The 7 Best Xeon Processors For Gaming: Check Our Recommendations!

Xeons are generally not my first choice when it comes to gaming.

Particularly because they don’t offer any single-core performance benefit over regular consumer processors such as the Intel Core series or AMD Ryzen series. Xeons are server chips, designed around efficiency and stability.

Hence, they usually lack features you’d commonly find on mainstream desktop chips. Such as overclocking and integrated graphics.

However, Xeon chips do have their benefits and some people even use them in gaming systems.

So, what’s the best Xeon for gaming?

Well, I say it depends on what type of system you’re building and the games it will run. A pure esports machine will be better off using an Intel i7 or i9 if you want the best framerates for every bit of advantage in competitive gaming.

But a workstation designed to do work and gaming (ideally at 4K resolution) can be equipped with a Xeon processor.

Since you aren’t looking for the highest framerates and need those extra cores, a Xeon fits the bill. Provided you can manage without integrated graphics and are willing to pay a higher price. 

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

It wasn’t long ago that people were sniping used quad-core Haswell Xeon processors off eBay to throw in their budget gaming rig.

Even today, you can find a lot of old Xeon processors for really cheap. These offer excellent core count along with IPC that is on par with 1st or 2nd gen Ryzen.

For gaming, I would suggest a quad-core at minimum, with hyperthreading.

If you want to buy used, processors like the Xeon E3-1245 v3 (4 cores) and Xeon E5-1680 v3 (8 cores) will do great. Especially when paired with midrange GPUs like the NVIDIA RTX 3060 or AMD RX 6600XT in a 1440p gaming rig.

Now, what about modern Xeon chips? At the time of writing this article, Ice Lake (11th gen) is the latest Xeon architecture. Alder Lake (12th gen) Xeon chips aren’t released yet, but they might be when you’re reading this.

If you’re going to build a workstation that does both gaming and content creation/ scientific work, you should get a decent Xeon W processor.

There are models with integrated graphics, and I recommend at least 6 cores. Ideally, you want something like the Xeon W-11555MLE (6 cores and 12 threads with 4.4Ghz Turbo frequency).

If you are serious about productivity (video editing, 3D modeling, machine learning, etc.), you might want a higher core count.

In such cases, I recommend the Intel Xeon W-3323. You won’t get any integrated graphics, but this chip features a whopping 12 cores and 24 threads with support for up to 4TB of ECC RAM.

Quick Note

What is ECC RAM? Basically, it’s error-correcting memory that is primarily used in mission-critical scenarios where you can’t risk losing data or crashing the system.

ECC memory is more expensive than regular memory, but it’s not as fast as some of the really good DDR4/ DDR5 kits out there.

In A Hurry? Here Are My 7 Top Picks

1. Xeon E5-2699 v3

Processor ArchitectureHaswell
Core Count18 cores, 36 threads
Base and Boost Clocks2.3Ghz, 3.6Ghz
Cache45MB (Intel Smart Cache)
Max Memory Support768GB


My top choice, this is the best xeon for gaming right now.

Simply put, it offers unparalleled performance for the money. Especially when it comes to multithreaded workloads like 3D rendering that take advantage of extra cores.

I can’t think of any other processor in this price range that lets you create a workstation capable of supporting 768GB of ECC memory.

And if you aren’t someone who dabbles with scientific number crunching or programming? The E5-2699 v3 is still an excellent buy.

Simply because of how easily you can do stuff like streaming or virtual machines with this CPU. If you’re a retro gamer or want to run PS3/ Xbox 360 games on your computer, those extra cores will come in handy while running emulators.

Streaming on Twitch/ YouTube with software like OBS can be done with high-quality settings, at no performance cost while gaming.

Things I Like

Exceptional value for money
Ideal for content creation thanks to its massive core count
Despite being old, Haswell chips still have decent IPC
Massive 45MB cache size

2. Xeon E5-2680 v3

Processor ArchitectureHaswell
Core Count12 cores, 24 threads
Base and Boost Clocks2.5Ghz, 3.3Ghz
Cache30MB (Intel Smart Cache)
Max Memory Support768GB


This is the next best option if you can’t get your hands on an E5-2699 v3 (let’s be honest, those chips are going to sell out like hot cakes).

