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Pentium G630 vs. i3-2120 vs. i5-2400 for budget gaming rig

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May 1, 2012 2:45:16 PM

The one thing I really hate about my current rig is the CPU bottleneck.

I started out with a single-core CPU, and then upgraded to my current dual-core because I was getting into PC gaming. The advice I got on Tom's for upgrading my Dell was great, though a few people suggested I pay double for a Phenom II X4 945 (the best CPU my mobo can take), and now I'm sorry I didn't. The Athlon II X2 was a better match for my then-current HD 5670. Now that I've upgraded to an HD 6870 and I'm playing current games, my CPU is holding me back. Everything I own is playable, even Crysis 2 DX11 Ultra (minus a wierd stuttering/lag problem I'm getting when there's water in the area...), but framerates often dip down in the teens.

I'm planning a buget platform upgrade to LGA 1155 when my wife lets me (probably early 2013), and I'm debating moving to a Sandy Bridge Pentium, i3, or i5. I know I'll want to upgrade to at least an i5 sometime in the next five years (once games begin regularly taking advantage of quad-core architecture), but I don't want to make the same mistake I made with my last CPU upgrade and end up wishing all-too-soon that I had gone with the more expensive one.

My choices are the best bang-for-the-buck in each performance category, each are capable of keeping up with my video card, and I know that even a Pentium will perform well in today's games. The i3 is about 50% more expensive than the Pentium for a 15% performance increase in games, and the i5 is about 50% more expensive than the i3 for another 15% performance bump. (Performance according to this Tom's article.) Cheaper is always better, but I'm willing to spend the extra money if it's worth it. I've also been looking at the benchmarks in this article to determine if the i5 is worth it, considering my monitor's lower resolution.

Three final things: My Athlon II takes care of all my multitasking needs - so my upgrade will be strictly for gaming, I will not be upgrading to 1080p anytime soon, and I have no interest in overclocking - so I will probably get an H61 mobo.
a b à CPUs
May 1, 2012 2:50:46 PM

I think its much too early to say for almost a year from now but I would say the i5 2400 is definitely worth it over the i3 as I am very into multitasking and running many things at once and hyper threading does not seem like it is good enough.

Would really depend on how tight your budget is and what else in available then as well as the pricing.

Im not sure if they would even still sell sandybridge cpus then as ivy is pretty much a complete new line for the socket.
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a b à CPUs
May 1, 2012 4:18:21 PM

You plan to upgrade to s1155 in 2013 and you want to know NOW what you should get?? LOL

Come back in 2013, likely all those cpu's will be discontinued by then. I mean really?
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a c 190 à CPUs
May 1, 2012 4:41:09 PM

geekapproved said:
Come back in 2013, likely all those cpu's will be discontinued by then.


All of the processors listed are 2nd generation Intel® Core™ processors and they will soon be replaced with the 3rd generation Intel Core versions when they are released. We generally try to give each chipset a 1 year lifespan so by 2013 there will be a new processors all the way around.


Christian Wood
Intel Enthusiast Team
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a b à CPUs
May 1, 2012 5:44:45 PM

Okay well then let me rephrase my original question.

If I were to buy this week from Newegg, is it worth paying 154% more (Pentium vs. i5) for a 31% better minimum framerate in games, hoping that PC games take better advantage of four cores in the next five years?

This is really the first time I've debated buying a part where the price hike didn't equal the gaming performance increase. (I've gone from a $30 Athlon LE-1660 to $65 Athlon II X2 250, and in GPUs from a $20 HD 4550 to $80 HD 5670 to $170 HD 6870.) I mean, if a low-end i5 drops below $150, I'll definitely jump on that, but it doesn't look like that's going to happen anytime soon.

Just looking for the best bang-for-my-buck!
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May 1, 2012 6:13:19 PM

In early 2013, you will also have the choice of a Piledriver CPU. We have no idea at this point what those will bring to the table.

If you are buying this week in hopes of future proofing for the next 5 years, then I would recommend the i5 (if Intel is your only mindset). It's hard to predict what games will require in 5 years. Assuming games start using multiple cores regularly in the near future, then even an FX 8120/8150 comes into play. But we are working off assumptions entirely and we know what 'assuming' can do...lol!
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May 1, 2012 9:22:14 PM

Quote:
you couldn't just PM me.? :p 

Kicking myself for that one, too. :pfff:  I was hoping you'd see this thread. Seriously, I wouldn't have asked if I thought the only answers I'd get were, "the market will be completely different next year, derp!"

I just wanted to know if people think the gaming advantage of the i5 is worth the price difference over an i3 or Pentium. I know the i5 is amazing for multitasking, but I generally do one thing at a time on my PC - and I close everything but FRAPS and Afterburner before starting a game. I don't do any Photoshop or video encoding, so the advantage for me is solely in games.

