Gaming Gear for your PC – The Top 5 CPUs up to 250€
There are plenty of CPUs to pick from if you are thinking about a new PC or getting an upgrade. Here are the best cores for Full HD gaming.
Thinking of upgrading your aging processor or getting a new PC for Full HD? Here are the top 5 current models in the market from AMD and Intel.
Our Top 5: CPUs up to 250€
For this list we have set the budget at 250€ for your CPU. We sorted them in ascending order of price for your convenience.
AMD or Intel? For cheap Gaming PCs Intel currently has the best price performance. AMD more or less only has one recommended CPU in the 250€ category, the Ryzen 5 5600G/Ryzen 5 5600X on the current Zen-3 architecture. Older AMD products like the Ryzen 5 3600X from the Zen-2 generation are not too bad, but Intel just offers you more for the same price.
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Intel Core i5-10400F
The Core i5-10400F from Intel’s tenth generation Core Comet Lake fulfills all requirements necessary for fluid gameplay in 1080p. It works on a base frequency of 2.9 GHz and a Boost frequency of 4.30 GHz. Which is roughly the power a Ryzen 5 3600 offers, but you cannot get the AMD core for less than 200€.
Intel’s core is available for 130€ in the boxed version, a true steal in its category. The standard cooler unit is also more than capable of keeping up with it, so you do not even need to count in additional coolers.
The six core processor is tagged with “F” in its product number to show that it does not have a graphical unit built in. But that is not an issue for a gaming PC, where you should have your own dedicated graphics card anyway. The model with integrated GPU, the i5-10400 costs an additional 20€.
The Intel i5-10400F costs 130€ and should be your choice if you are on a tight budget.
Intel Core i5-11400F
The next core in our list is the Intel i5-11400F for 170€. Also packing six cores, this CPU is from Intel’s eleventh generation Rocket Lake. In comparison to the i5-10400F it is roughly 10 percent faster. An increase in performance that costs you around 40€.
An alternative to the i5-11400F is the i5-10600KF for 210€. Both CPUs have about the same performance, but you can overclock it for more power.
Price: The Intel Core i5-11400F is available for 170€ and offers you enough power for your gaming needs.
Intel Core i5-12400F
The third CPU on our list is still below 200€ as well. The Intel Core i5-12400F is from the current twelth generation Alder Lake. While he shares in the All-Rounder capabilities of the 10400F and the 11400F the 12400F packs a good bit more of a punch.
Direct AMD rival is the AMD Ryzen 5 5600X, which is also on six cores. But the AMD CPU is more expensive in the 250€ range. If you also look at the total costs (including Mainboards) it might be roughly on par as Intel Mainboards are usually a bit more expensive than AMD Boards. Another alternative to the i5-12400F is the i5-12500 for 230€. It runs about five percent faster.
Price: Costing roughly 200€ the Intel Core i5-12400F is currently one of the best six core CPUs in terms of price performance
Intel Core i5-11600KF
For the category under 250€ you should consider the Intel Core i5-11600KF as it is one of the fastest in this price range. The six core CPU foregoes an integrated GPU in favor of reaching Boost frequencies of 4.9 GHz after overclocking. The core does consume more power as its Thermal Design Power (TDP) requires 125 Watt
An alternative would be the Core i5-11600, which only requires 65 Watt but does not allow overclocking. As a trade-off it comes roughly 15€ cheaper. AMD’s Ryzen 7 3700X does offer similar performance but is beyond the 300€ mark.
Price: The Intel Core i5-11600KF costs about 250€ and has more than enough speed for most gaming usages.
AMD Ryzen 5 5600X
The only AMD CPU in our Top 5 is the Ryzen 5 5600X as Intel is currently the better choice for tight budgets. But there are good reasons for the popularity of the Zen 3 six core CPU from AMD.
With up to 4.6GHz and features like PCIe 4.0 the Ryzen 5 5600X is among the most popular picks in the Ryzen 5000 series. It outperforms its Zen 2 predecessors by a mile and is more than enough for 1080p. The Ryzen 5 5600X also offers an increase of 15 percent in performance compared to the Intel i5-11500K(F).
