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Best Budget Gaming CPU – Buying Guide

It’s 2024 and you’re trying to find the best budget gaming CPU. With so many specs, options, and factors to consider, it can easily become overwhelming. Luckily, we’ve put together a list of the best gaming CPUs that won’t break the bank but still have a lot to offer. We’ll also provide some light education so you know exactly what features you need, and why. 

Budget Ryzen CPU

Our Picks for the Best Budget Gaming CPU in 2024

We’ve done the research so you don’t have to, here’s our list of the best budget gaming CPUs.

Best Lower Budget AMD CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 5600 6-Core

AMD Ryzen 5 5600 6-Core
This AMD option is incredibly well-loved by thousands of users. It’s very well-priced and has a good increase for fps. Combined with easy installation and a robust cooling system, this is a great choice for any gamer, especially if you plan to overclock your system. Here are the specs:

  • 6-Core
  • 12-thread
  • Wraith Stealth Cooler
  • ‎4 GHz ryzen_5 processor

Best Value for Money Spent: Intel i5-13400F Desktop Processor 10 cores 

Intel i5-13400F Desktop Processor 10 cores 
While this is definitely pricier than some of the options on this list, you get a lot for what you pay for. Mid-range builds will find this a great bang for your buck, with plenty of features and benefits to boost your gaming experience. Here are some stats you’re sure to appreciate: 

  • Up to 4.6 GHz
  • 20M cache
  • 10 cores (6 P-cores and 4 E cores)
  • 16 threads
  • Hybrid performance utilizes two core microarchitectures, dispensing and prioritizing workloads to get the best performance possible
  • Turbo Boost Max 3.0 and PCle 5.0 and 4.0 support
  • Intel Optane Memory support
  • Includes Intel Laminar RM1 cooler
  • Thunderbolt 4 tech for peripheralsf

Best AMD CPU for High-Performance Needs: AMD Ryzen 5 7600 6-Core

AMD Ryzen 5 7600 6-Core
This AMD CPU is still budget oriented (like all on our list) but it’s great if you have high-demand gaming needs. It’s fast, responsive, and comes with a fan with thermal paste to further improve cooling. For those who find it gets a bit hot when doing ultra-high demand activities, you can easily switch out the fan for a more advanced model to keep temperatures low. Other features: 

  • 12-thread
  • 6-core
  • 5 nm process tech aids efficiency and processing speed
  • 32 MB of L3 cache memory to aid complex tasks
  • 80 GHz clock speed
  • Comes with AMD Radeon Graphics controller

Best for Built-In Graphics: AMD Ryzen 5 5600G 6-Core 12-Thread Unlocked Desktop Processor with Radeon Graphics

AMD Ryzen 5 5600G
If you want stunning, quality visuals that won’t break the bank, here’s your CPU. With this AMD Ryzen option, you don’t need a graphics card! This is perfect for anyone who may not have the money to buy both a CPU and a graphics card, or anyone who wants to add components later but still have their needs met now. Frame rates and graphics are still stunning as-is, which is really saying something. Other specs:

  • Best in-class desktop processor graphics with 1080p gaming
  • 4 GHz Max Boost for overclocking
  • DDR4-3200 support
  • 6 cores
  • 12 threads
  • Comes with AMD Wraith Stealth cooler
  • 19 MB cache
  • Precision boost overdrive
  • Easily customized and adjusted with a simple BIOS update

Best Mid-Range Intel CPU: Intel Core i5-13600K Desktop Processor 14

intel-desktop-processor-14
This is one of the more mid-range budget options on our list, but it also has tons to offer. If you keep your eyes peeled for deals, you can get this for a fraction of the price and have a CPU compatible with cutting-edge hardware upgrades and high-demand games. Other heavy-hitting qualities: 

  • 14 cores! (6 P and 8 E-cores)
  • Integrated graphics
  • Up to 5.1 GHz unlocked
  • 24 M cache
  • Hybrid microarchitectures
  • Turbo Boost Max 3.0
  • 20 threads
  • Can handle extreme multitasking
  • Intel Optane Memory support
  • Enhanced overclocking abilities

Best Mid-Range AMD CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 7700 8-Core

ryzen-7700

For mid-range AMD options that still aren’t too expensive, this is a stellar choice. With 8 cores and 16 processing threads, this can handle high-demand games with ease. Users are thrilled with the performance and the fact that you get a lot for your money. Other specs to love: 

  • Based on “Zen 4” architecture
  • Includes AMD Wraith Prism RGB cooler
  • Can operate at a max temp of 95 degrees C
  • 4 GHz Max Boost
  • 80 MB cache
  • DDR5 support
  • Unlocked for overclocking

