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Choosing a CPU for my first build.

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July 19, 2008 11:54:54 PM

I'm looking to build my own gaming system for the first time and as expected, I need to choose a CPU first. My tentative choices have been narrowed down to the Intel Q6600 or the AMD 9950 Phenom (the Intel Q9450 may also be a possibility). I'm just looking for opinions as to which processor may be the overall better pick of the three. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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July 20, 2008 12:21:21 AM

Of those 3, Q9450 hands down. It is 45 nm process (compared to 65nm Q6600), runs cooler, it is more efficient, and is faster clock-for-clock than the Q6600 due to its larger cache.

Since it is your first build, I am assuming you are not going to overclock. If you are, then you could get a Q6600 since it has a higher multiplier than the q9450 and it is easier to push it more. (you could achieve 3.6Ghz easy with that cpu). Otherwise, stick with the q9450.

Oh, and forget about the Phenom, totally not worth it (AMD has gone down the drains... everyone is expecting a come back in the future). Current Intel quads are faster, cooler, more energy efficient than their AMD counterparts.
July 20, 2008 12:32:07 AM

amd + ati for life
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July 20, 2008 12:41:21 AM

Funny enough, you need to choose a video card first for a gaming PC. The CPU is much less important than you'd think. Any of those three will be just fine, i.e. it won't cause bottlenecks, so you might as well get whatever is cheaper. I suspect the Q6600 is the cheapest, but the 9950 might be the cheapest overall if you consider that a good Crossfire motherboard for it is cheaper than the Intel equivalents (GA-X48-DS4, P5E Deluxe).

What's your budget?
What are your favorite games?
Do you know how to overclock?
Which country are you in?

Edit:
If you want the AMD, get this motherboard:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131291
Add a HD 4850 or HD 4870 card now, and another later. (Or both now if you have the cash).
Get a RC-690 case and a 750TX PSU, they both support that setup well.

Total CPU+MB would be 235+190, and you get Crossfire at full x16 PCI-E 2.

For Q9450, get a GA-X48-DS4:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128336

Total 330+225, and you get Crossfire properly again. Frankly, AMD seems good in this case because you'd pay $130 less. Yes the Q9450 would be faster, but that won't do a thing for you in real life, because games wait on the GPU, not the CPU. Yes Intel overclocks higher, but again that doesn't do a thing in most games where the stock CPU is already faster than needed and the game waits on the GPU or HDD.

Sorry if I sound like an AMD faboi, but the thing is AMD is finally doing the right thing, and if we keep kicking it it will die and we'll pay Intel $500 or $1500 for a CPU. And don't get me started on nVidia's prices if AMD dies...


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July 20, 2008 1:36:53 AM

I'd go Q9450.
July 20, 2008 2:41:20 AM

aevm said:
Funny enough, you need to choose a video card first for a gaming PC. The CPU is much less important than you'd think. Any of those three will be just fine, i.e. it won't cause bottlenecks, so you might as well get whatever is cheaper. I suspect the Q6600 is the cheapest, but the 9950 might be the cheapest overall if you consider that a good Crossfire motherboard for it is cheaper than the Intel equivalents (GA-X48-DS4, P5E Deluxe).

What's your budget?
What are your favorite games?
Do you know how to overclock?
Which country are you in?

Edit:
If you want the AMD, get this motherboard:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131291
Add a HD 4850 or HD 4870 card now, and another later. (Or both now if you have the cash).
Get a RC-690 case and a 750TX PSU, they both support that setup well.

Total CPU+MB would be 235+190, and you get Crossfire at full x16 PCI-E 2.

For Q9450, get a GA-X48-DS4:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128336

Total 330+225, and you get Crossfire properly again. Frankly, AMD seems good in this case because you'd pay $130 less. Yes the Q9450 would be faster, but that won't do a thing for you in real life, because games wait on the GPU, not the CPU. Yes Intel overclocks higher, but again that doesn't do a thing in most games where the stock CPU is already faster than needed and the game waits on the GPU or HDD.

Sorry if I sound like an AMD faboi, but the thing is AMD is finally doing the right thing, and if we keep kicking it it will die and we'll pay Intel $500 or $1500 for a CPU. And don't get me started on nVidia's prices if AMD dies...


