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Best Gaming CPUs For The Money: April 2014

Best Gaming CPUs For The Money: April 2014
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In this month's update, we discuss one processor introduction, plus notable price changes to 12 existing products. We also cover some of the news from Intel regarding its Haswell refresh and Z97 chipset, Haswell-E, and the next-gen Broadwell architecture.

If you don’t have the time to research 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.

April Updates: 

With AMD focusing on the mainstream space with its APUs, there's not a lot going on in the CPU market to excite gamers. Just one processor surfaced in the last month for us to mention: AMD's A4-6320. Priced at $60, this dual-core model runs at a base frequency of 3.8 GHz, which scales up to 4.0 GHz through Turbo Core. That's a 100 MHz jump over the A4-6300. In response, the -6300 drops from $60 to $55. Neither model interests us today, so our recommendations aren't affected by them.

Surprisingly, we saw a significant number of price drops over the last month, though. From AMD, the A6-6400K went from $75 to $60, shedding $15 bucks. The Sempron 145, A8-6600K, A10-5800K, A10-6800K, and A10-7850K all cut $10, giving us prices of $40, $110, $120, $130, and $175, respectively. The A4-4000 and A4-6300 fell $5 each, landing at $45 and $55.

Intel's pricing is typically more stable. But I also noticed the company hacking into a couple of its products as well. The Pentium G2130 went from $90 to $73, saving you $17. The Pentium G3420 received a $7 haircut, and now it sells for $80. Finally, the Celeron G1820 and Core i3-4130T are $5 less, at $45 and $135, respectively.

Unfortunately, none of the price-reduced processors from AMD or Intel represent top-tier gaming value, so our recommendations do not accommodate them.

Aside from gaming, we learned that Intel added Quick Sync support to some Celeron and Pentium processors. Previously, the company used its accelerated video transcoding technology as a differentiating feature to encourage the purchase of higher-end Core i3, i5, and i7 CPUs. Getting the capability's benefits on more affordable hardware is something we like to see, particularly since the owners of low-end platforms stand to gain the most from it.

Fortunately, the weeks to come shouldn't be as dry. Intel gave us some details at GDC of what we can expect. First, it noted that we'll see the Haswell-based "Devil's Canyon" refresh mid-year, after motherboards featuring the Z97 Express Platform Controller Hub start shipping. Those CPUs will sport updated thermal interface material to improve cooling performance. We're also told that a multiplier-unlocked Pentium Anniversary edition is on its way, which should make for fun value-oriented overclocking. All of the information in our roadmaps was confirmed when Intel added that its Haswell-E-based processors will employ DDR4 memory and the X99 chipset. Finally, company representatives reiterated that there are plans to introduce socketed Broadwell-based processors with integrated Iris Pro graphics, although there's still no launch date to mention. We expect to be waiting until 2015. 

Some Notes About Our Recommendations

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. Remember to check out our new performance per dollar comparison page, where you can overlay the benchmark data we’ve generated with pricing, giving you a better idea where your ideal choice falls on the value curve.

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.               

Display 1427 Comments.
  • 21 Hide
    sarinaide , January 15, 2013 1:15 PM
    Does this look different from last year, AMD parts look more reasonably placed yet leaves a lot to be desired in many regards but I will leave that out as long as some Intel entrants seemingly very oddly placed.

    I would say that the FX8350/8320 possibly should occupy the bottom of tier 1, the FX6300, 4170, 6200 and 1100T top of tier 2 and some Trinity parts need to be buffed up a notch or two as in many instances the 5800K rivaled the 3220 in many gaming metrics discrete performance. that said compared to last years articles this is far more realistic and I wonder why a whole year went to pass before this realization.
  • 51 Hide
    virtualban , January 15, 2013 1:19 PM
    I am no fan of reverse order posts, but since you keep the same article link month after month, maybe you should put the newest comments first.
  • 13 Hide
    badtaylorx , January 15, 2013 1:23 PM
    funny how valid the phenom II x4 are.....i have a 975 and a 980 but no more amd boards.....maybe i should try to trade them for something
  • 0 Hide
    Sakkura , January 15, 2013 2:34 PM
    Quote:
    Benchmark data makes it clear that Intel's Hyper-Threading technology is effective in mitigating the limitations of a dual-core CPU in games.

    Woah, what? :o 

    I can't wait to see that benchmark data now! 'Hyperthreading = useless for gaming' has been the mantra for years and years, this could really shake things up.
  • 38 Hide
    dscudella , January 15, 2013 2:59 PM
    Quote:
    Quote:
    Benchmark data makes it clear that Intel's Hyper-Threading technology is effective in mitigating the limitations of a dual-core CPU in games.

