Ever wonder what CPU you should pair with your graphics card to give you max FPS in games? In this post, we'll go over Processor GPU combos from $200 to $1,200 and tell you what we'd recommend based on longevity and performance.
It's fitting that we make this post after giving you our thoughts on the best graphics cards for the money right now. If you want more information than I give below about each combo, you should be able to find it there.
A Good Graphics Card CPU Combo Around $200
i3-9100F vs Ryzen 3 2200G with GTX 1050
Intel's latest generation of processors features F series processors which have no integrated graphics. Because of this they generally come out quite a bit cheaper than previous generation i3s. Considering the latest i3's have 4 cores you're getting quite the processor here for just around $80. For this reason, I'd currently recommend the Intel Core i3-9100F (assuming you're going to get a dedicated GPU anyway) over the Ryzen 3 2200G. Better IPC and much stronger in-game performance set it apart.
What to Pair it With?
While the GTX 1650 is the newer card, you'll get more bang for your buck here if you go with the RX 570. If power efficiency is important to you, or your throwing this card into an old pre-built PC, I could definitely see a reason for the GTX 1650.
That being said, in terms of FPS, the GTX 1650 is the winner here hands down.
What Can it Run?
The Radeon RX 570 is an impressive card for this price. It runs Fortnite in Ultra at around 67FPS average and even a beefy title like Battlefield V at 64 FPS on Ultra.
If you've got a monitor above 60Hz, you can always tweak down to high on most games in order to increase your framerate.
Overall, I'm thrilled with the i3-9100F as our CPU of choice here. It's a fantastic performer and one that rivals the i5-8400 that cost nearly twice as much just a generation ago. Also, the RX 570 as a choice below $150 and often around $130 on rebate gives you unprecedented gaming performance in the around $200 price range.
Graphics Card CPU Combo Under or Around $300 to $400
Like the $200 category, I still like Intel's F series of processors here for the $300 and $400 GPU CPU combo category. if you're wanting to stick strictly to your $400 budget, the GTX 1660 Super will fit the bill along with the i5-9400F or the Ryzen 5 3600. Going beyond that I'd recommend AMD RX 5600 XT which gives you a decent improvement over the 1660S model for around $30 to $50 more. If you do plan on extending the budget, the RTX 2060 is also something to look at if you can find it at a similar price to the 5600XT. I've seen it for around $300, but it often gets driven up as much as $50 more.
Want to save some money? You can get a lot of performance out of the i3-9100F here along with the GTX 1660 Super.
Better Processor Fewer Frames
If you're on a strict budget, it's harder to not go with the more expensive i5-9400F or Ryzen 5 3600 here. You get a couple of more cores, which in today's gaming market, you'll likely be able to take advantage of by extending the life of your PC. That being said, the i3-9100F has shown to perform well even with this level of graphics card.
Ryzen 5 3600 / 5 2600
Another option here would be to go for the Ryzen 5 3600 for around $175 or the Ryzen 5 2600 for around $120. Either option would give you 6 core/12 thread performance.
The Ryzen 5 3600 gives you similar performance in gaming to the i5-9400F and better performance in most other examples. It retails for around $25 more; however, an argument could be made that it is more future proof with the additional threads. You'll have to decide which you prefer. Either is a great option.
6 Core i5-9400F vs 4 core i3-9100F
So, the choice here is whether you want to opt for a better CPU or GPU. Your decision should take your future plans in mind. Are you someone who upgrades multiple graphics card generations in your PC? If so, it makes a lot of sense to go with the better CPU.
However, if you're someone who likes to replace your PC entirely every couple of years, it makes more sense to go with the max frames option which will give you the better overall gaming experience.
The Best Overall $600 Budget Graphics Card Processor Combo for 1440p
Gaming in 1080p is slowly going the way of the optical drive. While we'll see it for several more years to come, right now many gamers are focusing on making their PC perform optimally for 1440p. That's where I'm at right now. While I'll eventually switch to 4k, I prefer frames to resolution at this point.
For this price point, I'll give you a couple of different options depending on what you need the most.
For pure gaming, I like the Ryzen 5 3600 or i5-9400F and the RTX 2070 Super or the 5700XT. The 2070 Super will give you better performance overall, but it does retail for around $100 more.
This brings you in around $600 ($700 with the RTX 2070 Super), gives you fantastic performance in 1440p and good performance in 4k. The i5-9400F gives you that 6 core performance with a boost clock of 4.1GHz. No, you don't get to overclock it, but considering we can reach for the 2070 in this price range, it's hard to deny how great this option is.
