Top Budget Gaming CPU (2020)

We researched 35 different processors and chose the AMD Ryzen 5 3600 as the best budget gaming CPU, mainly for its very decent price and consistent performance. To know more about it, see all the extensive information below.

Image
Top Pick
AMD Ryzen 5 3600 6-Core, 12-Thread Unlocked Desktop Processor with Wraith Stealth Cooler
AMD Ryzen 5 2600 Processor with Wraith Stealth Cooler - YD2600BBAFBOX
AMD Ryzen 5 3400G 4-core, 8-Thread Unlocked Desktop Processor with Radeon RX Graphics
Intel Core i5-9600K Desktop Processor 6 Cores up to 4.6 GHz Turbo unlocked LGA1151 300 Series 95W
Intel Core i3-9100 Desktop Processor 4 Cores up to 4.2 GHz LGA1151 300 Series 65W
Title
AMD Ryzen 5 3600
AMD Ryzen 5 2600
AMD Ryzen 5 3400G
Intel Core i5-9600K
Intel Core i3-9100
Max Clock Speed
4.2 GHz
3.9 GHz
4.2 GHz
4.6 GHz
4.2 GHz
Core/Thread Count
6/12
6/12
4/8
6/6
4/4
Top Pick
Image
AMD Ryzen 5 3600 6-Core, 12-Thread Unlocked Desktop Processor with Wraith Stealth Cooler
Title
AMD Ryzen 5 3600
Max Clock Speed
4.2 GHz
Core/Thread Count
6/12
Image
AMD Ryzen 5 2600 Processor with Wraith Stealth Cooler - YD2600BBAFBOX
Title
AMD Ryzen 5 2600
Max Clock Speed
3.9 GHz
Core/Thread Count
6/12
Image
AMD Ryzen 5 3400G 4-core, 8-Thread Unlocked Desktop Processor with Radeon RX Graphics
Title
AMD Ryzen 5 3400G
Max Clock Speed
4.2 GHz
Core/Thread Count
4/8
Image
Intel Core i5-9600K Desktop Processor 6 Cores up to 4.6 GHz Turbo unlocked LGA1151 300 Series 95W
Title
Intel Core i5-9600K
Max Clock Speed
4.6 GHz
Core/Thread Count
6/6
Image
Intel Core i3-9100 Desktop Processor 4 Cores up to 4.2 GHz LGA1151 300 Series 65W
Title
Intel Core i3-9100
Max Clock Speed
4.2 GHz
Core/Thread Count
4/4

Best Budget Gaming CPU

The AMD Ryzen 5 3600 is not quite as affordable as other Ryzen processors, it is still quite cheaper than most of Intel’s so-called “budget” CPUs. In fact, this AMD processor works very well with mid-range PCs.

Pros:
  • Very affordable
  • Allows overclocking
  • Syncs with any AMD GPU
Cons:
  • Still more expensive than most budget CPU
  • Slightly inferior to 3600x
  • Small issues with Nvidia GPUs

A lot of the members of the gaming community adore the AMD Ryzen 5 3600 for 3 important things: price, performance and overclocking. We highly recommend this chip as one of the best AMD processors and as the best budget gaming CPU mainly because it does so well with a mid-range PC. Also, this costs significantly lesser than a budget Intel i5 or i7 – and also includes overclocking at safe temperatures. While it only houses 6 cores, it can, however, do multi-threading thanks to its 12-thread capacity. If your build includes an AMD GPU, the Ryzen 5 3600 works in tandem – almost like a perfectly choreographed dance due to how consistent the flow is whenever you run a game. Above all else, take the Ryzen 5 3600 as your top priority budget CPU for gaming.

Have you considered an i5? Get an increase in gaming FPS and check out our best i5 gaming CPU’s for 2020.

Best Value Budget CPU for Gaming

Mostly used for net cafes, the AMD Ryzen 5 2600 makes a great budget gaming CPU especially when running esports games like League of Legends, Dota 2, CSGO and Rainbow Six Siege at medium to high settings.

Pros:
  • Most affordable
  • Works very well on budget PC
  • Can overclock
Cons:
  • No PCIe 4.0
  • Does not work properly with high-end GPU
  • Only 6 cores

The AMD Ryzen 5 2600 is a good mixture of affordability and great gaming performance. While it may come cheap, do not underestimate its power; the AMD Ryzen 5 2600 can be overclocked and works extremely well with mid-ranged PCs and is one of the top CPU’s for gaming. However, it does have some major issues when it comes to syncing with a high-end GPU – even if the graphics card is an AMD.

