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Best budget CPUs in 2024 – Ranking our top picks

The top picks for users looking to save some money
Last Updated on May 14, 2024
Best budget CPUs
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We’ll walk you through AMDs and Intel’s budget lineup and definitively rank which CPU you should get for your rig. While cheapness is the number one priority here, we also focus on a range of benefits like performance, versatility, and longevity. Let’s get started.

How we selected the best budget CPUs

There are several factors we considered when making a selection of the best budget CPUs. Firstly, we selected a range of CPUs from both AMD and Intel, the two major manufacturers in the CPU market. While AMD is often considered to have a greater amount of versatility, especially when it comes to mixing gaming and creative tasks, Intel is usually the favored company for gaming CPUs. We made sure to include at least two options for each.

We also have taken a look at the specs for each CPU and considered whether or not it fits within an overall budget PC build. This means selecting CPUs with CPUs that have a lower TDP rating, which is a measure of how much heat the CPU generates. A lower TDP is better for budget builds, as it will require a less powerful and less expensive cooler. In a similar fashion, cores and threads are also key. Generally, more cores and threads are better, but for budget CPUs, we make exceptions. 4 cores and 8 threads is a good starting point, though cheap GPUs, like the AMD Athlon series, will likely come in just short of this. It is a far cry from the peak performance of most mid-range and premium CPUs on the market today, but this level of cores/threads will still deliver solid 1080p performance for most users in most modern titles.

To find out more about how we review and test CPUs, make sure to head over to our testing lab which will walk you through our careful process of testing and reviewing some of the world’s most prominent CPUs and GPUs on the market. For now, though, let’s take a look at our picks in a little more detail.

  • AMD Ryzen 5 7600X CPU in front of its packaging, featuring the "7000 series processor" label.
  • AMD Ryzen 5 7600X processor with visible pins on a white background.
Best in ClassExcellent
  • Cores: 6
  • Threads : 12
  • Boost speed : 5.3 GHz
  • Base speed: 4.7 GHz
  • L3 Cache: 32 MB
  • TDP: 105W
  • Platform: AMD (AM5)
What We Think

While hitting the upper mark of a budget CPU price point, the AMD Ryzen 5 7600X delivers compelling specs and a mid-range performance that will certainly catch your eye.

Reasons to Buy
  • Extremely great value for money
  • Price often dips below $200 during sale periods
  • 6 and 12 threads will deliver an excellent performance on most modern titles
Reasons to Avoid
  • Outside of sale periods, this CPU is typically just above $200
  • On the cusp between budget and mid-range

The AMD Ryzen 5 7600X is our top choice for the best budget CPU. With 6 cores and a max boost speed of 5.3 GHz, it tackles modern games and demanding applications with ease. Plus, it supports DDR5 memory and the new AM5 socket, allowing you to upgrade RAM and potentially future AMD processors without needing a new motherboard. While the price is a little steep, it can be found for below $200 during certain sales. This is important because the Ryzen 5 7600X can essentially deliver a mid-range performance with ease, meaning picking up this CPU for a price that low is a steal. It’s our top pick for value and a clear leader in the budget space for specs and modern performance.

The Ryzen 5 7600X brings big value for a small price – it performs well in gaming workloads and can hold it’s own in more productive tasks, it seems 6 cores go a long way these days.

PC Guide

However, it’s important to consider your specific needs before committing. This CPU typically has an MSRP of over $200, which means outside of sale periods, it walks a middle ground between a budget and mid-range option. You will need to make sure you find the right time to make a move with this card to get that affordable price. Also, while the price has decreased, there might be even more affordable options depending on your limited budget. If gaming is your main focus, a CPU with fewer cores but a strong graphics card might be a better value. Additionally, AM5 motherboards are currently more expensive than their AM4 counterparts. 

What users say

With 86% of Amazon reviews indicating a 5-star rating, the AMD Ryzen 5 7600X is acclaimed online with users highlighting its versatility, value for money, and ease of installation. One user noted ” In summary, the AMD Ryzen 5 7600X stands out as an excellent choice for gamers seeking a powerful and cost-effective desktop processor. With its impressive core count, unlocked multiplier, and stellar gaming performance, the 7600X delivers an immersive gaming experience”. What’s not to like?

  • Close-up of a computer's motherboard featuring a mounted Intel Core i5-13600K processor with visible socket and screws on a detailed circuit background.
  • Close-up of an Intel Core i5-13600K processor in focus, with a blurred blue computer case in the background.
  • An Intel Core i5-13600K processor displayed in front of a blurred computer case.
  • Intel Core i5-13600K CPU against a plain white background.
  • Cores: 14 (6P-8E)
  • Threads: 20
  • Boost speed : P-Core 5.1GHz / E-Core 3.5GHz
  • Base speed: P-Core 3.5GHz / E-Core 2.6GHz
  • L3 Cache: 24MB
  • TDP: 181W
  • Platform: Intel (LGA 1700)
What We Think

A top-class Intel Core CPU for an affordable price? You’ll have to see it to believe it.

