Updated at: 25-04-2023 - By: Leo Hall
Is it worthwhile to invest in a powerful Intel Xeon processor for gaming, or are they better suited for workstations? How about we find out? You could be surprised by the reply.


For gaming purposes, a Xeon processor is overkill. They have their own dedicated sockets, are purpose-built for intensive computing tasks, and come at a hefty price.

In the end, they are overkill for a gaming PC because their processing power far exceeds what is required by games.

You’re probably familiar with the concepts of dual-processor motherboards, as well as the Intel Core i9 and Ryzen Threadripper processors.

Intel Xeon central processing units are among the remaining computing powerhouses. Instead, they are aimed at the commercial sector.

You’re probably here because you saw those mind-blowing specifications and wondered if a Xeon could really be a good gaming computer.

The time to find out is now!

What Is Xeon?

Intel’s Xeon CPUs, first introduced in 1998, are powerful processors with features not found in the company’s more mainstream Core-series chips. They are intended for use in servers and workstations.

Most notably, they typically have a much higher core count, with the highest-end models reaching up to 28 cores and 56 threads. In addition, their cache memory is much larger, anywhere from 4-60 MB depending on the model.

Is An Intel Xeon Worth It For Gaming? [2023 Guide] - GamingScan

Of course, less powerful models are also on the market for those with lower expectations; these include hyper-threaded dual- and quad-core CPUs.

What Does A CPU Do In-Game?

First, let’s break down the role of the central processing unit (CPU) in a gaming rig so we can get to the heart of the matter.

The central processing unit (CPU) is not the most important part of a gaming PC; the graphics processing unit (GPU) is.

There’s a good reason the CPU is referred to as the brains of the operation. It’s central and it controls everything, but remember that games aren’t particularly hard on the CPU. When playing a game, a CPU’s primary function is to issue commands to the graphics processing unit (GPU).

The central processing unit (CPU) is primarily a manager, while the graphics processing unit (GPU) handles the bulk of the actual processing. Now the next critical question is…


If you frequent online hardware discussion communities, you have undoubtedly come across this term.

When your CPU is the bottleneck, it means that it is unable to provide the GPU with all of the instructions it needs in a timely manner. The GPU isn’t able to reach its full potential, so the game’s performance will suffer.

But is a Xeon CPU strictly necessary to prevent bottlenecking? No way, no how. Even Intel Core i5 processors can handle a GTX 1080 Ti without experiencing significant bottlenecking. If you use multiple high-end cards in SLI, only then will you need more CPU power.

What You Should Look For While Selecting The Best Xeon For Gaming?

Not too long ago, thrifty gamers could pick up a used quad-core Haswell Xeon processor on eBay.

Even now, many older Xeon CPUs can be had for a song. These have a great core count and IPC that is on par with first- and second-generation Ryzen processors.

A hyperthreaded quad-core processor is recommended for gaming.

Used Xeon E3-1245 v3 (4-core) and Xeon E5-1680 v3 (8-core) processors are a good option. Particularly in a 1440p gaming rig with midrange GPUs such as the NVIDIA RTX 3060 or AMD RX 6600XT.

What about today’s Xeon processors, though? Ice Lake (11th gen) is the newest Xeon architecture as of this writing. The release of the Alder Lake (12th generation) Xeon chips has been delayed, but they may be available by the time you read this.

A good Xeon W processor is a must-have for any gaming and content creation/scientific work workstation.

I would suggest getting a model with at least 6 cores and a model with integrated graphics. The Xeon W-11555MLE is an excellent choice; it has six cores and twelve threads and a Turbo frequency of 4.4 GHz.

A higher core count may be desirable for intensive tasks like video editing, 3D modeling, machine learning, etc.

The Intel Xeon W-3323 is my go-to suggestion in such a scenario. This chip supports up to 4TB of ECC RAM and has a whopping 12 cores and 24 threads, but it lacks integrated graphics.

Quick Note

ECC Random Access Memory (RAM) is defined. Error-correcting memory, in its simplest form, is used when losing data or crashing the system is simply not an option.

While ECC memory is more expensive, it does not outperform the best DDR4/DDR5 kits in terms of speed.

In A Hurry? Here Are My 7 Top Picks

1. Xeon E5-2699 v3

Architecture of the Processor Haswell
Core Number 18 CPU threads on 36 cores
Timing for the Base and Boost 2.30 GHz, 3.60 GHz
Cache Intel Smart Cache (45 MB)
Maximum Memory Capacity 768GB


In my opinion, this is currently the top xeon for gaming.

