Zen 4-powered Ryzen 5 7600X and 3 other muscular CPUs perfect for budget gaming battlestations
1. The AMD Ryzen 7 5800X is around US$250 on Amazon
One of the best things about next-gen announcements and product launches is the sudden lack of interest in previous platforms and products. To be fair, it makes sense that everyone would want to buy the latest and greatest instead of investing in a platform with no upgrade path—this is especially true for AMD's Ryzen 5000 family of CPUs because of Zen 4's switch to DDR5—even if it comes at a higher cost.
For those of us that are more budget-conscious, however, the AMD Ryzen 7 5800X presents exceptional value—especially when it's heavily discounted—for gaming, streaming, 3D modelling, rendering, video editing, or whatever else you can imagine, as long as you can keep it cool.
The AMD Ryzen 7 5800X can be had on Amazon for only US$245 at the time of writing, and it's sure to see even more discounts as the actual Ryzen 7000 release date nears.
2. The Intel Core-i5 12600K is the fastest gaming CPU for under US$300
If gaming is your only concern, the 10-core Intel Core i5-12600K has to be at the top of your parts list—it's blazing fast, cheap, and not quite as power-hungry as its bigger brethren. That's pretty much all you need to know about it, but it's also handy to learn that the i5-12600K makes use of both PCIe 5.0 and DDR5. Using DDR5 doesn't necessarily give you any significant advantages—mind you, the price of DDR5 is a tough pill to swallow—but it does ensure there is a bit more of an upgrade path than some of the other entries on this list.
At the time of writing, the Intel Core i5-12600K is available on Amazon for around US$280, which is still good value, even if it's only a little less than Intel's US$289 recommended retail price.
3. The AMD Ryzen 5 7600X is coming soon
The just-announced AMD Ryzen 5 7600X promises to be an absolute firecracker of a CPU—especially considering the launch price of US$299—delivering double-digit performance improvements over Zen 3. Although, AMD has chosen to keep the Ryzen 5 SKU at six cores, there's plenty of power to go around, especially if you only plan on gaming or using GPU encoding when you do choose to stream. While third-party performance numbers are not yet out, AMD seems to have a good product on its hands. If you're interested in the AMD Ryzen 5 7600X, be sure to come back for our benchmarks closer to the launch date to know if it'll be worth your hard-earned money.
4. The Intel Core i5-12400F is still budget royalty
The Intel Core i5-12400F continues the Core i5-X400 SKU's subtle dominance. In the case of the Core i5-12400F, you get all six of the performance cores packed into the Core i5-12600K, but you lose out on the four E-cores of the latter. That still means you get a 6-core, 12-thread CPU for around US$200, and often for far less. Being a 12th-Gen CPU, the 12400F also pairs with both DDR4 and DDR5, depending on the motherboard, meaning you can build a very budget-friendly rig and then upgrade the RAM when DDR5 prices come back down to earth. The low pricing of the 12400F also might afford you more room to buy a decent GPU—you'll need it, since Intel's F-SKUs don't have integrated graphics.