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Processor for gaming? Dual Core? Single? Help!

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  • CPUs
  • Gaming
  • Processors
  • Dual Core
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March 24, 2007 10:43:26 PM

Hey everyone,

I have a gaming rig that I upgrade every two years or so, and it's getting to be that time again, and I had a question regarding processors. Last time I upgraded I went with an AMD 64 X2 Dual Core 4200+ processor. It's a decent processor, but I think I got into the dual-core game a little earlier than I should have and would have gotten better performance out of a single core at the time as there weren't many games being developed to take advantage of the second core.

Now, my question this time around is have we hit the point where dual core (Intel or AMD) is the way to go for gaming? It's even more confusing for someone like me who isn't much of a techie when I notice that the processor speeds don't seem to have increased that much over the past 2 years (my old processor runs at 2.21 GHz).

If anyone can shed some light on this, I'd greatly appreciate it. Much thanks!


-Bolgard

More about : processor gaming dual core single

March 24, 2007 10:57:01 PM

Quote:
However, AMD is about to release a new processor in Q3ish for the desktop (July to October timeframe). This will likely close the gap and possibly exceed it, so if you are dedicated to AMD, then waiting is my suggestion or you could go with an AM2 setup and get a cheapy 3800+ and wait --- the new CPUs will be able to use the AM2 socket from all reports.


Thanks for the advice - I'm not a religious zealot when it comes to a company (Intel or AMD), I just look for great performance for a good price. I'm glad to hear good endorsements of the Core Duo - I'm curious what everyone has to say in general.

Other thoughts?

Quote:
I want to add: you will definitely want to strategize to get a dual core (perhaps a quad core), with as much ooomph as you can afford or willing to overclock. Next Gen gaming will take advantage of the extra cores.


I think a quad might be a bit out of my price range - I'm looking for a good $300-400 processor. But the point is forget single-core and definitely go dual at least?
March 24, 2007 11:18:39 PM

I would say if you already have a X2 4200+ you have a decent processor. Look into over clocking it if you want/need more power. I personally would say that you are good to go for at least another year unless your going to upgrade to a high end core2. What are your specs? Memory, video card etc?

For gaming your not going to see a huge jump in frames unless you get a high end video card. Getting a faster CPU is not going to make a huge difference in gaming. Look at the cpu charts and see for yourself. :wink:

http://www23.tomshardware.com/cpu.html?modelx=33&model1...
Related resources
March 24, 2007 11:27:24 PM

Quote:
I would say if you already have a X2 4200+ you have a decent processor. Look into over clocking it if you want/need more power. I personally would say that you are good to go for at least another year unless your going to upgrade to a high end core2. What are your specs? Memory, video card etc?


I have a GeForec 7800GTX for a video card, and 2.0 gigs of RAM - not sure what speed though - it's been awhile.

This is the processor I've currently been considering:

http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82E1681...

Thoughts?
March 24, 2007 11:36:02 PM

Quote:
Hey everyone,

I have a gaming rig that I upgrade every two years or so, and it's getting to be that time again, and I had a question regarding processors. Last time I upgraded I went with an AMD 64 X2 Dual Core 4200+ processor. It's a decent processor, but I think I got into the dual-core game a little earlier than I should have and would have gotten better performance out of a single core at the time as there weren't many games being developed to take advantage of the second core.

Now, my question this time around is have we hit the point where dual core (Intel or AMD) is the way to go for gaming? It's even more confusing for someone like me who isn't much of a techie when I notice that the processor speeds don't seem to have increased that much over the past 2 years (my old processor runs at 2.21 GHz).

If anyone can shed some light on this, I'd greatly appreciate it. Much thanks!


-Bolgard


I don't really think you need to upgrade yet. You have a solid processor/video card, and it'll suit you for now. But, if you REALLY want to upgrade, then wait for the price cuts in April (AMD - April 9, Intel - April 22). I think the E6600 you're looking at will be around 220-230 bucks. Also, you do realize that if you do get the E6600 (assuming that you have a socket 939 motherboard, which I think you do) you will need new ram (ddr2), and a new motherboard. My suggestion is to wait for Q3 when the BIG price cuts for Intel are rumored to happen. Or if you are impatient, I would at least wait for the price cuts in April.

BTW: Yes, the E6600 is a great processor that also has great oc'ing capabilities.
March 24, 2007 11:44:49 PM

I agree I don't think you need to upgrade but if you really really really want to wait until the prices for the intel chips to drop in April. My main machine has an Athlon 64 3800+ single core and I see no reason to upgrade at least until December of this year. But...do what makes you happy.
March 24, 2007 11:53:27 PM

Quote:
I don't really think you need to upgrade yet. You have a solid processor/video card, and it'll suit you for now.


