Best CPUs Under $200 in 2024

We reviewed the 10 best budget processors available from both Intel and AMD

Best CPU Under $200

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Today, we’ll take a look at the best CPUs under $200 available on the market in 2024, including options for both Intel and AMD users across all of the recent generations.

With so many options on the market, 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.

Also, be sure to check out our selections for different budget ranges:

Let’s get straight into it!

10 Best CPUs Under $200 in 2024 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 i5-12600KF

''Best CPU under $200 overall''

9.9

2. AMD Ryzen 5 7600

''Best CPU for gaming under $200''

9.8

3. AMD Ryzen 5 5600X

''Best AM4 CPU under $200''

9.7

4. Intel Core i5-13400F

''Best 13th-generation CPU under $200''

9.6

5. Intel Core i3-13100

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

9.5

6. Intel Core i5-12400

''Solid all-around processor''

9.4

7. Intel Core i5-11400

''Best pick for extreme budget builds''

9.2

8. AMD Ryzen 5 2600

''Honorable mention''

9.0

9. Intel Core i5-10400

''Honorable mention #2''

8.7

10. AMD Ryzen 3 3100

''Honorable mention #3''

8.3



1. Intel Core i5-12600KF

Architecture: Alder Lake | Socket: LGA 1700 | Cores: 10 | Threads: 16 | Base Frequency: 2.8 GHz | Max Boost Frequency: 4.9 GHz | TDP: 125 W

Intel Core i5-12600KF

REASONS TO BUY

  • Outstanding value for the money
  • Beats AMD at the same price point
  • Excellent gaming performance
  • Great performance in productivity apps
  • High overclocking potential
  • Power-efficient
  • Supports DDR5 and PCIe 5.0

REASONS TO AVOID

  • Doesn’t ship with a cooler

Our Rating:   9.9/10

The Intel Core i5-12600KF is, by far, our number one recommendation for the best CPU under $200. Thanks to the inclusion of the new architecture, it’s a versatile, high-performing, and efficient processor that does extremely well in both gaming and productivity apps and offers outstanding performance per dollar.

To start off, it’s the most affordable chip to feature Intel’s new hybrid architecture, which splits the CPU cores into P-cores and E-cores in order to maximize efficiency and reduce power draw. The performance cores do the heavy lifting for gaming and heavy-duty tasks, while the efficient cores take care of day-to-day tasks.

In terms of specs, it’s a 10-core, 16-thread processor with a maximum clock of 4.9GHz on the P-cores and a minimum base clock of 2.8GHz on the E-cores. This is a significant improvement over its predecessor, the i5-11600K, and grants a significant performance and efficiency boost.

Being a ‘KF’ processor, it’s fully unlocked for overclocking (and it overclocks incredibly well); however, it doesn’t come with integrated graphics. This means that you won’t be able to use it without a dedicated graphics card, which shouldn’t be an issue for the majority of people buying this processor.

In addition, it’s fully compatible with the latest 600 and 700-series motherboards, allowing you to take full advantage of the new connectivity. This includes the PCIe 5.0 standard as well as the faster DDR5 RAM (up to 4800MHz), but it also supports DDR4 memory (up to 3200MHz).

When it comes to gaming performance, this is an extremely capable CPU and blows the $200 competition out of the water. It performs exceptionally well, consistently outperforming the 5000-series AMD processors, including the likes of Ryzen 5 5700X and 5800X. In comparison to the last generation, it even beats the i9-11900K in gaming benchmarks by around 10% on average.

Performance in productivity apps is more or less the same story, with 5-10% faster rendering speeds over the i9-11900K and the aforementioned Ryzen 5000-series processors. Seeing this from a $200 processor is really impressive and goes to show how effective Intel’s hybrid architecture is.

In terms of power consumption, the i5-12600KF doesn’t do as well with around 120W average power draw. However, it’s still considered a highly efficient processor relative to its performance.

Lastly, the processor doesn’t ship with a stock cooler, which is a slight drawback. Still, considering its capabilities, we recommend getting a proper aftermarket cooling solution, especially if you plan on overclocking.

