PC gaming has come a long way since the early days of Pacman and Dave. Just like an intense workout test the limit of your body’s physical endurance, modern video games test how far you can push your CPU.
When asked about RAM and CPU, almost every PC gamer points out that the deciding factor is always the graphics card. However, many games do require more from the CPU.
Modern video games generally tend to push your CPU to its threshold, constantly pushing the boundaries of the processor and other PC components.
A game that’s heavy on your CPU happens to be a great way to test your PC, as some of them use the CPU very intensively. For instance, MMOs are very demanding on your CPU, especially if you’re in the midst of a major battle surrounded by multiple characters and enemies.
Even FPS titles use the processor very intensively in a multiplayer mode when there are many players online.
The same goes for Sandbox and Sim games which can be very demanding on your CPU.
Processor-heavy games consume a lot of RAM to render immersive visuals, which means they’re more demanding on your CPU and increase the processor’s chances of getting overclocked.
Modern games also help gauge how your gaming rig stacks up against others and what exactly you can do with it. So can it run CPU-intensive games, or it’s time you go for an upgrade?
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at some of the most demanding PC games that will push your CPU to its limit to help you gauge your system’s strength.
So, without much adieu, let’s dive straight into it!
Grand Theft Auto V
Released in 2013, Grand Theft Auto or GTA V from developers Rockstar is still one of the most expansive, popular open-world games out there. The game follows in the footsteps of its predecessors and brings the most extensive GTA experience to date.
One of the most significant changes would be the arrival of three playable characters in the story campaign. Not to mention, you can easily switch during missions. Besides, the game also lets you create your own avatar in GTA online.
The game’s massive open-world comprises two territories: Blaine County and Los Santos. Both offer an excessive amount of activities and side content alongside rich-detailed landscapes. Even in 2021, the game looks stunningly beautiful with top-notch graphics and audio.
Notably, GTA V doesn’t take a toll on your PC as it can run on fairly outdated systems. That said, developer Rockstar has rolled out several updates for the game over the years, such as HD texture packs, including RTX, enabled option, and support for 4K resolution.
Hence, it would require a powerful PC if you’d want to run the game at maxed-out settings.
GTA V happens to be one of those games that let you gauge the performance of your new processor over your previous one.
Thus, meeting the recommended system requirements shouldn’t be a problem to run the game in basic settings. That said, if you want to play the game at 4K 60 fps, you’re going to need a more powerful CPU and high-resolution monitor.
So if you’re looking for some open-world fun to put your CPU to the test, Grand Theft Auto 5 will undoubtedly push your processor to its threshold. Recommended specs include Intel Core i5 3470 or AMD equivalent, Nvidia GTX 660 or AMD HD 7870, and 8GB RAM. Besides, the game requires around 65GB to 72GB of storage space.
Red Dead Redemption 2
Another massively popular open-world title, Red Dead Redemption 2, lets you traverse the vast open world of the wild west set in the late 1800s. The game’s protagonist, the outlaw Arthur Morgan, is a Van der Linde gang member.
You can play the game in both first and third-person perspectives, in an open-world setting that lets you roam freely on your horse or foot. The game offers plenty of action and countless side quests with an expansive open world that becomes more detailed as you explore.
All in all, it’s a beautiful-looking game that lets you enjoy and soak in the gorgeous, complex landscape around you. Simply put, it’s the kind of game you want to play on the highest settings to get the whole experience.
As with most open-world games, Red Dead Redemption 2 demands a lot of your CPU to render its highly detailed graphics and sounds. As a result, the game needs multi-core CPUs with excellent clock frequency to run smoothly.
Other minimum requirements include an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 or AMD Radeon RX 480 backed by at least 12GB of RAM.
Shadow Of The Tomb Raider
Shadow of the Tomb Raider is another highly-lauded title in the popular franchise. The action-adventure video game takes the main character, Lara Croft, through the tropical regions of the Americas to find the mythical Inca lost city – Paititi.
Along the treacherous yet remarkable journey, she has to defeat the paramilitary organization called Trinity. As expected, she has to find her way through dense forests and landscapes, fighting enemies using stealth and firearms, targeting the Mayan civilization.
The ‘Shadow of the Tomb Raider’ is all about redemption and survival, as Lara scavenges resources to craft weapons and valuable items. The game uses immersive and interactive environments such as bushes, caves, and mountains that Lara can use to her advantage.
To its core, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, an action-adventure title, can be rather demanding on your CPU to render its stunningly beautiful and expansive environment.
The game’s ultra-realistic open world brimming with breathtaking wildlife will undoubtedly test your CPU’s limit. Therefore, you’ll need a solidly powerful CPU to experience the game in its true glory. A good multi-core CPU would be the norm of the day to get the highest frame rates possible.
The recommended system requirements call for an Intel Core i7 4770k or AMD’s Ryzen 5 1600. As for the GPU, we recommend NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 6GB or AMD Radeon RX 480 8GB with 16GB RAM and 40GB of storage space.
Far Cry 5
Ubisoft’s Far Cry 5 is an open-world first-person shooter set in Hope County, Montana. A doomsday cult led by powerful zealot Joseph Seed has taken control. You play as a junior deputy sheriff who has to liberate the county from the tyrant by joining hands with resistance factions.
