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Conclusion: Performance Per Dollar

Best Gaming CPUs For The Money: July 2014

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 performance 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 on Newegg. Clicking a bar or dot gives you the option of shopping for a specific CPU, taking you to a link of our pick 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 $75 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 74.99 Amazon 75 58 76 69.7
Athlon X4 750K 80.00 Newegg 72 56 76 68
AMD FX-6300 120 Newegg 73 61 87 74
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

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