Best CPU Under $100 in 2020 – Top 7 Budget Processors Reviewed

Best CPU Under $100

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If you are in the market for a budget CPU for under $100, you’ve come to the right place. I am going to give you some of the basics around choosing a processor that will be right for your use and try to make the decision making a little less painful.

If you are in the market for a slighly higher performing processor that is under $200 or even higher, between $200 and $300, make sure you check out these articles: ‘Best CPUs under $200‘ and ‘Best CPUs under $300‘.

Best CPU Under $100 in 2020 Round Up

The table below will give you a quick look at our selections for the best CPUs under $100 currently available on the market. To read a full review, simply click on ‘review>>’ in respective row.

Product

Image

Rating

1. AMD Ryzen 3 3100

9.8

2. Intel Core i3-9100

9.7

3. Intel Core i3-9100F

9.5

4. AMD Ryzen 3 3200G

9.4

5. AMD Athlon 3000G

9.2

6. AMD Athlon 240GE

9.0

7. Intel Celeron G4920

8.8


1. AMD Ryzen 3 3100

Architecture: Zen 2 | Socket: AM4 | Cores: 4 | Threads: 8 | Base Frequency:  3.6 GHz | Max Boost Frequency: 3.9 GHz | TDP: 65W

AMD Ryzen 3 3100BEST USES 

  • Multi-Tasking workloads
  • Advanced office apps usage
  • Streaming to Twitch
  • Playing advanced newer game titles
  • Daily computing tasks

Our Rating:   9.8/10

As the winner for the best CPU under $100 we selected the Ryzen 3 3100. It is a 4 core, 8 thread count processor.

This is a key measurement in the multithreaded applications that is slightly different from some of the other CPUs on this list. By having the multi-threaded capability, it gives you the ability to handle more complex workloads that need multi-threaded capability.

If you are doing gaming on some newer style games that optimize with more threads, the Ryzen 3 3100 will outperform most processors that do not have this thread count. If you are working in heavy Excel documents or video/graphics editing this will also help this processor stand out against its non multi-threaded counterparts.

As I will refer back to User Benchmarks throughout this article to see a baseline of expected speeds, the Ryzen 3 chip will bring you the fastest single core speed of this list at 124 points, but the doubled thread count really makes it shine in multi-tasking or multithreaded workloads at 678 points attributed to the Octa-Core multitasking measurement.

Later we will discuss an AMD Ryzen 3200G, and while AMD’s naming strategy can be confusing, the 3200G is a Zen+ or 2nd generation Ryzen product, where the “G” signifies that it is an APU or a CPU containing a graphics engine built into the card.

The Ryzen 3 3100 is a Zen 2 processor, or a 3rd Generation Ryzen processor (unlike the 3200G you will read about later), so while it still works on the AM4 socket type, it is also compatible with 5 series motherboards.

The Zen 2 architecture, paired with a 5 series motherboard, also makes the Ryzen 3 3100 compatible with PCIe 4.0 technology. This means faster transfer with graphics, memory and SSD when paired with compatible memory, SSD and graphics hardware. This is another processor in the list that need a discrete (separate) graphics card.

As far as raw processing power and ability to handle multi-threaded or complex workloads, you will find that the Ryzen 3 3100 will top the under $100 crowd on this list. Not only does the processor boast the fastest real-world single core clock speeds on this list, it is the only one to offer 8 threads to handle multi-tasking or multi-threaded applications.

This makes the AMD Ryzen 3 3100 the best budget CPU you can get your hands on. If you already have, or plan to use a discrete graphics card, this is a perfect budget option for under $100.

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2. Intel Core i3-9100

Architecture: Coffee Lake | Socket: LGA 1151 | Cores: 4 | Threads: 4 | Base Frequency:  3.6 GHz | Boost Frequency: 4.2 GHz | TDP: 65W

Intel Core i3-9100BEST USES 

  • Home office computing
  • Web Surfing
  • Email
  • Light gaming
  • Advanced gaming with a discrete GPU

Our Rating:   9.7/10

The Intel i3-9100 is an APU offering from Intel. Again, APU meaning that this processor has on-board graphics.

The Core i3-9100 will over the user 4 cores with 4 total threads of processing power. This processor fits the LGA 1151 socket and supports Intel Optane memory. Keep in mind, replacing an older socket LGA 1151 processor with this one may require you to update the bios on the PC to ensure it works correctly.

The i3-9100 features a base clock of 3.6Ghz and has an Intel turbo boost up to 4.2 Ghz and is capable of overclocking. The single core speed is tested around 120 points according to users average benchmarking and 445 points on octa-core multithreaded tests.

A big takeaway here is that the i3-9100 is an APU at very nice speeds and has good power to handle light gaming, office work, photo editing light video editing and about every day to day basic computer tasks and do it very well. This processor will also handle more advanced gaming with a discrete graphics card or basic gaming with the built-in graphics card.