Put another way, you can’t find a better value anywhere else. In particular, extra cores are useful for multithreaded workloads like 3D rendering.

There isn’t a cheaper processor that would allow you to build a workstation with 768GB of ECC memory.

What if you don’t have any interest in scientific computing or programming, though? The E5-2699 v3 remains a worthwhile investment.

Because of how simple it is to use this CPU for tasks like streaming and virtualization. Those additional processors will come in handy when emulating consoles like the PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360.

Using OBS or another program, you can game at the same high settings and quality while streaming to Twitch or YouTube.

Things I Like

Superb cost-effectiveness

With such a high number of cores, it is ideally suited for content production.

Haswell processors are a bit dated, but they still have respectable IPC.

Cache size is enormous at 45 MB.

2. Xeon E5-2680 v3

Structure of Processors Haswell
Core Number a total of 12 processors and 24 processing threads
Timers, Both Base and Boost Frequencies of 2.5 and 3.3 GHz
Cache 30MB (Intel Smart Cache)
Maximum Memory Capacity 768GB


If you can’t get your hands on an E5-2699 v3 (which, let’s be honest, will sell out like hot cakes), this is the next best thing.

You won’t have access to the full complement of 18 cores and 26 threads. Although it only has 12 cores and 24 threads, this is also a Haswell processor.

Since the E5-2680 v3 has fewer cores, you save money on it, and the refurbished model is much cheaper than buying brand new.

Even now, this CPU is a multitasking powerhouse. The base clock is faster, but the boost clock is lower compared to an E5-2699 v3.

Things I Like

At this price, you simply cannot find a better workstation chip.

Utilizes a ring bus architecture for inter-processor communication, resulting in low latency (ideal for gaming).

A stable 3.3 GHz overclock

You won’t have to worry about running out of memory thanks to support for up to 768GB of RAM.

3. Xeon E-2136

Architecture of the Processor Lake Coffee
Core Number 6 processors, 12 processing threads
Timers, Both Base and Boost 3.3 GHz and 4.5 GHz
Cache Intel Smart Cache, 12MB
Maximum Amount of Memory 128GB


The E-2136 is one of two Coffee Lake processors I recommend; it is better suited to gaming than the other Xeons on my list.

It’s built on cutting-edge hardware and built with the 14nm process node. The result is Zen 2-comparable performance in terms of instruction-per-cycle (IPC) and impressive clock speeds for what is essentially a low-end server chip.

The CPU is usable in a content creation system, provided that you don’t mind the 2 memory channels and “only” 128GB of memory at the top end.

The Xeon E-2136 is a great choice for content creators looking for a low-cost processor that can handle their professional and personal needs.

Although it lacks integrated graphics, its price is comparable to that of standard desktop chips like the Core i5.

Things I Like

Coffee Lake’s IPC and clock speeds are extremely high.

A new 6-core (and hyperthreaded) processor in a box is a steal at this price.

Despite its rapid speed, it cools quickly and easily.

4. Xeon E5-2683 v4

Structure of Processors Broadwell
Inner Numbers 32-thread/16-core processor
Timers, Both Base and Boost Radio Frequencies of 2.1 and 3 GHz
Cache (Intel Smart Cache) 40 MB
Maximal Memory Capacity 1.5TB


Intel’s latest “tick” in their “tick-tock” formula is Haswell, and with Broadwell, they hope to make it even better.

Is An Intel Xeon Worth It For Gaming? [2023 Guide] - GamingScan

This chip uses much less power than its Haswell forerunners and can run faster thanks to a simple node shrink. The E5-2683 v4 is a bargain for a 12-core processor that can handle modern games.

Especially if you’re planning on using a powerful graphics processing unit (GPU) like an RTX 3070 Ti or RX 6700XT together with it.

By limiting the amount of processing power your machine needs, you can build a 1440p gaming rig on a budget. The fact that this E5-2683 v4 is a refreshed Broadwell chip does explain its low price.

However, processors can be used for ten years or more without any noticeable performance degradation. Particularly Xeons, which feature slower clock speeds and a more energy-efficient layout.

Things I Like

It’s great for 3D modeling and encoding alike thanks to its 16 cores.

Even in the present day, Broadwell offers respectable performance.

Cache memory of 40 megabytes

5. Xeon E5-2697 v2

Architecture of the Processor Ivy League
Core Number CPU with 12 cores and 24 threads
Timers for the Base and Boost 2,7 GHz and 3,5 GHz
Cache Intel Smart Cache, 30MB
Maximum Memory Capacity 768GB


Here we have the oldest architecture on the list, a 12-core monster of a chip.

