Best CPU Under $200 in 2022 – Top 10 Budget Processors Reviewed

Best CPUs Under $200

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Today, we’ll take a look at the best CPUs under $200 available on the market in 2022.

The search for the perfect processor for your dream machine can be a challenge. Start right here and put yourself on the right path to the best buy for your money.

You will find a ton of relevant facts to get you moving in the right direction.

If you’re looking for a slightly cheaper or more powerful CPU, be sure to check out these articles – Best CPUs under $100 and Best CPUs under $300.

Best CPU Under $200 in 2022 Round-Up

The table below will give you a quick look at our selections for the 10 best CPUs under $200 currently available on the market. To read a full review, simply click on ‘review>>’ in the respective row.

Product

Image

Rating

1. Intel Core i5-12400

''Best CPU under $200 overall''

9.9

2. Intel Core i5-11400

''Best 11th generation Intel CPU under $200''

9.7

3. AMD Ryzen 5 2600

''Best AMD CPU under $200''

9.6

4. Intel Core i5-10400

''Best 10th generation Intel CPU under $200''

9.5

5. AMD Ryzen 3 3100

''Best quad-core AMD CPU under $200''

9.4

6. Intel Core i3-10320

''Best quad-core Intel CPU under $200''

9.3

7. Intel Core i3-10300

''Editor's pick''

9.2

8. Intel Core i5-9600KF

''Best 9th generation Intel CPU under $200''

9.1

9. Intel Core i5-9500

''Honorable mention''

8.9

10. Intel Core i5-9400

''Honorable mention #2''

8.8



1. Intel Core i5-12400

Architecture: Alder Lake | Socket: LGA 1700 | Cores: 6 | Threads: 12 | Base Frequency: 2.5 GHz | Max Boost Frequency: 4.4 GHz | TDP: 65 W

Intel Core i5-12400REASONS TO BUY

  • Fantastic performance for the money
  • Beats more expensive AMD CPUs
  • Excellent for both gaming and multi-tasking (in its price range)
  • Ships with a cooler
  • Draws very little power
  • Very easy to cool
  • Supports both DDR4 and DDR5 memory
  • Integrated graphics processing

REASONS TO AVOID

  • Lower base clock rate
  • Locked for overclocking

Our Rating:   9.9/10

Getting a 12th generation Intel processor can be a bit of a challenge, let alone getting one for the sub $200 MSRP. For the time being, your best chance of getting a 12th gen processor for under $200 is going to be the Intel Core i5-12400.

All of the 12th-gen Core series processors have at least six Hyperthreaded cores. Six-core processors can range in price anywhere from the low $100 to the mid $300s, which makes them compatible with most lower and mid-budget builds. Six is a magic number when it comes to processor cores.

Why? Six core processors are particularly excellent for gaming but can handle most tasks that you could want out of your PC. Some applications might require a processor with a higher core count, but typically you’ll only see a need for that in professional-grade PCs used for rending, video editing, or coding.

Hyperthreading refers to the technology that Intel uses to create multiple virtual cores from each physical core, allowing a single processor core to run two commands simultaneously. This will make your processor faster for both multi-tasking and complex single-core applications.

Now, the clock rate on the i5-12400 is the lowest of any of the 12th gen Core processors and is even lower than many of the 10th and 11th gen Core processors, both in base clock rate and boosted clock rate. However, for under $200, this is by far the best you can get.

The low base clock rate of 2.4 GHz means that it’s not communicating or executing as quickly as some of the faster (and more expensive) CPUs, but does have a lower power consumption and is still plenty fast for gaming and similarly demanding tasks.

It’s capable of detecting increased CPU demand and boosting to a much higher clock rate of up to 4.4 GHz which draws more power and will require more efficient cooling to keep running optimally. But, like most of Intel’s CPUs in the price range, this is not an unlocked processor, meaning you won’t be able to overclock it.

Intel can be inconsistent when it comes to whether they’ll ship a CPU with a stock cooler. The Intel Core i5-12400, fortunately, does ship with one, which makes it a little more friendly for budget builds. These coolers can be underpowered, and the thermal paste doesn’t always get consistently applied by the factory.

However, for smaller budget builds and locked CPUs like this one, you’re likely to see more of a difference in your thermals if you get a couple of cheap to mid-range case fans than you would if you replaced the stock cooler.

