A few new processors appear this month: two from Intel and one from AMD. We also see moderate price drops from both companies, along with a particularly monumental price reduction on AMD's flagship FX-9590, which still doesn't make our recommended list.
If you don’t have the time to research benchmarks, or if you don’t feel confident enough in your ability to pick the right processor for your next gaming machine, fear not. We at Tom’s Hardware have come to your aid with a simple list of the best gaming CPUs offered for the money.
There were a handful of introductions over the last month, but the news that gripped our attention was a roughly £400 price drop on AMD's FX-9590 flagship processor. Two months ago, the processor sold at around £670 as an OEM part without a cooler. Now you can buy a retail-boxed version with a closed-loop liquid cooler for about £270. Early adopters typically expect to pay a premium on new components, sure. But slashing more than half the price so soon after the CPU's introduction? I have to imagine anyone who paid the higher price is probably a little steamed right about now. As far as our recommendations go, though, AMD's price move has no impact. Sub-£180 Core i5s are still a better bet for gaming. The same conclusion applies to the FX-9370, which is a bit cheaper than last month and bundled with a liquid cooler now, too.
In other news, A4-6300 appears to be the final production name for an APU previously referred to as the A4-4400. With a 3.7 GHz base clock and 3.9 GHz maximum Turbo Core frequency, it's 200 MHz slower than the A4-6400K. The integrated graphics engine is even less impressive in comparison, sporting 128 shaders at 760 MHz, rather than the 6400K's 192 cores at 800 MHz. The new A4-6300 isn't expensive, but we wouldn't recommend a dual-core A4 APU for a gaming machine, so it doesn't make our recommended list.
The rest of AMD's price tweaks are modest. Its A8-6600K is down under £90. The Athlon X2-370K dropped to under £40. And the Athlon X4-750K is less than £60. None of those changes are substantial enough to affect our recommendations. However, the FX-4130 is up a bit in the US, putting it on par with the FX-4300.
There are two new Intel processors to talk about, but both are low-end options that don't interest us. The Celeron G1630 is a 2.8 GHz, 55 W, dual-core, Ivy Bridge-based part and the Pentium G3430 is a 3.3 GHz, 54 W, dual-core, Haswell-based part for around £70.
As for price changes, Intel made a couple of tweaks. The Core i3-3225 is £10 cheaper at around £100, the Core i3-3240 is a little cheaper at £90, and the Core i5-3470 is down to £150. Although they're good gamer-oriented parts (particularly the latter two), we think the selections already on our list are better.
That's all of the relevant information for gamers. Otherwise, you may want to have a loot at Haswell-Based Xeon E3-1200: Three Generations, Benchmarked if you have interest in the evolution of Intel's single-socket Xeons. We also took a first look at the Silvermont architecture's performance in Bay Trail On The Desktop: Celeron J1750 Gets Benchmarked.
Finally, we should mention that AMD's 2013-2014 embedded roadmap surfaced last month. The company's 32 nm Piledriver-based R-series should be replaced by a 28 nm Steamroller-based "Bald Eagle" part in the same 17-35 W envelope. "Steppe Eagle" will be the low-power G-series replacement. But considering it's still a 28 nm Jaguar-based part, we aren't expecting anything aside from small optimizations. The real surprise will be "Hierofalcon", a 15-35 W, 28 nm, 4/8-core, Cortex-A57-based part. Yes, that's and ARM architecture, not Intel's x86. AMD says it's aimed at industrial, datacenter, and communications applications.
Some Notes About Our Recommendations
This list is for gamers who want to get the most for their money. If you don’t play games, then the CPUs on this list may not be suitable for your particular needs.
The criteria to get on this list are strictly price/performance. We acknowledge that there are other factors that come into play, such as platform price or CPU overclockability, but we're not going to complicate things by factoring in motherboard costs. We may add honourable mentions for outstanding products in the future, though. For now, our recommendations are based on stock clock speeds and performance at that price.
Cost and availability change on a daily basis. We can’t offer up-to-the-minute accurate pricing information in the text, but we can list some good chips that you probably won’t regret buying at the price ranges we suggest.
The list is based on some of the best US prices from online retailers. In other countries or at retail stores, your mileage will most certainly vary. Of course, these are retail CPU prices. We do not list used or OEM CPUs available at retail.