Reasons to Buy
  • Top performance specs for value
  • Impressive cores and thread count
  • Appropriate for multi-tasking
Reasons to Avoid
  • On the border between budget and mid-range pricing
  • Pairing with a similar quality motherboard and GPU will likely add expense

The Intel Core i5-13600K strikes a compelling balance between power and affordability, making it a great choice for a budget-conscious PC builder who prioritizes performance over anything else. Boasting 14 cores (including 6 performance cores for demanding tasks) and the ability to reach speeds of up to 5.1 GHz, the i5-13600K effortlessly handles multitasking and even chews through graphically intensive games like Red Dead Redemption 2 and Fortnite. Benchmarks show it surpasses its predecessor by a significant margin and even rivals some pricier i7 processors. 

An excellent CPU through and through with fierce single and multi-core performance for the money.

PC Guide

However, it’s not all sunshine and roses for this CPU. It is towards the upper range of a budget CPU, to the point where some may consider it a mid-range product. Furthermore, to maximize its potential, you’ll likely need a Z690 chipset motherboard, which can add a chunk of change to the price tag. Additionally, its higher power limits might necessitate a more robust cooling solution compared to CPUs with lower TDPs. While the i5-13600K itself offers excellent value for its processing power, keep in mind these additional expenses when determining if it fits comfortably within your budget.

  • A close-up photo of an AMD Ryzen 5 5600X processor box on a blurred background.
  • AMD Ryzen 5 5600X gaming CPU on a plain white background.
  • Cores: 6
  • Threads : 12
  • Boost speed : up to 4.6 GHz
  • Base speed: 3.7 GHz
  • L3 Cache: 32 MB
  • TDP: 65W
  • Platform: AMD (AM4)
What We Think

Ryzen 5 5600X prioritizes affordability with good gaming performance.

Reasons to Buy
  • Handles everyday tasks and games with ease.
  • Offers good value for its high amount of processing power
Reasons to Avoid
  • Might not be ideal for demanding workloads like high quality heavy streaming
  • Older-generation CPUs will tend need upgrades sooner – lack of longevity

The AMD Ryzen 5 5600X is a solid contender in the budget CPU arena, especially for those prioritizing value. Launched in 2020, it remains a popular choice due to its well-rounded performance at a competitive price point. Packing 6 cores and 12 threads, it will be able to demolish gamers wanting a 1080p gaming performance. While not the most recent generation Ryzen processor, it still delivers smooth performance for most modern games at high settings. Additionally, its 65W TDP (thermal design power) makes it a power-efficient option, meaning you won’t necessarily need a top-of-the-line cooler, saving you that extra dollar.

The 5600X is a strong and very affordable budget CPU despite being released in 2020. It belongs to one of the best platforms ever made that remains in support today despite the release and success of AM5.

PC Guide

That being said, the Ryzen 5 5600X might not be the ideal choice for everyone. If you’re a streamer or content creator who regularly pushes your CPU with demanding workloads, newer Ryzen processors with higher core counts might be a better fit. Additionally, since it’s a previous generation chip, it may not offer the same level of longevity as the latest Ryzen offerings. That said, if you’re on a tighter budget and prioritize affordability without sacrificing core functionality for gaming and everyday tasks, the Ryzen 5 5600X remains a solid pick.

AMD Ryzen 7 5700G processor box.
  • iGPU: RX Vega 8
What We Think

The perfect versatile CPU for all those who like to mix their gaming experience with creative workloads – all within a budget price.

Reasons to Buy
  • Competitive budget price
  • Handles modern games and editing tasks with ease
  • Radeon Vega graphics eliminate need for a separate GPU
Reasons to Avoid
  • The 5700G sacrifices some raw CPU performance compared to non-APU Ryzen processors
  • The integrated Vega graphics, while playable for casual gaming, won’t run modern titles on 4K

The AMD Ryzen 7 5700G is a fantastic budget CPU for two main reasons. First, it delivers solid performance at a competitive price point. Boasting 8 cores and 16 threads, it handles everyday tasks with ease and can even power moderate gaming. This makes it ideal for users who prioritize affordability without sacrificing everyday capabilities. Secondly, the 5700G sets itself apart with integrated Radeon Vega graphics. This eliminates the need for a separate graphics card, a significant cost saver for budget builds. While the graphics won’t handle the latest games on max 4K settings, they’re more than enough for casual gaming at 1080p, basic video editing, and everyday tasks that don’t require a dedicated GPU. The perfect mesh for gaming and creative endeavors.

