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.
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 .
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.