Question Best possible CPU for casual gaming and productivity under about USD 270


Aug 5, 2017
There's so much of info on the internet that I am overwhelmed.

I was initially pretty sure I'd go for an i5 10600K (only because of the higher base frequency). However, now I've learnt that there's a lot more to consider (IPC, supported memory speeds etc) and hence even a lower base frequency CPU could outperform or at least match up to something with higher frequency.

To add this, I've also seen post criticizing userbenchmark values as a deciding factor. (I was initially referring to this to decide)

I am now confused. Suggestions now include the i5 10600K, i5 10400 and Ryzen 5 3600. Which among these should I go for (I'm open to other possibilities too).

I don't plan on overclocking and will be using this machine mostly for productivity (Web Development and Graphic Design) and sometimes for gaming.
However, I wanna keep some headroom incase I need to do something more (like practice sample AI/ML assignments incase I decide to learn).

I'll decide the other components once the CPU is chosen. However, targeting about a total of about $480-$500 for the complete build. (I have a GTX 750Ti I'll use for the time being and upgrade when GPU prices drop)


With that budget, I think the 11400F makes the most sense, if it is stock. If not the 11400, 11500, or 11600K. Ryzen 3600 is a little older, and they haven't released the cheaper 5000 series chips (and apparently don't plan to as of the last presentation from AMD) 5600X (which is the best hex core CPU at the moment) is often over $300.

Looks like the 11400 is the only reasonably priced one at the moment.


If you plan to keep the system for 3+ years, I would strongly recommend going with something 11th-gen with a matching 500-series motherboard so you can have 4.0x16 and NVMe 4.0x4 available should you need them before your next expected upgrade. With a 10th-gen CPU, the NVMe slot closest to the CPU is unusable since Intel ran into issues with its PCIe 4.0 controllers and had to scrap 4.0 and NVMe support on the CPU because of it.

My vote would be TUF B560M and an i5-11400(F) as a baseline - that is what I bought for myself a couple of weeks ago and is about as high-end as I would go for a budget-conscious gaming-and-general-productivity build. I went with a non-F CPU since I like having the IGP as an option when I eventually retire the system from primary PC service. I tossed my old i5 in my living room case and that computer draws only 42W idle including the monitor, 12W less than the C2D it replaced.