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Best Gaming CPUs For The Money: August 2014

Best Gaming CPUs For The Money: August 2014
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Over the last month, a myriad of price changes hit the processor market. We tell you if any of them affect your buying strategy. On top of that, we discuss rumors surrounding AMD's next-generation Corrizo APU and Intel's upcoming eight-core Haswell-E.

Over the last month, a myriad of price changes hit the processor market. We tell you if any of them affect your buying strategy. On top of that, we discuss rumors surrounding AMD's next-generation Corrizo APU and Intel's upcoming eight-core Haswell-E.

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.

August Updates: 

We're in the middle of a summer calm, which precedes the holiday season storm. So, it's not surprising that we don't have any new CPUs to talk about. There was a bit of price movement last month, though. And we do have upcoming products to discuss.

Let's start with AMD. The entry-level A4-6300 APU shed $5 to land at $50. Meanwhile, the higher-end A10-7850K APU dropped $10 and now costs $170. Surprisingly, there are also price increases to report. AMD's Athlon 5150 went up $5 to $55, while both the A10-6800K and FX-8350 rose $10 to $150 and $190, respectively. Finally, the FX-4350 is back to $130 after a short-term sale price of $100 on Newegg. The good news, at least, is that none of those changes affect our recommendations.

There were also some changes to the prices of Intel processors. The $50 Celeron G1850, $60 Pentium G3240, $70 Pentium G3258, $195 Core i5-4570, $210 Core i5-4690S, $235 Core i5-4670K, $300 Core i7-4790S, and $335 Core i7-4770K all sell for $5 less than they did at the beginning of July. Conversely, the Celeron G1820 and Core i3-4350 are up $5 to $50 and $150, respectively. Again, none of that price action affects our recommendation list. Still, the small drop on the Pentium G3258 is a pleasant surprise given the considerable value it offers to gamers on a budget.

Speaking of the Pentium G3258, Chris Angelini took a closer look at its behavior matched up to a no-frills motherboard and stock heat sink in The Pentium G3258 Cheap Overclocking Experiment, which is worth a read if you're curious about the highest possible performance you can achieve with the lowest investment. With the G3258's potential more than proven, we've removed the Athlon X4 750K from our recommended list.

From the rumor mill, we recently reported that AMD's upcoming Carizo APUs are expected to feature stacked on-die memory to increase performance. This really won't be a surprise; it makes sense in light of AMD's goals as a purveyor of heterogeneous processing. But we're of course curious to see just how much of an impact it has on the company's next-gen APU, should the claim turn out to be true. Read more in Report: AMD Carrizo APUs To Get Stacked On-Die Memory.

The Internet is also buzzing about an eight-core Haswell-E CPU (capable of scheduling up to 16 threads thanks to Hyper-Threading) expected in the fall time frame. That's also no surprise, as it lines up with Intel's roadmap. To learn more, check out Report: Haswell-E CPUs to Debut in September.

In addition to those stories, take a peek at our Report on the Specifications of Intel 100-Series Chipsets and information that suggests VIA is Working on a New x86 Chip.

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 all 57 comments.
  • 2 Hide
    adamovera , August 4, 2014 8:36 PM
    Archived comments are found here: http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/id-2204550/gaming-cpus-money-january-2012.html
  • -4 Hide
    Achoo22 , August 4, 2014 9:30 PM
    This is the first round-up I can remember that didn't recommend AMD CPUs at any price range, but I seriously doubt it will be the last.
  • 0 Hide
    Swaagath , August 4, 2014 10:54 PM
    Its nice to hear
  • 0 Hide
    Alex Kelly , August 5, 2014 12:32 AM
    Great post! I 100% agree with all of these recommendations.
  • -1 Hide
    Bob0jones , August 5, 2014 12:58 AM
    Won't the g3258 need a bios update prior to using it in a cheap motherboard? So you would have to buy two processors to get it to work. Correct me if i'm wrong.
  • 2 Hide
    Alex Kelly , August 5, 2014 1:00 AM
    Quote:
    Won't the g3258 need a bios update prior to using it in a cheap motherboard? So you would have to buy two processors to get it to work. Correct me if i'm wrong.


    You can update the BIOS using BIOS flashback, but it's very inconvenient.
    Most of the time the older motherboards have already been updated to a newer BIOS.
  • 3 Hide
    chimera201 , August 5, 2014 1:31 AM
    Pentium G3258 is in Tier 5 and Athlon X4 750K is in Tier 3 in the Gaming CPU Hierarchy Chart when tomsHardware itself reviewed G3258 and found it to be better than X4 750K.
  • -9 Hide
    ta152h , August 5, 2014 2:00 AM
    Once again proving my assessment that Tom's doesn't pay attention to detail, and puts out low quality articles that lack professionalism, and accuracy, on the first page, we get two misspellings of Carrizo. The first has it as "Corrizo", the next as "Carizo".

    You really think we can take any information seriously regarding this, when you can't even figure out how to spell the name. Twice.

    Good grief, why can't you guys figure this kind of stuff out? What gift did God give you that prevents you from being embarrassed that you're trying to give information out on something you can't even spell right? One time, typo, which really shouldn't get through editing (you can forgive the first person, but how does this never get caught by the proofreader?). Twice? It's hard to understand.
  • 6 Hide
    Alex Kelly , August 5, 2014 2:13 AM
    Quote:
    Once again proving my assessment that Tom's doesn't pay attention to detail, and puts out low quality articles that lack professionalism, and accuracy, on the first page, we get two misspellings of Carrizo. The first has it as "Corrizo", the next as "Carizo".

    You really think we can take any information seriously regarding this, when you can't even figure out how to spell the name. Twice.