As expected, the game’s vastly expansive open world lets you explore the lush landscape freely via various vehicles or on foot.
In addition, players get access to many explosive weapons to achieve their primary objective – liberating the county from Seed’s rule. Besides, there’s also a focus on close-combat in this installment of the franchise.
Far Cry 5 utilizes the Crytek-based Dunia engine, which puts a lot of strain on the CPU.
As a result, the game goes heavy on resources and requires a minimum of 8GB RAM and 50GB storage space. Besides, Far Cry 5 runs better on Intel CPUs as it focuses more on single-core performance. And to get a steady 60 fps at 1080p or above, it’s recommended you have a GTX 1080 or Vega 64.
Total War Warhammer 2
Total Warhammer 2 is a turn-based, time tactics strategy game where you control an empire to try and rule the world. Set in the Warhammer Universe, the game offers a deeper backstory than what you’d expect from a Total War game.
The main gameplay involves creating and managing your army and then taking it to battle to face off against enemies. Each faction’s army comprises unique units, so there’s a different style of play for each section. Not only are these battles fun to play, but they’re also the most demanding on your CPU.
Depending on your army’s size and the surrounding areas, the CPU takes a beating to run at optimum levels. Considered one of the most demanding CPU games, you’ll need a powerful CPU to sustain those frame rates in those epic battle scenes.
Ryzen CPUs having a high core count such as 3900X should support the demands of Warhammer 2. Besides, one should also tone down some in-game settings such as texture detailing and resolution to eke out an extra few FPS.
Assassins Creed Odyssey
Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is one of the best-looking games featuring Ancient Greece’s detailed narrative.
The game, launched in 2018, takes place several hundred years before Assassins Creed Origins and focuses on the Peloponnesian War and the Hellenic world. Players can decide which side they’d wish to join and choose among two protagonists – Alexios or Kassandra (descendants of King Leonidas).
As for gameplay, Odyssey features a wide range of RPG elements, a huge variety of weapons, and a massive open world to explore. In addition, it also brings naval combat, something we saw in Black and Rogue.
As expected, a game of such magnitude can put harrowing demands on your CPU.
The minimum requirements to run Assassin’s Creed Odyssey include at least 8GB of RAM, 50GB of storage space, GTX 970 or Radeon R9 290 graphics card, and an AMD Ryzen 5 2400G or its Intel equivalent, such as the i7 3770. If you meet the above requirements and still experience issues, try adjusting the game’s dynamic lighting effects.
Forza Horizon 4
Forza Horizon 4, an arcade-style racer, features a massive open world with stunningly detailed locations and many racing challenges. Besides, it’s not just limited to racing circuits, as the game takes you onto scenic open roads and sprawling landscapes of the United Kingdom.
From snow-capped mountains to colorful plains and lush woods, Forza Horizon 4 does an excellent job showcasing the game’s environmental beauty in all its glory.
Forza Horizon 4 is a stunning game with an incredible car selection and fantastic racing. It’s not Grand Tourismo or even Forza Motorsport. That said, if you are looking for a fun street racing game that also makes cars feel as realistic, I think this is the best game ever.
Naturally, therefore, it’s the kind of game you’d want to play on max settings to enjoy the whole experience the game has to offer.
An Nvidia GTX 1060 or Radeon R9 is recommended for the most optimal results. You’ll also want to have at least 12GB of available RAM, an Intel Core i7 3770, or the AMD equivalent to meet the game’s minimum requirements.
The Witcher 3
Initially released in 2015, CD Projekt Red’s open-world action RPG still happens to be an excellent benchmark for high-end gaming PCs. Since its release, developers have rolled out mods and updates to align the game with the latest technologies.
Now, you can play the Witcher 3 in 4K to experience its sprawling open-world in all its splendor. It has a beautiful open world, which still stands up in 2021. Witcher 3 is head and shoulders above other RPGs in its characterization.
There are some fabulous and utterly memorable characters in the story and all well-voiced acts. Even Side quests are entertaining, thanks to the fantastic combat mechanics. The difficulty levels are there if you want to challenge yourself.
An excellent RPG experience, great story, great environment, and great gaming.
The game recommends you have a GTX 770 or a Radeon R9 290 for the best results.
You’ll also need to have at least 8GB of available RAM, an Intel Core i7 3770 or the AMD FX 8350, and roughly 35GB of disk space.
While there are many ways to stress test your CPU, playing games is one of the enjoyable ones. So play some of the games we’ve mentioned above and enjoy yourself while testing your CPU’s capabilities.
Hence, that’s our roundup of the best CPU-intensive games for PC. We tried including the ones that were not only enjoyable but also challenging on your CPU. So, give these a try and let us know if your PC can handle these, or maybe, it’s time for you to upgrade some of your hardware.
If you think we’ve missed any games out, do let us know in the comments.
Martha Davis is a computer hardware specialist who works extensively in designing and manufacturing hardware devices, researching advanced computer technology. She built GadgetGangster.com as a platform to share her insight on computers and PC assembly with the web. Currently, she is carrying out her research on Robotics and Computer Vision and working privately to deliver services. Martha makes sure that readers of GadgetGangster.com master the basics of setting up computer components like motherboard, CPUs, and GPUs through the informative articles that she writes.