While most of us would love to build a PC around a 6-core CPU, this isn’t always financially possible or even necessary, especially if you don’t play games or use demanding programs. Few games take advantage of processors with more than four cores, and you don’t need a £600 CPU to check Facebook and use Microsoft Office.
However, plenty of CPUs available for less than £100 still offer quite a punch, as well as offering great bang for your buck. While CPUs such as Intel's Core i5-2500K are undoubtedly the way to go for a great gaming PC, there are still some very good reasons to check out the budget end of the market, especially when you throw AMD's new Llano-based A-series APUs into the equation.
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That’s why we’ve rounded up 11 of the cheapest desktop processors we could find and pitted them against each other to see which offers the best performance in everyday applications. Some have on-board GPUs too, so we’ve also tested their performance in games, both with and without a graphics card, to determine whether or not you need to buy a graphics card at all for a modest gaming PC.
Budget CPUs at the lower end of the market have a history of being overclocking monsters too. Seasoned overclockers will be familiar with the likes of Intel's £20 Celeron E1200 and some may remember the legendary AMD Opteron 144. With this in mind, we’ve tweaked any overclockable CPUs and included these results to see how much more performance you could get for your dosh.
Whether you’re planning a budget build, you just want a cheap workhorse or you need maximum performance for minimum outlay, our findings here should prove to be invaluable reading.