Going for the best CPU with exceptional streaming performance is all about choosing a processor with the right clock speed and raw power. A quality processor is a must-have if you want to stream at 1080p or above.
You might not need a beefed-up CPU for gaming. But as a streamer, you will run various demanding applications simultaneously. For that, you will need a solid processor. But you don’t have to sift through those options and waste your time because we have done all the homework for you.
So, scroll down to read the full scoop on the best CPU for streaming.
Does the CPU matter for streaming?
CPU does matter when it comes to streaming. The CPU handles most of the burden from content creation, media handling, gameplay, and streaming simultaneously. Therefore, your streaming will be more efficient with a more efficient CPU.
Hence, you must get a suitable CPU for online streaming under your budget without any hitches. Of course, the rule of thumb is that the more cores it has, the better it is.
Requirement for the Minimum Processor Speed for Streaming
You must understand the requirements properly if you want a system with enough power to stream while gaming. You are running multiple applications simultaneously, so you will need plenty of power to tackle all these jobs simultaneously.
So, how much power do you need on your computer or laptop?
When talking about a desktop machine, the ideal specs should be:
- Processor -- AMD FX-8350 or Intel i5-4670.
- Memory -- DDR3 8 GB.
- Video Card -- NVIDIA GeForce 960.
- Operating System -- Windows 7 Home.
But is it all you need? Let’s talk about this matter in a bit more detail.
Laptop vs desktop
Undoubtedly, streaming on a desktop computer is better than on a laptop. But you can see those modern-day laptops have enough power to stand against desktop computers. Therefore, the differences between these two options are becoming more blurred in recent years.
But computers come with the advantage that you can conveniently work under their hood and amp up the power. You can’t do this with laptops due to the warranty that prevents them from disassembling.
You also have to consider what streaming software you will use to run. For example, OBS Studio or Streamlabs OBS requires a 4th or 2nd Gen processor with a GTX 6+ video card to encode NVENC.
You will consider your browser performance if you are not going for the OBS Studio. Moreover, different stream devices, including mic, webcam, and others, can potentially increase the program performance because of video-audio performance.
Type of streaming
You also have to consider the type of games that you mostly play. For instance, LOL (League of Legends needs a dual-core CPU with 3 GHz performance. Moreover, it needs 4 GB RAM and 12 GB storage for the best performance. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive also needs similar specs for optimal performance.
Of course, some games need a lot more power too. But suppose you are streaming with applications like Mixer, Twitch, and YouTube, or video and photo editing, graphic designing, and various other forms of content creation. In that case, the mentioned specs will work just fine. However, there are multiple other options available these days.
Of course, for the best streaming experience, you need to have a quality internet connection. For 720p streaming, you will need a bit rate of around 3000 kbps or 3 MB per second.
You will need up to 6 MB per second speed for better quality and larger size. And for that, you will need a powerful internet connection.
So, there are various factors involved here to get the best performance. Considering all that in mind, we have developed a list of the best CPUs for streaming by going through a range of different in-store and online options and their reviews.
We have also asked our gaming and streaming peers what they had to say about this matter. So, here’s the list you need to check before making the purchase.
10 Best CPUs for Streaming
1. AMD Ryzen 9 3950X
AMD is way ahead of Intel regarding streaming because their CPUs are incredibly versatile and way more powerful. Moreover, AMD is doing everything possible to extend this lead even further. And they have been pretty successful in these endeavors with the release of the Ryzen 9 3950X.
It is one of the best CPUs for streaming in the year 2023, and it comes with 32 threads and 16 cores, and higher clock speeds. It can handle anything that you can think about. The CPU can run all the programs stream simultaneously in top-quality output. This chip is exceptional in dishing out multi-threaded performance. But this chip doesn’t come cheap and doesn’t include a cooler in the package.
3rd Gen Ryzen CPUs tend to get hot under load and deal with higher resolutions. The Ryzen 9 should have come with a cooler. That is the only thing that you will have to compromise on.