I appreciate the honest advice - one of the reasons I was thinking about upgrading was I was a little nervous about trying to run Vista on this rig, and still get good gaming performance (I'm still running XP atm). Is that an issue that a decent video card upgrade could fix? I was thinking about this card for my upgrade:

http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82E1681...

Would it even be worth upgrading to that card, or would I be better served to just ride my system out for another year?

Thanks again,


-Bolgard
March 25, 2007 1:14:07 AM

With that card, you won't complain about slow gaming action...
Just make sure that your power supply is up to the task.
March 25, 2007 1:19:05 AM

Quote:
I don't really think you need to upgrade yet. You have a solid processor/video card, and it'll suit you for now.


I appreciate the honest advice - one of the reasons I was thinking about upgrading was I was a little nervous about trying to run Vista on this rig, and still get good gaming performance (I'm still running XP atm). Is that an issue that a decent video card upgrade could fix? I was thinking about this card for my upgrade:

http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82E1681...

Would it even be worth upgrading to that card, or would I be better served to just ride my system out for another year?

Thanks again,


-Bolgard

In my opinion, buying that card now isn't a great idea. R600 is about to come out, and Nvidia, in response, will probably lower their prices. So I would definitely wait until the R600 series from ATi is released. I know it's frustrating, but you just have to be patient to take advantage of these price cuts and save some money. I have an Athlon 64 3400+, and I too will wait till Q3 and upgrade then. So I know exactly how you feel.
March 25, 2007 1:59:25 AM

as of right now dual core still isnt utilized all that often for gaming, but multi-threaded gaming has increased just recently. Soon enough there will be tons of games that use multiple cores but as for right now there are only a handful. Now is the time to upgrade to dual core if you haven't already. There is the option of quad core but I don't see the application in it except for future-proofing your system and also tasks that need them such as editing and encoding etc. My guess is that dual core processors will rule the next 3-4 years as mainstream products obviously with high end and lower end products. Hopefully games won't become too demanding on processors that we'll need quad core in the next year or so.

Im kinda worried though that games are moving too fast in terms of hardware requirements. I mean to play the latest and greatest games like stalker recommended specs are an athlon x2 4800+ with a geforce 7900 series card


that worries me as 7900 is up there and the 4800, although cheaper, is no pushover of a processor
March 25, 2007 5:53:42 AM

Quote:
It's even more confusing for someone like me who isn't much of a techie when I notice that the processor speeds don't seem to have increased that much over the past 2 years (my old processor runs at 2.21 GHz).


AMD and Intel have stopped the pure GHz war - the faster the chips went, the more power they used and the more heat they generated. So instead they have gone to better architectures and multi-core
.
This is like a car engine - instead of just adding more CC to the engine (e.g. 4 Litre V8 vs 6L V8), this would be similar to adding a supercharger or turbo. i.e. smaller engine using less petrol but still peforms well).

Hence while a Core2Duo will have a similar (or sometimes lower) clock speed then a 2 year old processor, the Core2 will still win.
March 25, 2007 10:09:03 AM

Judging by the hardware that you already have, you seem like you will want to take advantage of the higher end stuff. The technology out there right now will not blow what you have out of the water. Wait if you can. We don't know what the ATI R600 will do and 65nm and 45nm processors are sure to follow soon. By that time though, the next technology will be in the horizon and you might get advice to wait for that. This is why upgrading sucks, but it makes following technology interesting.
March 25, 2007 10:55:24 AM

Anybody else noticed that the publisher recommended CPU requirements for STALKER are higher than Supreme Commander's? Kind of makes you wonder what's going behind the scenes. What the heck is it that STALKER's calculating?
March 25, 2007 11:58:55 AM

For gaming you only need a single core processor.But with todays software starting to be written for dual cores,and the fact that dual cores are mainstream these days,you should be able to find a decent X2 5000+ cpu for relatively cheap.Stay with dual core,just buy faster ones is all.Or you can try over clocking.Goodluck.