When it was first introduced in 2013, the Xeon E5-2697 v2 was an Ivy Bridge processor. Its 3.5Ghz boost clock means it’s still relevant today.

If you play games at 4K resolution, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how well this chip performs. Even when compared to the most recent Intel and AMD desktop processors.

It’s a simple suggestion to make if you’re a content creator working with a limited budget.

Things I Like

Although Ivy Bridge’s IPC isn’t state-of-the-art, it is sufficient for most applications.

This CPU can keep up with the competition thanks to its 3.5Ghz boost clock.

It’s unusual to find a 12-core CPU at this price point.

An impressive 30 MB of cache

6. Xeon E-2236

Architecture of the Processor Lake Coffee
Primary Total six processors with a total of twelve threads
Tempos de Base y de Aumento 3,4 GHz and 4,8 GHz
Cache Intel Smart Cache, 12MB
Maximum Memory Capacity 128GB


The Xeon E-2236’s superior clock speed means it will easily outperform every other processor on this list if gaming is your primary workload.

It’s a Coffee Lake component, so it has an IPC that’s competitive with recent Intel and AMD processors.

Even video editing and streaming video games to sites like Twitch will run smoothly on a computer with 6 cores and 12 threads.

This chip’s thermal design power (TDP) is only 80W, despite its high clock speeds. For temperatures below 70 degrees Celsius, simply attach a standard 120mm air cooler.

Things I Like

This processor’s 4.8Ghz boost frequency makes it the most powerful for gaming.

This CPU is an excellent all-around performer, with 6 cores and 12 threads.

Perfect for those on a tight creative budget

7. Xeon 4210

Structure of Processors Lake Cascade
Inner Numbers 10 processors, 20 processing threads.
Timers, Both Base and Boost Dual-band (2.2GHz/3.2GHz)
Cache 1375MB (Intel Smart Cache)
Maximum Amount of Memory 1TB


Cascade Lake followed the release of the Coffee Lake architecture and is thus a relatively new design.

Not being a 10mm chip, the potential for IPC increases is low. Some efficiency gains over Coffee Lake are available, though.

Taking a look at the TDP for this 10-core chip should tell you that much.

This Xeon is only 5 watts more power-hungry than the E-2236, despite having 4 more cores and 8 more threads.

And because of all those threads, it performs very well as a workstation chip.

Things I Like

This Cascade Lake processor might not have the highest clock speeds, but it more than makes up for it with excellent IPC.

The inclusion of 10 cores and 20 threads means it’s suitable for a professional workstation setup.

Accepts up to 1 Terabyte of Memory

Can You Use Xeon CPUs For Gaming? | A Detailed Buying Guide

Now I’ll get into the nitty-gritty of gaming on Xeon and whether or not it’s worthwhile.

If you’ve made it this far, please accept my heartfelt gratitude for reading this entire section. It’s not always the case that the best fit for your particular use case can be found by simply looking at my top recommendations and buying blind.

I’d rather you learn what makes various processors better or worse so you can choose one that best suits your needs.

The Intel Xeon chip family offers a much broader variety of products and architectures than either the Intel Core or AMD Ryzen processor families.

So much so that it can be difficult for the average consumer who isn’t a fan to choose.

Xeon vs Core | Gaming Performance

Until recently, games were not very good at dividing their processing load across more than three or four threads at once.

It was only important for a gaming processor to have good single-core performance because most games only used one or two cores back then.

The only two factors that matter for single-core performance are IPC and clock speed.

Instructions Per Cycle (IPC) is a measure of how many instructions a CPU core can execute in one clock cycle.

The number of cycles that can be executed by a processor in one second is indicated by its clock speed or frequency (expressed in gigahertz). When you combine them, you can approximate the performance of a single core on any CPU.

Similar to Core processors (such as the i5 and i7), Xeon chips use a unified core design. This leaves only clock speed, which is typically slower in Xeon.

The variance is typically not very large (between 20% and 25%).

Due to the constraints of working in tight server racks, they have been optimized for maximum productivity.

In which temperature control and low power consumption take precedence over maximum processing speed. Xeon processors can compete with Intel Core processors in terms of gaming performance, despite running at slightly lower clock speeds.

Any Intel processor without a letter “K” in its model number is not unlockable.

Like Xeon CPUs, they are not overclockable. In gaming workloads, Xeons are on par with these Core processors in terms of clock for clock performance.

