PC Gear Lab

Best CPU for CSGO in 2023

best CPUs for cs go featured

If you are an avid CS:GO player building or upgrading your current system with the right CPU, then this guide will help you.

Whether you are building a budget CSGO build, or building an extreme gaming PC worthy of playing on 4K displays with 240Hz frame rate, here I will talk about not just the right CPU, but also how to choose one.

Just as is the case with almost all games, the performance of the CSGO is more reliant on the GPU than the CPU. Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean that a better processor does not contribute to the performance enhancement of the game.

On top of that, since CS:GO is a game played by the masses online, it does not really have a very high system requirement.

There is a certain minimum and recommended performance that a processor must meet in order for the game to be playable at different graphics settings, resolution and frame rates, but rest assured the game in the end is very light. Hence the best CPU for CSGO DOES NOT have to be expensive.

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Processor Requirements for Counter Strike Global Offensive

Before we delve into the exact recommendations, let me first talk about what the requirements for this game are.

Mini CPU-requirements for CSGO
Source: Store.Steam

Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 or AMD Phenom X3 8750 – Source: Store.Steam

The official minimum system requirements for CSGO highlight fairly old processors. These are mostly defunct and not found in the market. After all, the game was launched in 2012 (more than a decade ago).

On top of that, if you are an enthusiast gamer, then you will certainly not opt to go for mere minimum requirements.

Back then, there was very little notion of 4K gaming that too at very high frame rates (beyond 60 FPS). However, today, gaming with multiple 4K screens, along with more than 120 FPS is quite the norm.

Hence here we talk extensively about the CPU requirements and the model that are suitable for professional and casual CSGO gamers TODAY.

What Processor to Get for CS:GO?

Generally, we recommend going for middle-of-the-line mainstream processors such as AMD Ryzen 5 or Intel Core i5 processors.

However, even in the mainstream processors line there are different models that vary in performance. Depending upon your budget, if you are going for a mid-range build, you cannot go wrong with these processors.

If you couple them with a good graphics card, you can easily achieve more than 120 FPS on 4K resolution (if you have a decent enough GPU).

counterstrike CPU performance
CS:GO FPS for different CPU (on RTX 4090). Source: FPSBecnhmark.com

You can see above that even the old Intel Core i7 7700K (Passmark score of 9660, much slower than the low tier 13th Gen Core i3-13100) has the potential to achieve 456 FPS (given you have a high-end graphics card).

If you have mid-range graphics card an i7-7700K or equivalent processors, you should at least be able to achieve 200 FPS on high graphics settings.

However, if you are on a tight budget, then even the lower-tier models such as the Intel Core i3 or AMD Ryzen 3 processors would do just fine.

Even the low-tier Core i3 or Ryzen 3 processors are far more powerful than the system requirements stipulated in 2012 when the game was released.

For instance, the very old OFFICIAL RECOMMENDED AMD Phenom X3 8750 has a Passmark score of 1188, whereas the entry-level 13th Gen Intel Core i3-13100 has a Passmark score of a whopping 15059. Hence, the current low-tier processors are light years ahead in terms of performance.

Heck, even Intel Pentium processors from the Intel 13th generation are far more powerful for this game. The Intel Pentium Gold G7400 has a Passmark score of 6771, almost six times as powerful as what the requirements entail.

Streaming Builds May Require a Good Processor

If you are a streamer and someone who run a very high-quality youtube channel whereby you may showcase FHD @ 60FPS or even 4K gaming live, then a beefier processor is recommended.

This is because streaming can EAT through the core count. Hence, this is one situation where a good core count can matter. Otherwise, CS:GO does NOT use more than 2-4 cores.

You can stick with a Ryzen 5 from the 7000 series or an Intel Core i5 from the 13th gen for a streaming build.

Core i7/Ryzen 7 are for specialized use only and Core i9/Ryzen 9 are way more than just an overkill.

In the section below we talk about whether a higher core count improves the CS:GO performance or not.

Does Counter Strike Global Offensive Use Multiple Cores? If So How Many Cores Does CS:GO Use?

Yes, as stipulated in the minimum system requirements, CS:GO uses 2 cores at least. Single-core processors will simply not work.

With that said, CS:GO does benefit from core scaling to a limit. The optimal number of cores required for CS:GO is 4. A higher number of cores will provide only a very slight improvement which would barely be noticeable.

The good news is that almost all of the newer processors today, even from the entry-level AMD Ryzen 3 and Intel Core 3 offer 4 cores.

The following video delves deep into the Core requirements as well as answers the question of whether enabling hyper-threading for Counter Strike Global Offensive is a good idea or not (generally it is believed that keeping hyper-threading enabled can very marginally decrease performance).

Single Core vs Multi Core Performance for CS:GO

CS:GO, like most games, can benefit a lot from a good single-core performance. Basically, the higher the clock speed (mainly), cache memory, and smaller the size of the transistor, etc of a processor, the more it will benefit in terms of performance.

When given a choice between a higher single-core performance and a higher multi-core performance at a certain budget, opt for the former while making sure you meet the minimum requirements of two cores.