Are you a Streamer? See our top 5 CPU’s for Streaming in 2020

Then again, you are here to know if this will run properly on your budget PC; which is, of course, nothing less than amazing. Also, on your first purchase, you get to earn 3 months of free Xbox Live subscription.

Looking for an i9 power house processor? Check out our review of the best i9 CPU’s for Gaming and find out if an i9 is worth buying in 2020…

 

Best APU Budget Gaming CPU

The AMD Ryzen 5 3400G is an exceptionally budget-friendly CPU especially if you are using a very low-end PC. So, if you are okay with integrated graphics on an affordable price, this Ryzen processor makes an excellent package.

Pros:
  • Can play at 1080p
  • Integrated graphics
  • Very cheap
Cons:
  • Not very fast
  • Requires mobo video ports
  • Not for overclocking

The AMD Ryzen 5 3400G performs surprisingly good, especially with integrated graphics. This inclusion makes it a very good option for when you are playing on a potato PC – one that does not hold the best graphics and performance.

Need more performance? Avoid the potential or future CPU bottlenecks and check out our top 5 i7 Gaming CPU review, fresh for 2020.

And while the AMD Ryzen 5 3400G does not load as fast as its fellow Ryzen siblings, it still runs faster than any Intel CPU with integrated graphics. And if you have the proper monitor, you can get to play even the most modern games at 1080p while on lowest settings.

PRO TIP: Keep your CPU cool, consider buying one of the best AIO water cooler they are easy to install and offer lower noise, cooler temps and higher overclocking… While you’re at it see our NEW guide for our top 5 recommended thermal paste’s freshly updated for 2020.

Best Budget Intel Gaming CPU

Give a casual gamer an i5-9600K for their budget PC build and they will certainly be happy. If you happen to be one of those gamers who want a no-fuss CPU that works at decent performance, you should definitely give this one a try.

Pros:
  • Affordable
  • One of the best in i5
  • Overall good performance
Cons:
  • Overclocking is not allowed
  • Only 6 cores
  • No extra threads

The Intel Core i5-9600K is widely considered as one of the best budget gaming CPU from Intel. Sure, it may still be more expensive than your budget AMD Ryzen CPU but it still holds out as a straightforward processor that can play any current-gen game properly, be it low or medium settings.

The Intel Optane Memory and the Intel UHD Graphics 630 within the i5-9600K also help as integrated graphics for low-end gaming PCs. But for the most part, it can run pretty much decently without hindering the experience, especially on esports games.

NEW: Are You Intel Fan? See our top 5 picks for the best Intel gaming CPU’s and find out if you should buy Intel this year.

Best Intel i3 Gaming CPU

If you are totally alright with just 4 cores and just want to play today’s modern games – especially the online competitive ones – then the Intel Core i3-9100 plays a pivotal role in making your budget PC build work properly even at a peak of the game’s medium settings.

Pros:
  • User-friendly for budget gaming
  • Best for low-end PC
  • Very affordable
Cons:
  • Only 4 cores
  • No overclocking
  • Long loading times

The Intel Core i3-9100 excels in making your budget gaming rig slightly much better than your average i3 CPU. The only major downside with this one is that it does not include integrated graphics (but for real though, AMD integrated graphics are vastly superior). But if you just want to kill some time and enjoy some of the most well-known games – especially online titles like League of Legends, Dota 2, CSGO, Rainbow Six Siege and Overwatch – the Intel Core i3-9100 packs a bit of a punch that, at least, performs at tolerable rates.

What We Would Buy

There you have it, the best budget gaming CPU available. Obviously, we would definitely pick the Intel Core AMD Ryzen 5 3600 as the number one choice thanks to enabled overclocking, good clock speeds and superb price. When you need to go deeper into budget gaming, no other CPU comes close as the AMD Ryzen 5 2600. If you are going to rely on integrated graphics or APU, you better make sure that the AMD Ryzen 5 3400G is your top option. Although, if you prefer Intel, we suggest either the Intel Core i5-9600K or the Intel Core i3-9100; the former is best for mid-range PC gaming, while the latter excels on low-end PCs.

Still can’t decide? Check out our gaming CPU hierarchy for an overview of Intel & AMD processors.

Editor & reviewer of gear from iOS control pad’s to high-end PC gaming hardware. He’s been gaming since the 1980s and mostly plays CS GO & Overwatch.