What is a CPU?
CPU stands for Central Processing Unit.
You can think of the CPU as the “brain” of your computer.
It is one of the most important parts of your PC. And usually one of the most expensive, second to only the graphics card.
Listen, Fortnite is a CPU intensive game. Moreso than a lot of other games. And, in many cases, your performance is CPU bound. Even if you have a powerful graphics card.
This is especially true in more intensive parts of the game. For example, when there is a lot of building and fighting in a concentrated area your CPU usage will be very high.
Moreover, Epic Games have made improvements to the multithreaded rendering in Fortnite. Meaning that CPUs with a lot of cores are well used. And the load is spread fairly evenly across those cores for optimal performance.
The minimum CPU requirements for Fortnite is a Core i3 2.4 Ghz. The recommended CPU requirements for Fortnite is a Core i5 2.8 Ghz.
You see, these aren’t very demanding requirements. So you could run Fortnite on an older or not particularly powerful system.
But, if you want the best experience when playing Fortnite, then you’ll want a CPU with many cores and a high clock speed. Particularly if you plan to stream your gameplay online, or do other multitasking activities.
Here is a collection of the best CPUs available in 2020 at each point. When you read every word, you will find the CPU that’s right for you and your budget.
1. AMD Ryzen 9 3900X ($499)
The 3900x is currently the best consumer CPU available on the market.
This 12-core 24-thread monster has a base clock of 3.8 Ghz which can be overclocked to 4.6 Ghz.
So it is more than capable of running Fortnite at the highest settings and streaming in top quality.
It has a whopping 68 MB total cache and 105 Watts TDP.
The single-threaded performance is slightly worse than the rival i9-9900k from Intel. Which means it may perform marginally worse when gaming.
Moreover, single-threaded performance and gaming performance is very similar to the 3700X.
But it’s the top pick because the multi-threaded performance absolutely blows both the i9-9900k and 3700X out of the water. Meaning if you plan to use your computer for more than just gaming, then it is the obvious choice.
For example, if you are a streamer or a serious content creator, then it makes sense to go with the 3900X. However, if you are a more casual gamer or content creator, then it could make sense to go with a cheaper option.
Also, the amount of cores means that it is more future proof than any of the other options.
The 3900X comes with the Wraith Prism RGB Cooler. Therefore, although it’s a more expensive chip than the i9-9900k, it should work out cheaper overall as a result.
And the AM4 socket means it’s compatible with 500 & 400 series motherboards.
So you could go with the newest X570 motherboards to take advantage of the new PCIe 4.0, which has double the bandwidth of PCIe 3.0.
Or, you have the option to go with a cheaper (but still very good) B450 motherboard. For example, the MSI B450 Tomahawk is a popular choice for AMD CPUs.
Click here to see the latest price of the Ryzen 9 3900X on Amazon.
2. Intel Core i9-9900k ($489)
When it comes to single-thread performance, the i9-9900k is king.
But not by much.
On average, the i9-9900k is about 5% faster than the 3900X in games.
And in Fortnite the gaming performance appears to be largely dependent on the types of settings you play on.
Image source: Digital Trends
Where Intel and the 9900k are ahead of AMD, however, is in regards to clock speeds. You see, the base clock of the 9900k is 3.6 GHz. But it can be overclocked to an absurd 5.0 GHz.
You will need quite a beefy cooler, such as the Dark Rock Pro 4, to reach those clock speeds.
In my opinion, the i9-9900k is overpriced. Yes, it’s an 8 core 16 threaded beast with very good multi-threaded performance.
However, with the recent release of the Ryzen 3000 processors, it doesn’t make much sense right now. At least when you consider the price-performance ratio.
Anyway, if you have a certain affinity to Intel, it’s their best consumer CPU right now. And it has the fastest single core performance of any consumer CPU, too.
Click here to see the latest price of the Intel Core i9-9900k on Amazon.
3. AMD Ryzen 7 3700X ($329)
The 3700X is going to be the best choice for most people.
It is about 2% slower than the 3900X and about 7% slower than the i9-9900k.
But it’s more than 30% cheaper.