Generally, in a given generation, the single-core performance of the CPU is quite similar. For instance, the single-core performance of an Intel Core i5-13600K is very similar to the Intel Core i7-13700K despite the latter being more expensive.

What differentiates the 13700K from its i5 counterpart is the core count. The 13700K has a higher core count and thus scores better in multi-core performance.

I recommend following the Cinebench Single Core and Multi-Core performance scores to understand how a certain CPU fares.

GPU is Still the Reigning Deciding Factor

While there should be a balance between the GPU and CPU so that they do not bottleneck each other, investing in a good GPU is still the deciding factor for performance improvement for any game including CS:GO.

What this means is that you are better off investing in a high-end GPU then investing in a high-end CPU like an Intel Core i9 or an i7, if budgeting is a concern to you.

This also does not mean that you should couple an NVIDIA RTX 3080 with a mere Intel Core i3 processor. A parity between the two components should definitely exist, but since here we are talking about gaming, GPU should be the primary component where you should maximize your spending.

iGPUs Can Be More Than Enough

Just as the CS:GO DOES NOT have a very high CPU requirement, it DOES NOT require a very powerful GPU either.

In fact, even an integrated graphics card can actually suffice. You will have to lower and tweak the graphics quality a bit, but playing on more than 60 FPS at FHD with an integrated GPU is more than just possible.

counter strike global offensive system requirements graph
Graphics Card Requirement for CS:GO. Source: PCGameBenchmark

The minimum GPU requirement for this game is the NVIDIA GeForce 7300GT. This has a G3DMark score of 135

In comparison, the Vega 7 iGPU found in the Ryzen 5 5600G has a G3DMark score of a whopping 2589!

The Intel UHD 730 as found on the Intel Core i3 13100 has a G3DMark score of 1673.

The following table explains further:

iGPU G3DMark Performance Score
NVIDIA GTX 1050Ti (Dedicated)
Recommended CS:GO
(Lower-mid level dedicated GPU for Reference)
AMD Radeon iGPU
(Ryzen 7 5700G)
AMD Radeon iGPU
(Ryzen 5 5600G)
AMD Radeon iGPU
(Ryzen 5 4600G)
Intel UHD 770 iGPU
(Intel 13th Gen i7/i5)
Intel UHD 730 iGPU
(Intel 13th Gen i3)
NVIDIA GT 730 iGPU 823
(Entry level dedicated GPU for Reference)
NVIDIA 7300 GT (Dedicated)
Minimum CS:GO Requirement

The following video shows CS:GO gaming on Ryzen 5 5600 without a dedicated GPU. On low graphics, it is able to maintain more than 120 FPS.

Choosing the Right CPU for CSGO

The choice of a processor depends upon whether you want to go with team red or team blue.

AMD Route

For Team Red

There are two options for an AMD CPU for CSGO: either go with the AM4 build if you are on a budget or go with the AM5 build if you have a pretty penny to spend. 

For Budget Builds, AM4 Offers the Best CPU for CSGO

If you are on a budget, then I recommend sticking with the older AM4 based CPUs from the Ryzen 5000 generation.

There are two kinds of Ryzen CPUs in the 5000 generation. You have the “G” series CPUs such as the Ryzen 5 5600G which feature a very powerful integrated graphics card.

And then you have the “non-G” series CPUs that DO NOT have any integrated graphics card. These include the Ryzen 5 5600, Ryzen 5 5600X etc. However, if you choose to go with the “non-G” series CPUs, then you will HAVE to invest in a dedicated graphics card which will naturally add to the cost of your build.

I have already established above that CS:GO can easily play on an iGPU particularly found on the Ryzen “G” series CPUs.

The difference between the two series lies in that the non-G series CPUs have higher performance but sacrifice any kind of integrated graphics card; whereas, the G series CPUs offer an iGPU but at the expense of performance loss.

Take for instance the Ryzen 5 5600X and the Ryzen 5 5600G, they have a Passmark score of 21,933 vs 19874 respectively.

For an option WITH an iGPU for CS:GO, the Ryzen 5 5600G is a no-brainer.

AMD Ryzen 5 5600G

AM4 | Vega Graphics | PCIe 3.0 | DDR4
6 Core | 12 Thread | 3.9 GHz – 4.4 GHz

Perhaps the BIGGEST drawback of this CPU is that it only supports the much older PCIe 3.0 interface which is a shame because PCIe 5.0 is already getting traction (let alone PCIe 4.0).

There are many limitations this can introduce the biggest of which is that it wouldn’t be able to support the Gen 4 or the upcoming Gen 5 NVMe SSDs.

But then again, if you are on a budget, this shouldn’t really matter to you much.

AMD Mid-Performance Builds

For a mid performance build, you have two options. You can either stick with the older AM4 based Ryzen 7 5700G CPU or go for the newer AM5 based Ryzen 5 7600X.

Both Ryzen 7 5700G and Ryzen 5 7600X have comparable OVERALL performance (24,612 vs 28,745 Passmark scores) with the latter having a slight edge.