    Good grief, why can't you guys figure this kind of stuff out? What gift did God give you that prevents you from being embarrassed that you're trying to give information out on something you can't even spell right? One time, typo, which really shouldn't get through editing (you can forgive the first person, but how does this never get caught by the proofreader?). Twice? It's hard to understand.


    Get over it! It's a typo, for gods sake...
    This is a great quality article. The fact that they misspelled something doesn't change that.
    You need to grow up.
  • 2 Hide
    Memnarchon , August 5, 2014 4:30 AM
    This hierarchy chart needs to be changed. i5 2300 (2,8Ghz Sandybridge 4c4t) is not by any means in the same tier as i7 4790K (4Ghz Haswell 4c8t). Not to mention the i7 950 in the same tier as Athlon X4 640 while the athlon 640 cannot even beat i3 530...
  • 7 Hide
    alithegreat , August 5, 2014 6:07 AM
    I am using Phenom II X4 965, and according to your chart, upgrading to i7 4770K from X4 980 will be pointless...

    There is a clear mistake here, the higher tiers must have more segments. You should add at least 3 more tiers and place i5's and i7's accordingly.
  • 0 Hide
    maddogfargo , August 5, 2014 6:42 AM
    I'd like to see the older, low core count games removed from the benchmarks altogether. Starcraft 2 and Skyrim are both 3+ years old now, and testing for 1-2 core performance is backward thinking.

    Devs are going for more cores on nearly every recent release. Adherance to an old standards provides outdated information and flawed conclusions on what we should get for a current build.

    Factor in the plethora of forum posters asking about 'future proofing' and it should be obvious that your audience is looking forward, not back. We need a new, updated comparison chart and CPU hierarchy chart that represents the current state of gaming...not one that is 3-4 years old.
  • 0 Hide
    Onus , August 5, 2014 6:53 AM
    Quote:
    Pentium G3258 is in Tier 5 and Athlon X4 750K is in Tier 3 in the Gaming CPU Hierarchy Chart when tomsHardware itself reviewed G3258 and found it to be better than X4 750K.

    The reason for this is that the charts are based on stock performance. As such, it can be an appropriate guide for someone who doesn't overclock. Someone who does OC presumably knows to adjust performance expectations accordingly.
    I do agree that the uppermost tiers need to be broken up and spread out. If that leaves AMD lagging, so be it; if the shoe fits, etc.
    Also, with the possibility of stuttering I've seen mentioned regarding the G3258 even overclocked, I'd like to see that topic explored a little more before recommending that one. Is there actually a problem? Is it limited to certain [types of] games, or not present in other [types of] games? Speaking for myself, I know I'd rather have a smooth 30FPS than a choppy 40FPS.
    Finally, not to be a Nazi about it, but I do believe that professionally-written articles should indeed minimize spelling (and other) errors. Do writers / editors pay attention to their PMs? If so, perhaps a polite PM rather than a public airing would be a better way to suggest corrections.

  • 0 Hide
    jdwii , August 5, 2014 7:12 AM
    I think its time you change the games in the list to BF4-Watch dogs also the 8320 is a Superior choice compared to a I3 in modern gaming and fast enough on older games.
  • 6 Hide
    filippi , August 5, 2014 9:07 AM
    Quote:
    This is the first round-up I can remember that didn't recommend AMD CPUs at any price range, but I seriously doubt it will be the last.


    Best Gaming CPU for $120: AMD FX-6300.
  • 3 Hide
    surphninja , August 5, 2014 9:10 AM
    Why is the i3-4130, which you recommended, not listed on the chart?
  • -1 Hide
    RedJaron , August 5, 2014 10:18 AM
    Quote:
    I think its time you change the games in the list to BF4-Watch dogs also the 8320 is a Superior choice compared to a I3 in modern gaming and fast enough on older games.

    And comparing a $125 CPU to a $160 chip is relevant how? The better question is why spend $40 more over the FX-6300 on a chip that largely doesn't gain you anything in a gaming sense? Especially if a tight budget is a big concern.
  • 1 Hide
    Shadowblade2652 , August 5, 2014 10:26 AM
    Just curious,
    Can you put a recommended GPU with each CPU so that people can kind of get a feel for what bottlenecks and what doesn't?
  • 2 Hide
    chimera201 , August 5, 2014 11:34 AM
    Quote:
    Quote:
    Pentium G3258 is in Tier 5 and Athlon X4 750K is in Tier 3 in the Gaming CPU Hierarchy Chart when tomsHardware itself reviewed G3258 and found it to be better than X4 750K.

    The reason for this is that the charts are based on stock performance. As such, it can be an appropriate guide for someone who doesn't overclock. Someone who does OC presumably knows to adjust performance expectations accordingly.
    I do agree that the uppermost tiers need to be broken up and spread out. If that leaves AMD lagging, so be it; if the shoe fits, etc.
    Also, with the possibility of stuttering I've seen mentioned regarding the G3258 even overclocked, I'd like to see that topic explored a little more before recommending that one. Is there actually a problem? Is it limited to certain [types of] games, or not present in other [types of] games? Speaking for myself, I know I'd rather have a smooth 30FPS than a choppy 40FPS.




    The G3258 beats X4 750K at stock according to tomsHardware in gaming. I'm saying that G3258 needs to be atleast on the same tier as X4 750K if not above. And the same also goes for rest of CPUs as others have said.

    For other countries, pricing and availability is different so this whole article is useless for them except for the Gaming CPU Hierarchy Chart. So it needs to be accurate. It is referred in forums quite often.
  • 0 Hide
    Onus , August 5, 2014 11:51 AM
    In that case, then yes the chart should be changed (I had not referred back to the report). Hopefully Don W. will review these comments and at least consider some of these changes being mentioned.
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