That being said, for around $25 more you get the Ryzen 5 3600 which 6 core 12 threaded performance and similar performance with your games.
For All-Around Workload, Gaming, and Productivity
For those who'd prefer to have more threads for longevity or have tasks that require them, I'd recommend the 6 core/12 thread AMD Ryzen 5 3600 or 3600X along with the RTX 2060 Super. Assuming you can get this for around $400 you'll have a stellar combination to last you for years to come. Plus, the processor can be overclocked when you need additional performance.
A Third Option
The RTX 2060 Super is an interesting option here as it can match RTX 2070 stock performance. Yet, for what you'll save by using the i5-9400 you should be able to get one that far exceeds stock. For more frames, consider pairing the RTX 2060 Super with the 6 core i5-9600k. However, keep in mind that it lacks hyperthreading so it won't perform as well in multi-threaded tasks.
Best Graphics Card GPU Combo From $1,000 to $1,100
In the $1,000 range, you have a lot more flexibility in terms of both your CPU and graphics card. The option we most recommend would be the i5-9600k along with the RTX 2080 Super. This puts you in at right around $1,000. You may be able to get more bang for your buck if you can find a GTX 1080Ti; however, stock is becoming somewhat limited for these GPUs in 2020.
AMD is Certainly an Option:
If you'd prefer to go with threads and workload productivity rather than a few extra FPS in games, the Ryzen 5 3600(X) is a great option here. The Ryzen 7 3700X is certainly an option here as well along with a 2080 Super.
CPU or GPU
Depending on what you need the most, you could upgrade your CPU and downgrade your GPU from here. Consider the i7-9700k, the i9-9900k, and the Ryzen 7 3800X along with the 2070 Super.
A Great Day to Be a Gamer
The Ryzen series has transformed the CPU industry. Now we've got more cores and threads from both Intel and AMD.
If pure gaming performance is of utmost importance to you, for the most part go with Intel. I also feel that the F series of Intel processors is underrated in the gaming industry. To pay only $90 for an i3 with 4 cores and $140 for an i5 with 6 along with great speeds and capabilities is really something we haven't seen before. I like Intel at that price point.
In the $200 to $400 price point, I really like AMD and especially if you use your computer for rendering and editing tasks as I do. It's hard to justify the slight increase in frames you'd get with Intel here. That being said those of you who care about that the most will still prefer the i5-9600k and i7-9700k. Either way, it's hard to make too big of a mistake in the current market.
Choosing a CPU - Intel Vs. AMD in 2020
It's more than just an AMD vs Intel vs NVIDIA question. While there are benefits and advantages to all of these brands there are often deals that arise that make one choice vastly superior to another.
*Right now here's how I see the benefits of both:
Advantages to Using an Intel CPU:
- Better IPC or single core performance. This isn't as big of a deal after Ryzen 3000 but it is definitely still relevant. Overclocking AMD CPUs can make up some of the gap.
- Superior options for high-end users seeking max FPS and performance.
Advantages to Purchasing an AMD CPU:
- CPUs come with additional threads at lower prices.
- Ryzen 3000 CPUs have solid IPC - this does not include the Ryzen 3 3200G. Matches performance in many games with potentially a longer lifespan.
Why I Avoid Retailer Combos (Most of the Time)
In addition, I thought I'd make a combo page that isn't just about retailers who try to force you to buy a PC build combo with inferior parts. Many think these are a good deal; however, rebate and fact checking usually prove this not be the case.
Often the parts recommended are not the best when it comes to quality or can be found on rebate elsewhere. Below I've used rebates as well as benchmarking to give you combos that will perform well for the money you spend.
Overall, these graphics card and processor combinations give you some of the best value for the money you spend out there. Look for rebates to save between $20 and $50. In addition, AAA titles are often available with graphics cards. So, an additional $60 can be saved if you're willing to wait for the right title.
If you don't plan on playing AAA titles, it's likely unnecessary to go with one of the more expensive combos. These are overkill for games like WoW, Minecraft, and League of Legends. So, look at benchmarks to make sure you're not getting more than what you need.
Have a GPU CPU combo or deal you'd like to share? Be sure to let us know by leaving a comment below.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Questions & Answers
Question: Is a Ryzen 1700 and a GTX 1070 TI a good combo for a PC?
Answer: Yes, that's a good combo; however, I'd be tempted at this point to go with the 2700 unless you can get the 1700 and a cheap motherboard as a combo on the cheap.
