While it is true that your processor doesn’t have as big of an impact on your gaming experience as your graphics card does, you still need a solid CPU in order to play your favorite games.
In this post, we’re going to take a look at the top CPUs for gaming that come in at under $200.
These processors are the perfect options if you are looking to build a cheap gaming PC that has the ability to play most games on max settings on a 1080P monitor.
1. AMD Ryzen 1500X
In my opinion, the AMD Ryzen 1500X is the best processor under $200. It is true that Intel’s CPUs perform better in single-core tasks, but AMD’s new Ryzen processors aren’t so behind in that area that it ends up being a significant difference.
And, what the Ryzen 1500X lacks in single-core performance, it makes up in multi-core performance.
With four cores and eight threads, the Ryzen 1500X gives you high-end multi-core performance all for under $200.
This makes it excellent for CPU-intensive tasks as well as a good option for gaming.
And, the other main benefit that the 1500X has over its Intel competitor in this price range (the i5-7500), is that the 1500X can be overclocked, thus further bridging the gap in single-core performance, and further distancing itself from the 7500 in multi-core performance.
The Ryzen 1400 is another solid option at a little bit lower of a cost as well.
2. Intel Core i5-7500
While I believe the Ryzen 1500X is a better option than the Intel Core i5-7500, that doesn’t mean the 7500 isn’t a good performer.
For gaming purposes, you probably wouldn’t notice a big difference in performance between systems that had an i5-7500 in them compared to systems that had a 1500X in them.
That’s because, as mentioned above, modern gaming relies a lot more on your graphics card than it does on your processor.
Still, though, with the i5-7500 bringing less overall power to the table (especially when you consider it can’t be overclocked) and costing almost $20 more than the 1500X, it is a tough buy considering the alternative.
3. AMD Ryzen 3 1200
If you’re looking to build a gaming computer and you’re working with a tight budget, in my opinion you have two CPU options to choose between.
There’s the Intel Pentium G4600 (or G4560) and there’s the AMD Ryzen 3 1200.
The Intel Pentium G4600 is best-suited for ultra-cheap builds. For instance, if you’re planning on building a gaming PC or under $400, then the Intel Pentium G4600 is a solid option.
However, if you want to spend between $400-$600, it makes sense to go with a Ryzen 3 1200.
It’s a powerful quad-core processor for an incredibly affordable cost (it comes in at just over $100) that is powerful enough to not be a hindrance in most gaming situations.
4. Intel Pentium G4600
As mentioned above, if you’re looking to build an ultra-cheap gaming PC, then you would do well to go with an Intel Pentium G4600.
The G4600 comes in at well under $100, which means it won’t cut into your budget so significantly that you won’t have enough to spend on a decent graphics card.
And, perhaps the best part of the G4600 is that it can be upgraded to a higher-end Intel Core i5 or i7 processor down the road.
So, it serves as a good place holder that won’t hinder your in-game performance too much until you can afford a bigger and better CPU.