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AMD Phenom ii x4 965 Black edition or i3 2120

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May 23, 2012 2:28:28 AM

I'm looking to build a budget gaming pc and I'm wondering which of these two processors will give me the most bang for my buck.

My goal with this gaming build is to be able to stream/record games with several browser tabs open and maybe a music player like itunes up, all at once.

I realize intel is always the popular choice but I don't intend to upgrade anytime in the near future after building so I'm mainly concerned with what will provide me with the best performance until i decide to upgrade (which will probably be at least 3 years from now) So which cpu will serve me better in light of the goals I specified above?

I have heard that, for the price, the Phenom 965 is the better deal. Is this true? If so, how much better is it?
a c 109 à CPUs
May 23, 2012 2:48:14 AM

I agree with ct. The X4 965 is a great chip, but it offers little upgrade path compared to the Intel side.
In 2-3 years, I can still imagine Sandy Bridge+Ivy Bridge CPU's to be going strong so you can upgrade to an i5/i7 later on if you so desired.
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May 23, 2012 2:52:11 AM

+1, about the same for gaming overall. I would take the i3 for having an upgrade path. the 965 may have the edge with multitasking, which is your intended use. you should think about spending a little extra on an i5 2320.
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a c 109 à CPUs
May 23, 2012 4:15:47 AM

iam2thecrowe said:
+1, about the same for gaming overall. I would take the i3 for having an upgrade path. the 965 may have the edge with multitasking, which is your intended use. you should think about spending a little extra on an i5 2320.

I agree with your recommendation of an i5...it'll certainly perform better than an i3 still keep your upgrade path available, while performing better than the X4 965 :) 

I love my X4 955, but I can't see myself using it for another 3-4 years. Not to mention my limited upgrade options (Not only from the AM3 socket on my Mobo, but because I'm not very fond of the price/performance of the FX series).
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a c 185 à CPUs
May 23, 2012 4:36:47 AM

i3-2120.
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a c 146 à CPUs
May 23, 2012 5:19:07 AM

I would go with an I3 2120 or a 2130.
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May 23, 2012 10:43:38 AM

I am not going to debate the selections but I will debate the upgrade path posts. With a 900 socket mobo you can go from Phenom II > Zambezi > Piledriver > Possibly even Steam Roller. With 1155, IB processors having issues on practically every 60 gen mobo (P67,Z68), Putting a SB on a Z75/Z77 is rather pointless and Socket 1155 is effectively dead now, Haswell will not work on socket 1155. Explain the upgrade path issue please?
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a c 105 à CPUs
May 23, 2012 11:10:58 AM

since the OP is talking about gaming

the FX series is not an upgrade from the phenom II for gaming, in fact the FX-4 & 6 fail to offer better performance (and often show worse) then the phenom II x4 & 6. the FX-8 series shows some improvement but costs more then the intel 2500k yet does not offer the same performance (at its best it can equal 2500k performance, at its worst it lags behind way too often). the 2500k also OC with better performance for your OC then the FX-8. while piledriver may be a "stated" 10% increase from BD, AMD has yet to prove they can make such a performance increase. even if they did, it still won't touch the 2600k, 2700k, and IB CPUs on the 1155 socket.
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May 23, 2012 11:31:42 AM

I would take the 965, gaming the 2 CPU's trade blows. Overclocked (which the i3 cant do) the Phenom will pull a bit ahead. The phenom is a quad core we already see BF3 (and therefore future frostbite engine games) utilising the extra cores. Anything other than gaming that makes use of multiple cores the Phenom pulls ahead. The AMD motherboards will be slightly more featured at their pricepoints than the Intel ones. To summise I think if your looking for just that CPU to last longest you will see more mileage from the Phenom II than the i3. As that was your stated goal saying buy an i3 then later upgrade to a i5 is a pointless arguement by the time you upgrade socket 1155 and its CPU's will be old news and newer (likely cheaper) better models will be around.

I think sarinade makes a valued point on upgrade paths though lets be blunt not many build a budget PC and expect to be upgrading it anyway they are generally run till the wheels fall off then replaced.
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May 23, 2012 12:14:05 PM

Another vote for the 965, you can have a bit of fun with overclocking, and as others have said you will get a few more features on your motherboard.

Upgrade paths are a bit of a crystal ball as often when it comes to upgrading, you will most probably want to change your motherboard to get the latest features anyway. Unless you are doing every 6 months. In which cased you are either earning your crust from your workstation and every second counts or you are an idiot.

Plus, lets face it, AMD could do with a few more sales, and often the chips are just fine.