It has 8 cores and 16 threads so it’s fantastic for multitasking and streaming and so on. It has a 3.6 GHz base clock and a 4.4 GHz boost clock.
One of the most impressive things about this CPU is its energy efficiency. You see, the TDP is just 65 Watts so you will save a bit of money on energy over time.
Included is the Wraith Prism cooler with LED control. Which is more than suitable at stock speeds and even for a moderate overclock.
Overall, this is an excellent CPU that matches the performance of the competition at a cheaper price.
Click here to see the latest price of the Ryzen 7 3700X on Amazon.
4. Intel Core i7-9700k ($365)
If you are paying attention, you will notice that this CPU is more expensive than the 3700X, even though it’s lower on the list.
That’s because the 3700X is just that good in terms of value.
With that being said, the i7-9700k is an amazing CPU for gaming.
Now, the multi-threaded performance isn’t as good as some of the newest offerings from AMD. But the single-threaded performance, which is more important for gaming, is exceptional.
The i7-9700k is about 1% slower than the i9-9900k. And about 4% faster than the 3900X and 6% faster than the 3700X.
The i7-9700k has 8 cores and 8 threads. A 3.6 GHz Base Clock, which turbos up to a massive 4.9 GHz. Again, you will need a beefy cooler to reach those speeds.
You would have to be a big fan of Intel to be able to accept the worse value when compared to the 3700X. But if you were able to get it at a discount, then it could be worth your money.
The previous generations 8700k is also similar in performance, so lookout for a good deal on that, too.
Click here to see the latest price of the i7-9700k on Amazon.
5. AMD Ryzen 5 3600X ($249)
Here at number 5 is the latest “low-end” CPU from AMD.
Now, don’t let “low-end” fool you, because the performance of the 3600X is very good.
You see, it’s less than 10% slower than the i7-9700k but more than 30% cheaper.
It has 6 cores and 12 threads. With a 3.8 GHz base clock and a 4.4 GHz boost clock. So it’s clocked a little higher than the non-X variant.
And included you get the Wraith Spire LED cooler, which is a little better than the Wraith Stealth cooler than the non-X variant.
Moreover, the 3600X is quite a lot faster than any 1000 or 2000 series Ryzen CPU (at least, for gaming). Because we have seen a huge improvement in the single-threaded performance with this generation.
Click here to see the latest price of the Ryzen 5 3600X on Amazon.
6. AMD Ryzen 5 3600 ($199)
Coming in at about $50 cheaper is the non-X variant of the Ryzen 5 3000 series processors.
As you know, this CPU is clocked a little lower than the 3600X. Therefore, it has a 3.6 GHz base clock and a 4.2 GHz boost clock. However, the overall performance is comparable with the 3600X.
Of course, the Wraith Stealth Cooler is a little worse than the Wraith Spire. It’s suitable if you aren’t overclocking, but if you are to get the most performance, then you will need to upgrade to something better.
Where it beats the X is in its energy efficiency with just a 65W TDP.
What this means for you is that the Ryzen 5 3600 offers excellent price-performance value. The best, in fact, at this tier. And the best of any of the new Ryzen 3000 processors.
Click here to see the latest price of the Ryzen 5 3600 on Amazon.
7. Intel Core i5-9600k ($250)
Did you notice it this time?
Here is another example of a CPU being more expensive, but further down the list.
The i5-9600k has great single-core performance, but it is just 1% faster than the Ryzen 5 3600 in gaming.
And about 30% slower in application performance which is more multi-core reliant.
That’s how much AMD has stepped their game up with their latest releases.
To be honest, I’m not quite sure why I have the i5-9600k on this list. I guess so Intel has some representation and this doesn’t become “best AMD processors 2020”.
Anyway, it’s a good gaming CPU with 6 cores and 6 threads. And a 3.7 GHz base clock which can be overclocked up to 4.6 GHz.
But it just does not make sense right now. Unless you can get it at a very heavy discount.
Click here to see the latest price of the i5-9600k on Amazon.
8. AMD Ryzen 5 2600X ($160)
Now that we’re in the lower price bracket, there is really no other option than to go for AMD. But was there ever any other choice?
