I7 Build vs AMD Phenom II x4 Build - Comments / Suggestions Please

To all you here at Tom's Hardware... a hearty Hello! First time poster, one of my buddies turned me here to find more info on parts for my upcoming build. I'm still stuck overseas and don't get home for another month or so, so 'm doing some pre-shopping work so I can build a new rig once I get back home, unfortunately I don't get alot of time to surf the net due to work (12 hour shifts, 7 days a week).

I haven't looked at hardware for a couple years now and things have changed rather.. drastically. I'm horribly out of the loop and haven't the slightest as what things mean anymore, nor what I'm looking for - this applies especially to motherboards and video cards, I can sort of navigate my way through CPU choices. I'm not a big overclocker either, although I do game, I think Crysis is probably the most itnensive game I have back home, along with Warcraft (yeah yeah..), I'll probably pick up a couple other new FPS games floating about too.. just for a background.

My old rig has an Asus baord (I dont know the spec offhand, I think it was a 650i), a BFG TEch GF 7950GT 512mb vid card, 2 gig of ram, I think it was ddr2, Im not for sure again. I was also running an intel core 2 duo 6600 (2.4ghz, I managed to OC it to 2.7ghz). It's getting sort of dated. It even plays Crysis, just not very well.

I'll probably keep my LianLi case, it's got some great ventilation, and Im fairly sure the PSU is around 500w, it might be able to be scavenged, if not I'll just grab a new one that fits my needs.

Right now, witht he developments in quad core vs dual core, in both AMD and Intel, I'm not sure which to go with. I would like to run with an ntel quad core 3.ghz, but the additional details are greek to me, plus I noticed a report commentign that the amd quad cores are keeping par with the intel dual core, so it leads me to believe that the Intel quad core 3.0ghz is what i want, but the additionald etails.. don't know.

The big debate is between ATI or NVIDIA for a video card. I don't want to run with SLI/Crossfire unelss I have to, and I've always been a BFG TECH customer.. it looks like the 260/280/285 nvidia gpu is competing equally witht he ATI 4870 core, is this about right? I'd like to keep my vid card around $350 tops, lower if I can get soemthign without sacrificing alot. I know absolutely nothing about ATI so I cannot make a self comparison, nor do I know of any solid manufacturers, i see Sapphire alot, along with XFX... for nvidia I see EVGA and er.. XFX again? Has BFG lost quality voer the last couple years? I'm thinking I could go either or for card, but I have no idea what to look for anymore, but anything beats a GF 7950GT.

Lastly, The need for a mainboard is somethign else I'm utterly clueless on. All of my drives are SATA, that seems to be the trend now. I've contemplated picking up a 32gb or 64gb SSD for a boot drive, running a dual boot between XP and Linux, msotly for the speed increase, keeping a 1.0 or 1.5TB seagate drive instaleld to store all of my programs, files, games, etc. I've always stayed with Asus and Abit for boards in the past, but agan I have no idea what to look for. Something that offers easy overclocking would be boon, so I could try to bump my cpu up past 3ghz, to the 3.3-3.5ghz range. I know board type depends on the CPU type, i've also heard the main intel socket type, the 775 only has a few years left with no backwards compatibility.

I'll end up picking up some corsair or crucial dual or triple channel ram ocne the rest is figured out, looking for 4-6 gb of ram, but the main focus is the meat and potatoes, mobo, vid, and CPU. The rest is soemthign I can find ocne the staples are nailed out. If anyoen can provide some sugegstions I can peruse, it'd be appreciated!

On a final note, I'm well aware of the "Go look at the articles/search function" speech, I'm slowly lookign through things, I dont get much time to surf the net. The picking parts guide int his forum I'm halfway through yet, and it started to lose me, apparently im more behind the times than I thought. Thanks in advance!
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  1. Whoops! YEah, I kind of skipped over the budget thing, I was more interested at the time of posting about what I need to be looking for specifically. SOrry about the wall of text, I tend to get over wordy. I havent looekd at a budget frankly, and shouldn't need a new cd drive nor an OS, unless of course I have to have a 64bit OS. I see most of these newer CPUs support 64bit - Does that require me to run a 64bit OS? Or can I still sneak by with a normal 32bit OS? I have WinXP yet (I despise Vista), but I don't have a XP64 install, and I could make a vista install (from my laptop's vista backup), but it's home premium AND 32bit.