- Best for single and multi-tasking performance.
- Superb multitasking capabilities.
- Excellent for 4K gaming and streaming
- Doesn’t come with a cooler.
2. AMD Ryzen 9 3900X
The 3900X Ryzen 9 belongs to the Zen 2 family, with plenty of improvements. It does put a lot of pressure on Intel with its specs and performance, but it also comes with a much bigger price tag. However, you might have to keep in mind that the specs and performance of this device will be well worth the price.
The socket with which it is made can be used with older Ryzen generations, and you can also make it work with older motherboards. But it is better to use it with a newer motherboard to get the best streaming performance.
This CPU comes with 24 threads and 12 cores and is one of the best choices for streaming. The base clock speed of this CPU is 3.8 GHz. You can boost up to 4.6 GHz. This CPU can handle multi-tasking pretty well.
Moreover, it is an unlocked CPU so that you can use the overclocking option. And the best part is that it comes with its Wraith Prism cooler to keep working optimally. The included cooler makes it a much better choice than anything else.
- Incredible multitasking capability.
- Excellent for 4K gaming and 1080p streaming.
- Boost the clock speed up to 4.6 GHz.
- Comes with a cooler.
- Pretty expensive.
3) Intel Core i9 9900K
Intel Core i9 is an incredible processor that works well for gamers and streamers. The base clock speed of this processor is 3.6 GHz, and you can push it up to 5 GHz. It means that you can significantly boost the computing speed of your system with this chip inside.
But this chip only has 16 threads and 8 cores. It means it will only be at the level of Ryzen 2700x at max. But it can still manage multi-core and single-core speeds pretty well. Intel has used STIM (Solder Thermal Interface Material) to ensure adequate heat transfer and better processor performance.
It also means the processor can better manage heat transfer and maintain lower temperatures under pressure. It is a significant advantage that the Intel i9 has over much bigger AMD Ryzen chips.
- Exceptional single-core and multi-core processing.
- Works well for 1080p streaming.
- Handles 4K gaming pretty decently.
- The value for the price is much less than the Ryzen 3900X.
4) AMD Ryzen 7 3800X
Maybe you are restricted by your budget but don’t want to commission your gaming and streaming performance. In such a scenario, you must consider going for the Ryzen 7 3800X.
This chip is a powerhouse, and you still don’t have to pay much to get it. This CPU is all about providing you with the best bang for your buck.
The Ryzen 7 also belongs to the Zen 2 lineup, and its base clock speed is up to 3.9 GHz, and you can turbo it up to 4.5 GHz. You also can overclock it as you will get a Wraith Prism cooler.
This chip is a pretty good option for most streaming needs. This chip will give you a decent upgrade if you still don’t want to power up to the high-end processors available on the market.
- Exceptional multi-core processing.
- You can use it for 4K gaming.
- Excellent value for money.
- Ryzen 3700X does the same job for a much lesser price.
5) AMD Ryzen 7 3700X
The Ryzen 7 3700X might seem a bit closer to the 3800X, but there is a significant difference between the two. It is a considerably powerful chip that is part of the Zen 3 lineup by AMD. This chip has a high count for operational frequencies and cores and good overclocking potential.
The 3700X comes with 16 threads and 8 cores, but it runs at slightly lower frequencies. The base clock speed of this chip is 3.6 GHz, and you can ramp it up to 4.4 GHz. If you are not streaming anything very demanding, you don’t need to pay for a powerful CPU as the 3700x works just fine.
This chip enables you to run most applications and games and stream them without any problems with image quality. It is a great option for anyone looking to have some fun whilst streaming and nothing too serious. It might not deliver the best performance, but it will get the job done nevertheless.
- Excellent value for money.
- Doesn’t cost a lot.
- Good at multitasking.
- Below par compared to the best chips out there.
6) Intel Core i7 9700K
Incredible multitasking capabilities are essential for streamers, where the Core i7 comes in. It comes with a base clock speed of 3.6 GHz. You can turbo it up to 4.9 GHz. Therefore, you can significantly boost your computing power, and your chip can suddenly handle plenty of loads.