What users say

Customers who left Amazon reviews rave about the Ryzen 7 5700G, praising its affordability, strong performance, and improved graphics capabilities. Many highlight it as a perfect choice for budget-friendly gaming PCs and home theater setups, finding it a great value for the price. One user stated, “the AMD Ryzen 7 5700G is a high-performance processor that offers impressive specifications and capabilities”.

  • Architecture: Comet Lake
  • Cores: 6
  • Threads: 12
  • Base speed : 2.9 GHz
  • Boost speed: 4.3 GHz
  • L3 Cache: 12 MB
  • TDP: 65W
What We Think

A capable budget Intel Core CPU that prioritizes casual gaming at 1080p.

Reasons to Buy
  • Competitive price point for a budget CPU
  • Handles many modern games at 1080p resolution with good FPS
  • Works with B460 motherboards, which are generally more affordable
Reasons to Avoid
  • B460 motherboards often restrict overclocking and limit RAM speed.
  • Requires a separate GPU for video output.
  • Newer CPUs might offer higher base and boost clock speeds

Affordability is king for budget CPUs and the i5-10400 lands at a very competitive price point. This makes it a great choice for those who want a capable gaming experience without breaking the bank. Plus, it doesn’t require the most expensive motherboard. B460 motherboards, which are generally more affordable than high-end Z-series boards, work perfectly well with the i5-10400. 

However, the i5-10400 does have some limitations to consider. First, it’s a 10th-generation CPU released in 2020. Newer processors offer more features and potentially better performance. Second, the B460 chipset it utilizes often restricts overclocking and limits RAM speeds. This means you’re locked into the base performance of the CPU and can’t squeeze out extra power through overclocking.

So, the Intel Core i5-10400 shines as a budget CPU for users who prioritize affordability and plan to game at 1080p resolution. However, if you crave the absolute best performance or the flexibility to upgrade in the future, a newer AMD Ryzen CPU might be a better fit for your needs.

What users say

Summarised by one user as having a “solid performance at a reasonable price”, the user reviews for the i5-10400 are respectable and generous. With 88% of users providing 5-star reviews, most came away with positive feelings towards this CPU, with most highlighting its reliability and ability to improve their gaming experience.

AMD Ryzen 5 5600 processor box.
  • Cores: 6
  • Threads: 12
  • Boost Speed: 4.4 GHz
  • Base Speed: 3.5 GHz
  • L3 Cache: 32 MB
  • TDP: 65W
What We Think

The AMD Ryzen 5 5600 delivers strong core count, efficient performance, and upgradability for a compelling budget CPU pick.

Reasons to Buy
  • Good value for its price with capable performance for gaming
  • Efficient TDP rating
  • Base and boost speeds will aid in delivering smooth visuals
Reasons to Avoid
  • Newer Ryzen CPUs available
  • Separate GPU and motherboard are required

The AMD Ryzen 5 5600 packs a punch for budget-conscious builders seeking strong specs. With 6 cores and 12 threads, it tackles modern games and demanding applications without breaking the bank. While some newer CPUs boast higher core counts, the 5600’s efficient architecture and impressive clock speeds, a 3.5 GHz base, and 4.4 GHz max boost, ensure smooth performance and minimal lag, especially when paired with a good graphics card.

Furthermore, the 5600 is power-friendly. Its 65W TDP translates to lower energy consumption and quieter operation compared to some high-end processors. This translates to lower electricity costs and potentially less need for a hefty cooler. Overall, the Ryzen 5 5600 combines strong core count and efficient performance.

What users say

Gamers and PC builders online love the AMD Ryzen 5 5600 for its impressive price-to-performance ratio. Amazon reviewers praise its ability to handle modern games and applications smoothly, along with its strong core and thread count for multitasking. While some mention newer Ryzen models or a lack of integrated graphics, the 5600 remains highly competitive for its price.

IIntel i3-13100F
  • Cores: 4
  • Threads: 8
  • Boost Speed: 4.5 GHz
  • Base Speed: 3.4 GHz
  • L3 Cache: 12 MB (shared)
  • TDP: 58 W
What We Think

Looking to master the basics? Well, the Intel Core i3-13100F prioritizes 1080p gaming at an extremely affordable price.

