In an effort to further illustrate the performance you get for every dollar spent on our recommendations, we chart out the hierarchy of processors in our column. The green, blue, black, and red bars represent average frame rates in StarCraft II, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Far Cry 3, and an aggregate of all three titles. The orange line indicates cost. Mousing over the bars gives you a pop-up with performance statistics relative to Intel's Core i7-4930K, our 100% ceiling. Mousing over the dots on the orange line pops up a price that's easily attainable. Clicking a bar or dot gives you the option of shopping for a specific CPU, taking you to a link of our choice in that category. Often, our picks are priced lower than the number displayed.
Price and performance generally scale along a similar upward trend as we look down the chart, not including the pricey Core i7 options. Budget-oriented gamers should pay attention to the significant performance increase available when you step up from the $70 Pentium G3258 to the $125 Core i3-4130, though. The $200 Core i5-4590 looks great, offering performance close to more expensive options that cost well over $200.
After that, the speed-ups are more subtle, while the premiums are far greater (particularly as you look to the $570 Core i7-4930K). Frankly, if value is an important consideration, there's little reason to spend $200 on a Core i5-4590 (or even more on a Core i7) unless you want to overclock it for a better experience in some of your other apps. The Core i5-4590 is a clear performance-per-dollar winner, demonstrating no weaknesses in any of the games we've tested.
|Price||Starcraft||Skyrim||Far Cry 3||Average|
|Intel Pentium G3258||70.00||Amazon||75||58||76||69.7|
|Intel Core i3-4130||125||Newegg||85||74||84||81|
|Intel Core i5-4590||200||Newegg||99||97||95||97|
|Intel Core i5-4690K||240||Newegg||99||97||95||97|
|Intel Core i7-4790K||340||Newegg||100||100||100||100|
|Intel Core i7-4930K||570||Newegg||100||100||100||100|