Here are the best gaming CPUs for the money. These processors offer the best performance at their price and are suitable for overclocking.
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.
Our CPU Charts have been recently updated to include new benchmarks, workloads and more than 50 CPU test subjects. We’ll continue adding to the list just as we have in the past. The CPU Hierarchy table has also been updated and is now located in its own separate article.
Updates - May 2016
Our recommendations from last month carry over to May, though we're not as enthused about one in particular.
It seems that the popularity of AMD's FX-8300 didn't go unnoticed. It's now up $10 to $120, while the FX-6300 we recently bumped from our list dropped to $100. Previously, they were only separated by $5. We're still recommending the -8300. However, you'll have to weigh its immediate utility as a solid mid-range CPU against the Core i3-6100's more modern and scalable platform. Of course, four Piledriver modules are going to outperform a pair of Hyper-Threaded Skylake cores in taxing workloads.
There's something else to think about on AMD's end: new thermal solutions. Up until now we've recommended low-cost Athlon and FX CPUs assuming you'd have to go out and spend money on a more capable heat sink and fan. But now the company is offering the Wraith Cooler with its FX-8370, -8350, -6350 and A10-7890K, while the near-silent 125W thermal solutions are found with A10-7870K and Athlon X4 880K processors. Hopefully by next month we'll see broader availability of the new processor/cooler bundles
Should you pay an extra $10 to get the 860K with AMD's near-silent 95W heat sink and fan? How about $30 more for the 880K's 300MHz-faster base clock rate and 125W thermal solution? That's up to you. At least for this month, we're keeping the old $70 860K as our entry-level selection.
On the topic of our least-expensive pick, we spent some time talking to AMD about the new Athlon X4 845 last week, confirming that our original assessment of it was correct. In short, the dual-module, Excavator-based processor would be great in small form factor PCs dedicated to media playback and light gaming in the living room. But enthusiasts are still better off with the overclockable and more desktop-oriented Athlon X4 860K, despite its older Steamroller microarchitecture.
At the other end of the spectrum, affluent enthusiasts might want to hold off before investing in a Core i7-5820K or even -6700K. The introduction of Intel's Broadwell-E-based Core i7s is right around the corner for its X99 platform, and you can bet we'll have a full accounting of the launch.