Best CPU Under $200 of 2020 – Top 10 Affordable Processors Reviewed

Best CPU under $200

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Today, we’ll take a look at the best CPUs under $200 of 2020.

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 of 2020 Round Up

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

Product

Image

Rating

1. AMD Ryzen 5 3600

9.9

2. Intel Core i5-10500

9.7

3. AMD Ryzen 5 2600

9.5

4. Intel Core i5-10400

9.4

5. AMD Ryzen 5 3600X

9.3

6. Intel Core i5-9600K

9.2

7. Intel Core i5-9500

9.1

8. Intel Core i5-9400

9.0

9. Intel Core i3-10100

8.9

 10. AMD Ryzen 5 3400G

8.8


1. AMD Ryzen 5 3600

Architecture: Zen 2 | Socket: AM4 | Cores: 6 | Threads: 12 | Base Frequency:  3.6 GHz | Max Boost Frequency: 4.2 GHz | TDP: 65W

AMD Ryzen 5 3600BEST USES 

  • Advanced Office tools
  • 3D Graphics
  • Video editing
  • Photo editing
  • High-end gaming
  • Media

Our Rating:   9.9/10

The Ryzen 5 3600 is a Zen 2 (meaning the 3rd generation Ryzen family) 6 core 12 thread processor with a base clock of 3.6 GHz and a turbo overclock of 4.2 GHz.

One of the key things to note with the Ryzen 5 3600 is that it does not come with integrated graphics. This may be of particular interest to you if you are building a basic office machine and did not plan to have to purchase a separate graphics card when planning your budget. If this is a deal-breaker for you, stop reading now and go have a look at other offerings with integrated graphics.

Overall, does having integrated graphics indicate that one CPU is better than the other? Absolutely not, proponents of building processors without integrated graphics would tell you, the manufacturers would spend more money building a processor for the task of a CPU not an APU (APU meaning a CPU with integrated graphics).

Now, down to business with the Ryzen 5 3600.


It has some of the fastest single core clock speeds in its class coming in on user benchmarks of score of 131 points. What this processor does very well, is handle multi-threaded workloads.

One other advantage of the AMD processors in general are their continued focus on backwards compatibility. While the Zen 2 processor generation, such as the Ryzen 5 3600, are designed to work with the x570 motherboard platform, it is still an AM4 socket. This can be almost as confusing as Intel changing boards so frequently, however if you have a x470 or b450 board, this processor will slot right in and do a great job.

This is one of the reasons AMD has really captured the hearts of PC enthusiasts lately. When the Ryzen 5 3600 is paired with an x570 motherboard, it unlocks the future proofing that the Zen 2 generation has unlocked, and that is PCIe 4.0 compatibility. Why is PCIe 4.0 upgrade important? This allows faster transmission of data when the vital parts of the computer are communicating back with the CPU.

The video card, memory, storage and network cards (on enthusiast machines) all communicate to the CPU via the PCIe lanes. Did the PCIe 4.0 much improved over PCIe 3.0? Yes, PCIe 4.0 doubles the bandwidth able to be carried to the CPU.

With all that being said, the AMD Ryzen 5 3600 is hands down the best CPU you can currently purchase for less then $200. It performs incredibly well and also future-proofs your build with the PCIe 4.0 support. 

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2. Intel Core i5-10500

Architecture: Comet Lake | Socket: LGA1200 | Cores: 6 | Threads: 12 | Base Frequency:  3.1 GHz | Max Boost Frequency: 4.5 GHz | TDP: 65W

Intel Core i5-10500BEST USES 

  • Advanced Office tools
  • 3D Graphics
  • Video editing
  • Photo editing
  • High-end gaming
  • Media

Our Rating:   9.7/10

The Intel Core i5-10500 is a slight upgrade from the i5-10400. It has 6 cores with 12 total threads.

One of the most significant upgrades is the single core clock speed, when tested by users in benchmarks, the i5-10500 holds about a 7% increase over the i5-10400 coming in at 132 points average. The i5-10500 is also an LGA 1200 socket compatible with Intel 400 series chipsets.

As with all of the intel Comet Lake 10th generation CPUs, the i5-10500 is no different with the hyperthreading, but does it a little better due to the higher cloock speeds. If this processor is within your budget and you are looking to squeeze every bit of performance for your dollar, this is a very good option for almost any use.