    You went with the new (i think) I7 quad core in every option, with the same Asus P6T board and the G.SKill ram.. Are these the best? I would imagine a quad core at 3ghz would outperform the I7 quad at 2.66, no? Or is the board/cpu choice mostly because it can be easily overclocked up past the 3.0 marker with no major heat increase?

    YOu stuck with the Nvidia cards as well, aside of the moderate 1200 build you picked up a Radeon 4870... Can I safely assume then that the GTX 260/280/290 line will mostly outperform the 4870 in most cases? Provided I only have 1 card of course.

    Was there a reasoning on vid card branding also? Nvidia was XFX or eVGA, are these now the top companies, should I er.. 'abandon' BFG Tech? Lastly, you rolled with Intel cores the whole time, going to assume that Intel has the CPU market hands down right now in terms of speed.

    I'll try to work up my own wishlist off of newegg and have y'all critique it, again I haven't looked at a specific budget, probably under 1500(ish), since I'm contemplating picking up a solid 23" widescreen to replace my 21" - but this isn't a priority.
  2. IMO, the ram I linked is the best bang for the buck currently, prices change everyday so I might suggest something different tomorrow.

    You could get a better Mobo like the one I used in the expensive build, but for most people the Asus P6T or the Gigabyte x58 UD4P will have all the necessary features and will perform just as well as the more expensive boards.

    For graphics cards, it goes in this order more or less, brand names are less important, however some brands give you better service than others or have better cooling. BFG is a fine brand, but I tend to see their prices higher than other brands. EVGA has great customer service and the step-up program which is nice, and so I often recommend them.
    4850<gtx260-192proc/4870 512mb<4870 1 gb/gtx260-216<gtx280<gtx285<4870x2<gtx295

    A 64-bit OS is recommended if you want to use more than 3.5 gb of ram. 64 bit OS will recognize much more ram than 32 bit, and in every other instance is just about identical, even pricewise. So IMO its dumb to get a 32 bit OS unless its given to you for free.
  3. Alrighty, here's what I put together.. there's duplicate item slots in here because I couldn't decide which way to go.


    Obviously not figuring in a new PSU, it sounds like the I7, ram, and the huge honkin vid card will require a 750+ psu.. something I dont have layin around, mine is only 550 back home in my old rig. Not figurign in a 1TB drive, I need to price the seagate 1TBs yet unelss there is a reason I should avoid, I've had zero issues in the past with my Seagates, although one of my WD 80's gave it up a couple years ago.. back when a person with a 320gb drive was king of the hill... So I've stuck with Seagate since.

    Also I'm still contemplating if a SSD as a boot drive is a worthy choice now, or if I should wait until SSD is more commonplace and the price comes down further. The XFX card I picked out was largely comparable to the BFG cards I've seen, similar in price and the stats are enar the same, but it comes with farCry2 and COD5 (i don't really play COD but... it's a nice throw-in).

    The ATI card is a dual GPU, but it's a 4850 vice a 4870.. the 4870's are way too much for me now, i'm seeing people with issues regrding the ati/sapphire drivers being non functional for the cards though, a bit of a turn off, but not soemthing I can't find a work around for.

    Oht he RAM... I've always sued Corsair in the past but it's so ungodly expensive IMO @ 6gb, even @4gb. OCZ seems to be a solid competitor so I picked two that look good.. I know that 5-5-5-15 is ideal or lower... the oens I picked are 8-8-8-24 w/ 8CAS.. ot sure if thats good or not..I don't grasp ram timing at all or how it works.. what to look for that is. the one I picked has XMP profiles, but reviews in both mentioned needing to manually set the timing int he BIOS... I'd need to learn how to do that.. I'm betting there's an article here on that.

    Lastly, I had tof ollow suit on your CPU/MOBO/CPU Fan setup, I couldn't find anything better without going down to a dual core, or a quad core at 3ghz I could possibly OC for less... but thats back tot he 775 socket... thoughts?
  4. Get the p6t mobo, and the gtx 285.

    As far as ram timings go, the cas 8 is decent for ddr3, just like cas5 was decent for ddr2.

    I would get the G. skill ram in my builds that I posted up there, rather than that OCZ ram, it has better timings, its cheaper, and has better heatspreaders.

    Setting timings is easy. you just select "configure ram timings" or something like that and just select them from a list, takes 10 seconds. I have the P6T board you have in your list and it has a fairly standard bios that is easy to navigate.

