Best Budget CPU for gaming in 2023
Updated: Mar 14, 2023 11:24 am
What is the best budget CPU? It really all depends on what you define as “budget”. There are a lot of CPUs on the market today, all with vastly varying budgets in mind. Both AMD and Intel have been battling to bring the best CPUs to the market since we can remember, but there is one name that sticks out most when you think of a budget CPU. That name, of course, is AMD.
Now Read: Best CPU for gaming
Without further delay, here are our picks for the best budget CPU in 2023.
Best budget CPU: Top picks
best Budget CPU for productivity
Ryzen 5 5600X
AMD Ryzen 5 5600X
Best Budget CPU
Intel Core i3-10100F
best Budget CPU for gaming
Intel Core i5-12600KF
Best budget CPU: Things to consider
There are plenty of things to consider when opting for a budget CPU, factors range from Core speed to generation. We assume that you’re not going to be opting for the latest generation of CPUs, but we’ve included them just in case.
Here are what we believe to be the factors you should consider when finding the best budget CPU.
Cores and threads
A CPU’s cores are the processing units that execute instructions and perform calculations. The more cores a CPU has, the more tasks it can perform simultaneously. This can result in faster and more efficient processing of tasks, particularly in applications that can take advantage of multiple cores, such as video editing or rendering software.
Threads, on the other hand, are virtual cores that allow a single physical core to execute multiple tasks simultaneously. CPUs with support for multi-threading can handle more tasks concurrently than those without, resulting in faster processing times and improved overall performance.
The combination of core and thread count is important because it can have a significant impact on a CPU’s performance in different tasks. A CPU with a higher core count and multi-threading support can perform well in tasks that require high parallelisms, such as gaming, video editing, or scientific simulations. However, a CPU with fewer cores but higher clock speeds may perform better in tasks that require single-threaded performance, such as some gaming or office applications.
Core speed, also known as clock speed, refers to the rate at which a CPU’s processing cores can execute instructions. The higher the core speed, the faster the CPU can process data.
The importance of core speed in a CPU lies in its ability to affect overall system performance. A higher core speed can enable a CPU to complete more instructions per second, allowing for faster and more efficient processing of tasks, such as running applications or playing games.
CPU generation refers to the version or iteration of a CPU’s design and architecture. Each CPU generation represents an improvement or advancement over the previous generation, with enhancements to the design, architecture, and manufacturing process.
The importance of CPU generation lies in its impact on CPU performance. Newer generations of CPUs typically offer better performance and efficiency than older ones due to advancements in technology, such as increased core counts, higher clock speeds, and improvements in power efficiency.
For example, newer generations of CPUs may feature improved architectures that enable faster and more efficient processing of instructions. They may also include additional features, such as integrated graphics, enhanced security, or support for newer technologies like PCIe 5.0 or USB 4.
Additionally, newer CPU generations are often manufactured using smaller process nodes, which can result in lower power consumption and better thermal performance. This can be particularly important for laptops and other mobile devices where power efficiency is critical. But we don’t need to consider the mobile platform.
A CPU socket is a physical interface on a computer’s motherboard that houses the CPU. It is a connector that allows the CPU to communicate with other components on the motherboard, including memory, expansion cards, and storage drives.
The CPU socket is designed to match the specific requirements of the CPU, including its size, shape, and electrical properties. Different CPU models from different manufacturers have different socket types, so it is important to ensure that the motherboard socket matches the CPU socket type.
When installing or upgrading a CPU, it is essential to ensure compatibility between the CPU and the motherboard, including the socket type. If the CPU and the motherboard have different socket types, they will not be compatible, and the CPU will not fit or function correctly.
Now that we have the things to consider out of the way, we can start to home in on our choices for the best budget CPU. But what should you go for?
How good are modern budget CPUs?
Thanks to the fierce ongoing competition between the two tech giants, Intel and AMD, there are numerous budget-friendly processors available to you in 2023. Budget processors are designed to offer you the best performance for the price you pay. In other words, you get the best bang for your buck.
That’s not to say modern budget processors lack in performance, though. Budget processors are noticeably weaker than their more expensive counterparts from the same lineup, but the difference is felt mostly in productivity applications that rely heavily on multicore performance.
If you’re a casual PC user or interested in gaming, you’ll find the budget CPU we recommend more than capable of handling those activities.
If you are, however, looking for a productivity or workstation processor, you may want to raise your budget to go with something that has more cores and threads.
Should you get an older CPU when on a budget?
Certainly, older CPUs have the advantage of being cheaper, but you might be sacrificing performance because of the generational differences and the difference in architecture.
With that being said, it’s important to note that you may be able to grab yourself a deal and obtain an upgrade in the core count for the same money as a modern lesser-count CPU. In this case, it’s almost always worth it, unless you have a specific use case in mine, such as gaming, or are worried about future-proofing.
For example, a Ryzen 7 3700X will perform better in multi-core benchmarks than a newer Ryzen 5 5600X would. you can’t really beat the power of additional cores, but the 5600X will have the 3700X beat in single-core workloads, thanks to more advanced core technology.
