasking capability, makes it the best CPU for gaming and streaming.

Performance: 10/10 Value: 7/10
Features: 9/10 Future Proofing: 9/10

AMD Ryzen 9 7950X

Best AMD CPU for Gaming and Streaming

AMD Ryzen 9 7950X
AMD Ryzen 9 7950X

Socket: AMD AM5 | Cores: 16 | Threads: 32 | L2 Cache: 16MB | Base Clock: 4.5 GHz | Boost Clock: Up to 5.7 GHz | TDP: 170W | Unlocked: Yes

Pros

  • Best-in-class productivity performance
  • Great for CPU encoding as well
  • Overclockable
  • Excellent for gaming

Cons

  • Quite expensive
  • Very high power draw

Performance: A big reason why the Ryzen 9 7950X is the ideal streaming CPU is its combination of 16 cores and 32 threads. It doesn’t really get better than 16 full cores on a consumer-grade CPU. Thanks in part to its expanded power budget and ridiculous core count, the 7950X is one of the fastest productivity CPUs in our testing

Cooling: Much like other top-of-the-line CPUs, cooling the Ryzen 9 7950X can be challenging, especially considering the amount of power it is capable of drawing. I would recommend a powerful 360mm AIO to cool this processor. Naturally, going for a custom loop is recommended for those looking to dabble into overclocking.

Future Proofing: The Ryzen 9 7950X provides you with DDR5 memory support, decent overclocking potential, and phenomenal out-of-the-performance, all of which will allow it to last a reasonably long time. Combine that with the AM5 platform’s guaranteed support for newer Ryzen processors, and you get an extremely future-proof offering.

WARNING: A higher-wattage PSU is required to meet the power demands of the Ryzen 9 7950X.

Buy It If:

✅You want exceptional multi-core performance: The absurd multi-core performance of the Ryzen 9 7950X, combined with its superb gaming performance, makes it a streaming powerhouse.

✅You want overclocking potential: Overclocking support is handy as well if you want to squeeze out a bit more performance manually.

Don’t Buy It If:

❌You want a cheaper CPU: The flagship AMD CPU is one expensive piece of hardware.

What Makes It The Best AMD CPU For Gaming and Streaming?

While the Ryzen 9 7950X3D offers better gaming performance, it falls behind a bit when it comes to multi-core performance. The extraordinary multi-core prowess of the Ryzen 9 7950X makes it the best AMD CPU for gaming and streaming.

Performance: 9/10 Value: 7/10
Features: 8/10 Future Proofing: 10/10

Intel Core i9-13900K

Best Intel CPU for Gaming and Streaming

Intel Core i9 13900K
Intel Core i9-13900K

Socket: LGA1700 | Cores: 24 (8P + 16E) | Threads: 32 | L2 Cache: 32MB | Base Clock: 2.2 GHz | Boost Clock: Up to 5.8 GHz | TDP: 125W | Unlocked: Yes

Pros

  • Excellent gaming performance
  • Impressive overclocking headroom
  • Supports both DDR4 and DDR5
  • Combines P-Cores and E-Cores

Cons

  • Very expensive
  • Ridiculous power draw

Performance: The i9-13900K boasts 24 cores, with 8 powerful P-Cores and 16 efficient E-Cores, reaching speeds up to 5.8 GHz under ideal circumstances. During our testing, it consistently ranked among the top 3 for gaming performance due to its exceptional single-core performance.

Cooling: The expanded power budget of the Core i9-13900K means it will produce a lot of heat. The power draw can get as high as 253W during load. Therefore, you will need a 360mm AIO to keep the CPU under control.

Future Proofing: While the Core i9-13900K is capable of providing top-charting performance, future upgrades with the LGA 1700 socket will be limited to Intel’s 14th gen offerings. That said, overclocking is an option if you wish to squeeze out a bit more performance without upgrading.

PRO TIP: When paired with an adequately powerful GPU, the i9-13900K can handle 4K gaming quite easily while simultaneously downsampling the encoded stream to 1080p.

