The difference in performance between high-end CPUs and lower-priced models is significant, but finding a powerful CPU for under $500 is a challenging task since the most expensive CPUs rarely exceed $700, and their prices tend to decrease rapidly after release.
We have searched for the best CPUs under $500 and found that Intel and AMD offer many strong options in their high-end Core i7, Ryzen 7, and Ryzen 9 series. While some older Core i9 models may fit within the budget, investing $500 in the latest generation of processors is recommended. It is currently 2023, and plenty of top-performing CPUs are available in this price range.
But before we jump onto that, let’s discuss what factors make a CPU the best under a $500 budget?
When searching for the best CPU options under $500, it’s important to consider critical factors such as the CPU’s core and thread count. These directly impact its ability to handle multiple tasks simultaneously and process instructions more quickly and efficiently. Applications that benefit from multiple cores, such as video editing and rendering software, can perform faster and more effectively with a higher core count CPU.
CPUs that support multi-threading use virtual cores or threads to handle multiple tasks concurrently. As a result, they are more efficient and can complete tasks more quickly than those that don’t support multi-threading.
Another crucial factor that affects CPU performance is the clock speed, which denotes the number of processing cycles a CPU can complete per second and is measured in GHz. Higher clock speeds allow faster processing times since the CPU can execute more instructions simultaneously. However, clock speed is among the numerous factors determining a CPU’s overall performance, including the core count, thermal design power, and cache size.
The CPU’s generation denotes its design and architecture. Due to technological advancements, every new generation presents upgrades that improve performance and efficiency, such as increased core counts, higher clock speeds, and better power efficiency.
Modern CPU generations offer better architectures that facilitate faster and more efficient processing of instructions. The CPU socket is a physical connection on the computer’s motherboard, allowing the CPU to communicate with other components like memory, storage drives, and expansion cards.
When installing or upgrading a CPU, it is crucial to ensure compatibility between the CPU and motherboard socket type to avoid issues like improper fitting or malfunction. After considering these crucial factors, the next step is determining the best CPU options under a $500 budget.
This section will provide a quick review of the best CPU options available for less than $500. Our top pick is the Intel Core i7-13700KF, launched in Q4 2022 and belongs to the Core i7 series. Although it had an initial price of $384, it is currently priced just below $400.
Although the budget for the best CPU is limited to $500, none of the processors within this range can outperform the 13700K. The Ryzen 9 7900X comes close in terms of performance but costs more than the 13700K. However, the Ryzen 7 7800X3D at $450 may have surpassed the 13700K as the top gaming processor under $500.
The Intel Core i7-13700K is an excellent processor for under $500. This CPU uses Intel’s hybrid core architecture with 16 cores and 24 threads. The CPU includes eight larger performance cores with hyperthreading and can operate at a maximum clock speed of 5.4GHz, providing exceptional single-threaded performance.
Additionally, there are eight smaller efficiency cores on the CPU die, which have a top clock speed of 4GHz and do not affect the processor’s single-threaded performance because of their lower clock speed.