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Help Selecting Processor i5-760 versus i7-950

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October 8, 2010 10:02:07 PM

Hey,
I've been really out of the loop on PC's for a while now, as I've just been using an old (6 years or so) Dell desktop and a Mac laptop for quite some time. However, with so many great games coming out in 2010, and so many more coming in 2011, I have recently been thinking about getting a new PC.

I have been able to answer many of my questions by searching these forums and checking out the articles and charts on the site. I have a good idea of what I want to get in almost every area, but I'm stuck on deciding which intel processor I want. I know I want either the i5-760 or i7-950 (or something around those), but I can't figure out if the i7 is going to be worth all of the extra money (some $300 when you include the 3 channel RAM and the mobo). Especially since the two processors seem to run most games at nearly identical fps.

If I understand it correctly, the main differences are the 3 channel RAM and hyperthreading. From everything I've read on this site, hyperthreading has little to no impact on gaming right now (which is pretty much entirely what I want this computer for). However, I haven't found any conclusive answer on whether or not it will eventually make a difference in gaming. Is it likely to make a difference any time soon? If so, how soon (6 months, 1 year, 2 years, etc.).

Basically, I would like to save the extra money for a better graphics card and/or monitor if there isn't much point in me spending it. However, I don't want to regret my decision in a year or two if the i7 suddenly becomes much better for gaming.

Any answers would be appreciated. I apologize if this has been properly answered elsewhere and I just couldn't find it, and I also apologize if my understanding is off in some way, like I said, this is just what I've gleaned from a few days of research on this site.
October 9, 2010 12:05:31 AM

I would recommend getting the i5 760 OR wait for the new Sandy Bridge processors. The new i7's do not give a significant boast in performance.
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October 9, 2010 12:06:38 AM

You could always go with the i7 860 or 870. Performance wise they are just as good as the 1366 i7's. They are clocked about the same and use hyperthreading, but they use dual channel memory. I have an i7 860 and I am not disappointed at all. If you are looking to save a little money it is a good route to go, Microcenter has them the best deal I think.
i7 870
http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml...

i7 875k is $266
It has an unlocked multiplier.


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October 9, 2010 12:18:31 AM

Well first, whats your budget. If you have a high budget then i7 950 all the way. Infact, I recommend the i7 950 in general either way. Reason being is that the i7-950 is on the 1366 platform, not 1156. This means that you can take more advantage of newer graphics cards as you have x16 slots if you SLI, on 1156, its only x8. Not that x8 is bad, but future power graphics cards might be bottlenecked by this configuration. In addition, the 950 has a higher clock on stock, not just that but its very overclockable. The biggest reason being is that if you go 1156, you will never have room to upgrade, because your only choices will be simply higher clocked 1156-i7's. However on the 1366 socket you'll be able to upgrade to a 6-Cored CPU like the 970 or 980x once they get much cheaper which are 32nm and much faster, not to mention far more overclockable.
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October 9, 2010 2:03:51 AM

At this point there is no reason to get a 6-core CPU for gaming, most games dont even utilize 4 cores let alone 6, and by the time they make a game that utilizes 6 cores there will already be something even faster out. Unless you run several apps or do a lot of 3d rendering at the same time you dont need 6 cores. The 1156 i7 perform just as good as the 1366 i7 in just about every area except for memory intense apps, for the simple fact that 1366 uses triple channel memory instead of dual channel(very little if any benefit in games). As for the PCIEx16 slots, the difference in performance between 8x-8x vs 16x-16x is minimal and not even noticeable in games.
http://www.techpowerup.com/reviews/NVIDIA/GTX_480_PCI-E...
In the end it is up to you and the money you are willing to shell out for a new RIG. The i5 700 series are a great buy and will perform just as good as any CPU in games, so it would be a great choice. [:bohleyk:1]
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October 9, 2010 3:57:39 AM

On the home page of this site are two articles called

The Game Rundown: Finding CPU/GPU Bottlenecks, Part 1 & Part 2
The final conclusion is pretty much that at the kind of resolutions you will play games the gfx system is a lot more important than the processor [ once the processor is powerful enough ]

The only people who need an 17 for gaming run 30 inch monitors and two [ or more] absolute top end graphics cards . Everyone else gets better bang for buck by buying a 15 760 , a decent cooler , and using the money you save on a better graphics card

Remember too that whatever you buy today will be obsolete in 12 months . There is NO future proofing
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October 9, 2010 2:30:52 PM

Outlander_04 said:
On the home page of this site are two articles called

The Game Rundown: Finding CPU/GPU Bottlenecks, Part 1 & Part 2
The final conclusion is pretty much that at the kind of resolutions you will play games the gfx system is a lot more important than the processor [ once the processor is powerful enough ]

The only people who need an 17 for gaming run 30 inch monitors and two [ or more] absolute top end graphics cards . Everyone else gets better bang for buck by buying a 15 760 , a decent cooler , and using the money you save on a better graphics card

Remember too that whatever you buy today will be obsolete in 12 months . There is NO future proofing


I agree but just because something new comes out doesnt make the last generation obsolete, the 45nm Core2Duos are still great cpus for gaming.
Hardware isnt obsolete until it wont live up to a persons needs anymore or you cant easily get parts for it anymore.
Not obsolete just slower.