Buy It If:

Intel Core i9-13900K
Intel Core i9-13900K (Image By Tech4Gamers)

✅You demand uncompromised gaming and streaming performance: The Core i9-13900K delivers the best of both worlds by combining loads of cores with a super-high boost clock. Overclocking the 13900K is a joy as well, though a little unnecessary.

✅You are upgrading from 12th Gen: If you are already on Intel’s 12th Gen platform, or if you plan to stick to DDR4 memory, then the i9-13900K makes a lot of sense from a streaming perspective.

Don’t Buy It If:

❌You are on a tight budget: Its exorbitant price tag is also something to be considered in the big picture. 

❌You prioritize power efficiency: Intel has pulled out all the stops when it comes to the power budget of the i9-13900K, and that means it is one power-hungry CPU.

What Makes It The Best Intel CPU For Gaming and Streaming?

No other Intel CPU can provide the perfect balance of gaming and productivity performance that the i9-13900K provides. Sitting alone at the top of the Blue pyramid, the i9-13900K is the best Intel CPU for gaming and streaming right now.

Performance: 10/10 Value: 7/10
Features: 9/10 Future Proofing: 10/10

Intel Core i5-13600K

Best CPU for Streaming 1080p

Intel Core i5 13600K
Intel Core i5-13600K

Socket: LGA1700 | Cores: 14 (6P + 8E) | Threads: 20 | L2 Cache: 20MB | Base Clock: 2.6 GHz | Boost Clock: Up to 5.1 GHz | TDP: 125W | Unlocked: Yes

Pros

  • Affordable price point
  • Solid 1080p encoding performance
  • High single-core performance
  • Support for both DDR4 and DDR5

Cons

  • May struggle with high bitrate encoding
  • Relatively power hungry

Performance: The Intel Core i5-13600K features 14 cores, including 8 “E-Cores” for multitasking. It boasts a boost clock of 5.1 GHz and utilizes Intel’s variable turbo boost technology to prioritize gaming performance on its 6 P-Cores. In testing, it outperformed the AMD Ryzen 7 7700X and the Core i7 12700K in gaming scenarios.

Cooling: During my testing, the Core i5-13600K reached a maximum temperature of 76C with a custom loop, making it a fairly challenging CPU to cool, especially if you want extra thermal headroom for overclocking. Of course, a capable 240mm or 280mm AIO should also work fine with the i5-13600K.

Future Proofing: The Core i5-13600K is not necessarily the most future-proof processor out there. You may occasionally run into frame drops or stuttering when trying to encode a high bitrate file at 1440p or higher resolution. Its limited performance might necessitate an upgrade in the future.

Our hardware reviewer, Nauman Siddique, was especially amazed by the value the Core i5-13600K offers, commenting:

“The Intel Core i5-13600K stands out as the best value gaming CPU in the market.”

Buy It If:

Check out this shot of the Core i5-13600K we captured prior to testing:

Intel Core i5 13600K
Intel Core i5-13600K (Image by Tech4Gamers)

✅You want the best value for money: While it does not hold the very top position in some areas, according to my testing, it still punches way above its weight and delivers an ideal 1080p streaming experience on a budget.

Don’t Buy It If:

❌You want a less power-hungry CPU: Also, just like the other Raptor Lake CPUs, the i5-13600K is relatively power-hungry and has a tendency to run a bit hot.

What Makes It The Best CPU for Streaming 1080p?

The exceptional value for money offered by the i5-13600K, coupled with its top-notch Full HD streaming performance, makes this processor the best CPU for streaming 1080p to your favorite platforms.

