When putting together a budget gaming PC, many users find themselves wondering, is a dual core processor good for gaming? Because lets face it, only the most budget AMD Athlon or Intel Celeron processor have dual cores these days.
So whether a dual core processors is good for gaming or not depends a lot on the game. With the newer, larger, and more demanding games, a dual core will likely suffer; resulting in frequent lags especially on higher resolutions. However, if you are playing much smaller games, a dual core CPU may work just fine.
Smaller games in this case are titles that aren’t notorious for chomping on CPU power. These should run just fine on a dual core processor.
However, with larger and more demanding games, particularly that rely highly on multicore performance, you will need a beefier CPU.
Suffice to say, the most important part of a gaming rig is the GPU. But, a low-powered CPU will easily bottleneck the graphics card if they are disproportionately powered.
Is A Dual Core Processor Good for Gaming
Games are designed with certain system requirements. Some are built for multicore computers; other games do not scale with multi cores and better utilize single or dual cores at max. Both may run, but will perform differently in a dual-core computer.
Let us look at some examples
Game That DO NOT Scale Well with Multiple Cores
Many FPS and online games work great with limited amount of cores.
- Fortnite: This is a game that does not scale well with multiple cores and works best with dual cores.
- Minecraft: This is primarily a Single Core based game
- CS:GO: This game requires a minimum of 2 cores and works best with 4 cores at max.
Games That Do Need More Cores
Simulation games and strategy games are notoriously popular for requiring a lot of cores.
- Cities Skylines: Certain aspects of the game like simulation speed benefit drastically from a higher core count.
- MS Flight Simulator: Requires processor with the best single core performance as well as 8 cores to perform optimally.
- Ashes of Singularity: A strategy game built on Nitrous Engine made to use as many cores as you can throw at it.
Hence, whether a game would work on a dual core processor or not depends entirely on the game you want to play.
Answering the question is a dual core processor good for gaming also requires a look at how games utilize CPU cores.
How Games Utilize the CPU Cores?
How the games utilize the cores depends largely upon the design of their engine and their code. The CPU handles the computation logic of the computer. This also includes feeding data to the GPU for it to render scenes on the screen.
For games that are built without multithreading, the CPU will be able to handle the data processing requirements as long as it has the right clock speed. Yes, clock speed matters a lot for gaming and is reflected in the single core performance of the CPU benchmarks!
If you will be playing more demanding titles with a dual core processor, you need to consider how much data needs to be processed. A dual core CPU will bottleneck your GPU if the latter is more powerful than the former.
If the CPU can not match the data demands of the GPU to run the game, your performance will suffer, and you may have to sacrifice your frame rate of video quality.
While fast dual-core processors may be good for some titles, you will need more cores eventually since many new games are supporting multi-core CPUs and hyperthreading.
Additionally, if you have an overly-powered GPU compared to the CPU, then you will have wasted the GPU potential.
Multicore Games in a Dual-core Computer
Before multicore computers came to be, older games were built for single-core systems. That however changed, and many games today can make use of two or more cores.
The CPU will handle processing the things that the GPU is not good at doing, for example, the behavior of NPCs in an RPG (Role Playing Game). The GPU with its hundreds or thousands of cores handles the work of rendering the scenes and the views.
For games where the CPU load is high, you will need a multicore computer, and the more cores you have, the better your performance will be.
A lot of the time, the dual-core will put up a fight in some moderately demanding games, but the chances of experiencing dropped frames and constant lags are ever-present.
In gaming, multiple cores are an advantage as they push more data to the GPU for rendering. With multiple cores, you get more processing channels working to your advantage, this is made even better with multithreading. And, on modern titles, 6 and more cores are a good start.
What is Single-Core Performance
Many people consider single-core performance a huge factor when selecting a CPU for gaming.
Many games, and even tasks on professional software, still leverage the power of a single core in most cases. For instance, Minecraft is a popular game, somewhat old, and is built to run on just one core.
Hence, in such games, the deciding factor between processors would be their single core performance.
How to Play Games on a Dual-Core Processor
The CPU’s resources are limited and are divided between the different processes that are running. PCs and operating system these days are complex, they are running multiple simultaneous codes and applications at the same time.
Hence, if you have a dual core CPU, it would difficult for the processor to assign the required amount of threads to your game if you have a lot of background applications running.
To improve your gaming performance on a dual-core CPU, you will need to close background applications before starting the game. This includes applications that take up a lot of computer resources.
This frees up the limited cores, allowing them to focus on the IO operations related to running your games, without having to juggle other operations like a browser or a word processor.
If you notice significantly long loading times, be patient, and let the computer load up its resources onto the RAM before proceeding.
The aim of this was to clear up the confusion about is a dual core processor good for gaming. Technically, it all depends upon the game and its engine. However, playing demanding games will require more and much faster cores.
Single-core performance will matter a lot here. A dual-core CPU should have a high clock speed for you to be able to play some games. However, with only two cores and a low clock speed, the CPU can severely bottleneck the GPU.
That said, on some lightweight games, you can get playable FPS from a dual-core CPU.