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Best Gaming CPU: Under $90

Best Gaming CPUs For The Money: July 2010
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Best Gaming CPU for ~$70:

Athlon II X3 435 (Check Prices)

Athlon II X3 435
Codename: Rana
Process: 45 nm
CPU Cores: 3
Clock Speed:   2.9 GHz
Socket: AM2+/AM3
L1 Cache:   3 x 128 KB
L2 Cache:   3 x 512 KB
HyperTransport: 4,000 MT/s
Thermal Envelope:
95 W

We can no longer ignore the advantage three processor cores offer in a gaming environment, so even though the lowest priced triple-core Athlon II we can find is $70, that's our new bottom-end recommendation.

The Athlon II X3 435 offers a trio of execution cores and a very respectable 2.9 GHz clock speed. As a bonus, that extra core will also make a notable difference in multi-tasking performance. This model has good overclocking headroom if you want to push it a little further, so you can take it beyond what that low $70 buy-in implies.

The Athlon II X3 425's attractive price tag completely edges out the Athlon II dual-core models from our list of recommendations.

Best Gaming CPU for ~$85:

Athlon II X3 445 (Check Prices)

Athlon II X3 445
Codename: Rana
Process: 45 nm
CPU Cores: 3
Clock Speed:  3.1 GHz
Socket: AM2+/AM3
L1 Cache:   3 x 128 KB
L2 Cache:   3 x 512 KB
HyperTransport: 4,000 MT/s
Thermal Envelope:
95 W

The Athlon II X3 440 recently dropped in price to $75 in response to the Athlon II X3 445 model replacing it. While we like the lower price, we're going to lean toward the faster model this time around.

The fastest triple-core Athlon II available, the Athlon II X3 445 sports an ideal combination of multiple CPU cores, a high 3.1 GHz clock rate, low price, and respectable overclockability. It is such a great gaming CPU, in fact, that it almost renders most of the CPUs in the $100 to $130 range overkill. Intel's Core i3-530 does manage to up the ante, but it costs $30 more, and doesn't perform as well when multitasking due to its dual-core architecture.

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