I'd have to say that I'm looking in the $200-$300 (Canadian) range with regard to a CPU, and I'm still doing preliminary research for the video card. I agree that for graphic-intensive programs (like games) the GPU is as important as the CPU (and the motherboard for that matter) so I don't plan to get a bargain-basement one. As for overclocking, I have only minor experience with it and as such am probably going to be content with stock speeds, at least for now. The biggest goal with regards to my new system is to make it as future-proof as possible with regards to motherboard expansion and quad-core architecture; ie. while it's true that most programs aren't optimized for quad-core chips, they will eventually (hopefully).
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July 20, 2008 3:04:15 AM

Yeah, a quad is the smart thing to buy these days, absolutely. I got myself a Q6600 a year ago for exactly that same reason. It didn't do a thing for my games, but it's a lot of help when dealing with videos and in my programming work.

Frankly though, future-proofing is hard to do with CPUs. Intel's Nehalem will be out later this year, and it will not work on current motherboards. That is, those CPUs will be wider and with more pins and won't work on LGA775 like the Q9450 or Q6600. On AMD's side, I'm not really sure - I'm more of an Intel fan, I'm afraid. I believe they intend to keep supporting AM2+ for a while, but I don't know for sure.

Since you're in Canada, check out www.ncix.com. Whatever product you're ready to add to your cart, modify the URL in your browser first to add &promoId=1046. That won't make any difference for most things, but it may save you some cash for some. It's valid for the next few days. BTW, Ontario buyers are not charged the 8% PST at NCIX.

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July 20, 2008 3:35:56 AM

Aevm is right, in that the vga card is the most important part for gaming. Get the best one you feel comfortable paying for.

For the cpu consider a higher clocked duo like the E8400 instead of a quad. Today, very few games can make use of more than two cores.
Flight simulator X is an exception. It is not a trivial matter to code multi threaded programs,
and game vendors will not sell too many games that require quads to run.
I don't see this changing in the next couple of years, and then nehalem will be upon us.

Net: E8400/E8500 for the increased clock speed.

Also, be aware that Intel often makes price cuts the end of July.

Do not get suckered into "futureproofing" Nehalem will make today's motherboards and cpu's obsolete. Buy what suits you today, and plan on replacing it when and if you need to.

July 20, 2008 4:20:03 AM

Go with the 9850 and get a 2nd video card with the money saved. All 3 will offer almost the same quality in gaming. As far as Futureproofing goes, dont really buy into that. The CPU hasnt really been holding anything back for a long time. If you want upgrade options, AM3 CPU will fit in AM2+ boards when it comes out.
July 20, 2008 4:32:03 AM

peronally I'd buy a Q9450 on a P45 board with good ram and overclock it and get a couple of the best GPU's you can afford.

oh and hello geofelt.
July 20, 2008 5:27:02 AM

Don't pay any attention to th_username...he/she is half deluded. It's not AMD/ATI for life...just ATI for life.... :lol: 

I run a Q6600 and would only run an 8400, 8500 or 8600 if It was just as a primary gaming rig. With the amount of video work I do it's been great having those four cores beating themselves to death running 2 or 4 instances of video encoding. That and it brings warmth to my heart running different utilities while I do other more funner things. (note the queens English)

Nahalem is going to be a bit of a revelation with results running on average around 15%-30% better on most benchmarks than similarly clocked current generation Intel chips. Different socket though, so I guess we'll have to get new motherboards. I can hardly wait :lol: 

If you have the budget go for the Q9450 (larger cache, newer 45nm, and slightly higher clock) over the Q6600. Again, I'd go for the boards featuring the Intel X48 chipset if budget allows. If not the P45 is a good choice.

RC690 case (CM 690 in Canada) is a good choice, roomy, affordable, and lots of air flow.....Did I mention cheap? Oh and it doesn't look like it was built by the Darth Vader costume design department LOL

Really like the Western Digital WD640AAKS Hard drives, fast and cheap.

Corsair TX750 PSU, 120mm fan , sleeved cables, good regulation, and 60 amp 12V rail....Oh, and if you can find it on sale....guess what? It's cheap!!

http://www.ncix.com/products/index.php?sku=26415&vpn=CM...

Hope I'm not starting to sound Cheap :o 

Anyhow, dollar for dollar I don't think there is going to be any beating Intel anytime soon. I kinda hate to say this, since I like competition, and have a tendency to cheer for the underdog. But if you like performance and value stick with Intel and ATI for graphics (at the moment).

Good luck with things.

The Canuck
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July 20, 2008 11:59:56 AM

Tough call between the q6600 and the Phenom 9950BE.

If you have to have it NOW - the q6600. If you can wait until the first of August - the Phenom 9950BE. The refresh of the AMD 7xx chipsets with sb750 should be out by then and the 9950BE is said to run 3GHz at stock AMD 200MHz base clock with a 15 cpu multi.

I've got a 790fx with the sb600. Bought a Phenom 9600BE on the cheap from the Egg last week and it clocked up 400MHz no problem by simply raising the multiplier from 11.5 to 13.5. 1.28v with stock HSF and 43c load temps.

