Do you need 6 or 8 cores?

When looking to purchase a new computer, one of the most important considerations is the number of processor cores. Should you opt for a CPU with 6 cores or 8 cores? The answer depends on how you plan to use your computer. If you primarily use your PC for basic tasks like web browsing, email, and office applications, 6 cores is plenty. However, if you plan to use processor-intensive programs and multitask heavily, 8 cores is worth the extra cost.

What are processor cores?

A processor core is an individual processing unit within a CPU. Multi-core CPUs have two or more cores, each of which can handle its own set of instructions simultaneously. Additional cores allow a processor to complete more tasks at once. For example, a 6-core processor can run six sets of instructions concurrently while an 8-core processor can run eight sets.

More cores generally equate to better performance, especially when running demanding applications like video editing software, 3D modeling programs, and PC games. Multiple cores also help with multitasking capabilities. You can have more apps and browser tabs open without slowing down your PC. However, cores do not impact single-threaded application performance. If a program is designed to only use one core, having additional cores will not speed it up.

6-core processors

Modern 6-core processors like the Intel Core i5-12600K or AMD Ryzen 5 5600X provide excellent performance for most home and office needs. Games utilize multiple cores very well, so a 6-core CPU will enable smooth gameplay in the latest titles. You can also edit photos and video, run virtual machines, live stream your gameplay, and multitask without issue. Some examples of great uses for a 6-core processor include:

  • Casual gaming
  • Mainstream photo and video editing
  • Running business applications
  • Everyday multitasking
  • Productivity apps and web browsing

If you plan to play AAA games at high resolution and graphics settings, a 6-core CPU may start to become a bottleneck. Heavily-threaded content creation software like Adobe Premiere Pro and AutoCAD will also perform better with more cores. Overall though, a 6-core processor provides an excellent balance of performance and value for general home and office use.

Intel 6-core options

For Intel processors, 6 cores is typically found in the i5 lineup. Some top options include:

  • Core i5-12600K – Unlocked for overclocking, top performer
  • Core i5-12400F – Great value choice, lacks integrated graphics
  • Core i5-12500 – Balanced all-rounder with decent integrated graphics

AMD 6-core options

AMD has two main 6-core desktop CPU lines – Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 5 Pro:

  • Ryzen 5 5600X – Top of the standard Ryzen 5 line, great for gaming
  • Ryzen 5 5600 – More affordable 5600X, veryminor performance difference
  • Ryzen 5 Pro 5650GE – Business processor with integrated graphics

8-core processors

For maximum performance, an 8-core desktop CPU like the AMD Ryzen 7 5800X3D or Intel Core i7-13700K is the way to go. The extra two cores and additional cache provide a nice bump for gaming and productivity:

  • Higher FPS in games for smoother gameplay
  • Faster video export times
  • Improved performance in other threaded apps like 3D modeling software
  • Better heavy multitasking capabilities

If you plan to stream, edit 8K video, run demanding creative programs, or just want to future-proof your system, an 8-core processor is recommended. You may also benefit from 8 cores versus 6 cores in these scenarios:

  • Gaming at 1440p or 4K resolution
  • Running games at very high frame rates (165Hz+)
  • Extremely heavy multitasking
  • Professional 3D rendering and CAD work
  • Software development

For strictly gaming, a 6-core CPU is still very capable, especially at 1080p resolution. But an 8-core provides more headroom to maximize performance.

Intel 8-core options

For Intel, 8-core desktop processors are found in the i7 and i9 lineups. Top choices include:

  • Core i7-13700K – Flagship 8-core Intel CPU
  • Core i9-12900K – Previous generation top performer
  • Core i7-12700 – Balanced 8-core option

AMD 8-core options

On team AMD, the Ryzen 7 line offers excellent 8-core processors:

  • Ryzen 7 5800X3D – Unique extra 3D cache makes this the best gaming CPU overall
  • Ryzen 7 5800X – Great productivity and content creation performance
  • Ryzen 7 5700X – More budget-friendly 8-core

6 cores vs 8 cores: Performance comparisons

Here are some examples of performance differences between mainstream 6-core and 8-core processors in common tasks:

Gaming performance

CPU Avg FPS @ 1080p Avg FPS @ 1440p
Ryzen 5 5600X (6-core) 162 fps 115 fps
Ryzen 7 5800X3D (8-core) 178 fps 125 fps

At lower resolution, the extra cores provide a modest 10% bump. But at 1440p, the 8-core 5800X3D clearly pulls ahead with its extra cache and cores.

Video editing and export

CPU Export time (minutes)
Core i5-12600K (6-core) 15:30
Ryzen 7 5800X (8-core) 12:15

The 8-core 5800X shaves over 3 minutes off the export time, a significant 20% reduction. This matters for productivity and time savings.

3D modeling benchmark

CPU Cinebench R23 Multi-core
Ryzen 5 5600X 11,200
Core i7-12700K 18,400

In this 3D rendering workload, the 8-core i7 scores over 60% higher thanks to its extra cores and threads.

6 cores vs 8 cores: Price comparison

More cores naturally comes with a higher price tag. Here are some MSRP prices for popular processors:

Ryzen 5 5600X (6-core) $299
Ryzen 7 5800X (8-core) $449
Core i5-12600K (6-core) $289
Core i7-12700K (8-core) $409

The 8-core models command around a $150 premium over their 6-core counterparts. The extra cost may be worthwhile if you can utilize the additional performance in your workflow or gaming.

Which should you choose?

So should you choose a 6-core or 8-core CPU? Here are some quick recommendations based on usage:

  • Budget general use: 6 cores
  • Mainstream gaming: 6 cores
  • High FPS competitive gaming: Consider 8 cores
  • Heavy content creation: 8 cores
  • 1440p or 4K gaming: 8 cores
  • Future-proofing: 8 cores

If you’re on a tighter budget or play at 1080p, a 6-core provides excellent performance. But if you want maximum gaming frames, fast creative workloads, or heavier parallel performance, spring for the 8-core model.


While both 6-core and 8-core CPUs are very capable, the extra two cores do provide a tangible boost to intensive workloads. An 8-core CPU is great for squeezing out more gaming performance and accelerating creative applications. Just be prepared to spend around $100-$150 more compared to a similarly specced 6-core processor. Overall, choose based on your performance needs, resolution, and budget. In many cases, a 6-core CPU is plenty for smooth gaming and great application performance. But power users who want the highest performance should jump up to an 8-core model.

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