Best Cheap CPU for Gaming 2020 (Under $100 / $200)


The processor is the heart of every gaming PC. Of course, there are other considerations like the graphics card, motherboard, storage, and system memory. However, the CPU is the most essential ingredient to creating the best virtual environment.

Your gaming peripherals can cost thousands of dollars. If you cannot afford that type of money than you should consider the best cheap CPUs for gaming available. In this article we have examined the best cheap CPUs under $100 as well as under $200.

Features to Consider in Cheap CPU’s for Gaming

AMD vs. Intel

The first question you must ask yourself when you think about upgrading your gaming rig is AMD or Intel? AMD has a reputation for producing cheap CPUs while Intel has always got away with higher prices due to outstanding performance and great reputation.

Recently, AMD has produced a shakeup in the gaming market after some much needed improvements. Furthermore, Intel has lowered some of its prices on CPUs in order to remain competitive. There has never been a better time to shop for affordable AMD and Intel CPUs!

Which brand do you believe will deliver the best performance based on a tight budget? It is the first question you must address.


Another critical question is regarding the number of cores. Gaming CPUs come with four or more cores. When it comes to cheap CPUs, quad cores are the most ideal and the performance is sufficient. It is said that CPUs with more cores beat those with only four by a split hair.

The number of cores is related to the number of threads the computer can handle. Games were initially designed to play using one core CPU, but with technology advancements games can now take advantage of more cores that ultimately deliver higher speeds.

Clock Speed

What clock speed is ideal for gaming? The GPU is more important yet when paired with higher clock speeds – you receive seamless gaming performance. Some CPUs will only indicate one clock speed. If that is the case check if the clock speed is base or turbo. It is a good idea to aim for turbo speed if there is only one setting. Why? Your computer will adjust its speed according to the workload of the game for improved performance.

Best Cheap CPU’s for Gaming Under $100

1. Intel Core i3-8100 Desktop Processor

Why we like it: The Intel Core i3-8100 Desktop Processor is the cheapest quad-core offered by Intel. It is very similar to Intel’s i5-7400, but with more clock speed. As a result, the Intel Core i3-8100 Desktop Processor is capable of gaming in the i5 category.

Editor’s Rating:

Design Features
The Intel Core i3-8100 Desktop Processor is more than capable for a modest gaming experience. The processor features four cores and four threads. It is an eighth generation model, and the first one to feature Intel Hyper-Threading technology. The i3-8100 is based on Coffee Lake Architecture which runs with speeds of up to 3.6GHz. The high speeds make it easy to extend beyond basic gaming as it lets you share your scores and challenge other gaming champs on a whole new level.

The only setback with more cores is that it requires additional speeds which also demands more power from the CPU. The Intel Core i3-8100 Desktop Processor has tried to offset the challenge by making the CPU compatible with motherboards that have an Intel 300 series chipset and LGA 1151 sockets. Consequently, it runs at lower base frequencies because of the extra cores. However, it does not benefit from turbo speeds which means you will get a static frequency while gaming.

Each of the cores features 1.5MB cache which sums up to 6MB of L3 across the die. It is useful if you are using the processor to build your own gaming rig, and not upgrading it from a CPU like the 7700K. The Intel UHD Graphics Chipset 630 is another advantage to using the CPU. It gives you outputs of up to 4K visuals which is incredible when creating a virtual reality environment.

Convenient Features
Intel Core i3-8100 can support memory up to 64GB of DDR4 RAM. The memory works in single or dual channel set-ups. It also uses Intel Optane technology which helps it optimize HDD performance.

When you are looking to fulfill the best performance on your PC, the Intel Core i3-8100 will give you premium performance on a budget. It is built with more cores, more speed, and better visuals than any other processor in its price range.

  • Lower power consumption than other CPUs in its class
  • Great for games that utilize all four cores
  • 4K resolution
  • Processor has 6MB smart cache
  • 3.6GHz clocking speeds
  • CPU does not support turbo boost technology

2. AMD Ryzen 3 1200 Desktop Processor with Wraith Stealth Cooler

Why we like it: The AMD Ryzen 3 1200 Desktop Processor has excellent potential for higher speeds and gaming power. It is equipped with the highly desirable Zen architecture yet offered at a very affordable price.