Be aware that the 12th generation uses a different socket type than Intel’s 10th and 11th generations, and many of the 12th gen compatible motherboards are configured for the more expensive and much faster DDR5 sticks.

Overall, the Intel Core i5-12400 is by far the best CPU under $200 available on the market in 2022. For the price, it offers fantastic performance, draws very little power, and is super easy to cool. Plus, it’s compatible with both DDR4 and DDR5 memory, so you’ll be able to easily upgrade to much faster memory in the future.

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2. Intel Core i5-11400

Architecture: Rocket Lake | Socket: LGA 1200 | Cores: 6 | Threads: 12 | Base Frequency: 2.6 GHz | Max Boost Frequency: 4.4 GHz | TDP: 65 W

Intel Core i5-11400REASONS TO BUY

  • Excellent budget processor for gaming
  • Suitable for a wide range of uses
  • Comes with a cooler
  • Outperforms AMD at the same price
  • Draws very little power
  • Recent markdowns have made it much more affordable

REASONS TO AVOID

  • Doesn’t support DDR5 memory
  • Lower base clock rate
  • Some outlets are still trying to charge well above the MSRP for it

Our Rating:   9.7/10

The most consistently reliable way to get a processor that fits your budget and will be in stock is to get one from a slightly older generation. Intel releases a new generation of processors roughly once per year, so the differences between generations, especially in the lower-tier processors, will often be negligible.

With that in mind, the Intel Core i5-11400 is almost indistinguishable from the newer i5-12400, apart from some minor technical differences involving the speed and latency of the individual cores.

Just like the i5-12400, the Intel Core i5-11400 is a budget six-core processor. This makes it suitable for the vast majority of users, including gamers, casual streamers, and amateur content creators. In the current generation, you won’t save a lot of money by choosing a processor with fewer than six cores, especially if you’re going back a generation or two.

Now, the i5-11400 has a base clock rate of 2.6 GHz, which is actually higher than the newer i5-12400. That can make its baseline performance a little more responsive, but produces a roughly 10% difference in terms of power consumption.

The bigger effect on your performance is going to come from the boosted clock rate, which is 4.4 GHz, the same as the i5-12400. To get much higher than that, you’ll either need an unlocked processor (which this CPU isn’t) or spend quite a bit more money.

In addition, the i5-11400 has integrated graphics processing, which will allow your build to function without a GPU if you’re going for an extreme budget build. If you are going to install a GPU, you could save a couple more bucks by getting the 11400F model, but since the release of the 12th gen, there’s very little difference in price.

For more powerful CPUs, you’ll typically want to upgrade beyond the included stock cooler, which is why many of the higher-end options don’t include one. Since the i5-11400 has a more modest clock rate and isn’t overclockable, you should be able to keep your rig cool with the stock cooler and a couple of cheap case fans.

If you’re not able to get your hands on the i5-12400, the Intel Core i5-11400 is going to be your best bet to get a well-performing, six-core CPU for under $200. The biggest drawback of this processor is its incompatibility with the DDR5 memory, which might make things harder if you decide to upgrade your rig in the future.

However, if you have an LGA 1200 motherboard at home and looking for the best CPU under $200 for it, we strongly recommend Intel’s i5-11400. It’s also a bit cheaper than its successor.

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3. AMD Ryzen 5 2600

Architecture: Zen+ | Socket: AM4 | Cores: 6 | Threads: 12 | Base Frequency: 3.4 GHz | Max Boost Frequency: 3.9 GHz | TDP: 65 W

AMD Ryzen 5 2600REASONS TO BUY

  • Best performing AMD processor for under $200
  • Compatible with a multitude of motherboards
  • Great gaming performance
  • Very good power consumption
  • Unlocked for overclocking
  • Ships with a surprisingly good stock cooler

REASONS TO AVOID

  • Price hasn’t dropped nearly as much as expected for a 2018 release
  • Low max clock rate, even compared to CPUs from the same year
  • Minimal overclocking potential

Our Rating:   9.6/10

There are a couple of reasons that Ryzen processors are popular for budget builds. The processors themselves don’t cost much (if anything) less than their Intel counterparts, especially considering how much older they often are.

However, Ryzen processors are generally way more friendly on power consumption, which can save you money on your PSU in the short term, or on electricity in the long term.

Ryzen processors are also all unlocked so you can overclock them and draw more power than a cheaper chip would typically offer.