    You should avoid seagates, right now the 7200.11 drives have a lot of failures due to firmware issues, I'm not sure the 7200.12 drives are doing any better. Go for WD, they are the most reliable.
  5. I haven't totalled up the costs yet, I'm certain it'll be well over 1200.. but in the interests of nitpicking...

    Which is the better route, running the I7 Quad 2.66 / P6T, or running the Kentsfield core ( http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115017 ) with an appropriate matching mainboard? I see folks OCing it easily up to 3.0-3.5. A big con is it's a socket 775, but considering I don't upgrade often, every 2-3 years, the 1366 socket type the I7 uses will likely be on its way out the door also in a similar timeframe.

    Back tot eh SSD/HDD line.. any thoughts, is that a bad idea to use a 32 or 64gb SSD to dual boot linux and XP (i'll have to find a copy of 64bit XP, bleh) while keeping most of my data on a HDD? I'm thinking the ultra quick boot times and applicatino load times (for major applications on the SSD drive, and major games i use alot). It will likely boil down to a cost thing. Regardless, I compeltely appreciate the help you're offering up!
  6. Gads. Totalled it up, I created 2 builds using a SSD for a boot drive with a 600ish GB drive for storage of all files, data, programs, etc. The SSD would be used as a dual boot for WinXP and Linux - probably Ubuntu although I may switc to LinuxMint or Fedora, I'm still trying to nail down the exact distro I want to use.

    This is primarily for gaming on a moderate budget, I didn't notice the Phenom II x4 @ 3ghz out there and I don't know what to do for an AM2+ mainboard either, I think though that ther performance on both builds would be relatively comparable. The intel build is fairly pricey, i'm fond of the cheaper AMD build.

    If I can get comments on the builds either way it'd be excellent. For cost purposes, I kept the memory down to a 4gb limit, as the triple chan isn't a huge increase (accordign to one of the articles here). I'm curious on the CPU HSF I picke dout, I never noticed it, but it looks comparable to the CCOOLER MASTER V8 RR-UV8-XBU1-GP 120mm Rifle CPU Cooler - Retail The Cooelr Master runs off of a Rifle vs the Sleeve the one I picked uses, I don't frankly know the difference (hurray ignorance!)

    Without further ado:

    AMD Build:

    I7 Build:

    Again, any comments/critiques etc would be aprpeciated, thanks!


    Oh Right, forgot to mention I would likely OC the CPUs as far up as I can, 3.5ghz seems to be stable for the I7 and Id assume the PII could handle the same if not a bit more.
  7. You can push both CPU's to around 3.8-4.0+ ghz, it depends a lot on your ram and motherboard you use them with.

    I wouldn't suggest going with SSD's at the moment, the technology isn't mature yet and prices are outrageous, I'd say in a year or two it would be worth it, just get 2 of those caviar black drives and run them raid 0 for low load times if its really that important to you.

    The memory you chose for the i7 build won't work, the voltage is too high and you will fry your cpu. The voltage needs to be below ~1.7v, 1.65 is the spec that intel supplied for the upper limit of the i7 DRAM Voltage. Best to get a triple channel memory kit because they are all made to be within specs of the i7. If you can't afford the 6gb kit, get a 3gb kit.

    The cooler you picked is decent, not quite as good as the V8, TRUE or Noctua NHU12P, but still quite good. If you want to save money on the cooler, look at the Xigmatech S1283 with LGA 1366 retention bracket if you go that route, or without it if you decide AMD. Its about the same performance as the Monsoon LT III, but cheaper.

    For gaming, there isn't a huge difference in performance PII 940 vs i7 920, usually the graphics card becomes the bottleneck before either of these processors in games. However outside of games, the i7 wins hands down in almost every task. If you do a lot of other things besides gaming, like video editing/rendering, photoshop, media file conversion or the like, you want to go the i7 route. If not, the PII might be a better option for the price. i7's are still going to be faster in games than the PII, the difference just isn't that noticeable right now because most games do not take advantage of the i7 architecture yet. This may change in a year or two though, so if you don't upgrade that often, the i7 will probably be a better option.
  8. That said and since nobody actually specced out a possible Phenom 2 rig for $85x

    Hybrid Power and you!


    So great in games both dual core and multi core optimised, low in price and huge in power consumption when not in gaming mode i.e office/net/movies :P
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