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Best Gaming CPU: $90-$110

Best Gaming CPUs For The Money: February '10
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Best gaming CPU for $100:  None

As mentioned previously, the Athlon II X3 440 has such excellent game performance that it is difficult to recommend spending $100 to $140 for similar results. Having said that, other factors can come into play. For these reasons the following CPUs have been given honorable mentions.

Honorable Mention:
Athlon II X4 620 (Check Prices)

Athlon II X4 620
Codename: Propus
Process: 45nm
CPU Cores: 4
Clock Speed: 2.6 GHz
Socket: AM3
L1 Cache:   4 x 128KB
L2 Cache:   4 x 512KB
HyperTransport: 4,000 MHz
Thermal Envelope:
95W

Frankly, the high clock rate of the Athlon II X3 440 allows it to perform better than an Athlon II X4 620 at stock frequencies in a great majority of games.

However, there are a few titles out there that will take advantage of a fourth CPU core, making the Athlon II X4 a potentially-attractive choice to buyers who want all four CPU cores and are willing to overclock this processor. Moreover, as a general-purpose CPU (during the hours you don't spend gaming, of course), the quad-core solution is going to be superior.

Read our review of the Athlon II X4 620, right here.

Honorable Mention:
Phenom II X2 555 Black Edition

Phenom II X2 555 Black Edition
Codename: Callisto
Process: 45nm
CPU Cores: 2
Clock Speed: 3.1 GHz
Socket: AM3
L1 Cache: 2 x 128KB
L2 Cache: 2 x 512KB
L3 Cache: 6MB
HyperTransport: 4,000 MHz
Thermal Envelope:
80W

Although the dual-core Phenom II X2 555 Black Edition might be a bit slower than the less-expensive Athlon II X3 435 when it comes to gaming, it offers something that the Athlon II X3 doesn't have: an unlocked clock multiplier. Like all of AMD's Black Edition processors, the Phenom II X2 555 can be easily overclocked by simply upping its multiplier in the motherboard BIOS of your choice, earning this CPU a place on our recommended list for overclocking fans.

Although we haven't seen much of the new 555 at retail, we're happy to give it honorable mention status for those who might be interested in such a processor. Read our overclocking review of the Phenom II X2 555 Black Edition, right here.

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  • 1 Hide
    Fox Montage , 23 February 2010 22:02
    Quote:
    From a stock performance standpoint, the Athlon II X3 440 only offers a 100 MHz speed bump over the Athlon II X3 435


    From the table, the 440 is 3.1 GHz, and the 435 is 2.9 GHz, which is a 200 MHz bump. Which of these is correct, and does this affect the recommendation?
  • 0 Hide
    andybird123 , 25 February 2010 17:13
    there is no X3 435 in the table
  • 1 Hide
    nohatjim , 27 February 2010 16:20
    Ok I am a little confused. I purchased a Q6600 over two years ago for £160 now I am starting to find it is slower in some games than my new laptop with T9600. So I think I know I will upgrade my CPU. I have got £120 in pocket plus whatI can sell teh Q6600 for. However it looks like the £180 CPU so would i be better with an E8400 or Q8400? Any advice would be really appreciated.
  • 2 Hide
    flaminggerbil , 1 March 2010 05:06
    nohatjimOk I am a little confused. I purchased a Q6600 over two years ago for £160 now I am starting to find it is slower in some games than my new laptop with T9600. So I think I know I will upgrade my CPU. I have got £120 in pocket plus whatI can sell teh Q6600 for. However it looks like the £180 CPU so would i be better with an E8400 or Q8400? Any advice would be really appreciated.

    You'd be nuts to sell a Q6600 for an E8400, although you might notice slightly better performance in certain games (non quad enabled ones) you'll generally be worse off. Most likely what you are seeing is winrot and unnecessary background applications slowing you down slightly on the older machine, either clean it up or a fresh installation of windows until you can buy an i5/i7 machine would be a better idea.

    I plan on switching my current E8400 setup out for a i5 750 or i7 920 soon.
  • 2 Hide
    mi1ez , 5 March 2010 18:57
    nohatjimOk I am a little confused. I purchased a Q6600 over two years ago for £160 now I am starting to find it is slower in some games than my new laptop with T9600. So I think I know I will upgrade my CPU. I have got £120 in pocket plus whatI can sell teh Q6600 for. However it looks like the £180 CPU so would i be better with an E8400 or Q8400? Any advice would be really appreciated.

    Have you overclocked it? Check out the advice in the forums. I run my Q6600 at 3.6GHz, a solid 50% over stock, and it hammers through pretty much anything!
  • 0 Hide
    nohatjim , 8 March 2010 22:38
    Hi Mi1ez

    What settings are you useing for overclocking and what cooling? I did over clock it to about 2.6 for a while but it wasn't stable.

  • 0 Hide
    mi1ez , 9 March 2010 02:43
    Quote:
    Hi Mi1ez

    What settings are you useing for overclocking and what cooling? I did over clock it to about 2.6 for a while but it wasn't stable.

    9x400MHz
    1.408V (according to cpuz)
    don't know what else off hand...

    RAM @ 800MHz 4-4-4-12
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , 9 March 2010 16:01
    New games using often only 2 cores (for example: Mass Effect2, Bioshock2, Battlefield Bad Company) and i7 or X4 do not speed up your games. From my point of view Phenom II X2 (2.9-3.1 Ghz) is the best choice.