The AMD Ryzen 5 2600 is another six-core processor and one of the oldest chips on the market that’s still going to be worth your money.

Unlike most of the Intel CPUs released the same year, the Ryzen 5 2600 uses multi-threading which allows each physical core to perform multiple functions simultaneously. Compared to a 9th gen Intel, this will perform complex tasks much quicker, and be a lot smoother for multi-tasking.

The default clock rates are in a pretty narrow band, with a base of 3.4 GHz and the max factory setting boost up to 3.9 GHz. Even with that higher base clock rate, it still draws less power than any of the i5-xx400 models.

However, the max clock rate is quite a bit lower than what Intel was achieving at similar prices and time frames. Even though it’s unlocked, you’ll be able to only boost it up to around 4.2 GHz and only with proper cooling.

If you’re going to be overclocking, you should always swap out the default cooler. If you don’t plan on overclocking, the included Wraith Stealth actually performs admirably. It’s relatively quiet, even running at full speeds, and with a reasonably ventilated case may even be able to keep your PC cool unaided.

Overall, the Ryzen 5 2600 holds up fairly well in today’s market, mostly thanks to AMD implementing multi-threading across their entire lineup sooner than Intel did. It’s also compatible with a large number of motherboards, so finding a solid board for it won’t be an issue.

For under $200, this processor offers great performance for gaming, but if you do a lot of processor-intensive activities, you’ll definitely notice a difference in a newer processor from either Intel or AMD.

If you already have an AM4 motherboard and absolutely have to stay under $200 for your CPU, this is currently your best option, but otherwise, there’s not a lot to recommend over newer Intel chips.

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4. Intel Core i5-10400

Architecture: Comet Lake | Socket: LGA 1200 | Cores: 6 | Threads: 12 | Base Frequency: 2.9 GHz | Max Boost Frequency: 4.3 GHz | TDP: 65 W

Intel Core i5-10400REASONS TO BUY

  • Cheapest 6-core/12-thread CPU available in 2022
  • Excellent gaming and overall performance for the money
  • Very similar performance to 11th and 12th generation
  • Highly power-efficient
  • Ships with a cooler

REASONS TO AVOID

  • From a generation where AMD performed better
  • Weak integrated graphics processing
  • Doesn’t support DDR5 memory

Our Rating:   9.5/10

For most users, the 10th generation is as far back as you’re going to want to go on the Intel Core processors. With the 10th generation, you’re still going to see a performance that approaches the 90-95% mark of the generations that followed it, but at prices that are significantly lower.

Performance-wise, a lot of the immediate competitors that AMD released the same year hold up better, but are also a lot more expensive as a result.

The Intel Core i5-10400 is going to be the lowest price you’ll find for a 6-core, 12-thread processor in 2022. Anything cheaper is going to be shedding cores, threads, or both.

Some users might be able to get away with that, depending on what tasks they’re looking to get out of their PC, but serious gamers and anyone looking for a robust all-around build are going to want to stick with at least a six-core, 12-thread processor. Most cheaper options are also going to be even older, which can come with other drawbacks.

Much like the difference between the 11th and 12th generation, the biggest change you’ll notice between the 10th and later generations is that the range of default clock rates is tighter.

The base clock rate is 2.9 GHz, which is fairly low but makes this processor one of the only times you’ll see Intel going neck-in-neck with AMD on power draw. The max boosted clock rate goes to 4.3 GHz, which is better than the AMD’s you’ll find at this price point.

That will be enough performing for high-end gaming if you have the graphics card for it as well as multi-tasking and some more complex video editing projects.

Now, as long as you’ve got a case with good thermals, the included stock cooler should be adequate for 95% of what a processor this powerful is going to be capable of. If you’re going to constantly be doing stuff that keeps your CPU and GPU running at full speed, you might want to upgrade, but you could easily justify making that your last priority.

In summary, the Intel Core i5-10400 is the cheapest processor that won’t require you to make major sacrifices. It’s not that much cheaper than the newer i5-11400, and with the release of gen 12, stocks of the i5-11400 seem to have stabilized.

Still, if you’re counting every penny, the $20-30 price difference in most outlets and lower power consumption make this a worthwhile purchase.

