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Best Gaming CPUs For The Money: December '09

If you don’t have the time to research the benchmarks, or if you don’t feel confident enough in your ability to pick the right processor for your next gaming machine, fear not. We at Tom’s Hardware have come to your aid with a simple list of the best gaming CPUs offered for the money.

December Updates

With no big CPU introductions in November, there isn't much to report this holiday season except some small price fluctuations that don't really affect the high-end, but do have some impact on the sub-$150 recommendations.

Specifically, the Athlon II X2 250 and Athlon II X4 630 have dropped a few dollars in price. In the case of the Athlon II X2 250, it is priced so close to its slightly-slower Athlon II X2 245 family member that it easily steals the recommendation for the best entry-level gaming CPU. As far as AMD's Athlon II X4 630 is concerned, the lower price lines it up for an overclocking recommendation for folks who want to tweak a true quad-core processor on a budget.

AMD's high-end CPUs have also dropped a few dollars where we've looked, making the Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition an even better value with its unlocked multiplier. In addition, the new C3 stepping of the Phenom II X4 965 is an attractive option for AMD overclockers.

Aside from this, Intel's Core i5 and i7 series continue to reign the top of the roost when it comes to CPU performance. We're looking forward to the next-generation AMD and Intel six-core offerings to shake things up in the upcoming year. But for now, the Core i5-750 continues to offer what we think is the best price/performance ratio for a gaming rig.

Full guide: Tom's Hardware