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Need help choosing CPU type

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December 8, 2009 8:56:10 AM

Here is my dilemna, I am building a system for the first time, I know enough to put together a pc with the right parts. But I am having trouble deciding on AMD vs INTEL. Im not a hardcore gamer, but I want the games i play to look great. I have about a thousand dollars to play with. I already have a power supply and case. i have looked up and gone over many benchmark tests and the results seem to be very close between the I7 920 and the AMD Phenom II X4 965 Deneb black edition. I am not looking to overclock, so the results I have been looking at were for stock settings. I would love to have some unbiased feedback, Im just trying to get the most bang for my buck. Thank you to all who respond.

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December 8, 2009 9:13:52 AM

Tom's Hardware has a good article on the AMD Phenom II X4 BE:
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/phenom-x4-965,2468....
This is a very capable processor.

Here is a good review article that compares the Phenom II X4 BE to several different processors, including the i920:
http://www.anandtech.com/cpuchipsets/showdoc.aspx?i=364...
The Phenom generally performs as well as the i920, but the i750 outperforms the i920 in every single application. Since an i750 system is about $220 cheaper (CPU + MB + RAM) than the i920, your comparison should be between the Phenom and the i750.
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December 8, 2009 10:29:22 AM

Forget about the I7-920. Far too expensive and not better than AMD's 965 or intel's i5 (at least not for gaming).

The debate is then between the i5-750 and the AMD 965. Both perform roughly equal and both are good overclockers (the i5 is a bit better, but that's only important for extreme OC'ing).

As for price, the 965 is only $5 cheaper in the US, but here in Europe we're talking about a $20 difference. Assuming you're American, price won't matter either.

Then what's left? Well, the i5 consumes a lot less power (you'll earn the $5 dollar back in no time). And then there's the motherboard. Intel only offers the 1156 series. It supports 4 and 8GB of RAM and both crossfire and SLI (but only the very expensive ones at x8/x8 or x16/x16). AMD motherboards come in 3 types: 770 (cheap and good if you only use one GPU), the 785 (a middle class offering, comparable to the 1156 but cheaper) and the higher end 790X/FX/GX which is excellent and still affordable.

To sum it up: it's a tie between the i5-750 and 965, but the i5's low power consumption and *slightly* better performance justify it's slight price premium.
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December 8, 2009 2:02:53 PM

Disregard the 965. The real debate is the i5 vs. the X4 955. The 955 is the same CPU, just without a mild factory overclock. In the US, that will save you $20-30 more.

Another note on the prices. Typically, the AMD boards are cheaper than the Intel boards. Thus, that extra $5 Silmarunya mentioned typically becomes more like $50+.

Another factor is the upgrade path. The i5's LGA 1156 socket doesn't appear to have one at this time. The i5 was introduced by Intel to compute with AMD's much cheaper offerings. Chances are the socket will disappear in a year or so.

The AM3 socket is going to be AMD's main socket for at least 2 years. That means additional CPUs and motherboards.

All in all, the i5 has better gaming performance. The X4 performs better under other conditions. The X4 build is cheaper by $75-150 dollars, depending on build choices. The X4 is more future-proof.

Both would be excellent choices. If you tend to build a new computer every 2-3 years, the i5 would probably be better, especially if you're a heavy gamer. If you tend to upgrade parts after 2-3 years and keep the main computer together, AMD is the better choice, especially if you're not a gamer. If that $1000 is a hard and fast budget and includes buying monitor, OS, speakers, and/or other stuff, AMD is the better choice to keep costs down.

All in all, you can't really go wrong with either. It's more of a personal choice than anything...
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December 8, 2009 2:07:37 PM

Intel also has turbo mode which is overclocking built in.
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December 8, 2009 2:14:44 PM

True, but AMD is typically the better choice for overclocking.

Asking AMD vs. Intel is really a moot point. Every other post in here is going to say "buy Intel", followed by a "buy AMD." It's going to come down to Intel fanboys arguing against AMD fanboys. Pretty much all the info you need is already posted. A lot of it also depends on the purpose of the computer. All we can really do is give you the info, and then you have to make the decision...
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December 8, 2009 2:55:47 PM

MadAdmiral said:
True, but AMD is typically the better choice for overclocking.

Asking AMD vs. Intel is really a moot point. Every other post in here is going to say "buy Intel", followed by a "buy AMD." It's going to come down to Intel fanboys arguing against AMD fanboys. Pretty much all the info you need is already posted. A lot of it also depends on the purpose of the computer. All we can really do is give you the info, and then you have to make the decision...


Both companies are good overclockers with most of the newer models topping out at around 4-4.2 on air. As the OP stated he is not planning on overclocking, and imo turbo mode will make a difference.
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December 8, 2009 7:14:38 PM

the 1000 I have to spend is foe mobo, cpu, memory, and a vid card. I do plan on in the near future using multiple graphic cards. Since this is my first system build Im a bit leary about OCing. I would like to but dont want to risk damaging anything.
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December 8, 2009 7:16:30 PM

You can always overclock later. What do you do with the computer? You said you aren't a hardcore gamer, so do you do media editing or watching movies or something else?
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December 8, 2009 7:38:39 PM

The 955 is the same as 965 just not overclocked, and you can use AMD over drive to OC very very easily without going through the bios for people who are scared to OC and it even has an AUTO mode to OC at the highest stable settings.
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December 8, 2009 9:24:24 PM

I mainly use my PC for gaming, but I dont play things like Crysis or Far Cry 2, mainly games like Torchlight, Neverwinter Nights, Diablo series, WOW, unreal tournament. I know for my needs at the moment I dont NEED a quad core, But I want to build a machine to where all I really need to worry about upgrading in the future is the video card. Right now My PC is a single core with hyperthreading, so theres alot out there I cant play on it.
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December 9, 2009 12:36:09 AM

For someone who does primarily gaming and wants to futureproof, I strongly suggest the i7-860 to give you the hyperthreading you can't have with the i5 and to avoid the higher cost for CPU, mobo, and additional memory for the top in i7-920 that are not needed for gaming.