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5. 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: 65 W

AMD Ryzen 3 3100REASONS TO BUY

  • Extreme overclocking potential
  • Best 4-core CPU for under $200
  • Strong gaming performance
  • Compatible with a large number of motherboards
  • Comes with an AMD Wraith Stealth cooler
  • Power-efficient

REASONS TO AVOID

  • Lower core count puts limits on CPU intensive tasks
  • More expensive than some six-core processors from the same year
  • No integrated graphics

Our Rating:   9.4/10

The AMD Ryzen 3 3100 is the only 3rd generation AMD CPU that you’re going to be able to find new for under $200. When the newest generation releases later this year, that might change, but overall the price of Ryzen CPUs has remained fairly stable so you shouldn’t count on it.

The main thing driving down the price of the Ryzen 3 3100 is the fact that this, unlike most of the items on our list so far, is a quad-core processor. We’ve talked a lot about how six cores is ideal, but you shouldn’t let that scare you off what could be an excellent and much more affordable processor.

Most games can be handled quite easily by a four-core processor, or even a dual-core in the case of some older titles. The only major exceptions are going to be newer open world games (like RDR2, or Far Cry 6) or grand strategy games (like Stellaris or Total War).

You’ll still be able to run those games, they just won’t be as fast or smooth as they would be on a more powerful machine. The fact that this is a multi-threaded processor will help with more CPU-intensive games and tasks, but if you’re going to be doing a lot of stuff that leans heavily on your CPU, then a 6-core/12-thread i5-xx400 series will probably be a better fit.

The Ryzen 3 3100 is one of the best quad-core CPUs when it comes to overclocking. The default clock rates are in a pretty narrow band, only 3.6 GHz to 3.9 GHz but you can consistently overclock it to 4.5GHz, with some overclocking enthusiasts reporting clock rates up to a 5 GHz and beyond. For some applications, that’s going to more than compensate for the lower core count.

Of course, if you’re going to overclock it that high, you’re going to need something more than the included stock cooler. The Wraith Stealth coolers that AMD ships with the Ryzen 3 and 5 CPUs perform fairly well on clock rates up to 4.5 GHz as long as you have other fans or cooling installed, but anything higher than that, you’ll want to get a premium cooling option, preferably liquid.

All in all, the AMD Ryzen 3 3100 definitely isn’t the cheapest quad-core processor out there, but the overclocking potential elevates its value beyond the retail price. If you aren’t planning to overclock it, then many intel processors, both four and six-core models, will be cheaper and offer much better overall performance.

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6. Intel Core i3-10320

Architecture: Comet Lake | Socket: LGA 1200 | Cores: 4 | Threads: 8 | Base Frequency: 3.8 GHz | Max Boost Frequency: 4.6 GHz | TDP: 65 W

Intel Core i3-10320REASONS TO BUY

  • Good clock rates for gaming and day-to-day tasks
  • Fantastic boost clock speed
  • Superior single-core performance in its category
  • Great value for the money
  • Ships with a cooler
  • Low power consumption
  • Easy to cool

REASONS TO AVOID

  • Might start seeing compatibility issues in the near future
  • Locked for overclocking
  • Only 4 cores
  • Limited multitasking capability

Our Rating:   9.3/10

Intel did not include the i3 series in the 11th gen launch, and while the 12th generation is looking like it will include their entire lineup, the i3-12300 was launched too recently to be consistently in stock with a stable price as of writing this article.

That makes the Intel Core i3-10320 the newest quad-core Intel processor you’ll be able to consistently get your hands on for under $200 in the next few months. Technically that’s tied with the i3-10300 but the 10320 is a tiny bit better.

The i3-10320 is a quad-core processor. Typically you’ll see most gaming PCs and other desktop builds use a more powerful CPU with a higher thread count, but that’s mostly to have power left over for a higher level of future compatibility.

Most laptops, including many gaming laptops, use quad-core processors so for the most part, a quad-core processor is going to handle most of what you’ll be doing on a PC.

In fact, a PC will typically be able to supply more cooling to the CPU, which will leverage its power even further. If you do any content creation, including streaming, four cores is still going to be on the light side.

Plus, the i3 does make use of Intel’s Hyperthreading technology, which allows two threads per core.

The lower-end processors of the 10th generation are a lot better on power consumption than what you may be used to seeing from Intel. Despite the 3.8 GHz base clock rate and boosted clock of up to 4.6 GHz, the i3-10320 has a base power draw of 65W.

This will keep it running cooler and put less demand on your computer’s thermals. The processor is locked, so it can’t be overclocked, but the high default boost is similar to what the average user would typically be able to coax out of the Ryzen 3 3100.

