Gaming And Streaming: Which CPU Is Best For Both?

AMD Threadripper & Intel Skylake-X i9

You expect the best when you drop $1000+ on a CPU for gaming and streaming simultaneously. So, we shifted to the "fast" setting for this round of tests.


Battlefield 1

AMD didn’t design Threadripper for "just" gaming, particularly at lower resolutions. But an intense streaming workload might expose more of the architecture's benefits.

Threadripper does have several configurable modes to tailor to its response to various tasks, as we outlined in our AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1950X Game Mode, Benchmarked article. Game Mode and Creator Mode both impact various titles differently, and we expect those same trends to carry over to our streaming benchmark. As such, we tested the Threadripper 1950X both ways.

The Threadripper 1950X pulls into range of Intel's Skylake-X models during our baseline tests. Creator Mode (CM) exposes all 32 of the 1950X's available threads, yielding more potential horsepower than Game Mode (GM). The 1950X's Creator Mode also makes it possible to encode 100% of the test run's frames, while Game Mode drops 1.6% of them. That isn't a huge sacrifice, but Game Mode also causes Threadripper to average 26 FPS fewer. That means it isn't encoding as many frames, either. We would have expected higher frame rates from a lighter encoding workload, but disabling half of the 1950X's threads in pursuit of higher game performance doesn't always work well when you're streaming, too.

The 18C/36T Core i9-7980XE doesn't perform as well as the 10C/20T Core i9-7900X during the streaming tests. Rather, the -7980XE stumbles in the smoothness department as its 99th percentile frame rates fall below the Threadripper 1950X, despite a lead in average frame rates.

Aside from Threadripper 1950X in Game Mode, all of these processors encode 100% of the frames.

The Core i9-7980XE's game performance is higher than the Threadripper models during our streaming test after bumping up clock rates. It also delivers a much better 99th percentile measurement.

AMD's Threadripper configurations fare better after tuning, too. Both encode 99.9% of the frames we send their way, which is adequate for a quality stream.

Grand Theft Auto V

Grand Theft Auto V's in-game performance goes Intel's way during the baseline benchmarks. Moreover, Core i9-7980XE redeems itself when it comes time to stream. That chip does command quite a premium though, so its advantage doesn't necessarily represent the best value.

Again, Threadripper's Game Mode just doesn't appear to be ideal for streaming. Game Mode provides better baseline frame rates in this title, but it falls to the bottom of our chart once we start encoding video.

Middle-earth: Shadow of War

Once again, Intel's processors offer the best in-game and streaming performance. This isn't entirely surprising; Threadripper may even be overkill for this type of enthusiast workload. We'd expect the architecture to handle workstation-class production workflows more adeptly.

Core i9-7900X does encounter a hiccup as its 99th percentile scores fall below Threadripper 1950X's during the streaming workload. The 1950X in Creator Mode also experiences some variance, with 20.38% of its frames falling below the 16.667ms threshold.

Even after a bit of tuning, Core i9-7900X provides a higher average frame rate than the 1950X in Creator Mode during our streaming benchmark, but can't match AMD's 99th percentile performance.

The Threadripper 1950X's difficulty in Creator Mode while streaming Middle-earth is even more pronounced. Some aspect of OBS doesn't agree with Creator Mode and this one game. We ran the tests several times to ensure it was a repeatable phenomenon.


MORE: Intel & AMD Processor Hierarchy

MORE: All CPUs Content

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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 :)
  • 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.