© 2014 Brandon Hart
Graphics Card And CPU Combo Open Discussion Area
Ace on June 18, 2020:
What do you think of a i5 9400 and 1660 super combination?
abuzar on April 28, 2020:
which 4gb graphics card is best for i7 3770
Santiago Arcos on September 28, 2019:
Rocking an i5 7400 with a 1070 Strix, was planning to upgrade my cpu to a i7 8700k. But not so sure anymore with all this new processors
Trey Harber on August 22, 2019:
Is a 2070 Super and Ryzen 3700X a good combination and somewhat future proof, in August 2019, for a gamer looking for high frames on 144hz monitor, does minor video editing, medium to heavy load excel/word processing, web browsing/email/Twitch/Netflix streaming/etc, may stream his/her own content in the future?
ahmed mohamed on April 23, 2019:
hi Is a Ryzen 2600x and a GTX 1070 TI a good combo for a PC? and maybe 1080ti , and what motherboard to buy please help me this is the first time i build pc and really would love your recommendations.
Brandon Hart (author) from The Game on April 11, 2019:
I usually upgrade every 3 years. I like getting new things haha. That being said I feel like it all depends at what level you want to play. Games are pretty good these days about allowing you to lower graphical settings
André on March 24, 2019:
Thank you for the good article. One thing that I’m finding difficult to find is a relation between the combo and how long it stays current. Giving my example, one and a half year ago I got a i3 7100 with GTX 1050ti, unfortunately know I see that the i3 was a bad call, because it feels stranded. So I was considering now the i5-9600k with a rtx 2060 (mind that I’m in EU, so cheaper then 1070ti for example) but again the question arises, how long until I need to upgrade? Thanks again.
rowan on March 20, 2019:
what processor should I get for vr I currently have an i3 8100 with 1060 and 16 gb of ddr4 ram
Chris on February 01, 2019:
Intel G4560 and Rx560 AMD card have served me very well .
Picked them up cheap before prices started going up again.
Ethan on January 15, 2019:
what cpu should I pair with my gtx 1080 for the best gaming performance at 1440p 144hz??
Redwolf on January 02, 2019:
The Radeon RX 580 8GB should now be thrown into the equations as the price has dropped on them and they outperform the GTX1060's in general.
Kaytrell on December 08, 2018:
Hello Brandon :)
Nice article, very helpful yet, as a noob who hasn't been around for quite some time in this hardware matching game, I was wondering if you could help me out.
Ryzen 5 2600X, Gigabyte Aorus GA-AX370 Gaming 5 and a 1060/580x is something I consider a well balanced machine (at least for me that is)... I am not a heavy gamer (I am not aiming for 4k play) yet I would like to be able (if needed) to "boost" the system just for that little extra power. Thus said, I was thinking that 16Gb RAM is more than enough considering that my PC should do other stuff as well - AutoCAD, Revit, PS... Yes, single thread and gaming is still on the blue team side, yet for the money (and where I live) that is still bit financially overstretching for me. On the other hand, I know that AMD and the x370 boards know to be somewhat touchy so could you suggest any 3200Mhz memory that would be appropriate for this build? G.SKILL sounds good and is available (more or less), Corsair also, Kingston...
sjl2018 on November 05, 2018:
I have a GTX 980Ti with a P8Z77 MB and a i5 3550 CPU. I want to get max usage out of the GPU without overclocking. Budget is determined on best available, but not overkill, as its an older card. Im aiming for best graphics for gaming. Im thinking an i7 4790K with a H97 board. ok? or over the top?
sjl2018 on November 04, 2018:
I have a GTX 980 Ti and want to upgrade my P8z77 motherboard and i5-3550 cpu to more suit this GPU. I have 12Gb RAM. I want to evolve into a 24/30in curved screen monitor (space is an issue) I would like the best possible graphics for some games I play, ie Witcher4, Fallout4, Skyrim and hopefully the Reddead Redemption once it gets to PC.
Can you recommend a good board and CPU combo around the aus$750-1k mark?
Will on September 30, 2018:
I have a ryzen 5 1600. Would it hold back a gtx 1080? or better to upgrade it?
Davey on September 25, 2018:
So were i live the i5 8609k is 340 euros and the 2700x is 320 euro where the 2700 is 277 euro and the 2600 onley 172 euros... I'll be building in a Dan case with a 1070 asetek 92mm AIO..wich soukd i pick ?
Brandon Hart (author) from The Game on August 27, 2018:
If you're just looking for FPS the i5 8600k will give you better FPS.
