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Gaming Build (PII or i7?)

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January 8, 2010 8:19:23 PM

I'm going with one of the following builds for a gaming PC. My main concern is which CPU to get. I've read all of the benchmarks and compared various CPUs. I'm somewhat leaning towards a Phenom II 955 - but part of me really wants an i7 for longevity. I know the i5-750 is very good as well, but if I'm going to spend additional money over an AM3 build, it's going to be for an i7.

Which of these looks better? For the PC usage, it will be 95% gaming and 5% minor video editing. The biggest issue for me is how they will hold up not only in current games, but also in future games. Will the i7-860 net me much better FPS 2-3 years down the line with a better video card? Also, how will they handle FRAPS recording? Would one hold a higher/steadier FPS while recording? Also, is it true that a 955 has smoother gameplay in some situations due to tighter framerates?

PII 955 C3
Gigabyte MA-790XT-UD4P
4GB DDR3-1600MHz G.SKILL
Radeon 5850

or

i7-860
ASRock P55 Extreme or Gigabyte GA-P55A-UD3
4GB DDR3-1600MHz G.SKILL
Radeon 5850

1680x1050 resolution (1920x1200 in the future)
Single video card, probably no SLI/Crossfire in the future

Price isn't a huge concern, nor do I care about upgrading the CPU in the future. So the questionable future of the 1156 platform compared to AM3 is a null point. I also don't intend on overclocking now, though I may in the future as needed. If the i7-860 will indefinitely hold up better in the future, then I'll go with that. If they'll both have roughly the same performance in the future, then I'll go with the 955.

Thanks!

More about : gaming build pii

a b à CPUs
January 8, 2010 8:28:45 PM

Get the 1156 platform if price isn't a concern. PII is better for medium or low budget builds, 1156/1366 i5s and i7s are better for higher end builds.
January 8, 2010 8:51:57 PM

You answered your own question when you said price is no concern. AMD builds tend to be for those who really need to sit tight to their budgets. But if you have the cash then go with a 1156 build. I've recently upgraded from an AM2+ build i had for the last year to an I5 750 based build and i cant tell you how much better it is all round. Fraps records my FPS on modern warfare 2 at 1050 all settings maxed as a consistent 91 FPS which is more than playable. Also, any magazine will tell you that if you're gonna be gaming mostly then go with I5 than I7 on the 1156 platform as the I5's turbo boost technology is a lot better than the I7 (i've no idea why but its what i've read) so automatic OC'ing will be far more effective. I'm not gonna give you advice on parts to get as this isnt the right forum area but tbh i wouldnt get any of what you listed for the 1156 build, especially that asrock mobo...

Sorry for the long winded response, but go I5, it will serve you a lot better.
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January 8, 2010 8:56:47 PM

Well, I guess I shouldn't say that price isn't a concern - if it really wasn't, then I would certainly be going 1366. My main question is, is the cost difference ($~150) justified in terms of holding up in future gaming? In 2-4 years, what kind of difference can I expect to notice between an 860 and 955 in gaming?
January 8, 2010 9:02:40 PM

The 955 will age quickly, also consider that AMD currently brings out a new 'flagship' CPU almost every month meaning that in 2-4 years the 955 will look ancient. The 860 will have aged by then too but considering that the I series processors can do more micro-ops per clock cycle than the P2's you can expect the 860 to hold itself far greater than the 955 in years to come. Then again we're talking about future-proofing in a topic area where it essentially doesn't exist considering the rate of technological advance.

In the end, BOTH CPU's will have aged and fallen to the wayside for bigger and better ones in the time frame you mentioned but the 860 will be a much better investment.
January 8, 2010 9:12:11 PM

You said that for the 1156 you would use different components? What would you suggest, for roughly the same price? I agree to an extend about ASRock considering they generally make budget boards, but is there an issue with the Gigabyte board? I know it does't support Crossfire or SLI, but I'm not too concerned about that.

Also - I was under impression that the 860's turbo boost was better than the 750's?
January 8, 2010 9:27:15 PM

Well, the GPU either way will be a Radeon 5850. The 955 is pretty much right at my preferred budget, but I'll be more than willing to spend the extra money for an 860 if it means noticeably better gaming performance in a couple years. Then again, maybe the extra $140 can be spent on a 5870 instead? (though that seems overkill for 1680x1050)

Thanks the responses so far.
January 8, 2010 9:34:35 PM

Avoid ASrock at all costs is one of my little rules of thumb but its all about what you want in the end. Theres nothing wrong with the Gigabyte board, its got brilliant reviews but i'm loyal to ASUS as they've never put a foot wrong with me. I'll give you a list of the things I would get, sorry if it goes over what you would like to spend (its also in £'s too, but im sure you could do the necessary research on american sites should you need to).

