Determining how much you should spend on a CPU can be a difficult decision to make. A lot of the decision obviously depends on how much you have budgeted for the CPU, and how much you plan to spend on all of the other computer components. It also depends on what type of computer you intend to build.
The CPU you would need for a high-end gaming computer is much different than the CPU needed for an everyday use computer mostly used for email and surfing the web. Once you determine the use and budget for your computer, then you can decide how much you should spend on a CPU.
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The Function of a CPU
The main function of any CPU is to execute a group of stored instructions typically referred to as a program. These instructions are executed and stored in the computer memory. This makes the CPU really good at performing a few really complex tasks at a time and carrying out all the computer programs.
This is crucial for gaming, as gaming requires lots of smaller task and a few complex tasks to be executed at any given time. When building a gaming PC, it is important to mention that there are four main components you need to maximize your performance from as much as possible. The CPU (central processing unit), GPU (graphics processing unit), motherboard, and RAM (Random Access Memory).
Putting all of these components together harmoniously is crucial to building a high performing gaming personal computer.
CPU and Computer Budget
Before you can spend any money on a CPU or any component of your computer, you need to carefully map out your budget and what you are willing to spend.
Just because you can afford a $300 CPU, does not mean you should purchase it, if it is going to negatively impact the amount you can spend on other components. The best way to determine your budget is to take the entire amount that you are willing to spend and then start to divide the amounts across multiple components.
For instance, if you have $1000 to spend on a gaming PC, you should try to spend most of your money on a high performing GPU. After that, the CPU is the next important element, followed by the motherboard and RAM.
Budgeting is all about balance though, as you don’t want to have a really high-performance GPU with a super cheap CPU. This will cause performance issues in game and you won’t be getting the full value out of the expensive GPU.
Another important item that you need to address before purchasing a CPU, is what are you planning to be using this personal computer for. Are you going to be gaming with your personal computer? What type of games will you be playing? Are you just going to use this personal computer for email and surfing the web?
These are all really important questions you need to ask yourself before purchasing a CPU. Assuming you plan on gaming with your PC, this is one area of the build that you are not going to want to cheap out on. However, there are great CPU options out there for those of you that are building your PC on a budget.
Budget $100 CPU
If you are on a tight budget building your next gaming PC, there is nothing wrong with that. In fact, here at PC Mecca we have you covered with our list of the best CPU under $100.
There are a lot of really great modern CPU’s at this price point including the AMD Ryzen 3 3100. This 4 core 8 thread Zen 2 architected processor is great at handling most modern applications along with some newer games. It is also compatible with a wide range of motherboards that feature the AM4 socket.
Processors like these can handle multi-threaded and complex workloads. These types of processors are really great for the majority of users, but lack the ability to truly shine under rigorous applications.
Furthermore, the processor is limited in the number of workloads you can run at one time and the core count is really limiting. If you are someone who has multiple monitors and runs multiple applications while gaming, this might not be the right CPU price point for you.
You must also take into account how much you are willing to spend on a GPU. If your buying a high-end GPU, then this would not be a great option for you. If you are looking at purchasing a middle tier or entry level GPU, then this processor price point might be an enticing move for you. It all depends on the overall build of your computer and determining which CPU is the best fit.
Average $200 CPU
When building a great gaming PC on a budget, one must take price and performance into consideration. This is why I think $200 is the perfect sweet spot for investing in a CPU for your next gaming PC. If you are looking for a great value CPU for under $200, check this article out on the best CPUs under $200.
So why is $200 the perfect sweet spot?
Well you get rid of a lot of the limitations from a cheaper CPU and gain a ton of performance.
Besides that, CPUs in this price range have all the performance most gamers need to play even the most demanding games on the market today. These processors are very fast and can also be used for 3D graphics, advanced office tools, and video editing. They are the swiss army knife of CPUs and provide maximum functionality at an affordable price range.
In addition, purchasing a CPU at this price range makes the most sense in relative to your gaming PC build. If you are building at $1000 computer, spending $200 on a CPU is well within your price range and makes sense considering how important this component is to your build.
The main drawback to purchasing a $200 CPU is that is about a $100 more than the Ryzen 3 3100 and Intel i3’s. This can be a barrier for those of you building your personal computer on a budget. However, if you have the extra cash to spend, it is well worth the extra $100 investment and worth the upgrade to an i5 or Ryzen 5 3600.
Value High Performance $300 CPU
If $200 is the sweet spot for how much to spend on your CPU, then what is the point of spending more? The answer is simple, more performance. You can obviously spend well over $300 on a gaming CPU, but we are just going to discuss the best processors under $300.
There are a lot of really great options in this price range. These processors are considered to be entry-level high-end processors, and if you are building your first really high performing gaming PC, this price point is a great entry point for you.
You won’t have to worry about any performance degradation and these processors should be able to handle all of your most complex modern applications. If you can afford a processor in this price range, definitely go for it.
The problem is that not all of us can afford a $300 processor for our build. This is why I mentioned that I think $200 is the sweet spot for purchasing a CPU, but these options are higher performing and certainly “better”. As I’ve discussed previously, determining how much you should spend really depends on the balance of the build.
You want to make sure that you have enough money to spend on all of the computer components and be sure not to cheap out on critical components such as the GPU, motherboard, or RAM. Once you have established this, you can then decide if a $300 CPU is within your budget. If it is, then go for it.
Remember that the great thing about building your own PC is that you can always upgrade it later down the road. If you are unsure of which processor to buy, make sure to go through our list of the best CPUs for under $100, $200 and $300. We rated, reviewed and compared the best value CPUs of 2020 and we highly recommend you reading these articles before making a purchase.
The CPU is one of the most critical components of your computer, so be sure to take some time while making your decision. Utilize our list of the best CPUs in each price category and enjoy the process!
I really hope this has been helpful to you. If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comment section below and I will be more than happy to help you out.