The processor is an important component for a lot of tasks, and its election makes many users doubt whether which one could be the best, and that’s why we have launched a series of guides in which we will choose the best CPUs to play with different price ranges.
In this first article we set a limit of 100 dollars, though we will leave a margin of five dollars to not limit our range of options so much, as this is a budget that is usually very common for users who want to mount hardware for very little money or who simply want to renew their PCs.
Although what may seem, 100 dollars is more than enough to buy very capable processors, even if you want to enjoy demanding games, because fortunately in most games in the market, the CPU occupies a position of “second best” in favor of the graphics card.
This means that to play in the best conditions, the GPU is more important than the CPU, but as we said, there are some specific exceptions in which the processor can be decisive.
We have one of the clearest examples in Guild Wars 2, in which playing with real quad-cores with a high IPC definitely makes a huge difference, especially in World vs. World, besides other games like Crysis 3, wherein the processor also plays a more important role than usual.
With this in mind we will begin reviewing the best options that we can find in CPUs with a range of 100 dollars, keeping in mind that we will avoid the APUs from AMD, since our goal is to find an economic processor that can accompany an independent GPU.
Some Preliminary considerations
Today Intel and AMD have followed different paths in their offer of processors, meaning that each has its advantages and disadvantages.
This makes it convenient to explain first what advantages and disadvantages we expect from the CPUs of both brands, always from the point of view of the basic range, which is the one that we will cover with our budget 100 dollars.
- Very controlled consumption, resulting in increased efficiency and energy savings in the long term.
- Lower working temperatures.
- Higher IPC (performance per clock cycle), as this means greater performance per core.
- HyperThreading Technology in Core i3 and higher, which allows handling two threads per core.
- High prices.
- It doesn’t offer CPUs with real four cores in the basic range.
- Low performance in games with intensive use of multithreading, such as Crysis 3.
- They don’t come with unlocked multiplier.
- Very attractive prices and contents.
- Good performance in multithreaded applications.
- Processors up to six cores in the low range.
- A Turbo Mode which slightly increases the working frequency.
- Unlocked multiplier, it lets you overclock easily.
- Consumption rates and TDPs higher than the competition.
- They have a lower IPC, which results in a worse performance in games that do not make use in more than one or two cores.
- The heat dissipator series is very poor.
Choosing the best options
Our 100 dollars budget allows us, thanks to that additional 5 dollars margin, to access the Pentium and Core i3 from Intel and the FX 4000 and 6000 from AMD.
If we had girded in excess to those 100 dollars this guide would have lost a lot, so we wanted to give it that little margin, since this is more complete and realistic.
Best options from Intel
Up to 80 dollars: In this price level the Pentium G3440 is the best option because it offers a high IPC and a working frequency of 3.3 GHz. Its performance is fantastic, though you must remember that it only has two cores and two threads, which limits its performance in games that are able to use more than two threads.
Yet for the price you have it offers a great price-quality value, so for tight budgets this is a solution to consider.
Up to 105 dollars: The Core i3-3220 is the best we could find in this price range.
Its advantages over the Pentium G3440 are such that you must consider that it is more advisable to wait and save to buy this Core i3, unless you don’t have other choice.
It has two real cores at 3.3 GHz, it is capable of running four threads thanks to HyperThreading technology and it has a very high performance per core.
It offers a really good performance in most games thanks to those four threads, though in some specific cases it is noted that you are not before four real cores, thus you would appreciate a performance loss, but fortunately this is rare.
Best options from AMD
Up to 90 dollars: We changed the price because we didn’t find anything worth it for less money. In this range the FX-4300 is a reliable option that will allow you to play with guarantees.
It has two complete modules and four cores of integers, an unlocked multiplier and a working frequency of 3.8 GHz-4 GHz, both in normal and turbo modes.
It is based on the Piledriver architecture, marking a slight gain in single-thread performance tasks, which add extra value and offers generally a good quality/price relation.
Up to 100 dollars: The FX-6300 is a step above the previous one, because it integrates three complete modules and six cores of integers at 3.5 GHz-4.1 GHz, in normal and turbo mode, plus an unlocked multiplier.
This is a highly recommended processor with a long shelf life, especially given the industry trend toward multicore utilization and the benefits that DirectX 12 promises.
Yes, the performance of this “little guy” will surprise you pleasantly, so if fits in your budget do not doubt to buy, but I highly recommend you to replace the series dissipator.
Personally I have it clear; if I have a budget of around 100-105 dollars for the CPU I would clearly opt for AMD, since their solutions add up better with the requirements of the most current games and offer a price/performance value greater than Intel.
That said, I have no doubt that among the processors mentioned in this article I would choose the FX-6300, since those six cores and its high operating frequency allows it to offer solid performances with any current game, even those as demanding as for example Crysis 3, which reaches to nearly double the performance of Core i3-3220, also surpassing it in other more current games such as Dying Light.
As always I encourage you to leave your opinions and questions in the comments.