The q6600 has more OC headroom but a decent mobo will most likely cost a bit more as compared to an AMD chipset.

I tend to give equal weight to the mobo when deciding how to move forward. That's where your best 'potential' lies in upgrades. The concept of 'future-proofing' is a misnomer because down the road everything will be cheaper, faster and have better features.

Buy now for what you need now without ignoring future upgrade possibilities.



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July 24, 2008 4:22:31 PM

Nice! It even has 3 PCI slots, for those of us who want sound cards and TV tuners and so on :) 
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July 24, 2008 6:14:46 PM

Wisecracker said:
The q6600 has more OC headroom but a decent mobo will most likely cost a bit more as compared to an AMD chipset.


AMD 790FX: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Intel P35: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Hard to compare when there are no SB750 mobos yet. But looking at this, an older not as nice mobo (SB750 is better than SB600) cost about the same.

Price wise when building a new machine you will get about the same price between an Intel and AMD system. Then its all up to what you want to buy.

As for me, the Q6600 is great but the Q9450 is a bit better in the cooling area. Uses less power too.
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July 24, 2008 6:35:44 PM

Wow, same price $150, but the 790fx has 2 PCI-E 2.0 slots at full x16 each (plus 2 other slots, but never mind that), while the P35 has 2 PCI-E 1 slots at x16/x4. That's like twice the bandwidth on slot 1 and 8 times the bandwidth on slot 2. I think that P5K-E should be a lot cheaper.
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July 24, 2008 6:42:01 PM

random_2 said:

RC690 case (CM 690 in Canada) is a good choice, roomy, affordable, and lots of air flow.....Did I mention cheap? Oh and it doesn't look like it was built by the Darth Vader costume design department LOL


What's wrong with Darth Vader's costume??? I got a little statue of Vader glued on my monitor :) 
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July 24, 2008 9:22:05 PM

aevm said:
Wow, same price $150, but the 790fx has 2 PCI-E 2.0 slots at full x16 each (plus 2 other slots, but never mind that), while the P35 has 2 PCI-E 1 slots at x16/x4. That's like twice the bandwidth on slot 1 and 8 times the bandwidth on slot 2. I think that P5K-E should be a lot cheaper.


My MSI 790FX has been a stud. The price has actually gone up $5 since I bought mine 7 months ago. I'm considering selling it and pouncing on the sb750 but I'm skeered I might be trading down - lol.

aevm said:
What's wrong with Darth Vader's costume??? I got a little statue of Vader glued on my monitor :) 


You have a little Dick Cheney glued to your monitor? :lol: 

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July 24, 2008 9:24:57 PM

aevm said:
Wow, same price $150, but the 790fx has 2 PCI-E 2.0 slots at full x16 each (plus 2 other slots, but never mind that), while the P35 has 2 PCI-E 1 slots at x16/x4. That's like twice the bandwidth on slot 1 and 8 times the bandwidth on slot 2. I think that P5K-E should be a lot cheaper.

You can get a P45 mobo for that price too though, and that gives you x8/x8 @PCI-E 2.0

Here's a good one: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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July 24, 2008 9:36:03 PM

Nah, that one has DDR2+DDR3 and I'm not going anywhere near it. I've got a P35C with dual support myself. It makes OCing worse.

But, you're perfectly right, you can get a P5Q Pro P45 for $150 and it does Crossfire well.
July 24, 2008 10:07:08 PM

aevm said:
What's wrong with Darth Vader's costume??? I got a little statue of Vader glued on my monitor :) 



Ooops...Thought I might step on someones toes with that comment on case design....lol
Actually I'm more of a Princess Leah kinda guy...specially when she's been captured by what's his name?
Jabba the Hut?.... something like that. Still wouldn't want a case designed after her though :o 


July 25, 2008 2:34:56 AM

i seen a pretty impressive review on Anand about the new SB750. but clock for clock wise AMD processor is not catching up with Intel's 65nm offering, let alone the 45nm Penryn. but what you get for your money is pretty unbeatable if you get AMD.

and as others have said graphics card is far more important then the CPU in a gaming system. you will need the highest clockspeed available from the processor. so the E8xxx OC to 4Ghz+ can give out higher fps then a quad OC at 3.6Ghz.well at least for now MS is having problem try to get quad into the mainstream apps that includes games.

just a personal thought i think AMD processors out now will "degrade" faster then Intel's Core 2 processor. i been to some AMD forums and most of them said the 45nm CPU is the only processor worth waiting and getting.BUT as always they all have positive comment on the current offering.
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