Shopping for a processor on a budget can be challenging. While it is true that expensive does not always translate to quality, the world of CPUs is a bit different. In most cases, mid and high-end CPUs deliver great value for their costs. So, finding the best CPU under 100 is a daunting task.
That said, there are several reasons why you may be on a tight budget. Fortunately, at the end of the day, the market offers something for everyone. Furthermore, going for a high-end CPU may be overkill if you barely use your computer. The same applies if you use your computer for mundane tasks like light browsing and using other basic apps.
After researching and reviewing several of the cheap processors on the market, we have been able to narrow down to 5 of the best CPUs you can choose from.
Top Five Best CPU Under 100
- AMD Ryzen 3 3200G
- Intel Celeron G4920
- Intel CPU BX8070110100F Core i3-10100F
- AMD Ryzen 5 4600G
- Intel Pentium Gold G-6400
The AMD Ryzen 3 3200G is one of the best-performing CPUs for under $100. The main things you would look for when purchasing one of these processors are all present in this. Due to the regular technological advancements, the features are not the best available in the market presently. However, it can play most games and perform most activities for which you would likely want to use it.Pros: Cons:
It has built-in Radeon Vega 8 Graphics. And this allows it to perform better and can compare with and even perform better than some more expensive CPUs.
There are other good features which make it a good choice for you. It comes with an AMD Wraith Stealth cooler. This cooler works quietly and is of high-quality performance. It also has a 4-core processor with a cache size of 6 MB. Also, it has a max operating temperature of 95 degrees Celsius. Thus this is a relatively high temperature, so it would usually take a lot of work to reach.
Furthermore, one can use it with Windows 11 – 64-Bit Edition, Windows 10 – 64-Bit Edition, RHEL x86 64-Bit, and Ubuntu x86 64-Bit. Many people have used this processor for years, and it is an excellent and reliable CPU for its price.
The Intel Celeron G4920 is a cheap intel product with some advanced technological features for its price. It is one of the best processors you can get for this price range. Even though it has been discontinued, it is still worth buying if you are not looking for something that won’t break the bank.Pros: Cons:
You can get it from Amazon and some other online stores. It has been available since April 2018 and has been used by many people since then. Intel has produced better ones since then, but this still has some relevant features. The processor consumes energy at a low rate. And this allows you to maximize your battery life. It also allows you to perform a wide range of activities. You can play games with good graphics and without lagging.
This CPU has two cores and two threads, a cache of 2 MB. It runs at a clock speed of 3.2GHz. These features can run the average game, but it is essential to check the requirements of your games and other applications before you try to run them on the CPU. It is also capable of running more than one program at a time without any problem.
This is one of the more advanced and efficient processors you can get from intel that is below $100. Getting something with the feature embedded into the Intel Core i3-12100F from another brand would most likely cost you more. The CPU has four cores and eight threads. It also has a cache of 6 MB and a base processor frequency of 3.60 GHz. If you want to use it for heavy gaming or any other activity that requires excellent graphics, it might be better to go for a more advanced one.Pros: Cons:
For people that might want to use it for gaming, it can run games like GTA V, PUBG, Fortnite, and many more. The processor comes with a cooler, allowing you to use it for long periods without getting hot. You do not also need to purchase an additional cooler, so it saves you money.
Of all the processors in this compilation, the AMD Ryzen 5 4600G is arguably the best of all the processors in this compilation. It has features you would usually see in only the pricier processors. However, when you buy the AMD Ryzen 5 4600G, you can get these good features at a reasonable price.Pros: Cons:
The processor is a product of AMD, which started its journey in 1969 and has developed tremendously over the years. They have continued improving their products, with the AMD Ryzen 5 4600G processor being one of their best budget processors. One of the good things about this CPU is that you can use it for many activities because of its good specifications. You would get a smoother gaming experience, complete your tasks faster, and can use it for other intensive activities.
An impressive feature of this processor is its number of CPU cores and threads. It has 6 CPU cores and 12 threads. It also has a cache size of 11 MB and comes with a Wraith Stealth Cooler. The cooler will allow you to use it for more extended periods than other processors that may not have one. Finally, its max operating temperature is 95 degrees Celsius which is very difficult to reach.
