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Looking to upgrade your existing CPU but unsure what the best option is? Lucky for you we’ve compiled a list of the top 5 cheap gaming CPUs under $100 to help you out, but there’s a couple of technical things to consider before you make a decision.

AMD vs Intel

Arguably one of the first questions you should be asking yourself when buying the best gaming CPU under $100, is what brand of CPU are you wanting to go with. It’s important to take time when making this decision as it’s not a small one. The reason being that whatever CPU you go with will determine what range of motherboards you can choose and potentially even limit the choice you have for RAM.

When it comes to the actual brands, Intel has historically reigned supreme in terms of bang for buck across all price brackets. However, recent developments in the CPU world have led AMD to offer some serious competition to Intel and occasionally, overtake them.

Cores

You always see information about how many ‘Cores’ a CPU has but what exactly does that mean? In essence, the more cores a CPU has the more processes that CPU can manage at any given point. When we talk about what the best sub-$100 gaming CPU is we have to strongly consider how many cores it has due to the complex and process-heavy nature of gaming.

Recent developments in the gaming industry have made it so that games can make full use of multi-core processors which has led to a higher demand for CPUs with more cores.

Clock Speed

Another key technical element that we will be considering is ‘Clock Speed’. Going back to where we mentioned previously with how more cores allow a CPU to manage additional processes at any one time, clock speed determines how quickly a CPU can complete those tasks.

When we think about gaming, which requires thousands of different processes happening at the same time, it’s easy to see why we need a higher clock speed. So the final thing to consider, whilst going through this article, is what clock speed each CPU runs on and specifically if it has a turbo clock. This is the speed that a CPU will go to when under a heavy load.

Best Budget Gaming CPU’s Under $100

1. Intel Core i3-8100

intel-core-i3-8100
Technical Specifications
Cores/Threads 4/4
Base Clock Speed3.6GHz
Turbo Clock SpeedN/A
Socket LGA1151
Po Power Consumption (TDP)
65 Watts

Pros

  • Fantastic mix of gaming and everyday application performance
  • Low price
  • Adequate stock cooler

Cons

  • Lack of overclocking
  • No hyper-threading

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Whilst it might have seemed that there was a lack of Intel CPUs in our list, we would like to bring your attention to the i3-8100. This is our number one choice for the best budget gaming CPU that money can buy.

So what makes it the best gaming CPU under $100? Well to start, the i3-8100 comes equipped with Intel’s very own integrated GPU – the Graphics 630 engine. Again, like it’s AMD rivals you aren’t forced into the dedicated GPU route if you want to just hold off for a while.

The real win for this CPU is its fast performance in lightly-threaded tasks, which makes it a perfect match for entry-level dedicated GPUs. It also stands its ground with everyday productivity applications, making a perfect all-rounder.

In previous Intel generations, the lower end Core i3 CPUs typically had only 2 physical cores but the change to 4 physical cores rocked the entry-level world and gave AMD’s budget range a serious run for their money.

Utilising the LGA 1151 socket means that you will have plenty of options of motherboards available at your disposal. The chipset even supports 4K visuals, although we advise this to be limited to videos and not gaming.

With support for up to 64GB of DDR4 RAM there’s not really much wrong with this CPU, albeit you can’t overclock it. For the price and what you get, there’s nothing else out there that will currently beat it.

2. AMD Athlon 240GE

amd athlon 240ge
Technical Specifications
Cores/Threads 2/4
Base Clock Speed3.5GHz
Turbo Clock SpeedN/A
SocketAM4
Power Consumption (TDP)35 Watts

Pros

  • Incredible price
  • Comes with a thermal solution
  • All models of this range provide similar performance after overclocking

Cons

  • Graphics engine and memory can’t be overclocked
  • Single-thread performance is not as good as other options

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Whilst it might be a bit strange to see a 2 core, 4 thread CPU popping up in our number 2 spot, it’s for a very good reason. The price.

The AMD Athlon 240GE is currently being sold for less than $65 which makes it one of the best money-saving CPUs on the market in all categories.

The integrated Vega 3 provides you with a playable amount of graphics performance for low-end systems.