All in all, the Intel Core i5-12600KF is by far the best CPU under $200 on the market in 2024. It offers incredible performance for the price, along with compatibility with the newest hardware and great overclocking potential. No matter if you’re a gamer or content creator, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better processor in this price range.

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2. AMD Ryzen 5 7600

Architecture: Zen4 | Socket: AM5 | Cores: 6 | Threads: 12 | Base Frequency: 3.8 GHz | Max Boost Frequency: 5.1 GHz | TDP: 65 WAMD Ryzen 5 7600

REASONS TO BUY

  • Unmatched gaming performance
  • Excellent power efficiency
  • Ships with a stock cooler
  • Supports the newest AMD motherboards
  • Supports DDR5 and PCIe 5.0
  • Respectable productivity performance
  • Overclocks well

REASONS TO AVOID

  • Doesn’t support DDR4 memory

Our Rating:   9.8/10

The AMD Ryzen 5 7600 is the most affordable Ryzen 7000-series processor and currently the best budget CPU for gaming, even beating the highly-touted i5-12600KF in the majority of popular titles. Plus, it’s the only AM5 processor available for less than $200, so if you want to build on the new platform, it is a clear choice.

To start off, this is your typical Ryzen 5 processor, with 6 hyper-threaded cores and 12 threads. This is going to put it behind the new Intel processors that feature the hybrid architecture in terms of productivity capabilities and complex multi-core tasks.

However, the improved clocks over the last generation (3.8GHz base and 5.1GHz boost), along with more L2 cache, make it a perfect budget processor for gaming. Compared to its predecessor, the Ryzen 5 5600, you get a 100% bigger cache and a 500MHz faster maximum clock, which produces a measurable difference for gaming.

Continuing on with the improvements over the last generation, this processor comes equipped with integrated graphics, specifically a two-core graphics chip clocked at 2200MHz. This means you will be able to use it without a dedicated GPU for some basic tasks, which is a nice bonus.

In terms of compatibility, this processor features an AM5 socket, which lets you use it with the latest AMD motherboards, including the high-end X670 boards. This unlocks DDR5 memory and PCIe 5.0 connectivity; however, keep in mind these motherboards and the whole AM5 platforms are noticeably more expensive than the older AM4 options.

Also, unlike the LGA1700 platform, there is no support for the older DDR4 memory, meaning you can’t carry over your old RAM modules.

When it comes to gaming performance, the Ryzen 5 7600 offers unmatched gaming performance in this budget territory. It consistently beats the i5-12600KF by around 10% in average FPS, as well as the previous generation Ryzen 7 chips, the 5700X, and 5800X, by 10-15%, depending on the title. 

However, performance in productivity apps is a different story. While it’s still a highly recommendable processor for content creators, especially at this price point, the i5-12600KF consistently outperforms it by an average of 10% in rendering speeds. In comparison to its predecessor, the R5 5600, you can expect a standard generational improvement of 20-25%.

Further, the Ryzen 5 7600 is considered a highly efficient processor relative to its power output, but in comparison to the 5600 (both X and non-X models), it draws noticeably more power and produces more heat. For casual users, the included Wraith Stealth cooler will be enough, but overclockers and power users should consider investing in a more powerful cooling solution.

Overall, the AMD Ryzen 5 7600 would be our number one recommendation for gamers shopping for a new processor with a $200 budget. It lags behind the 12600KF in productivity apps but makes up for it with the included stock cooler and unbeatable gaming performance.

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3. AMD Ryzen 5 5600X

Architecture: Zen 3 | Socket: AM4 | Cores: 6 | Threads: 12 | Base Frequency: 3.7 GHz | Max Boost Frequency: 4.6 GHz | TDP: 65 W

AMD Ryzen 5 5600X

REASONS TO BUY

  • Respectable gaming performance
  • Great value for the money
  • Big savings potential with the AM4 platform
  • Great for overclocking
  • Very power efficient
  • Ships with a cooler
  • Easy to cool

REASONS TO AVOID

  • Doesn’t support DDR5 or PCIe 5.0
  • Weaker productivity performance
  • No integrated graphics

Our Rating:   9.7/10

Thanks to the recent markdowns, The AMD Ryzen 5600X takes the crown for the best 5000-series CPU under $200. If you’re building on the AM4 platform, this processor is currently your best option–It’s efficient, easy to cool, and provides a solid baseline of performance with a focus on gaming. Still, being a 6-core processor, it also puts some moderate content creation on the table.

