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Best Gaming CPU: Mid-range

Best Gaming CPUs For The Money: February 2013
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Best Gaming CPU for £90:

Core i3-3220

Core i3-3220
Codename: Ivy Bridge
Process: 22 nm
CPU Cores/Threads: 2/4
Clock Speed (Max. Turbo): 3.3 GHz
Socket: LGA 1155
L2 Cache:   2x 256 KB
L3 Cache: 3 MB
Thermal Envelope:
55 W

Intel's Ivy Bridge-based CPUs are very capable gaming processors, though we're increasingly seeing dual-core derivatives of the design lagging behind in our favorite titles. Conversely, benchmark data makes it clear that the company's Hyper-Threading technology is effective in helping improve the performance of a dual-core CPU in threaded games.

Although a locked multiplier limits overclocking to a few-megahertz bump in BCLK frequency, we still consider Intel's Core i3-3220 to be a good starting point for gamers who might upgrade to a faster LGA 1155-based processor in the future.

Read our review of the Ivy Bridge-based CPUs here.

Honourable Mention:
FX-4300

FX-4300
Codename: Vishera
Process: 32 nm
CPU Cores/Threads: 2/4
Clock Speed (Max. Turbo): 3.8 GHz (4.0 GHz)
Socket: AM3+
L2 Cache:   2 x 2 MB
L3 Cache: 8 MB
Thermal Envelope:
95 W

At stock clock rates, AMD's FX-4300 is able to keep up with the Phenom II X4 965 and just about reach the Core i3-3220. However, its TDP is 35 W lower than the Phenom, and an unlocked multiplier is an advantage over the Core i3. We're giving it an honourable mention for the few reasons folks might want to consider a low-cost CPU built on the Piledriver architecture.

Read our review of the Vishera-based FX CPUs here.

Best Gaming CPU for £135:
Core i5-3350P

Core i5-3350P
Codename: Ivy Bridge
Process: 22 nm
CPU Cores/Threads: 4
Clock Speed (Max. Turbo): 3.1 GHz (3.3 GHz)
Socket: LGA 1155
L2 Cache:   4 x 256 KB
L3 Cache: 6 MB
Thermal Envelope:
69 W

Intel's Sandy and Ivy Bridge-based Core i5 processors are well-known for their gaming prowess at reasonable prices, and the Core i5-3350P is a particularly interesting option at £135.

The P suffix is an indication that Intel disables its HD Graphics engine, but we're perfectly alright with such a decision. If you're buying a gaming processor, you're going to want discrete graphics anyway. Consequently, this CPU ducks in under 70 W.

Read our review of the Ivy Bridge-based CPUs here.

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