Best Higher-End Intel Option: Intel Core i7-13700K Gaming Desktop Processor 16 cores 

intel-i7-13700K
Here’s where things start to get a bit less budget-friendly. Still, if you want a powerful CPU with all the extras and extreme multitasking capabilities, it’s well worth the money, and killer sales are not uncommon to take the sting out of the price. Also, with 16 cores (8 P and 8 E), this CPU will stay relevant for some time. Do be aware, you may need to provide your own thermal solution to avoid overheating, however. Other specs:

  • 24 threads
  • Up to 5.4 GHz unlocked
  • Includes Integrated Intel UHD Graphics 770
  • Turbo Boost Max 3.0
  • PCle 5.0 and 4.0 support
  • Intel Optane memory support
  • Hybrid performance architecture for workload distribution
  • 30M cache
  • Connect peripherals with Thunderbolt 4

Best AMD Powerhouse: AMD Ryzen 7 7800X3D 8-Core, 16-Thread Desktop Processor

ryzen-7800x3
Also, one of the more expensive options on our list, this AMD CPU is an absolute beast. It’s upgradable for years to come so the price does even out nicely over time. Processing speed is blazing, multitasking is optimized, and graphics are gorgeous. It also has some of the highest user ratings of any CPU on the market. If you’re planning on spending a bit more while still being overall reasonable, this is the way to do it. Other specs: 

  • 2200 MHZ graphics frequency
  • 8 cores
  • 8 MB L2 plu 96 MB L3 cache memory gives amazing system performance
  • AMD Radeon Graphics controller included
  • 20 GHz clock speed
  • Operates at temperatures up to 89 degrees C
  • 5 nm process tech
  • Dedicated video accelerators
  • 6E wireless
  • DDR5 memory

Best Higher-End AMD Option: AMD Ryzen 9 7900X 12-Core, 24-Thread Unlocked Desktop Processor

ryzen-9-7900x

This is the most expensive CPU on our list, but with good reason. Dubbing itself the “world’s most advanced PC processor,” this advanced CPU will last you for years to come, especially with 12 cores. That said, with great power comes great cooling requirements. Be sure to purchase a robust cooling system so that this monster can deliver at 100% capacity. Other things to love: 

  • 5 nm process
  • 12 MB L2 plus 64 MB L3 cache memory
  • 70 GHz clock speed
  • AMD Radeon Graphics controller included
  • DDR5 memory
  • AMD Expo tech
  • 24 processing threads
  • Dedicated video accelerators

AMD vs Intel: Platform, Compatibility, and Cost

We could write an entire article about AMD vs Intel, and still not have a definitive answer about which one is best. Opinions are divided on this, vehemently so. In the end, it’s all about what type of system you have, how demanding your gaming is on your PC, and what your price range is. They each have their strengths and weaknesses, but they are both so highly regarded that it’s really hard to go wrong. Just be sure you check for compatibility with your PC and go from there. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Still not sure what’s right for you, or just want some extra information? Keep reading, we have you covered.

How many cores do I need?

4 cores used to be the standard starting place for gaming PCs. More modern games, however, tend to benefit from 6 or even 8 cores if the title is advanced enough (think Cyperpunk 2077), especially if you’re using your computer for more than just gaming. 

Outside of gaming, having a quad-core or better can assist in workloads like video rendering and live-streaming with very light (read: old) games on the side.

How much does clock speed matter, and should I overclock?

Clock speed refers to a cycle where your CPU receives and executes basic instructions. Overclocking expands this cycle frequency past default levels. This can greatly boost your PC’s performance, but you’ll need to be sure your chipsets are compatible with overclocking. Here are some benefits to be aware of: 

  • Increases workload ability
  • Increases speed of computing tasks
  • Extends the life of your PC to handle more advanced, modern games that have higher demands
  • Lots of customizations and control with manual overclocking

Some things to be careful of:

  • Overclocking can lead to overheating, so have some cooling solutions in place
  • It may negate product warranties, so be aware of that first
  • Performance and stability of components may be reduced

There are both risks and benefits to overclocking. It’s up to you which is more important, though you can certainly reduce risks if you’re careful and keep a close eye on how your PC is performing. 

How does a CPU impact gaming performance? Isn’t my GPU more important?

CPUs matter more for gaming performance than most people think. While it’s true that a great GPU is what allows you to push higher resolutions and visual fidelity, higher framerates can only be achieved by getting better CPUs. This is because the CPU determines the maximum possible framerate you can achieve with your system, even with in-game graphics settings turned to their absolute lowest.

However, if your only goal is achieving 60+ FPS in games, then you don’t need an overly advanced CPU, especially if you aren’t planning to do any non-gaming with it. In that case, spending more on the GPU will make a bigger visual difference.

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