I am getting a low-end Micro-ATX mobo, because USB 3.0, extra PCI slots, CPU overclocking, and SATA-III don't really light my fire. My budget is flexible, but the lower the better. I was trying to keep it between $200-300 for the case, mobo, RAM, and CPU. I'm pretty set on the first three, but now I'm thinking if I'm definitely going to upgrade to an i5/i7 in the future, I might as well get it now and not waste money on a cheaper CPU before upgrading down the road. But that puts me at about $350. So I really want the performance to be worth it.

And if you could give me your opinon on your own i3 vs. your i5, that would rock my world. Thanks Mal.
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May 1, 2012 11:27:04 PM

Quote:
1.) i3-2120 (H67) + N550GTX-Ti + 8GB DDR3 1333MHz + WD VelociRaptor 10K = able to game (16:10 and not 1080p because of GPU, you not have this problem) and quite effective unit.
my ol' lady uses it as more a HTPC and doesn't game.
streams video, internet, email and sometimes MS Word at same time.
no issues.

2.) i5-2500K (Z68) + SLi N560GTX-Ti Hawks + 8GB DDR3 1600MHz + SSD = gamer.
period..

Cool thanks - I really think I'm going to get an i5. No real reason not to, since I'm planning on getting one at some point anyway. I don't think I'll Crossfire my HD 6870 because I want more VRAM and better DX11 performance out of my next card, and I'm not ready for the hassle of two cards. Honestly, I've got a case picked out and I'm pretty fond of it, however thin the metal may be... It's a 14"x14"x7" Rosewill Ranger-M. And that definitely limits me to lower-power single-card configurations. But I'm fine with that.
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May 3, 2012 2:19:57 PM

Cool, thanks a lot, Mal. I'm sure I'll have more choices when I'm allowed to buy. I'll definitely go with the i5 - especially since I won't be doing a platform upgrade for several years after.
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a b à CPUs
May 3, 2012 8:14:07 PM

The i5 would be my choice.
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a c 99 à CPUs
May 3, 2012 9:34:37 PM

If you're planning to upgrade in 2013, you should aim for the socket LGA 1150 platform with the Haswell CPUs; the current socket LGA 1155 and the new Ivy Bridge CPUs will be on their way out by then. Hopefully Haswell will be a bigger step forward than Ivy Bridge has proven to be.
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May 4, 2012 2:36:58 AM

Maybe a Haswell i3 is the answer... I'd like to keep it under 150USD. We'll see next year - thanks for the help everyone.

Also, my 4 key doesn't work anymore! :na: 
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a b à CPUs
May 4, 2012 2:39:41 AM

Best answer selected by jessterman21.
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a b à CPUs
May 9, 2012 4:19:48 PM

HOLY CRAP - I didn't even see this CPU! This would be like adding an i3 without the platform upgrade! I may just have my answer - and I'm saving like $200.

95w Phenom II X4 955
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a b à CPUs
May 9, 2012 5:50:31 PM

I didn't what? My AM2+ platform won't take more than a 95w CPU. And yes of course I realize the i5 bulldozes everything else (pun intended), but the Deneb is what I should've bought last year, it would probably fix my gaming problems, and $110 is a whole lot cheaper than the $350+ I'll spend on an i5 build.

But honestly, now that I've weighed the pros and cons, I'm pretty sure I'm still going with the latter... Really, who knows what untold stress I've been putting on my poor Dell/Foxconn mobo for the past two years?
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May 9, 2012 5:56:08 PM

Quote:
edit my last posting...
it will help but far from a savior..
save yourself time and money of upgrading to this now and then an entire build later.

Ha, I did a ninja-edit myself.

I am in the southeastern US, but I'm pretty sure I want to do my own build.

I think I will save and wait.
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May 9, 2012 6:19:16 PM

Quote:
and what I was saying was the the 955 you picked is not a 'BE'.
it not a Black Edition.
just a regular locked 955.

Right - I'm aware. None of the quad-core BEs are 95w though. When the 945 and then 925 sold out on Newegg I thought I'd missed my chance to circumvent buying a new platform - then I saw this one today. I will take your advice this time though - I learned my lesson.

Cool - I'm in central NC. Also, buying your exact platform new would be like $420 if you include the RAM, CPU cooler, and case. Are you sure about $200? That's one heck of a deal, Mal. :o 

Just kidding - that still is a good price on a used CPU/mobo of that caliber.
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August 1, 2012 5:50:55 PM

New build completed 2 weeks ago - check my sig. VERY happy with the i3 in games. Nothing drops to "choppy" framerates (>30) even on Ultra.
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