In terms of specs, this is a hexacore, 12-thread processor with a base clock of 3.7GHz and a maximum boost clock of 4.6GHz. As with every other AMD processor, it’s unlocked for overclocking and can be reliably pushed to 5GHz+ with proper cooling.

Unfortunately, AMD decided to exclude integrated graphics in most of the 5000-series lineup, so you’ll need a dedicated graphics card in order to use this processor.

With the AM4 platform being around for years, the Ryzen 5 5600X is compatible with a large number of motherboards. This includes older budget boards like the B450 or X370, as well as high-end X570 motherboards with full support for PCIe 4.0 connectivity.

Most older motherboards will require a BIOS update, but we can hardly call that a drawback. But, while the flexibility of this processor is great, a big downside is the lack of support for DDR5 RAM, which is currently exclusive to the AM5 platform.

Now, the gaming performance is superb, easily one of the best in this price category. However, at the current time, the 12600KF outperforms it by around 10% in many popular titles, and the R5 7600 puts it behind by roughly 20%, with the expected generational difference.

For productivity apps, it’s a similar story, with swift rendering speeds but slightly behind the competition when you take a look at the benchmarks. The difference between the 5600 is negligible, but the R5 7600 outperforms it by 15% on average. Plus, the hybrid architecture in Intel’s 12600KF can put it all the way up to 30-40% behind in rendering speeds, which is bad news for content creators looking to buy this processor.

On the brighter side, it’s one of the most power-efficient CPUs on the market and draws very little power. This, along with the low cooling requirements, makes it a perfect match for budget-oriented gamers.

Speaking of cooling, this model ships with a stock cooler, which is enough to keep the temperatures in check for the level of power this CPU outputs.

Overall, if you plan on building a brand new PC, the Ryzen 5 5600X is probably not the best option, especially with the lack of DDR5 support. However, if you’re specifically looking to build a cheap gaming PC on the AM4 platform, that’s where this CPU makes sense. The gaming performance is great, and so is power efficiency; plus, you’ll save a lot of money on older-generation components and cooling.

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4. Intel Core i5-13400F

Architecture: Raptor Lake | Socket: LGA 1700 | Cores: 10 | Threads: 16 | Base Frequency: 1.8 GHz | Max Boost Frequency: 4.6 GHz | TDP: 65 W

Intel Core i5-13400F

REASONS TO BUY

  • Lots of cores for the price
  • Great gaming performance
  • Respectable productivity capabilities
  • Extremely power efficient
  • Low cooling requirements
  • Ships with a cooler
  • Supports DDR5 and PCIe 5.0

REASONS TO AVOID

  • Locked for overclocking
  • No integrated graphics
  • Weak performance per dollar
  • Gets outperformed by older AMD chips

Our Rating:   9.6/10

Our next recommendation for a powerful and affordable processor is the Core i5-13400 from Intel. It is the only 13th-generation i5 chip available for less than $200, and it’s got a lot to offer, with its biggest draw being its efficiency and low power draw. It doesn’t outperform the R5 7600 or 12600KF, which has us questioning its overall value, but it’s still among the top-performing chips in this price range.

In terms of specs, this is a 10-core, 16-thread processor with a base clock of 1.8GHz and a boost clock of 4.6GHz, with implemented Intel’s hybrid architecture, which splits the 10 cores into six P-cores and four E-cores in order to improve efficiency. It’s essentially the same chip as the i5-12600KF, with slightly lower clock speeds.

Being Intel’s ‘F’ processor, it holds its share of benefits and drawbacks. These CPUs are usually more affordable, but on the other hand, they’re locked for overclocking and don’t feature integrated graphics, which can be dealbreakers for some users.