Best budget CPU for gaming: Single-core or multi-core?
Single-core performance is more important for gaming than multi-core performance because most games are designed to utilize only one or two cores of a processor. While some modern games can utilize more cores, the vast majority of games still rely on single-threaded performance.
This means that the speed and efficiency of a single core are more important than the number of cores a processor has. A processor with a high clock speed and a powerful single core will provide better performance for gaming than a processor with many cores but a lower clock speed.
Best budget CPU in 2023
Here we have the best overall budget CPU, We selected this because of its amazing performance for the price, here’s a closer look.
Intel Core i3-10100F
Intel Core i3-10100F
High base and boost speeds for i3
Easy to cool
Low multi-threaded performance
The best budget CPU in 2023 is the Intel Core i3-10100F. This is an entry-level processor released by Intel in late 2020 at an MSRP of $107. Its price has since decreased, and you can find it these days for less than $80, which is quite the bargain price considering the performance you get.
The Core i3-10100F is a 4-core, 8-thread CPU from Intel’s 10th-generation lineup. It’s the first desktop Core i3 processor that supports hyperthreading, which affords it a massive performance upgrade over Core i3 processors from previous generations, such as the i3-9100 and i3-8100.
With hyperthreading, each of the 10100F’s cores is able to serve two threads simultaneously. Therefore, despite being a 4 core processor, it has 8 threads or “logical cores.”
8 threads are plenty for casual PC usage and gaming, even in 2023. As you likely already know if you’re into PC gaming, most games are more reliant on single-thread performance, in which department the i3-10100F shines.
It has a 4.3GHz maximum clock speed, which allows it to outperform other processors available in its price range in single-thread workloads and, consequently, gaming.
At an $80 price tag, this processor is able to offer you decent gaming performance. You can expect to play most games at 1080p and 60FPS as long as you pair it up with a decent GPU.
Best Budget CPU for Productivity
Here is our best pick for the best budget CPU for productivity.
Ryzen 5 5600X
AMD Ryzen 5 5600X
Set to out-perform the 10600K
Great value for money
Slightly more expensive than what we’re used to from AMDs midrange offering
Requires CPU cooler
The Ryzen 5000 series CPU lineup generated much excitement, particularly for the 5600X, thanks to impressive benchmarking rumors. The CPU delivered remarkable value and performance, both for gaming and workflow scenarios, making it a top recommendation for those seeking an affordably priced CPU that can deliver over 100fps for AAA games and has excellent multi-tasking capabilities. It’s why it’s on our list of best CPUs for gaming.
This chip boasts one of the best price-to-performance ratios we’ve seen in a long time, with a base clock speed of 4.1GHz and a boost clock frequency of 4.8GHz, putting it up there with some of the top performers. Furthermore, with a 19% increase in IPC, it outperforms the last generation of 3000 series CPUs. The CPU also comes with its own cooling fan, which AMD says is newly designed for excellent efficiency and low noise output – a feature that even the premium CPU options in AMD’s 5000 series lineup can’t match.
Although the 11600K is cheaper and offers better single-core performance, the 5600X is still one of the best CPUs you can get at this price point.
Best Budget CPU for gaming
Here we will have the heavy-hitting CPUs, ones with big core and tread counts. It’s why we’re going to recommend the 12600KF, as thanks to the 13th gen, it can be found for a great deal online. If you want to pay less, you can always drop a generation, or opt for a 5000 / 3000 series Ryzen.
Intel Core i5-12600KF
Boost clock speed (single core)
Powerful single core performance
Amazing multi core performance
No in box cooler
Still more power-hungry than Ryzen
Intel has released the i5-12600K, it’s latest mid-range CPU that offers impressive performance at a more affordable price point. With 10 cores and 16 threads, it matches its predecessor the 11900K, but with architectural improvements that result in a notable 30% increase in FPS on some games. Although the AMD 5600X still surpasses it in multi-core tests, making it the superior choice for workstation purposes in this price range, the i5-12600K often outperforms it in single-core and gaming scenarios.
This performance is largely due to the CPU’s impressive base clock speed of 3.7Hz, with a max single-core boost frequency of 4.9GHz. Overclocking enthusiasts will find plenty of potential in this chip, with some able to push it up to 5.3GHz, putting it in the same league as the 10900K. However, keep in mind that this level of overclocking requires an expensive cooling rig, and the chip runs hot even without overclocking.
As long as you have an LGA1700 socket motherboard (as the chipset is not backward compatible), the i5-12600K is an excellent choice for a gaming rig. It’s hard to find anything that can match its performance at this price range, making it a fantastic CPU from Intel.
In conclusion, finding the best budget CPU can be a challenging task, but it’s worth the effort to get the most out of your money. After researching and testing various options, we have found that the Ryzen 5 5600X is the top choice for those seeking a powerful CPU at an affordable price.
It provides excellent performance and value for its cost, making it an ideal choice for gamers, content creators, and anyone who needs a reliable and efficient processor for their everyday needs. However, there are other options to consider based on your specific needs and budget, so be sure to do your research and choose the CPU that best fits your requirements.