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Choosing a CPU

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June 10, 2009 11:21:19 PM

Hey all,

I had a thread over in Homebuilt systems. I'm trying to build a new gaming computer for around $1000. I've figured out everything except CPU, which I'm really waffling back and forth on. I got some decent advice in the other thread, but nothing convinced to get a particular CPU, and I see a lot of conflicting accounts here and other places regarding the values of quad-cores vs. tri-cores vs. dual-cores. In addition, some places say DDR3 is a big step up over DDR2 while others say it's no big deal (relevant because the Phenom II X4 940 is AM2+ socket only.

Options I'm looking at:

Phenom II X3 720 (cheapest option, tri core)
E8500 (dual core with best value as far as I can tell)
Phenom II X4 940 (best overall value, but no DDR3 support)
Q9550 (Intel quad core with best value)
Phenom II X4 955 (most expensive, but probably has more upgrade potential than Q9550)

I put a brief note about what I consider the "issue" with each processor. If you have a disagreement (like with what I consider to be the "best value" in its category), or think there's an option I haven't considered, feel free to say so.

Obviously, most games today will see only a small difference between any of the CPU's and I'm well aware of that. However that may not be true 2 or 3 years from now, and my intention is go at least that long without a CPU upgrade. It's for this reason that I'm hesitant to just get the E8500 like I'm sure at least one person is going to say. It's true that this will be primarily a gaming pc, but I might use it for other things and I don't necessarily want to limit my decision based on what's most efficient for gaming.

Also, currently I do not have plans to overclock, but that might also change as I try to keep up with newer software. Therefore, if overclocking is an issue with any of these I would be curious to know about it.

More about : choosing cpu

a c 159 à CPUs
June 11, 2009 12:19:43 AM

I wouldn't go over 95 watts for your cpu. It's a waste of energy and some generate too much heat. I would put more into your video card and memory, and a board that runs memory at 1066.
a b à CPUs
June 11, 2009 2:00:36 AM

could do Phenom II x4 810, you have to OC it using base clock, then it would also let you use DDR3, and stay in the 95w envelope
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June 12, 2009 7:50:14 AM

To be brutally honet based on what yo said your best option right now would probably be the 720 BE or the 955. Not too many games right now are optimized to take advantage of multiple cores but that will change by next year with windows seven and dx11, more games will be designed to take better advantage of multi core processors however many developers will focus more on inproving the graphics engine and gpu impact in their games rather than worrying heavily about processors,both the 720 and the 955 come with unlocked multipliers and a decent amount of cache (6 mb) and both are known to be good with games,i would not bother going with the 775 too much if you are going to go intel either save some money and get the i7 920 (for future proofing) or wait till the i5 comes out otherwise the 955 and 720 are your best options depending on wha your priorities are. The 720 consumes less power and is slighlty less clocked but can easily be tweaked to increase speed and the three cores will help in more demanding multi threaded apps,the 955 is more powerful and probably offers more future proofing with four cores clocked at 3.1 ghz and 6 mb of cache you should be pretty much set for a long time but either way i think you will be fine with both chips,and both of tem are better options than intel core 2 duos at the moment.
a b à CPUs
June 12, 2009 8:27:33 AM

I'm with rooseveltdon.
June 12, 2009 8:52:54 AM

get 200 more or wait for i5, Bing!
June 12, 2009 10:01:27 AM

I;ve got a 720 be @ 3.6 gig for three weeks. I,ve got an ati 4890 overclocked every thing runs cool...I UPGRADED FROM AN OPTERON 175 X2 @3.0 GIG with a 9800gt this new setup blows it away...................And nowi have even activated the fourth core and finally got it stable. Heaps more grunt ......again GO THE 720 BLACK EDITION ....They say once you've tried black you never turn back :sol:  :sol:  :sol:  :sol: 



http://valid.canardpc.com/show_oc.php?id=581694
http://www.pcpitstop.com/betapit/sec.asp?conid=22243374...
a c 143 à CPUs
June 12, 2009 12:58:00 PM

I'll add my 2 cents for the 720BE. Second choice would be the PII-940.
No, I'm not an AMD fanboi; my current primary is a Q9450. The e8500 is the least future-resistant. Quick enough today, it may be less so as apps/games that use more cores are released, yet it would be on the dead-end 775, which limits upgrade options.
June 12, 2009 11:18:56 PM

I'd go the P11 955 Am3 it's ddr3 compatible just a bit more future proof than the 940 which is still a good choice....
I've now got the 720 quite stable i think .....3.7gig.Ran crysis cpu benchmark 3x No bsod....get a better cpu cooler if you oc cpu My temps are still cool overdrive reads 19 degrees celcius i am running a xigmatec achilles cooler. works great problem is its so big it blocks 1x ram slot
http://valid.canardpc.com/show_oc.php?id=585061
a c 83 à CPUs
June 13, 2009 12:04:56 AM

Personally I find it hard to justify purchasing a Phenom II X4 955, feels like a complete waste of money to me. Approximately $55 more than a Phenom II X4 940 just because its the new flagship and supports DDR3, not like DDR3 has a noticeable advantage over DDR2 right now.

