When selecting a CPU for gaming, the most important characteristics are the clock speed (or frequency), number of cores and threads, cache size, and type of memory it supports. Additional considerations like integrated graphics and overclocking needs may also influence your selection.
In addition to discussing how good the 9350K is for gaming, this article will discuss our recommended:
When using Intel's Core i3-9350K CPU for gaming, you can expect mediocre game performance with a high-performance CPU cooler or poor game performance with a basic or stock CPU cooler.
Check out our Recommended LGA 1151 Coolers below.
This performance assessment is based on the following characteristics of the CPU and their relevance to the latest graphics-intense games:
- 8 MB of L3 cache is poor for performance
- 4 cores allow for mediocre performance
- 4.00 GHz base frequency
- 4.60 GHz single-core max turbo boost frequency is excellent for performance (requires a high-end cooler)
- Max stock DDR4 speed of 2400 MHz can be poor for performance
- Overclocking support can be excellent for performance (requires a high-end cooler)
- PCIe 3.0 support can be poor for performance (limits potential of fastest SSDs and GPUs)
- The 9350K has integrated graphics support, but this performance assessment assumes you will use a graphics card. Integrated graphics support is mediocre or worse with the latest graphics-intense games.
A CPU's cache is a small amount of memory, close to the CPU cores, containing recently used data.
Games performance can improve as cache size increases, as it will reduce delays when retrieving commonly used game assets from memory.
An L3 cache capacity of at least 20 MB is ideal for game performance.
The Intel Core i3-9350K has an L3 cache capacity of 8 MB.
The 9350K's lackluster 8 MB of L3 cache is poor for performance with the latest graphics-intense games.
Increased core counts can improve the performance of games that use them, but most modern games don't benefit from having more than 6–8 cores. Remember that cache sizes often increase along with core counts, so if you want to increase your L3 cache, you may need to get a CPU with more cores.
Intel's Core i3-9350K CPUs have 4 cores.
The 9350K's 4 cores allow for mediocre performance with the latest graphics-intense games.
Single-core performance is essential for some games, as many don't take full advantage of multiple cores.
Turbo boost frequencies are only achieved under ideal circumstances. The safest strategy for consistent gaming performance with a basic cooler is to get a higher base clock speed processor. However, with adequate cooling, you may be able to maintain speeds near the max boost frequency.
When using a high-end cooler, the 9350K CPU's support for overclocking can be excellent for performance with the latest graphics-intense games.
The processor has a 4.00 GHz base frequency and supports a 4.60 GHz single-core max turbo frequency.
The 9350K has a 4.00 GHz base frequency, which is the speed before boosting. You can reach these base frequencies even without a high-end cooler.
With a high-end cooler, the 9350K's 4.60 GHz single-core max turbo boost frequency is excellent for performance with the latest graphics-intense games. You can maintain these frequencies with a high-end cooler.
Check out my article, Choosing the Best CPU Cooler for Intel's Core i3-9350K, for recommended coolers that can maintain these boost frequencies.
The 9350K CPU's support for DDR4 with a max stock speed of 2400 MHz can be poor for performance with the latest graphics-intense games.
Faster PC memory can improve game performance and frame rates, but using the fastest RAM may not have as much of an impact as upgrading your CPU and graphics card or adding more RAM.
Learn about our recommended RAM for the 9350K in Choosing the Best RAM for Intel's Core i3-9350K CPU.
|Processor Name Suffix||Meaning|
|K||"K" means it's an unlocked CPU. Unlocked CPUs have configurable frequencies and thus support overclocking. Your "motherboard" must support overclocking to overclock unlocked CPUs. Motherboards with Z-series chipsets typically support overclocking. Learn more about what each chipset supports in my article Which Chipsets Work With Intel's Core i3-9350K CPU?.|
The 9350K model name doesn't have an F suffix. Non-F CPUs contain integrated graphics, and a separate graphics card isn't required if your motherboard includes video-output connectors (e.g., HDMI).
The 9350K model name has a K suffix. K-suffixed CPUs can be overclocked with a compatible motherboard.
Motherboards with a Z-series chipset typically support overclocking. For example, motherboards with the Z370 or Z390 chipset usually support overclocking Intel's 9th Gen Core CPUs. Learn more about what each chipset supports in my article Which Chipsets Work With Intel's Core i3-9350K CPU?.
A CPU cooler's TDP (Thermal Design Power) rating indicates how much heat it can dissipate in watts. If the cooler can't keep your CPU cool enough, your CPU may throttle (slow down), and your cooler will constantly run at full speed.
Intel CPU specifications indicate this power dissipation number as "Processor Base Power."
The Core i3-9350K has a TDP of 91 watts.
A CPU cooler can still work with a lower TDP rating than the TDP of a CPU. However, the CPU will eventually throttle itself to a lower frequency to allow itself to cool.
The CPU may not achieve or maintain maximum turbo speeds without adequate cooling.
