I7 950 vs i5 760 vs waiting for sandy bridge

Hi everyone,

I have a few questions about my new build.

My needs:
intensive image editing and rendering;
StarCraft 2 (I play competitively and on lowest settings so this shouldn't be a problem);
Occasional other games, for fun, which I would like to play at highest, 1920 x 1080

My situation:
I can pick up an i7 950 for $200 from microcetner (otherwise, I wasn't even planning on considering it.)
Not set on what graphics card to get yet.
Am kind of price sensitive, which was why I wasn't considering an i7 at first.
Not in a huge hurry to buy.

1. If I end up not getting the i7 950, should I wait for Sandy Bridge? Looking at I'd probably be going for i5-2500. Are the mobo prices (between i5-760 and i5-2500) going to be significantly different?
2. Is it true that LGA1156 will be completely obsolete?
3. What's the general future of 1366/X58? I read that Sandy Bridge is aimed at a market just below?
4. Is getting an i7-950 over the i5-760 worth it? Keep in mind I can basically get them at the same cost. Will the difference in mobo prices be significant?
5. I'm a bit concerned about available memory also, mostly for image editing. I'd really like at least 8GB. Should this affect my decision for CPU?
6. As far as graphics go, I'm open to suggestions. I was thinking about getting a single decent card for now, then in the future when I find some game I would love to play, buy another and SLI / crossfire. High detail gaming is really the lowest of my priorities, but I do enjoy the occasional immersive game. Any card recommendations? What do you think of this strategy?

Ultimately, what do you recommend: i7 950 (now), i5 760 (now), or wait for sandy bridge?

Thanks in advance everyone!
7 answers Last reply Best Answer
More about waiting sandy bridge
  1. There is no point in not waiting for the new CPUs. They'll be out soon (supposedly two weeks) and will make both the LGA1156 and LGA1366 sockets obsolete. To buy any serious CPU right now would be a mistake.

    As for the i5/i7 debate, assuming the new sockets (LGA1155 and LGA1365) will work the same way as the current sockets (i.e hyperthreading with the 1365), I can't recommend looking at the i5s. Hyperthreading will greatly enhance your main task of photo/video editing and rendering.

    Answering the rest of your questions:

    4.) While the CPUs are at the "same" price (Microcenter sells cheap i5s too), the boards are much more expensive. The best LGA1156 board (the Asus P7P55D-E Pro) is about $80-100 cheaper than the best LGA1366 board (the Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD3R). You also have to factor in the additional cost of RAM, as the i7s use triple channel RAM (three sticks) and the i5s use dual channel RAM (two sticks). That's usually another $40-50.

    5.) Not really. The CPU and amount of RAM are pretty much seperate decisions. I'd say if you go with the i5, you should probably get 8 GB (two sets of a 2x2 GB kit), while if you get the i7, you could probably get by with only 6 GB (a single 3x2 GB kit). You could eaisly bump the i7 up to 12 GB if you feel it's necessary.

    6.) I'd probably grab either the GTX 460 1 GB or GTX 470. You don't need a lot of power for what you're doing, but they'll help in the editing/rendering. Keep in mind that the 470 isn't the best choice, as it's fairly expensive, runs very hot and uses a lot of power.
  2. Quote:
    My needs:
    intensive image editing and rendering;
    StarCraft 2 (I play competitively and on lowest settings so this shouldn't be a problem);
    Occasional other games, for fun, which I would like to play at highest, 1920 x 1080

    Usually i rig up for SC2 with a view to play Ultra+AA on 1920 x 1080 so a single GTX 46o would be overkill if u can settle for lowest setting and no point pay premium for CF/SLI for a casual gamer

    That said since image/render on the table and since the Microcenter option is open to you ever considered Thuban + air OC build?

    Items off Egg $432AR

    1055T + MSI 870A-G54 bundle $220 @ Microcenter

    Scythe MUGEN-2 Rev.B cooler $29 with promo code

    $681AR in total
  3. There is no point in going for 8 GB RAM it simply wont help. I have been there and done that. I had a C2Q with 8 GB RAM and it made no difference to any Video Editing. Software is the new bottleneck. The Lynnfield i5 is the sweet spot right now as far as hardware goes. As far as HDD's go try for a TB RAID 1 for data storage a Velicoraptor for your boot / application drive and another for a Scratch Drive. Why not SSD? Firstly they are not big enough by a long shot. A project can easily chew up the GB's and there is a lot of intensive writes that the SSD's are not that good at. You will need the RAID 1 for data redundancy. Nothing like losing weeks of work to HDD failure. Get a NVIDIA for the CUDA support it can be helpful depending on the software and the task.
  4. ^Horrible ideas right there.

    First, the i5 is a great CPU, but it's simply not going to stand up against an i7 (or even an X6) in CPU heavy applications. It's just going to be crushed. Period. That's not an opinion, it's a fact. If we were discussing gaming as the main priority, the i5 would be just perfect. Once you start talking about productivity applications, it's no longer the best.

