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5 Best LGA 1155 CPUs for 2024: Ranked and Reviewed

The Intel LGA 1155 socket may be over a decade old at this point, but don‘t count it out just yet, especially if you‘re looking to put together an ultra-affordable PC in 2023 or beyond. While Intel has long since moved on to more advanced CPU architectures, faster memory, and cutting-edge features, the LGA 1155 family still has some fight left in it.

As a tech enthusiast who has built countless PCs over the years, I‘ve had hands-on experience with many LGA 1155 CPUs. While they can‘t compete with the latest and greatest from Intel and AMD, these chips offer solid performance for basic computing tasks and even light gaming.

In this in-depth guide, I‘ll share my picks for the top 5 best LGA 1155 CPUs still worth considering today. Whether you‘re looking to build an inexpensive office PC, a retro gaming rig, or you just want to get the most life out of an old motherboard, there‘s an LGA 1155 processor for you. I‘ll cover the strengths and weaknesses of each chip, benchmark data, and my recommendations for the ideal use case.

But before we dive into the detailed reviews, let‘s take a quick trip down memory lane and revisit what made the LGA 1155 socket and its CPUs so significant.

Intel Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge: A Look Back

First introduced in 2011, the LGA 1155 socket was home to Intel‘s 2nd and 3rd generation Core processors. The Sandy Bridge chips debuted Intel‘s ring bus architecture and brought huge IPC (instructions per clock) improvements. Ivy Bridge refined the formula a year later, shrinking the manufacturing process to 22nm and boosting clock speeds.

Some of Intel‘s most iconic CPUs came out of this era, including the Core i7-2600K and i7-3770K. Thanks to their strong per-core performance, overclocking headroom, and long-term durability, these processors remained viable for gaming and productivity for many years.

The LGA 1155 also introduced some meaningful platform upgrades:

  • Native support for DDR3 memory up to 2400 MT/s
  • 16 PCIe 3.0 lanes for faster GPUs and SSDs
  • Integrated USB 3.0 controller for speeds up to 5 Gbps
  • Enhanced QuickSync video transcoding

While these specs have long since been surpassed, an LGA 1155 PC can still serve up a decent experience today with the right parts. Let‘s take a look at the top chips to consider.

The 5 Best LGA 1155 CPUs

#1 – Intel Core i7-3770K

For the ultimate LGA 1155 performance, it doesn‘t get any better than the Intel Core i7-3770K. This quad-core, 8-thread beast has a 3.5 GHz base clock, 3.9 GHz max turbo frequency, and a generous 8MB of L3 cache. It‘s rated for a 77W TDP (thermal design power).

The i7-3770K‘s unlocked multiplier allows for easy overclocking, and many chips are capable of hitting 4.5 GHz or higher with a decent cooler. At stock speeds, expect strong single-threaded performance in games and applications, along with solid multi-core results thanks to Hyper-Threading.

In my experience, the i7-3770K is the chip to get for an LGA 1155 gaming PC. Paired with 16GB of DDR3 memory and a mid-range graphics card like the Nvidia GTX 1660 or AMD RX 5500 XT, you can enjoy smooth 1080p gaming in less demanding titles. It‘s also a capable option for game streaming and video editing.

The only real downside is that the i7-3770K is still relatively expensive on the secondhand market, often going for $120 or more. But if you want the fastest possible LGA 1155 CPU, this is it.

#2 – Intel Core i7-3770

Can‘t find a good deal on the i7-3770K? Its locked sibling, the non-K Core i7-3770, offers virtually identical performance out of the box. You still get four cores, eight threads, and 8MB of cache, just without the ability to overclock.

The i7-3770‘s base clock is slightly lower at 3.4 GHz, but it has the same 3.9 GHz max turbo. In gaming and most applications, you‘ll be hard-pressed to tell the difference between the two chips. The i7-3770 also sips slightly less power with a 65W TDP.

If you don‘t plan on overclocking, the i7-3770 is the smarter buy. It frequently sells for $20-30 less than the K model. For a general-purpose LGA 1155 build with occasional gaming, it‘s arguably the better value.

#3 – Intel Core i5-3570

Stepping down to the mid-range, we have the quad-core Intel Core i5-3570. It drops Hyper-Threading support, meaning it can only process four threads at a time, but it keeps the same 3.4 GHz base and 3.8 GHz boost clocks as the i7-3770.

For gaming and lightly-threaded workloads, the i5-3570 performs nearly as well as its pricier i7 counterparts. The 6MB of cache is plenty for most use cases, and like all Ivy Bridge chips, it‘s rated for DDR3-1600 memory.

You can usually find the i5-3570 selling for around $50 on eBay and other secondhand markets. If you‘re looking to put together an ultra-cheap gaming setup or basic office PC and you already have a compatible LGA 1155 motherboard, it‘s a great option.

The i5-3570‘s lack of Hyper-Threading means it can struggle with more demanding productivity tasks like video editing and 3D rendering. Heavy multitaskers may also experience some slowdown. But for a single-purpose machine, it‘s arguably the best bang for your buck in an LGA 1155 CPU.