Compatibility-wise, it interfaces with the latest 600 and 700-series Intel motherboards, allowing you to take advantage of the latest connectivity standards, including PCIe 5.0 and DDR5 memory (Up to 4800MHz). Unlike the latest Ryzen processors, it also supports DDR4 memory up to 3200MHz, which gives you more flexibility with your build.

In terms of gaming performance, this is a good gaming processor in a vacuum but lags behind the competition due to its lower clock speed and less cache memory. It performs better than its predecessors, but that’s about it. Almost every other CPU in this price range performs better in games, with the 12600KF and R5 7600 offering marginally better (20-25%) gaming performance.

Productivity is much better but not where it should be with its 10-core configuration. It does better in applications like Blender or Adobe Premier compared to the R5 5600, with around 10-15% faster rendering speeds. But again, both the 12600KF and R5 7600 do a better job at practically the same price point.

Where this processor has a leg up on the competition, however, is efficiency, power draw, as well as cooling requirements. It’s one of the absolute most power-efficient CPUs you’ll find on the market, though not by a big margin, and it draws very little power.

Plus, it ships with a stock cooler, the Laminar RM1, which adds to the overall value. And thanks to its low cooling requirements and power draw, you won’t be forced to upgrade it to an aftermarket solution.

All in all, while it’s the only 13th-generation processor available for less than $200, it’s far from being the best purchase. It shines in efficiency, power draw, and cooling requirements, which may interest some users. However, the performance per dollar is questionable compared to other CPUs, which makes it hard to recommend at its current price point.

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5. Intel Core i3-13100

Architecture: Raptor Lake | Socket: LGA 1700 | Cores: 4 | Threads: 8 | Base Frequency: 3.4 GHz | Max Boost Frequency: 4.5 GHz | TDP: 60 W

Intel Core i3-13100

REASONS TO BUY

  • Price way below $200
  • Fastest i3 ever produced
  • Solid gaming performance 
  • Supports DDR5 and PCIe 5.0
  • Ships with a cooler
  • Easy to cool
  • Draws very little power
  • Features integrated graphics

REASONS TO AVOID

  • Poor productivity performance
  • Higher price per core
  • No hybrid architecture
  • Unlocked for overclocking

Our Rating:   9.5/10

Our next recommendation for budget-oriented users is the current-generation Intel Core i3-13100. It’s a weaker chip compared to what we reviewed so far, but it makes up for it with the extremely affordable price, way below the $200 mark. Plus, the included cooler, along with the low power draw, makes it a good option for less demanding users seeking value.

For starters, the Intel Core i3-13100 is a quad-core, 8-thread offering with a base clock of 3.4GHz and a maximum boost clock of 4.5GHz, making it the fastest i3 ever produced. This leads to competitive gaming performance, but the lower core count won’t be optimal for heavy use and complex rendering tasks.

Additionally, the processor comes equipped with an integrated graphics chip, specifically the Intel UHD Graphics 730, meaning you don’t need to install a dedicated graphics card in order to run your PC. Unfortunately, it doesn’t support overclocking.

In terms of compatibility, this CPU features the latest LGA1700 socket, meaning it’s compatible with the latest Intel 600 and 700-series motherboards. Similarly to its beefier cousins, it supports both DDR5 and DDR4 memory, as well as PCIe 5.0 connectivity.

Now, while this CPU can certainly game, it gets outperformed by all of the CPUs above on this list. Specifically, it lags behind the Ryzen 5 5600 by around 25-35% and the i5-13400 by around 15-25% in gaming benchmarks, which is a noticeable difference.

Both the Ryzen 5 7600 and 12600K smash it with another 20-30% more FPS on average. But keep in mind this directly correlates with the price difference, which is around $60-80, depending on where you buy it.

Performance in productivity applications is even worse due to the processor being only a four-core offering. It can do some light video editing, but if you’re looking for a budget workstation processor, we don’t recommend this one. For example, the previous-generation i5-12600KF, which is around $60 more expensive, offers up to twice as fast rendering speeds in popular editing software.