Additionally, the i3-10320 ships with Intel’s stock cooler, which isn’t very powerful or very attractive. However, since this is a smaller processor with a lower power draw, you should be fine with just the stock cooler, but there’s nothing stopping you from upgrading.

When it was launched, the i3-10320 was designed to be a compromise between the i3-10300 and the i5-10400, specifically focused on gamers who would get more use out of a higher clock rate than the higher core count.

Now that the i3-10300, i3-10320, and i5-10400 are all within $10 of one another, you can get the benefits of i3-10320 without paying the higher price.

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7. Intel Core i3-10300

Architecture: Comet Lake | Socket: LGA 1200 | Cores: 4 | Threads: 8 | Base Frequency: 3.7 GHz | Max Boost Frequency: 4.4 GHz | TDP: 65 W

Intel Core i3-10300REASONS TO BUY

  • Great gaming performance
  • Very affordable 4-core processor
  • Good on power consumption
  • Higher default clock rates than comparable AMD models
  • Ships with a cooler

REASONS TO AVOID

  • Price drops have eliminated any potential advantage over the 10320
  • The 12th gen model could replace it both in terms of performance and price
  • Locked for overclocking

Our Rating:   9.2/10

As you might guess from the name, the Intel Core i3-10300 and the i3-10320 are extremely similar budget CPUs, with the only notable difference being the lower clock rate of the i3-10300.

At launch, the difference in price could have been a factor in deciding which one to get, but with the i3 CPUs coming back for the 12th gen launch after being absent from the 11th generation, they’re way too similar in price to make the i3-10300 seem like a worthwhile alternative to the i3-10320.

Now, the i3-10300 is a quad-core processor capable of handling most day-to-day tasks. It will still power most games, but you’ll be shy of the recommended specs for most AAA games released in the past couple of years.

On the brighter side, since this is a 10th gen CPU, it does have Intel’s hyperthreading which will help with multitasking and the overall speed and responsiveness of your PC.

At 3.7 GHz, the i3-10300 has a slightly lower base clock rate than the 10320, but that does not appear to make a difference in power consumption. The boosted clock rate is 4.4 GHz which is better than what you’ll see from Ryzen CPUs from around this time.

Since it’s not overclockable that advantage is debatable, especially with the higher clocked 10320 being much closer in price at this point.

The i3-10300 ships with a stock cooler which works a lot better for the less power-hungry CPUs of the previous generations. Most casual gaming rigs will be able to maintain functional temps with just the stock cooler and maybe one or two case fans.

Right now, the i3-12300 is too close to its initial launch to have a good picture of what the stock and potential markups from resellers are going to look like. Some of the outlets that have them listed are selling them for roughly the same price as the i3-10300.

While that’s roughly $10 above MSRP, it obliterates any advantage the i3-10300 might have had from being an older generation processor. If you need a processor right this second, and a quad-core Intel CPU is the only thing that will do the trick, you should still get the i3-10320 over the i3-10300.

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8. Intel Core i5-9600KF

Architecture: Coffee Lake | Socket: LGA 1151 | Cores: 6 | Threads: 6 | Base Frequency: 3.7 GHz | Max Boost Frequency: 4.6 GHz | TDP: 95 W

Intel Core i5-9600KFREASONS TO BUY

  • Price has dropped significantly from the retail launch price
  • Best 9th generation CPU under $200
  • Excellent gaming performance
  • Good overclocking potential
  • Decent on power consumption

REASONS TO AVOID

  • No longer in production, and only compatible with motherboards that are no longer in production
  • No Hyperthreading
  • Doesn’t ship with a cooler
  • Significantly outperformed by newer chips
  • No integrated graphics

Our Rating:   9.1/10

Intel discontinued their 9th gen processors shortly before the launch of the 12th generation of CPUs. Many of them are still in circulation, but as the year progresses expect to see processors like the Intel Core i5-9600KF become harder to find, and available only through resellers. For now, though, the Intel Core i5-9600KF has the potential to be a solid component in most budget builds.

The i5-9600KF is a six-core processor, but it is not hyperthreaded despite the fact that most AMD CPUs from this time onward were. The high core count could still make this a good choice if you tend to do a lot of work on CPU-intensive tasks or play older CPU-intensive games (like earlier entries in the Civilization series).