#4 – Intel Core i5-2500

The Intel Core i5-2500 is the epitome of a reliable workhorse. This quad-core Sandy Bridge processor has a 3.3 GHz base clock, 3.7 GHz max turbo frequency, and 6MB of L3 cache.

Now, the i5-2500 is a couple hundred MHz slower than the Ivy Bridge-based i5-3570. It also lacks some of the newer architectural improvements. But in practical terms, the difference is often negligible, especially if you‘re not running a lot of intensive applications.

For a budget gaming PC, the i5-2500 is more than adequate. Paired with a GTX 1050 Ti or AMD RX 550, it can handle e-sports titles and older AAA games without breaking a sweat. It‘s also a solid choice for an office desktop, assuming your workloads are fairly basic.

The secondhand market is filled with i5-2500 CPUs selling for $20-30. That‘s insanely affordable for a quad-core processor that‘s soldered to the motherboard. Sure, it‘s not going to set any performance records in 2023, but as a stopgap solution or ultra-low-cost option, it‘s tough to beat.

#5 – Intel Core i3-2120

Last but not least, let‘s give a shout-out to the humble Intel Core i3-2120. This dual-core, four-thread CPU was the entry point for Sandy Bridge and can often be found selling for $20 or less on eBay.

With a 3.3 GHz clock speed and 3MB of cache, the i3-2120 is best suited for basic computing tasks like web browsing, word processing, and light media playback. It‘s not going to run Crysis (the original or the remastered version), but it‘s more than adequate for a productivity machine or kids‘ PC.

The i3-2120 is also incredibly power efficient with a 65W TDP. You can pair it with a cheap Mini-ITX motherboard and a basic cooler for a tiny but reliable office PC. Or slot it into an old LGA 1155 board you have laying around to breathe new life into aging hardware.

Just keep your expectations in check. The i3-2120 struggles with modern games, video editing, and other demanding workloads. But if you only need a PC for basic tasks and you want to spend as little as possible, it‘s a viable option.

Choosing the Right LGA 1155 CPU for Your Needs

As you can see, the best LGA 1155 CPU for your needs really depends on your budget and intended use case. If you want the absolute fastest option for gaming and productivity, the Core i7-3770K is the way to go. The non-K i7-3770 is a close second, while the i5-3570 and i5-2500 offer excellent value for budget-conscious builders.

If you‘re just looking for an inexpensive chip to power a basic office PC, an i3-2120 or even a Pentium G2020 (which sells for as little as $10 online) will suffice. You won‘t be able to run intensive applications, but for everyday computing, they get the job done.

Of course, there are some trade-offs to keep in mind with any LGA 1155 build in 2023 and beyond. Motherboard and DDR3 memory availability is limited, especially from reputable sellers. You‘ll also be stuck with PCIe 3.0, which may bottleneck modern high-end GPUs. And many newer productivity applications and games won‘t run optimally (or at all) on these aging processors.

If you‘re building a PC from scratch, you‘re almost certainly better off with a newer platform like Intel‘s LGA 1700 or AMD‘s AM4. You‘ll get much better performance, a current-gen upgrade path, and access to cutting-edge features like PCIe 5.0 and DDR5 memory.

But if you‘re trying to make the most of an old system or just want to put together the cheapest possible PC using parts you already have, the LGA 1155 family still has a place. These CPUs have already far outlived their expected upgrade cycle and will likely continue to provide serviceable performance for basic computing scenarios for years to come.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Are any LGA 1155 CPUs still being manufactured?

A: No, Intel stopped producing LGA 1155 processors many years ago. These CPUs are only available through secondhand sellers and clearance stock.

Q: Can I use DDR4 memory with an LGA 1155 motherboard?

A: No, LGA 1155 only supports DDR3 memory. DDR4 is physically incompatible with DDR3 slots.

Q: What‘s the fastest graphics card I can use with an LGA 1155 CPU?

A: LGA 1155 motherboards have PCIe 3.0 slots, which are compatible with any modern graphics card. However, the limited bandwidth may bottleneck high-end GPUs like the RTX 3080 or RX 6800 XT. For the best performance, I recommend pairing these CPUs with a mid-range card like the GTX 1660 Super or Radeon RX 5600 XT.

Q: Are LGA 1155 CPUs good for streaming and content creation?

A: They can be, depending on your specific workload. A Core i7-3770K or i7-3770 is capable of handling 720p streaming and basic video editing. But for more demanding content creation tasks, you‘ll want a more powerful CPU with more cores/threads and a newer architecture.

Q: Should I bother upgrading my LGA 1155 system in 2023?

A: In most cases, no. If you already have a working LGA 1155 PC, it‘s probably not worth investing in a faster CPU or other upgrades at this point. You‘re better off saving up for a more modern platform. The only exception is if you can find an i7-3770K or i7-3770 for a really good price and you‘re currently using a much slower chip like an i3 or Pentium.