    Woah, what? :o 

    I can't wait to see that benchmark data now! 'Hyperthreading = useless for gaming' has been the mantra for years and years, this could really shake things up.


    It shows up in the Far Cry 3 Benchmarks right here on Tom's.

  • 17 Hide
    cleeve , January 15, 2013 3:30 PM
    ronch79You can buy the FX-8350 for $200 or less.Tigerdirect: http://www.tigerdirect.com/applica [...] CatId=7339Microcenter: http://www.microcenter.com/product [...] _ProcessorI hope you guys do a better job looking for prices next time. It's not like Microcenter and Tigerdirect are not well-known in the enthusiast community, to which these monthly articles are aimed at.


    Tigerdirect is having a short-term sale, and Microcenter has no on-line option so you have to live close to one. Regardless, it doesn't have an impact on the recommendations as the Core i5 is a much better performer in games for the $.

    You need to do a better job of criticizing. Try reading the first page, it'll help. :) 

  • 31 Hide
    cleeve , January 15, 2013 3:33 PM
    antiglobalAMD FX-4300 has 4 cores and 4 threads, not 2 cores and 4 threads.


    That's subjective as it's a hybrid. But since Windows 8 calls it a 2 core/4 thread processor that's how I'll list it.
  • 74 Hide
    cleeve , January 15, 2013 3:34 PM
    JustPosting101Wow... serious AMD Bias in this article, I mean... an Athlon II x4? Really???


    Interesting you should accuse bias before you've seen the objective benchmarks we're about to release...

    Maybe you should look for bias in the mirror... ;) 
  • -8 Hide
    Sakkura , January 15, 2013 3:46 PM
    Quote:
    It shows up in the Far Cry 3 Benchmarks right here on Tom's.

    I thought that was just an outlier. Like when the FX 8350 outpaced everything Intel offers in Medal of Honor: Warfighter.
  • 7 Hide
    lothdk , January 15, 2013 3:54 PM
    CleeveTigerdirect is having a short-term sale, and Microcenter has no on-line option so you have to live close to one. Regardless, it doesn't have an impact on the recommendations as the Core i5 is a much better performer in games for the $.You need to do a better job of criticizing. Try reading the first page, it'll help.


    Hehe Cleeve, did you just respond to a month old post, nice to see this format with reusing the same link and thus responses are causing you "problems" too.
  • 1 Hide
    JonnyDough , January 15, 2013 3:57 PM
    CleeveThat's subjective as it's a hybrid. But since Windows 8 calls it a 2 core/4 thread processor that's how I'll list it.


    But just because Windows sees it that way, does that mean all apps will?
  • 0 Hide
    ojas , January 15, 2013 4:08 PM
    So absolutely no gain in any modern game from the additional threads of an i7-3770K?
    In which case, why suggest anything more than a 3570K?

    Side Note: Anything that equals a Core 2 Quad Q8400 isn't good enough any more. You'll be bottle-necked. Just my personal experience.
  • 12 Hide
    Sakkura , January 15, 2013 4:13 PM
    Quote:
    But just because Windows sees it that way, does that mean all apps will?

    Apps don't see it at all. They just hand the work over to Windows, which then decides how to assign it.
  • 1 Hide
    JonnyDough , January 15, 2013 4:15 PM
    ojasSo absolutely no gain in any modern game from the additional threads of an i7-3770K?In which case, why suggest anything more than a 3570K?Side Note: Anything that equals a Core 2 Quad Q8400 isn't good enough any more. You'll be bottle-necked. Just my personal experience.


    Most sites don't, and I don't know if this one does either. That's not to say that future games won't take advantage of extra cache, higher clock speeds, more threads than modern games do.
  • 11 Hide
    cleeve , January 15, 2013 4:15 PM
    JonnyDoughBut just because Windows sees it that way, does that mean all apps will?


    I don't understand the relevancy of how apps see it.

    Apps see four threads if they see anything at all. The same thing they see with a hyperthreaded dual-core processor or a true quad-core.
  • 0 Hide
    JonnyDough , January 15, 2013 4:16 PM
    SakkuraApps don't see it at all. They just hand the work over to Windows, which then decides how to assign it.


    Some apps are written for a single core, does this not pertain to this?
  • 8 Hide
    cleeve , January 15, 2013 4:19 PM
    lothdkHehe Cleeve, did you just respond to a month old post, nice to see this format with reusing the same link and thus responses are causing you "problems" too.


    Well, I didn't respond before, so I responded now. :) 

    I know the comment situation is far from ideal, I never said otherwise. Just the reality of keeping a static URL for the monthly updates. The web team should remove the old responses soon...
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