Hardware Guide 2013: How To Install A New Processor

Written by Jon Sutton on Mon, Dec 23, 2013 5:41 PM

CPUs are one of the most commonly upgraded components of a PC and it’s always difficult to know exactly what to go for and how to install it. To make matters worse there are a plethora of socket formats across Intel and to a lesser extent AMD processors, making it difficult to know what is compatible with what.

When upgrading be sure to check thoroughly that the CPU you’re buying is compatible with the socket formats on your motherboard. GD's compatibility tool can help you in this area, checking the compatibility of boards with processors. You will find a link on all GD CPU pages. If it needs a new mobo then that adds an entirely new and considerably more expensive problem to the equation, which we won’t go into here...

For the upgrade you may need a couple of screwdrivers, as well as some thermal paste for your new CPU; a lot of processors come with thermal paste packed in or even thermal pads. A thermal pad is just a little sticker of thermal paste that you apply instead of adding a blob and having to manually smear the thermal paste onto your CPU.

Thermal paste/pads are used to help conduct heat away from the CPU. It sits between the back of the CPU and your cpu cooling fan's metal base.

Earthing Tip: you may want to remove any latent static from your own body by earthing yourself. You can buy special earthing wires that you can wear during this process. They are not always necessary but if you accidentally fry your own hardware, because you have static build up, before getting to use your hundreds of bucks worth of CPU, then you will be very upset, so its better to be safe than sorry. Some people touching the outside of their metal case, which can help to ground yourself.

Once you know what’s what and you’ve bought your shiny new CPU and it’s arrived at your house,
 it’s time to get your hands dirty.

MAKE SURE YOU POWER OFF YOUR PC and unplug everything. Even after doing that there is often residual amounts of electric stored up in your PC, power supply, motherboard, etc even after it has been turned off and unplugged, so proceed with extreme caution.

Opening your PC case. This is different for each case but it should be fairly obvious, you may need a screwdriver though.

Now get that case open so you'll have access to all of the internal components that keep your machine ticking over. 

 Now that you're inside you’re going to want to  remove any components restricting your access to  the motherboard; this will usually be the PSU and  heat sink cover.

 If possible, try to remove the motherboard completely from the case, as this will help provide better access when you come to swap out and replace the CPU and heat sink. This is not always possible though.

 Next you are going to need to need to remove the heat sink itself, which is attached to your current processor, and it is used to cool down the processor. It’s usually a grilled metal block with a fan attached to it.

 Underneath the heat sink is your current CPU. There  should be a little latch on the side (depending on the motherboard/CPU you have, but they are all pretty similar); raise this up slightly and it will lift up the CPU, allowing you to  remove it.

 Take out your new  CPU and place it into the socket, making sure  that the corner with the fewest pins goes into the upper-right corner of the socket. Make sure you push down on the latch you used to raise it out to ensure that the processor has been attached firmly to  the socket and the motherboard.

if you are reusing your heat sink, as opposed to adding a new one, make sure you clean any old residual thermal paste off the bottom of the heat sink, fan cooler. There are liquid solutions you can find that are specifically designed for removing thermal paste.

Now you’ll need to get out the thermal paste, ensuring you put on enough to cover the surface of the CPU. However, if you put too much thermal paste onto the back of your CPU then instead of helping transfer heat away from your CPU and onto your fan coolers metal base, it will instead act as a barrier and cause heat build up on your CPU. This could cause damage to the CPU and stop it working prematurely. The thermal paste should only be about 2mm thick all over. Use something like an old credit card to help you smooth it out so it is very even all over. Then carefully replace the previously removed heat sink or fan cooler. Lower the fan cooler's metal base slowly onto the thermal paste that is on the back of your new CPU.

Note: try to make sure you have not accidentally got thermal paste anywhere else inside or around the other PC components. Doing so could cause damage and other issues to your hardware. Dont let the thermal paste spew over the edge of the CPU either, which could happen when the heat sink is lowered back down and if you had added too much thermal paste.

Tip: Every 2 years it is probably worth cleaning and replacing your thermal paste and this can help extend the performance and lifespan of your CPU.

