Best Budget Gaming CPU and Graphics Card Combo Intel vs AMD 2018

Updated on January 3, 2018
toptengamer profile image

The GPU Industry never stops moving. Here's a look at my thoughts on cards both old and new right now.

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 2018, I'm sticking with 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.

Mining Woes

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 2018

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.

The GTX 1050 and Intel's new 4 core i3 8100 come in as low as $220 and are capable of playing modern AAA titles in 1080p.
The GTX 1050 and Intel's new 4 core i3 8100 come in as low as $220 and are capable of playing modern AAA titles in 1080p.

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 8th Generation Coffee Lake 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.

Max Frames

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.

$250 to $280 Combo Recommendation Instead?

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?

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Graphics Card CPU Combo Under $400

In the under $400 category, I still like the i3-8100 along with the GTX 1060 3GB. 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.

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.

More VRAM

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?

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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 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 NVIDIA 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 GTX 1070 has my full recommendation.

Processor Combo

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.

Summary

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 GTX 1080 Ti (power users may opt for the i7-8700k here for $50 more).

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 for Q1 2018

*Lowest Overall Cost (includes rebates)
Graphics Card
CPU
$185
GTX 1050
Pentium G4600
$200
GTX 1050
Ryzen 3 1200
$220
GTX 1050
i3-8100 or Ryzen 3 1300
$250
GTX 1050 Ti
i3-8100 or Ryzen 3 1300
$320
GTX 1060 3GB
i3-8100 or Ryzen 3 1300
$370
GTX 1060 6GB
i3-8100 or Ryzen 3 1300
$430
GTX 1060 6GB
i5-8400 or Ryzen 5 1600
$582
GTX 1070
i5-8400 or Ryzen 5 1600
$650
GTX 1070
i5-8600k
$730
GTX 1080
i5-8600k
$1050
GTX 1080 Ti
i7-8700
$1100
GTX 1080 Ti
i7-8700k
*Prices are taken from the lowest priced graphics card available from various online retailers.

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

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Choosing a CPU - Intel Vs. AMD in 2018

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.

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.

Questions & Answers

    © 2014 Brandon Hart

    Graphics Card And CPU Combo Open Discussion Area

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      • toptengamer profile image
        Author

        Brandon Hart 2 weeks ago from The Game

        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.

      • toptengamer profile image
        Author

        Brandon Hart 5 weeks ago from The Game

        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.

      • profile image

        G. Ghosh 5 weeks ago

        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?

      • toptengamer profile image
        Author

        Brandon Hart 2 months ago from The Game

        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.

      • profile image

        Beecham... 2 months ago

        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?

      • toptengamer profile image
        Author

        Brandon Hart 2 months ago from The Game

        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.

      • profile image

        Dandango 2 months ago

        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?

      • profile image

        Alex 3 months ago

        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.

      • profile image

        Muqtadir 6 months ago

        Does I3 8100 gets 100% performance from GTX 1060 ?

      • profile image

        Faiz 6 months ago

        i love your review here. thanks

      • profile image

        Max 7 months ago

        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.

      • toptengamer profile image
        Author

        Brandon Hart 8 months ago from The Game

        It really depends on the resolution you're running. I'd say the 1060 6GB is probably enough for 60FPS.

      • profile image

        Alper 8 months ago

        Is the 1070 overkill for 1080p gaming?

      • toptengamer profile image
        Author

        Brandon Hart 14 months ago from The Game

        All of them are in US dollars.

      • profile image

        toby loasby 14 months ago

        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

      • toptengamer profile image
        Author

        Brandon Hart 14 months ago from The Game

        I guess you're wondering which GPU in the $300 category? I'd go with the GTX 1060 6GB or a GTX 1070.

      • toptengamer profile image
        Author

        Brandon Hart 14 months ago from The Game

        Looks good - although I'd probably go with a Z270 board instead? https://turbofuture.com/computers/best-z270-kaby-l...

      • profile image

        MMK 15 months ago

        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 :)

      • profile image

        Costas Soteriou 15 months ago

        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

      • profile image

        Ankur Singh 17 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

      • profile image

        Chris 19 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 19 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.

      • profile image

        Chris 19 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 23 months ago from The Game

        Haha good catch!

      • profile image

        Tom 23 months ago

        i6-6600k? :P Nice list anyways!

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