Also note that the i5-10500 will support 128 GB of memory at the 2933MHz speeds.


The superior single core clock speeds come from an improved frequency of a 3.10 GHz base clock with a turbo boost of up to 4.5 GHz on a single core or 4.2 GHz across all cores at the same time.

With the higher frequencies on the clock speeds, expect this processor to run a bit hotter. If you intend to overclock this CPU, you should definitely consider purchsing an aftermarket cooling solution to help keep those temperatures in check.

The i5-10500 is recommended for most computing usages, and I would recommend purchasing before the i5-10400 if you are trying to get every bit of performance from this class of processor. With it’s ability to multitask, it would handle more complicated tasks such as video editing with the heavier rendering requirements needed.

Even better, the i5-10500 does have an integrated video card, and will handle most day to day computing tasks with just the onboard graphics. If you are spending the extra money for this processor, I would be in the market for an additional graphics card, or you may lose some of the need to have the extra horsepower this processor will deliver.

All in all, the Intel Core i5-10500 is your best bet when looking for an affordable, high-performing and LGA 1200 compatible CPU.

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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: 65W

AMD Ryzen 5 2600BEST USES 

  • Advanced Office tools
  • 3D Graphics
  • Video editing
  • Photo editing
  • High-end gaming
  • Media

Our Rating:   9.5/10

The AMD Ryzen 5 2600 is the Zen+ iteration (meaning 2nd generation Ryzen processor) that has 6 cores and 12 total threads.

This processor has a base clock of 3.4GHz and a boost clock of 3.9 GHz. It does support DDR4 memory, but only officially supports up to 2933 MHz memory speed.

This 2nd generation CPU claims 110 points in standard user benchmark average, with the newer model of the Ryzen 5 3600 touting 15% boost in average speeds.

The Ryzen 5 2600, unlike the Ryzen 5 3600, supports the more traditional PCIe 3.0 technology, which is not necessarily a bad thing amongst this list of processors, it just differentiates the 2600 versus the 3600. Thankfully, the Ryzen 5 2600 does ship with a wraith cooler.


Like the 3600, the Ryzen 5 2600 is a great option for multi-taskers who plan to purchase a separate graphics card. If you are attempting to save every possible dollar, this may be a decent option for you, although I would recommend moving up to the Ryzen 5 3600 if you decide to go with the Ryzen format.

The year over year improvement from the generation of Zen+ to Zen 2 are not to be ignored and is what really makes the Ryzen 3rd generation processors stand out amongst this list.

Why would you purchase the Ryzen 5 2600? If you are replacing an older Ryzen processor (such as the Ryzen 5 1600) this would be a great option if you do not plan to upgrade the motherboard.

The Ryzen 5 2600 will offer you around a 15% lift in speeds over the original Zen architecture and it does slot right into the x370 and b350 motherboards of the first generation Ryzen processors.

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4. Intel Core i5-10400

Architecture: Comet Lake | Socket: LGA1200 | Cores: 6 | Threads: 12 | Base Frequency:  2.9 GHz | Max Boost Frequency: 4.3 GHz | TDP: 65W

Intel Core i5-10400BEST USES 

  • Advanced Office tools
  • 3D Graphics
  • Video editing
  • Photo editing
  • High-end gaming
  • Media

Our Rating:   9.4/10

The intel Core i5-10400 is a 6 core, 12 thread processor. Why is this important to note? More threads mean more things the processor can accomplish simultaneously. This is another big thing to note if you were previously shopping for processors last year.

The series of processor the i5-10400 replaced is the i5-9400. One of the main differences between the i5-9400 and the Intel i5 10400 is the thread count. Intel took a turn away from hyperthreaded processors in the 9 thousand series processors, the 10 thousand series of processors brough this right back as market pressure drove an immediate response for those multitaskers.

Again, if you have shopped for Intel in the past, you would note that i5s were for simple single threaded tasks, giving high clocks on less cores. Intel has upped the game across their full product spread with these 10 thousand series processors. With the i5-10400 now sporting 12 total threads, you have a good capability to multitask and handle more advanced gaming, office tasks as well as photo and video editing.


The i5-10400 has a base clock of 3.6 GHz base speed with a turbo boost up to 4.3 GHz. With the single core performance coming in at a respectable 123 points in benchmarks performed by users, this CPU can basically do it all. At the price versus performance measurement of processors at these price points, it is almost better to know what they can’t do.