I'd go with either the Phenom II X3 720BE or the Phenom II X4 940BE.
June 13, 2009 12:22:05 AM

Phoenix012 said:
Hey all,
Options I'm looking at:

Phenom II X3 720 (cheapest option, tri core)
E8500 (dual core with best value as far as I can tell)
Phenom II X4 940 (best overall value, but no DDR3 support)
Q9550 (Intel quad core with best value)
Phenom II X4 955 (most expensive, but probably has more upgrade potential than Q9550)


I am going through the exact same decision tree you are atm, and this will be my first custom build with Intel VT a must for Windows 7 XP emulation. I found these two articles helpful.

http://techreport.com/articles.x/17023/15

http://techreport.com/articles.x/16570

What this appear to tell me... There is no game or applications that "I play (MMO,Strats,RPG's, no shooters)" today which I will benefit from anything beyond dual core. Dual Core has the best base clock speed and would appear the best choice. With the 720BE being the best multi-core choice on a value metric (even more so if we OC as it is very OC friendly with 3.4 being a stable standard I have read).

However, what I read is buying a E8500, a lot of the components I will be buying will also become obsolete as intel phases out 775. The 720BE will not have this problem.

So I think if I/we decide on a E8500 option we should plan for a more-limited/costly upgrade path.

As I further read, DDR3 should not be an issue as DDR2 is the best current choice as the components today do not take enough advantage to warrant the extra cost.

So in the end I view it like this... please correct me if I am wrong... The E8500 is a better choice for today go with cheaper but still quality components (I wont SLI for example)with 720BE path you can choose more costly "better" components because the build can survive a CPU replacement. Assuming you have a budget of course (mine being $1,000 or under)

Does this all sound right :pt1cable: 
June 13, 2009 12:46:51 AM

halt said:
I am going through the exact same decision tree you are atm, and this will be my first custom build with Intel VT a must for Windows 7 XP emulation. I found these two articles helpful.

http://techreport.com/articles.x/17023/15

http://techreport.com/articles.x/16570

What this appear to tell me... There is no game or applications that "I play (MMO,Strats,RPG's, no shooters)" today which I will benefit from anything beyond dual core. Dual Core has the best base clock speed and would appear the best choice. With the 720BE being the best multi-core choice on a value metric (even more so if we OC as it is very OC friendly with 3.4 being a stable standard I have read).

However, what I read is buying a E8500, a lot of the components I will be buying will also become obsolete as intel phases out 775. The 720BE will not have this problem.

So I think if I/we decide on a E8500 option we should plan for a more-limited/costly upgrade path.

As I further read, DDR3 should not be an issue as DDR2 is the best current choice as the components today do not take enough advantage to warrant the extra cost.

So in the end I view it like this... please correct me if I am wrong... The E8500 is a better choice for today go with cheaper but still quality components (I wont SLI for example)with 720BE path you can choose more costly "better" components because the build can survive a CPU replacement. Assuming you have a budget of course (mine being $1,000 or under)

Does this all sound right :pt1cable: 


umm yes and no. The intel E8500 is a good choice but right now the dual core with the best price to performance ratio is the phenom 2 x2 550, it is the same as the 720 be but with 2 cores and faster clock speed, it beats almost every other dual core with the exception of the E8 series and in the real world the differences are not really noticable (mostly synthetic benchmarks) with your budget you could easily build an am3 system with the x2 550 and still have money left for other parts like a second gpu or an extra drive and on top of all that you still get a viable upgrade path should you choose to upgrade processors....in the end when it comes to price to performance you can't really go wrong with the phenom 2 line at least not at this moment. Don't get me wrong the E8 series is a great line of dual cores but the upgrade path is limited and you spend more money for it whereas the am3 system will give you the same performance at a cheaper price and a better upgrade path.
June 13, 2009 12:49:24 AM

amd 905e Low on energy and quad... Bing!
a b à CPUs
June 13, 2009 12:57:01 AM

I'll vote the PhenomII x3 720 BE. Cheap price now means better components (GPU) now. Very overclockable, but good performance stock. AM3 ready so future CPU upgrades will be possible down the road. Good motherboard choices available at reasonable cost, DDR3 RAM is very affordable now.
a b à CPUs
June 13, 2009 2:34:22 AM

The x3 720 is $140, does better in games that support multi cores, does better in apps that support multi cores and is more upgradeable.
June 13, 2009 7:14:00 AM

halt said:
Silent PC has a curent review of the 550 which offers a good but less glowing review than many here may agree with. I think I am leaning to the E8400 or E8500

http://www.silentpcreview.com/article949-page6.html


lol you would base your entire decision based on an article from silentpc? (the review was pretty much what we have all been saying here)we all admitted that the E8 series beats the 550 in performance however the 550 is only 102 dollars (or 109 dollars depending on where you look) and offers very comparable performance,it also offers a better upgrade path than the e8 series does....so if you are an intel person and you wanna go that route then good,nevertheless he can always get the 720 BE which multi tasks better than the E8 series and can be overclocked just as easily.
June 13, 2009 1:21:54 PM

Thanks all for the many replies. This has been very helpful. I haven't made a final decision, yet, but I've gotten most of my questions answered. I appreciate it.
June 13, 2009 1:36:39 PM

I'm surprised no-one has mentioned that Intel and AMD measure their TDP's differently so in actual fact, a Q9550 which is rated at 95w is close to a 940 rated at 125w in energy usage.
June 13, 2009 2:22:24 PM

You know, I didn't know that specifically, but I suspected something along those lines because in actual benchmarks the Q9550 and Q9400 barely edge out their AMD equivalents in power consumption. I've already pretty much settled on an AMD processor, but its still good to know.
June 14, 2009 2:50:16 AM

Or like i said in the beginning, get 200 more and kick the sh%t out of all of it, no need for useless discussion
!