The i3-9100 would be a great option for a media server as the onboard graphics will be more than adequate for the task. For the list of processors in this article, I recommend this as my first option for an all-in-one APU configuration if I were not adding a separate graphics card.

Another key thing to keep in mind, this processor does come with a cooler, so no need to budget that into your build and may make this processor more appealing than some. With the compatibility with Intel’s Optane memory, if you choose to go with Intel Core i3-9100, it can give you incredibly fast read/write options if you are moving a lot of files or accessing larger files regularly.

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3. Intel Core i3-9100F

Architecture: Coffee Lake | Socket: LGA 1151 | Cores: 4 | Threads: 4 | Base Frequency:  3.6 GHz | Boost Frequency: 4.2 GHz | TDP: 65W

Intel Core i3-9100FBEST USES 

  • Home office computing
  • Web Surfing
  • Email
  • Light gaming
  • Advanced gaming with a discrete GPU

Our Rating:   9.5/10

Coming in at number 3 is the Intel Core i3-9100F. This is a 4 core, 4 thread processor that works with the LGA 1151 socket and compatible with the 300 series chipset motherboards.

Please review your motherboard’s specifications to ensure compatibility if you are replacing an older CPU. You may have to update your bios to work with this processor in those cases.

The Core i3-9100F comes in at 65 watt power usage and does support Intel Optane memory. This CPU also features a base clock of 3.6Ghz and has an Intel turbo boost up to 4.2 Ghz. With 4 total cores and single thread per core the i3-9100F will do a decent job with single core applications, as the single core speed is tested around 120 points according the User Benchmark score (445 points on octa-core multithreaded tests).

The i3-9100F does not have integrated graphics to allow for basic media playback. You should plan to buy a discrete graphics card to pair with this processor. If you plan to use this for a media center computer, this can work with a “headless” setup, but keep in mind you need graphics to be able to use the processor as a regular every day PC activities.

Another benefit, the i3-9100F does come included with a cooling fan that runs nice and quiet. You are able to overclock the processor with many reporting that they are able to sustain the boost clocks of 4.2Ghz across all cores consistently.

In short, if you are looking for a processor that does a good job of up to 4 threads such as gaming (with the purchase of a separate graphics card), media center, daily uses web, email video chat, this will be a decent value, especially if you are just upgrading Intel to Intel CPU and already own a discrete graphics card.

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4. AMD Ryzen 3 3200G

Architecture: Zen+ | Socket: AM4 | Cores: 4 | Threads: 4 | Base Frequency:  3.6GHz | Boost Frequency: 4.0GHz | TDP: 65W

AMD Ryzen 3 3200GBEST USES 

  • Daily computing tasks
  • Simple gaming
  • Web surfing
  • Office apps usage
  • Media

Our Rating:   9.4/10

The AMD Ryzen 3 3200G is yet another 4 core, 4 thread processor, however this unit does include the AMD Vega 8 on-board graphics processor. This is the reason I chose this as my 2nd AMD pick.

The 3200G is not the second fastest CPU on the list, but it is my first AMD choice on this list of processors with integrated graphics. While the single core speed is lower than some CPUs on this list (user benchmark average of 105 Pts, 414 pts on octa-core multithreaded tests) it does contain a significant value by having a solid integrated graphics chip included.

This is where the Ryzen 3200G really shines, its ability to do a adequate job of daily computing tasks, and the ability to have a budget stand-alone processor that will do an adequate job with some basic gaming, media play or plex media server.

The Ryzen 3200G does have a Wraith cooler that is supplied with the CPU. As with all Ryzen processors, the CPU is overclockable, up to 4.0 Ghz (average) and it is compatible with AMD Socket AM4 motherboards.

Keep in mind, this is a Zen+ architecture, not the Zen 2 architecture, so no need to look for 5 series motherboards for optimum performance, the 4 series motherboards will do the job.

In summary, if you are looking for a great budget APU (CPU with onboard graphics), the Ryzen 3 3200G is an excellent option for the under $100 budget crowd.

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5. AMD Athlon 3000G

Architecture: Zen | Socket: AM4 | Cores: 2 | Threads: 4 | Base Frequency:  3.5GHz | Boost Frequency: N/A | TDP: 35W

AMD Athlon 3000GBEST USES 

  • Home office computing
  • Web Surfing
  • Email
  • Light gaming

Our Rating:   9.2/10

Next up, we have the AMD Athlon 3000G. This processor boasts a dual core 4 thread count. Like the 3200G, this is an APU, meaning it has graphics built right onto the chip.

Keep in mind, when purchasing an APU, the computer will still need resources to perform video tasks. With APUs, the memory will be used from your PC’s normal memory to complete graphics tasks. The Athlon 3000G will reserve 2GB of RAM from your PC to handle graphics loads, so make sure you are planning enough RAM to handle your tasks including the extra 2GB.