Sure, you don’t get the whopping 18 cores and 26 threads. But this is also a Haswell chip, albeit one with “just” 12 cores and 24 threads.

You also pay less since the E5-2680 v3 has fewer cores (I recommend the renewed version since it’s so much cheaper than new).

This CPU is still a multitasking monster. The boost clock is slightly lower compared to an E5-2699 v3, but you get a higher base clock in return.

Things I Like

You won’t find a better workstation chip for this price
Uses the ring bus system to connect individual cores, resulting in low latency (better for gaming)
A solid 3.3 Ghz boost clock
With support for up to 768GB of RAM, you won’t be running out of memory anytime soon

3. Xeon E-2136

Processor ArchitectureCoffee Lake
Core Count6 cores, 12 threads
Base and Boost Clocks3.3Ghz, 4.5Ghz
Cache12MB (Intel Smart Cache)
Max Memory Support128GB


One of two Coffee Lake chips on my list, the E-2136 is more suited to gaming compared to most other Xeons.

It uses a recent architecture and the 14nm process node. As a result, you get excellent IPC that’s on par with Zen 2 (and great clock speeds for what is essentially a low-end server chip).

If you’re okay with having 2 memory channels and “only” 128GB of memory on the top end, this CPU can work in a content creation system.

For content creators in need of an affordable processor that can do both work and play, I recommend the Xeon E-2136.

It’s affordably priced even in comparison to regular desktop chips such as the Core i5 (but doesn’t have integrated graphics).

Things I Like

Coffee Lake is really fast, both in terms of IPC and clock speeds
A solid deal for a new boxed processor with 6 cores (and hyperthreading)
Quite easy to cool despite being so fast

4. Xeon E5-2683 v4

Processor ArchitectureBroadwell
Core Count16 cores, 32 threads
Base and Boost Clocks2.1Ghz, 3Ghz
Cache40MB (Intel Smart Cache)
Max Memory Support1.5TB


Broadwell is Intel’s attempt to improve Haswell, the “tick” in their tick-tock formula.

A simple node shrink allows this chip to blaze past its Haswell predecessors while consuming far less power. The E5-2683 v4 is extremely cheap for a 12-core CPU, and you can definitely game with it.

Especially if you’re looking to pair this with a high-end GPU such as the RTX 3070 Ti or RX 6700XT.

You can easily create a 1440p gaming machine for cheap by cutting down on CPU expenditure. Granted, this E5-2683 v4 is so cheap because it’s a renewed Broadwell chip. 

But processors can last a very long time (a decade or more) without losing performance. Especially Xeons with their conservative clock speeds and efficiency-optimized design.

Things I Like

With 16 cores, it rips through everything from 3D modeling to encoding
Broadwell is still a decent performer in today’s environment
A massive 40MB of cache

5. Xeon E5-2697 v2

Processor ArchitectureIvy Bridge
Core Count12 cores, 24 threads
Base and Boost Clocks2.7Ghz, 3.5Ghz
Cache30MB (Intel Smart Cache)
Max Memory Support768GB


Another 12-core behemoth of a chip, but this time it’s the oldest architecture on the list.

The Xeon E5-2697 v2 is an Ivy Bridge chip, initially released in 2013. It still holds up today, thanks to its 3.5Ghz boost clock.

If you’re someone who games at 4K, this chip performs surprisingly well. Even when compared to the latest desktop chips from Intel and AMD.

And if you’re a content creator on a tight budget, it’s an easy recommendation to make.

