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Budget Gaming Revisited: R3 3200G vs. Low-tier CPU and Graphics Card in 2021

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Thanks to chip scarcities and high demand due to people working at home, computer part prices have skyrocketed. And that includes the price of the Ryzen 3 3200G. Once upon a time, the 3200G was a solid budget option for anybody looking to build a budget gaming PC to get started with PC gaming.

But it cost about 100 USD before the prices starting jumping, and it is now either out-of-stock or costs over 200 USD! Still, thanks to people still being stuck (or content) at home and prices on higher-tier components ballooning even higher, lots of people are planning to build a budget PC right now. So, should they overpay for the 3200G, or does it now make more sense to step back in popularity and/or age to buy an ultra-budget graphics card and CPU combo?

 

Ryzen APU vs. Which CPU + GPU?

Since the R3 3200G is a processor, and we will be assuming you will use its Vega 8 integrated graphics as your GPU, we should not only look at prices for budget GPUs but also CPUs. The Vega 8 is a relatively impressive iGPU, but the 3200G is an even better CPU, so competing with it means needing to pick up a solid CPU.

Our budget CPU of choice here will be the i3-10100. Due to it being less popular, it has better availability and (according to PCPartPicker) you can still get this one for around $100 sometimes. Since the 3200G often costs around $225 at the moment, we are looking for a CPU and GPU combo at around the same total price point. That leaves us with a budget of $125 for the graphics card.

Within that budget, the GT 1030 is likely to be the best you can get at the moment. Multiple models are still available at Amazon, for instance. When buying one of these, make sure you pick a GDDR5 model that is actively cooled! Both options added together should end up with a price tag of about $225. So, let’s see if you should go for the APU or the CPU + GPU alternative.

 

CPU Performance Showdown (R3 3200G vs. i3-10100)

First of all, let us contrast the performance of the CPUs.

According to Passmark, the i3-10100 outperforms the R3 3200G by a little. This shows us that for budget CPU performance, you can still get a good alternative for a lower cost.

But let’s see how this transfers to real-world performance in a title that is known for being CPU-heavy: CS:GO. By looking at a benchmark between a stock i3 and a mildly overclocked Ryzen 3 (hooking both chips up to the same RX 570), you see that the i3-10100 again outperforms the Ryzen 3 by a small margin.

So, it seems that the i3-10100 is a good choice for the CPU. It has similar performance, somewhat better availability, and is not massively overpriced (as often).

 

GPU Performance Showdown (Vega 8 vs. GT 1030)

But does the GT 1030 provide performance close to that of the Vega 8, as the i3 does with the R3?

Relative to the GT 1030, the iGPU has more cores, but lower clock speeds and no dedicated memory. By looking at benchmarks in a variety of popular games, we can see that the GT 1030 performs around 30-45% better than the Vega 8! This means that, for gaming, the GT 1030 is going to give you better performance on average than the Vega 8.

But maybe some people are more interested in doing 3D design work on a tight budget. Blender, an open-source program for 3D work, has published a lot of benchmarks on their site; once again, the GT 1030 comes out on top across different rendering scenarios.

 

Price and Availability of All Three Competing Parts

Both options, the R3 and the GT 1030 / i3 combo, might not be in-stock when you go to purchase. As explained above, the benchmarks favor the combo, but overall performance was very close between the choices, so you should buy whatever choice you can find in-stock (obviously) and for a good price.

However, the best thing to do, if possible, is wait until prices return to normal (or get closer to normal, at least). Due to high demand (cryptocurrency miners and people working at home), and deficiencies in manufacturing because of COVID-19, prices are just absurd at the moment. If those things calm down, the prices will go down too… hopefully.

That means that you should only pick one of the two options under the circumstances described in this article if you need a PC right now. Under ordinary circumstances, the price and performance tradeoffs related to the R3 3200G and its competitors are much more favorable. If you do have the time, however, wait and you can preserve some cash.

 

Conclusion

Although the current market situation might not be desirable, you still can get a good PC with some patience for stock availability (and tolerance for price fluctuations). Choices that would’ve been unwise to recommend for most buyers around this time last year, like an i3-10100 and GT 1030, are now viable price-to-performance alternatives for the R3 3200G. In fact, the resulting system should be slightly better for a similar price tag!

I hope that this article will help some of you out there sort through your preferences and priorities for budget building, especially if you’re looking to build a budget gaming/rendering/editing rig in the current hardware market.

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