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What AM3 CPU and memory should I buy

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October 28, 2009 8:49:30 PM

Hi,

I am upgrading my gaming rig to an AM3 platform. I have already chosen a Gigabyte GA-MA785GT-UD3H mobo (that was the easy part).

Now I need to find a good AM3 CPU and matching 2x2GB memory.

The three AM3 CPUs that are very similar in price is the 550, 720, 810.

I want to know which has the best value and performance. I mainly play modern FPS games and don't do anything extreme like video transcoding, photohop etc.

Other than games I use it for assignments at university mainly Office, electronic PCB design (Altium), occasional CAD work (Solidworks), MATLAB, programming (Java Eclipse, C# Visual Studio Pro, C AVRs) etc.

I am willing to try overclocking and unlocking of cores (but only with the stock cooler for the moment - my case is a thermaltake with lots of fans).

For memory there are these:
At DDR3 1333:
Corsair XMS3 @ CAS9
Crucial @ CAS9 (I notice it was recommended in the system builder marathon)
G-Skill @ CAS8 or 9 (never heard of these guys before not sure if I trust them as much as the established guys)

At DDR3 1600:
Corsair XMS3 @ CAS 9
G-Skill Ripjaw @ CAS 8 or 9 or 7
Kingston HyperX @ CAS 8
OCZ Gold @ CAS 8

In case graphics is important I am planning on using the 785G's integrated until either 4870's become a bargain (now that 5000 series is out) or a 5770/5850/5870 when I have more cash next year.

I would like the system to be future proof (my current Athlon 64 skt 939 has been around for a loooooooong time).

What do you guys reccomend?

EDIT: Added OCZ and G-Skill @ 7

More about : am3 cpu memory buy

October 29, 2009 9:56:25 AM

I like the look of how cheap the G-Skill CAS 7 is compared to corsair...
Who here nows how reliable G-Skill memory is? (and how much it overclocks)
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October 29, 2009 10:01:10 AM

You use Solidworks and Matlab?

May I strongly suggest an LGA1366 platform then, if you haven't already bought the motherboard? I do those all the time, and matlab is quite particular to memory speed (in which the i7 is unmatched), and if you do any sort of FEM/CFD work in solidworks, it will eat through as many threads as you can throw at it.
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October 29, 2009 10:22:06 AM

cjl said:
You use Solidworks and Matlab?

May I strongly suggest an LGA1366 platform then, if you haven't already bought the motherboard? I do those all the time, and matlab is quite particular to memory speed (in which the i7 is unmatched), and if you do any sort of FEM/CFD work in solidworks, it will eat through as many threads as you can throw at it.



Some of us are on a budget here...
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October 29, 2009 10:26:02 AM

I prefer AMD as I have used their CPUs in all the computers I have built back to the K6-2.
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October 29, 2009 10:32:53 AM

Well you better hurry as there will be no more Phenom II X2 550 BE,Phenom II X3 720 BE and I don't even see the Phenom II X4 810 anymore at newegg.
See here.
http://techreport.com/discussions.x/17796
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October 29, 2009 10:33:15 AM

Herr_Koos said:
Some of us are on a budget here...

Hence the existence of the i7-920.

(Believe me, I am familiar with the concept of a budget - in this case though, I would argue that 1366 is worth it if the OP is doing any significant work in Solidworks or Matlab - the time saved can be significant)
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October 29, 2009 10:33:59 AM

ljbade said:
I prefer AMD as I have used their CPUs in all the computers I have built back to the K6-2.

If you really want AMD, that's fine. With Solidworks and Matlab though, the 1366 platform has significant advantages (in games, the difference would probably be negligible).

For AMD, I'd lean towards an x4 955 BE and some 1600MHz memory (any of the ones listed should be pretty good).

Get 8GB of RAM too - meshing in solidworks takes quite a bit of RAM, and I've exceeded 10GB used by solidworks alone at times.
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October 29, 2009 10:48:16 AM

jj463rd said:
Well you better hurry as there will be no more Phenom II X2 550 BE,Phenom II X3 720 BE and I don't even see the Phenom II X4 810 anymore at newegg.
See here.
http://techreport.com/discussions.x/17796

I highly doubt that AMD would cancel some of their best selling models, especially the 720 which has been a huge seller.

Anyway, I would suggest the 720. Its a very solid cpu, great for gaming and its got that extra core for whatever else your doing. Of course theres always that chance that you can get that extra core (I did) but its not guaranteed. My second choice would be the 810 since its a full guaranteed quad and would perform similarly to the 900 series if you overclocked it. The only downside to the 810 is that it only has 4mb of cache compared to 6mb on the other Phenom II models.

As for ram all those brands are good and would work fine. G.skill is a good brand, I bought some DDR400 from them a while ago to juice up an old P4 system. I also put some of their DDR2 800 in my dad's new system and I've had no problems so far. I'm a bit weary about OCZ, I bought 2x2gb of their DDR3 1066 to put in my brothers Phenom II 720 build and the first set came with a bad stick. RMA'd it and I kept getting errors in Prime95 with the second set they sent me, but I lived with it.
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October 29, 2009 11:03:49 AM

bige420 said:
I highly doubt that AMD would cancel some of their best selling models, especially the 720 which has been a huge seller.
I think that it's being phased out and the triple core Athlon II's are taking it's place.
Here is AMD's current pricing on CPU's.The Phenom II X3 720 is not listed in the pricing nor is the 550 BE.


http://www.amd.com/us-en/Processors/ProductInformation/...
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October 29, 2009 11:22:35 AM

Wow I didn't realise that they were EOL'ing those CPUs... they are very good value considering they are almost full X4s and have the possibility of being unlocked (thats most likely why they are going)! The Athlons are too crippled for me.

I don't seem to recall it mentioned anywhere here in the news articles.
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October 29, 2009 11:25:08 AM

Yeah kind of a shock to me too.I do agree with the 720 BE though.
Newegg was having a sale with those CPU's in combo deals probably to sell their inventory out.
As to the triple core Athlon II's Tom's Hardware has an article on the Athlon II X3 435 and it fared well against the Phenom II X3 720.
See here.It's only $87.It performed so close to the 720 BE that it's a better value.
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/athlon-ii-x3,2452.h...
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October 29, 2009 7:48:17 PM

Anyone know the success rates of core unlocks on the 550 vs the 720? Or how easily the 720 overclocks to 3.1GHz?
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October 30, 2009 8:12:18 AM

ljbade said:
Anyone know the success rates of core unlocks on the 550 vs the 720? Or how easily the 720 overclocks to 3.1GHz?


Meh... I wouldn't bargain on it. Some people have been lucky, but the reality is, the batch failed AMD's QA and thus the cores cannot be considered stable. If you want a cheap and reliable quad core, the Athlon II X4 may be your best bet.

From what I hear, the 720 overclocks like a beast. 3.5 on air, no problem.
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