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I5 or i7 for CPU-intensive, non-multicore scientific simulation

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January 10, 2010 10:10:31 PM

Hi,

I've been thinking about building a desktop for a few months now (right now all I have is a laptop). I have learned a bit in my journey, but I've also found that my computer needs seem to differ from many other people's computer needs. I want a powerful CPU that I can overclock, but I am not going to run any applications that make heavy use of multiple cores; I will never have more than two video cards (and probably won't have more than one any time soon); and I will never play the latest video games.

What I need is a CPU that will give me the best bang for the buck when running simple C programs that diagonalize matrices and solve partial differential equations and other number crunching stuff like that. FLOPS is what I care about - not game performance, not 3D rendering performance, not Winzip or Winrar performance.

I am looking at Intel CPUs and the obvious contenders that everyone continually recommends right now are the i7-920, i7-860 and i5-750. I know that the general consensus is that the 920 is the best. But for what I'm doing - running CPU intensive programs that don't use multiple cores - is there any real reason to get the 920 or 860 versus the 750?

i5-750 with a Gigabyte P55 UD4P for $373 versus i7-920 with a Gigabyte EX58 UD3R for $478.

That's a $105 that I don't want to spend if it's not going to be translated into a real performance difference in applications that are meaningful to me (the simple C ones I write and compile with Dev-C++, or at most science programs like BOINC / World Community Grid).

Can anyone set me straight here? Whatever I buy, I'm go to try to OC it as much as possible. I know the big ol' 920 kicks everything's ass, but will it kick ass where I care about it? That $105 could easily go toward better cooling, better graphics cards, food, etc.

Sorry for asking an over-asked question. I'm really only asking because I'm not using my computer for big games or graphics apps like it seems most other people building powerful computers are.
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January 10, 2010 10:29:17 PM

1. There is no reason to get a super-expensive motherboard.

What country do you live in? On Newegg, you can find a ASUS X58 P6T for $250, and it performs better than $350+ EVGA X58 Classified.

2. The i7 920 is faster clock for clock than the 1156 i5/i7 860, but the 1156 chips are clocked higher and can go even faster due to higher turbo boost. If you're not overclocking, get the 1156 chips. If are willing to overclock, get the i7 920

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