I5 7xx vs i7 8xx vs i7 9xx

I am building a desktop system for the first time in my life. I have been researching online sources as to decide which CPU based build I want to go from. I narrowed down to 3 different CPU, but I can't decide between i5 and i7 processors, and LG1156 and LG1366.

1. i5 750/760 (no hyper-threading, dual channel memory, LG1156 socket based)
2. i7 860 (hyper-threading, dual channel memory, LG1156 socket based)
3. i7 920/930 (hyper-threading, triple channel memory, LG1366 socket based)

From what I know, all these are very good processors in regards to price/performance value. Price difference are only $100~$150 between these processors.

I will be mainly using my computer for playing games. Most likely, only games I will be playing are Starcraft2, World of Warcraft(raids), Diablo 3(not released yet). My budget is 1.3K but I wish not to spend all my budget if it's price/performance value is not a good deal.

Question 1) X58 supports triple channel memory. I saw somewhere that X58 based motherboards do not fully utilize triple channel memory's speed and memory speed will clock down to lower speed due to the system bus X58 supports. Is triple channel memory that good? Please explain what this is about.

Question 2) i5 750 vs i7 920 benchmark in gaming shows that hyper-threading actually lowers the performance of playing certain games, in which i5 750 performs better. Will this be true for Starcraft 2 which is more CPU based game rather than GPU? Why does hyper-threading cause some games work against better performance for playing certain games?

Question 3) In the near future, USB 3.0 will replace USB 2.0. PCI Express 3.0 is coming soon. Intel is going to release new CPU with new technology. Should I settle for i5 750 bulid or maybe AMD setup for now to be used for 2-3 years, and build a whole new system when those new technologies become common in the market? or am I safe to go with i7 930 based build and still be safe for the next 5 years? Is this a good time to build a high end computer(i7 920/930 in my case)?

Out of these 3 questions, I'm mainly concerned about hyper-threading. Will it help playing Starcraft 2 and World of Warcraft? Should I just go with slightly cheaper build using i5 750/760? Maybe I should even go cheaper with AMD Phenom? Will AMD Phenom CPU that's cheaper than i5 750/760 still give me maximized performance for playing Starcraft 2 and World of Warcraft? :o
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  1. Question 1: Triple channel memory is very good. Lots of bandwidth that a good CPU can take advantage of, like a i7 920! I'm not sure where you're reading that the motherboard clocks itself down, I've never heard of this, but then again just because I've never heard of it doesn't make it so.

    Question 2: The impact of Hyperthreading on a game is minimal, you probably won't notice a difference. At most, 3-5%, but even then I doubt it.

    Question 3: PCI-Express 3.0 and USB 3.0 are still a ways off from being mainstream, especially PCI-E 3.0. PCI-E 3.0 motherboards won't be made until 2011/2012 and even then it'll get revisions and have video cards that go through multiple revisions quickly as companies discover new ways to fully utilize their bandwidth. You would be safe upgrading now.
  2. If you get an an i7 build, get it. You can overclock the hell out of them and they're definitely worth it.
  3. 1) All three processors have outstanding memory controllers. They are able to use even the slowest ram to adequately feed the cpu with data.
    The difference in real application performance(vs. synthetic benchmarks) or FPS between the slowest two channel and the fastest triple channel setups is minimal. Perhaps 2-3% If you are only playing single game at a time, then 4gb is about the most you can use. If you will be multitasking at the same time, then some additional ram is helpful to keep from interfering with your game. I like the 6gb size that comes with the I7-930 approach.

    2) Hyperthreading acts like some extra 1/3 strength cores. It is useful if you have some cpu bound and multi thread enabled apps. There are very few.
    You can always deactivate hyperthreading in the bios. It really is a non-issue. For all practical purposes the i5-750 is just about as good as it's more expensive brothers.
    But,... if you have a microcenter nearby, they will sell you a i7-930 for $199. A very good deal.

    3) Current graphics cards can hardly use pci-e 1.0, let alone half of 2.0. It is not an issue until you get into multiple GTX480 class cards.

    USB 3.0 will be very good if you will have something that can use it. External backup for example. It does not cost much to buy a USB 3.0 add-in card if your motherboard does not have it.

    SATA 6gb is another new feature. I would definitely look for this. Today, nothing saturates the bus, but some SSD's come close. Gen3 SSD's will be out this year with improved prices , capacity, and speeds.

    Intel is on a tick tock cycle. One year, the manufacturing technology is smaller, the next year the architecture gets updated.
    The nehalem architecture of the last year introduced a much improved architecture on a 45nm process.
    Earlier this year, we saw 32nm show up in some very nice strong duo processors.
    By the end of this year, or early next, expect to see "sandy "bridge" a updated architecture using 32nm technology. I expect some very attractive quads.

    If you wait, you wait forever. If you want to build now, go ahead. The i5-750 will do the job for several years.
    I would wait a couple of months to get a SSD. Put your OS on a partition of a large storage drive for now, and move it to a SSD when the new ones come out.
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