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Best Budget Gaming CPU and Graphics Card Combo 2021

Ever look at lists of the best graphics card or processor at a certain price range only to find that a particular option is sold out?

Hopefully, you'll find this list to be different. I'll take you through graphics cards and processors that are actually available right now and give you an idea of what you can expect when you go to make a purchase.

$200 to $300

After updating this list recently I won't be adding a $200 option. If you really don't have enough money for at least a $140 graphics card, I'd just recommend you get a good CPU like the Ryzen 5 3400G with integrated graphics and save up until you can afford one.

$300 CPU GPU Pairing

January of 2021 most of these graphics cards are not selling for MSRP. As the demand falls over the next months most of this may return to the normal MSRP of $149.

CPUGPU*Cost (MSRP)

i3 10100

GTX 1650

$264

Ryzen 3 3100

GTX 1650

287

Ryzen 5 2600

GTX 1650

300

GTX 1650 vs 1050 vs RX 570

best-cpu-graphics-card-combo-for-the-money

If you're looking at this space you could go with a 1050Ti and save $10 to $20 here; however, I think you'd regret it. The performance difference, 15-25%, between the 1650 and 1050TI is enough to recommend you go with the newer GTX 1650 here.

The RX 570 previously could be found in this spot but is not more in the $200 range itself. If somehow you manage to find it for this price, go with that.

i3 10100 vs Ryzen 3 3100 vs Ryzen 5 2600

  • i3 10100 4 Cores/8 Threads 3.6-4.3GHz (Turbo)
  • Ryzen 3 3100 4 Cores/8 Threads 3.6-3.9GHz (Boost)
  • Ryzen 5 2600 6 Cores/12 Threads 3.4GHz-3.9GHz (Boost)

The information above doesn't really make it clear (at all) which CPU you should purchase here.

Production and Gaming

The short answer is that if you're editing, streaming, or need this processor for production go with the Ryzen 5 2600. The extra cores and threads make a difference when up against the Ryzen 3 3100 and the i3 10100.

Just Gaming

If you're building a computer for gaming, I'd go with the i3 10100. Right now it's cheaper at $114 and outperforms the Ryzen 3 3100 ($136) and Ryzen 5 2600 ($149) in games.

Here's additional benchmarks from Gamer's Nexus. However, keep in mind that with his review he's showing the 10100 at $36 more than it actually is.

Why No Ryzen 3 3300X?

If you can find the Ryzen 3 3300X in stock and for a decent price, it outperforms the other options I've listed above. It's not listed because it's not available. If that changes and the price remains $140 or below, it's something you should consider.

$400 to $500 Graphics Card & CPU Combos

CPUGraphics CardCost

i3 10100

RX 580

315

i3 10100

RX 5600XT

425

Ryzen 5 3600

RX 5600XT

510

$400 to $500

For its price and performance, the RX 5600 XT (top) is hard to ignore. Performance exceeds the 1660 and 1660TI and its performance is 1% faster on average than the more expensive 2060.

For its price and performance, the RX 5600 XT (top) is hard to ignore. Performance exceeds the 1660 and 1660TI and its performance is 1% faster on average than the more expensive 2060.

In the $400 to $500 category I've listed the graphics card we're trying to jump up to in the RX 5600XT.

I've also included a bargain $315 combo in the i3 10100 and the RX 580. Upon its release the i3 10100 was largely ignored; however, as it shed $30 off of its pricetag, it now feels like a great deal here.

In fact, at the $400 price point, you could keep the i3 10100 and go with the RX 5600XT. This should allow you great 1080p performance in today's AAA games and even really good 1440p performance.

However, the Ryzen 5 3600 with its 6 core 12 thread performance and great single-core performance has become a staple as of late and is hard to ignore. it's that once in a decade CPU that is awfully tempting to jump up to for $90 here. And if you're already willing to spend $300 on your GPU, it's what I'd recommend.