Mohamed on August 23, 2018:
i am just have little question , Finally after 3 years i got GTX 1080, but my motherborad and processor is not match with it , so i will buy new motherborad + processor and i am little confused about buying AMD RYZEN 7 or Intel i5 8600K . i wanna to know what is the best for my GTX ,
Brandon Hart (author) from The Game on August 20, 2018:
Depends on what you're planning on doing. Do you want to overclock? I probably wouldn't recommend a cheap board for that. If you don't, then I'd get something moderately inexpensive for that combo. Since you're spending quite a bit on the CPU GPU combo I'd recommend at least going with something reliable. For the PSU, I'd recommend something like the EVGA SuperNova 650w - it's worth spending a little more for something that's reliable and will last you a while.
Akki on August 19, 2018:
Is ryzen 2600 + gtx 1080 + 16 gb ddr4 good combo for tight budget.
Will any cheap motherboard will do the job or should I buy high end mobo. Also how much psu?
Brandon Hart (author) from The Game on April 05, 2018:
I usually recommend that you build it yourself. That being said, there are a lot of pre-built PCs that are cheaper right now. Looking for one might be a good idea amidst the current cryptocurrency boom.
Brandon Hart (author) from The Game on March 20, 2018:
You can receive some minor improvements by going over 8GB in certain games. As it's so expensive right now, you may want to opt to go without it. The Ryzen 1600 is a perfect option for the 1060.
G. Ghosh on March 19, 2018:
I intend to use a 1060 6GB with Ryzen 1600. Will the CPU be a bottleneck for my Graphics Card performance? Also how much DDR4 RAM should I get for a gaming build, I mean is 16GB not overkill?
Brandon Hart (author) from The Game on February 19, 2018:
I'd suggest something like an i5 from last generation or i3-8100 of current. GTX 970 shouldn't require too much. R3 1200 would also be enough.
Beecham... on February 17, 2018:
I just recently decided to build my first pc. I want best gaming i can get. And im going to run mt tv in my man cave with this. I got a envidia gtx 970 from a good friend for 75.00 and am tryi g to fi d best cpu for this. And suggestions?
Brandon Hart (author) from The Game on February 06, 2018:
Keep in mind that at 4k the CPU requirements actually decrease as additional strain is put on your GPU. So, the i5 8400 or Ryzen 1600 would be great options. i5 8400 will give you a few more frames (most of the time) - however boards are more expensive so, you'll have to weigh what a few frames are worth to you.
Dandango on February 04, 2018:
Nice combo breakdown. I run a Sony XBRx800E 4k tv as my primary monitor. I have a 1070 ti. I plan to upgrade my Mobo and CPU from a i5 3570k. I am looking at the i5 8400 or the Ryzen 1600. What do you would be the best CPU paired with 1070 to in 4k? Any concerns about bottlneck?
Alex on January 08, 2018:
You should also include a standard mainboard to the calculation (extra, unless available).
Usually Intel boards tend to be 30-50% more expensive, which might make AMD in many cases more worthwhile and this is often not factored in.
For example the Ryzen 7 1700 is atm 280€
A standard board for that costs about 45€
A similar Intel processor (8C 16T) is nowhere to be found.
If you take a Intel i7 8700K (6C 12T) you would be at 380€ + 80€ for the (cheapest!!!) mainboard.
Thats a difference of 135€.
If you go with the 8700 (no K) you save about 50€ (still 85€ difference) and if you step down to the i5 8600K (6C 6T) you will be another 20€ short hitting 65€ difference.
If you want a comparable price, you will get a i5 8400 (non overclockable 6C 6T) for 200€ + 80€ board.
Do the math yourself.
Of course single core performance is 10-20% faster on the i5 but more and more games get optimized for 4+ cores and with Vulkan and DX12 even 8+ cores.
Muqtadir on October 15, 2017:
Does I3 8100 gets 100% performance from GTX 1060 ?
Faiz on October 06, 2017:
i love your review here. thanks
Max on September 12, 2017:
WoW is one one of the hardess game to run for prossessor. I run GTAV super smoth on ultra High and Can't Raid in WoW at low setting.
Brandon Hart (author) from The Game on August 09, 2017:
It really depends on the resolution you're running. I'd say the 1060 6GB is probably enough for 60FPS.
Alper on August 04, 2017:
Is the 1070 overkill for 1080p gaming?
Brandon Hart (author) from The Game on February 10, 2017:
All of them are in US dollars.
toby loasby on February 06, 2017:
I'm from Australia and I'm just wondering are all these prices in US dollars or AUS dollars, because if they're in AUS dollars that would amazing
Brandon Hart (author) from The Game on January 31, 2017:
I guess you're wondering which GPU in the $300 category? I'd go with the GTX 1060 6GB or a GTX 1070.