Performance: 8/10 Value: 9/10
Features: 8/10 Future Proofing: 8/10

AMD Ryzen 5 5600X

Best Budget Streaming CPU

AMD Ryzen 5 5600X
AMD Ryzen 5 5600X

Socket: AMD AM4 | Cores: 6 | Threads: 12 | L2 Cache: 3MB | Base Clock: 3.7 GHz | Boost Clock: Up to 4.6 GHz | TDP: 65W | Unlocked: Yes

Pros

  • Very affordable price
  • Decent multi-core performance
  • Quite efficient

Cons

  • Older platform
  • Mid-range gaming performance
  • Struggles with high bitrate encoding

Performance: The 6 cores and 12 threads of the Ryzen 5 5600X make it adequate for most modern games. Its cores can boost all the way up to 4.6 GHz, which is ideal for a Twitch streaming CPU. Given the value-oriented position of this CPU on the market, it might just be the recommended CPU for streaming at 1080p resolution.

Cooling: The Ryzen 5 5600X comes with a rated TDP of 65W, making it one of the easier processors to cool on this list. The included stock cooler is more than capable of handling the processor at stock speeds; however, those looking for a boost in performance can get a dual-tower air cooler or a 240mm AIO liquid cooler.

Future Proofing: No support for DDR5 and PCIe Gen 5.0 slots combined with the limited upgrade path offered by the AM4 chipset limits future upgradability with the Ryzen 5 5600X. While the processor won’t keep up with modern technologies due to the aging platform, you can still overclock it for a performance uplift.

Buy It If:

AMD Ryzen 5 5600X
AMD Ryzen 5 5600X

✅You have a limited budget: The AMD Ryzen 5 5600X is quite possibly the best budget streaming CPU on the market, so that makes it ideal for anyone who is looking to stream their gameplay without spending a fortune.

✅You want excellent value: The value for money that you get with the Ryzen 5 5600X is unparalleled. It is quite an affordable CPU that can hold its own against most current-gen processors when it comes to gaming and streaming.

✅You are upgrading from an older Ryzen CPU: It also makes a lot of sense if you are already on an older Ryzen CPU or have an X570 motherboard.

What We Disliked

❌You want the best performance possible: The Ryzen 5 5600X is a budget-friendly processor which means you won’t be getting top-tier performance out of it.

What Makes It The Best Budget Streaming CPU?

The gaming and streaming performance offered by the AMD Ryzen 5 5600X is quite impressive for the price, and that makes it an ideal candidate for the title of best budget streaming CPU.

Performance: 7/10 Value: 9/10
Features: 8/10 Future Proofing: 7/10

Intel Core i7-13700K

Best 1440p Streaming CPU

Intel Core i7 13700K
Intel Core i7-13700K

Socket: LGA1700 | Cores: 16 (8P + 8E) | Threads: 24 | L2 Cache: 24MB | Base Clock: 2.5 GHz | Boost Clock: Up to 5.4 GHz | TDP: 125W | Unlocked: Yes

Pros

  • Superb multi-core performance
  • Impressive gaming performance
  • Supports DDR4 and DDR5

Cons

  • Relatively expensive
  • Quite power hungry
  • May run hot

Performance: The Intel Core i7-13700K combines 8 P-Cores and 8 E-Cores for a total of 16 cores and 24 threads, providing a balance between performance and efficiency. With a boost clock of 5.4 GHz, it excels in gaming and streaming. During testing, it outperformed the AMD Ryzen 7 7700X in x264 and x265 HD encoding benchmarks.

Cooling: Ideally, the Core i7-13700K should be paired with a 360mm AIO liquid cooler since it managed to reach a peak temperature of 76C during my testing with a custom cooler. 

Future Proofing: Considering the balanced performance of the Core i7-13700K, you likely won’t need to worry about upgrading your processor for the next 2-3 years. As far as upgrade paths are concerned, the LGA 1700 leaves higher-end 14th-generation offerings as the only options.

Buy It If:

Here’s a shot of the Core i7-13700K we took before the testing phase:

Intel Core i7 13700K
Intel Core i7-13700K (Image by Tech4Gamers)

✅You want a balanced streaming processor: The gaming and streaming performance of the i7-13700K is extremely strong, especially if you plan to game at 1440p and stream it simultaneously. It can handle CPU encoding admirably and is great for general productivity as well.

