I'm planning to build a second gaming PC soon, going for a budget PC this time, but I'm torn on a couple of things (CPU mainly).
This is what I have in mind for now (listing the main parts):
CPU: AMD Athlon II x4 Quad-Core 620 MB: Gigabyte MA785GM-US2H (chose this over the 785G-UD3H because of the mATX form factor) Cooling: Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro Rev.2 (will be overclocking of course) RAM: The cheapest 2x2GB CL4 DDR2-800 I can find GPU: Sapphire ATI Radeon 5770 (Either the regular one, or the new edition which comes with the new "egg" cooler, which supposedly all mfgs will be using soon to replace the shroud cooler)
Now my main problem is the CPU. I can't decide whether to go for the quad Athlon II, or the Phenom II x3 720.
On one hand, the 620 is cheaper, more energy efficient, overclockable enough, possibly more "future-proof" especially when everything is heading towards multi-threading (even if slowly), but lacks the L3 cache. On the other hand, the 720 has the L3 cache, has a chance of having a perfectly operable 4th core in which case I'd have a Phenom II quad, but there is an equal chance of the 4th core being defective so if I'm buying hoping to eventually have a quad it'll be a gamble. It overclocks better from what I've seen, but it is also more expensive and not as efficient as the 620.
Now, whether the cache is really needed or not is debatable depending on what you work with mostly, but there was an article here on Tom's a while back where they tested an Athlon II x4 vs a Phenom II x4 at the same clock speed, and the difference wasn't all that great. Some say the differences would have been more obvious at higher clock speeds (testing was done at 2.8Ghz), but since the article didn't cover that, I can't be sure. Although, I do have a friend with an overclocked Q8200, which would be on par with the Athlon II 620/630 at stock clocks, and that doesn't seem to be having any problems with most applications despite the lack of cache.
Now, on to my second dilemma. The 5770: do I go with the original cooler, or the new one? They're both priced exactly the same. I couldn't really find any information regarding the new one or how better/worse it is than the original cooler, so if anyone has an idea, I'd appreciate some insight.
I'll need to point out though that I am leaning towards the original cooler since that looks like it would cool the VRAM and VRM chips better (and I'll need them cool since I'm planning to overclock), but I'm just guessing here.
Hot air inside the case usually isn't an issue for me, been running my current card with an Accelero X2 and really the ambient temps inside the case have barely gone up. However, that's a midtower ATX case, but since this one is going to be an mATX which means more restricted airflow, it might be problematic.
I've been looking at many benchmarks all over the place, and for the most part, they do support what you're saying.
Gaming is probably what I do most in terms of what requires computer power, but I also do video encoding and editing sometimes. Don't do much archiving, though, but do sometimes need to compress and extract large files.
I'm leaning towards the x4 620, TBH, simply because it's a guaranteed quad, and it's cheaper than the x3 720. Still undecided, and I feel I'll remain that way until I place my order, but would still like to hear what people think.