Diminishing return on investment.

OK. The holidays are here, and my holiday list is almost ready to send. Yes, our Chrismas has a gift registry. We like to keep the religious aspects seperate, and the corperate aspects sleezy. You can quote that.

Anyway, apples to apples, Q9400, or Q9550?

My rig is a P5N-D, with a 750 watt PSU, GTX 260, 2G RAM, and SATA drives. On Tiger Direct (Newegg is actually higher this time) The Q9400 is $170, and the Q9550 is $250. I know about the Microcenter Q9550 for $170, but Atlanta is 200 miles from here, and Tiger won't price match at $170.

I don't care about synthetics. I want gaming, and before you ask, Quad vs. Dual, all the benchmarks I found say when Duals win its by ~6%, whereas when Quads win its by ~30%. Plus I multi-task. I'm not worried about core speed, name one game that NEEDS 3.0GHz+ CPU. Whatever CPU I get I'll OC to 1600 FSB (link and sync with RAM) and let the core fall where it falls.

So at the end of the day, is .2 GHz, and 6m of L2 worth $70?

Thank-you.
8 answers Last reply
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  1. No one in their right mind would argue the quad vs dual debate anymore, quads win. Also I will name a few games than NEEDS 3.0 GHz+ to do well, GTA 4, Flight SimX, and Crysis (I noticed an average of 8 FPs increase from going to 3.2 GHz from 2.6 GHz, but anything over that doesn't help Crysis). Luckily a 1600 FSB will net you 3.2 Ghz on the Q9400 and 3.4 GHz on the Q9550, which is fine.

    Now, the main difference between these two processors is the cache. The cache will help with low VRAM cards and slow RAM. Your GTX 260's VRAM is JUST enough not be called low, but isn't high by any means. Really you want 1GB nowadays, especially 1GB of GDDR5. Since you have 2 GB of RAM, your pretty close to the line there. Are these specs bad? No. Do I think you can benefit from the extra cache? Yes.

    It comes down to how much 200 miles or $70 is worth for you. The Q9400 is still a great processor, but the Q9550 does have some advantages. I would say that if this price is still iffy to you then go with the Q9400:

    http://www.buy.com/retail/product.asp?sku=206695693&listingid=63672568
  2. AMW1011 said:
    No one in their right mind would argue the quad vs dual debate anymore, quads win. Also I will name a few games than NEEDS 3.0 GHz+ to do well, GTA 4, Flight SimX, and Crysis (I noticed an average of 8 FPs increase from going to 3.2 GHz from 2.6 GHz, but anything over that doesn't help Crysis). Luckily a 1600 FSB will net you 3.2 Ghz on the Q9400 and 3.4 GHz on the Q9550, which is fine.

    Now, the main difference between these two processors is the cache. The cache will help with low VRAM cards and slow RAM. Your GTX 260's VRAM is JUST enough not be called low, but isn't high by any means. Really you want 1GB nowadays, especially 1GB of GDDR5. Since you have 2 GB of RAM, your pretty close to the line there. Are these specs bad? No. Do I think you can benefit from the extra cache? Yes.

    It comes down to how much 200 miles or $70 is worth for you. The Q9400 is still a great processor, but the Q9550 does have some advantages. I would say that if this price is still iffy to you then go with the Q9400:

    http://www.buy.com/retail/product.asp?sku=206695693&listingid=63672568


    I forgot about FSX. I had always seen bechmaks supporting 2.8-3.0 GHz being needed, and anything over that being gravy, and I'm fat enough as it is. I hadn't heard before the VRAM and L2 affected each other. I have the SSC edition with a MCW 60 on it if that helps. Need a roll of thermal tape to put on my VRAM heat spreaders so I can OC it more.

    How much will I benifit from the 6M of L2? anything less that ~20% I don't see as justifying $70.
  3. To be more clear, the extra cache will allow processes to be transferred to the RAM and VRAM more quickly. This allows the transfer of data to be more fluid which wont bog down the RAM and VRAM as much with a larger cache because the cache doesn't need to deplete itself as quickly. All this is a slight improvement, but can be the cause of a few stutters here and there in gaming. This is a tangible difference, not a huge or revolutionary difference by any means, but a tangible one. It depends on you whether it is important. I do believe that some extra RAM would put you in the clear area where the difference would likely be far more minute and that might be cheaper. Either way it is not huge, but there you are.

    Also do note that the benefits of really high clocks (3.6 GHz+) seem only to be relevant with multiple GPUs and in CPU heavy applications. Sadly, I am running a nVidia board and can't keep my CPU at 3.6 GHz for the life of me, but it would help in some games such as Fallout 3, World in Conflict, Dawn of War II, and would alleviate the horrible 15-30 FPS I get in huge battles in Supreme Commander with my GPUs almost idling, but that is an old E6750 and either of your options have the advantages of being faster thanks to the 45nm process, faster cache, and of course, twice the cores so that they won't need to be as high as my E6750. I hope that puts things in a better perspective for you.
  4. I know this may sound a bit sleezy, but wouldn't it be better of for you if you built an i5 rig instead?

    If you check on anandtech... The lowest i5 beats the highest Core 2 Quad.

    It's like Pentium D vs. Core 2 Duo.
  5. That would require the purchase of new RAM and a new mobo, I don't think he can afford that.
  6. AMW1011 said:
    To be more clear, the extra cache will allow processes to be transferred to the RAM and VRAM more quickly. This allows the transfer of data to be more fluid which wont bog down the RAM and VRAM as much with a larger cache because the cache doesn't need to deplete itself as quickly. All this is a slight improvement, but can be the cause of a few stutters here and there in gaming. This is a tangible difference, not a huge or revolutionary difference by any means, but a tangible one. It depends on you whether it is important. I do believe that some extra RAM would put you in the clear area where the difference would likely be far more minute and that might be cheaper. Either way it is not huge, but there you are.

    Also do note that the benefits of really high clocks (3.6 GHz+) seem only to be relevant with multiple GPUs and in CPU heavy applications. Sadly, I am running a nVidia board and can't keep my CPU at 3.6 GHz for the life of me, but it would help in some games such as Fallout 3, World in Conflict, Dawn of War II, and would alleviate the horrible 15-30 FPS I get in huge battles in Supreme Commander with my GPUs almost idling, but that is an old E6750 and either of your options have the advantages of being faster thanks to the 45nm process, faster cache, and of course, twice the cores so that they won't need to be as high as my E6750. I hope that puts things in a better perspective for you.


    So having 12mb of L2 is kinda like rolling a 2" ball down a 4" pipe? Makes sense... Though I suppose using your CPU as a baseline, the 1333 FSB will yeild the same results give or take.

    Thanks for all your help, you have been one of the most thourough answers I have found thus far.
  7. Heh, no problem. Remember the CPU manages everything that goes to the RAM and VRAM so its nice not to skimp, but both will still do well.
  8. azconnie said:
    We like to keep the religious aspects seperate, and the corperate aspects sleezy. You can quote that.


    Yes I will quote that. :lol:
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