 Now everything else you took off  the motherboard needs to be put back on. Replace the heat sink on  the new CPU and plug the fan back into the mobo. Then pop the  PSU back and any other cables that you had to remove to get  access. Once you’re sure everything is back together, pop your case back together and job done!

Before purchasing a new CPU, dont forget that you’ll need to check that your next processor is going to be compatible with other parts of your rig as well as the motherboard. Check that your power supply will offer up enough juice to run your new processor, and again the info is in GD pages and of course you can just ask one of our members too if you need help. Also make sure your rig cooling components and options are suitable as well. Often a CPU will come with a stock CPU cooler, which can be upgraded to a custom solution, fairly easily, but we can cover installing a cpu fan in another article.

Obviously this is the basics of physically upgrading/replacing your CPU in an existing rig, but we wanted to help demystify the upgrading CPU process. It doesnt have to be considered to be some overly complicated dark art that only a few people can do. Swapping out your CPU can be a great way to get a better rig without having to completely replace your ageing rig.

But definitely ask around here at GD for peoples opinions to get a better understanding of other things that you might like to know about when upgrading your hardware, especially when it comes to selecting your next CPU.

Have you had a go at upgrading your CPU before and if so did you find it straightforward to do? Do you have any tips and tricks you would like to share? Let us know below!

 

 

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00:22 Apr-09-2014

How do I overclock my cpu to 4.1 ghz? I have a ASRock 970 Pro3 r.2.. Thanks

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14:25 Apr-20-2014

Check this site: http://www.overclock.net/


The best place for all your overclocking needs

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03:25 Mar-22-2014

Will my CPU be able to handle next gen games? :)

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09:54 Mar-22-2014

I see that you`re trying ot be important , but not really .

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17:44 Mar-22-2014

Yes it should be fine. You could eventually look in to getting a new gpu though. But for the time being yours should be ok :)

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15:59 Feb-20-2014

Hello :)
I want to upgrade my current cpu, and which brand's cpu would be good for gaming AMD or Intel ? As you seeing my current cpu is intels so what is the recommendation for me?? basically I wanted to go for an i5 (model not sure), curious 'bout AMD but don't know aout there performance, price tags, bancmrks e

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17:19 Feb-24-2014

ive had both amd fx series cpu and intel haswell, amd cpus just arent upto par imo. especially for anything that requires good single core performance, which 3rd and 4th gen i series intel cpus dominate over amd. but the biggest thing for me is the lie about true 6/8 core cpus from amd. they are not.

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17:22 Feb-24-2014

each core is paired together and has to share its l2 cache, your best course of action is to check this/ similar sites when upgrading to get an idea of what is good:
http://www.cpubenchmark.net/high_end_cpus.html
http://www.cpubenchmark.net/singleThread.html

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06:58 Mar-09-2014

I can definitely recommend either the FX-8350 or the i5-4670K, both awesome gaming CPUs with great price/performance factors. :)

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22:00 Mar-13-2014

thanks.. :)

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20:16 Mar-30-2014

I would go for the i5 4670k, does amazing in gaming, and OCs well :)

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11:39 Feb-16-2014

There's no GD Compatibility Tool :'( I want to know if APU A8-5600K or AMD FX-4100 is compatible with my motherboard. I saw them in a shop with affordable price so I'm thinking of upgrading my CPU first then RAM, HDD, GPU. Are they comp?

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09:49 Feb-19-2014

Most, if not all, AMD APUs use the FM2 socket, which is not compatible with the AM2+/AM3 which your Athlon is running.
The FX-4100 uses an AM3+ socket, which your motherboard does not support (it supports AM3, specifically for the Phenom II and Athlon II series CPUs).
Final vote: no, you will need to upgrade your motherboard to continue to upgrade your computer at this point.

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11:31 Jan-19-2014

I installed an aftermarket on my CPU because I got fed up with the whining sound the stock made and also due to the slight OC I have (4GHz)

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18:46 Jan-10-2014

What is the best budget CPU that will go with my GPU?

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00:18 Jan-11-2014

i5 or i7. i7 if you plan to OC the GPU, don't waste the OC feature.

