Gaming And Streaming: Which CPU Is Best For Both?

AMD Ryzen 7 & Intel Core i7

Paying more for a processor should also get you more performance, right? With that in mind, we're stepping up to the "faster" encoder preset for this CPU class.

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Battlefield 1

The Core i5-7600K disappointed us in the previous round of tests, and Core i7-7700K picks up where the i5 left off. This chip just isn't well-equipped for streaming, despite the additional four threads enabled by Hyper-Threading. The -7700K dropped 94.3% of our frames using the normal settings, which comes as a side effect of excessive CPU utilization. We triggered the high priority setting to try rectifying this situation, but were presented the same bipolar behavior as Intel's Core i5-7600K. There just isn't a straightforward way around saturated CPU cores. You can either stream well or game well, but you can't do both with Kaby Lake-based processors and OBS streaming at 1920x1080/60FPS.

The Ryzen 7 1800X bears down with eight cores and 16 threads to provide solid streaming and gaming performance.

Core i7-8700K, which brings Coffee Lake up to a Hyper-Threaded six-core design, also performs well in this test. Overall, it offers the best gaming performance while streaming, 99th percentiles included. It even ekes past Ryzen 7 1800X with 100% of frames encoded to the stream. AMD's Ryzen 7 delivers 99.9% of the frames, and dropping 0.1% doesn't concern us. The stream is still smooth.

Overclocked, Ryzen 7 1800X delivers an ever-so-slightly better stream. But the Core i7-8700K leads in overall gaming performance. Of course, the 1800X's 117.8 FPS average, while streaming, is plenty impressive. Both processors prove up to this task.

Our encoding workload pegs the -7700K's cores at 100%, while the high priority settings help bring down CPU utilization. Simply, that's because the CPU has fewer frames to encode as a result of lower gaming performance.

Grand Theft Auto V

The Core i7-8700K takes a healthy lead during the baseline and streaming tests. It even provides more in-game performance while streaming than an unencumbered Ryzen 7 1800X.

Ryzen 7 1800X again achieves lower gaming performance, but a slightly superior stream than Intel's -8700K. The differences are pretty much imperceptible, though. Kaby Lake, on the other hand, simply can't compete.

Turning up the clocks benefits Coffee Lake greatly. Core i7-8700K offers the best overall performance, while Ryzen 7 1800X is competitive.

Middle-earth: Shadow of War

Coffee Lake continues to impress with strong in-game and streaming performance. The Ryzen 7 1800X does encode a higher percentage of frames than -8700K within the desirable 16.667ms range, but it also generates fewer frames. AMD's Ryzen does have more headroom to spare during our streaming workload though, so it'd likely accommodate more taxing encode presets.

We find that the stream frame time variance isn't very noticeable unless the 16.667ms percentage drops below a 90% threshold, such as what we see from Intel's Core i7-7700K. The -7700K does serve up better frame rates while it's streaming, even besting AMD's Ryzen 7 1800X. But that goes to show why we need to keep an eye on performance from every angle. Core i7-7700K drops 40% of its frames during this test! That makes any gaming performance advantage meaningless.

Ryzen 7 1800X musters a solid 75.4 FPS during the streaming test and provides a crisp stream to YouTube, as well.

Overclocking amplifies the trends we've been talking about. The same inherent strengths and weaknesses are still apparent. Ryzen 7 1800X and Core i7-8700K are both solid choices for streaming.

The Core i7-7700K demonstrates lower CPU utilization than usual during this test. Surprisingly, that doesn't equate to a usable combination of in-game and streaming performance, though, suggesting other architectural influences may be affecting our numbers.

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  • keith12
    Can you include an overall chart with all CPU's tested compared? I like the separation of I5/R5 and I7/R7, but clearly some of the R5's, specially the 1600x can compete with the I7 7700k, the 8600k, and even the R7 1800x/I7 8700k in certain conditions. It would be nice to see an overall picture of the separate tests.

    Great article though. It's an oft asked question on the forums, and one well answered with this piece. Good job :)
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  • edmonditguy
    Cellulite is coming up with some amazing CPU's. When tested alongside Intel's latest chipset it is clear who will be the winner in the coming years. The reign of Intel is no more and the battle of AMD is over. Cellulite P67 is the future.
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