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Best CPU under $400

Best CPU under $400, let's find one

Updated: Mar 21, 2023 11:38 am
Best CPU under 400

We all know that CPUs can be expensive, especially if you want an ultra-high-end CPU with lots of cores and threads. Arguably, $400 is well into the high-end price bracket, but there are still CPUs out there that cost more. So, if you’re not on a tight budget, here’s the Best CPU under $400.

Now Read: Best Budget CPU of 2023

Best CPU under $400: Top picks

What to look for in a high-end processor

If you’re setting your CPU budget to $400, you’re most likely looking for a high-end processor that can offer you top-notch performance across the board. You’ll find some very powerful processors at this price point, most of which will belong to the Intel Core i7 and Ryzen 7 processor families. 

You could find some older Core i9 and Ryzen 9 CPUs, also. But if you’re spending $400 processor, it makes the most sense to go with something from the latest generations. 

You also want something with great multicore performance, or in other words, a processor with lots of cores and threads capable of running at a high clock frequency simultaneously. 

This is important because it allows your processor to multitask and process multithreaded workloads faster.

Best CPU under $400: Things to consider

If you are attempting to shop within a very limited budget, it will be vital to make specific concessions to reduce expenses. These trade-offs might involve considerations like processor cores, clock speed, and potentially acquiring secondhand goods as a cost-saving measure.

Below are some essential considerations to keep in mind when searching for the best CPU alternatives that fall within the $400 price range.

Cores and threads

To execute instructions and carry out calculations, the CPU relies heavily on its cores. The number of cores directly impacts the number of tasks that can be performed simultaneously, which leads to faster and more efficient task processing. Tasks such as video editing and rendering software, which benefit from multiple cores, can be executed more quickly and efficiently.

Threads work as virtual cores, allowing a single physical core to execute multiple tasks at the same time. CPUs that support multi-threading can handle a higher number of tasks concurrently, resulting in improved performance and faster processing times.

The number of cores and threads both play a vital role in CPU performance across various tasks. CPUs with multi-threading support and a higher number of cores typically perform better in tasks that require high parallelisms, such as gaming, video editing, or scientific simulations. However, CPUs with fewer cores but higher clock speeds may provide better performance in tasks that require single-threaded performance, like certain gaming or office applications.

Core speed

The CPU clock speed pertains to the frequency at which a CPU can complete processing cycles, which is usually measured in GHz. It is a determining factor in the number of instructions that the CPU can perform in a second, with higher clock speeds leading to faster processing times.

However, clock speed is only one of the many factors that influence overall CPU performance, with other elements such as the number of cores, cache size, and thermal design power also playing an essential part in determining a CPU’s capabilities.

CPU generation

The term “generation” in reference to a CPU denotes its design and architecture iteration. With the continuous advancement of technology, each new generation introduces upgrades in both performance and efficiency. These upgrades may consist of an increased core count, higher clock speeds, and better power efficiency.

Newer CPU generations are usually constructed with improved architectures that allow for faster and more efficient instruction processing. They may also include additional features, such as integrated graphics, advanced security, or compatibility with newer technologies like PCIe 5.0 or USB 4. Furthermore, contemporary CPU generations are often produced utilizing smaller process nodes, which leads to decreased power consumption and improved thermal performance.

CPU socket

The motherboard of a computer has a CPU socket, a physical connection point that houses the CPU and facilitates its communication with other components like memory, storage drives, and expansion cards. The CPU’s unique size, shape, and electrical traits correspond to a specific socket type on the motherboard.

It is crucial to ensure that the CPU and motherboard socket are compatible during CPU installation or upgrade. Neglecting this step could result in an improperly fitting or malfunctioning CPU.

Once these aspects are considered, the next course of action is to pick the optimal CPU that costs less than $400. However, the question that remains is, which CPU is the right choice?

Best overall CPU under $400

This CPU is what we consider to be the best overall CPU under $400

Intel Core i7-13700KF

Our top pick for the best CPU under $400 is the Intel Core i7-13700KF. This processor features Intel’s hybrid core architecture and comes equipped with a total of 16 cores and 24 threads.

Core i9-13700K
Best overall CPU under $400

Intel Core i7-13700K

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Base speed

P-cores 3.4 GHz / E-cores 2.5 GHz

Boost speed

P-cores 5.4 GHz / E-cores 4.2 GHz




125 W / 253 W boost.

  • Great price to performance ratio
  • Strong multi-core performance
  • Lots of threads for an i7
  • 13600K is better value for pure gaming

On the CPU die, we see 8 larger, hyperthreaded performance cores with a maximum clock speed of 5.4GHz, and 8 smaller efficiency cores with a maximum clock speed of 4GHz. 

Because of these high figures, the processor has excellent single-thread performance, which translates to a great gaming experience for you. 

You’ll be able to play all the latest titles at high framerates without any lag or frame time inconsistencies. You will need to shell out on an expensive GPU to minimize the bottleneck, though, as this is a very strong processor. 

The 13700KF lacks integrated graphics and can be overclocked. Overclocking isn’t the most practical, though, because this chip already consumes a monstrous 253 watts of power and runs hot. 

