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Best CPU for streaming in 2024 – Our top picks

The top CPU picks for all your streaming needs
Last Updated on April 29, 2024
Best CPUs for Streaming
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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. With new models launching recently, there are more choices than ever as far as the best CPU for streaming goes. Fortunately, 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 selected 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.

Best CPU for streaming

  • AMD Ryzen 9 7900X processor in a transparent case set beside its box on a table with a purple and pink lit background.
Best in ClassExcellent
  • Cores: 12
  • Threads : 24
  • Boost speed : up to 5.6 GHz
  • Base speed: 4.7 GHz
  • L3 Cache: 64 MB
  • TDP: 170 W
  • Platform: AMD (AM5)
Reasons to Buy
  • Leading single core performance
  • Competitive price point
  • High clock speeds
Reasons to Avoid
  • Requires an AM5 motherboard and DDR5 RAM
  • Temperate control has been criticised in online reviews

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.

This CPU can work hard, and play hard too. It is just as comfortable gaming as it is in workstation and productivity scenarios, a real jack of all trades, if you will.

PC Guide

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.

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. Be sure to check out our AMD Ryzen 9 7900X review for more information.

What users say

User reception of the AMD Ryzen 9 7900X is overwhelmingly positive. Most users highlighted the performance, ease of installation, and the benefits it made to their gaming experience. One reviewer even stated it “destroys everything I throw at it with ease. An excellent purchase”. Lastly, it is worth noting that here was some skepticism over its temperature control noted in multiple reviews so watch out for that.

  • An Intel Core i7-14700K processor displayed in front of its packaging box with an "unlocked" label, ready to go in a machine.
  • An Intel Core i7-14700K processor on a white background.
  • A computer processor chip, specifically the Intel Core i7-14700K, centered on a plain white background with the word "guide" in the corner.
  • Intel Core i7-14700K
  • Cores: 20
  • Threads: 28
  • Boost Speed: P-Core 5.5GHz / E-Core 4.3GHz
  • Base Speed: P-Core 3.4GHz / E-Core 2.5GHz
  • L3 Cache: 33 MB
  • TDP: 125 W
  • Platform: LGA 1700 (Raptor Lake)
Reasons to Buy
  • Excellent gaming performance
  • Leading for creativity and productivity
  • Pricing identical to previous generation
Reasons to Avoid
  • Can run hot under load, may require more temperature maintenance
  • Cooler is not included in the purchase

The Intel Core i7-14700K is our top pick for an Intel CPU, boasting an impressive 20 cores, 28 threads, and a boost speed of 5.6 GHz. This CPU is perfect not only for gaming, but also creative workloads, meaning its is the perfect CPU for versatility. While it has been known to run hot and does not include a cooler, we would still highly recommend this Intel CPU as one of the top choices for streaming. Its power and speed are more than enough for streaming freely. To check out more from this product, head over to our Intel Core i7-14700K review.

The 14700K is a great middle-ground for those looking to game and work on the same PC. 

PC Guide

What users say

Unsurprisingly, Amazon users were impressed by the overall performance of the Intel Core i7-14700K. Most reviewers highlighted its versatility, marking it as a top choice for both gamers and creatives alike. For example, one users specified that “the Intel i9-14900K delivers impressive performance with its high clock speeds and advanced architecture. It excels in demanding tasks like gaming, content creation, and multitasking, offering smooth and responsive performance”. We’d say that is pretty spot on if you asked us.

  • A blue Intel Core i7-12700K 12th gen desktop processor box labeled "unlocked," featuring the Intel logo prominently.
  • Cores: 12
  • Threads: 20
  • Platforms: Intel Socket 1700
  • Boost Clock Speed: up to 5 GHz
  • Base Clock Speed: 100 MHz
  • L3 Cache: 25 MB (shared)
  • TDP: 125 W
Reasons to Buy
  • High performance for 125W TDP
  • Utilizes both DDR4 and DDR5 RAM
  • Overclocks to 5.0 GHz
Reasons to Avoid
  • 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 one of 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.

  • AMD Ryzen 5 7600X CPU in front of its packaging, featuring the "7000 series processor" label.
  • AMD Ryzen 5 7600X processor with visible pins on a white background.
Reasons to Buy
  • Excellent single-core and multi-thread performance
  • Will be supported for years
  • Solid performance for budget conscious users
Reasons to Avoid
  • You need to invest in an AM5 motherboard and DDR5 RAM
  • Runs a little hot, can require a motherboard for extra support
  • Performance is not as strong as newer Ryzen products

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. 

The Ryzen 5 7600X brings big value for a small price – it performs well in gaming workloads and can hold it’s own in more productive tasks, it seems 6 cores go a long way these days.

PC Guide

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. For more information on this card, make sure to head over to our AMD Ryzen 5 7600X review.

What users say

In a similar vein to the Ryzen 9 7900X, user reviews indicate that this product is also well liked across the board, with most highlighting its value for money, versatility as a CPU, and general gaming performance. In a balanced take, one reviewed noted that Ryzen 5 7600X “Runs great so far, but it can get a little hot when running under full load, so I would make sure to also buy a motherboard”.

  • Intel Core i5-12600K processor in front of its packaging box with "core" and "unlocked" visible on a blurred blue background.
  • An Intel Core i5-12600K processor with its retail box displayed on a desk with a blurred background.
  • An Intel Core i5-12600K processor chip on a plain, light-colored background.
4.5 /5
Editor’s Rating
How We Review
  • Cores: 10 (6P + 4E)
  • Threads: 16
  • Boost Clock Speed: 4.9 GHz P / 3.6 GHz E
  • Base Clock Speed: 3.7 GHz P / 2.8 GHz E
  • L3 Cache: 20 MB (shared)
  • TDP: 125W
  • Platform: Intel (LGA 1700)
Reasons to Buy
  • Frequently discounted
  • Supports DDR4 and DDR5 memory
  • Utilizes LGA 1700 socket motherboard
Reasons to Avoid
  • 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.

Considerations for the best CPU for streaming

Cores and threads

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.

Clock speed

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.

Multi-threading support

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.

Socket compatibility

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.

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.

Aleksha McLoughlin is Hardware and News Editor for PC Guide and she oversees buying guides, reviews, news, and features on site. She was previously Hardware and Affiliates Editor at VideoGamer.