A pokey PC may be the result of an outdated processor. Unfortunately, replacing your CPU often means replacing your motherboard too, making the endeavor pretty pricey. But not always—especially if you have an AMD-powered system.
AMD’s AM3+ and FM2 motherboards have been powering AMD’s CPUs and APUs, respectively, since mid-2012. Since many prebuilt AMD systems sport modest processors, upgrading to a modern CPU can give your PC a shot in the arm. If you’re on FM3+, the new Athlon X4 860K ($75 on Amazon) is a solid entry-level quad-core processor for gaming, while the 8-core FX-8320E ($130 on Amazon) is a great step-up option and price-to-performance champion. If you have an FM2-based system with an AMD APU, the A10-7860K ($110 on Amazon) could be a solid upgrade, complete with integrated graphics that let you get into e-sports games at modest frame rates.
Intel switches out its motherboards and socket types much more often, and its chips tend to be much more expensive. Replacing Intel chips aren’t really an affordable upgrade in most cases.
It’s important to make sure your new chip is compatible with your existing motherboard! Before you buy, fire up CPU-Z and search for the “Package” entry in the main CPU tab to see what sort of socket your motherboard packs.