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.
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.