You would need a very strong (and expensive) cooling solution to keep it from throttling if you intend to overclock it. 

But if you’re okay with the hotter-than-usual thermals, you’ll find the 13700KF the best-performing chip within the $400 price point. Its gaming performance is comparable to that of the flagships, and its performance in productivity applications is just as impressive. 

Best gaming CPU under $400

The best CPU for gaming by our reckoning is the Ryzen 7 5800X3D, as the newer generations will set you back a pretty penny. Great if you’re still rocking AM4.

Ryzen 7 5800X3D

If you’re really only interested in gaming and are willing to compromise on performance in multithreaded workloads such as video editing, content creation, and rendering, the Ryzen 7 5800X3D is your best option under $400. 

Ryzen 7 5800X3D
Best CPU under $400 for gaming

AMD Ryzen 7 5800X3D






Max boost speed


L3 Cache

96MB (64MB 3D V-cache)



  • Inexpensive
  • Incredible performance
  • 3D V-cache
  • No cooler
  • No native overclocking support

Its gaming performance is comparable to (or only ever so slightly worse than) the 13700KF’s, but it is considerably cheaper. 

This Zen 3 processor was released in April 2022. Its 3D V-cache enhancement allows it to outperform all but the fastest and most expensive flagship processors in gaming. 

The 5800X3D has 8 cores, 16 threads, and a maximum clock speed of 4.5GHz. On paper, those specs don’t really compare to those of modern $400 processors such as the 13700KF. 

But what allows the 5800X3D to outperform processors with much higher clock speeds in gaming is its extra L3 cache. The R7 5800X3D has an incredible 96MB L3 cache. 

The cache is high-speed memory located on the CPU die. A larger cache size allows the CPU to hold more information close to its cores for faster processing, and this is something that benefits gaming particularly. Unfortunately, most other CPU-intensive applications don’t see significant benefits. 

So as you would expect, performance in everything but gaming takes a hit. If you’re looking for a workstation processor or frequently deal with multithreaded workloads, going with an X3D processor is probably not the best call. 

For gaming exclusively, there are very few processors out there currently that can match the 5800X3D in raw performance.

Best CPU for productivity under $400

The CPU we consider to be the best CPU for productivity under $400 is the Ryzen 7 7700

Ryzen 7 7700

The recently launched AMD Ryzen 7 7700 is a powerful eight-core, 16-thread processor that is well-suited for gaming and most other tasks except for professional-grade content creation. It boasts a single-die design like its counterpart, the AMD Ryzen 7 7700X, which eliminates the performance trade-offs that come with the more expensive 12 and 16-core CPUs with dual-die configurations, although these compromises are negligible in most cases.

Ryzen 7 7700
Best CPU for productivity under $400

AMD Ryzen 7 7700X

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Base speed


Boost speed






  • Inexpensive
  • Suprisingly efficient at high-intensity workloads
  • Strong iGPU
  • No cooler

Despite its lower price, the Ryzen 7 7700 is highly efficient and only marginally slower than the existing Ryzen 7 7700X. The former model is also bundled with an AMD Wraith CPU cooler, which is not included in the latter, making it a great value for money.

While the Ryzen 7 7700 has a lower base clock speed of 3.8GHz compared to the 4.5GHz of the 7700X, it rarely operates at that lower speed when subjected to heavy workloads. The non-X model can be easily overclocked to achieve a maximum all-core speed of 5.3GHz with the included Wraith cooler.

Moreover, the Ryzen 7 7700 has a lower thermal design power (TDP) rating of 65W, which is significantly less than the 105W rating of the 7700X. However, users can activate Eco mode on the 7700X to bring down its power consumption to 65W, which has a minimal impact on performance but significantly reduces heat output.

Is a $400 CPU worth it?

Whether a $400 CPU is worth it or not depends on various factors such as your intended usage, budget, and personal preferences.

If you’re a professional in a field that requires high-performance computing such as video editing, 3D modeling, or scientific simulations, a $400 CPU may be worth it. These tasks demand a lot of processing power, and a higher-end CPU can significantly improve your workflow and efficiency.

However, if you’re a casual user who primarily uses your computer for browsing the internet, streaming videos, or running basic applications, a $400 CPU may not be worth the investment. A less expensive CPU may suffice and provide enough processing power for your needs.

It’s also worth considering your budget and whether investing in a higher-end CPU would impact other components of your system negatively. For example, if buying a $400 CPU means sacrificing other essential components like memory or storage, it may not be worth it.

Whether a $400 CPU is worth it or not depends on your specific needs, budget, and priorities. It’s essential to evaluate all factors before making a decision.

Final word

In conclusion, the market for CPUs under $400 is highly competitive, but after considering various factors such as performance, efficiency, and price, the Core i7-13700K emerges as the best option. With its 16-core, 24-thread design, single-die configuration, and efficient power consumption, it offers excellent value for money and can handle most tasks, including gaming, with ease.

Moreover, Its overclocking potential makes it a compelling choice for budget-conscious PC enthusiasts looking for top-notch performance without breaking the bank.

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