For this class of processor, the i5-10400 does a nice job multi-tasking. Be careful when upgrading because this is an LGA 1200 socket compatible with the 400 series chipset.

Besides that, this CPU sports integrated graphics, so would do well as a stand-alone processor without the need of an additional graphics card for most day to day tasks.

If you are going into severe overclocking for a top end gaming rig, keep looking for other options. While this will do an adequate job with gaming, it will not break records.

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5. AMD Ryzen 5 3600X

Architecture: Zen 2 | Socket: AM4 | Cores: 6 | Threads: 12 | Base Frequency:  3.8 GHz | Max Boost Frequency: 4.4 GHz | TDP: 95W

AMD Ryzen 5 3600XBEST USES 

  • Advanced Office tools
  • 3D Graphics
  • Video editing
  • Photo editing
  • High-end gaming
  • Media

Our Rating:   9.3/10

The AMD Ryzen 5 3600X is the enthusiast version of the Ryzen 5 3600, however it costs slightly more than $200. That can be a deal breaker for many people and that’s why we decided to put it all the way to the fifth spot, despite its great performance.

In most respects they are the same processor, however the Ryzen 3600X will outperform the Ryzen 3600 in most areas due to processor binning. Processor binning is essentially where the manufacturer will separate out the highest grade CPUs for specific overclocking capability.

The Ryzen 3600X comes factory clocked higher than the 3600 coming in at 3.8 GHz stock frequency while the boost can take you up to 4.4 GHz.

Not only will the processor come factory overclocked higher due to the higher quality silicon, the 3600X also supports 3200 MHz memory as a standard over the 2933 MHz on the non “X” model. This becomes a distinct point to understand about processor binning before you are making important decisions like choosing the best model for yourself.

If you are a long-time overclocking guru, you may not find a huge improvement for day to day uses between the Ryzen 3600 and the Ryzen 3600X. If you are willing to spend the time working with the finite settings of the memory latencies, and processor voltages, it is very likely that you are able to clock your standard Ryzen 3600 to match the basic specs of the Ryzen 3600X.

Keep in mind, as you produce more power for the same processor, you will generate more heat. The Ryzen 3600X vs the Ryzen 3600 is no different.

The Ryzen 3600X operates at default power draw of 95 Watts (TDP) whereas the Ryzen 3600 operates at only 65 Watts. Again, these may be mitigated by changing some of the base processor settings in the BIOS.

If you are not comfortable making these adjustments, the Ryzen 3600X is going to give you higher performance straight out of the box.

On top of everything else, the Ryzen 3600X supports PCIe 4.0, much like the Ryzen 3600, which allows speedier SSDs. One thing to note when considering the future proofed PCIe 4.0 is that not all parts manufacturers have started making hardware that will have PCIe 4.0 support.

Overall, the Ryzen 3600X offers great value, but as we mentioned earlier, costs more than $200. That being said, if you’re willing to pay the extra money, it’s well worth your cash.

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6. Intel Core i5-9600K

Architecture: Coffee Lake | Socket: LGA1151 | Cores: 6 | Threads: 6 | Base Frequency:  3.7 GHz | Max Boost Frequency: 4.6 GHz | TDP: 95W

Intel Core i5-9600KBEST USES 

  • Advanced Office tools
  • 3D Graphics
  • Video editing
  • Photo editing
  • High-end gaming
  • Media

Our Rating:   9.2/10

The Intel Core i5-9600K is a 6 core 6 thread processor. It is a coffee lake series CPU of Intel manufacturing with the LGA 1151 socket and is compatible with 300 series chipsets.

The 9600K is an APU that has the built in Intel HD 630 graphics processor onboard, so the use of a discrete graphics card is optional. When considering this processor among this list, it has one strength that makes it stand out. Single core performance. The i5-9600K comes in at the top of this list clocking 137 points as averaged by user benchmarks.

Why does this matter to you?

If you are performing simple tasks and need to do it very fast, this processor with edge out the competitors on this list. Many older series of games relied heavily on single core performance, which Intel has always held the title of fastest single core performance.

