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Best Budget Gaming CPU and Graphics Card Combo Intel vs AMD 2017

Updated on January 03, 2017
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The GPU Industry is about to change in 2016 so here's a look at my thoughts on cards both old and new. It's time to get rid of the old.

Want to get the best value out of your hard earned money? Here's a look at some GPU CPU combos that focus on bringing you the most performance for the money you spend.
Want to get the best value out of your hard earned money? Here's a look at some GPU CPU combos that focus on bringing you the most performance for the money you spend.

With the release of NVIDIA's new Pascal GTX 1080 and 1070 and EA's launch of Battlefield 1, it's time to reevaluate the current state of your PC.

For my own PC, I'm finally making the move from 1080p to 1440p. Yes, I could go straight to 4k, but I really like the look and frame rates available at that resolution.

Looking at the current performance benchmarks of NVIDIA's new Pascal lineup, this should be easier than ever. What's more, is that solid performing 900 series GPUs, as well as the AMD 300 series GPUs, will be dropping significantly in price. I love when this happens as it truly means better performance for all with less of a money investment.

RX series graphics cards also give AMD a more solid grip in the $100 to $250 price range than they've had in the last couple of years.

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.

10 Good Budget CPU / GPU Combos for 2017

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.

*Overall Cost (includes rebates)
Graphics Card
CPU
$155
RX 460
Pentium G3258
$204.97
RX 460
i3-7100
$216
GTX 1050
i3-7100
$245
GTX 1050 Ti
i3-7100
$283
RX 470
i3-7100
$363
RX 470
i5-7500
$459
GTX 1060 6GB
i5-7500
$628
GTX 1070
i5-7600k
$729
GTX 1070
i7-7700k
$938
GTX 1080
i7-7700k
$1037.06
GTX 1080
i7-6800k
*Prices are taken from the lowest priced graphics card available from various online retailers.
The Rx 460 and i3 7100 come in at around $205 and are capable of playing modern AAA titles in 1080p if you're willing to tweak the settings a little bit.   Popular online games like CSGO, LOL, and Minecraft aren't a problem.
The Rx 460 and i3 7100 come in at around $205 and are capable of playing modern AAA titles in 1080p if you're willing to tweak the settings a little bit. Popular online games like CSGO, LOL, and Minecraft aren't a problem.

A Good Graphics Card CPU Combo Under $200

i3-7100 and RX 460 or GTX 1050

While AMD's budget options might provide you with a few more cores, they'll likely give you a lot less performance in almost everything you do. I've enjoyed working with the likes of the FX 6300 and 8320 in the past, but they no longer make the cut. Kaby Lake's i3-7100 is the star here and should be your CPU of choice in the $100 to $120 range.

What Can it Run?

While the GTX 1050 and RX 460 are similar in performance you'll get slightly more performance out of NVIDIA's GTX 1050. If they're at a similar price, I'd definitely go with the GTX 1050 or perhaps even the 1050 Ti if you have the money for it.

The GTX 1050 will run all AAA titles. However, you'll likely need to adjust settings in order to get the ideal framerate on the most graphically intense of games.

$300 GPU CPU Combo

If you were willing to up your price point here, I'd put it all towards the GPU. The i3-6100 is a good CPU to use with AMD's 4GB RX 470 or a 3GB GTX 1060. Because of the price, I'd put the RX 470 as the slightly better option overall, but ultimately you'll have to decide what you'd prefer.

The GTX 1060 is the better performer, but for around $30 to $40 more, it hardly seems worth it. What's more, is that the i3-6100 is a slight bottleneck here and you might get the additional gains you're looking for out of the 1060 3GB.

Which would you go for at this price range?

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The AMD RX and NVIDIA Pascal release should continue to push NVIDIA 900 and AMD 300 series graphics cards down in price. If you find one for a decent price, it might be a good alternative to the mainstream options I've listed.
The AMD RX and NVIDIA Pascal release should continue to push NVIDIA 900 and AMD 300 series graphics cards down in price. If you find one for a decent price, it might be a good alternative to the mainstream options I've listed.
If you want a good used combo, think about a combo in the i5-4690k and GTX 970. Try to find it for under $400.
If you want a good used combo, think about a combo in the i5-4690k and GTX 970. Try to find it for under $400.

