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After a brisk September, filled with AMD CPU refreshes, October brings us Intel's new Pentium E5700. We're also getting a first look at the recently-released Phenom II X3 740. Oh, and there's that recent 50% price reduction on the speedy Core i7-950, too!
If you don’t have the time to research the 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.
The only new CPU since last month's update is the Intel Pentium E5700, a 3.0 GHz LGA 775 model similar to the rest of the Pentium E5000-series. The $85 price tag might make it interesting to folks upgrading an older motherboard limited to an 800 MHz front side bus, but the existing 3.3 GHz Pentium E6800 is more attractive to buyers who can accommodate the 1066 MHz bus speed. If you are, in fact, upgrading, the E6800 is still the chip we'd choose.
Aside from this, Intel recently dropped the price on its Core i7-950 to about $300--half of its previous $600 price tag. This makes it the most attractive LGA 1366 option by a landslide, and makes a 3+ GHz high-end rig a much more accessible option.
There's nothing new at retail from AMD. But cut the company some slack--it launched a number of revised models back in September. We are seeing a very interesting OEM processor on the radar, though: the Phenom II X3 740 Black Edition. With three cores, a 3.0 GHz clock, 6 MB of L3 cache, an unlocked multiplier, and a $90 price tag this processor seems designed around the needs of budget gamers and tweakers. The chip's OEM status, associated 30-day warranty, and lack of bundled cooler make it difficult to give it a full recommendation. On the other hand, it certainly deserves honorable mention status for gamers who can see the value that this processor brings to the table. Incidentally, AMD was thinking about launching this chip about a year ago and pulled back from that plan. Clearly, the landscape has changed enough from then until now to warrant making the 740 available.
There's not much else to talk about at this point--well, nothing that we're allowed to talk about just yet--but I think it's safe to say that the near future will have some interesting surprises for the CPU enthusiasts out there. Keep your eye on Tom's Hardware!
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 honorable 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 (and our PriceGrabber-based engine will help track down some of the best prices for you).
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.