Best CPU For Streaming in 2023
The best CPU for streaming is a vital component for anyone wanting to make the most out of their online content creation. Whether you’ve got your sights set on starting out with Twitch and YouTube Gaming or want to up your current production values, a high-performance processor can make all the difference.
Products at a Glance
With new models launching recently, there are more choices than ever as far as the best CPU for streaming goes.
Fortunately, too, things don’t have to get all too expensive either. We’ve seen great value and strong capabilities from even the mainstream current-gen chipsets from both Intel and AMD.
How we chose the best CPU for streaming
We’ve made our choices for the best CPU for streaming by considering all types of content creators. We have a lot of positive things to say about the premium side of the spectrum. However, you don’t necessarily need the bleeding edge to run programs like StreamLabs, OBS, and other platforms.
Keep in mind, though, that streaming gameplay footage is hardware intensive no matter which software you use. The CPU has to render not just native gameplay, but also encode the video output in real-time, too.
Having more cores and threads is always beneficial. But with advancements made regarding efficiency in CPU architecture, you won’t necessarily have to choose the priciest model.
That’s the middle ground that our roundup occupies. We’ve considered all types of creators and consumers. From feature set, to price-to-performance, we’ll help you make an informed decision when putting a new rig together.
Remember, this is a guide to the best CPU for streaming. If you’re looking for another CPU, like the best CPU for the RX 7900 XT, RTX 3070 Ti, or the best CPU for video editing, we have plenty more guides to choose from.
Best CPU For Streaming in 2023
- Leading single core performance
- Competitive price point
- High clock speeds
- Requires an AM5 motherboard and DDR5 RAM
The AMD Ryzen 9 7900X takes the top spot as the best CPU for streaming. We’ve opted for this version as opposed to the Zen 4 flagship. This is due to the more competitive price and comparable real-time figures. This 12-core (24 threads) processor has more than enough under the hood to keep up with demanding software rendering and real-time encoding. Plus, it won’t break the bank.
That’s because the high-end chipset carries an MSRP of $549 on the AM5 socket. The price-to-performance ratio here is very competitive given all this model offers. You’re also benefitting from a high base clock of 4.7 GHz. This can be pushed all the way to 5.6 GHz with overclocking. Single-core performance will be very strong with frequencies as high as this out of the gate.
- High performance for 125W TDP
- Utilizes both DDR4 and DDR5 RAM
- Overclocks to 5.0 GHz
- About to be replaced by 13th Gen Raptor Lake
Raptor Lake is right around the corner. However, we’re confident recommending the Intel Core i7-12700K as the best Intel CPU for streaming. This is in large part due to the Hybrid Architecture, a mixture of P-cores and E-cores which makeup this chipset thanks to the Intel 7 10nm process.
You’re looking at a total of 12 cores and 20 threads here. That is the most power efficent i7 model to date, especially when factoring in the 125W TDP. What’s more, this processor just about manages to live up to the 5 GHz mark when overclocked. You’ll need all the extra power you can get when streaming in higher resolutions than Full HD (1080p) or rendering video projects.
- $299 price point
- Excellent single-core and multi-thread performance
- Will be supported for years
- You need to invest in an AM5 motherboard and DDR5 RAM
The AMD Ryzen 5 7600X is our pick for the best budget CPU for streaming. This is because the new mainstream Zen 4 processor actually outperforms the best of Alder Lake under certain circumstances while maintaining an incredibly aggressive $299 price point. Keep in mind that you’ll need to upgrade to an AM5 socket motherboard and DDR5 RAM exclusively if you do make the jump.
With that said, the 6-core (12 threads) processor certainly doesn’t pull its punches. This is evident in the fact that in some synthetic benchmarks, this chipset actually outperforms the previous flagship model from the previous generation for around half the price. If you’re looking for the best value for money without sacrificing speed and efficiency then this model could be the one you’re after.
- Frequently discounted
- Supports DDR4 and DDR5 memory
- Utilizes LGA 1700 socket motherboard
- Doesn't quite overclock to 5 GHz
- About to be replaced by Raptor Lake
The Intel i5-12600K can best be thought of as the leading alternative chipset to the latest AMD Ryzen line. Now, even close to a year after release, this mid-range mainstream model can still perform excellently in the fields of real-time streaming in all popular resolutions and with rendering VOD content.
Perhaps the biggest advantage to Alder Lake is how the LGA 1700 socket is being supported again for Raptor Lake. This means that you can keep the same board without having to change anything should you want to upgrade in the future. As it stands, though, this 12th Gen i5 is excellent value for money at its $312 MSRP, despite now selling more commonly for cheaper at around $275.
Features and considerations
Core Count and Thread Count
Streaming can be demanding on your CPU, as it involves running both the game you’re playing and the streaming software simultaneously. CPUs with higher core counts and thread counts tend to perform better for streaming. Look for CPUs with at least 6 cores and 12 threads, but ideally, more cores and threads are better.
While core count is important, clock speed (measured in GHz) also matters. A higher clock speed can help with the performance of your games and other applications. Strike a balance between core count and clock speed based on your budget and streaming needs. Some CPUs can be overclocked. Overclocking can provide performance gains, but it also requires better cooling solutions and may void warranties.
CPUs with multi-threading support (Hyper-Threading for Intel, SMT for AMD) allow each core to handle two threads simultaneously. This can significantly improve multitasking performance, which is crucial when gaming and streaming.
The two primary CPU brands are Intel and AMD. AMD’s Ryzen processors have gained popularity for their strong multi-core performance and competitive pricing. Intel’s Core processors are also a good option, particularly for high clock speeds. Consider the latest architecture available within your chosen brand.
Ensure the CPU you’re considering is compatible with the motherboard socket you intend to use. Different generations and models of CPUs may require different socket types.
Ensure that the CPU you choose is balanced with your other components, such as GPU and RAM. A powerful CPU won’t perform optimally if other components are bottlenecking the system.
Should you want a newer processor to last longer then something more recent will stand you in good stead. Perhaps you could pick up a 13th gen CPU, or even buy an Intel 14th gen SKU.
Why do core counts and clock speeds matter for streaming?
You need a competent processor for streaming gameplay because even the most low-intensity broadcasting software takes a performance toll on your hardware. Having decent overhead, with enough threads working in action at higher clock speeds, means you’ll be able to keep high frame rates without lagging and stuttering in broadcasting.
Does AMD make better CPUs than Intel?
It’s been an incredibly tough battle between AMD and Intel in regards to who makes the better processors. However, the general consenus is that team red and team blue tend to one up eachother every generation or so. The line between the two appears the most blurred with how Raptor Lake is appearing to stack up to Zen 4.
How much should a good CPU for streaming cost?
Generally speaking you’re going to want to spend around a minmum of $299 for your processor for it to hold up when streaming. This is considered the mainstream price point for both AMD and Intel with its current generations. Of course, you can always opt for an older Ryzen 5000 or 11th Gen Core model instead, but you won’t be getting as good performance overall.
The AMD Ryzen 9 7900X takes pole position for what it brings to the table at its price point. Simply put, there’s nothing else on the market right now that quite stacks up the same way. The Zen 4 processor largely outdoes Alder Lake, however, things could change with the release of Raptor Lake. We’ll be bringing you updates should this happen.