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Best Gaming CPU: Under $90

Best Gaming CPUs For The Money: February '10
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Best Gaming CPU for ~$60:

Athlon II X2 245 (Check Prices)

Athlon II X2 245
Codename: Regor
Process: 45nm
CPU Cores: 2
Clock Speed:   2.9 GHz
Socket: AM2+/AM3
L1 Cache: 2 x 64KB
L2 Cache: 2 x 1MB
HyperTransport: 4,000 MHz
Thermal Envelope:
65W

With better CPUs encroaching on the Athlon II X2 250's price point, we shed a few dollars and reinstated the 245 as our choice for a gaming CPU on a rock-bottom budget.

This chip allows the flexibility to go one of two different ways: either drop it in as an upgrade for your Socket AM2+-based platform or build a brand new, low-cost Socket AM3 machine based on it. With a high 2.9 GHz clock speed, the Athlon II X2 245 offers excellent gaming performance at the price. Moreover, its 65W thermal design power is great for electricity- and heat-conscious enthusiasts.

Best Gaming CPU for ~$75:

Athlon II X3 435 (Check Prices)

Athlon II X3 435
Codename: Rana
Process: 45nm
CPU Cores: 3
Clock Speed:   2.9 GHz
Socket: AM2+/AM3
L1 Cache:   3 x 64KB
L2 Cache:   3 x 512KB
HyperTransport: 4,000 MHz
Thermal Envelope:
95W

The Athlon II X3 435 boasts three execution cores. And, compared to a dual-core processor, that extra core will make a notable difference in multi-tasking performance, as well as game play. This model also has good overclocking headroom if you want to push it a little further. On top of everything else, it has dropped in price now that the new Athlon II X3 440 model has arrived.

Read our review of the Athlon II X3 435, right here.

Best gaming CPU for ~$90:

Athlon II X3 440

Athlon II X3 440
Codename: Rana
Process: 45nm
CPU Cores: 3
Clock Speed:  3.0 GHz
Socket: AM2+/AM3
L1 Cache:   3 x 64KB
L2 Cache:   3 x 512KB
HyperTransport: 4,000 MHz
Thermal Envelope:
95W

From a stock performance standpoint, the Athlon II X3 440 only offers a 100 MHz speed bump over the Athlon II X3 435. However, the higher multiplier might help if your goal is overclocking.

When you consider the big picture, this CPU really offers an attractive combination of multiple CPU cores, high clock speed, low price, and overclockability. It is such a great gaming CPU, in fact, that it almost renders most of the CPUs in the $100 to $140 range redundant from a gaming standpoint, so most of our recommendations in this range are specifically for overclockers and users upgrading an older platform.

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