Graphics Card CPU Combo Under $400

In the under $400 category, I like the i5-7500 along with the RX 470 4GB or the GTX 1060 3GB.

This will give solid performance across the board for AAA titles in 1080p medium to high settings.

VRAM could be an issue for either one of these GPUs going forward so spending an extra $50 and going with the GTX 1060 6GB or the RX 480 8GB is recommended.

While the i5-7500 isn't an overclockable CPU, I wouldn't really recommend overclocking at this price point as more frames can be achieved by saving that money for a GPU upgrade.

That being said don't discount the i5-7500 as it's capable of handling your upgrades for several generations to come.

In the $400 Price Range what should you do?

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The Best Overall $600 Budget Graphics Card Processor Combo for 1440p

Gaming in 1080p is slowly going the way of the hard 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 now. In a few years, this will certainly switch to 4k.

If you're looking for something that does great with 1440p out of the gate in ultra settings, go with the GTX 1070. The performance is greater than GTX 980's in SLI and much better than the previous generation, GTX 970. The past year we've come far in terms of the price to performance ratio in this price range and for this reason the 1070 has my full recommendation.

Graphics Card CPU Combos Under $600

If you're in this price range, you should be looking for a Pascal-based GPU. At this price point, you can afford a Kaby Lake i5 processor in the 7600k as well as the GTX 1070. This should give you better than 980Ti performance for a few hundred dollars less.

The increased performance of Pascal is as good as any reviewer, gamer, or hardware enthusiast could have hoped for.

NVIDIA's Pascal GTX 1080 is faster than a dual graphics card configuration running 980's. Pair it with a CPU like the i7-6800k or i7-6700k and you'll be more than ready for modern titles in 1440p.
NVIDIA's Pascal GTX 1080 is faster than a dual graphics card configuration running 980's. Pair it with a CPU like the i7-6800k or i7-6700k and you'll be more than ready for modern titles in 1440p.

Best Graphics Card GPU Combo Under $1,000

In the $1,000 range, you have a lot more flexibility in terms of both your CPU and graphics card. One option would be to stretch for the Broadwell-E i7-6800k and the GTX 1070. The six cores are especially useful for those using their gaming PC as a photo editing or streaming PC.

You could also stick with the i7-7700k and go with the GTX 1080. It's certainly a possibility here if you want to use the entirety of the budget. It should give you roughly the performance of 980s in SLI without having to worry about a dual-GPU configuration.

Choosing a CPU - Intel Vs. AMD in 2017

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. This post will feature what I like right now and be updated occasionally to reflect changes I see in the market.

*Right now here's how I see the benefits of both:

Advantages to Using an Intel CPU:

  • Better single core performance. Call me captain obvious, but this is a big deal in games that aren't optimized for a multitude of cores like AMD likes to provide. Overclocking AMD CPUs can make up some of the gap.
  • Better power efficiency.
  • Superior options for high-end users seeking max FPS and performance.

Advantages to Purchasing an AMD CPU:

  • CPUs come with additional cores at lower prices.
  • Better budget options for those looking for more cores.
  • APU technology is a solid alternative for builds in the $200 to $250 range.

*While I still see some value in AMD it's important to realize that Kaby Lake has changed my mind on much of this due to benchmarks I've done. Until AMD releases Zen, I won't be recommending anything but Intel CPUs unless you REALLY need the cores. Even in heavy CPU core situations the Kaby Lake CPUs tend to fair better in many of the benchmarks.

What budget do you plan on using for your CPU and GPU?

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Summary

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.

© 2014 Brandon Hart

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    • Ankur Singh 2 months ago

      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 3 months ago

      @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"

    • toptengamer profile image
      Author

      Brandon Hart 3 months ago from The Game

      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 3 months ago

      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.

      Thanks,

      Chris

    • toptengamer profile image
      Author

      Brandon Hart 7 months ago from The Game

      Haha good catch!

    • Tom 8 months ago

      i6-6600k? :P Nice list anyways!

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