In this month's update, we discuss the new A4-4020 and A4-6420K APUs, AMD's low-power, entry-level Socket FS1b-based platform, and how it will stack up against Intel's counterpart, Bay Trail-D. We also report on a handful of price changes in the market.
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.
The past month was quiet in the processor market, with a few minor exceptions. Two AMD APUs recently surfaced online: the dual-core A4-4020 runs at 3.2 GHz by default and up to 3.4 GHz under the right thermal conditions, and the A4-6420K with a base 4 GHz frequency and 4.2 GHz ceiling. These are small updates to the existing A4-4000 and A6-6400K, with a 200 and 100 MHz clock rate bump compared to their predecessors, respectively. The good news is that both APUs are selling for the same price as the older models. Then again, they're not suitable for this gaming-oriented column. We're sticking with quad-core processors still.
Also coming from AMD, the company is re-branding its low-power Socket FS1b interface for Kabini-based APUs as the AM1 platform. You might have already seen our coverage in AMD AM1 Platform Aimed at Budget Computing Under $400. Recall that the Kabini APU is based on the company's Jaguar core design, already prominent in both Microsoft's Xbox One and Sony's PlayStation 4. On the PC side, Kabini contains up to four x86 cores and 128 GCN-based shaders.
This should be interesting competition for Intel's Bay Trail-D platform, which features soldered-down SoCs rather than AMD's socketed APUs. We've seen a number of motherboard manufacturers announce boards with Celeron J1800 and J1900 processors, so it seems reasonable to expect a low-budget battle. Keep checking Tom's Hardware for a comparison between these two entry-level platforms, though don't expect them to encroach on Best Gaming CPUs For The Money.
As for pricing moves, there's not much to report. The CPU market is quite stable, with no game-changing products expected in the near future. The most significant price drop we could find was the Haswell-based Celeron G1820, which now sells for $50 instead of $60. It's not exactly on our radar, though, as gamers.
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.