Are Threadripper CPUs Good for Gaming?

The conventional wisdom when it comes to PC parts is that more = better. More RAM, higher wattage on your PSU, more case fans, higher clock speeds on your GPU, etc. This assumption makes sense since the more resources you have the higher probability your games will run without any FPS drops allowing for a better gaming experience.

When it comes to CPUs though there is this misconception that the most expensive, higher core count CPUs are the best for gaming still. Take the Threadripper lineup from AMD with 64 cores and 128 threads which makes it sound like it would absolutely demolish any game you would throw at it. In general terms, it would indeed be able to play any game but the performance would not exactly be stellar, and here is why.

Game Engines and CPU Core Count

A big factor in why the monstrous Threadripper CPUs are not recommended for games and will be outperformed by parts 10x times cheaper is the simple fact that games are not built to deal with that many cores or threads.

Most modern games still use a couple of main cores from your CPU that have the highest clock speeds while delegating other less important tasks to a couple more cores. In reality then if you have a modern 6 core 12 thread CPU a modern game will use about 2 cores for the main game process and the rest will either idle or handle smaller tasks unrelated directly to performance and FPS.

Most games will probably not even run properly on a Threadripper CPU since the game engine will not be able to handle the sheer amount of cores.

CPU Core Count vs CPU Speed

Although CPU core speed is not a stable measurement we can use across the board since architectural improvements and the instructions per second can make a slower CPU perform better, generally speaking for gaming core count is not as important as those cores being as fast as they can be.

This is because as we have mentioned previously most games run on only a couple of your fastest cores therefore your performance in games does not depend on how many cores you have, but how fast they are.

This is why a 5800X CPU that maintains higher frequencies across its cores has about the same performance in games as a 5950X AMD CPU even though the 5800X has 8 cores/16 threads vs the 16 cores/32 threads of the 5950X.

When Does Core Count Matter

In truth, this entire comparison is a bit ridiculous because of the simple fact that Thredripper CPUs were built for completely different purposes than mainstream gaming. High core count CPUs like the Threadripper lineup were made for productivity purposes where having more cores actually results in a great performance improvement.

If you are doing heavy editing with 8K footage or some sort of heavy computational work like simulations the Threadripper can actually flex its muscles and yield huge gains in terms of time spent on those workloads.

Buying a Threadripper for gaming is like buying a tank for a racing track because it has a huge engine and should technically be able to plow through anything.

Overall Build Price

Finally, the biggest reason most gamers will never even consider building a system with a Threadripper in it (beyond all of the limitations mentioned above) is the sheer price of such a build.

A Threadripper CPU itself costs 6500$, then you need to factor in a proper motherboard that can be used with such a beast, a power supply that can feed it enough energy, proper cooling so it does not thermally throttle, and a case that can house this monstrosity.

Getting into the 10000$ range while building a Threadripper system is normal, but considering it will perform worse than a 2000-3000$ build with a mainstream gaming CPU with 8 cores/16 threads, it becomes quite clear that this is a huge investment that is not worthwhile for gaming.

Just like everything else PC hardware is specialized in different tasks therefore if you really want the best gaming performance then you should buy gaming-oriented hardware – simple as that.

About The Author


Custom Windows ISO enjoyer, FPS optimizer, and aim improvement enthusiast. Will disassemble all of his peripherals (and sometimes PC parts) to mod them even if all of them work perfectly fine. Overall, Chris is a BIG nerd and he is absolutely proud of it! Follow him on Twitch.

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