Best Budget Gaming CPU and Graphics Card Combo Intel vs AMD 2017
With the release of NVIDIA's new Pascal GTX 1080Ti and AMD's Ryzen CPUs 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 Pascal lineup, this should be easier than ever. What's more, is that the previous generation 900 series GPUs, as well as the AMD 300 series GPUs, are cheaper than ever. This 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. The upcoming Vega release should also shake up the market a bit.
11 Good Budget CPU / GPU Combos for 2017
Looking for the best graphics card CPU combo for your gaming PC? Here are our recommendations by budget.
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 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?
Most of you feel that the best option here is to spend a few dollars more and get the 1050Ti. Considering the performance improvements you get for around $20, we tend to agree.
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?
Most of you feel that the best option here to spend a little more and go with a card that has 6GB in the GTX 1060 or 8GB of VRAM in the RX 480.
If you're going with a 1080p machine, then the RX 470 at around $160 along with an i5 7500 should still get you fantastic performance in AAA games.
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 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.
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.
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.
AMD is Certainly an Option:
If you want to save some money, you could also consider going with the new AMD Ryzen R7 1700 and a good AM4 X370 motherboard. Performance for the Ryzen CPUs does lag a bit behind the i7-7700k in instructions per clock; however, it's still very good and with twice as many cores, it gives you more flexibility.
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.
If you've got the extra cash, the GTX 1080Ti is certainly the new king of the hill. With up to 35% gains vs the previous 1080, it's a must-have for your 4k ready machine.
11 Good CPU GPU Combos from $150 to $1,200
*Overall Cost (includes rebates)
GTX 1050 Ti
GTX 1060 6GB
i7-7700k or Ryzen 7 1700
GTX 1080 Ti
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.
*Right now here's how I see the benefits of both:
Advantages to Using an Intel CPU:
- Better IPC or 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.
- Ryzen CPUs have solid IPC and 8 cores / 16 threads
- 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 need the cores. Even in heavy CPU core situations the Kaby Lake CPUs tend to fair better in many of the benchmarks.
However, Ryzen does change the game somewhat. If you do more than just gaming on your machine you might want to consider the Ryzen 7 1700 over an i7-7700k in certain cases.
What budget do you plan on using for your CPU and GPU?
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.
© 2014 Brandon Hart