Creating your own computer can be time consuming and rewarding at the same time. While assembling the new hardware is usually a relatively simple task, choosing the right components can become more of a problem in the first place (our PC buying guide is helpful here – but please read on).
The first component that needs to be determined before a build is the processor, as this determines which motherboard can be used and often the type of memory. As one of the more expensive components, you have to choose wisely. So think about the purpose of your build and budget. Popular CPU options are often between $ 100 and $ 200, and surprisingly, consumers in this limited price range will find a large number of AMD and Intel offerings.
In this price range, processors operate between 2.66 GHz and 3.40 GHz, but the differences between them go far beyond mere frequencies. The number of cores also varies with dual-core, triple-core and even quad-core processors available in this area. Other factors also play an important role, such as the cache and the rated power of the thermal design.
We know that with so many options, it is difficult not to be overwhelmed. That's why we chose a dozen processors in the $ 100 to $ 200 price range and pitted them against each other so that you can draw clear conclusions as to which is best for you.
Note that not every processor family is represented by its flagship model. Rather, we took what we think is the best value processor for this particular series. For example, the $ 200 Core i5 661 falls below our target, but instead we chose the Core i5 650 because we think this is a cheaper option.
Towards the end of the test phase, we also added a segment in which all 12 processors are compared cycle by cycle. This architecture comparison aims to eliminate the effects of operating frequency on performance and allows us to show you exactly how these CPUs work side by side. This is particularly useful for overclockers as they show how big the difference in performance can be between two specific processors that have been overclocked to a specific frequency.
In addition to the processors themselves, we will also consider the differences in value and performance between the platforms used, so that motherboards and chipsets are included in the entire equation. And now we meet the contenders from the green and blue camps …