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Q9550 vs core i7. Which is the better buy?

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November 25, 2008 1:55:04 PM

So i've been wondering what the communities thoughts on the core i7 vs the Q9550 is from a value build prespective. Most people that are buying core i7 or q9550 are putting together a higher end machince is something to keep in mind.

These are current prices at newegg.

Q9550 build.

Q9550 -$320
MB -$150 (there are some wide ranges here from 300+ to 100+ so i figure 150 is fair here
Ram -$ 75 (ddr2 800 2x2Gb)
-----------------
$540

Core i7 build.
coreI7 -$300
MB -$220
Ram -$185 (ddr3 1066 3x2gb)
------------------
$705

Defference between the two is roughly $165. I am starting to believe that even though its a few dollars more than a q9550 build the increase in preformance is worth it. Ontop of that you are truely getting some of the best technology out there. I am just wondering what everyone else thinks about these two builds when put side to side.

More about : q9550 core buy

November 25, 2008 2:08:36 PM

It's a personal decision.
To some folks $175 is ALOT.
To others it is not.......

I would likely go i7 or a C2D/Q6600 which would be a bigger price gap.
November 25, 2008 2:14:09 PM

Well I'm more asking the question why build a q9550 rig over the core i7. Most peopel that are building pc's in this range i would assume 175 bucks is not a big price issue? Actually you could make the core i7 build even cheaper if you wanted by doing 3x1gb ram sticks. Maybe I'm wrong for even thinking that 175 bucks at these price ranges for these builds wouldn't be that much. This in return would totaly justifie building q9550 rigs.
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November 25, 2008 2:37:05 PM

If you buy and build a core I7 rig you will be part of a year long R&D efffort to work out the bugs, so to speak. Core I7 is that new. Intel is on a roll and the core I7 architecture will succeed but the first few users should expect a few problems. However, if you are looking for trouble free and long life, 9450 9550 is your best bet. If you are looking for most bang for the buck and free of trouble then Zenmaster gave you the winning ticket above - C2D and Q6600.
a b B Homebuilt system
November 25, 2008 2:38:08 PM

True, somebody looking at those CPUs can usually afford an extra $165. Still, there are people who prefer an older, tried and tested technology (Q9550, P45) over a brand new one (i7, X58), just because it's safer. The idea is to let others serve as test rats, you know. That's especially important for business PCs, where stability is more important than an extra 10% or 20% speed.

Also, you can build a perfectly good PC with Q9550 and a $100 P5Q Pro and a $40 set of RAM, so the difference is in fact more than $165.

Edit: LOL, jthorn got there before me. I hadn't seen his message :) 
November 25, 2008 2:53:20 PM

Thanks for the input guys. I do understand how it can save a company a lot of effort by having the testing done by others already. Something also to note though is that these cpu's were targeted for the enterprise envoirments. The increase in bussiness type applicatoins is quite impressive.

Aevm the q9550, p5q pro, and a 40 set of ram is actually what i currently recommend to people building computers right now. A lot of people think they need better stuff when really they don't is the problem. That's why I just through a few prices out there. In general I brought this up because I am wondering if maybe I should update telling people to get the core i7 instead of the old q9550. Or is this still to premature? Hands down there is a pretty good improvment with the release of core i7. Just wondering when will the preformance increase warrent the extra few bucks you need to spend to get it.
November 25, 2008 3:23:22 PM

the improvements are mostly in benchmarks. For games, i7 isn't justified in the price/performance comparison. For office stuff, quads are already overkill, so just take whatever suits your price range :p 

I advise people to stay away from i7 until at the very least after christmas, if not even until intel release more i7 processors to bring the price down. DDR3 + X58 + i7 is simply just too expensive at this point in time.
November 25, 2008 3:30:24 PM

If a gamer is looking to buy a new rig I will agree they will not see much of an increase in the i7, except what about sli and cf. Benchmarks have shown that the i7 has really made sli and cf's shine.

Without a doubt though if your a gamer the q9550 is the better buy if your not going to sli/cf imo though. But if you are going to sli/cf then i would say the i7 warrents itself as a good deal. Your thoughts?

I am not trying to disagree with anyone but more play devils advicat, and be reminded why the Q9550 is still a better buy.
November 26, 2008 10:08:11 PM

Your price estimates are unrealistic and serve as unfair basis for comparison.