Consequently, this is one processor you would likely be okay with buying.
The Intel Pentium Gold G-6400 might not have the most eye-catching features, but it is undoubtedly one of the best processors you can find at a low price. It has been available since 2020 but can still handle many of the newer tasks of today. In addition, finding other CPUs of this price might be challenging at stores. However, the Intel Pentium Gold G-6400 is common, and you can get it easily.Pros: Cons:
It has 2 CPU cores and four threads which are usually enough for basic tasks. It also has a cache size of 4 MB and uses the LGA 1200 socket type. The specifications of the Intel Pentium Gold G-6400 show that it’ll be more suitable for things like web browsing and light tasks rather than tasks that’ll require extra graphic power or a high clock speed. Therefore, it is essential to consider what you want to use the CPU for before you go ahead to buy it.
You cannot be too picky when on a tight budget, but it helps to have a shopping guide. Below are a few things to look out for when shopping for a CPU.
Threads are simply a processor’s virtual components that enable it to run independent processes. The higher the thread count of a CPU, the more independent processes it can handle at once. And this helps computers multitask without lagging. With a budget of $100, the expected thread count is typically 4. However, as you will find in our list above, CPUs with 8 and 12 threads are available in this price range and slightly over. So if you want to run multiple intensive programs on your computer, go for a higher thread count.
You can have integrated graphics or a dedicated graphics card to process your PC’s graphics. With integrated graphics, the graphics unit is built into the CPU itself. Some CPUs come without this feature; hence, the PC would need a dedicated graphics card, a separate physical computer component. If your PC does not already have a dedicated graphics card, you must go for a CPU with integrated graphics.
Motherboard Socket Compatibility
If you already have a motherboard and are unwilling to replace it, you need to ensure that your new CPU is compatible with your motherboard. Otherwise, your purchase could end up being a waste. The easiest way to check compatibility is to google the specs of your motherboard. You can check the name of the motherboard by checking your system information. When you look it up, you will likely see a result from the manufacturer at the top listing the compatible CPUs with its socket.
The clock speed of your CPU determines how fast it can run applications and carry out tasks smoothly. It is measured in gigahertz and is typically given as a range with a minimum and maximum speed. Generally, the higher the clock speed, the faster your CPU performs. Some CPUs can also be overclocked, i.e., made to go above the maximum clock speed specified by the manufacturer.
However, doing so comes at extra costs, which may not work for someone on a budget. For users who are not heavily into multitasking, most gamers and casual laptop users, the clock speed will matter more than the thread or core count. Luckily, the CPUs on our list offer incredible clock speeds for the $100 price range.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which is more important in core count and clock speed?
Core count determines how many tasks a CPU can process simultaneously, while clock speed determines its processing speed. Both are equally important. However, different categories of users will find one more useful than the other. The core count may benefit heavy computer users who perform various tasks with their computers. However, light or average users and most gamers will benefit more from a higher clock speed.
Can overclocking damage my CPU?
Yes, overclocking can easily lead to irreversible CPU damage. And this commonly occurs when the cooling system is inadequate and the processor overheats. And this causes the internal circuitry to malfunction. Furthermore, overclocking may reduce the lifespan of your CPU, causing it to spoil soon due to extended periods of using it at maximum capacity.
3Which is better, Intel or AMD CPUs?
There is no clear answer to this question. Both Intel and AMD offer great value at reasonable prices. For this reason, they are the two heavyweights in the processor world. Functionally, similarly priced intel and AMD processors give similar results. Unless you check, you may not be able to tell the difference. It is better to focus on the specs you need rather than sticking solely to one brand.
A fast CPU also needs a fast GPU, a good motherboard, fast RAM, and other significant components for the overall system performance to be good. Therefore, there is no need to splurge on a CPU if you are not upgrading the other parts of your system. You can get a well-performing processor on your tight budget if you know what you are looking for and where to look. More likely than not, one of our recommended CPUs will meet your system performance needs.