RTX 2060 vs 5600XT Benchmarks

$600

*All totals are for at the time this article was edited.
** Gives you a better cooler but you're better off getting your own aftermarket option if you're looking to overclock.

CPUGPU*Cost

Ryzen 5 3600

5700XT

$640

**Ryzen 5 3600X

5700XT

$680

i5 10400F

5700XT

$610

In today's current market you'll want to go for the 5700XT at the $400 GPU price point. I recommend pairing it with the Ryzen 5 3600 or XT if the basic version isn't available.

In today's current market you'll want to go for the 5700XT at the $400 GPU price point. I recommend pairing it with the Ryzen 5 3600 or XT if the basic version isn't available.

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.

Unavailable Options

NVIDIA's RX 3000 series is mostly unavailable or marked up beyond what it's worth. You won't see it included here but if the RTX 3060 is released, it will certainly challenge what we have here (if you can get one).

GPU

Right now, the GTX 2070 are priced out of the market for most. That means we've got a solid winner here in the 5700XT. And if you're in this category, I'd go with the Red Devil RX 5700 XT and not look back.

CPU

For the processor, I've owned, used, and love the Ryzen 5 3600. It's one of the best CPUs I've had my hands on in the past decade. It's a gamechanger and one you should go for here. Stock can be limited at times.

So, you may have to pay up for the Ryzen 5 3600 XT if that's the case. The big difference between the two is basically a better cooler. But since you can easily buy a better cooler than you'll get with either of these processors for $20 to $40 I still recommend the 3600 if it's available.

$1,000+ Combos

CPUS to ConsiderGPUs to Consider

Ryzen 7 5800X ($449 Retail $650 Markup))

RTX 3090 ($1500 Retail $2000 Markup Price)

Ryzen 7 3800X ($339 Available)

RTX 3080 (700 Retail $1100 Markup Price)

 

RTX 3070 ($500 Retail $750 Markup Price)

 

RX 6800 ($580 Retail $840 Markup Price)

 

RX 6800 XT ($650 Retail $1150 Markup Price)

A lot of the best high-end graphics card options are not in stock right now. So, I decided that the table above would be best to leave as an MSRP vs markup type list. Hopefully, it can give you some insight into what you should be looking at when these come available. Or, if you're willing to pay the premium what you should go with.

For example, the RTX 3070 should be retailing for $500. The cheapest I can find right now is around $700. So, that gives you an idea of the type of market we are in right now.

Why Comparisons Are Kind of Terrible Right Now

The truth is that if you could get any of the graphics cards in the list above right now, you'd probably go for it. Because of low stock, they are, in fact, worth more than their retail prices.

For a quick benchmark comparison I've given you Gamer's Nexus comparison of the RTX 3070 which was recently released. This should give you a good idea of the performance differential.

The 3080 is still edging out the 6800 XT, the 6800XT is probably worth the extra price at retail against the 6800, and the RTX 3070 slips below the 6800.

Need Something Right Now?

If you need a graphics card and processor right now, the Ryzen 7 3800X is still a great CPU and widely available and you could pair it with a 5700XT like the PowerColor one we listed above for around $780.

Final Thoughts:

It's worth saying that NVIDIA and AMD are leaving a ton of money on the table right now. If you're in a pinch you could try the markup prices or go with the Ryzen 7 3800X and 5700XT combo that I mentioned.

RX 6800 vs RTX 3070 vs RTX 3080 vs RX 6800XT Benchmarks

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 2021

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.

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.

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

Help

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:

Hello Brandon,

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:

hi

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...

Thank you!

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:

hello there,

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 ,

thanks

Mohamed

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?

Thanks.

Brandon Hart (author) from The Game on April 05, 2018:

Jay,

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:

Hi,

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:

Hey there!

This is Urgent!!!

I am in process of building a Desktop

My Configuration:

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.

Thanks,

Chris

Brandon Hart (author) from The Game on May 24, 2016:

Haha good catch!

Tom on May 12, 2016:

i6-6600k? :P Nice list anyways!

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