Currently the AMD Ryzen 5 5600X is available for roughly 250€. You can get its sister modell Ryzen 5 5600G for slightly cheaper (230€), but it is also 10 percent slower. The G modell does have an integrated GPU, but it can only handle fluid 1080p gameplay with reduced video settings.
Price: The Ryzen 5 5600X is just under our budget of 250€, but you do get the best performance in this category from it.
Which CPU should you buy?
Your CPU decision should consider a multitude of criteria before you buy. Here are the most important questions you should ask yourself:
- Which CPU is the correct one?
All components in a gaming PC need to fit and match each other. You can achieve that with AMD or Intel CPUs. But you should make sure that you CPU and graphics card are in the same ballpark. Pairing the Intel Core i5-10400F with Nvidia’s mid-range GeForce RTX 2060 is a great pair as an example. If your components are too far separated in terms of performance you will bottleneck your more powerful hardware by the weaker one.
One example of that would be pairing an Intel i3-10300 with a GeForce RTX 3080 Ti. You not only lose out on performance but also waste money.
- How many cores do you need?
Many of the current games are optimized for four to six cores. So you should steer clear from Dual Cores at this point. If you plan to use your setup for a longer time and do not want to upgrade your CPU in the near future, you should consider going for eight or more cores.
Keep an eye on the frequency of your desired CPU. We recommend a Boost Frequency above 3 GHz as most games profit more from higher frequencies than from more cores. Many older games are also not optimized for multiple cores and rely on frequency. As an additional bonus higher frequency CPUs are usually designed for overclocking, allowing you extra performance if necessary. AMD marks those CPUs with an “X” in its model name, while Intel uses “K”.
- AMD- and Intel CPUs: Which letter suffxies do I need?
Modelnames can tell you a lot about the attributes of the CPU at a single glance. But for gaming purposes you only need to keep your eyes open for some of these.
AMD: If the Ryzen modelname ends with “X” or “XT” the CPU will have a higher Base and Boost Frequency than the standard model, making it a prime candidate for overclocking. A “G” tells you that the CPU has an integrated video card, making it an APU. For AMD those are the exception, while Intel has those as standard in most cases.
Intel: Intel CPUs with the suffix “K” or “KS” have higher frequencies than the standard model and there fore better for overclocking. Other letters to look out for are “T”, which mark especially efficient CPUs and “F”, which are CPUs without integrated graphics cards.
- AMD vs. Intel: The current platforms compared
AMD: AMD’s current generation is the Ryzen 5000 build upon the Zen 3 architecture with CPUs and APUs (CPUs with integrated graphics cards on Vega basis). Just like the previous Zen 2 generation AMD processors utilize the AM4 socket. This allows AMD CPUs to also use older Mainboards with AM4 sockets like the B450 or X470 as long as the manufacturer offers a BIOS update. Ideally you should have a mainboard on B550 or X570(S) basis, which also have PCIe 4.0 support.
The Ryzen 3000 CPUs like the popular Ryzen 5 3600(X) are still viable as they are still widespread in online stores. Although they are Zen 2, they still have enough performance for most gamers and are cheaper than Zen 3 CPUs on top. Older Mainboards for Zen 2 are also significantly better for your budget. But to future-proof your setup you should go for Zen 3 processors and mainboards.
Intel: Intel introduced its twelvth core generation towards the tail-end of 2021. Dubbed Alder Lake there are more than 25 CPUs on sale. From Celeron to Pentium Gold, Core i5 up to the high-end Core i9s Intel has a wide variety on offer. Alder Lake processors are build on 7 nanometer basis compared to 14nm in the previous generations Rocket Lake and Comet Lake. The 12th core generation requires LGA-1700 sockets and can be used by H610, B660, H670 and Z690 chipsets.
Older Intel CPUs are still viable just like their AMD counterparts. Processors like the i5-11500T or the i7-10700F are still great choices for gaming PCs.
Which CPU are you using? Join the discussion on social media or our Discord!