    Second, VelociRaptors are horrible wastes of money. The Samsung Spinpoint F3 I mentioned (or the Seagate 7200.12 or Western Digital Caviar Black SATA III drives) are all just as fast as the VRs, yet use less power, produces less heat and noise, and are a good 810% more expensive per GB. The F3 is $70 for 1 TB, or $0.07 per GB. The VR WD3000HLFS 300GB SATA 3.0Gb/s is $170 is $0.57 per GB. If you only look at the total cost of the drives and disregard the difference in sizes, the VR is still 243% more expensive. You'd be spending a lot of extra money only to get comparable speed. Basically, if you want a fast boot drive, it's an SSD (or RAID 0 Samsung F3s) or nothing. SSDs are a magnitude faster than any mechanical drive (yes, even VRs in RAID 0). If you're looking for speed, don't bother with the VRs.

    Third, I'm not entirely sure what you're saying about the RAM is true. There have been a lot of improvements since the Core 2 Quads were in their prime. I certainly wouldn't consider building a rendering/editing machine with less than 6 GB (i7) or 8 GB (everything else).

    Agree with the RAID 1 idea, but it's not the end all of HDD configurations. If you've got the money for a few drives, I'd consider RAID 10 or 5 as well. RAID 10 will give you both the speed boost of RAID 0 and the redundance of RAID 1, but it requires 4 identical drives.

    RAID 5 is a mixture of RAID 1 and RAID 0, where you use two drives as if in RAID 0, and a third as a backup. The benefit of RAID 5 is that if any drive fails, the RAID will continue to work even without replacing the bad drive, it'll just be slowed down considerably.

    I'd be more partial to RAID 5 if you don't already have a consistent data backup plan in place. If you do, RAID 0 would definitely be best.

    @batchuka: As for the X6 idea, it's not a bad idea, but not perfect either. The X6s work very well in certain applications, but they're also really far behind in others. Definitely check the benchmarks in the exact programs you use before considering them. The rest of the build is alright, but some improvements can be made if your goal isn't a bargain build.
  5. Best answer
    My 2 cents:

    1) I would wait for sandy bridge. Read about it here:
    The tests were done on an engineering sample chip. Actual results will be even better. Motherboards are a competitive market, I expect the 1155 motherboards to be competitively priced. You can lower your costs by looking at a micro-ATX motherboard which costs less to produce. Do you need more than 4 expansion slots today?

    2) Initially, the sandy bridge processors will be quad cores. If you want a dual core, the 32nm clarkdale processors, which use 1156, will still be the best. When the sandy bridge dual cores come out, I would expect the demand for 1156 to dry up.

    3) 1366/X58 is very good today, but will not get better. It will be a good place to be if you need 6 cores. I expect the follow on's to be oriented toward 6 or 8 or more cores, and ram in excess of 24gb.

    4) i7-950 gets you hyperthreading, better SLI, and a potential for 24gb of ram. If these are difference makers to you, then go for it.
    SB and i5-760 get you 16gb, 8 x 8 sli which is plenty. I don't put much stock in hyperthreading, unless it is in a duo. Motherboard prices for X58 are higher, because there are more parts to each one.

    5) Some applications, like photoshop can make use of lots of ram. If you use one of those kind of apps, then maximum ram might be a consideration. P55 or SB can use 4 sticks of 4gb ram, giving 16gb. If you want more, then X58 can give you 24gb. You need W7 or better to access >16gb.

    6) At 1920 x 1200, and considering the cost of the rest of the build, I think a GTX570 or 6870 would be appropriate. Only if you were to game at 2560 x 1600, or with triple monitors would you really need sli.

    7) Plan on a SSD for the os and apps. Budget $150-$200. It will be the best performance dollars you ever spend. W7 will take about 13gb of it. Use a large drive for storage and backups.

    8) For backups, plan on an external solution.
    The value of raid-1 and it's variants like raid-5 for protecting data is that you can recover from a hard drive failure quickly.
    It is for servers that can't afford any down time.
    Recovery from a hard drive failure is just moments.
    Fortunately hard drives do not fail often.
    Mean time to failure is claimed to be on the order of 1,000,000 hours.(100 years)
    Raid-1 does not protect you from other types of losses such as viruses,
    software errors,raid controller failure, operator error, or fire...etc.
    For that, you need EXTERNAL backup.
    If you have external backup, and can afford some recovery time, then you don't need raid-1.

    ----------------------------------------------------------bottom line-----------------------------------------------------------
    Unless your need is urgent, wait to Jan 9 for sandy bridge.
  6. Thanks everyone for their replies. I'm going to wait for the new chip. Depending on actual prices for mobo and CPU come January, I'll decide whether I'm going for a i7 or i5. Thanks again!
  7. Best answer selected by sherwinyu.
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