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Design Features
The Ryzen 3 1200 packs both Zen architecture and AMD SenseMi technology. It seeks to combine a high throughput and lower-power design in the CPU making it ready for any gaming CPU or supercomputer.

The concept gives the AMD Ryzen 3 1200 Desktop Processor a remarkable boost in the number of instructions for every clock cycle. Additionally, the unlocked precision boost allows the CPU to overclock dynamically. As a result, you can demand as much as you want from the CPU without overheating its components.

The CPU does not have simultaneous multi-threading. Every core can now address a single task meaning all four cores perform faster and more precisely. However, with a clock speed of 3.1GHz you don’t have to worry about the game hanging in the middle of play as it will adjust automatically.

Convenient Features
The AMD Ryzen 3 1200 Desktop Processor uses the brand’s AM4 platform. It supports dual channel memory. You may need a new cooler, but we feel the Wraith Stealth Cooler will do a great job. The AM4 platform improves gaming performance without causing problems related to overheating.

Ryzen 3 1200 offers excellent single-threading and multi-core performance for games that take advantage of four cores. It has a fully unlocked multiplier which makes a significant impact on gaming. It is a smart buy when upgrading your CPU since you won’t need to worry about future upgrades thanks to Zen and SenseMi architecture.

  • Sold with a remarkable cooler that is not noisy
  • Can boost up to 3.4GHz XFR speed
  • Supports dual channel DDR4 memory
  • Can operate USB 3.1 Gen 2
  • It resists heating up even in games like Battlefield 1
  • Video quality could be better as it lags behind the Intel Core i3-8100

3. AMD Ryzen 3 2200G Processor with Radeon Vega 8 Graphics

Why we like it: The CPU has managed to integrate vivid graphics that are excellent for gaming purposes. It is an excellent pick if you do not have a dedicated GPU.

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Design Features
You may not be able to play games at 4K, but you will appreciate the graphics provided by the AMD Ryzen 3 2200G. The CPU is powered by AMD’s latest Zen architecture which has continued to push the competition at the Intel Core X family. The processor is surprisingly fast and with better-integrated graphics.

AMD manages to present gamers with its 14nm Raven Ridge “Silicon” because it combines the latest GPU architecture Vega with trendy new CPU technology. Vega utilizes AMD’s 6th generation graphics which are much easier to integrate into their chips, including the Ryzen 3 2200G.

In addition to the graphics and Zen technology, the AMD Ryzen 3 2200G also is equipped with DDR4 memory control, northbridge functionality, PCI Express connectivity, and fixed-function accelerators. When the functions are combined users receive remarkable performance from the CPU.

The Ryzen 3 2200G (without an additional GPU) will work best with low resolution, entry-level games. It can manage to reach a good, 1280 x 720 pixels. The CPU also includes four cores without 8Cus and simultaneous multi-threading enabling 512 stream processors.

Convenient Features
The CPU works on the existing AM4 sockets based on AMD 300-series chipset. Gamers are able to pair it with A320 and B350 chipsets so you don’t have to go looking for an expensive chipset like the X370. The X370 is extremely efficient yet costly, so it doesn’t work well with those on a restricted budget.

The AMD Ryzen 3 2200G is appealing to every entry-level gamer. It affords you the convenience of not spending thousands of dollars to build your first gaming rig. The processor will deliver smooth and fluid performance to most games featuring a 1280 pixel resolution.

  • Uses AMD SenseMi technology to accelerate its performance
  • Produces 60fps in 720 pixel games
  • It has a base clock of 3.5GHz and 3.7GHz boost frequency
  • Works on AM4 based motherboards
  • Uses Enmotus storage technology
  • Installation is a little more complicated than your entry-level CPU

4. AMD Ryzen 3 1300X Desktop Processor

Why we like it: The high core and thread counts of the AMD Ryzen 3 1300X Desktop Processor make it suitable for even the most performance-intensive games. It can crank speeds up to 3.7GHz, which is better than the Ryzen 3 1200.

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Design Features
AMD continues to make a name for itself by introducing cheap yet high performing CPUs. The Ryzen 3 1300X is manufactured with four cores yet doesn’t cost a fortune to purchase. As a result, gamers receive strong, dependable performance thanks to the Zen architecture. The 1300X model scales demanding gaming. It also works well for graphic design and other complicated 3D tasks.

