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CPU Upgrade Paths: 1156 Price/Performance > Upgradeability?

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  • Performance
  • Intel i5
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Last response: in CPUs
September 30, 2009 10:31:27 PM

Whilst the i5 currently holds it's own as the best performance/££'s CPU available and almost parallels the socket 1336 i7 performance in gaming situations it would, on the face of it, seem a done deal that 90% of new builds this autumn will be i5's.

The problem for allot of people considering a new rig, such as myself, is the unsure future of the 1156 Socket. With Gulftown (i9) set to drop into 1336's sometime in 2010 along with AMD's Hexa-Core AM3 offering presumably following the Gulftown release it seems that the 1156 is failing in providing performance enthusiasts an upgrade path. Whilst "underclocked" i5's aimed at the green market will be released in Q1 2010 and the mid-low market i3 set to follow in the 1156 footsteps of the i5, have Intel so much as allowed rumours to develop surrounding the next performance CPU for the 1156?


I may be fishing for information simply too far in advance of the release schedules, but what’s the upgrade path for new i5 owners? The i3 will be 32nm as opposed to the Lynnfield’s 45nm die's so it would be safe to assume the next gen CPU's will follow this trend, with the reduction in manufacturing process size there should be room for improvement but why do we still have no rumours floating so much as suggesting there will be a follow up performance CPU for the 1156? In my eyes it's guaranteed that Intel will phase out 775's and look to create a high level of market penetration for the i3 in the SOHO environment and may well continue rolling out improved i3's for a number of years, will this be the future of the 1156 - i5 users relegated to watching the 1336 and AM3 performance increase whilst they're unable to upgrade?

The post is partly expressing my own opinion and an attempt to start a debate over the merits of the 1156/1336/AM3 sockets upgradeability.

NB: We all know the raw CPU performance is Bloomfield i7 > Lynnfield i7 > i5 > PII X4 and that in a gaming environment: B i7 = L i7 = i5 > PII X4 - the FPS increases in the first 3 are marginal and stepping between i5 and PII X4 is again nothing substantial 10% or in GPU-limited games, more so in GTA and the ilk.

So I'm not looking for any "OMGHAX0RZ the i7 is da best end of chat m8" or "AMD suck 'cos they can't keep up wiv da Intel's" - current performance aside where do you see the upgrade paths of the sockets being, does the Bloomfield warrant the extra 20% over an i5 build for future upgrades or should we all go AM3 for guaranteed CPU compatibility going forward?


More about : cpu upgrade paths 1156 price performance upgradeability

a c 160 à CPUs
September 30, 2009 11:20:51 PM

Best advice is to keep your old system or sell it intact and start over. "Future proofing" is obsolete; Intel wants you to keep buying their new systems every 2-3 years. Amd may change setups less often, as they have less money for new product development.
a b à CPUs
September 30, 2009 11:25:10 PM

yes. intel wants you to upgrade to a new system every 2-3 year, if you like change computers that often anyways.
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October 1, 2009 7:42:08 AM

I think it would be a failing on Intel's part if they fail to release a 2nd enthusiast CPU for the 1156. Doing so, rather than releasing a new CPU + socket, may net them less cash but it would surely generate alot of brand loyalty, whilst it also goes some way to regaining some number of the AMD enthusiasts who choose AMD for their back/forward compatiability.

With Intel already planning on shrinking the die size for the i3 I wonder if they'll demand us to purchase a new motherboard + CPU once the i5 owners come to upgrade. It's understandable that they'd want to push people towards newer CPU's but with most sockets these days recieving 2/3 compatiable CPU's I'd like the 1156 to be an option going forwards.
October 1, 2009 10:44:55 AM

Very glad you raised this point Cyrl, been wondering that myself. While building a gaming rig i wanted to got PhIIx4, but most of the guys on tomshardware starting chanting the i5 mantras. And yes, it is simple fact that an i5 gives you a slight advantage(when considering prices and mobos) for a gaming PC than the x4, but im paying a decent amount for a good mobo.

When i need to upgrade i want to be able to add a second GPU and replace the CPU, not have to go the whole hog simply because my 1156 socket offers no real upgrades. I am have, however, not been into the PC building scene for very long, so id love to know what some of the more experianced guys have to say.
October 1, 2009 2:49:21 PM

I have been looking into upgrading my aging system, and it seems that there's always something new or better on the horizon.If i upgrade now theres a good chance in 3-6 months my new system will be ecplised by new hardware.IMO AMD has the right idea , one socket with multiple upgrade paths , from X2 Athalons to PII X4's.Intel on the other hand has made us choose betwen 2 sockets , both sockets offer acceptable performance but target differant markets.

The 1366 Socket targets the Upper crust gamers , the folks that have the cash to spend on SLI and CF sytems and dual 24" monitor setups(admitadly I'm not in that class) , and we got the 1156 that targets the Low to Mid Gamers , the folks like me who can't justify spending a months wages on a PC.And lastely we got AMD , they seem to target the slot betwen Upper crust gamers and Mid lvl gamers , they try to offer close to top tier performance ,but at discount.

Jus from my skimming of the articles and forums of this website and various review sites , I have seen that in most cases Amd has the best system upgrade path.With that said "futureProofing" is almost a crazy idea , this industry changes far too much to even attempt to keep your system "current".My plan has always been , how can I make the system perform well for aslong as possible.To achieve that I Overclock and tweek the small things , and for the most part i can make a system perform to my liking for atleast 2 and half yrs.

So for the time being I'm going to get a bigger monitor and a Faster GPU , and hopefully in Feb-March I can wade through the multiple upgrade options and purchase another balanced system.
a b à CPUs
October 1, 2009 4:40:56 PM

I am in the minority - when I replace a CPU, I also replace the MB anyway.

Mother board manuf. Have also need to sell new products. This means that motherboards 2 1/2 -> 3 years down stream are normally considerably better and if I'm goining to upgrade, my upgrade will include a new MB. Upgrading from a P965-DQ6 which has served me well for the past 2 3/4 yrs.

Newer MBs will be coming out with Faster USB and the newer SATA 6 controllers.