Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in
Your question

Computing power i7 920 vs. Phenom II X3

Last response: in CPUs
Share
July 10, 2009 2:48:11 PM


Hi all,

My current computer is about to die, so I have beel looking around for a new one. My main concern: computing power. It will have to run some extensive statistical simulations (in R and C and a little bit of Java and Python), and I would like to be able to finish them as fast as possible. At the same time, I would like the machine to have some juice left for Photoshop and/or mp3 conversion.
This led me to a debate between Intel Core i7 920 and the AMD Phenom II X3 710 cpu's, as my local computer shop offers them at the moment.
Basically all the tests I see are about gaming speed and gaming power, but I will not do any serious gaming on the machine. There is, however, a need for fast statistical computing and running photoshop.
What would you suggest I'd get, the Intel or AMD processor?
The Intel processor is offered with the Asus P6T and some other things (case, a bit of memory) for E794 and the AMD with an MSI 770-C45 AM3/ATX/DDR3 for E457 (all in euros) (of course, the configuration can be altered). That is quite a price difference .

Is the Intel so much faster in computing speed, or would it be a waste of money not to go for the AMD given my needs?

thanks, Roger
a c 172 à CPUs
July 10, 2009 4:32:24 PM

For sheer computing power, it will be hard to beat the i7. It will just depend on your budget.
July 10, 2009 8:01:19 PM

thx jsc, does that mean it doesn't matter whether I am looking for gaming speed or for speed at computational tasks?
Related resources
July 17, 2009 7:49:39 PM

If you ignore speed of the graphics card, which is irrelevant (actually, it probably shouldn't be for simulations...there are some categories of simulation for which computing in the graphics card would be an ideal match, but that would depend on your simulation software using the appropriate library, and the library being available for your graphics card, but that probably isn't there today....but maybe in future??) then the stuff that's good for gaming performance are good for general performance.

But...you need to know how many cores your software can utilise...if only utilises two, then three or four isn't really adding anything and you would be better buying more clock speed and fewer cores and even more so if your software only utilises one and will carry on only utilising one.

As a very rough rule of thumb (varies from app to app), with a like core count, you will need a bit more clock speed on a phenom to get the same performance as an i720 with the same number of cores.

The i720 series probably includes the highest performance x86 arch parts that you can buy today, but the prices still tend to be a bit on the high side, particularly for the higher clocked parts. If you've looked at the prices and think that they are reasonable, then I'd strongly consider that.

If those prices seem high, saving money with an AMD solution isn't a bad move.

If neither of the above appeal, the i5 parts should be out in two or three months and they should be cheaper than the i7s and may even prompt some offers on the low end of the i7 series, as the low end will probably be discontinued.
July 17, 2009 10:30:59 PM

+1 Verge
If you have disposable income for the upgrade, why not i7. Keep in mind the i7 CPU by itself cost as much as a lot of CPU/mobo combos on newegg and that is speaking strictly of the 920.
July 18, 2009 3:05:33 AM

Verge said:
If you ignore speed of the graphics card, which is irrelevant (actually, it probably shouldn't be for simulations...there are some categories of simulation for which computing in the graphics card would be an ideal match, but that would depend on your simulation software using the appropriate library, and the library being available for your graphics card, but that probably isn't there today....but maybe in future??) then the stuff that's good for gaming performance are good for general performance.

But...you need to know how many cores your software can utilise...if only utilises two, then three or four isn't really adding anything and you would be better buying more clock speed and fewer cores and even more so if your software only utilises one and will carry on only utilising one.

As a very rough rule of thumb (varies from app to app), with a like core count, you will need a bit more clock speed on a phenom to get the same performance as an i720 with the same number of cores.

The i720 series probably includes the highest performance x86 arch parts that you can buy today, but the prices still tend to be a bit on the high side, particularly for the higher clocked parts. If you've looked at the prices and think that they are reasonable, then I'd strongly consider that.

If those prices seem high, saving money with an AMD solution isn't a bad move.

If neither of the above appeal, the i5 parts should be out in two or three months and they should be cheaper than the i7s and may even prompt some offers on the low end of the i7 series, as the low end will probably be discontinued.


This is a good post because it's about the real world situation. It is important to know how your software is going to respond to multiple cores. If it can't utilize 2 or 3 or 4 cores, then that's the reality.

The other thing in play here is the GPGPU idea which AMD is going into and they call it FUSION. where the cpu and gpu are fused for this type of work.

Unfortunately i cannot comment further; I simply am not up on this technology. However, it is my impression that some of this is already in play with AMD/ATI.

I used to hang at AMDzone.com and they discuss this exact scenario on a regular basis. One of the admins/engineers over there is working on a similar solution for himself. He is looking at some serious simulations and a lot of stuff very similar to what you are describing. His solution so far involves an AMD QUAD 955 Phenom II - not surprising that he would choose AMD on a site called AMDzone. but the point is not about bias. This is serious stuff and you need to discuss with some people who are highly conversant in this kind of tek.

I find it interesting that you are choosing between a 3core and a 4core; although you are emphasizing multitasking and "as fast as possible".

I wonder how fast is that really. I suppose you could peruse endless benchmarks and discover that i7 is simply faster in things like computational tasks for example. However, the price is higher, and also the price is higher for motherboards, and also the price is higher for ram since i7 also uses 3channel ram rather than 2channel - so it costs more for 3 sticks rather than 2 sticks.

So how fast is fast? If a speed difference of a few seconds matters, then you are compelled to spend the extra money. If a speed difference of 10 seconds makes or breaks your day; then again, you have to spend the money. If a speed difference of some number of seconds doesn't really matter; then you have the chance to save significant money on cpu, and ram, and motherboard by using AMD parts.

In the world of hollywood rendering re 3d grafx for movies; the difference of a few seconds per frame of movie translates into hours, or even days because they deal with thousands of frames per movie - so for a hundred thousand frames, a difference of 10 seconds or whatever, can really add up and make serious highstress deadlines makeable or breakable - I really don't think your situation is that pressing - but maybe it is.

The grafx issue is also potentially in play. Do you require a discrete grafx card? If not, then some AMD mobos offer the best onboard video solutions available. Indeed this onboard is far better than the good old days, and is actually able to run modern games, altho not at max settings; but nonetheless, it is very impressive; and would easily handle the job of Photoshop etc. If the grafx demand is heavy, then AMD/ATI in combo is favoured re performance in AMD systems; and this is documented by AMD.

Also there are other Phenom II cpu's such as the 810 quadcore which has 4 meg L3 cache instead of 6 megs like the 955 or even the 940 which is actually an AM2+ solution that uses ddr2 instead of the usual ddr3 standard with most AM3 motherboards.

For Socket AM2+ Mobo solutions, there is the Phenom II 920 and 940
note = all AM3 cpu's are also backwards compatible with Socket am2+ mobos

For Socket AM3 Mobo solutions, there is currently available:
(Phenom II's)
= quad cores = 955BE, 945, and 910;
= triple cores = 720BE, 710,

Socket AM3's are still rolling out, and soon, energy efficient cpu's (905e and 705e) will be available also.

But really, I recommend you consult the folks at the zone for more insight into your unique requirements.
!