The AMD Ryzen 3 1300X Desktop Processor is prepared for VR so there is no need to change out the CPU even if AMD releases something else in the future. It is configured in a 2+2 design. Therefore, AMD has managed to disable a pair of the cores while producing simultaneous multi-threading.

The CPU gets a good base frequency of 3.5GHz speeds. It can get cranked up to 3.6 GHz on Turbo Boost. If you want even more juice, the CPU can reach 3.9GHz on XFR. If you haven’t already noticed the AMD Ryzen 3 1300X Desktop Processor is very adaptable to your gaming needs. It has been optimized for the AM4 platform. There are many motherboards to pair it with for nearly unlimited potential.

The CPU has excellent speed performance with four cores. The individual core performance is a little limited for use with games that rely solely on the performance of a single core. Consequently, the AMD Ryzen 3 1300X Desktop Processor works best with more advanced games.

  • The CPU can achieve 60fms gameplay
  • Can easily overclock without heating up
  • Processor works well with cheap B-350 platforms
  • Frequency can go as high as 3.9GHz on XFR
  • It has a well-made cooler and a fan for additional cooling
  • The CPU does not support simultaneous multi-threading

5. Intel Core i7-2600 Quad-Core Processor

Why we like it: The Intel Core i7-2600 Quad-Core Processor has outstanding media processing capabilities. The CPU has an unlocked multiplier for faster and simplified overclocking.

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Design Features
The Intel Core i7-2600 delivers excellent performance for playing 3D games. It uses four cores and eight threads to satisfy most gamers. If you are a pro gamer looking to build a sophisticated rig, you will probably want to look at more expensive CPUs. However, the i7-2600 processor is satisfactory for most gamers.

The unit is produced with a base clock of 3.4GHz, but it can go as high as 3.8GHz on turbo boost. The CPU dynamically shares its 8MB L3 cache to each core based on the current workload. The final result is increased speeds and reduced delays when playing games that involve your friends.

When it comes to multi-tasking the processor features Intel’s Hyper-Threading to allow the cores to work on multiple tasks at the same time. It is essential when you play games that involve more players as the computer will not hang or delay its executions. The presentation is smooth and nearly flawless.

Convenient Features
The processor delivers built-in visuals for the ultimate 3D editing experience. It is not bad at all for regular graphics. Once you decide to switch to VR you will not feel disappointed. The Intel Core i7-2600 Quad-Core Processor is capable of creating several virtual environments on the same hardware. The flexibility is excellent so you can play day-in and day-out with the same CPU.

The Intel Core i7-2600 delivers fast performance, multitasking capabilities, and outstanding visuals. It is your go-to for more clock speeds and smooth gaming.

  • Four cores run at 3.4GHz
  • Multi-tasking with Intel’s Hyper-Threading technology
  • The CPU delivers advanced vector extensions
  • Graphics clock speeds of up to 850MHz and 1350MHz on turbo speed
  • Uses Intel virtualization technology to allow comfortable setting up of virtual environments
  • The CPU cannot support DDR4 memory

Best Cheap CPU’s for Gaming Under $200

1. Intel Core i5 8400 Desktop Processor 6 Cores

Why we like it: The Intel Core i5 8400 Desktop Processor has a fascinating gaming performance when you pair it with a dedicated GPU. Intel provides users with six cores which is exceptional value for the price paid.

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Design Features
The best gaming experience possibly is easily achieved with more threads and more cores. It is that simple. Therefore, if you are a gaming enthusiast you are definitely getting more bang for your buck at less than $200 with the Intel Core i5 8400 Desktop Processor. The CPU is built on eighth-generation core chips. It is similar to Intel Core sixth generation which is unlocked for overclocking.

The CPU also follows suit by being built around 14nm manufacturing process. It has ten chips which further refines the manufacturing process. The CPU can crank up its clock speeds up to 4.7GHz turbo frequency thanks to the exceptional manufacturing. Additionally, the processor manages to put its TDP measurement at only 65W even with six cores.

The Intel Core i5 8400 Desktop Processor has better performance than the i7-7700K in most games. The processor can get paired with the latest GPU without becoming its bottleneck. The one knock with the unit is it lacks hyper-threading technology. What is means is the CPU cannot handle two threads at one time. Regardless, it can boost its performance by 50 percent which is something.

