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I7-920 vs X955 value decision

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September 17, 2009 5:16:13 PM

Gents:

Many THW posts have addressed the value-decision between Intel i7-920 and AMD X4.9xx processors. I've been of two-minds until recently, but now I believe value-advantage goes to the AMD-955. I accept the "Mercedes" argument in rejecting an X-965.

Then I see ehe lower-quality retail fan/heatsink on the i7-920 making a crucial difference. In practical use that CPU WILL be overclocked well beyond the nominal 2.66G thus requiring another $50 cost. That raises the INTEL price to ~ $330; compared to the $190 for the AMD-955 easily overclockable to 3.4 @ 140W with retail heatsink.

That's a $140 difference. Not peanuts for my value_budget. Even with a PUSH on motherboards ( both MSI at ~ $170 ), that money buys a very nice NV_9800GTX vidcard with CUDA extending floating-point power of the entire kit. Maximizing performance, floating_point comparisons will be CUDA vs CPU.

That's the way I see current value proposition . The Intel I5 kit is too untested IMHO to be considered.

More about : 920 x955 decision

September 17, 2009 7:46:39 PM

Trouble-free reliability is worth a lot to me. User experience shows the MSI_G70 board to be a robust, well-designed product .

Updating BIOS is quite-beyond my skill/comfort-level, so novel mobos with RAW BIOS function for a new CPU family are verbotten. I would not touch an i5/p55 product for 6-months and even then the UBUNTU drivers might not like it! Has happened before.
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September 17, 2009 8:41:28 PM

If someone is in need of greater CPU power, an i7-860 may be a viable option. It is more expensive, yes, but has the hyperthreading and cache that the i5 lacks. It could happen, but I would not bet on AMD leapfrogging Intel any time soon.
If you need GPU power, however, the benchmarks show me that there is not likely to be a VISIBLE difference in games between the 955 and i5 or i7, especially if the platform price difference has allowed a better GPU to be used with the 955.
It doesn't look like you're asking a question, but I generally agree with your line of reasoning.
For long-term reliability though, I know personally two guys in the business and know OF some others who report very high rates of failure with MSI mobos. Maybe they're better now, but I have yet to take the chance.
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September 17, 2009 11:31:45 PM

Quote:
If you only play games then get the X4
If your into aps as well get the 920. The 920 is up too 50% faster in aps because of hyperthreading



I understand and agree with those numbers -- I do-NOT game and I run lots of demanding floating_point computations analogous to "Folding...". AS well as generic word-processing/email and various "fluffy" WWW & DVD stuff.

So, I have trade_offs to make on a tight budget leading me to the "value" proposition rather than max_FLOPs. There's one other point: Serious, realistic scientific calculations often require "astronomical" computing power. Computing power NOT to be found on any desktop unit no matter how dedicated the choice of components.
So the "rudeness" of necessary approximations exceeds effects of the 50% i7-920 FP gain you correctly point out. The difference between a 4-hr X-955 calculation and 3-hr i7-920 calculation just doesn't make that much difference as (code for) either model has been approximated-to-near-death.

BTW: As one of my "trade-ins" I have opted for a 28" Hanns monitor: That's $300 and will be the most expensive piece of new kit. I believe the "free" nv_9800GTX will push it.
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September 18, 2009 6:59:46 AM

nss000 said:
Trouble-free reliability is worth a lot to me. User experience shows the MSI_G70 board to be a robust, well-designed product .

Updating BIOS is quite-beyond my skill/comfort-level, so novel mobos with RAW BIOS function for a new CPU family are verbotten. I would not touch an i5/p55 product for 6-months and even then the UBUNTU drivers might not like it! Has happened before.



Just to let you know that you will have to learn to upgrade your bios with any brand you go with. If you want to upgrade the CPU down the road, many times a bios update is required. It is not that hard, depending on the brand of mother board you go with. Asus makes it very easy to upgrade the bios with a USB flash stick. Down load the right bios for your model board, transfer it onto the Usb flash drive, and go into our bios under the tools section, it will walk you through what you need to do. Now go with a Jetway board, and things can get interesting trying to upgrade the bios, Atleast on the HA04 extreme model it was a pain to upgrade, and required a Floppy drive to do so. If your going to take the time to learn to build computers, take the time to learn how to update your bios.


As with the MSI mother boards, I know from first hand experience on the ones produced for Emachines, the 939 socket for AMD are prone to fail. I have seen two die, one just six months after it was bought. No bad caps, no signs of any damage, just went bad. I have heard good things about there topend board however.
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September 18, 2009 8:08:00 PM

Well zip, I used to before I got sick and tired of buying junk from stores like bestbuy and got smart and started building my own builds. I agree with you on the luck of the draw with motherboards. I was not trying to knock MSI boards, just bringing up the point, not always but most times you get what you pay for. The ones on the Emachines that I has seen go bad are the MS-7207 ver. 1 and they suck. Other then those models I have heard really good things about MSI boards, and would not think twice about trying them. I have had no problems with the 3 Asus motherboards I have bought and used in my builds.

I have not tried Gigabyte's boards but would also try them also, and have heard they are a good company.

If hes not gaming then he doesn't need the $170 dollar MSI board, unless he wants that option down the road.
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September 18, 2009 9:20:38 PM

medjohnson77 said:
Well zip, I used to before I got sick and tired of buying junk from stores like bestbuy and got smart and started building my own builds. I agree with you on the luck of the draw with motherboards. I was not trying to knock MSI boards, just bringing up the point, not always but most times you get what you pay for. The ones on the Emachines that I has seen go bad are the MS-7207 ver. 1 and they suck. Other then those models I have heard really good things about MSI boards, and would not think twice about trying them. I have had no problems with the 3 Asus motherboards I have bought and used in my builds.