Dahak

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April 5, 2007 3:10:32 PM

>>What the heck is it that STALKER's calculating?
It is calculating dynamic shadows in realtime. Remember, they have shadows for every object in that game? Somehow they use the CPU for it. And also it calculates all opponents' AI and the artificial life throughout the map. But this is minor to shadows, since the performance drop disappears when you switch to static lighting. This was investigated by some hardware tester guys.
April 5, 2007 3:16:22 PM

As for dual cores... Game devs must learn to think in two-threaded way.
Many games simply do not have logic to put into two threads.
I'm afraid that game developers may simply half the tasks for the two cores and run them in two separate threads.
For example, every odd object (enemy, crate, tree etc.) is calculated by the first core, and every even object by the second one.
So far, CPU power was much less important in games than a good VPU. Celerons apart.
April 5, 2007 5:41:44 PM

Quote:
Hey everyone,

I have a gaming rig that I upgrade every two years or so, and it's getting to be that time again, and I had a question regarding processors. Last time I upgraded I went with an AMD 63 X2 Dual Core 4200+ processor. It's a decent processor, but I think I got into the dual-core game a little earlier than I should have and would have gotten better performance out of a single core at the time as there weren't many games being developed to take advantage of the second core.

Now, my question this time around is have we hit the point where dual core (Intel or AMD) is the way to go for gaming? It's even more confusing for someone like me who isn't much of a techie when I notice that the processor speeds don't seem to have increased that much over the past 2 years (my old processor runs at 2.21 GHz).

If anyone can shed some light on this, I'd greatly appreciate it. Much thanks!


-Bolgard


Running a single thread on dual core will not hurt performance, very few games might see 1 or 2% performance hit, but overall a dual core will run software that is singly threaded as fast as a single core will at the same clock speed.

Right now the Core 2 Duo is the best gaming processor, the E6300 will meet or beat the 4200+ is most all games, assuming your GPU is not the limiter:

http://www.gamepc.com/labs/view_content.asp?id=c2le&pag...
http://www.anandtech.com/cpuchipsets/intel/showdoc.aspx...

The overclockability of the C2D is unmatched, and even with the E4300, you can clock it up to exceed AMD's fastest at the moment.

However, AMD is about to release a new processor in Q3ish for the desktop (July to October timeframe). This will likely close the gap and possibly exceed it, so if you are dedicated to AMD, then waiting is my suggestion or you could go with an AM2 setup and get a cheapy 3800+ and wait --- the new CPUs will be able to use the AM2 socket from all reports.

I want to add: you will definitely want to strategize to get a dual core (perhaps a quad core), with as much ooomph as you can afford or willing to overclock. Next Gen gaming will take advantage of the extra cores.

Jack

I think this is very good advice generally.

Regarding those links Jack gives though, they really only show that faster cpus are faster than slower cpus. What's important about fps in games is to get up to 60-70 fps. The human eye can detect differences up to a maximum of 70 fps, though few people are able to distinguish between 65 and 70 actually. So 140 fps is just the same as 68 fps, for your experience.

In practice, the great majority of games are almost always more limited by the video card in the way that really matters -- getting nice high resolution with all the eye candy (especially above 1280x1024. 1600x1200 will soon be the low end IMO) on nice big monitors. That's when you need that top tier video card.

That's why Jack's advice to go cheap 3800 (actually, I'd do 4600 and/or overclock some to put off the upgrade longer and save more than the extra $40), and the drop-in cpu upgrade later is pretty darn good advice, IMO.

[Edit: suppose you know though that you want to play mostly Supreme Commander or the new Flight Simulators, and you want more future proofing and hate to upgrade, then it's reasonable to get more cpu now, but that doesn't describe most people. In all cases, spend more on the video card, and usually twice as much or more.]
April 5, 2007 6:00:16 PM

Quote:
Regarding those links Jack gives though, they really only show that faster cpus are faster than slower cpus. What's important about fps in games is to get up to 60-70 fps. The human eye can detect differences up to a maximum of 70 fps, though few people are able to distinguish between 65 and 70 actually. So 140 fps is just the same as 68 fps, for your experience.


Good point.

Also, if your monitor refresh rate is let's say, 70 hertz, then anything higher than 70 frames per second would not even be displayed by the monitor.

The big issue is the lowest FPS, that's where you notice it.
April 5, 2007 6:19:36 PM

Quote:
Regarding those links Jack gives though, they really only show that faster cpus are faster than slower cpus. What's important about fps in games is to get up to 60-70 fps. The human eye can detect differences up to a maximum of 70 fps, though few people are able to distinguish between 65 and 70 actually. So 140 fps is just the same as 68 fps, for your experience.


Good point.

Also, if your monitor refresh rate is let's say, 70 hertz, then anything higher than 70 frames per second would not even be displayed by the monitor.

The big issue is the lowest FPS, that's where you notice it.

Exactly. Good point to bring up. All games now should be benchmarked at 1600x1200 (and higher!) and only their lowest FPS and average FPS are actually relevant so far as FPS goes, and lowest FPS is the more informative.
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