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What's the cache? Upgrade Help

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Last response: in CPUs
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March 9, 2009 2:39:10 PM

Hi Guys - Thank you for the assistance ahead of time...

I have bought several components for a first time build already and have been stuck on a processor for about 2 months now...

What I have:
HDD: WD 640gb 32mb
GPU: HD 4870 512mb ($164! + free ship)
Mem: g skill 4 gig 4-4-4-12 800
Mobo: ud3p (good OCing)
Case: Antec 900 ($99 + free shipping at the egg!)
Monitor: p.o.s. 19" x1024 (any upgrade suggestions?)
PSU: Corsair 650tx

I have already pretty much destroyed my $700 budget because I got greedy, but now the most important part is giving me the most flak...

I was initially set on the q6600 ($198) b/c of a good OC, but was not sure if I would get the most out of it... Then I went to e8400 ($165) because the gaming benchmarks were close to the q6600.. Then someone suggested the e7200 ($120) b/c of a good oc that was simliar to the e8400... Then I saw a ton of posts that the e5200 ($70) was the way to go because it could oc to the same performance of the e7200 for dirt cheap... But then I saw the cache was pratically nothing compared to the 8400 and 6600 so I keep thinking in a constant loop.

I am hesitant to spend a lot now on the q6000 because the true quad i7 should come down in price in a couple years when more programs and games are written for it... But I am also hesitant to go to the lower end CPUs because I have NO IDEA what difference the lower cache makes during anything???

Normal computer use for me includes a lot of gaming (strategy games mainly) and dvd ripping, decoding, encoding, and a lot of file transfers between my 2 externals and modded xbox.

Please help me cure my insanity... What difference does cache make? Will I actually use all 4 cores? Should I just pony up the money or am I falling victim to intel's marketing?

More about : cache upgrade

a b à CPUs
March 9, 2009 3:00:36 PM

Cache is a small bit of memory built into the processor to store the next however-many instructions and the data needed to perform on. It makes a difference to processor speed by making sure the processor is less likely to have to wait for instructions and data.
March 9, 2009 3:55:47 PM

I have read that some programs are more cache intensive than others. Is there any way to tell which programs these are? Is going from 2 MB to 4MB to 6 MB a noticeable difference (assuming both are running at the same 3.0ghz)?
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March 9, 2009 5:30:09 PM

Look at the cpu charts here at Tom's. Find applications that mimic what you will use most, and see the difference ( if any ) between processors with different cache sizes and speeds. Don't knock yourself out over 1 or 2% difference, unless you're a benchmark hound. There's always something better, but is the price differential justifiable to you? I don't know if I could go with new parts laying around waiting for a cpu which is upgradeable after all.
March 9, 2009 6:07:02 PM

Should someone just tell me to get a AMD Phenom II X3 720 ($145) with a $75 board and live in the best of both worlds?

Why is AMD so much cheaper... I just want to build... The walls are closing in...
March 9, 2009 6:15:05 PM

AMD is cheaper because of competition, and intel is more expensive because of fanboys.

If you didn't already have the board then I would have said get a 720 and a $135 mobo. But since you already have the board I'm gonna say to wait a month for 775 price to come down (over here in the UK the Q66 has already gone down by about £15 and with LGA1160 coming my guess is in april, may and june the retailers will be selling Q6600's for under £100 or about $140)
a b à CPUs
March 9, 2009 6:27:44 PM

AMD are cheaper because they currently cannot compete on price / performance with Intel.... Not because of fanboys
March 9, 2009 6:39:33 PM

Intel tends to be more expensive even on comparable performance, at least partly because of a perceived guarantee of quality (AMD chips are functionally 'intel-compatible'). However, at present Intel does seem to be comfortably ahead of AMD on pure performance anyway.

For specific niches, AMD can be a better choice.

Personally, I'm planning to bust the bank to get an i7-920 now... it should then last me 5 or so years, which seems like a better option than getting something slower now for half the price and then having to upgrade sooner, replacing MB, RAM and CPU anyway.
March 9, 2009 6:58:37 PM

I can always return my board... not like it's done anything but collect dust for the past few days...

I am planning to go i7 when more, less expensive, options become availible. I can not justify going i7 yet. It would be like buying a ridiculously fast and expensive car in a city where the max speed limit is only 35. When more programs can utilize all 4 cores simultaneously then I will look into it.

My price range sits right in the $125-$155 to which Intel has ONLY has the e7500... I have not looked into AMD whatsoever... is the 720 my best bet for sure? How well does it OC? Is there a comparable mobo to intel's ud3p for OCing?
March 10, 2009 8:37:02 PM

Ok... Benchmarks tell the Intel vs. AMD story... I'm back to Intel...

Back to my original question... I have since ruled out the e5400. I really like the price/performance of the e7xxx series over the e8400, but only the e7200 is benchmarked? The egg only seems to only carry the e7400 a $120 and no e7200.

q6600 is still a little more than I want to spend right now, but i will not upgrade it as soon as I would the e7200.

So new processor question... q6600 or e7400 for my usage?

Thanks in advance...
March 12, 2009 5:54:51 PM

Wisecracker - Thanks for the extra benchmarks, I just found those on another post too...

But Intel's chips still tell a story of better performance... The e7400 is a relatively old intel CPU and (only theoriectically b/c only the e7500 is shown) is still only 4 rings down on the ladder behind the 720... Yet the e7400 is still $27 cheaper than the 720? Isn't AMD supposed to be cheaper for similar performance?

BUT my newest problems revolves around Virtualization.... Not supported by the e7400 (dang), and one of my main goals with the upgrade... So the e8400 or the x3 720? Or someone want to gimme $50 to get the q6600 and oc?
March 12, 2009 6:19:00 PM

... I planning to build a system and hava had the same thoghts as you.

For if you want to do dual core the only two choises are E5200 or E8400
The E5200 overclocks as hell but has only 2mb cache, Unbeatable price/performance.

The E7200/7400 can't really reach much better frequencies when overclocked but cost a lot more... the extra 1mb cache doesn't seem very important...

but then Again the E8400 overclocks well to! but has 6mb cache.
For Apps. that don't support quad cores well (most games) an overclocked E8400 will be great (Eo revision should get you to 4ghz without a prob)

I would jump the 7000 series... they can't compete with the E5200
March 14, 2009 5:33:21 PM

So back to the roots of this post....

Right now it stands q6600 > e8400 >or= x3 720... But prices reflect that difference.

What is so special about AMD's L3 cache? I saw a post that L2 cache > L3 cache, but can not seems to find any justification? can anyone help me pick a processor that will get the job done for 2 years without any regrets?

March 14, 2009 10:09:14 PM

Don't worry about Psycho's ranting, he would still keep hugging intel even if their CEO kicked him in the balls.

The Phenom II X3 720 is a good cheap choice which is much better than the 7400. It overclocks well, has the extra core, can use DDR2 or DDR3, fits into AM2+ and AM3 mobos, and is more future proof.

Go Phenom II.
March 23, 2009 8:46:22 PM

940 X4...because it's a Black Edition. It has an unlocked multiplier for easy overclocking.
March 23, 2009 9:22:24 PM

720 ftw
March 26, 2009 9:17:18 PM

Am I completely missing it or does THG not have an updated CPU benchmark chart?
!