This type of processor is an excellent choice for games with a lot going on in the background. Thanks to its impressive power, this processor will not have any problem with 4K gaming and 10180p streaming. But it only comes with 8 threads, so it will not be an ideal choice for heavy media handling.
- Decent multi and single-core performance.
- It can handle 4K gaming and 1080p streaming.
- Latest core generation.
- Powerful processor.
- Doesn’t handle heavy media that well.
7) AMD Ryzen 5 3600X
Among all the new processors AMD has come up with, the 3600X Ryzen 5 does a fine job catering to every need. It comes at a pretty reasonable price and has a good-enough core count. You won’t have to compromise on clock frequencies and always get the standard socket from AMD.
It comes unlocked and features 12 threads and 6 cores. These specs are quite enough for most streamers as the chip can run at around 3.8 GHz, and you can turbo it up to 4.4 GHz. The best part is that it comes with a Wraith Spire cooler that will keep it cool.
- Excellent for 720p streaming but can handle 1080p streaming too.
- 1440p gaming is excellent with this chip.
- Cheaper than most chipsets there.
- Not for 4K gaming.
8) AMD Ryzen 5 3600
The 3600 Ryzen 5 has been a trusty option for most streamers, gamers, and creatives. But, of course, the biggest advantage is that it comes at a much lower price than its 3600X variant.
Its base clock speed is 3.6 GHz, but you can turbo it to 4.2 GHz. It comes with 12 threads and 6 cores, so this chip is designed to deliver exceptional performance for the money.
It also comes unlocked, so overclocking is not a problem. However, you will need to get a cooler and replace the Wraith Stealth cooler included in the package. It will work fine if you are a streamer on a budget.
- Excellent for streaming on a budget.
- Handles multi and single-core tasks pretty well.
- Great for 720p streaming.
- Not enough power for quality streaming.
9) AMD Ryzen 7 2700
The 2700 Ryzen 7 is the best value option if you don’t want to spend much money. But its entire focus is on saving money, and you will only get limited performance from this chip. It is only being sold at half the price it used to cost back in the day, but it still has value for gamers and streamers.
Most people consider it to be a better entry point compared to 2600. It has 16 threads and 8 cores, and it also features a Wraith Spire cooler. It also has a much higher boost frequency of up to 4.1 GHz. For starters, it’s a pretty good option.
- Faster than other Ryzen chips under 2700.
- Thermal transfer is better with indium solder.
- The bundled cooler offers better value.
- It should have come with a better cooler for overclocking.
10) AMD Ryzen 5 2600
The 2600 Ryzen 5 is a good budget option for streaming. But it also means you shouldn’t expect too much power and performance from it.
It might have been the best option just a few years back when it was released, but it has quickly been replaced with other powerful chips on the market. But it comes with a lower price, increasing its value proposition.
It comes with 12 threads and 6 cores, enough to handle the average gamer and streamer’s needs. But don’t expect something extraordinary here, as it will only be limited in terms of performance, just enough for you to manage your streaming requirements.
- Excellent for main streaming purposes.
- Handles multi-tasking and single-core processing pretty well.
- Only suitable for new entrants or budget-friendly streamers.
Does a better CPU work well for streaming?
Won’t have to deal with any lags, and you won’t have to deal with any hiccups in frame refresh rates either.
What is a good CPU percentage when it comes to streaming?
The exact CPU requirement depends upon what you are streaming. 1000 percent is the maximum, while 0 percent is not running. 50 percent means that it is using 50 percent of the power.
Therefore, you need to stream at a lower resolution. But if you want to stream something more demanding, you need higher quality and more power.
You need the right CPU or processor to get the best streaming performance. And to get the best streaming performance, you will need the best processor according to your budget and requirements.
Multiple options are available, and you can choose based on your requirements. But after going through this guide, you can now decide on what CPU is best for your streaming needs.