In any HTPC or computer build the CPU is one of your core components. It is th centre of your system and the component that dictates what you can and can’t run. Unfortunately the processor is also one of the most expensive parts of your build and can often be difficult to fit into your budget. It is difficult to find the best cheap CPU when there are many to choose from and it is important that you get it right. There are so many different things to think about including architecture, clock rates, number of cores, cache and above all the price. If you know what to look for you can get a great CPU for under £100/$100 that will suite any HTPC. In this post we will discuss the best CPU for under 100!
Compare the Best CPUs for Around 100
Best Cheap CPU – Power without the Price
As already stated there are many things to look for in a good CPU but don’t get caught up on a single element. For example the fastest clock rate does not guaruntee the best processor. Look for the optimum processor in all areas and compare various CPU benchmark tests. First we will outline the key elements of a good CPU and then we will reveal our best CPU for Under 100.
Interested in a gaming HTPC build? [Read: Gaming on your HTPC]
Brand / Architecture
With processors there are really two main brands to choose from; AMD & Intel. Intel are really the market leaders in CPU technologies and as a result AMD produce some great processors at affordable prices to compete. Both CPU brands will run the majority of applications out there and software is almost always suited to both. If you want more power for your money then AMD is usually the way to go. AMD CPUs tend to have higher clock rates and more cores than their Intel equivalents but lack the efficiency. We are not too concerned about energy efficiency in this post as we want the best CPU for under 100 in terms of performance. AMD does have the best cheap CPU range to choose from.
Put simply a CPU clock rate is the number of clock cycles a CPU can process per second and processors of today are measured in GHz. The higher the clock rate the more work the CPU can do per second. Clock rates are important but it is not the defining factor of a good processor. The term overclocking came about when enthusiasts started to force their CPUs to produce higher clock rates than the factory default rate and therefore getting more performance from the same product. Both AMD & Intel now include built-in overclocking functionality with technologies such as Turbo Boost (Intel) and Turbo Core (AMD).
Number of Cores
The more cores you have the better your applications will run but only with software that is designed for multicore. If your CPU is the brain of your HTPC or computer think of having multiple cores as having multiple people all working on different tasks. AMD CPUs in the mainstream desktop market currently offer the highest number of cores with their Octa-core FX CPU range. Another term to be aware of here is hyper threading. With a hyper threaded CPU the operating system will see each physical core as two and two separate instructions can be carried out by the same core. This technology has its benefits but in most cases is not as good as having more physical cores.
Cache is the on-board memory of the CPU. It tends to be very small amounts of memory but is very fast and efficient. This is the memory that stores instructions ready for the CPU to execute. The larger and faster your cache memory the less time the CPU has to wait to process instructions.
See all of our CPU reviews here.
So which is the ?
And the winner for best cheap CPU under £100 is the . It is a 6 core CPU operating at a clock speed of 3.5GHz (4.1GHz using AMD Turbo Core technology). The FX6300 offers 8MB level 3 and 6MB level 2 cache. It uses an AM3+ socket and utilises DDR3 memory. For less than £100 the AMD FX6300 will cater for all of your HTPC needs allowing you to stream content and play media files.
See our Intel I3 review for a low cost Intel alternative [Read: Intel I3 4160 3.6GHz Processor Price Compare & Review]
It is also a decent processor for gaming and will run the bulk of the PC titles of today. The FX6300 offers all the performance you need for a HTPC media centre and well short of the £100 mark. The scores 6,342 on Passmark’s benchmark test and in todays market is the best CPU for under 100. Need a gaming motherboard to accompany the FX6300. [Read: Best Motherboard for Gaming]