Why More Cores Help With Productivity and Content Creation Workloads?

When it comes to more complex tasks like 3D modeling, video editing, machine learning, etc., Intel Xeon chips easily outperform Core models.

Is Intel Xeon Worth it for Gaming? - (Oct 2022 Update)

Many of these productive tasks, unlike gaming workloads, can be efficiently distributed across multiple cores. Even newer video games are being developed with 8-thread or more support.

Therefore, gone are the days when a game would use only a few of your CPU’s cores. More cores with increased IPC is the current fashion.

You can have the best of both worlds (plenty of cores and great single-core performance) with a new Xeon based on the Ice Lake architecture.

Furthermore, Xeon chips can support significantly more memory than Core chips.

Scientific workloads that involve heavy number crunching and data processing necessitate more RAM. Yes, having 128 GB of RAM is cool, but what about 4 terabytes?

Xeon also supports error-correcting code (ECC) memory, so your information is protected from errant readings.

In addition, Xeons can have significantly more cache than even the most powerful Core models, such as the i7 and i9.

Some games benefit from increased cache size, and database calculations and code compilation also benefit greatly.

Buying Used vs New

If you can find a good deal on used Xeons in your area (or on sites like eBay), you can save a lot of money.

Check the chip’s condition carefully before buying it.

To ensure the processor is operating normally, have the vendor display the current temperature and clock speed if possible.

Some Xeon SKUs are only available in bulk shipments, known as “trays only.”

Instead, Intel sells them in bulk to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) like Dell, HP, and others. New and used tray processors are sometimes available for purchase on the market.

The W-11855M is a hexa-core Xeon with 11th-generation UHD integrated graphics that can only be used in a tray.

Keep in mind that Intel does not provide a warranty for tray CPUs. The original equipment manufacturer or retailer is the one to contact for any warranty issues with these chips.

Do You Need Integrated Graphics?

The Xeon processor will be joined in your gaming rig by a specialized graphics processing unit (GPU).

If not, know that many Xeon models do not include built-in graphics. Therefore, since there is no video output in your system, the screen will be blacked out if you do not already have a GPU.

Hardware acceleration (such as Intel Quick sync) and troubleshooting are two situations where integrated graphics come in handy.

You can always use the iGPU while you troubleshoot the dedicated graphics card or the drivers for it.

Consider purchasing a Xeon with built-in graphics if you value redundancy.

But be aware that the price will increase. Even though millions of gamers around the world use Ryzen processors, which lack an iGPU, you can get by just fine without one.

Aside from the higher initial cost, having an iGPU also increases heat and power consumption.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How does a Xeon compare to something like a Core i7?

Assuming both the Xeon and the Intel i7 are from the same generation and have the same number of cores, their performance should be very similar.

There will be variations in timing. If both models are of the same architecture, the one with the higher base/boost clock speed will be the superior choice.

Q: Do I need a special motherboard for using Xeon processors?

A: Verify that your motherboard has a chipset compatible with your Xeon processor. You can find Xeon W models on this page. For chipset details, select a processor and then click the “compatible products” tab.

Q: Are Xeon chips power-hungry?

To the contrary, that is. They’ve been fine-tuned to produce less waste heat and use less electricity. If compared to regular consumer chips (with the same number of cores), Xeons perform better and stay cooler.

Q: Should I get ECC memory for gaming?

Answer: No, not unless you value your money less than normal RAM and are willing to pay more.

When it comes to data security and reliability, ECC is reserved for workstations and other specialized hardware. A motherboard that allows for ECC memory is also required.

Q: Are quad-core Xeons worth it?

My recommendation is to get a hexacore Xeon if you’re going to use it for gaming. Or even a chip with eight or twelve cores, since high-core-count used Xeons are inexpensive.

A powerful gaming PC need not sacrifice productivity or multitasking capabilities.


To sum up, a Xeon processor is not worth the money for gaming. Extremely powerful central processing units (CPUs) like these are more suited to workstations and servers than gaming PCs because of the volume of tasks they must handle simultaneously.

In addition, most Xeon CPU models cost more than $1,000, making them prohibitively expensive. Even if you find a cheaper, lower-end CPU, it will still be incompatible with most motherboards and may provide inferior performance in games due to its unique socket and architecture.

Only those who require a particularly potent workstation should consider using a Xeon for gaming.

Spending a grand or more on a central processing unit is pointless, even if it is for a GTX 1080 Ti SLI setup. When playing games, consumer-grade CPUs are always the best option.