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12:05 Jan-11-2014

can you suggest me i7 proccesor wich is kinda cheap and its great at the same time?

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00:20 Jan-13-2014

There is no 'cheap' in i7 proccesor family. The price vary depend on your market availability, at my place. i7-3770k is the cheapest/available i7 (Got other cheaper model but stock not available)

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12:11 Jan-16-2014

Hey, I went out and took this CPU, I didnt bought it so yeah, I have a question, Is it enough for the GPU? I can change it.

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02:00 Jan-17-2014

More than enough.

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16:21 Jan-10-2014

what could be the best upgrade for my system?

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16:45 Jan-10-2014

Better go for an i5 or i7 and remember to upgrade you RAM.. Upgrade your GPU if you have enough budget :)

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11:48 Jan-11-2014

i was thinking on changing my motherboard, too. Cause this MoBo is too small. what do you think?

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13:15 Jan-11-2014

Yes buddy. You definitely need a new motherboard. But remember to choose a good one :)

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07:16 Mar-03-2014

depends of what you need. In my opinion, I may go for b75m-dgs. Its just enough

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16:36 Feb-03-2014

If you're strapped for cash you might want to go for AMD FX, you can get similar results to an i5 for a fraction of the price. I upgraded mine last year to an FX8320 and a very OC friendly mobo (6+2 power phase) for around £200

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14:36 Jan-08-2014

im thinking to buy ASUS H81MC RETAIL for 47 euros and Pentium G3420 3.2GHz for 55 euros with 8GB Ram DDR3 Corsair Vengeance 1600MHz and my GTX 460 Sonic Platinum Edition 1GB do you think this is a good choice for my samsung 46'' inch 1080p?

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18:26 Apr-21-2014

go for an i3 if you can. it'll help with the gtx460.

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21:41 Jan-06-2014

can i put any new CPU in my PC? if so what cpu can i use for gaming?

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16:47 Jan-10-2014

You better upgrade your whole rig.. Its outdated!

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20:55 Jan-10-2014

i already know that but i want to upgrade it piece to piece so can anyone suggest me a good CPU with cheap price

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21:00 Jan-10-2014

Maybe a Core i5-3570 3.4GHz ?

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14:13 Mar-03-2014

Depending on your budget will depend on what we can suggest. You'll definitely need a new Motherboard first though. You can't get any modern CPU with your current Motherboard.

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13:17 Jan-11-2014

I think Its better to go for an i5. If you want to enjoy current gen games..

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09:59 Jan-25-2014

I don't think you'll find a current CPU that is compatible with your CPU socket on the motherboard. So you'd have to upgrade your motherboard. But then you'll have to upgrade your RAM too. Also maybe the PSU. You can't just simply upgrade a legacy old PC. I'm sorry :/

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09:32 Jan-04-2014

I think I saw an EMAXX motherboard

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01:21 Jan-04-2014

Do you guys think that my cpu is too old for my gpu?

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19:26 Jan-04-2014

No it is actually fine!:)

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16:48 Jan-10-2014

Its actually perfect for your GPU.. Enjoy :)

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22:54 Dec-31-2013

What's this "Grounding" yourself mentioned on the post?
I thought rubber gloves took care of that, should I then be touching my case when I'm doing the installation of the cpu?

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10:57 Jan-02-2014

You wont need rubber gloves for this, when he says grounding he is talking about grounding the electricity so you don't shock your computer parts. Touch the cash before you install it then you will be okay.

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23:35 Jan-13-2014

Don't use euphemism, what do you mean with grounding? Do I touch something? What do I touch? I always like to wear gloves

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15:21 Feb-25-2014

Sorry for the late reply, but grounding means releasing any static electricity, by touching an unpainted metal part of your case. It could otherwise cause an Electro Static Discharge, and potentially damage your PC parts. Rubber gloves will also work if you prefer that.

