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Choosing between a mid-level 6-core CPU and a higher-level 8-core CPU is not a simple matter of more cores equaling better performance. In fact, it’s a subtle decision that we must make after considering four main factors. That’s how it works. That is, more cores means better game, right? Not necessarily.

Just five years ago, debating the merits of a 6-core CPU versus an 8-core model wasn’t possible. We were all stuck with 4-core chips, at the consumer level – to overcome that barrier, we had to pay dearly for a high-end desktop (“big socket”). And it won’t be necessary to go to an extreme to play.

Nowadays, game developers have started to adapt to the new normal of processors with high number of cores. And if there will be a PC for the next
years, you’ll want one that will comfortably accompany you throughout its duration, at all levels

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Cyberpunk 2077 is an example of an ‘open world’ game that makes use of multi-core processors, with performance scalability up to eight cores. Core count does not tell the whole performance story. The games you play and the resolution you play with also influence the outcome in the real world. In games that don’t take advantage of multicore processors, single core performance is more important. You will often see insignificant differences in framerates between 6-core and 8-core processors of the same generation.

Other games – think blockbuster level games, especially those with ‘open world’ environments – make more use of available cores, sometimes even scaling performance with core count. Benchmark results for CPUs with lower core counts may start to follow their high-end brethren, and in some games, you may see a 10-15% difference between 6-core and 8-core processors.

However, you cannot assume that you should choose the 8-core processor and close the matter if you are a fan of big open world games. For a family of CPUs, we might see the performance of the 6-core processor surpass the 8-core version in a specific title.


You won’t see much difference either the higher the resolution. We can hit 1080p, and the performance gaps narrow to virtually zero by hitting 1440p, in some games. 4K range is the heaviest is usually and fully on the graphics card. In the end, you will have the clearest picture about the chips you are comparing after looking at specific test results.


Some people believe that since gaming consoles have 8-core processors, PC users should expect 8 cores to become the standard for gaming. But while games have started to make more use of available cores, we don’t believe that will happen anytime soon. And when that happens, your gaming PC will be ready for an update anyway.

Consoles are built for a long life: the last two generations lasted about seven years each. The eight cores of the PlayStation 5 and Xbox X and S series will likely have to last the same amount of time – which is almost double the average lifespan of a gaming PC. A current generation 6-core processor should work fine for another four to five years, which is when most PC gamers start thinking about an upgrade. On the other hand, if you plan to make big gains with your processor, an 8-core chip protects your bets. Many people kept the Core i5-2500K and Core i7-2600K for eight years or more before finally updating.


When it comes to value, the lowest price of a 6-core processor is hard to beat. The less you spend on a component, the more money you’ll have for games. For some people, a constant ‘diet’ in games is just as important as ‘framerates’ – or even more so. Not surprisingly, a 6-core purchase costs less money. As an ‘intermediate consumption’ processor, these CPUs cost between US$200 and US$250. Moving to an 8-core processor will cost between €330 and €360.

This characterization oversimplifies today’s market, but you can still be confident that 6-core chips will cost less than their 8-core counterparts from the same era. You’ll save between €100 to €160, or nearly three blockbuster games at full price.


That’s an immediate win on price. Another potential is if 6-core processors remain the baseline for the distant future. If you upgrade at the same point as you would with an 8-core processor, you won’t needlessly spend more on your CPU. But what if you find out later that you have to update sooner than expected? You will also see an increase in performance after upgrading your hardware. And, depending on advances in technology, you might even spend less than you think – so no money is wasted.


This factor comes into play when deciding between an AMD processor and its rival Intel. For a long time, AMD kept the same socket motherboard between generations of Ryzen CPUs. This allows previous Ryzen chip owners to keep their existing motherboards, making processor upgrades very easy and much cheaper. In contrast, Intel changes its socket specs much more often (usually within two generations), almost guaranteeing a CPU and motherboard upgrade. But when placing two chips from the current generations AMD and Intel, this point is irrelevant. AMD is moving to socket AM5 with Zen 4 processors, negating that upgradeability advantage to their existing Zen 3 (Ryzen 5000 series) processors. If you buy a Ryzen processor today, upgrades to a future Zen chip will require a new CPU and motherboard, like an Intel.

However, if you’re on a budget and comparing an older generation of processors, you may find that a 6-core AMD part offers more value than an 8-core Intel part from the same era. Buy a new socket AM4 compatible AMD CPU later on in the used market (maybe even an 8-core one), and it will improve your PC’s performance while keeping your costs down.



Unlike other head-to-head matches, this matchup results in few specific winners for our categories. The problem with discussing CPU core counts and how they affect PC games is that processors don’t live in a vacuum. Not only does the microarchitecture of a processor affect performance and upgradeability, but a gamer’s budget influences what prices are viable ​​and how long a CPU will stay in their computer. (And let’s face it here: if you’re debating between a 6-core and 8-core processor, your budget matters.)

In the end, you should research specific 6-core and 8-core chips to see what kind of performance you get, then balance that against your budget and plans for the future. But if you’re really busy and want to find a champion, then here’s the judges’ decision: Buy the 6-core for games. You can buy 8-core if you want, but not for games – you might have other things you plan to do with it that make use of those extra cores.

Now go build your PC, load the next game, and enjoy!

Source: PCWorld

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