If you need a powerful processor more for multi-tasking or lighter yet complex operations, then a new, multi-threaded CPU is probably the best bet.

The biggest advantage of the i5-9600KF is that it’s an unlocked processor, which can make up for some of the shortcomings you’ll experience with single-threaded cores. The default boost is up to 4.6GHz, making it a stronger processor than the i3-10300 or even the i5-11400 in some respects.

Testing shows that the safe overclock range for the i5-9600KF is right at 5.0 GHz, but users with more advanced cooling and precise overclocking controls have been able to get it to 5.2 GHz.

Unfortunately, the i5-9600KF does not include integrated graphics capabilities, which both drops the price, and can free up processing power. However, that means that you will absolutely need a GPU for your PC to run.

That’s probably not an issue, since most people who build PCs are gamers who have spent more time picking out their GPU than their CPU.

Now, there is no stock cooler that ships with the i5-9600KF, which could drive the final price of your build up a bit. However, if you were planning on overclocking, then a six-core CPU like this would definitely need something stronger than an Intel stock cooler.

Keep in mind that the 9th generation of CPUs uses a different socket than the 10th and 11th generations. Since the 9th gen CPUs has been discontinued, motherboard manufacturers have discontinued compatible motherboards.

This can cause unpredictable things to happen with the pricing, either driving them down as sellers try to get rid of their stock, or up as demand for the last few rises.

As of 2022, getting a 9th gen processor should be considered a point of last resort. The Intel Core i5-9600KF is one of the better budget CPUs still in circulation, and in some respects is one of the better performing 6-core processors for under $200. That’s offset significantly by rising issues with compatibility.

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9. Intel Core i5-9500

Architecture: Coffee Lake | Socket: LGA 1151 | Cores: 6 | Threads: 6 | Base Frequency: 3.0 GHz | Max Boost Frequency: 4.4 GHz | TDP: 65 W

Intel Core i5-9500REASONS TO BUY

  • Great gaming performance
  • Really solid single-core performance
  • Integrated graphics
  • Low power consumption

REASONS TO AVOID

  • Better CPUs available under $200
  • Doesn’t ship with a cooler
  • Part of the discontinued 9th Generation of intel processors
  • Price hasn’t dropped as much as some other 9th gen processors (yet?)
  • Clock rate comparable to lower models of the newer generations

Our Rating:   8.9/10

The Intel Core i5-9500 is another option if you find yourself with no other choice but to go all the way back to the 9th generation.

It’s not the strongest choice of the 9th generation chips you could still get your hands on, but now that the 9th generation is out of production, pricing and availability of the remaining 9th gen chips could fluctuate in unpredictable ways, so it seems prudent to have a couple of choices.

The i5-9500 is also a six-core processor, with all the benefits that entail. The individual cores are not Hyperthreaded, making it potentially less responsive than newer CPUs. It’s going to deliver a solid gaming experience across most games but could struggle with games that involve large, complex worlds such as grand strategy games, open-world games, and some of the more complex city sims.

If you’re doing processor-heavy tasks, like streaming, editing video, or complex rendering, especially in a professional capacity, we would strongly encourage getting a newer processor, probably one that’s significantly more expensive than any of the ones on this list.

Since this is an i5-9500, the clock rate is more in line with what you’ll find in the newer Intel Core i5-400 models. The base rate is 3.0 GHz, and the max boosted rate is 4.4GHz, which is decent but also consistently available from newer CPUs in the same price range. This is also not an overclockable CPU.

Unfortunately, the i5-9500 does not include a stock cooler. If you’re going all the way back to the 9th generation to find a processor under $200, you probably don’t want to spend any extra money so having to drop even $20-30 on a cheap air cooler would be frustrating.

The biggest challenge here though is going to be compatibility. As of writing this article, you can still find a reasonable number of 9th-gen compatible motherboards, but as the year progresses that could very well change.

Unless the price of the Intel Core i5-9500 drops significantly as the year goes on, or the price of the i5-9600KF jumps back up, there’s very little to recommend it over any of the other 9th gen CPUs or the newer CPUs that are under $200 in 2022.

If supplies or prices fluctuate, or you can find one on clearance, it could be a good deal, but it’s still going to depend on what you need it for.