In my opinion I would go with an 1156 setup it can be built cheaper than a 1366 setup and it will perform just as well in games if not better.
Wether you get an 1156 i5 or i7 is up to you. The i5 are a great price for performance and the i7 are a small upgrade that will perform just as good in games( if not better)and better in other areas for a little bit more.
Cpu chart
http://www.tomshardware.com/charts/desktop-cpu-charts-2...
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October 9, 2010 5:38:03 PM

Outlander_04 said:
On the home page of this site are two articles called

The Game Rundown: Finding CPU/GPU Bottlenecks, Part 1 & Part 2
The final conclusion is pretty much that at the kind of resolutions you will play games the gfx system is a lot more important than the processor [ once the processor is powerful enough ]

The only people who need an 17 for gaming run 30 inch monitors and two [ or more] absolute top end graphics cards . Everyone else gets better bang for buck by buying a 15 760 , a decent cooler , and using the money you save on a better graphics card

Remember too that whatever you buy today will be obsolete in 12 months . There is NO future proofing


That article isn't that great since it only uses the i5 CPU at 3.0GHz.

The i5 is clock per clock much faster than the Core2, AthlonII, and PhenomII series, so it's not representative of most quad cores out there.

If you're using weaker quads such as the AthlonII, 65nm Core2quads, PhenomI series, or the entry 45nm C2Qs and PhenomIIs, you will be CPU bottlenecked unless you heavily overclock.
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October 9, 2010 6:50:38 PM

To answer your question. Yes eventually there will be something bigger and better out and it will make cuurent systems look slow but that will never change, the best way to build a system if you are limited on money is to purchase hardware that will give you the best performance for the price. The i5 will accomadate any current video card out and probably any to be released for awhile.
No, I dont think that HT will have a huge impact on gaming for a good while. Most current games wont even utilize all 4 cores. With that said, if eventualy all games are coded to utilize 4 cores efficiently then the i5 should perform identicaly clock for clock as the i7. [:bohleyk:1]
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October 9, 2010 7:43:28 PM

Wow, Thanks for all of the responses!

Believe me, I understand that nothing is "future-proof," I know that I whatever I buy will not always be the best or the fastest (these CPUs aren't even the fastest now). However, as D1RTYJU1C3 pointed out, there are still older processors around now (the core2duo) that plenty of people use for gaming. I just want to get something that will still be viable for gaming for a few years until I'm ready for a CPU upgrade.

I suppose my main question was really if the i5-760 and the i7-950 would always be equal in terms of gaming. If they will remain on the same level for the foreseeable future, then there is little justification for purchasing the CPU that costs $300 more. Since this seems to be the case, I'm leaning toward saving my money, or spending it in another area which could potentially make more of a difference in terms of performance.

This conversation has, however, made me realize that I overlooked a major difference between these two processors: the differences in the sockets. Originally I had planned to get a single ATI HD 5850 graphics card, thinking that I could always just buy another one and use crossfire to upgrade my performance in the future. If this plan is less viable on the 1156 socket, then perhaps I should just opt for the more expensive option.
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October 9, 2010 8:18:49 PM

The 1366 has the advantage of using true 16x pcie when using sli but it has been shown that even the top of the line video cards dont max out an 8x lane so for now and probably the near future you will be ok with 8x-x8. But if you are just running a single card both 1156 and 1366 will run at a true 16x.
The difference between 8x-8x PCI-e and 16x-16x PCI-e would only be a few frames in higher resolutions. So an i5 760 and 2 5850's will have the same performance in game when compared to the i7 950 and 2 5850's.
There are also 1156 boards that do run at 16x-8x or 16x-16x when running sli/crossfire but there are few.
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October 9, 2010 8:22:50 PM

after trying several different motherboards with different core i7 and i5, take my advice and get i5 760 and spend the rest on your GPU, you wont regret it.

right now all games are being bottlenecked by GPUs (thats assuming you are using core i5 760) therefor

core i5 760 with 5870 > core i7 950 with 5850

not to mention that the core i5 760 can be overclocked to 4.0 easily using a decent cooler which will exceed the speed of core i7 975


the only downside with 1156 is there x8/x8 when doing crossfire or sli, however using only 1 gpu at 16x is faster on 1156 than 1366 because of the gpu being on die on the core i5 760

so one 5850 on 1156 > 1366

but a crosfiree/sli 5850 on 1366 > 1156

hope that breaks it down for you.
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October 10, 2010 9:15:26 PM

Thanks so much for the responses everyone!

I think, given all of the information I've learned here, that I am definitely going to get the i5-760, and get the HD 5870 (instead of the 5850) with some of the money that I save. I really needed the help in making my decision, and now I feel very confident in this choice.

Special thanks to D1RTYJU1C3! I really appreciated all of the links to articles to back up your points. I feel like my choice has been well researched now.
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October 10, 2010 9:21:56 PM

Best answer selected by Ragingmunkyz.
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October 10, 2010 11:43:50 PM

Thanks for the BA and good luck with the build. [:bohleyk:1]
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