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Best Gaming CPUs For The Money: October 2014

Best Gaming CPUs For The Money: October 2014

This month witnesses the introduction of new budget-oriented AMD Athlon X4 860K and Intel Pentium G3250 processors, along with a surprising number of price adjustments from both camps. Even still, our list of recommendations goes relatively unscathed.

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.

October Updates: 

Two new budget-oriented processors were launched since last month's update: AMD's Athlon X4 860K and Intel's Pentium G3250. Both can be described as modified versions of existing products.

The Athlon X4 860K is essentially an A10-7850K APU with its on-die graphics processor disabled. It even shares the same 3.7GHz base and 4GHz Turbo Core clock rate. On one hand, it employs the Kaveri architecture and its improved IPC throughput. On the other, it doesn't reach the same high frequencies as Trinity-based alternatives. As such, we're not particularly enthusiastic about this $90 multiplier-unlocked Athlon.

Intel's Pentium G3250 is basically a multiplier-locked version of the 3.2GHz Pentium G3258. I understand the need for an unlocked Pentium, but I'm not sure why this new CPU's price tag is $5 higher than the G3258. It's new on the market, so I'd expect it to come down in price shortly. For now, though, there's no reason to choose it over the cheaper unlocked option.

Fortunately, the past month saw interesting movement from Intel's prices. The Core i3-3220T, i5-4670K and i7-4770S dropped $5, and the Core i3-4150, i3-2105 and i5-4440S got $10 cheaper. We also saw the Core i3-3250 shed $30, landing at $120. Meanwhile, the Pentium G3240 and Core i5-4590 went up $5, while the Pentium G1850, Core i5-4430, i7-3770 and i7-4790S rose $10. The Core i7-4770 got bumped by $15, too. The vast majority of these changes have no effect on our recommendations, although, at $180, the Core i5-4430 gets replaced by the faster $190 Core i5-4460 in our coveted list. 

From AMD's camp, the A4-5150, A8-6600K, FX-6350 and FX-8320E are $5 cheaper. The A10-5800K, A8-7600 and FX-8370 are $10 less expensive as well. Finally, the FX-8370E lands at $195, which is $15 less than last month. Speaking of the FX-8370E, our own Igor Wallossek spent some time investigating the lower power requirement of AMD's 95W eight-core processor, and you can read more in AMD FX-8370E Review: Pulling The Handbrake For More Efficiency.

As for upcoming products, we're still waiting for Core M-equipped laptops and convertibles to make it to market. The data we derive from testing them may give us some interesting insights into the desktop-oriented versions of Broadwell-based CPUs that we should see arrive in 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.               

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Top Comments
  • 14 Hide
    Treynolds416 , September 16, 2014 9:43 PM
    No recommendation/honorable mention of i7-5820k in article whaaaaat
Other Comments
  • 0 Hide
    adamovera , September 16, 2014 9:22 PM
    Archived comments are found here:
  • 14 Hide
    Treynolds416 , September 16, 2014 9:43 PM
    No recommendation/honorable mention of i7-5820k in article whaaaaat
  • -1 Hide
    blackmagnum , September 16, 2014 9:47 PM
    If I was paying for the electricity, I would be picking Intel for my builds. What benefit do AMD's current CPUs have over Intel other than price and 'competition'?
  • 0 Hide
    Amdlova , September 16, 2014 9:53 PM
    i love the pentium g3258.
  • 2 Hide
    UltimateDeep , September 16, 2014 9:58 PM
    Agreed with Treynolds416.

    All things considered, I would pick the Core i7 5820K over the 5930K. The processor itself is priced just very slightly over the 4790K and will still perform quite a bit better in Heavily threaded apps and gaming. I wouldn't care much about the lack of 12 PCI-E lanes because I wouldn't cramp in anything more than 2 GPUs anyways. Apart from the -12 PCI-E Lanes, the 5820K is still pretty much a 5930K; even if that was clocked lower, you can Overclock it so no difference at all.
  • 4 Hide
    hmp_goose , September 16, 2014 11:32 PM
    Sooo we still don't know if the new FX's will overclock to the same Hz using less W?
  • 0 Hide
    Subhe Kudsi , September 17, 2014 12:03 AM
    How about i3-4330 110$ @ Amazon ?

    Cpu benchmarks at 5000 ( 2000 single thread)
  • 4 Hide
    de5_Roy , September 17, 2014 12:31 AM
    amd should launch steamroller-b based athlon x4 860K a.s.a.p. i wanna see how it fares against the pentium g3258.
  • 2 Hide
    Memnarchon , September 17, 2014 12:41 AM
    Since Intel has the same price for i5 4440 and i5 4430, why placing best gaming CPU for $180 the i5 4430? i5 4440 is clocked 100Mhz higher.
  • 0 Hide
    RCPG , September 17, 2014 2:50 AM
    There's a typo on the recommendation of Intel Core i7-5930K. In the text it say's Core i7-3530K and should say Core i7-5930K.
  • 1 Hide
    Drejeck , September 17, 2014 3:30 AM
    Based on this article I would like to know about the 35W TDP options.
    I'm building a gaming HTPC with a PicoPSU 160XT (which has 96w of continuous output) and a GTX 750Ti from KFA2. I know that the i3 4130T fits the power requirements but I wish to know if stepping up to a 4C/4T with lower frequencies is better. In my opinion it should. Meanwhile I think I'll wait Broadwell K and the Impact VII ITX.
  • 1 Hide
    Drejeck , September 17, 2014 3:50 AM
    Yes I'm interested in 860K both for power consumption and performance in the entry level. I don't like 2M/4T architecture. I want AMD to go back to SMT architecture and if possible triple core processors.
  • 2 Hide
    Onus , September 17, 2014 4:04 AM
    Until I see the stuttering issue thoroughly addressed, I won't even consider the G3258 for a gamer. Maybe it's fine, but if it isn't, a lot of buyers will be severely irritated if they buy one. Tests please! And, this is one where balance matters. I know you typically isolate CPU performance by using a top-end graphics card, but in this case that may be little more than giving this chip the rope by which to hang itself. G3258+R7 260X may be more enjoyable than G3258+R9 290 (even if settings must be lowered), and AMD+nVidia differences may matter too, like R7 260X vs. GTX750Ti.
  • 1 Hide
    SU11YBEAR , September 17, 2014 4:44 AM
    Small typo in the 5930K article
    "Four hundred dollars and change left over, and an Intel Core i7-3530K. "

    As many have argued I would have liked to see the 5820K as an honorable mention but with the caveat that any build will cost more due to the high price of DDR4 right now.
    Also would be nice to see more segregation at the top of the hierarchy right now there are 39 (by my quick count) processors listed in the top bracket
  • -3 Hide
    Onus , September 17, 2014 5:50 AM
    The top tiers definitely need to be spread out. There is no way that AMD is going to be that near the top.
  • 1 Hide
    Agera One , September 17, 2014 6:58 AM
    Why don't you list the famous i5-4440 processor in hierarchy chart?
  • 0 Hide
    Agera One , September 17, 2014 7:02 AM
    I have the same question !
  • -1 Hide
    beavermml , September 17, 2014 7:16 AM
    so when my i5-2500K will be considered as obsolete??
  • 1 Hide
    Amdlova , September 17, 2014 7:35 AM
    tomshardware need test the 5820k x 5860k with 32gb DDR4 dual crossfire 290x. see what diference we will find with 28 lanes or 40 lanes of pci-e.
  • 1 Hide
    Amdlova , September 17, 2014 7:36 AM
    *****ops "5830k"
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