A computer’s processor is arguably the most important component of a PC build, and it can be a difficult thing to grasp. Especially for newcomers, wanting to build a PC can be extremely confusing, this is mainly due to the many specifications they come with. A lot of people don’t know whether more cores is better than more GHz in certain applications, so we’re going to go over exactly how a processor works.
When buying a CPU, you’ll notice the number of cores and threads they come with, in this post we’re mainly focusing on cores. Usually, it’ll say something like 6 Cores & 12 Threads with a clock speed of 3.7 GHz, without knowing what these specifications mean, you won’t be able to effectively build the type of PC you want.
Answer: Applications such as gaming, streaming, video editing, and programming benefit from different aspects of the CPU, so it’s important that you know exactly what CPU to buy so you don’t waste money purchasing a CPU that barely gets the job done. Also, there are different CPU manufacturers that are better for either core count or clock speeds.
How Do CPUs Work?
The CPU or Central Processing Unit is the main processor within your PC build, and it’s responsible for executing instructions which is usually a computer program. The CPU basically fetches instructions from the memory, executes these instructions, and stores the output back into memory, it repeats this process as the CPU and RAM work closely together.
Now CPUs consist of cores, most CPUs come with many cores, and you can find CPUs that come with 32 cores, and it’s these cores that process the instructions sent by the RAM. Each core is a physical construct located on the chip consisting of billions of transistors, and each core has an ALU which is responsible for processing instructions fetched by the RAM.
The CPUs clock speed refers to the frequency of the clock cycles the CPU goes through each second, faster clock speed means the CPU will perform faster. If a CPU is clocked at 5GHz, that means each core is executing 5 billion instructions each second. Many people will engage in overclocking to get more performance out of their processors, this is usually for single-core applications.
More Cores Or Faster Clock For Gaming
Back in the day, a lot of games were programmed to utilize only one core making gaming a single core activity, this means it mainly benefits from clock speed. So having a faster clock speed usually meant more FPS, this is why many gamers will overclock their CPUs for a lot more performance. Having higher clock speeds for gaming is still better than having more cores, so you won’t see many gaming PCs with 32 cores.
Due to higher clock speeds being so advantageous for gaming, you’ll see hardcore gamers sporting team Intel as they often provide superior clock speeds and gaming performance. The I9 12900K comes with a massive 5.2GHz boost clock speed which is insane for PC gaming, you’ll often see 20FPS more in most games when compared to the Ryzen 9 5900x.
Back in 2020, Intel apparently claimed that 60% of games are only optimized for single-core performance which means having more cores is futile for most games. However, 40% of the games on the market may experience a slight benefit from having more cores, so while higher clock speeds are better in general, certain games may benefit from having more cores.
More Cores Or Faster Clock For Streaming
Streaming is a task that is heavily CPU intensive, and we don’t recommend streaming on a bad CPU as it can get extremely laggy. Streaming heavily utilizes the cores of your processor which makes streaming benefit from more cores rather than faster clock speeds depending on the type of encoder.
Software encoding is largely CPU intensive, and you’ll often find that many streamers will use OBS for their streams which use the X264 codec. The X264 codec will primarily leverage all of your CPU for encoding the stream, and it will never use your GPU, more cores will mean your stream will perform smoother with less lag. If you were to use a hardware encoder, then the codec will leverage the graphics card instead.
Due to streaming benefiting from more cores, that means Ryzen is the choice of processor in most cases, this is because Ryzen on average provides higher multi-core performance compared to Intel. It also makes financial sense to go for Ryzen because a CPU such as the I9 12900K can be quite expensive for some.
More Cores Or Faster Clock For Video Editing
Just like streaming, video editing also benefits from having more cores, and it largely depends on what type of software you’re using. For example, Adobe Premiere Pro is a video editing software that heavily relies on the CPU, and often requires at least 8 cores to run effectively. Davinci Resolve is a video editing software that heavily uses the graphics card instead of the CPU.
Also, the core clock speed is important for video editing, so you’ll often find individuals who video edit with overclocked processors. On top of that, to get the most out of each core, you’ll want a processor capable of SMT(Simultaneous Multithreading) to increase the efficiency of each core. Intel processors include hyperthreading into some of their processors so the efficiency of each core can be increased to up to 30%.
Ryzen is probably the best choice of processor for video editing, the Ryzen 5th generation of processors is extremely efficient at delivering multi-core performance. Ryzen 5 will often beat Intels 10th generation processors when it comes to video editing, even the Ryzen 7 5800x can beat the Intel I9 10900K when it comes to X265 compression.
In conclusion, it heavily depends on the application you’re using, for example in gaming, you’ll definitely want a higher clock speed than more cores because it’ll generate more FPS in many games. But overall, more cores are better because it excels in many applications such as video editing and streaming, but that isn’t to say that Intel isn’t good at processing multithreaded applications.
The final verdict is that Intel and Ryzen processors both excel in different ways, you’ll often associate Ryzen with being better for processing multithreaded applications, and Intel is the king of gaming and single-core applications. If you know exactly what type of PC build you want, you should definitely purchase the CPU that will excel the most at that task.