What is the best CPU for the money today?

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Answered by: Brian, An Expert in the PC Hardware and Reviews - General Category
A question which is certainly not a stranger in the hardware review community is: "Which is the best CPU for the money?"

First off and most importantly is to keep in mind what your current needs are. Are you a gamer who enjoys the occasional Facebook gaming? Perhaps a gamer who enjoys fast paced, skill testing player-versus-player type games? Are you looking to put together a home entertainment PC, or a personal music studio?



Once you have realized your needs and desires, it's time to satisfy them by finding the correct CPU for the job. Right now, the correct answer is usually a quad-core CPU. Very few applications these days would call for anything less powerful, and if you're looking for something more powerful, you probably don't need to read this at all! A quad-core CPU is a CPU (Central Processing Unit) with 4 processing cores. This is a relatively new development for consumer grade computing, and is possible due to chips getting smaller and more efficient as research goes on. The benefit of more processing cores is that software is able to split up it's workload between the cores to reduce the stress on each one. This allows for cooler, quieter computing in some applications, and more throughput for the money in other applications.

Currently, you're going to be looking at CPUs from 2 different companies: AMD and Intel. Through your search for information on the subject you're likely to have seen a lot of heated debate over which company is superior. The answer simply won't come to light any time soon, nor do we really want it to! Competitive businesses greatly benefits the consumer and allows for the kind of computing access that we see in consumer computing today.



At the time of writing this, I would suggest to most consumers either an Intel Core i5 or an AMD Athlon II X4 series CPU. These are mid-grade chips designed for cost effectiveness in mind. Performance is still very good across both lines, in fact in a lot of cases you'll find that higher-end chips will cost twice or thrice the money for nowhere near twice or thrice the performance. For someone who does a lot of raw computing, like converting and editing video, I would greatly recommend and Intel Core i5 CPU. In comparison to the AMD CPUs I've chosen, they're simply more powerful for this setup, however this type of processing is very quickly being transferred to our GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) so CPU may be almost entirely irrelevant for this in the future.

The overall winner here, I believe, is the AMD Athlon II X4 series. Priced at $99, it has no trouble handing any games, is the most power efficient quad-core CPU on the market for consumers right now, and is half the price of Intel's competitive offerings. This CPU is compatible with both AM2+ and AM3 socket motherboards, which means it can be used with minimal upgrading to the rest of your system in some cases. These factors lead me with confidence to suggest the AMD Athlon II X4 series as the best CPU for the money.

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