Best CPU for Civilization 6

"Just one more turn." If there's a mantra for all Civilization players, it's those four words. "Just one more turn" is how a Civ game somehow spirals out of control and it's suddenly 3 a.m., you're 300 turns deep and Gandhi is threatening you with nuclear armageddon ("Never trust Gandhi" could also be a Civ mantra). As long-time Civilization players know, the further you progress in a campaign, the longer the turns take to resolve, as your CPU struggles to process hundreds of AI actions in the blink of an eye. But the right hardware can make a huge difference, a CPU even more than one of the best graphics cards, in those turn times. With the brand-new Civilization VI, the Intel® Core™ i7 6700K chews through demanding late-game turns that trip up weaker processors.

Civilization VI's minimum spec calls for an Intel® Core™ i3 2.5 Ghz processor, which means it can run just fine on a budget gaming PC. But what if we want 60 frames per second at Ultra settings? For that, a powerful CPU like the Intel® Core™ i7 6700K comes in handy.

The quad-core Intel® Core™ i7 6700K runs at a fast 4.0 GHz out of the box, and that speed pays off in Civilization VI. The cores matter, too. The in-game benchmark simulates a large game of Civ, with cities and units spread across the map and some heavy number-crunching between AI turns. On the Intel® Core™ i7 6700K, it runs beautifully, even at Ultra settings. Paired with a Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 to ensure the graphics card never acts as a bottleneck, Civilization VI ran at an average framerate of 80 frames per second, and a minimum framerate of 44 frames per second. That's when the math got really intense.

Let's add some context. When that same processor is slowed down to simulate an Intel® Core™ i5 6600K, running at 3.5 GHz, Civilization VI's average framerate drops to 67 frames per second, and the average drops down to 35 frames per second. Not bad—Civilization VI is still totally playable on a Core™ i5  6600K, and will run at more than 60 frames per second most of the time. But those framerate dips will be more noticeable later in the game.

And what about a more budget processor, closer to Civ VI's minimum spec? Here's where the strength of the Intel® Core™ i7 6700K as a fast quad-core processor comes in. With two cores disabled and the clock speed set to 3.7 GHz, the Intel® Core™ i7 6700K will deliver similar performance to the Core™ i3 6100K. On a fast dual-core processor, Civ VI still runs at a decent average framerate of 48 frames per second—but its minimum fps is a stuttering 6 frames per second! The benchmark's most demanding moments cause Civilization VI to grind to a halt for several full seconds. It's just too much for a dual-core processor to handle.

The higher the minimum framerate, the smoother the gaming experience. With an Intel® Core™ i7 6700K, even a game full of Civilization VI AI leaders plotting against you will run smoothly. If you want to keep playing just one more turn until the sunrise starts peeking through the window, a  Intel® Core™ i7 processor is the way to go.

Civ6 6700K 35GHz i5.csv,                      66.9,   35.0

Civ6 6700K 37GHz 2Core LOW.csv,     52.6,    7.1

Civ6 6700K 37GHz 2Core run 2.csv,    44.1,    6.1

Civ6 6700K 37GHz 2Cores.csv,             48.2,    6.6

Civ6 6700K 4GHz.csv,                             80.6,   44.3

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