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14:33 Dec-24-2013

Can anyone tell me plz should I format my pc or do anything to be able to use the new processor ? (You'll take +1)

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14:44 Dec-24-2013

answered below,
and if you want 100% answer then I need to know exactly what mobo do you have :Đ

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15:11 Dec-24-2013

Its written on the mobo "Gigabyte Ga-H61M-S2P"-"socket 1155" so can it take the i5 2500K or any K cpu ? (I dont want to overclock anything)

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15:14 Dec-24-2013

then, list of supported cpus for that mobo (if you wrote correct model name) :Đ

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15:17 Dec-24-2013

anyway, H61 chipset does NOT support overclocking features, so any "K" cpu would be waste of money.

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15:31 Dec-24-2013

Okay thanks for the info ;)

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15:34 Dec-24-2013

btw, if I were you, I'd wait for broadwell Intel cpus arrival, then get new mobo and new i5 or i7 overclockable "K" cpu ;)

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15:43 Dec-24-2013

Im not into that overclocking thing and I'm not going to pay much so I wont buy a mobo and I'll try to find a cpu without the 'K' thanks again for all that, u deserve more than +1 but gd doesn't allow.

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15:56 Dec-24-2013

oh and you will probably have to flash the bios.

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16:32 Dec-24-2013

according to that list, BIOS version shall be same - but I recommend clearing CMOS bios memory and settings - remove batery for about a minute :)

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16:40 Dec-24-2013

oh didn't see that, but if the CPU doesnt work just flash bios if you need, just make sure there is no power outage during flashing otherwise your mobo is dead.

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09:08 Dec-25-2013

Omg good thing u told me,, I'll use ups if I had to flash,, what did u mean remove the battery for a min ? Its a pc, should I unplug the power cabl for a min ?

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09:30 Dec-25-2013

even with UPS there might be a problem. you need to have internet connection the whole time, so if power goes , so does your internet and your mobo goes brick. thats why first see if the CPU work with the mobo, if it doesnt ONLY then you have to flash,
and if you look at your mobo there should be a small battery on the lower right hand corner its the cmos battery. tzz said about that battery.

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11:35 Dec-25-2013

yup, small CMOS battery, which takes care of bios saved stuff, system date&time and such ;)

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13:57 Dec-24-2013

Will I be able to replace my cpu with an i7 or should I install bios or format harddisk or what ?

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14:09 Dec-24-2013

You can get an i7 2600K, or 3770K It would be too power full for your GPU and so I would recommend getting an i5 2500K or 3570K and saving for a nicer GPU to enjoy games at smooth frame rates and great graphics settings ;)

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14:14 Dec-24-2013

Ok thank you soooooooo much buddy ;Đ u didn't tell me should I format my pc in order for the new processor to work ?

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14:31 Dec-24-2013

no, i think you need new windows if you change the mobo. and to change the bios we need to know your mobo which unfortunately you havent told us.

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14:36 Dec-24-2013

Its gigabyte h61m thats what I know

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14:43 Dec-24-2013

depends on your motherboard, if it can handle 77W+ cpus then yes,
also most likely it will not support overclocking, so all "K" cpus are out:P
you don't need to format hdd or reinstall windows, because CPUs don't need specific drivers

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06:21 Dec-24-2013

i remember those earlyish lga775 intel boards from about 2010 or so what a mission it was replacing those stock heatsink/fan combos with the pins & the arrows! anyone else battle with em?
they were notorious!

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07:50 Dec-24-2013

My mobo has lga 775 socket but it wasn't a mission to install the cpu.The recent cpu are easier to install?

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11:01 Dec-24-2013

maybe on the older ones only, not too sure

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11:32 Dec-24-2013

yea remember those, Intel is still using almost same stock coolers, funny thing was that you mustn't rotate those arrow "nails" coz that was for removing heatsink, almost burnt few cpus myself that way :P

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11:52 Dec-24-2013

ya, learning the hard way sucks big time!
are they still in use even in latest gen processors?

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11:57 Dec-24-2013

I think Intel uses almost same stock coolers even in newest Haswells :Đ

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12:01 Dec-24-2013

i broke one pin when i reinstall it after cleaning some dusts, bought a non stock cooler.. that's a battle alright

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12:04 Dec-24-2013

ouch, crap one dude ...

