Is my old CPU really up to scratch?

I just went on PassMark, here, and discovered that my current CPU, a Core2 Q9400, (according to their benchmarks) is almost on par with the i3 2120, which is the obvious choice for me as I think about upgrading. This is quite dismaying to me. I bought my Q9400 in May of 2009 for this build:

GAINWARD HD4870 PCIe Golden Sample ( Radeon HD4870 1024MB DVI HDMI )
DDR2 4GB [2GBx2] DDR800 (PC2-6400) - CORSAIR [TWIN2X4096-6400C5 G]
SATA300 750GB - 7200 SAMSUNG SpinPoint F1 (32MB) [SAH-HD753LJ]
GIGABYTE GA-EP45-UD3R ( Intel® P45+ICH10R - Socket 775 - FSB 1600 )
INTEL Core 2 Quad 2.66GHz Q9400 + Ventilateur [ LGA775 - 6MB - 45nm - 1333MHz]
Alimentation 520W CORSAIR HX Series [CMPSU520HXEU]
Boitier Tour COOLER MASTER Centurion 534 Silver [ RC-534 ] ( 5 x 5.25 ) - No Power Supply
COOLER MASTER HYPER TX2 INTEL P4 + AMD Sockel 775/754/939/940/AM2 [RR-CCH-L9U1-GP]

Unfortunately, try as I might, I cannot find the price I paid for it back then.

So, my question is this: seeing as the benchmarks place my 3 year old CPU on par with what would be the best value CPU for my price range, how much better would the i3 really be, whether for gaming or more generic tasks on a PC? Would I really see any improvements?
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  1. Your Q9400 is 4 core,4 thread. @2.66ghz
    The I3 2120 is 2 core 4 thread. @3.3gig
    I would suggest for most purposes to stick with your quad.
    If you can oveclock it will outperform the I3.
    For gaming, since most games only use 2 cores the I3 would be faster. But more games are coming out that will use more than 2 cores.
    So it is more of a sideways move, you gain in some and lose in others.
  2. Your CPU is still decent, but the 2.6ghz is a little limiting when it comes to pure gaming. More cores is a plus for certain, and required actually for a lot of games, but still, nothing drives games better than raw processor speed and a good GPU to match. If you can bump your processor to 3ghz, you will get pretty nice bump in performance for gaming. If you still feel the need for upgrading, you should really jump farther up the list than an i3, thats really not a lot better than you have now.
  3. Yes, your Core 2 Quad is still quite a capable processor.
    While it may be a bit behind the i3 2120 in IPC, it does still have twice the physical cores.
    Instead of upgrading your complete system, try increasing your FSB to 400MHz.
    It should be a quite easy overclock and will result in your system running at a faster 3.2GHz, further closing the single thread performance gap to the i3.
  4. Right. So if you were willing to upgrade your CPU. Whats your budget?
  5. Looks like others have been successful OC'ing the Q9400 up to the 3.2 - 3.4GHz range. IMO, I would OC it and ride on that CPU for a while longer until you can save up for a Core i5 2500K or a more worthwhile upgrade.

    If you OC, just make sure you are using a decent aftermarket heatsink/fan and have good air flow in your case. Max operating temperature for the Q9400 is approximately 71.4C. Stay under that and your OK.

    Good luck!
  6. Thanks for the replies. If I upgrade (which means using socket 1155), my budget would be around 600-650 $. However, seeing what you guys have confirmed for me, I think I will skip the i3 and either wait a few more months for the cheaper Ivy Bridge units to come out, or I'll try to invest in a higher-end CPU. For the moment I think I'll try to OC the Q9400 a bit. I'm not so sure about my case ventilation, but I have a Hyper TX2 on the CPU, so that should be enough for some light OCing.
  7. THG article: Best Gaming CPUs For The Money: April 2012
    Gaming CPU Hierarchy Chart shows were you CPU lies and general comparisons with other CPUs, including i3-2120.

    The THG guys suggest a 3-tier move up is a worthwhile upgrade and your Q9400 is only 2 tiers below the i3-2120.
  8. Your GIGABYTE GA-EP45-UD3R motherboard is known to be overclock friendly and I think your Hyper TX-3 CPU cooler and CM Centurion 534, plus the very nice Corsair PSU all lend themselves nicely to enough overclock potential to be useful in modern games.
  9. I have that same motherboard and processor has been retired to be my home server now but I had it over clocked to 3.8ghz for around 3 years and it ate everything no issue only retired it b/c I have an i5 2500 and 1090T in my new systems.

    Thent
  10. Ok, well it seems like the Q9400 retailed for approximately 200$ back in the day. So the i3 2120 is only 65-75$ cheaper and is hardly an improvement (and worse when it comes to applications that use 4 cores or more). I managed to OC the Q9400, but feel kinda disillusioned, heh. Looks like I came close to purchasing a 600$ system that would have hardly improved on my current one at all.

    Thanks for the advice guys!
  11. Glad we could help.
    Most of are price/performance freaks any way.
    Just did not want to see you waste money on a sideways swap.
  12. thezooloomaster said:
    Ok, well it seems like the Q9400 retailed for approximately 200$ back in the day. So the i3 2120 is only 65-75$ cheaper and is hardly an improvement (and worse when it comes to applications that use 4 cores or more). I managed to OC the Q9400, but feel kinda disillusioned, heh. Looks like I came close to purchasing a 600$ system that would have hardly improved on my current one at all.

    Thanks for the advice guys!



    well your right upgrading to an i3 would not be a good choice because like WR2 said you wanna get a CPU 3 tiers better then your current to make it worthwhile but you definitely would have noticed a difference the 2120 is better for games easily but if your not gaming then not so much. if your still upgrading a i5 would be your best bet.
  13. I have a Q9450 in my current PC. It is definitely still good enough to play games. Roughly speaking it's equal to a Phenom II X4 955, maybe marginally faster. The Q9400 will be a little slower, but still good enough for games.

    I plan on keeping my Q9450 until next year when Intel releases their new Haswell CPU. I expect it will be around 15% more powerful than the upcoming Ivy Bridge CPUs which will probably be about 6% faster than Sandy Bridge CPUs. That's assuming all CPUs have the same clockspeed. Roughly speaking, I expect Haswell CPUs to be roughly 35% - 40% faster than Core 2 Quad CPUs at this point in time. That will change as more info around Haswell becomes available.
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