Motherboard (£108.75)
Asus P7P55D

CPU (£148.93)
Intel I5 750 2.66 GHz

Memory (£96.33)
4GB Corsair Dominator XMS3 1600 MHz

And by the way BDDazza, i know it was an 'outright lie', it was a bit of a joke really as from my observations, AMD bring out a new CPU every so often thats a tiny bit faster than their previous flagship one with an extra £10 stuck on the price so chill out a little bit ok?

a b à CPUs
January 8, 2010 9:44:45 PM

Unless you need Hyperthreading for video editing and other such specific applications, the i5-750 is perfect for gaming, and cheaper than the i7-860.

The i5-750 is the 'more direct comparison' to the PII X4 955 anyhow.

If money isn't the factor, the i7-860 is the best chip on the list though. :) 

Even with that said, I'd go i5-750 and use the money saved on a 5870 instead of the 5850. You'd get more gaming performance with the 5870 than bumping up to the i7-860.

EDIT: Shoot, instead of the 5870, use that saved money on the 1080P monitor...
January 8, 2010 9:47:20 PM

Its hard to tell tone on forums haha, if you'd have heard me say it out loud, there will have been HEAVY sarcasm in the statement :p . But BDDazza is right, if gaming is your priority then you can really afford to get a lesser CPU in favour of a better GPU. You'll find here a CPU-Z screenshot of an Intel I3's specs, apparently they are solid budget CPU and great gaming performer, just what you need if you want to save money to put elsewhere in the build.
a b à CPUs
January 8, 2010 9:54:45 PM

^ Griffolion

As much as I like the new Intel chips, I'm not so sure I'd personally go i3. Although gaming software doesn't entirely capitalize on Quad-Cores yet, I'd still have a hard time buying into another Dual-Core right now unless my budget absolutely required it.

Buying dual-core right now means upgrading sooner in many cases. And if someone wanted to build a system for the next 2 or 3 years, Quad Core is probably the better choice. ESPECIALLY when you can stick an i5-750 in there and OC it to 4Ghz! Four cores @ 4Ghz should game quite well for a good while.
a b à CPUs
January 8, 2010 9:56:34 PM

I own an i5 750 with ASrock p55 extreme mobo. I would say go for it no problem.
January 8, 2010 10:00:54 PM

I can see where you're coming from Jereece, i was just adding another option to the table for aecursis' consideration. Dual Cores as you say are certainly becoming less and less popular now that software is eventually beginning to utilise multiple cored processors. And Hans, that was simply my personal opinion, if ASrock works for you then thats brilliant.
January 8, 2010 11:53:23 PM

If I wanted a serious game machine, I would make a few changes.

Since you are familiar with the benchmarks, as you said, then you may have noticed that often the tests of cpu/gpu combos are done at relatively low resolutions by today's standards; and of course many benchmarketing conclusions are drawn from those tests.

As an AMD fan, I simply trust very few of the test reports, and the sites that all basically parrot each other. One site I trust, and that's Lost Circuits - LC does not follow the crowd, and their reviews are clean and clear and precise and extensive. Strangely enough, they don't get the same results as a lot of the more popular or well known sites. Nor will you see illiterate fud in the written report. As an intelligent and thorough individual, you will appreciate that uniqueness. Note that they test both brands' cpu's.

It is generally known to AMD fans that at higher gaming resolutions, the Phenom II, esp. when combined with what some feel is a "complimentary gpu" such as the one you have chosen, wins, at resolutions at or above 1900. Your view to the future must include the probability that such resolutions will be commonplace in a very few years, if not already.

I would be doing you a severe disservice if I refrained from recommending the motherboard and ram combo that is most respected amongst AMD "enthusiasts". You can verify this, if you have not yet done so, with a simple search, as a non-member, for "MSI GD-70", at AMDzone. There are several threads that are heavily indulgent in discussing this motherboard; and they refer to it as simply the only one to buy, for serious performance, with or without overclocking, and with a view to future - it's amazing BIOS already supports ram clocks at insane speeds like 2200-DDR3. (most enthusiasts are using 1600-DDR3).

The current recommended ram is by OCZ, the specific "AMD-version" at 1600; and it's price is very competitive, surprisingly. (ocz also make a specific intel version fyi) (the targeted application relates to inner timings of the ram itself) (this ram, on PII's IMC can volt over 2.2v which I believe might cook the mem controller in i7 - limited to 1.5v spec approx.)
(this press release appeared when the ram first appeared).
http://www.ocztechnology.com/aboutocz/press/2009/334

Anyway, I recommend that MSI mobo and that OCZ ram.

Your GPU is DirectX 11 capable, and 2 years out, the games will probably all be Dx11. So no problem with the Radeon HD 5850, no surprise there.

