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Best CPUs of 2015: What you should buy depending on your budget

By Steve · 59 replies
Dec 10, 2015
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  1. When building a new computer or upgrading an existing system many start with the CPU as it's arguably the most critical component in a PC. Picking the right CPU can be a challenge with dozens of options not very well differentiated and priced too close to each other (we are talking $25 gaps in-between). Case in point, there are over three dozen $200+ options as of writing.

    Narrowing down the potential options to a certain budget certainly helps. Then you have to decide whether you go AMD or Intel, and if you're definitely going for the latter, Intel has current offerings based on the LGA1150, LGA1151 and LGA2011-3 platforms.

    After extensive testing you are familiar with, we've come up with this quick guide to bring you the best CPU choices available right now, divided into four categories: The Best Enthusiast/Value Gaming CPU, Best Extreme Desktop CPU, Best All-Round High-End CPU and Best Budget CPU. Finally, we'll digress on which is the best overall platform to invest in right now.

    Read the complete article.

  2. VitalyT

    VitalyT Russ-Puss Posts: 3,454   +1,732

    I'm still sitting on a Haswell (i7-9770K), for the last 2 years, and I haven't seen any real improvement in the CPU market since. Perhaps the next generation, I hope, will be worth considering an upgrade...

    This is what happens when your only competitor is always high on its marketing pipe dreams...
  3. Steve

    Steve TechSpot Editor Topic Starter Posts: 2,357   +1,516

    The 4770K is a beast and I suspect you won't feel the need to upgrade for many years yet. Let's hope AMD pull their finger out next year and stick it under Intel's nose.

  4. Kibaruk

    Kibaruk TechSpot Paladin Posts: 3,160   +829

    That was an awesome gif (Not jif) =P
  5. Arris

    Arris TS Evangelist Posts: 4,686   +350

    Still haven't seen a significant performance increase in gaming to make me upgrade from i7 2600k. Even for non gaming the performance increases for me just don't warrant the expenditure.
  6. Cryio

    Cryio TS Booster Posts: 200   +61

    Replace best budget CPU with the FX 8300 and it's a deal.

    It's at most 10 dollars more than the FX 6300 and has 30% more CPU power.
  7. yRaz

    yRaz TS Evangelist Posts: 2,146   +1,223

    It's unfortunate to say, but there are many people who simply don't have an extra $10 :/
  8. Rage3D

    Rage3D TS Member Posts: 20

    I like how they mention AMD CPUs struggling with Fallout 4 and gloss over Battlefront putting the minimum framerate of the Athlon X4 and FX-4320 at 10fps above the Skylake i3.
    HardReset likes this.
  9. sauerkraut17

    sauerkraut17 TS Enthusiast Posts: 25   +10

    Any engine that is properly multi-threaded does not show such a significant difference between AMD FX's and i5's. Did everyone forget that the Creation engine used by fallout 4 is based on a super old engine they was never really optimized for anything????
    Cryio and HardReset like this.
  10. Petr Bendak

    Petr Bendak TS Rookie

    Yes, truth is the most difficult choice is between FX6300/8300 vs i3 4170/6100.
  11. HardReset

    HardReset TS Maniac Posts: 444   +137

    That is either FX-8320, FX-8320E or FX-8350.

    Exactly. Fallout 4 engine is modified from year 1997 engine. In 2015 making recommendations based on Fallout 4 performance is (n)(n)
  12. HardReset

    HardReset TS Maniac Posts: 444   +137

    From article:

    Upgrade path is what? 6700K? Future i7 processor that is 10% faster than 6700K? There won't be reasonable upgrade path.


    Fallout 4 is 60 FPS locked. Over 60 FPS:

    - requires modding
    - makes game unplayable (physics broke)

    Like that

    So anything over 60 FPS is waste and so "horrible FX performance" is not horrible.
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2015
  13. Geforcepat

    Geforcepat TS Booster Posts: 141   +16

    I think you meant 2007.
  14. HardReset

    HardReset TS Maniac Posts: 444   +137

    I meant 1997. Fallout 4 engine is based on Gamebryo engine from 1997. Just like CS:GO uses Source engine from 2004.

    Many modifications are made to those engines but there are reasons why many modern game engines are built from scratch. And not just took 15+ year old engine and rewrite some parts of it.
  15. Steve

    Steve TechSpot Editor Topic Starter Posts: 2,357   +1,516

    It was an example mate, I didn’t have time to list every game that the FX processors sucked in and then the ones where they provided acceptable performance. Yes the Athlon X4 was faster than the Skylake i3 by quite some margin in Battlefront, I showed those results and certainly didn’t try to hide the fact. However the Core i3-6100 was still able to deliver highly playable performance with a minimum frame rate of above 60fps.