To get even better value for money, feel free to purchase any one of the Athlon 200GE products. The only difference between each product is the base Clock which can be overridden with manual overclocking, a choice for people on an even stricter budget.

But if overclocking isn’t your thing then the Athlon 240GE is a fantastic budget gaming CPU that will give you everything you need in a low-end gaming PC.

3. AMD Ryzen 3 1300X

ryzen 3 1300x
Technical Specifications
Cores/Threads 4/4
Base Clock Speed3.5GHz
Turbo Clock Speed3.7GHz
SocketAM4
Power Consumption (TDP) 65 Watts

Pros

  • One of the better stock fan designs
  • Great CPU for overclocking
  • Solid 720p gaming performance

Cons

  • Will require a better heatsink for overclocking
  • Can have compatibility issues with some motherboard BIOS

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Another solid entry from AMD is the Ryzen 3 1300X CPU. The Zen architecture provides a solid amount of performance for everyday tasks and light-medium gaming.

Much like the previous AMD entry, this one also suffers from slightly limited single core performance. On the other hand, when it comes to multi-core applications it’s a strong contender and not to be taken lightly.

You’ll also be getting a high base Clock frequency of 3.5GHz with the option to Turbo Clock it to 3.7GHz when tasks become demanding. The AM4 compatibility also provides you with a healthy choice of the latest motherboards on the market.

Overall, a solid entry that provides a great amount of performance at a very reasonable price.

4. AMD Ryzen 3 2200G CPU /w Radeon Vega 8 Graphics

ryzen 3 2200g
Technical Specifications
Cores/Threads 4/4
Base Clock Speed3.5GHz
Turbo Clock Speed3.7GHz
SocketAM4
Power Consumption (TDP) 65 Watts

Pros

  • Features AMD’s SenseMi technology that improves performance
  • Respectable integrated GPU that can handle basic games
  • Turbo Clock helps maintain performance under heavy load
  • AM4 motherboard compatible

Cons

  • Performance isn’t mindblowing
  • Can be restricted by the range of compatible motherboards

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A fantastic entry by AMD, the Ryzen 3 2200G offers a balance of CPU and GPU power which is shipped in a package that is currently being sold for less than $90!

Coming in with 4 fast cores and at 3.5GHz clock speed, you’ll have plenty of horsepower to power any entry-level PC where it won’t be the bottleneck. The integrated graphics card also allows you to have immediate gaming access without buying a dedicated card.

However, we would still not rate this CPU’s single core performance against price comparative options, so if you’re going to be doing multi-core demanding tasks then this is the CPU for you otherwise we would look elsewhere.

In short, the AMD Ryzen 3 2200G is a great candidate in our list of cheap gaming CPUs under $100. It will deliver a smooth experience for anyone who is looking to achieve some light gaming. For this particular CPU, we recommend limiting the graphic quality settings to Medium and resolution to no more than 1280 x 720.

5. AMD Athlon 200GE

amd-athlon-200ge
Technical Specifications
Cores/Threads2/4
Base Clock Speed3.2GHz
Turbo Clock SpeedN/A
SocketAM4
Power Consumption (TDP)35 Watts

Pros

  • Incredible price
  • Comes with a suitable thermal solution
  • All models in this range provide similar performance when overclocked

Cons

  • Graphics engine and memory can’t be overclocked
  • Weak single-thread performance

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Last on our list is the incredibly affordable sub-$60 Zen architecture AMD Athlon 200GE. Whilst it’s never going to blow anyone away with its performance, it’s a strong contender on our list.

One of the downsides is that overclocking doesn’t come as standard. However, if you have a compatible motherboard then you will be able to get that little bit extra out of your CPU.

The single thread performance can be a little bit underwhelming, but when you use it with applications that can use multiple cores then that’s where it will shine.

Even though there are notable limitations to this CPU we can’t argue when the comparable Intel CPUs come in at a higher price closer towards the $100 mark.

That’s the end of our top 5 Gaming CPUs under $100. If you have any other questions please let me know in the comment section below and we’ll be sure to answer ASAP.

If you found this post helpful then why not check out our other posts:
Best Graphics Card Under $100 2019
Best PSU Under $100 2019
Best PC Case Under $100 2019
Best RAM for Gaming

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