Learn more in Choosing the Best CPU Cooler for Intel's Core i3-9350K.
For Intel's 9th generation Core i3 9350K processor, you'll need a motherboard with an LGA 1151 socket and 300-series chipset.
Motherboards for Intel processors are made with chipsets provided by Intel. Each chipset offers a unique set of capabilities. However, motherboards must explicitly support features and capabilities for you to use them. Verify that a motherboard supports the features and capabilities you desire.
The "K" in the model name 9350K means it's an unlocked processor that supports overclocking. You will need a motherboard with the Z390 or Z370 chipset to support CPU overclocking.
For compatiblity with Intel's 11th generation Core processors, you can use any of the 300-series chipsets: Z390, Z370, H370, B365, B360, H310. These are roughly sorted from most to least functionality.
The Q370 chipset is also compatible, but is intended for business use cases; its availability in stand-alone motherboards is limited.
For a detailed comparison of these chipsets, check out my article Which Chipsets Work With Intel's Core i3-9350K CPU?.
- Find Z390 Chipset Motherboards on Amazon (affiliate link).
- Find Z370 Chipset Motherboards on Amazon (affiliate link).
- Find H370 Chipset Motherboards on Amazon (affiliate link).
- Find B365 Chipset Motherboards on Amazon (affiliate link).
- Find B360 Chipset Motherboards on Amazon (affiliate link).
- Find H310 Chipset Motherboards on Amazon (affiliate link).
Check out my article, Choosing the Best CPU Cooler for Intel's Core i3-9350K, for more info about how to choose the best CPU cooler.
Best AIO Liquid Cooler: Enermax Liqmax III 360
- This Enermax liquid cooler has an excellent cooling capability with a 360-watt TDP (Thermal Design Power).
- Supports a variety of CPU sockets, including Intel LGA 2066, 2011-3, 2011, 1700, 1200, 1366, 1156, 1155, 1151, 1150 and AMD AM4, AM3+, AM3, AM2+, AM2, FM2+, FM2, FM1.
- Quiet operation at 14-27 dBA.
- Make sure your computer case dimensions support this, as it will take up a decent amount of space!
Best Dual-Fan Air CPU Cooler: Be Quiet! BK022 Dark Rock Pro 4
- Quiet operation at 12.8-24.3 dB.
- The dual fans (120 mm and 135 mm) do a great job of cooling LGA 1151 CPUs with a 250-watt TDP (Thermal Design Power).
- Supports a variety of CPU sockets, including Intel LGA 1150, 1151, 1155, 1156, 1366, 2011(-3) square ILM, 2066 and AMD AM2, AM2+, AM3, AM3+, AM4, FM1, FM2, FM2+.
- Smaller models are available if you don't need as much cooling ability.
- You can even add another 120 mm fan to it for more cooling!
Runner-Up - Dual-Fan Air CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-D15
- Dual 140 mm fans provide 220-watt TDP (183 NSPR) of cooling capability.
- Supports a variety of CPU sockets, including Intel LGA 1700, 1200, 1150, 1151, 1155, 1156, 2011, 2066 and AMD AM4, AM3, AM3+, AM2, AM2+, FM2, FM2+.
- Quiet operation at 24.6 dBA.
Before purchasing memory, review your motherboard specification to verify which speeds are supported. For example, if a DDR4 motherboard stated that it supports "DDR4 3400(O.C.) / 3333(O.C.) / 3300(O.C.) / 3200 / 3000," that would mean that it could support DDR4-3400, DDR4-3333, and DDR4-3300 with memory overclocking, and DDR4-3200 and DDR4-3000 at stock speeds. Motherboard specifications also indicate the maximum capacity per stick of RAM (DIMM) and across all slots.
Recommended Stock-Speed DDR4
- At an effective frequency of 2400 MHz, this memory hits the fastest DDR4 speed supported by Intel's Core i3 9350K CPU without overclocking.
- The low-profile form factor ensures that the heat spreaders don't get in the way of other devices, including your CPU heatsink.
Recommended DDR4 for Overclockers
- This DDR4 memory is designed for overclocking to an effective frequency of 3600 MHz.
- Supports XMP 2.0.
- Compact heat spreaders avoid conflicting with a CPU cooler.
- Which Chipsets Work With Intel's Core i3-9350K CPU?
- Choosing the Best CPU Cooler for Intel's Core i3-9350K
- Choosing the Best Power Supply for Intel's Core i3-9350K
- Is the Core i3-9350K CPU Good for Gaming?
- Choosing the Best RAM for Intel's Core i3-9350K CPU
- Choosing the Best Motherboard for Intel's Core i3-9350K
- How Many Cores Do Intel Core i3-9350K CPUs Have?
- What Is the TDP of the Core i3-9350K CPU?
You can find detailed 9350K specifications on Intel's site.
Want to brush up on other new technologies to consider when building a computer? Check out these articles:
- CPU Coolers:
- Graphics Cards:
- Power Supplies: