These are the best budget CPUs to buy in early 2023

By Kenneth Williams


Dec 23, 2022

Reading time: 3 min

Looking to upgrade your CPUs on a budget in 2023? These three picks are all worthy of your attention.

2023 is a big year for PC gaming, with titles like Diablo IV, Starfield, Street Fighter 6, and Atomic Heart due in the next calendar year. Many gamers will need to update their hardware to enjoy these titles at higher settings, but dropping more than $200 on a chip isn’t always a feasible option. These are three of the best budget CPUs at prices between $100 and $200.

Intel i3 12100F is the king of $100 budget CPUs

Gaming processors under $100 aren’t exactly a common sight, but Intel managed to snipe the sweet spot with the i3 12400F. This four-core with multithread CPU runs at 2.5 gigahertz, reaching 60 frames per second in modern titles at or above medium settings without bottlenecks.

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Intel kept its audience in mind for this chip, as the 12100F is compatible with both DDR4 and current-gen DDR5 RAM. It also boasts a surprisingly low standard power consumption of just 58 watts, making it compatible with nearly all budget power supplies. Those solid stats and features come in at $105, making this a snap pickup for someone looking to upgrade their CPU and motherboard for under $200. Its only major flaw is that it does not have onboard graphical processing, so a standalone GPU will be required.

Ryzen gamers on a budget should consider a 5600G

For some gamers, four cores are simply not enough. Intensive pursuits like 3D modeling and video rendering can require more power than a single core can provide. That’s where the Ryzen 5 5600G comes in. This multithread hex-core processor comes with a 4.4 gigahertz max frequency on the AM4 platform, which is compatible with DDR4 RAM. At $126, the 5600G has a best-in-class value of just $10.60 per thread.

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On top of its already-impressive clock speed, the 5600G comes unlocked right from the factory. Gamers with flashy water cooling setups or even just strong air coolers can squeeze even more value with an overclock. In addition, this chip comes with AMD Vega onboard graphics processing for use without an expensive GPU. If you do plan to use it without a discrete graphics card, be very careful about going over the factory clock speed.

The i5 12400 is the best CPU you can buy for $200

If you’re planning to drop real cash on CPUs but don’t want to break a $200 budget, the 12400 has the best bang for your buck of any option in early 2023. This six-core 12-thread processor asks for $190, putting it right on the edge of our price range. It justifies the asking price with a maximum 4.4 gigahertz frequency and stellar single-core performance. It also comes with onboard graphics, though gamers in this price range likely have another processor to go with it.

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As the middle-price flagship of Intel’s 12th generation, the i5 12400 boasts an 18-megabyte L3 cache and compatibility with both generations of RAM. It can consume up to 117 watts at max power, so double-check your power supply before committing. Toss The i5 12400 into an LGA 1170 motherboard and enjoy excellent performance in esports titles like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and League of Legends at high settings.


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