Reasons to Buy
  • Reliable choice for light gamers
  • Strong TDP rating means quite operation
Reasons to Avoid
  • Struggles with heavy gaming and intense workloads
  • Older-gen cards will typically need replacing/upgrading sooner

The Intel Core i3-13100F is a solid choice for budget-conscious users who prioritize affordability and everyday functionality. While its 4 cores and 8 threads might not be ideal for intense gaming or professional workloads, it tackles web browsing, document editing, and casual gaming with ease. The real strength lies in its budget-friendly price tag, which sits below $150, allowing you to build a functional PC without reaching too deep into your wallet. Additionally, the low 58W TDP translates to quiet operation, lower energy consumption, and potentially lower cooling costs. If you prioritize basic computing tasks and affordability, the i3-13100F is a compelling option. 

What users say

Shoppers on Amazon appreciate the Intel Core i3-13100F for its great value price tag. Reviewers praise its ability to handle everyday tasks like browsing and light gaming, making it perfect for budget builds. The low power consumption keeps things quiet and cool, potentially saving electricity bills. One user noted it as “a great choice for a mid-budget gaming machine”.

AMD YD200GC6FBBOX Athlon 200GE
  • Cores: 2
  • Threads: 4
  • Boost Speed: N/A
  • Base Speed: 3.2 GHz
  • L3 Cache: 4 MB (shared)
  • TDP: 35 W
What We Think

The lowest price point you will get for a CPU. While you can’t expect too much in the way of impressive performance, this CPU can still benefit the casual gamer.

Reasons to Buy
  • Extremely affordable price tag below $100
  • Can provide extra stability to a budget PC build
  • Dual cores and SMT
Reasons to Avoid
  • 2 cores and 4 threads is typically below the threshold for most modern gamers needs
  • Will struggle with more complex modern titles
  • Poor levels of availability online

The AMD Athlon 200GE is the undisputed champion of affordability, holding the title for one of the cheapest CPUs on the market. This makes it ideal for building a PC at an extremely tight cost. But don’t be fooled by the price tag – it packs a surprising amount of weight for everyday tasks. Thanks to its dual cores and SMT (simultaneously processing multiple threads), it handles web browsing, document editing, and even light gaming at lower settings quite well. Its incredibly low 35W TDP translates to quiet operation and minimal energy consumption.

However, the Athlon 200GE does come with limitations. For demanding games or applications, it won’t deliver smooth performance. With only 2 cores and a limited clock speed, multitasking or heavier workloads will push it to its absolute limits. Additionally, as an older generation CPU, it might not be compatible with the latest features and technologies. Make sure to do your due diligence before purchasing this model.

What users say

Amazon users are quite mixed on the Athlon 200GE, with some praising its basic performance and small improvements to their gaming PC, while some criticize its lack of upgradability and minimal performance jump. In one review, a user noted “It does stutter a bit occasionally, which is expected when multitasking. For the most part, my system is responsive and functions as a great office machine. As I mentioned, for games it is adequate and tested well when benchmarking”.

Considerations for the best budget CPU

When building a PC on a budget, you must select the right CPU for your build. Although the processor is essentially the brain of your PC, it is not the primary component that drives your performance in gaming-related tasks. Let’s walk through some of the most important considerations you should keep an eye out for – especially with a budget CPU.


It goes without question that the most important consideration when selecting a budget CPU is the price. We have kept all of our above choices below the $200 mark, with all CPUs below this point considered ‘budget’. Now, it is important to recognize that price is constantly fluctuating, even with the CPUs found above. For example, the AMD Ryzen 5 7600X often retails for a price slightly above $200, though it has dipped below this mark several times during sale periods – meaning if you choose the right moment, you can pick up a real bargain. Make sure to check out price tracking applications like Camelcamelcamel or wait for seasonal sale periods for the best time to purchase.


While your CPU is an important component for your PC build, it is in fact the GPU that is going to be doing the heavy lifting. Rather than using all of your CPU’s processing power, games rely heavily on the GPU, as it is designed to handle 3D rendering. If your CPU isn’t fast enough to keep up with your GPU, you’re going to suffer a CPU bottleneck. This occurs when the GPU is processing information at a much faster rate than your CPU. You will want to check out an equally impressive budget GPU to match the performance. Importantly, we have the best budget GPU guide ready and waiting for you – make sure to take a look to avoid bottlenecking.


Make sure the CPU you choose is compatible with your motherboard. The motherboard is a crucial component in a computer as it allows the components to communicate with one another. The motherboard also supplies power to each component and manages the flow of electricity. By choosing a motherboard that supports future upgrades, you can extend the lifespan of your computer. You can usually check the motherboard manufacturer’s website for a list of compatible CPUs, similarly, head over to our Motherboard hub for more information.

Avid computer user, crypto and gaming hardware fan. Jacob loves the outdoors just as much as he does tech.