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I5 vs i7 for future 5-year gaming system

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April 27, 2010 3:05:22 PM

I am planning on building a gaming system with a Radeon 5850 within the next month. I plan on upgrading the card or getting another one for CF (x8/x8 for i5) within about 2.5-3 years. I do not plan on upgrading the CPU/motherboard until five years later when I build a new system. I plan on getting either the $150 i5 or the $200 i7 from Microcenter, plus the extra costs associated with an i7 if I decide to go with it. I plan on overclocking either to 3.6 GHz.

My question is this: since the i7 is threaded, should I count on newer games making use of the threads in the next five years? My situation is like that of the one in 2005 in which I built a single-core system (Athlon 4000+) as opposed to a dual-core one. Soon enough, games started taking advantage of those cores and I was left with an under-performing system. Because five years is a pretty long time, I'd like to be sure that I'm making the right decision. But if an i7 would not really give much more performance, I'd rather spend less on an i5.
April 27, 2010 3:14:12 PM

You must be referring to hyperthreading, as a CPU can't be 'threaded' (that just means a program can use multiple cores at once).

Games are moving toward full quad-core support, but hyperthreading isn't beneficial for gaming. Not now and not in the future, period. It just splits a core's processing power in two halves, making it pointless for gamers.

Gaming is GPU bound. You need a graphics card that's as powerful as possible, while the CPU should just be able to 'keep up'. So an i5-750, especially when overclocked, will keep you going for 5 years for sure.

But have you considered AMD? 1366 is a waste of money for gaming (expensive and without a benefit for gaming) and 1156 isn't any more powerful than AM3, but with less potent motherboards and slightly more expensive. Not to mention there won't be any upgrades for 1366 and 1156 (they are due to be replaced with the next CPU architecture), while AM3 will be supported for years to come.

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April 27, 2010 3:41:04 PM

Thanks for the reply.

If hyperthreading will never be beneficial for games, then that settles it.

I have considered AMD, but I think that the i5 is a better choice. The only negative is the x8/x8 on 1156 boards as far as I could see, but I will probably not be doing CF and getting another card altogether in several years' time. What other features do the 1156 boards lack compared to the AM3 boards?

I thought I read earlier that Bulldozer will not be AM3. Is this incorrect? If I do get a 955/965, some kind of slight revision to it in the form of another AM3 CPU would never justify the upgrade for me.
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April 27, 2010 4:21:34 PM

That $300 Thuban with the $50 rebate and $37 Bing cashback from TigerDirect is starting to look good. It seems that at the same clocks, game performance is similar.
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April 27, 2010 5:24:40 PM

Silmarunya said:
You must be referring to hyperthreading, as a CPU can't be 'threaded' (that just means a program can use multiple cores at once).

Games are moving toward full quad-core support, but hyperthreading isn't beneficial for gaming. Not now and not in the future, period. It just splits a core's processing power in two halves, making it pointless for gamers.

Gaming is GPU bound. You need a graphics card that's as powerful as possible, while the CPU should just be able to 'keep up'. So an i5-750, especially when overclocked, will keep you going for 5 years for sure.

But have you considered AMD? 1366 is a waste of money for gaming (expensive and without a benefit for gaming) and 1156 isn't any more powerful than AM3, but with less potent motherboards and slightly more expensive. Not to mention there won't be any upgrades for 1366 and 1156 (they are due to be replaced with the next CPU architecture), while AM3 will be supported for years to come.



LGA1366 is almost the same price in the UK from places like ebuyer and aria... so dont discount the i7 9** so easily.

LGA1156 leaves pretty much all of AMD's offerings in the shade - simply because the AM3 sockets are very out dated. I have seen some promising info on the X6's but its barely hit the shops.
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