First, the x58 intel motherboard for $220.00 is much better than most motherboards for the q9550 in the $150.00 range. Not only is a quality motherboard essential for maximizing performance by faciltiating stable overclocks, it is also necessary to supply sufficent voltage to your processor and ensure stabiltiy issues. A 150 motherboard may well serve the average user's purpose, but those users are better off purchasing the Q6600 for $200.00. Here, neither the intel x58 or the 150 mainboard should be considered sufficent, as neither will allow you to maximize your CPU. A better basis of comparison would be the EVGA x58 (I7) V. the EVGA 780I ultra (Q9550). If you are going to invest 300+ in a processor, it would be shame to purchase a motherboard that cannot support, or will bottleneck nearly every component. Here, the mainboard price is 300 for the X58 and 225 for the 780i.

Second, in regards to the processors, the I7 920 outperforms the Q9550 in nearly every benchmark. This is due to better technology as well as efficiency. More on this later, but the Q9550 costs $350.00 and the I7 920 can be found for 300.

So far for the EVGA X58 and the I7, your're looking at a combined total of 600 and for the 780I ultra and q9550 you're looking at 580 - the edge leans towards the I7 as the performance difference is signifgant.

Third, Ram. The x58 chipset supports Triple Channel DDR3 ram which is signifgantly more expensive. For 6GB of quality triple channel ram, you're looking at spending an additional $300.00. This can be expanded to 12gb of ram on most of the x58 chipset. Compare this to 8gb of ram DDR 2 (maximum) for around $150.00. Here the price difference is more signifigant -- while the core I7 is better than the Q9550, Triple Channel DDR3 Ram is MUCH better than Dual channel DDR2 ram. The reason that DDR2 ram has become so cheap, is because it is becoming dated. Within the next two years, DDR3 prices will drop and DDR2 will start to become phased out. This is where system builders have a desicion to make:

Desicion one: Q9550, 780I + 8gb DDR 2 = 730
Desicion two: I7 920, X58, + 6gb DDR3 1600 Mhz Triple Channel = 900.

The difference in price is $130.00. This price is less than what you expressed and also points to another conclusion --- you're not going to be building a Q9550 system that can take advantage of the processor for less than 700. This is important, as if you're already investing that much in only three components, it would seem you should be in a situation where you can invest 900 for a MUCH BETTER system.

Desicion two is the better investment for at least two reasons.

First, it can be expanded. Intel will not make much improvements to the Core 2 Quad series - while there may be modest increases in speed, the next year or two, you're not leaving yourself much room for improvement. The Core I7 line will continue to be support for the forseeabe future, so, with desicion two, in three years when you are ready for a new CPU, you can simply upgrade the processor as opposed to starting from scratch - the moral of this story is that in the long run, the upfront cost will more than pay for itself.

Second, PERFORMANCE. Compare the benchmarks of the Core I7 x58 chipset with DDR3 ram v. Quad Core w/ DDR2 and you'll see a SUBSTANSIAL difference. If you're going to be spending this much money on a new computer, it makes little sense to get a system that is already outdated and will soon be unable to perform sufficiently for games / software in high resolution / high CPU load scenarios.

Now, in regards to this being a test year for the I7 - that may be true. Although this seems like more of a reason to hang on to your old system and wait a year than to invest in an outdated, new system. Also, I think this worry is exxagerated. The I7 has experienced a relatively stable release - I don't see the x58 chipset posing problems that the average system builder, with some experience, cannot overcome.

Interested in your thoughts and comments,

Jason
November 27, 2008 12:05:46 AM

having looked at the articles that toms hardware has done with the i7 the extreme edition is about 16% better than the QX9775, and about 16% between the extreme i7 and the 2.66 one. so if you clock the Q9550 to that of the QX9775 youre really only spending $170ish as a base to upgrade on as more i7's come out, but not gaining much in the way of performance(arguably). buying one now does make it easier to upgrade in the future, if you have that kind of money. for me anything i could reasonably cut corners on i did, and saved about $185 over going the cheapest route to an I7. and theoretically capable of playing every game that is out reasonably to very well.
November 27, 2008 2:03:23 AM

Honestly I find that for most games the processor is less important than the GFX card. I'm running a C2D E6850 on an Intel P35 with an 8800GTX and I find that the GFX card is a much bigger bottleneck than my processor.
November 27, 2008 1:14:55 PM

Jason,

Thanks for the great post on this subject. I am a strong beleiver in a lot of the things your saying. The only thing I disagree with is that you say we are compairing the wrong mother boards. I don't know if i agree with that. I think a p5q pro (p45 chipset) which is around 100 bucks will preform just as good as a $250+ one. It may suffer a 5% decrease in preformance but for a lot of people $150 bucks for a 5% decrease is worth it. I know there is a lot of benchmarks testing various motherboards and ussualy they are all around 5% of each other. The idea behind this thread was to talk about the core i7 as a value build over the q9550. I would not consider the $250 dollar boards a value build. These are boards for major euthoists. For a q9550 cpu getting a motherboard that uses ddr3 is really something i would stear most people away from. The people that would need ddr3 for a q9550 won't be asking my help. They know what their doing in otherwords.

ddr2 vs ddr3:
I don't know if there's a huge preformance gain going from ddr2 to ddr3 due to cpu bottlenecks, but i agree that ddr3 is the part that makes the switch to i7 harder. It does support tripple channel which is pretty exiciting, but Compairing the prices of these kits to dual channel ddr2 kits there is a huge price difference. My thoughts is that for the extra 150-200$ bucks for the overal setup its something to heavly consider when building your pc.

