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Best Gaming CPU: Under $90

Best Gaming CPUs For The Money: May 2010
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Best Gaming CPU for ~$65:

Athlon II X2 250

Athlon II X2 250
Codename: Regor
Process: 45 nm
CPU Cores: 2
Clock Speed:   3 GHz
Socket: AM2+/AM3
L1 Cache: 2 x 64KB
L2 Cache: 2 x 1MB
HyperTransport: 4,000 MT/s
Thermal Envelope:
65W

Now that its price has dropped a little, our starting point this month is the Athlon II X2 250.

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 3 GHz clock speed, the Athlon II X2 250 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: 45 nm
CPU Cores: 3
Clock Speed:   2.9 GHz
Socket: AM2+/AM3
L1 Cache:   3 x 64KB
L2 Cache:   3 x 512KB
HyperTransport: 4,000 MT/s
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 recently 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 ~$85:

Athlon II X3 440 (Check Prices)

Athlon II X3 440
Codename: Rana
Process: 45 nm
CPU Cores: 3
Clock Speed:  3.0 GHz
Socket: AM2+/AM3
L1 Cache:   3 x 64KB
L2 Cache:   3 x 512KB
HyperTransport: 4,000 MT/s
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 ultimate 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 $130 range redundant. As a result, most of our recommendations in this range are aimed specifically at overclockers and users upgrading an older platform.

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