Convenient Features
The CPU features incredible Virtual Reality. It has the ideal combination of graphics, audio, display, and connectivity to present you a balanced performance. It allows gamers to achieve the best virtual reality experience possible. Users can stream in 4K ultra HD which makes the experience far more detailed and engaging.

You will appreciate Intel Core i5 8400 for a fulfilling experience while playing the latest games. The i5 8400 is not only unlocked for overclocking, but also gives you 50 percent more cores.

  • The processor can get to clock speeds of up to 4GHz
  • Six cores improve gaming performance
  • It supports Intel’s Optane Memory
  • 4K UHD streaming and 4K video creation
  • The CPU needs a new Z370 chipset based on Intel’s 300 Series Chipsets

2. AMD Ryzen 5 1600 Processor with Wraith Spire Cooler

Why we like it: The AMD Ryzen 5 1600 Processor provides reliable performance for multi-threading tasks thanks to the 6-quad configuration. It is also an energy-efficient model in comparison to other CPUs with lesser capability.

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Design Features
The addition of the Ryzen 5 1600 has helped AMD rebuild its image over the last several years. Part of the reason why is AMD Zen architecture. The model features six cores and universally unlocked ratio multipliers. It lies in the 1080p gaming performance which is excellent considering that many of the most popular games only operate in 1080p.

The CPU is built to deliver high frame rates as it can tackle up to 40 frames per second on average. The processor can also provide up to 60 frames per second when tested with 1080p games. It is not on the high-end of CPUs, yet you cannot argue that the processor underperforms either.

The Ryzen 5 1600 is designed with a variable clock speed of between 3.6GHz and 4GHz. We like that it can go higher when you pair it with a more capable cooler than the Wraith Spire. Otherwise, you don’t have to worry about what the latest game can do to its temperature as it can control itself not to overheat.

Convenient Features
Although AMD does not indicate that the Ryzen 5 1600 supports XFR, we noted that it can dramatically adjust its clock rate above the precision Boost rating. As a result, it makes the unit applicable for even more demanding games when paired with a more sophisticated GPU.

The chip is unlocked for overclocking. It has simultaneous multi-threading technology to give you a more immersive gaming experience. There is no reason why you will not enjoy a fulfilling experience with 60 fps on 1080p games.

  • 16MB combined shared cache
  • Unlocked for better overclocking
  • Supports high-resolution games
  • 6-core configuration for higher speeds in games requiring more cores
  • Supports XFR technology
  • The graphics solution needs get paired with a more advanced GPU for better gaming resolution

3. Intel Core i3-8350K Desktop Processor 4 Cores

Why we like it: The Intel Core i3-8350K Desktop Processor can overclock to 4.7GHz. It is incredibly fast when compared to other high-priced CPUs by Intel.

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Design Features
The Intel Core i3-8350K features four physical cores without hyperthreading. It makes the processor far more accommodating to handling more tasks that previous i3 CPUs have struggled to successfully operate. The CPU opens up possibilities for intuitive gameplay where you can stream, record, edit, and post all your games. The ultimate result is a more memorable gaming experience.

There is no need to depend on turbo speed for overclocking. The CPU can deliver up to 4.7GHz overclocking speed. It is incredible how easy it is to integrate the CPU with the latest GPU. The combination of the two provides the fastest speeds and visual quality.

The sophisticated 14nm silicon chip optimizes performance, including newer graphics technology that can decode 4K videos. The CPU supports hyper-threading technology which can provide you with up to 12-way multitasking support. The processor also gives you a boost in performance regarding all types of games and 4k video creation/sharing.

Convenient Features
The Intel Core i3-8350K Desktop Processor allows you to tweak the performance in order to get the most out of gaming and VR. It is designed to work with motherboards based on Intel’s 300 Series Chipsets. The unit can even support Optane memory technology that is based on non-volatile memory chips. What it means is that the CPU can store data even when the system shuts off. The end result is improved energy efficiency and boot times.

The Intel Core i3-8350K produces a superior gaming experience. The product is unlocked to allow more speeds and also features Intel Optane Memory. It is not your average gaming CPU on a budget.

