TechSpot: The Best Budget & Mainstream Processors

Choosing a CPU platform is usually the first thing you do when building your own computer. If you've been following our reviews and always-fresh desktop PC buying guide you probably already have a good idea of the current landscape: Intel introduced their Sandy Bridge processors at the beginning of the year, bringing unparalleled performance and improved power consumption, while AMD has little to compete with above the $125 mark -- though that might change soon.

Although we always try to keep you up to speed by reviewing the latest CPU releases as these take place, we've compiled a handy list of what we consider the best processor options right now at several price points between $80 and $225. Items are listed from least to most expensive and therefore, also by performance. For reference, we've also placed each product next to its closest competitor or best alternative if you are looking for a drop-in upgrade.

Read: The Best Budget & Mainstream Processors

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