Keep in mind, as I’ve mentioned in other places in the article, the Coffee Lake or 9000 series processors by intel do not offer multi-threading. While the single core performance is phenomenal, when it comes to multi-tasking the i5-9600K falls behind most of the offerings here.

The i5-9600 comes in at a base clock of 3.7 GHz, with a boost clock of 4.6GHz. As many other processors of this generation, it is geared to support 128 GB of DDR4-2666 MHz memory. The memory speed can be overclocked with some basic knowledge of overclocking. And finally, it supports up to PCIe 3.0 technology as is common with almost all CPUs manufactured today.

The i5-9600K will do an excellent job in its strongest areas, and the one case that I come back to again and again is if you are looking to play high speed older game titles where squeezing every bit of FPS from your game is mission critical, this is the best option on this list today. Almost every other use case, going with a newer generation Intel or AMD processor will be a better fit.

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7. Intel Core i5-9500

Architecture: Coffee Lake | Socket: LGA1151 | Cores: 6 | Threads: 6 | Base Frequency:  3.0 GHz | Max Boost Frequency: 4.4 GHz | TDP: 65W

Intel Core i5-9500BEST USES 

  • Advanced Office tools
  • Video editing
  • Photo editing
  • High-end gaming
  • Media

Our Rating:   9.1/10

The Intel i5-9500 is a 6 core 6 thread offering from Intel with a base clock of 3.0 GHz and a turbo of 4.4 GHz boost clock. This CPU is of the Coffee Lake generation with an LGA 1151 socket and supports Intel series 300 chipsets.

As with other processors of this generation, the i5-9500 supports 128 GB of DDR4-2666 MHz memory. It may be a good replacement for older processors with the LGA 1151 socket type however keep in mind you may need to update the bios on older machines to support this generation.

Much like the i5-9600 and lack of multi-threading, running complex multi-tasking may prove difficult, but the i5-9500 does perform well at an average user benchmark score of 128 points which brings this close to the single core performance of most of the faster processors on this list, but the lack of hyperthreading leaves this unit somewhat outdated in the sub $200 price range.

If you are very very tight on your budget and can’t afford the difference of price in upgrading to the i5-9600K, you may have other options that are available to give you the same performance. The i5-9500 supports up to PCIe generation 3.0 as with most of the processors from last year. It also comes with the Intel HD 630 graphics processor onboard so a stand-alone graphics card won’t be needed to get up and running.

The i5-9500 will perform adequately for most day to day computing tasks and with its strong single core performance, and the fact it still has 6 cores, which outclass many previous generation processors, it will handle multi-tasking relatively well only being truly outperformed by the newer multithreaded options out there.

As you will read in my summary discussing the differences between AMD and Intel, this processor is a perfect example and a very hard processor to recommend for a simple reason – if you purchase a new system to run this CPU, you already know that you will have to purchase a new motherboard to upgrade.

If you are looking at purchasing a replacement processor for an older unit, this may be a decent replacement, but with the minor cost difference compared to the i5-9600K, I would suggest the 9600K versus the 9500, hands down.

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8. Intel Core i5-9400

Architecture: Coffee Lake | Socket: LGA1151 | Cores: 6 | Threads: 6 | Base Frequency:  2.9 GHz | Max Boost Frequency: 4.1 GHz | TDP: 65W

Intel Core i5-9400BEST USES 

  • Advanced Office tools
  • Video editing
  • Photo editing
  • High-end gaming
  • Media

Our Rating:   9.0/10

The Intel Core i5-9400 is a 6 core 6 thread processor with a base clock of 2.9 GHz with a boost clock of up to 4.1 GHz. It is built for the 1151 socket on the 300 series Intel chipset. The i5-9400 is another member of the Coffee Lake generation of processors.

As with the other Coffee Lake processors and lack of multi-threading, it is not the best choice for those who are needing additional multi-tasking capabilities, but the high core count of 6 cores, it does a really decent job handling basic overclocking.

The i5-9400 does come with the intel HD 630 onboard graphics processor so will act as a stand alone processor for office tasks and basic video vieweing and editing. With the close prices and simlar build to the other Coffee Lake offerings you may want to consider indulging in a slightly higher price point for the additional performance you get with the I5-9500 or i5-9600K.

The base benchmark as tested by users averages 120 points on single core performance and 658 points in octa-core benchmarks.