Things I Like

Ivy Bridge may not have the best IPC by modern standards, but still gets the job done
Thanks to its 3.5Ghz boost clock, this CPU can still hold its own in gaming
Hard to find a 12-core processor for this low of a price
A solid 30MB of cache

6. Xeon E-2236

Processor ArchitectureCoffee Lake
Core Count6 cores, 12 threads
Base and Boost Clocks3.4Ghz, 4.8Ghz
Cache12MB (Intel Smart Cache)
Max Memory Support128GB


If your primary workload is gaming, the Xeon E-2236 will handily beat every other processor on this list, simply because of its clock speed.

Oh, and it’s a Coffee Lake part which means the IPC is not far behind modern Intel/ AMD chips.

With 6 cores and 12 threads, you can even edit videos or stream gameplay to sites such as Twitch, without suffering frame drops.

And despite the fast clock speeds, this chip has a TDP of just 80W. So you can slap a basic 120mm air cooler on it and enjoy temperatures below 70°C. 

Things I Like

The fastest processor on this list for gaming, thanks to its 4.8Ghz boost frequency
With 6 cores and 12 threads, this CPU is a great multitasker
Ideal for content creators on a budget

7. Xeon 4210

Processor ArchitectureCascade Lake
Core Count10 cores, 20 threads
Base and Boost Clocks2.2Ghz, 3.2Ghz
Cache13.75MB (Intel Smart Cache)
Max Memory Support1TB


Cascade Lake is a somewhat recent architecture, released after Coffee Lake.

No, it’s not a 10mm chip which means that IPC upgrades are minimal (or non-existent). However, you do get some efficiency improvements compared to Coffee Lake.

That much is obvious if you look at the TDP for this 10-core chip.

At just 5 watts more than the E-2236 (despite rocking an extra 4 cores and 8 threads), this Xeon is a breeze to cool.

And thanks to all those threads, it functions excellently as a workstation chip.

Things I Like

This Cascade Lake chip may not have the fastest clock speeds, but it makes up for that with really good IPC
You can use this in a serious workstation build, thanks to the 10 cores and 20 threads on offer
Supports up to 1TB of RAM

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

Alright, this is the part where I dive deep into the intricacies of gaming on Xeon and whether it’s worth it.

If you are willing to sit through and read this entire section, I offer my sincere thanks. Just looking at my top recommendations and buying blind won’t always give you the best fit for your specific use case.

I would rather have you understand why certain processors are better or worse, and then you can make an informed buying decision for yourself.

Compared to the Intel Core or AMD Ryzen lineup of processors, Intel’s Xeon chips span a much wider range of products and architecture types.

Which can make the process of selecting one quite confusing for the average buyer who isn’t an enthusiast.

Xeon vs Core | Gaming Performance

Back in the early 2000s and even the 2010s, games weren’t very good at distributing their workload among more than 3 or 4 threads.

Most games back those days loaded up just one or two cores, which is why single-core performance was all that mattered in a gaming processor.

Single-core performance comes down to just two things- IPC and clock speed. 

IPC refers to how many instructions a CPU core can process with each clock cycle.

And clock speed or frequency (measured in Ghz) tells you how many cycles a processor can execute per second. Combine the two, and you can get an idea of any CPU’s single-core performance.

Xeon chips share the same architecture as Core processors (like the i5 and i7). So the only thing that remains is clock speed, which is usually lower in the case of Xeon.

Generally speaking, the difference isn’t THAT big (around 20 to 25%).

That’s because they are optimized for efficiency, having to work in crowded server racks.

Where heat management and low power consumption are prioritized over raw speed. Even with the slightly lower clock speeds, Xeon chips can deliver similar gaming performance as locked Intel Core processors. 

Locked Intel chips are the ones that don’t have a K at the end of the model name.

They can’t be overclocked, same as Xeon processors. Clock for clock, Xeons will perform exactly the same as these Core processors in gaming workloads.

Why More Cores Help With Productivity and Content Creation Workloads?

Moving on to stuff like 3D modeling, video editing, machine learning, etc., Intel Xeon chips pull significantly ahead of Core models.

Unlike gaming workloads, a lot of these productivity tasks can be distributed efficiently among multiple cores. Even modern games are being coded to take advantage of 8 or more threads.