The mobo you selected is an "X" chipset which is basically the economy version of the enthusiast class "FX" chipset; such as the one on the MSI GD-70. There are significant differences in the BIOS settings accessibility; and also significant differences in PWM-MOSFET (power handling capabilities) of the two mobos. The 790FX is electrically heavy-duty compared to the 790X. In addition, the MSI I recommend is unusually stable, and MSI has been lauded for it's wonderful BIOS offering on the GD-70; described as beating all others hands down, not even close.

That's all I got. You would not regret these changes. I leave you to research as you prefer.

In closing I would suggest the PII 965, since you really won't oclox initially; cos I know it's 200mhz higher at 3.4 Ghz; and I daresay that you will definitely add +1 to the unlocked clock multiplier and easy cruise at 3600 on stock HSF.

And the "smooth factor". Undocumented, except by too many happy people.

I hope this is useful to your purposes.
January 9, 2010 4:09:59 PM

Thanks for the responses so far guys, I've definitely started leaning a bit more towards the 1156 platform and will need to put in a bit more research. Like I said, I'm really not interested in an i5-750. I understand that it's the cheaper alternative to the 860 and is the same with the exception of the hyperthreading and lower out-of-the-box clock speeds, but if I'm going to spend the extra money & go over my budget (which started at $1000 :D  ), I'm going to go for an i7.

I expect that the i5 & 955 will have essentially the same EOL, while the i7 will perhaps be a bit better in the future. I'm still leaning towards a 955 though...in 3 years, I still am guessing that the differences between a 955 and 860 would be very minimal for gaming purposes.
Anonymous
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a b 4 Gaming
January 9, 2010 4:37:58 PM

Griffolion said:
Avoid ASrock at all costs is one of my little rules of thumb but its all about what you want in the end. Theres nothing wrong with the Gigabyte board, its got brilliant reviews but i'm loyal to ASUS as they've never put a foot wrong with me.


You do realise ASrock used to be part of Asus right? ;) 
a b à CPUs
January 9, 2010 6:07:59 PM

oops didnt see those.

They i7 wins everybenchmark but two in which it tied.
a b à CPUs
January 9, 2010 8:29:04 PM

Aecursis said:
Thanks for the responses so far guys, I've definitely started leaning a bit more towards the 1156 platform and will need to put in a bit more research. Like I said, I'm really not interested in an i5-750. I understand that it's the cheaper alternative to the 860 and is the same with the exception of the hyperthreading and lower out-of-the-box clock speeds, but if I'm going to spend the extra money & go over my budget (which started at $1000 :D  ), I'm going to go for an i7.

I expect that the i5 & 955 will have essentially the same EOL, while the i7 will perhaps be a bit better in the future. I'm still leaning towards a 955 though...in 3 years, I still am guessing that the differences between a 955 and 860 would be very minimal for gaming purposes.


If you're going to intentionally go over budget, why would you go with 955? For absolute best performance, go for the i7-860.

For budget limits, go i5-750 or PII 955/965. After looking at lots of reviews/benchmarks and threads, I ultimately chose the i5-750 over the PII 955/965. But that was based on my personal desires after absorbing all the data. Cutting the i5-750 off the list simply because it's a lesser i7, means you'd have to cut the PII 955/965 off the list too. Quite frankly, the i5 and PII are the more direct comparisons anyhow.
January 9, 2010 8:37:56 PM

That is a good point. I do have one question though regarding the Foxconn sockets. Is it 100% sure that it has been resolved? If I choose to go for either an i5 or i7, I've settled on the Gigabyte GA-P55A-UD4P, which uses a Lotes clamp and Foxconn socket. I know that there hasn't been any issues of burns recently and that it really only affected extreme overclocks - but my concern is that it may have simply accelerated the burn process. Can we be certain that in a few months, issues with moderate overclocks won't be popping up?

Again, I know that it was still extremely rare and that enormous amounts of people are OCing their i5's to 4.0GHz and beyond with no issues, but I really want to be certain that if I do OC, I'll be 100% fine for a few years.
a b à CPUs
January 9, 2010 10:01:33 PM

The answer to this question is simple.

It all depends on your budget.

If you have $200 or more to spend on a CPU you get intel, if you have less than $200 to spend on a CPU you go AMD.

This of course doesn't always work out, such as for grandma who is only going to visit facebook.com and make greeting cards. Grandma however, shouldn't be spending that much on a CPU to begin with since her needs are very minimal.

Is i7 overkill? Yes, for most GPU setups. This is a good thing though! Your CPU will last you a bit longer before having to upgrade again, and with i7 running most GPU setups to their max capabilities on its stock clocks and all of the OC headroom it has, MUCH longer!

Is intel worth the price premium over AMD? Yes, to an extent (some of the CPUs, as we all know, are vastly overpriced and are for those with a truly unlimited budget, or half a brain).

Is AMD still a good choice for under $200? Absolutely!

Yes yes I know, there are many other factors when picking out a processor. But this is a good rule to follow for a 'newbie'.
!