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10. Intel Core i5-9400

Architecture: Coffee Lake | Socket: LGA 1151 | Cores: 6 | Threads: 6 | Base Frequency: 2.9 GHz | Max Boost Frequency: 4.1 GHz | TDP: 65 W

Intel Core i5-9400REASONS TO BUY

  • Low power consumption
  • Good single-core performance
  • Solid gaming performance
  • Ships with a cooler

REASONS TO AVOID

  • No Hyperthreading
  • Officially out of production
  • More expensive than the i5-10400 and i5-11400
  • Outperformed by many other processors under $200
  • Locked for overclocking

Our Rating:   8.8/10

Intel’s i5-400 series has consistently been the cheapest six-core processor across all generations. With the Intel Core i5-9400 being discontinued late last year, one might have expected the price to drop as sellers tried to clear out their stock, but that hasn’t been the case in many of the places we checked.

As the cheapest six-core processor in each generation’s lineup, the i5-9400 has the lowest clock rate of any of the 9th generation processors. This does help with power consumption, but will definitely make your PC less of a powerhouse when it comes to games that rely heavily on the CPU.

Further, the max clock rate is only 4.1 GHz, compared to the 4.3 GHz of the 10th gen i5-10400, or the 4.4 GHz of this generation’s i5-9500. Since this is a locked processor, this shortcoming cannot be corrected through overclocking.

Like the rest of the Core processors from this generation, the i5-9400 does not have multithreading. For a budget PC, especially one that you’re planning to use for simple gaming, that’s not a huge deal, but it’s something that’s available for the same price (or less) from virtually all newer processors.

Additionally, the i5-9400 ships with a factory cooler, which could offset the price, and make up the difference between it and the more powerful i5-9500 or i5-9600KF.

Since the Intel Core i5-9400 is officially out of production, in addition to the expected issues with pricing and availability, you could very likely start to see issues with the availability of compatible motherboards, since the 10th and 11th generations use a different socket, and the brand new 12th gen uses yet another socket.

If you’re reading this and building your PC in the first half of the year, you’re probably still fine, but heading into later months things could get dicey, especially if Intel launches their 13th gen in Q4 as expected.

Since the Intel Core i5-9400 is out of production, there’s no guarantee on pricing and availability. While you might have expected this to drive pricing down and outlets attempt to clear out their inventory, especially since that’s what has happened with the i5-9500 and i5-9600, that doesn’t appear to have happened here.

In fact, most outlets are selling the i5-10400 for anywhere from $20 to fully $50 less than the i5-9400. The i5-11400 is a bit more stable, selling for roughly the same price as the i5-9400 in most places, but that really wipes out any savings you might have hoped for going back this many generations.

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Should I Get an AMD or Intel CPU?

This is probably the most argued question about computers across the entire internet.

There are a lot of things to take into consideration here, and one of the main things to consider is, what future do you see with the company?

On one hand, In 2017 AMD built a flight plan to take them through 5 years of their processor development. If you look at the bold commitments the red team made at that time, you would certainly have had questions on their ability to make good on those commitments.

The thing is, AMD has delivered on every commitment they have made up to this point. On the other hand, Intel has been churning out top-of-the-line processors for years. Once you find the right fit in processor capabilities, you are basically deciding who do you want to buy into.

Intel has a history of overhauling its architecture so upgrades are not always possible without replacing all parts. AMD has been more consistent with allowing backward compatibility, making upgrading easier.

My decision has been AMD because of the upgrade path alone. If you want absolutely the best gaming performance out there, it’s really hard to top Intel at this time due to the complexities involving AMD’s memory controllers.

When you look at real-world performance, AMD can and often does exceed intel in clock speeds and core counts, however, it loses the edge in the prosumer market because to get the Ryzen series of processors to perform at its highest levels you have to overclock the Inifinity fabric to help the memory latency issues with AMD.

With Intel, they traditionally and continue to have better native memory controllers so real-world performance the Intel offerings can slightly edge out AMD. For me, my choice is and will continue to be AMD, because when we are considering a 1-5% boost in speed in some corner cases versus being able to upgrade systems by just changing out 1 part, AMD wins every time.



About Richard Gamin 174 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.

3 Comments

  1. How come if these are processors under $200 when you click on price for the first one Amazon lists it for $319. Last time I checked $319 is greater than $200.

    • Hi there!
      The R5 3600 is sold by Amazon for under $200, however they are currently out of stock and therefore you are getting offers from other sellers. You can order the R5 3600 on Amazon (US) for under $200, but according to their website it will be on stock around January 5th.
      Hope this helps,
      Richard

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