I was going to get a Phenom II X4 955 + motherboard combo for about $215, but I'd like an Intel option. Can you recommend me a motherboard + CPU combination that would cost around the same? I don't mind if the processor is less powerful, because I can just get a stronger video card. This is primarily for games.
I was thinking core i3-550, but I know nothing about motherboards. I have no intention of overclocking, and only want 1 video card (no SLI/Crossfire). Onboard video would be a plus while I'm shopping for a video card, but it's not a deal-breaker.
I'm planning on an ATX case, by the way. Don't know if that changes anything.
There isn't one. Intel CPUs are a good $50-60 more expensive, and usually the equivalent boards add another $100. Of course, that's using the i5-760. The i3s aren't really equivalent to the X4s, as the i3s are dual cores faking being quad cores through hyperthreading. I wouldn't touch an i3 (or i5-6xx) for anything outside of an HTPC.
I'd highly recommend either sticking to the X4 955 or getting an X3 4xx CPU. The X3s are fairly cheap, but fairly powerful for gaming. You can get them for around $70-80 too. As for the board, I like the ASRock 770 Extreme 3 with either CPU. It's fairly cheap at about $75, yet loaded with features and quality.
The X2 BE (and it's a 560, not 565) is a waste of money. The whole idea behind it is that you MIGHT make it into a X4, but you can get cheaper (or equally priced) X4 6xx CPUs and overclock them to get some speed. You're paying more to have the chance to NOT be able to unlock the extra cores and be stable.
The X3s are also a lot cheaper than both the X2s and X4s, and can also potentially be unlocked to a quad core. The main difference is that if you try and fail with an X3, you've got a triple core instead of a dual core. I can't recommend touching any of the X2s. There's just too much cost and risk associated with them.
Just to further illustrate my point, the X2 560 is $100 for a dual core, 3.3 GHz CPU. IF you are able to unlock the extra two cores and get it stable, you will be taking a large clock speed hit. You could take that $100 and get the X4 640, a quad core, 3.0 GHz. The true quad will likely be faster than the unlocked dual core, and you'd still have head room for overclocking. Or you could spend $89 and get the Phenom II X3 740 BE, a triple core, 3.0 GHz, (without a HSF, but you'd likely be buying an aftermarket one anyway) or $79 and get the X3 450, a triple core, 3.2 GHz. All of the other options (the $100 quad, $89 or $79 triple core) would be either faster than the X2 with the same number of cores (the quad) or be the same speed with more cores (the triple cores). Basically, by getting the X2, you're spending more for less.
I love amd, but i have to admit, i5 760 is THE BEST cpu atm for the price/performance issues, If your gaming, and want to skim the cpu for a better GPU you need to understand that All information sent to the GPU to process comes from the CPU. I"d recomend the asus p7p55d-e pro. It has amazing bios, Great software for tuning and customizing performance. Let alone the future technology integration with sata 6gbs as well as usb 3.0. If you want i will show you links that directly compare i5 760 to your current CPU choice, in gaming it is Clearly the winner *over 35 fps difference in sc2 under ultra settings at 1920x1080.
When i look at mobo's ask yourself this?
If i spend 60 more on this mobo, but i can use it for 3-5 more years , it is definately worth it. You can always get cheaper stuff elsewhere such as 1600 mhz memory 8gigs for 50$ (shocking i know) , or even getting maybe one step down gpu *ex gtx 470 stead get a 460* and then when u have the extra 100$ run SLI.
^Couldn't disagree more. First, the i5 is a good $50-60 over AMD's best gaming offering (the X4 955). Second, the boards are a good $100 more expensive. For example, to get the Asus P7P55D-E Pro (an excellent choice), you'd spend $100 more than the best choice for the X4 (the ASRock 870 Extreme 3). That's a large chunk of change for a gaming build. For comparision, it's the difference between getting the HD 5770 and the HD 5870.
I'm not saying the i5 isn't a great CPU, because it is. I'm just saying for gaming, you'd do better to go cheap on the CPU and expensive on the GPU.
As for dropping from the 470 to the 460, that's also not a great idea in a normal environment. The reason for this is simple: money. If you start with the single largest card you can afford, you get more performance immediately for a relatively small additional cost. This allows you to wait for that card's price to fall considerable while still playing games at the highest level. Once the price has fallen to essentially rock bottom (or your performance drops significantly), you can pick up a second massive card for very little. You get greater performance for a lower overall price for the entire life of the build.
The reason I said "in a normal environment" is also simple: the 470 and 480 suck. They're overpriced, underpowered, produce massive amount of heat and use a lot of power. There is practically no reason to desire these cards over the 460, especially given the 460's great SLI performance. However, I'd still lean heavily towards the HD 5870 ($250ish) over the 460 ($200ish). The 5870 is much more powerful for very little additional cost.