I am well aware that THG reviews and others have said that the i5 is the perfect CPu for gaming. However they were just look at current tests and giving no condsideration to companies revising games to take advantage of HT. Many have been slow in the change over to multiple cores - but they are on or getting onboard now - and the next natural step is to extend that to HT.

Here is another thread where this was discussed at length.

http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/forum2.php?config=tom...

That said, based on your uses the 955 would also make a very good system - and probably at a lower cost. If you want the best bang for the buck in your game range - I would go with the 955 - and maybe somewhere down the road - in a year or two if so inclinded - learn how to overclock it for increased performance.

Personally I would want a good all around system - for things like light video editing and Adobe CS4 - so I would chose the i7-860 for myself.
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December 9, 2009 3:38:59 AM

rockyjohn said:
For someone who does primarily gaming and wants to futureproof, I strongly suggest the i7-860 to give you the hyperthreading you can't have with the i5 and to avoid the higher cost for CPU, mobo, and additional memory for the top in i7-920 that are not needed for gaming.

I am well aware that THG reviews and others have said that the i5 is the perfect CPu for gaming. However they were just look at current tests and giving no condsideration to companies revising games to take advantage of HT. Many have been slow in the change over to multiple cores - but they are on or getting onboard now - and the next natural step is to extend that to HT.

Here is another thread where this was discussed at length.

http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/forum2.php?config=tom...

That said, based on your uses the 955 would also make a very good system - and probably at a lower cost. If you want the best bang for the buck in your game range - I would go with the 955 - and maybe somewhere down the road - in a year or two if so inclinded - learn how to overclock it for increased performance.

Personally I would want a good all around system - for things like light video editing and Adobe CS4 - so I would chose the i7-860 for myself.





Well the only editing I would be doing is for the Ipod and PSP. The 955 and 965 seemed to perform pretty on par with the i7s from the benchmarks I have seen so far. The 955 has a kind of hyper threading correct? You will have to forgive me for being so far behind the times on technology.
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December 9, 2009 4:02:49 AM

No AMD CPUs have hyperthreading that compares to Intels. But like all quad core computers, the 955 has four CPU cores for multiprocessor. Although the i7-860 has 4 cores that can each have 2 HT for a total of 8 threads for multi-processing.
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December 9, 2009 11:08:10 AM

I just built my new PC. I spent a lot of time on the same question. I ended up with an i5 750 and 4850 1GB video card. The clincher for me was microcenter (if you're near one) has the i5 at 149. I had originally planned a phenom II x2 or x3, although I hadn't decided which mb yet.

I downloaded the crysis demo the other day - 1440 x 900 resolution (not the highest, I know) and it was very playable at high settings and 2x anti-aliasing. I have no idea yet how this game compares to retail, or my exact fps. This is with NO overclocking.
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December 9, 2009 9:25:40 PM

well for xmas im getting a full hd monitor, so i definately need a card that can keep up, if i go for the i7 build i was going to use a geforce 260 core 216, and if i go with the phenom II x4 965 i was going to use a radeon hd 5850 i think it was
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December 10, 2009 12:38:27 AM

There is no practical advantage to matching graphic cards to the type of CPU. The GTX 260 will work just as well on both systems and the same for the 5850.

Most people will say that the ATI processors are ahead at the moment - and in todays benchmarks show the best value. Which is true. But I still think their is considerable future value in nVidia's CUDA technology - which uses GPU to assist CPU in certain parallel processing functions - for gaming and other applications. I personally would stick with nVidia, particularly if I expected to add a second GPU later.

But that said, if you are primarily going to be gaming, then I recommend ATI and their newer technology like the 5850 - regardless of which CPU you pick.

By the way - while we can argue about which is the "best" - rest assured that most likely whatever you pick - based on the discussions above - will be a fast machine more than capable enough for the applications you use for years to come - and especially if you get a system set up to add a second graphics card down the road - after prices have gone down and the games demand more power.
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December 11, 2009 7:25:19 AM

thank you for your response rocky. While i prefer nvidia dont the majority of amd mobos only allow for crossfire? i know some allow both, but the one i liked was for crossfire. and yes i will primarily be gaming. heavily leaning toward the phenom ii x4 965
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December 11, 2009 11:22:06 AM

If you're primarily gaming, you should either pick up the new ATI 5xxx series cards, or wait until nVidia releases their DirectX 11 cards. You're going to get a lot more life out of ATI's current selection than nVidia. You could also buy an extremely cheap card and upgrade it as soon as nVidia's cards come out. They're supposed to be released Q1 2010.

If you're leaning towards the 965, you should get the 955 instead. You'll save yourself $20-30 (US), as the two are the same. The only thing you're getting with the 965 is a mild factory overclock that can be achieved on stock cooling.
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