Best Budget CPU Windows Central 2019

Building your own PC doesn't have to be ridiculously expensive, and building on a budget starts right from the heart. The CPU is what drives everything and without a good one your PC will suffer. Fortunately, there are good, low-cost options out there. We've rounded up the best, and they all have integrated graphics so you won't need to purchase an extra graphics card.

Budget Beast: AMD Athlon 200GE

Staff pick

Even though it only has two cores, the Athlon 200GE has hyperthreading, which improves its multitasking performance. This little budget APU from AMD is based on the same Zen architecture as the early Ryzen chips and the same AM4 socket so you have a pretty wide upgrade path down the road. The integrated Vega 3 graphics cores are incredibly strong, even capable of some decent gaming in older and lighter titles. It also only has a 35W TDP so it doesn't pull much power, and runs cool and quiet. And now you're able to overclock it to 3.9 GHz, so you can squeeze even more performance from it.

$57 at Amazon

Best Intel: Intel Core i3-8100

Intel's top budget CPU is the most expensive on this list, but it's a strong shout for those who prefer Intel builds. With four cores and a base clock of 3.6 GHz, the i3-8100 has strong single and multi-core performance, while maintaining a fairly low 65W TDP. With support for dual-channel memory up to 64GB, you can build yourself a nice little workstation or budget gaming PC. The integrated graphics aren't as good as AMD's, but they're still capable of delivering a 4K output at 60 Hz.

$120 at Amazon

Best Gaming: Ryzen 5 2400G

An updated model means price cuts on the Ryzen 5 2400G, which performs extremely close to the level of its successor. You get four cores with eight threads, but you also get the Radeon Vega 11 integrated graphics made up of 11 GPU cores. What this means is you can build a pretty solid gaming PC with one of these without the need for a dedicated graphics card. Clock speeds boost to 3.9 GHz, and with the included Wraith cooler and just a 65W TDP, you'll be running cool and quiet. Pair with some 2933 MHz DDR4 RAM in dual-channel for maximum performance.

$100 at Amazon

Gold Class: Intel Pentium Gold G5400

If a Core i is a little too rich for your Intel-based budget, the Pentium Gold G5400 is a worthy alternative and is a good basis for a range of different PCs. It's only a dual-core, but it has hyperthreading to help with multitasking performance and is clocked at 3.7 GHz. The integrated graphics are capable of pushing 4K video, and it doesn't suck a lot of power or generate a ton of heat, which would make it useful in an HTPC. You could even pop it in a budget gaming build, where it's performance isn't as far behind a Core i3 as you might expect.

$71 at Amazon

Incredible Value: AMD Ryzen 3 2200G

Another recipient of price cuts thanks to new models, the quad-core Ryzen 3 2200G is the slightly less powerful, but more affordable sibling to the Ryzen 5 2400G. It has no hyperthreading, and the Vega 8 integrated graphics drops down to eight GPU cores, but it's still a really strong chip in its own right. The Stealth cooler in the box is excellent for a budget processor, it supports 2933 MHz RAM and has a low 65W TDP. It's perfect for general use, a media PC or even a bit of light gaming, all at an incredible price.

$80 at Amazon

Building a PC can be fun and affordable

A lot of attention is spent on the super-expensive, high-end CPUs, but the truth is that for a lot of people, a good budget system will be all the PC they need. But choosing the right parts is essential. In the case of the budget PC builder, AMD's Athlon 200GE is currently our top recommendation, thanks to its incredible performance at an almost ridiculously low price. Its only downfall is that there are only two processing cores, but everywhere else it's an absolute champ.

Amazon's 12 Days of Deals is here with big discounts for all

If gaming is on your mind then you can get going right away, no graphics card needed, with the Ryzen 5 2400G. This is a pretty beastly thing to have in a budget system, with a quad-core CPU portion and 11 Radeon Vega GPU cores. Integrated graphics has come a long way, and yes, it can play Fortnite.

Intel isn't completely out of the budget segment though, even if AMD has more to choose from. For a truly budget build, the Pentium Gold G5400 is a good way to go. Don't let the name put you off, this is a capable CPU that would be right at home in an office-based PC, an HTPC or even a budget gaming build.

If you want even more recommendations for your budget PC build, we recommend checking out our budget gaming build or how to build a budget PC for kids.

We may earn a commission for purchases using our links. Learn more.