Great add though jason.
(PS: I would not recommend the 220 intel, probally asus p6 or evga's board)

@Logan

I agree the most important thing you can do for gaming is look at the graphics card. You get what you pay for. The new gtx 280's and 4870x2's though have in a lot of builds have bottlenecked the cpu actually. It's even worse in sli and cf setups. If your running an sli/cf setup you should be considering the i7 in builds today. The benchmarks in these setups down here at toms and a few other places are impressive how well the i7 handles multiple cards.
December 12, 2008 5:04:00 PM

JasonPearsall said:
Your price estimates are unrealistic and serve as unfair basis for comparison.

First, the x58 intel motherboard for $220.00 is much better than most motherboards for the q9550 in the $150.00 range. Not only is a quality motherboard essential for maximizing performance by faciltiating stable overclocks, it is also necessary to supply sufficent voltage to your processor and ensure stabiltiy issues. A 150 motherboard may well serve the average user's purpose, but those users are better off purchasing the Q6600 for $200.00. Here, neither the intel x58 or the 150 mainboard should be considered sufficent, as neither will allow you to maximize your CPU. A better basis of comparison would be the EVGA x58 (I7) V. the EVGA 780I ultra (Q9550). If you are going to invest 300+ in a processor, it would be shame to purchase a motherboard that cannot support, or will bottleneck nearly every component. Here, the mainboard price is 300 for the X58 and 225 for the 780i.



lol @ 780i...

The p45 proved itself over and over again as a strong overclocker. If you know what you are doing, you'll get there just as well.

Quote:

First, it can be expanded. Intel will not make much improvements to the Core 2 Quad series - while there may be modest increases in speed, the next year or two, you're not leaving yourself much room for improvement. The Core I7 line will continue to be support for the forseeabe future, so, with desicion two, in three years when you are ready for a new CPU, you can simply upgrade the processor as opposed to starting from scratch - the moral of this story is that in the long run, the upfront cost will more than pay for itself.


Good idea but terrible application.

Nehalem is getting phased out by Westmere in a year from now. That means different sockets. Also, I didn't quote your wall of text before that funny thing but let's just remember that he is building a system now, not in 3 years when ddr3 is cheap. DDR2 is at an awesome price/perf point right now and there's no going around that.


Quote:

Second, PERFORMANCE. Compare the benchmarks of the Core I7 x58 chipset with DDR3 ram v. Quad Core w/ DDR2 and you'll see a SUBSTANSIAL difference. If you're going to be spending this much money on a new computer, it makes little sense to get a system that is already outdated and will soon be unable to perform sufficiently for games / software in high resolution / high CPU load scenarios.
[/quote]
Quote:


I makes sense to get an "outdated" system because you don't pay the R&D budget of intel and whatnot. Buying 2nd generation is the most logical thing to do because this is where you'll find the best bang for your buck.

Also, you say that performances are good in benchmarks, which I totally agree with. On the downside, there's virtually no difference in games and in real world applications. For very specific applications, you'll shave a couple of seconds here and there. All in all, I don't value 3seconds every other week at 300$.

i7 is forecasted by intel itself to be at max 5% of the market when westmere hits. That means something to most of us ;) 
Anonymous
a b B Homebuilt system
February 2, 2009 10:07:23 PM

I have been looking into the same distinction and am curious, I have seen a lot of the p5q pros complained as being duds and such on newegg. is this just due to their prevalence? whats the best bang for the buck? i have a 680i and cor2duo right now and want to upgrade. my motherboard hasnt been doing so hot with raid and has been known to have many issues, yet is still highly reccommended...
a b B Homebuilt system
February 3, 2009 12:41:16 AM

Check out the GA-EP45-UD3P then. Very close to the P5Q Pro, and much better ratings at Newegg.
Anonymous
a b B Homebuilt system
February 3, 2009 5:52:43 AM

21 out of 273 are bad tho..
February 3, 2009 10:56:22 AM

Well im not so sure bout others but I prefer to get the i7 if I'm able to since its more futureproof but hey thats jst my 2cents
!