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03:34 Dec-24-2013

Think I'll wait 1 year or 2 to upgrade.... :/

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03:18 Dec-24-2013

I don't know about the most commonly updated component part unless you use AMD processors. With Intel, your socket is out of date before you can even start to think about upgrading.

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04:25 Dec-24-2013

i've been there too, i have i7-930

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12:02 Dec-24-2013

true that

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01:53 Dec-24-2013

nice guide dude keep the good work!! next time something about how to install a GPU

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02:31 Dec-24-2013

isn't that easy? :P

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01:26 Dec-24-2013

I heard somewhere that plugging the CPU into the socket is scary as hell :P

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02:33 Dec-24-2013

Yeah, mine made a weird sound and I thought I broke, but no, it was meant to do that.

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09:04 Dec-24-2013

It can be scary. Especially when you keep hearing some loud cracking sound when you are locking the socket...

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22:05 Dec-23-2013

Well i already know how to do all of this.Still great guide amazing work..:D

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Can They Run... |

| 60FPS, High, 1080p
Core i7-10870H 8-Core 2.20GHz GeForce RTX 2060 Asus ROG STRIX Gaming 6GB 16GB
| 60FPS, Medium, 1080p
Ryzen 5 3400G 4-Core 3.7GHz GeForce RTX 2060 6GB 16GB
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1080p
Ryzen 7 3750H 4-Core 2.3 GHz GeForce RTX 2060 Mobile 16GB
100% Yes [1 votes]
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1080p
Core i7-6800K 6-Core 3.4GHz GeForce GTX 1080 Asus ROG Strix Gaming OC 8GB Edition 32GB
| 60FPS, High, 1080p
Core i7-10700 8-Core 2.90GHz GeForce GTX 1050 Gigabyte D5 2GB 8GB
0% No [1 votes]
Ryzen 5 3600 6-Core 3.6GHz GeForce RTX 2070 Gigabyte Windforce 8GB 16GB
100% Yes [4 votes]
Ryzen 7 5800H 8-Core 3.2GHz GeForce RTX 3060 Mobile 16GB
100% Yes [2 votes]
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1440p
Ryzen 9 3900X 12-Core 3.8GHz GeForce RTX 3070 EVGA FTW3 Ultra Gaming 8GB 32GB
80% Yes [5 votes]
| 60FPS, Low, 720p
APU A8-7410 Quad-Core Radeon R5 7410 8GB
100% Yes [4 votes]
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1080p
Core i5-11400 6-Core 2.7GHz GeForce RTX 3050 Ti Mobile 8GB
0% No [1 votes]
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1080p
Ryzen 5 3600 6-Core 3.6GHz GeForce GTX 1080 MSI Gaming X 8GB Edition 16GB
100% Yes [3 votes]
| 30FPS, Low, 720p
Ryzen 5 3400G 4-Core 3.7GHz Radeon RX Vega 11 6GB
0% No [1 votes]
| 30FPS, High, 1080p
Core i5-11400 6-Core 2.7GHz GeForce RTX 3050 Ti Mobile 8GB
66.6667% Yes [3 votes]
| 60FPS, Medium,
Ryzen 5 3500U 4-Core 2.1 GHz Radeon RX Vega 8 8GB
| 30FPS, Low,
Ryzen 5 3500U 4-Core 2.1 GHz Radeon RX Vega 8 8GB
50% Yes [2 votes]
| 60FPS, High, 1080p
Core i5-10400 6-Core 2.90GHz GeForce GTX 1650 16GB
33.3333% Yes [3 votes]
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1080p
Core i7-7700K 4-Core 4.2GHz GeForce RTX 2080 Super 8GB 16GB
100% Yes [2 votes]
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1080p
Core i7-7700K 4-Core 4.2GHz GeForce RTX 2080 Super 8GB 16GB
100% Yes [1 votes]
| 60FPS, Medium, 1080p
Core i5-10300H 4-Core 2.50GHz GeForce RTX 3060 Mobile 16GB
0% No [1 votes]
| 30FPS, Low, 720p
Athlon II X2 245 GeForce GTS 250 4GB