While this is a more price conscious option than adding a stand-alone graphics card, it should still be taken as a consideration. This processor comes in as a great budget solution for the home office environment as it will handle basic office apps usage very well.

The Athlon 3000G comes in at a single user driven benchmark score of 92.2. This means it will fare slower than the 4 core offerings in this list but does a decent job in multi-threaded workloads boasting an octa-core multi-threaded user driven benchmark score of 274 points.

The CPU has a base core speed of 3.5Ghz with no boost clock. You can overclock the 3000G, and most users are reporting ability to achieve 4.0Ghz consistently. I make a point of this as it may not be for the novice, but for the extreme budgeting this could help with your goal of achieving best value for your dollar.

Gaming at 720p on some newer game titles is possible for the very casual player but it is still recommended to add a stand-alone graphics card if this is your primary use for this build. This processer works with the AM4 socket.

The 3000G is at near half the price of the other offerings here, so if you are on a really tight budget, I highly recommend you consider this CPU as one of your options.

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6. AMD Athlon 240GE

Architecture: Zen | Socket: AM4 | Cores: 2 | Threads: 4 | Base Frequency: 3.5GHz | Boost Frequency: N/A | TDP: 35W

AMD Athlon 240GEBEST USES 

  • Home office computing
  • Web Surfing
  • Email
  • Light gaming

Our Rating:   9.0/10

The AMD Athlon 240GE is another 2 core 4 thread count processor. It is another APU having the onboard graphics built onto the chip. Like the other APU’s you will need to plan additional memory as the graphics will use your system memory to process the graphics.

The Athlon 240GE has AMD Vega graphics, so will be possible to do basic gaming at 720p or other light graphical tasks such as video and photo viewing and will do an adequate job with basic home office tasks.

One advantage noted over some other APUs/CPUs in this series is that it has a smaller form factor heat sink and is able to sustain cool workload temperatures. This may be a significant item for those working with very small form factor cases.

The 240GE will mount in the AM4 socket and will work with RAM speeds up to 2667Mhz well. Most users are reporting being able to overclock to 4.0Ghz without difficulty from it’s standard base clock of 3.5Ghz (must have appropriate motherboard to achieve overclocking).

The Athlon 240GE is showing benchmarks from users at almost identical levels of to 3000G at 91.2 points on single threaded benchmarks and 272 points on octa-core multi-threaded tasks. While the 4 threads are not a true replacement for core count, it does allow for decent multitasking on a tighter budget.

The similarities between the Athlon 3000G and the 240GE are no surprise as the 240GE is almost a year older releasing at the end of 2018 where the 3000G released right at a year later in Q4 of 2019.

At this price point, the AMD Athlon 240GE is another option in the extreme budget processor and in certain form factor applications where space is a premium, this deserves a second look.

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7. Intel Celeron G4920

Architecture: Coffee Lake | Socket: LGA 1151 | Cores: 2 | Threads: 2 | Base Frequency: 3.2GHz | Boost Frequency: N/A | TDP: 54W

Intel Celeron G4920BEST USES 

  • Home office computing
  • Web Surfing
  • Email

Our Rating:   8.8/10

Last but not least we have the Intel Celeron G4290.

Many are quite familiar with the Intel and the Celeron names as they have been on the market for many years. This may be a consideration for you when planning to purchase a processor if you are looking for a brand and a series of processor that has stood the test of time.

The G4920 is a 2 core, 2 thread processor with a base clock of 3.2Ghz. This is another option for the extreme budget processor crowd as one of the lowest priced on this list.

The G4920 is fit into an LGA 1151 socket with the series 300 Intel configuration. The processor is another APU model that has the Intel UHD 610 graphics processor built into the chip. The processor comes boxed with a low profile fan which may be suitable for space saving computer build in a mini-ITX design.

The single-core user average benchmarks come in at 87.2 points, while the octa-core processing scores 169 points. While this processor does not perform at the level of most processors here due to the lack of hyperthreading (using multiple threads per core) and the low core count of 2 cores, the processor may be the right fit for many applications.

The G4920 will handle basic home office tasks as well as work adequately as a PC to view photos and watch movies. This processor will do well with these basic tasks in a very small form factor. This is a favorite for those building a mini-ITX design and wanting a reliable processor that will need very little maintenance.

It is capable of overclocking but take care if attempting to overclock in a small case design due to the added heat generation. With the lower core/thread count pay attention to your applications and ensure they don’t need more than 2 cores to run correctly as with multi-threaded applications you may experience sluggishness compared to other 4 core or 2 core multi-threaded processors.

Another key use for this processor, is to replace an existing unit that may have size, cooling and socket configurations that match this processor at an extreme budget.

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About Richard Gamin 77 Articles
My name's Richard and over the years, I have personally built many PCs for myself and my friends. I love gaming, programming, graphics designing and basically anything that has to do with computers and technology. If you ever need a hand with anything, feel free to contact me and I will be more than happy to help you out.

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