I am new here and have a few questions I hope you can help with?
I last built a PC in 2009 and it currently has a Intel i7 920 2.7ghz
I use my computer for some light gaming and full photo editing including Photoshop.
How much faster are the new i7 processors over the one I have? I don't have loads of cash. I can afford an upgrade right now but it is a big decision and I would need a measurable improvement.
I appreciate mine is quite old now but are the differences really that noticeable? Would one of the latest i5's still be a significant upgrade for the cost?
I would think after four years there would be big improvements, but perhaps not? Would hate to spend several hundred pounds for a marginal return.
Your CPU still isn't horrible. Cheapest upgrade would be a decent cooler and learning to overclock. If not into overclocking. A Xeon 1230v2 and H77 motherboard would be a fairly inexpensive upgrade. Getting a locked i7 is silly when you can get an E3 series Xeon for just a bit more than an i5.
Not sure if you've made a decision yet, but sharing some thoughts...
For sure, a new i5 would be better/faster than a first gen i7, however...
The thing to consider is the cost of a new processor and motherboard compared to say, upgrading to an i7-950 which can be bought used for less than $100USD on eBay. The i7-950 still performs less than a new i5, but costs half as much, let alone the cost of a new motherboard, and you would see a performance increase over the 920. Another consideration is overclocking the 920 to 4GHz. The 920 is very OC friendly and can run stable 24/7 at 4GHz without voltage increases and simple BIOS settings, just make sure you have proper cooling. Consider upgrading to more or faster RAM, and consider upgrading the GPU.
As mentioned, the primary consideration is the cost compared to upgrading your existing machine to the cost of upgrading to an i5 and new motherboard. You're gonna spend somewhere between $300-$500 for a new i5 and a quality motherboard even if you re-purpose your existing GPU and RAM. Whereas a used i7-950 and RAM will certainly cost less.
Anyway, like I said, just sharing some thoughts, it's free advice, take it for what's it's worth...
New processors are faster, yes, noticeably so over an i7-920 nothing earth shattering...
For Photoediting your biggest bang-for-buck with come from:
- more RAM, if you have only 3 or 6 Gb, bumping up to 12Gb or more will make a difference
- selecting a GPU that is supported by PhotoShop, speeds things up quite a bit too
- OC'ing the CPU (see below & other posts)
IF you upgrade your CPU you need a new motherboard AND a new copy of Window 7/8 (can't re-use the old copy, they are key to those components...)
Your best path forward on CPU has already been suggested, get a good basic aftermarket CPU cooler (Cooler Master 212 EVO). And, OC your CPU. I own an i7-930 and i7-950 system performance wise you can't tell 'em apart at stock speeds. You can easily OC them to 3.6Ghz -- 3.8Ghz simply by changing the BCLK frequency.