As previously mentioned, this CPU mostly provides value in other areas. Aside from the affordability, it’s extremely easy to cool, even with the included Laminar RM1 air cooler. It also draws very little power, running between 30-40W on average, which is amazing.

Overall, the combination of affordability, low power consumption, and solid gaming performance makes the Intel Core i3-13100 an excellent chip for casual gamers. Plus, being a 13th-generation processor, it gives you access to DDR5 and PCIe 5.0, making future upgrades convenient.

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6. 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 i5-12400

REASONS TO BUY

  • Solid performance for the money
  • Beats more expensive AMD CPUs
  • Great for both gaming and multitasking
  • Ships with a cooler
  • Draws very little power
  • Easy to cool
  • Supports both DDR4 and DDR5 memory
  • Integrated graphics chip

REASONS TO AVOID

  • Low base clock rate
  • Questionable value for the money
  • Locked for overclocking
  • Doesn’t feature Intel’s hybrid architecture

Our Rating:   9.4/10

With the second half of our list, we’re entering a territory of CPUs that are solid on their own but don’t offer any real upsides over our top five recommendations–The only scenario when buying these chips would make sense is if you’re able to find them on sale.

With that out of the way, let’s take a look at the Intel Core i5-12400. As a hexacore CPU with hyperthreaded cores, it still delivers some great performance for gaming and productivity apps but doesn’t have what it takes to beat the best budget processors on the market today.

Still, 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 rendering, 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 one of 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, it’s still enough for most gamers.

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 it 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 a locked 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. However, 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 still a solid CPU under $200, even in 2024. For the price, it offers good 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. But, as we mentioned earlier, we only recommend this one if it’s on sale.

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7. 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 i5-11400

REASONS TO BUY

  • Good budget processor for gaming
  • Way below $200
  • Suitable for a wide range of uses
  • Ships with a cooler
  • Draws very little power
  • Recent markdowns have made it much more affordable

REASONS TO AVOID

  • Doesn’t support DDR5 or PCIe 5.0
  • Low base clock rate
  • Locked for overclocking
  • Better options are available 

Our Rating:   9.2/10

The most consistently reliable way to get a processor that fits your budget 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 newer generations, 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 can find it on sale and are specifically looking for an LGA1200 CPU, the Intel Core i5-11400 is still a solid way to get a well-performing, six-core CPU for under $200. The main consideration with this processor, besides the lower performance compared to the current competition, is its incompatibility with the DDR5 memory, which might make things harder if you decide to upgrade your rig in the future.

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8. 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 2600

REASONS TO BUY

  • Frequently on sale due to its age
  • Compatible with a multitude of motherboards
  • Good gaming performance
  • Very low power consumption
  • Unlocked for overclocking
  • Ships with a sufficient 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
  • Outdated

Our Rating:   9.0/10

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 multitasking.

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 11th and 12th generation 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 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, it 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 still a solid option, but otherwise, there’s not a lot to recommend over newer AMD or Intel chips.

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9. 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 i5-10400

REASONS TO BUY

  • Cheapest 6-core/12-thread CPU available in 2024
  • Respectable 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 or even PCIe 4.0
  • Locked for overclocking
  • Outdated

Our Rating:   8.7/10

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 is somewhat comparable to 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 2024. 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 generations, 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 performance for high-end gaming if you have the graphics card for it, as well as multitasking 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 for gaming. It’s not that much cheaper than the newer i5-11400, and with the release of Gen 13, you can frequently find it on sale.

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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10. 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 3100

REASONS TO BUY

  • Great overclocking potential
  • One of the better 4-core CPUs 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
  • Outdated
  • Doesn’t support DDR5 or PCIe 5.0

Our Rating:   8.3/10

The AMD Ryzen 3 3100 is one of the few 3rd generation AMD CPUs 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 lower items on our list so far, is a quad-core processor. We’ve talked a lot about how six cores are 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 always 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 4.5 GHz, with some overclocking enthusiasts reporting clock rates up to 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 for 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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About Richard Gamin 237 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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