    Can you say the same about AMD in the following games?





    Again we aren’t talking about one game or one game engine, way to throw a single comment well out of context. Fallout 4 isn’t the be-all and end-all of PC gaming and we never made a comment that suggests it is.

    Why are you still going on about a game that had nothing to do with our CPU choices? These picks would have been exactly the same with or without Fallout 4.

    Based on recent testing the choice it quite simple for gaming, the 6100.

    For encoding and demanding applications you could go either way but the FX processor is a better choice for sure.
  16. HardReset

    HardReset TS Maniac Posts: 444   +137

    Ashes of Singularity: Still beta.
    Dragon age Inquisition: 93 FPS is not enough?

    Arkham Knight:

    OK, 60 FPS min. i7-5960X only get 53 FPS minimum so it seems that Arkham Knight is not playable with Intel CPU either.

    I see two games mentioned in that article. Just Cause 3 and Fallout 4.
  17. Steve

    Steve TechSpot Editor Topic Starter Posts: 2,357   +1,516

    Again they were just more examples. Dragon Age was tested at 720p and wasn’t using the highest in-game quality settings which is why the frame rates are so high. I was merely pointing out that the FX-8350 was a little over 25% slower than a 3rd generation Core i3.

    No need to be silly, obviously the performance is all relative. Again the FX-8350 was almost 20% slower than a Core i3 processor.

    Yes funny that we would use two of the very latest games as examples of why we find the FX performance inconsistent and therefore don’t recommend them for gaming. Why would I drive the point home by listing dozens of games?
  18. HardReset

    HardReset TS Maniac Posts: 444   +137

    DA:I is quite slow game so 97 FPS is more than enough for that game. Even 60 FPS is enough.

    Relative yes. I remember these very well. On Quake 3 Arena CPU A gets 300 FPS and CPU B gets 600 FPS. CPU B is whopping 100% faster.

    But then, who really cares about this relative 100% difference because 300 FPS is more than enough for everything? Nobody. In some cases differences don't matter at all. Like:

    - Game runs fast enough on slowest CPU in comparison (FX-8350)
    - Game is unplayable on fastest CPU (Intel 1000$ octa core or top of the line quad core)

    Then relative differences have very little or no use.

    Fallout 4 uses game engine from last century. Just Cause 3 is very buggy. That explains why performance is inconsistent. It also shows how bad games are brought to market.
  19. Daniel KL

    Daniel KL TS Rookie

    Are there games where 16GB memory has improved performance over 8GB? Why or why not?

    What is the best all around high end CPU with good price: performance for users that won't do ANY overclocking?
  20. Steve

    Steve TechSpot Editor Topic Starter Posts: 2,357   +1,516

    No not really, for gaming 8GB is more than enough assuming you will only be gaming when you are gaming :)

    I would go with the Core i5-6500 if I were you, we suggested it as the best "Best Enthusiast/Value Gaming CPU" assuming you aren't going to overclock.

  21. sauerkraut17

    sauerkraut17 TS Enthusiast Posts: 25   +10

    If you say so....

    Regardless, I'd also like to ask something about these tests (actually all tests). Have you disabled APM when testing FX processors? With APM enabled, FX processors tend to jump all over the place frequency wise while under load (run core temp or similar while using a stress test such as p95 or IBT to see what I'm talking about). The time/speed output from IntelBurnTest will be much lower than with APM disabled as well. This translates to games, and I have found that FX processors do not inhibit gaming performance nearly as much as most test articles show when APM is disabled.
  22. aaronfranke268

    aaronfranke268 TS Member

    What about the i3-6100? Would this be a good choice and its price point for somebody who wants to upgrade to another i5 or i7 skylake CPU in the future?
  23. HardReset

    HardReset TS Maniac Posts: 444   +137

    No because there is no point upgrading so expensive processor. Intel processor prices stays almost same over years so if you want i5 or i7, you buy it right away. If i3 costs X (amout of money) and i5/i7 cost Y (amout of money) right now, we can accurately estimate that:

    Upgrade will cost X+Y

    Buying i5/i7 right away will cost Y.
  24. Peter Farkas

    Peter Farkas TS Addict Posts: 250   +79

    I think the i3-6100 is the absolute value sweetspot today for gamers. Especially that it can be overclocked through BCLK pretty much with Z170 boards. I really don't see a point in any of the AMD CPUs if one is into gaming.
    AMDs current lineup is terribly outdated and even their "high end" CPUs are outmatched by i3s easily when it comes to gaming. Anyone buying AMD CPUs today must have had a serious head injury. :)

  25. HardReset

    HardReset TS Maniac Posts: 444   +137

    Paying over 120 dollars for dual core processor sounds even worse head injury to me ;)

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