Brandon Hart (author) from The Game on January 31, 2017:
Looks good - although I'd probably go with a Z270 board instead? https://turbofuture.com/computers/best-z270-kaby-l...
MMK on January 26, 2017:
This is Urgent!!!
I am in process of building a Desktop
Processor: i7 6800k
Motherboard: Asus x 99 A II
RAM: Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4 2666 16GB(8x2)
CPU Cooler: Corsair H60 54.0 CFM Liquid CPU Cooler
Storage: Samsung EVO 850 250GB 2.5"
WD HDD SATA 1 TB
Pwr Supply: Corsair RM750 RM ATX 80+ Gold 750W
Cabinet: Cooler Master 690 III
I am confused to opt for a GPU with in my budget of 300$. Please suggest me!!
Thanks in Advance :)
Costas Soteriou on January 13, 2017:
CPU: Intel Core i5-7600 3.5GHz Quad-Core Processor
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-Z170-Gaming K3-EU ATX LGA1151 Motherboard
Memory: Kingston HyperX Fury Black 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR4-2133 Memory (
Storage: Kingston SSDNow V300 Series 240GB 2.5" Solid State Drive
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive
Video Card: MSI GeForce GTX 1060 6GB 6GB GAMING X Video Card
Case: Thermaltake Versa N26 ATX Mid Tower Case
Power Supply: Corsair VS 450W ATX Power Supply
Optical Drive: LG GH24NSC0B DVD/CD Writer
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 10 Home OEM 64-bit
Any advise on this Brandon ?
thanks in advance
Ankur Singh on November 15, 2016:
Suggest for me please :
1. Intel i3 6100 @3.7 GHz
2. Crucial ddr4 8gb ram @2133 MHz
3. Seagate 1 TB Hdd @7200 rpm
4. Cooler Master SMPS B 500 ver 2
5. using HD Ready LED 32 inch TV as monitor, resolution of 720p
For these specs which graphics card will be the best fit in budget for gaming such as hitman, max payne 3, cs go, assasins creed etc
Chris on September 27, 2016:
@toptengamer - Really, really appreciate your reply! :)
You're right, Amazon currently has rebates going for an Asus 750 TI, so I'll end up spending only $20 more compared to the GT 730!
Btw, I did some research regarding CAD workstations and they need a totally different graphics card which wouldn't work well for gaming, so I'm going to purchase an old/used NVIDIA Quadro in the future (they're ridiculously expensive, actually). Both the gaming card and this workstation card will be in the same case, but I will only run 1 card at a time depending on the app I'm using. A guy on GrabCAD talks about this. For those interested, search "hybrid computer build"
Brandon Hart (author) from The Game on September 27, 2016:
Chris, I'd avoid the GT 730. I'd go with a 750 Ti or GTX 950. They aren't that much more (especially on rebate) and will give you a much better experience and frame rate.
Chris on September 25, 2016:
Thanks for the article - perhaps just in time for what I'm planning to purchase. Here's my situation:
I currently have a MacBook Pro (late 2014, 2.6 GHz Intel Core i5, 16GB-1600MHz-DDR3 memory, integrated graphics Intel Iris 1536 MB) and a 2008 Sony Vaio that's falling apart.
I've been thinking of putting together a desktop system to replace my Windows laptop and run 3D CAD programs like SolidWorks, games like iRacing, as well as some basic photo/video editing.
I'm neither a pro with any of those apps, nor do I care to run anything at the highest settings.
All I need is decent frame rates, good stability/reliability (overclocking is irrelevant to me), and possibly quicker processing speeds...
I'm not aiming for any specific performance numbers, and I don't need the latest and greatest of course, but I do want to make this purchase worthwhile in the sense that the performance characteristics described above are significantly/noticeably better than my MacBook's.
Now, I'm currently on a budget so what do you think is the least I would have to spend (and what CPU/GPU combos would you recommend) to meet that criteria?
Put differently, would the configuration below be a relatively safe bet in terms of out-performing my MacBook in most categories?
EVGA GeForce GT 730 2GB Video Card
Crucial 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR4-2133 Memory
MSI B150M PRO-VDH Micro ATX LGA1151 Motherboard
Intel Core i3-6100 3.7GHz Dual-Core Processor
Or could I go even cheaper than that? Say, AMD CPU+GPU?
I'd just be curious to know how little I could get away with spending and still outperform my MBP.
Brandon Hart (author) from The Game on May 24, 2016:
Haha good catch!
Tom on May 12, 2016:
i6-6600k? :P Nice list anyways!