We know it, Not everyone can afford an i7 8700K or a Ryzen 1800X.
A large portion of the gamer community has a tight budget when it comes to PC building. They can only get a budget processor for gaming. Enthusiasts who have more money always spend a lot of money upgrading their rigs because they want the best performance even if the performance per dollar they get is very low. So here budget gamers come out to be cleverer as they get more performance per dollar spent if they get the best budget processor for their rigs.
But finding out the best processor for $100 or $150 is not an easy task. There are several generations and several platforms which use different technology-based processors. One might go with FM2 Kaveri processors as they offer the best-integrated graphics but at the same time, the AM4 Ryzen processors are faster when combined with a dedicated GPU even if they don’t have integrated graphics.
Similarly, there are several generations of Intel processors. One might go with i3 2120 or i5 2320 even if the latest generation processors are available at the same price. So after doing a lot of research, I have compiled a list of the best cheap and budget processors that range from $50 to $200 that will give you the best performance per dollar spent when combined with an entry-level or mid-end graphics card. Let’s start with the $70 CPU.
#5. Intel Pentium G4400
The cheapest gaming processor for the Skylake platform you can buy right now is Pentium G4400. This is the very entry level dual core processor which is clocked at 3.30Ghz and has a small cache of 3Mb which is common in the Pentium processors. For around $50, this processor is a very good choice for a $250 or a $300 gaming PC.
With a TDP of 54Watts, it’s also very power efficient and can be installed in any LGA 1151 socket Intel motherboard. As far as specs go, it’s very basic but in gaming, it’s competitive to a Pentium G3258 which was a renowned processor for gaming at low budget. Accompanied by a graphics card like RX 560 or a GTX 1050, the performance will be awesome in Esports games like CSGO, Overwatch and Rocket League.
But consider the fact that it will bottleneck high-end graphics cards like GTX 1060 and above, so do not go for a high-end graphics card with this as it’s 2 cores will not be sufficient to handle games like The Witcher 3 and your GPU’s performance will be bottlenecked.
#4. Intel Pentium G4560
The first Pentium and the cheapest Pentium which has 2 cores and 4 threads is the Pentium G4560. Although it’s official price is $70 but it’s been sold at higher prices and it’s close to its successor Pentium G4600. This processor is a beast and eliminates the need for a Core i3 all at once. The only differences between this CPU and the i3’s are Cache memory and clock speeds. Intel Core i3’s are a little fast but you have to pay around $40-$50 more for that 2fps improvement. So, better skip the idea of getting an i3 if you are on a budget.
This processor is however locked and you can’t overclock it which isn’t a disadvantage at all. Why would someone expect to overclock at this price when it has 4 threads? In gaming, it removes any possible bottlenecks in CPU intensive games and yes, there are some exceptions but unlike the G4400, it can also handle a powerful graphics card like a GTX 1060.
It’s clocked at 3.5Ghz and has 54 Watts TDP which is similar to the G4400. It’s a Kaby lake processor and can be installed on any LGA 1151 socket motherboard, although my recommendation is going with a B250 motherboard if you are not very tight budget. Or you can go with an H110 chipset motherboard if you really want to save some money to buy a good graphics card.
#3. AMD Ryzen 3 1300X
Perhaps the best bang for the buck for all games. For just $40 more you can get this one over fx 6300. The comparison will show you real difference. Previously, I included the i3 6100/7100 in the list but this one costs the same as a Core i3. But the difference is huge. Although, not in gaming but when seen overall. This processor is the newly launched Ryzen 3 series processor which features 4 cores and 4 threads and is literally the same chip as the Ryzen 5 or Ryzen 7 processor. But has the other cores disabled and some other minor differences. So, you can expect it to perform similarly in games.
Now, when you have $130, then you either go with an FX 8350 or this one. FX 8350 is a very old processor and does not use the DDR4 memories, but this one does. It also has a very big cache memory and very good clock speeds. The cache memory is 8MB and the core/boost clocks are 3.5/3.7Ghz respectively. But as this processor is unlocked, you can take it up to 3.9Ghz and it’s great. It really increases the performance.
But the real interesting thing is that this CPU has a TDP of 65Watts which was uncommon with AMD processors. Take the example of FX 9570 or 9590. You know they used to pull hundreds of watts. So, it’s a good improvement. With 4 cores, you can now game and multitask as well just like a Core i5. When you want to build a $500–$600 gaming PC, this one will suit you the most.
#2. Intel Core i3 8100
Intel Core i3 8100 is the latest generation processor from Intel which is a revolution for the new generation. As usual, the Core i3’s come with 2 cores and 4 threads but this time Intel has increased its core count to 4 and have maintained the 4 threads as it is making it like an i5 of the previous generation but the price is much less.
This in itself is a great cutout in cost when you build a budget gaming PC. Now the people who could not afford a $200 i5 can afford this $130 CPU to build a budget gaming PC that can be combined with a mid-high end gaming graphics card like GTX 1060 and can achieve 60+fps at 1080p.
The processor has 6mb of cache and has a core clock of 3.6Ghz. Specs are good but unfortunately, you still have to buy a z370 chipset motherboard which means that you have to pay more as compared to building an i3 gaming PC with previous generation i3s. But when comparing the prices of an i5 6th or 7th gen along with a B150/B250 chipset, it’s still reasonable. Go with it if you want to get the most amount of fps in gaming.
#1. AMD Ryzen 5 1500X
Again, it’s good to see another processor from AMD which is now a step up in the Ryzen series. It’s the second processor in the Ryzen 5 series and is priced reasonably. At $180, it’s an Intel Core i7 as it has 4 cores with 8 threads giving a tough competition to the Intel Core i5. Personally, if I had to build a Gaming PC when I have a budget of $200 for a CPU, I would never go with an Intel core i5 when there is only a little difference in gaming and better performance and future proofing overall.
The Ryzen platform is new, it uses DDR4 memories, is compatible with almost every latest generation hardware, gives better multitasking performance, does not hangs and is blazingly fast in rendering videos. I myself have the Ryzen 1700X and I can say with confidence, this processor is worth your every penny.
Now coming to its specs, it has a base clock of 3.5Ghz and boost clock of 3.7Ghz. It’s also overclockable and can be overclocked to 3.9Ghz. So, it’s similar to the Ryzen 1300X. The TDP is also the same but it has double the cache memory i.e., 16MB. Use it in a $700–$1000 gaming PC for the best bang for your buck.