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9. Intel Core i3-10100

Architecture: Comet Lake | Socket: LGA1200 | Cores: 4 | Threads: 8 | Base Frequency:  3.6 GHz | Max Boost Frequency: 4.3 GHz | TDP: 65W

Intel Core i3-10100BEST USES 

  • Home office
  • Media center
  • Light gaming
  • Simple mutli-tasking

Our Rating:   8.9/10

The Intel i3-10100 is a 4 core 8 thread processor. It is an LGA 1200 socket compatible with the 400 series intel Chipset. Like its big brother, the i3-10100 comes with an integrated video chip, meaning an extra graphics card purchase is not necessary unless purchasing this for a budget gaming PC, or if you are trying to render complex videos.

This is a more classic configuration among the processor world of the hyperthreaded 4 core count. This is important as it performs almost identically to the i5-10400 in single core speeds clocking 126 points, the reduction in core count is going to limit this processor to less complicated tasks.

If you want a more in-depth explanation of why core count is so important, please read my article titled Best CPU under $300.

It will be able to play 4k videos at 30 frames per second over an HDMI connection, or if you have a motherboard with a DisplayPort cable you will be able to play videos at 4k and 60 frames per second. Th3 i3-10100 also supports DirectX 12 as well as OpenGL 4.5 support.

The i3-10100 does support DDR4-2666 MHz memory in 2 channels with maximum memory supported at 128 GB.

Why should you choose this processor?

If you are using this as a home office machine, or you are outfitting a small business with a number of office machines this would be a great fit.

The i3-10100 will also work very well in a small form factor case if not overclocked. If you are trying to accomplish any basic computer task you will be satisfied with the speed of this CPU and its ability to handle simple multi-tasking such as completing office tasks while surfing the web, e-mail and listening to music.

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10. AMD Ryzen 5 3400G

Architecture: Zen+ | Socket: AM4 | Cores: 4 | Threads: 8 | Base Frequency:  3.7 GHz | Max Boost Frequency: 4.2 GHz | TDP: 65W

AMD Ryzen 5 3400GBEST USES 

  • Home office
  • Media center
  • Light gaming
  • Simple mutli-tasking

Our Rating:   8.8/10

The AMD Ryzen 5 3400G is a 4 core 8 thread offering from AMD that also slots right into the AM4 socket. The Ryzen 3400G is an APU, meaning it has integrated graphics built right into the CPU. This is one of the things that makes the Ryzen APUs stand out, is the quality of the built-in graphics processor.

The Ryzen 3400G has an RX 11 Vega graphics processor onboard, showing up with one of the best onboard graphics cards you can find. This makes this processor fit into a niche that may make it more valuable to you as a consumer than any other processor on this list. The onboard RX Vega graphics processor will outperform the Intel HD 630 onboard graphics processing unit by almost 200%!

The Ryzen 3400G comes in at 113 points as scored by users benchmarking this device, and while this is not the best on the list of sub $200 processors, when paired with the most advanced built in onboard graphics, it will be able to be a really solid option for those who don’t want to invest in the extra money needed for a discrete graphics card.

When making a decision between Intel and AMD, remember that AMD has been producing graphics cards for years, and this is the main reason the onboard graphics have been so revolutionary, being the only company today that regularly manufactures stand-alone CPUs and graphics cards.

With 4 cores and 8 threads, you will be able to accomplish many light multitasking duties and even play some more advanced gaming titles. This does not compete for those using heavier multi-tasking workloads missing 2 cores and 4 threads as many processors on this list have.

As I have made a point to discuss the PCIe versions, while the Ryzen 3400G has the 3000 series moniker, it is only a second generation Ryzen product, built on the Zen+ architecture so it does not support PCIe 4.0. It is a great APU due to the incredible onboard graphics processor, so would be ideal for someone who never intends to add a discrete graphics card.

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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, 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 their architecture so upgrades are not always possible without replacing all parts. AMD has been more consistent with allowing backwards 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 it’s 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.

One other consideration that should be on your mind, is future proofing that comes with the PCIe 4.0 compatibility currently only offered on the Ryzen Zen 2 architecture. This might be a minor annoyance today, but within 6 months and the advent of newer generation graphics cards, this will start becoming more of a concern.

Besides those key points for me, for price to performance, AMD typically leads this category every time.

Related reading: Best gaming headsets for FPS games

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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