The 2600X is a 6 core and 12 threaded CPU with a 3.6GHz base clock and 4.2 GHz max boost, which is slightly higher than the non-X variant. Included is the Wraith Spire Cooler, which is also a better cooler.
So, if you aren’t planning on overclocking, it could be the better choice. But that is dependent on the price.
You see, the 2600X is usually $40 more expensive than the non-X. Therefore, you need to weigh up if the better cooler and clock speed is worth the added price.
However, sometimes the prices are quite similar. And in that case, the 2600X could be the better choice.
Always be sure to check the most up to date price so you can get the best value for your money.
Click here to see the latest price of the Ryzen 5 2600X on Amazon.
9. AMD Ryzen 5 2600 ($120)
Here is the king of budget CPUs.
The Ryzen 5 2600 has the best price to performance of any other CPU on this list.
With 6 cores and 12 threads, the price per core is ridiculously cheap.
Now, the gaming performance is about 20% worse than the rival i5-9600k from Intel. But the 2600 is about half the price. Moreover, the 2600 includes a cooler which makes it even cheaper and cost-efficient.
The stock cooler, of course, isn’t the best. But it’s good enough at stock speeds and even at a mild overclock.
The base clock is 3.4 GHz which can be boosted up to 3.9 GHz. It is also more energy-efficient with only a 65W TDW.
Click here to see the latest price of the Ryzen 5 2600 on Amazonn.
10. AMD Ryzen 3 2200G ($85)
The 2200G is a 4 core 4 thread CPU with excellent single-threaded performance for its price.
The value for money really shines when you consider the Vega 8 integrated graphics (iGPU).
Integrated graphics means you don’t need a dedicated graphics card when you buy this CPU.
By the way, you should know that the iGPU benefits from fast dual-channel RAM. So get that if it’s within your budget.
Now the iGPU isn’t going to be the best, of course. And it’s certainly not going to be better than a dedicated graphics card.
But it is good enough to play Fortnite at a playable framerate. Although you may need to reduce your Fortnite resolution to play at higher settings or to get a steady 60 FPS.
Moreover, the 2200G is a good option if you don’t have a graphics card right now but plan to get one in the future.
If you already have a graphics card, however, then it’s worth paying a little more and upgrading to the Ryzen 5 2600 or 1600.
Click here see the latest price of the Ryzen 3 2200G on Amazon.
Buying a used CPU
If you are looking to save the most amount of money possible, then it could make sense to explore the used market.
Forums such as the Hardware Swap Subreddit are a great place to look and it’s generally safe because of the moderation involved. Of course, eBay is another resource that’s thriving with deals.
Both use PayPal as a payment method which has good protection for buyers, in case the seller turns out to be a fraud or scammer.
When you buy used you can save a lot of money. However, it comes with a risk. For example, it’s very rare that a used purchase will have a refund policy or any sort of warranty.
So you definitely want to avoid buying any CPU that has been run with a heavy overclock. Because overclocking can reduce the overall lifespan of the processor.
It would make sense to upgrade your cooler if you were to go the used route, too.
And remember: If it seems to good to be true, it probably is.
The CPU market is incredibly competitive right now. Because of AMD upping the ante with the recent release of the new 3000 series processors.
The major improvement in single-thread performance means that Intel is no longer always the best choice for gamers. Even at the higher end, for the first time ever.
AMD’s pricing is, of course, amazing. And the value for money you get per core is astounding. This is especially apparent at the low end.
You should notice that prices for PC parts can change on a daily basis because of sales and so on. This post serves as merely a guide for the best choice at each point.
But you are ultimately responsible for doing your own research in order to get the best deal. And also for ensuring you get other compatible parts. PCPartPicker is an excellent resource for that.
As you know, Fortnite is a CPU intensive game. However, your graphics card is what’s going to impact your Frames Per Second (FPS) when playing Fortnite the most.
You see, a CPU is only one part of the puzzle. And you need a complete and balanced build to get optimal performance.
Do you need help picking your PC parts? Let me know in the comments below!