  • Gives more overclocking control to your platform
  • Unlocked for improved gaming performance
  • Hyper Threading technology can support up to 12-way multitasking support
  • Optane Memory Support
  • UHD Graphics 630
  • The processor does not provide turbo speed support

4. Intel Core i7-3770 Quad-Core Processor

Why we like it: The Intel Core i7-3770 Quad-Core Processor features improved graphics with super high speed for overall performance. It is a dependable, well-rounded quad-core processor available on a smaller budget.

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Design Features
The Intel Core i7-3770 Quad-Core Processor is a pretty decent model for gaming. It can handle games at an incredible fps to get you a dependable resolution. The CPU features four cores and eight threads meaning it can handle multitasking jobs. It is equipped with remarkable HD 4000 integrated graphics that you can work with if you are not looking to add a dedicated GPU.

The processor features a clock speed of 3.4GHz. It can turbo boost up to 3.9GHz. The CPU is similar to the i7-3770K except for the unlocked multiplier feature on the i7-3770K. We expect that its 3D transistors will take it into the future as it remains controlled in terms of overclocking and thermal needs.

The Intel Core i7 3770 plays right into the hands of gamers. Why? It just goes to show that even with a top-end GPU you can still get a lot of performance on relying solely on a CPU. It helps gamers on a budget not have to upgrade everything to a new processor just to reach higher speeds and improved resolution.

Convenient Features
The CPU integrates the three Smart Technologies which include a rapid start for decreased boot times, Smart Response for increased performance through frequent caching, and Smart Connect for automatically updating apps, emails, and social networks. The processor offers support for an integrated USB 3.0. So there are plenty of methods for wireless accessibility.

The Intel Core i7-3770 Quad-Core Processor is great for both gaming and extensive computer needs. The product benefits from advanced technologies created by Intel, the leading CPU manufacturer in the world. As a result, users are treated to high clocking speeds which makes it applicable to a variety of computer needs.

  • Uses 3D tri-gate transistors
  • Achieves clock speeds of up to 3.9GHz
  • Processor has support for PCI Express Generation 3.0
  • It can run up to three independent displays with outstanding audio
  • More security enhancements to protect your data
  • The CPU is not unlocked for overclocking

5. Intel Core i5-7500 LGA 1151 7th Gen Core Desktop Processor

Why we like it: The CPU is designed and ready for gaming activity. The Intel Core i5-7500 LGA 1151 7th Gen Core Desktop Processor scores high on every aspect of what makes a great, dependable CPU on a budget.

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Design Features
The Intel Core i5-7500 is aimed at newcomers looking to build a gaming rig from scratch. It offers significant features for building a new gaming PC compared to upgrading an existing rig. The processor delivers 3.4GHz clock speed that can turbo up to 3.8GHz. It is not unlocked for more overclocking which is why the i5-7500 is not suitable for more advanced games that require superior overclocking.

The CPU reaches a boost of 200MHz with four cores and four threads with a 6MB L3 cache. The unit also has a TDP rating of 65W which is a great feature because it means you will not need to buy an extra cooler. The 14nm manufacturing process allows the CPU to run off higher frequencies without increasing its core voltage.

The CPU uses Intel’s Turbo 2.0 technology. High speeds are essential for a CPU to keep the gamer competitor. As a result, the i5-7500 LGA 1151 7th generation integrated Intel’s HD graphics offer a base frequency of 350MHz that can reach 1GHz. The unit also offers DirectX 12 support, Intel Enhanced Speedstep, and activated virtualization. The processor can get integrated with modern gaming PCs without becoming the bottleneck. The Intel Core i5-7500 manages to produce 26.5fps at 1080p for the most demanding games.

If you are building a gaming PC from the ground up, the model is probably the best you can get for under $200. The Intel Core i5-7500 LGA 1151 7th Gen Core Desktop Processor provides significant video upgrades which make the CPU a valid candidate for 4K video workloads. The CPU can run several programs simultaneously, thanks to the four cores. It scores well with regular games, and it manages to put out an incredible resolution with the latest games.