Don’t Buy It If:

❌You want an efficient processor: Of course, being a Raptor Lake processor, it has a high power draw and tends to run a bit toasty. You might need to look at a decent aftermarket cooler for this purpose.

What Makes It The Best 1440p Streaming CPU?

The level of multi-core performance offered by the i7-13700K in both software encoding and hardware encoding scenarios, combined with its impressive gaming performance, makes it the best 1440p streaming CPU on the market.

Performance: 9/10 Value: 8/10
Features: 8/10 Future Proofing: 8/10

Benchmarks Of The Best CPU For Streaming

In order to judge the streaming capabilities of various CPUs, our team of hardware specialists ran a gauntlet of tests on our target processors. These tests were designed to objectively judge both the gaming and streaming performance of the CPUs at different resolutions and different bitrates. We also ran the x264 and x265 HD software encoding benchmarks to judge the native encoding capabilities of our CPUs.

Important CPU Key Terms

Here are some key CPU terms you should know when shopping for a streaming CPU.

  1. Cores: A CPU die is divided into parts known as cores which help execute various functions.
  2. Threads: Cores make use of data strings known as threads to improve multitasking.
  3. Cache: A small amount of super-fast memory known as cache is stored directly onto the CPU.
  4. Clock Speed: The clock speed of a processor ranges from base clock to boost clock, and it is the number of data cycles it completes in one second.
  5. TDP: An estimation of the amount of heat emitted by a processor is known as TDP.
  6. CPU encoding: When uncompressed frames are packaged into a target file format by the CPU, it is known as CPU encoding. It is also called software encoding.
  7. Overclocking: Running a CPU faster than its pre-determined frequency is known as overclocking.

How We Picked The Best CPU For Streaming

Here is what we considered when choosing the best CPU for streaming.

  • Multi-core Performance: Gaming prioritizes single-threaded performance while streaming demands numerous cores with strong multi-core performance. Therefore, when compiling this list, we placed significant emphasis on both the number of cores and their speed to ensure an optimal streaming experience.
  • Gaming Performance: While dedicated streaming rigs are a good idea if you’re a professional streamer, they are not really feasible for most people. Therefore, a good streaming CPU should also be a good gaming CPU if you want to do both simultaneously. You can’t expect to have a good stream if your own game is running poorly in the first place.
  • CPU Encoding: CPU encoding, or software encoding, is also linked somewhat to multi-core performance. You can use the CPU directly for streaming as well, but that puts a lot of load on the CPU. The CPU uses an x264 or x265 encoder to package the gameplay footage into a streamable format. Encoding performance should definitely be considered in this purchase process.
  • Value for Money: When selecting CPUs for streaming, considering value is essential. While high-end options exist, mid-range or budget CPUs can suffice with proper stream settings adjustments. We evaluated the price-to-performance ratio across different price brackets to make our selection.

FAQs

Does streaming use CPU or GPU?

Streaming uses CPU if you use software encoding, but it can also use GPU if you use hardware encoding. Still, the CPU is very important for multitasking in both scenarios.

How many CPU cores are required for streaming?

You should get a CPU with at least 6 cores for streaming, but it is recommended to have 8 cores or more for an ideal experience.

What kind of CPU do I need for streaming?

A CPU with at least 6-8 cores and decent multi-core performance is ideal for streaming.

How many CPU cores do I need for gaming and streaming simultaneously?

You would need at least 8 cores for streaming and gaming simultaneously. You can get away with 6 cores as well, depending on the game and streaming settings.

What should CPU usage be while streaming?

CPU usage varies a lot, but it is normal to see a CPU being utilized between 50-80% while streaming. Your CPU is probably struggling if you see CPU usage at 100 while streaming.

Recent Updates


  • February 13, 2024: Few text changes to improve readability.

 
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