Both CPUs have their pros and cons.

The Ryzen 7 5700X is cheaper BUT it is based on the older PCIe 4.0 interface and supports DDR4 RAM. However, it does have a much more powerful Vega iGPU.

The Ryzen 5 7600X is slightly more expensive, it has 6 cores but it excels in both single and multi-core performance in comparison. In addition to that, it features PCIe 5.0 interface and support for DDR5 RAM.

The cherry on the cake with the Ryzen 5 7600X is that it ALSO features integrated graphics!

The iGPU on the Ryzen 5 7600X isn’t as powerful as the one found on the Ryzen 7 5700G (G3DMark 2807), but it CAN certainly support CSGO at low graphics since it has a G3DMark score of 1858.

Taking the price/performance ratio, both of these processors are more or less the same.

Ryzen 5 7600x vs ryzen 7 5700G Single

Ryzen 5 7600x vs Ryzen 7 5700G Cinbebench R23 Single Core. Source: CPUMonkey

Ryzen 5 7600x vs ryzen 7 5700G Multi

Ryzen 5 7600x vs Ryzen 7 5700G Cinbebench R23 Single Core. Source: CPUMonkey

For a mid-performance build, I would recommend sticking with the latest AMD Ryzen 5 7600x build, but it all depends upon your budget.

Plus in all honesty, as I have mentioned above extensively, you DO NOT need to have a mid-range CPU for CSGO anyways.

AMD Ryzen 5 5700G

AM4 | Vega Graphics | PCIe 3.0 | DDR4
8 Core | 16 Thread | 3.8 GHz – 4.6 GHz

AMD Ryzen 5 7600X

AM5 | Vega Graphics | PCIe 5.0 | DDR5
6 Core | 12 Thread | 4.7 GHz – 5.3 GHz

For budget motherboards to go along with your AMD build for CSGO, I recommend reading this article.

Intel Route

For Team Blue

Intel processor series are considerably more uniform compared to AMD processors and hence are much easier to follow.

Unlike AMD, Intel often follows a linear pattern where every CPU generation is about 20-25% better than the previous gen. Take for instance the 12th Gen Intel Core i5 12600K vs the newer 13th Gen Intel Core i5 13600K. The latter is about 25% better in performance.

And of course, while newer generation CPUs are better, they are also more expensive naturally.

At any given time, it is recommended that you stick with the latest Intel generation (13th generation as of 2023) if your budget allows, or if on a budget fall back to a single generation prior (12th in this case).

That way you can have a fairly future-proof PC.

In addition to that, unlike AMD Ryzen CPUs, every Intel generation updates all the CPU lines ranging from the entry level Celeron/Pentium all the way to Core i9.

With AMD that is not the case. We haven’t seen a new iteration of entry-level AMD Athlon since the 3000 series and Ryzen 3 CPUs since the 4000 series.

Also, one important point to note here is that while Intel processors do have an iGPU (all except the ones with “F” suffix), they are not as powerful as those found on the AMD CPUs.

But still, the Intel iGPU found on the 12th and 13th gen CPUs should be able to handle CSGO at low graphics.

Entry Level Intel 12th and 13th Gen Make No Sense In Comparison to AMD

Given the likes of AMD Ryzen 5 5600G (~$120) and Ryzen 7 5700G (~$175), the entry-level 12th and 13th Gen Intel Core i3-12100 and i3-13100 make NO sense at all with their price tag of around ~$150 for the i3-13100.

The i3-13100 is not only more expensive, it is also inferior in multi-core performance as compared to the Ryzen 5 5600G and has a lower-performing iGPU.

Hence, for a budget build, I would recommend sticking with an AMD CPU for CSGO.

For a mid-range build, you can look into the likes of Intel Core i5 CPUs. 

Intel Core i5-13600K

LGA1700 | Intel UHD 770 | PCIe 5.0/4.0 | DDR4/DDR5
14 Core | 20 Threads | 3.5 GHz – 5.1 GHz

Again, the CPU above is more than just an overkill for CSGO. This would only make sense if you also stream and play 4K at more than 120FPS. 

Final Words

Here we reviewed some of the best CPUs for CSGO while keeping in mind the minimum processor requirements as well as the current processor generation and gaming trends.

Gaming today is a lot different than it was when CSGO was released in 2012. Back then getting 60 FPS at 1080P was what everyone chased.

These days, gamers aim for much higher. Multiple 4K gaming displays trying to achieve beyond 120 FPS is a fair norm these days. Hence, the processors here reflect both the casual and enthusiast CSGO gaming requirements of today.

Also given that iGPUs are getting ever more powerful, in the majority of the budget builds, you do not really have to invest in a dedicated graphics card for CSGO.

Abdul Rauf

Abdul Rauf is an IT and computer hardware specialist. Having done his degree in Computer Systems, he pursues his passion of computer hardware through writing detailed blogs and articles to demystify all the tech related jargon for a layman. Besides, hes a huge gaming nut and he's proud of it.

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