  • Turbo boost 2.0 technology
  • Supports DDR4 based RAMs with up to 64GB memory support
  • Excellent computational performance
  • Uses the latest micro-architecture with advanced video upgrades
  • Streams in stunning 4k HDR visuals
  • It cannot extend its overclocking beyond the stated 3.8GHz for extreme gaming

Guide to Buying the Best CPU for Gaming

After deciding what you want to play the next step is to pick the ideal gaming processor. Unfortunately, the market limits your selection if you wish to spend under $200. Here is your guide to finding the best CPU for gaming that is reasonably priced:

Benefits of a Gaming CPU

Improved Overclocking

The process of overclocking has been used by gamers for the last two decades in order to improve gaming performance. A CPU with gaming capabilities has better clocking and turbo speed to allow for increased speeds without overheating the computer. Since gaming CPUs can support serious overclocking they also sport upgraded coolers to prevent the dangers associated with overheating, such as crashing and ruining the components of the CPU.

Advanced Computer Functionality

The CPU serves as home base for where all the computation takes place in the PC. The process provides advanced visuals like 4K ultra HD that is now required for games with the best graphics. CPUs are also constructed to perform advanced editing functions such as 3D videos. Investing in a CPU prevents you from having to buy two different computers in order to handle all the tasks.

How important is a CPU for gaming?

The CPU ties every gaming peripheral together. While GPU is involved in the visual quality of the game, it cannot directly access information stored in the computer’s memory. However, thanks to the CPU the GPU is now able to draw instructions on the screen.

The genre of the game dictates how well the CPU calculates a character’s position, how fast the game loads, etc. Some games require multi-threading (use more cores to boost performance) while others just need regular single-threading. A game like ARMA 3 needs single-threading performance. It only requires one core for preferred gaming. Consequently, using a CPU with many cores will not produce any improvements in performance.

Meanwhile, playing a game like Metro: Last Light Redux requires a CPU with multi-threaded performance. It allows you to maintain good frame rates no matter how chaotic the game. Some CPUs are good at multi-threading while others are only built to single-thread. The difference between the two CPUs affects things like breakable environments, ballistic simulations, armor penetration, and many others.

Essential Factors to Remember When Picking a New Cheap CPU for Gaming


Before you buy your CPU you will want to look at the various sockets. Some CPUs require expensive and dedicated CPUs. For example, AMD CPUs designed for gaming usually need an AM3+ or AM4 socket.

Intel, on the other hand, has a line of sockets and they constantly change. The vast majority of CPUs sold between $100 to $200 require LGA2011 sockets.

The socket will impact speeds. If you are looking to upgrade it is best to investigate what sockets are available before making a decision.

Cache Memory

The cache memory is generally the most overlooked feature of a CPU. It is unfortunate because it makes a significant difference. Cache memory is useful to the speed of your computer. It is built into the CPU to increase the rates. Cache memory is known as the SRAM (Static Read Aleatory Memory) and it does not need get refreshed continuously like DRAM memory. The higher the cache memory – the better the overall performance of the gaming CPU.

Energy Consumption

Exceptional processors demand more power. It affects how much heat is generated by the CPU. A high consumption increases the temperature of the CPU. It also impacts how loud the CPU is once the cooling system goes to work.

The maximum power generated by your CPU is indicated by the Thermal Design Power (TDP). Most gaming CPUs start at 65W and can go as high as 140W for CPUs built into supercomputers. A high TDP indicates the ability to cool just about any overheating issue.

There are many instances where manufacturers are faulted for not providing the most efficient cooling systems. Consequently, it falls on your shoulders as the consumer to identify the best CPUs to combat overheating. It will prevent damaging the components of your CPU which improves the lifespan of the product.


If you are buying a CPU that you plan to eventually upgrade it is essential that the sockets are compatible. Therefore, consider a CPU with sockets that are not likely to change for a couple of generations.

Your Current Budget

The article is intended to cover affordable CPUs for gaming. The cheapest CPUs for gaming have limitations. However, it is possible to find a high quality product between $100 to $200.
The important thing to keep in mind is the type of gaming you prefer. If you are playing at the basic level the cheapest model will serve you right. Yet if you are an advanced gamer that plays some of the most sophisticated games you will also need a CPU that pushes the limit. As a result, you should probably set aside at least $200 for a high quality gaming processor.


It is kind of like getting through a maze when it comes to finding the best cheap CPUs for gaming. It is not always easy to shop on a budget though it is possible to find a high value CPU with the right amount of effort.

It is why we put together a list of our ten best cheap CPUs for gaming whether you are looking forward to upgrading a PC, or building a gaming rig from scratch. Don’t let a high price keep you from enjoying your games. These CPUs will meet plenty of demands!