So it’s not like the old days when games would load up just 2 or 3 cores. Meaning, the trend these days is towards more cores with more IPC.

If you get a new Xeon based on the Ice Lake architecture, you can have lots of cores with excellent single-core performance (the best of both worlds).

Besides, Xeon chips are capable of supporting a lot more memory compared to Core chips.

More RAM is necessary for scientific workloads where you do a lot of number crunching and data processing. Sure, 128GB of RAM is neat but how about 4TB of RAM?

You also get ECC memory support with Xeon, so your data is safe from corruption.

And Xeons can also have a lot more cache compared to even high-end Core models like the i7 or i9.

More cache helps in certain games and is very helpful for database calculations/ code compiling among other things. 

Buying Used vs New

Used Xeons are going to cost a lot less if you can snag a good deal locally (or on sites such as eBay).

However, take a good look at the condition of the chip before purchasing.

If possible, ask the seller to show you temperature readouts and clock speeds to make sure the processor is performing normally.

Certain Xeon SKUs are sold as “tray-only”, meaning they aren’t distributed individually.

Instead, they are sold by Intel in bulk to OEMs such as Dell, HP, etc. who build systems with these chips. Sometimes, you can find sellers who are offering tray processors (both new and used).

An example of a tray-only Xeon is the W-11855M, a hexacore chip with 11th gen UHD integrated graphics.

Remember- with tray CPUs, you don’t get a warranty directly from Intel. Instead, the OEM/ retailer who bought these chips is responsible for warranty claims.

Do You Need Integrated Graphics?

If you’re building a gaming system, you probably have a dedicated GPU ready to use alongside the Xeon processor.

If not, understand that a lot of Xeon models don’t have any integrated graphics. So if you don’t already have a GPU, the screen will be blacked out since there is no video output within your system.

Integrated graphics can be useful, for troubleshooting and hardware acceleration (like Intel Quick sync).

If your dedicated graphics fails (hardware issue or driver problems), you can always fix things while using the iGPU in the interim.

If you like the idea of having a failsafe, get a Xeon that has integrated graphics.

But know that it will cost more. Ryzen CPUs don’t have any integrated graphics and they are used by millions of gamers worldwide, so you don’t NEED an iGPU.

Plus, having an iGPU means extra heat and power consumption (on top of being more expensive to purchase).

Frequently Asked Questions

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

A: If the Xeon is from the same generation as the Intel i7 and has the same core count, both should perform near-identical to each other.

There will be differences in clock speeds. So if the architecture is the same, whichever model has a higher base/ boost clock speed will win out.

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

A: You need to make sure you’re using a motherboard with the appropriate chipset for your Xeon processor. For Xeon W models, check this page. Click on an individual processor and select the “compatible products” tab to get chipset specifications.

Q: Are Xeon chips power-hungry?

A: The opposite, in fact. They are optimized for lower heat and power consumption. So Xeons run cooler and are more efficient compared to regular consumer chips (provided both have the same core count).

Q: Should I get ECC memory for gaming?

A: Not unless you want to pay more and get less speed than regular RAM.

ECC is only for workstations and specialized machines where data integrity and stability are of utmost importance. You also need a motherboard that supports ECC memory.

Q: Are quad-core Xeons worth it?

A: In my opinion, if you’re going to get a Xeon for gaming might as well make it a hexacore at minimum. Or even an 8/ 12- core chip, because used Xeons with high core counts are quite cheap.

You can have a system that plays games very well, while also being a productivity and multitasking beast.


I hope this article gave you a nice idea of what it’s like to game on a Xeon, and which one you should choose for the optimal experience.

In the end, it all comes down to your personal choices and budget. Do you want a pure gaming system, or one that can do everything?

Xeons aren’t the ideal choice for a pure gaming machine, but they do work extremely well as workstation chips.

Meaning you can game, stream, host virtual machines, edit videos, etc., all at the same time.

Get a 12 or 18-core used Xeon, and you’ll be surprised at the amount of multitasking you can do for a relatively cheap price.