I have not tried Gigabyte's boards but would also try them also, and have heard they are a good company.

If hes not gaming then he doesn't need the $170 dollar MSI board, unless he wants that option down the road.


That board was the only 5-EGG X9xx board, and the bios supports x955-965 out of the box! I have failed twice & will never again try to update any BIOS. Too risky. PERIOD!

My general impression is that lots of AM2/AM3 boards are shuck/jive slaptogethers ... I want a bullet-proof solution that works forever the first time.
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September 18, 2009 11:54:36 PM

That is all well and fine, sorry that you messed upgrading your bios a couple times on other boards, however there are detailed instructions out there that show you how to do it with out any problems at all. I know that Asus boards are very easy to do it with, and also there may be reason's why you failed at your attempts to do it. Were they store bought computers with crap mother boards in them? Did you try to update it through the Bios and not in Windows with a update software? Updating your bios in Windows is not a very good Idea IMO.

If that is your impression(shuck/jive slaptogethers) then IMO I say your off in your assumption. There is no bullet-proof solution, if you want to ever update your CPU to a better one, chance's are you will have to update your Bios.
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September 19, 2009 12:38:56 AM

medjohnson77 said:
That is all well and fine, sorry that you messed upgrading your bios a couple times on other boards, however there are detailed instructions out there that show you how to do it with out any problems at all. I know that Asus boards are very easy to do it with, and also there may be reason's why you failed at your attempts to do it. Were they store bought computers with crap mother boards in them? Did you try to update it through the Bios and not in Windows with a update software? Updating your bios in Windows is not a very good Idea IMO.

If that is your impression(shuck/jive slaptogethers) then IMO I say your off in your assumption. There is no bullet-proof solution, if you want to ever update your CPU to a better one, chance's are you will have to update your Bios.


My last build was an AMD_5400+/M2N Asus mobo. Both CPU & mobo had been out for a year +. A BULLETPROOF COMBO. Every 6-mo I blow dust off the fans. My P4@2.66/GB kit is 6-yo, runs x32 Ubuntu and never whimpers ... and the AMD 2600+/Asus/WinME sys is 7-yo and rock-solid 4-hours at a time. I think I once changed a fan.

My impression of AM2/AM3 mobos comes from reading LOTS of builder_reviews. Initially they all needed BIOS flashes which puts a board on my sh**list; then bad stuff just seems to happen ... too much heat or too much optimism with fringe components. I expect a system to work first-time, require nothing more and never stop. Why should I expect less?
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September 19, 2009 1:14:22 PM

nss000 said:
My last build was an AMD_5400+/M2N Asus mobo. Both CPU & mobo had been out for a year +. A BULLETPROOF COMBO. Every 6-mo I blow dust off the fans. My P4@2.66/GB kit is 6-yo, runs x32 Ubuntu and never whimpers ... and the AMD 2600+/Asus/WinME sys is 7-yo and rock-solid 4-hours at a time. I think I once changed a fan.

My impression of AM2/AM3 mobos comes from reading LOTS of builder_reviews. Initially they all needed BIOS flashes which puts a board on my sh**list; then bad stuff just seems to happen ... too much heat or too much optimism with fringe components. I expect a system to work first-time, require nothing more and never stop. Why should I expect less?



Well thing about it is that from the time frame of the AM2 boards, to the AM2+ and Am3 you had several new line processors coming out which your boards and AM2 and some am2+ boards were made before these processors were out (Phenom's, Phenom IIs) If you can't do a bios update then find someone that can, you should be thankful that your motherboards, and the company that produced them and AMD gave you options to upgrade your processor to a better one without buying a new board and new ram.

Thats cool you run Ubuntu, I am trying to install Unbutu for the first time, and running into problems with it seeing my Raid 0 partitions, and Vista and Windows 7 installs. I am sure I will figure it out though, but still working on a fix.
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September 19, 2009 3:19:37 PM

medjohnson77 said:
Well thing about it is that from the time frame of the AM2 boards, to the AM2+ and Am3 you had several new line processors coming out which your boards and AM2 and some am2+ boards were made before these processors were out (Phenom's, Phenom IIs) If you can't do a bios update then find someone that can, you should be thankful that your motherboards, and the company that produced them and AMD gave you options to upgrade your processor to a better one without buying a new board and new ram.

Thats cool you run Ubuntu, I am trying to install Unbutu for the first time, and running into problems with it seeing my Raid 0 partitions, and Vista and Windows 7 installs. I am sure I will figure it out though, but still working on a fix.


No! I should not be "thankful".

Instead I should respect the basic difference between a sophisticated , technically advanced builder like yourself ... and my own modest skills. Optimism is NO VIRTUE on my part. Over-reaching a build is the worst thing I can do. Both you & I have surely read multiple forum horror-stories of noobs totally twisted-up with kit-builds & software systems WAY beyond their ability.

Yes each build I extend my "comfort level" a bit. And yes I am looking at minimum hardware performance levels. But, my first responsibility is to choose function & kit proportional to current skills. When I lay CPU+MOBO+1-ramstick on a piece of cardboard and powerup the damm-fan-turns ! First-time.

BTW: You'll love UBUNTU. I'm running x64v_8.04.1 LTS rock solid! I do believe it prefers a HARDWARE raid-solution and I have never tried it. **NB** install Windows 1st or mbr gets all fluxxed up!
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