Best Budget Gaming CPU and Graphics Card Combo Intel vs AMD 2017
Ever wonder what CPU you should pair with your graphics card? In this post, we'll go over Processor GPU combos from $200 to $1,200 and tell you what we'd go with.
With the release of NVIDIA's new Pascal GTX 1080Ti and AMD's Vega GPUs it's time to reevaluate the current state of your PC.
For my own PC in 2017, I finally made the move from 1080p to 1440p. Yes, I could have gone straight to 4k, but I really like the look and frame rates available at the 1440p 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 400 series GPUs, still have great performance.
Unfortunately, the mining trend means that some cards are often overpriced and something we definitely have to take into consideration.
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 Around $200
i3-8100 vs R3 1200 with GTX 1050
While AMD's R3 1200 appeared to be more than a bargain with it's 4 cores, it's not as attractive now that Intel's response is here, the i3-8100.
4 Core i3 8100
Intel's latest i3-8100 finally has 4 cores for around $120. So even though it's slightly over budget, you'll most likely want to spend around $20 more and go with it even over the R3 1300X. The single core performance of this CPU is significantly better than Ryzen and therefore will give you better performance in games and other applications.
What Can it Run?
While the GTX 1050 and RX 560 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.
If we're simply talking about framerate and truly staying within the $200 budget, the Pentium G4600 and the 1050Ti will give you even more frames at this price point.
Yes, it's lame. But my real recommendation here is to spend $50 more. The i3-8100 is a good CPU to use with NVIDIA's GTX 1050Ti or a 4GB AMD RX 570 if you can find it at a decent price. Having used the previous generation i3-7100 along with the RX 570 I can tell you that there is some bottle necking. However, the newer 4 core version will do a much better job.
Which would you go for at this price range?
Graphics Card CPU Combo Under $400
In the under $400 category, I still like the i3-8100 along with the . However, this leaves us with around $100 extra which is a bit awkward in the current market. So there are a few things you could do with that cash. Pushing for a higher-end GPU here isn't an option as the GTX 1070 is already $400 right now. Other options, like the RX 580 from AMD, are too inflated right now. GTX 1060 3GB
6 Core i5-8400 vs 4 core i3
So, you can opt for a better CPU. The i3 8350k gives you an overclockable 4 core CPU for around $50 more. Or, you can go straight for the i5-8400, a 6 core CPU with a boost of up to 4GHz for around $15 more than the i3-8350k. Personally, I'd take the cores; however, you may find with some games that the 8350k outperforms the i5-8400.
VRAM could be an issue for the GTX 1060 going forward so spending an extra $50 and going with the GTX 1060 6GB would also be a nice option.
Overall, we like the i5-8400 along with the GTX 1060 6GB. This processor should set you up nicely for future upgrades, and the GPU should do a great job with AAA titles in 1080p Ultra or even 1440p high.
In the $400 Price Range what should you do?
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 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 GTX 1070 has my full recommendation. the NVIDIA GTX 1070
For the processor, we're recommending the Coffee Lake i5-8400 6 core processor or for those who want an overclockable option, the i5-8600k. That being said, for $75 more, the i5-8600k won't net you that many frames. So, you'll have to decide on whether it's worth it or not.
As the GTX 1070 is coming in at around $400 right now, you'll have to stick with the i5-8400 if you want to maintain your $600 budget. That being said a majority of PC builders don't end up overclocking anyway. So, it's probably the better deal all around.
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 new i7-8700 along with a (power users may opt for the i7-8700k here for $50 more). GTX 1080 Ti
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.
Still, most of the reasons I was recommending Ryzen a few months ago have gone by the wayside. For the most part, we see Koffee Lake as the Ryzen killer. So, either AMD will have to drop their prices, or we'll likely see Intel take over until AMD's next release.
Below, I've listed our 11 top CPU GPU combos right now. You may notice that AMD isn't included in any of it.
Prior to the mining boom this year I would have recommended much of the AMD lineup here. However, the prices are so inflated it simply doesn't make sense. That, along with Koffee Lake's dominance completely removes AMD from my chart for the rest of late 2018.
Our Top CPU GPU Combos from $200 to $1,200 Late Q4 2017
*Lowest Overall Cost (includes rebates)
GTX 1050 Ti
GTX 1060 3GB
GTX 1060 6GB
GTX 1060 6GB
GTX 1080 Ti
GTX 1080 Ti
What budget do you plan on using for your CPU and GPU?
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.
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