As a community we need to strike a careful balance between keeping them alive whilst not letting them think they can get away with something like FX. FX should just have been better, bluntly.
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May 23, 2012 12:19:07 PM

Pretty much, i3 has no upgrade path at all, nobody will put a i3 2100 and upgrade to a i5 2500K in year or so or longer, simply because SB will be as non-existant as the 60 series motherboards they were designed for. Simple fact here, i3 is dead end, if you are contemplating putting a i3 on anything more than a H61, you are wasting money.

Now another conundrum to consider is this, a PhenomII 965BE costs around $140, while microcenter is known to sell FX8120's for $170, for $30 more you get a chip which is considerably better all round, and is not limited to gaming but commercial use as well, it may even negate the need to go to PD, if the performance is adequate for the end user.

On to the OP's question, yes the i3 is a good recomendation for low cost, but like I said, it is probably dead end, you will not find upgrade parts for much longer and the i3's shelf life will end sooner than a i5. My honest recommendation is to avoid dual cores now.
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May 23, 2012 12:53:19 PM

sarinaide said:
Pretty much, i3 has no upgrade path at all, nobody will put a i3 2100 and upgrade to a i5 2500K in year or so or longer, simply because SB will be as non-existant as the 60 series motherboards they were designed for. Simple fact here, i3 is dead end, if you are contemplating putting a i3 on anything more than a H61, you are wasting money.

Now another conundrum to consider is this, a PhenomII 965BE costs around $140, while microcenter is known to sell FX8120's for $170, for $30 more you get a chip which is considerably better all round, and is not limited to gaming but commercial use as well, it may even negate the need to go to PD, if the performance is adequate for the end user.

On to the OP's question, yes the i3 is a good recomendation for low cost, but like I said, it is probably dead end, you will not find upgrade parts for much longer and the i3's shelf life will end sooner than a i5. My honest recommendation is to avoid dual cores now.

On newegg, the phenom ii 965 be is only 119 bucks, which is actually 6 dollars cheaper than the i3 2120 which is currently 125 dollars. With this in consideration, does the Phenom become the better deal? Also,
I am looking into the i5 2500k, but being a teen with a ton of school and no time for a job (therefore no regular income) waiting to save another 80-90 bucks for the i5 will push my purchase back by a considerable amount of time. Is it worth waiting another 4 months (at least) to afford?
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May 23, 2012 1:12:55 PM

TheScarecrow97 said:
On newegg, the phenom ii 965 be is only 119 bucks, which is actually 6 dollars cheaper than the i3 2120 which is currently 125 dollars. With this in consideration, does the Phenom become the better deal? Also,
I am looking into the i5 2500k, but being a teen with a ton of school and no time for a job (therefore no regular income) waiting to save another 80-90 bucks for the i5 will push my purchase back by a considerable amount of time. Is it worth waiting another 4 months (at least) to afford?

If you don't mind playing games at mid. to max. settings, then get the Phenom II 965 & team it up with a good GPU, & you'll be able to play almost all games there is to play.

IMO, A good quad core CPU is quite enough for a fair amount of gaming.
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May 23, 2012 1:31:58 PM

TheScarecrow97 said:
On newegg, the phenom ii 965 be is only 119 bucks, which is actually 6 dollars cheaper than the i3 2120 which is currently 125 dollars. With this in consideration, does the Phenom become the better deal? Also,
I am looking into the i5 2500k, but being a teen with a ton of school and no time for a job (therefore no regular income) waiting to save another 80-90 bucks for the i5 will push my purchase back by a considerable amount of time. Is it worth waiting another 4 months (at least) to afford?



Really depends on when you want your new PC, you could keep saving for better and better tech and never actually build the thing!

Given your circumstances I would go for bang for buck, the 965 is a great chip at a good price, and will keep your PC going for a good few years. By the time it really shows it's age I am sure you will be in a position to buy another CPU/motherboard.
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May 23, 2012 1:55:26 PM

I heard Microcenter are selling 965 BE for under $100 if that is true, thats great for student budget.
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May 23, 2012 3:12:34 PM

sarinaide said:
I heard Microcenter are selling 965 BE for under $100 if that is true, thats great for student budget.

Yeah, 100 bucks exactly, but its in-store only and the nearest microcenter is at least a whole state away from me : /
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May 23, 2012 4:19:34 PM

My vote is get the 965 now with a good 900 series board like the Asus Evo this along with a Coolermaster Hyper 212 evo will mean an easy OC to at least 3.8ghz maybe even 4.2ghz but a more likely 4.0ghz OC, in this state you will be gaming happily for a long time to come, just make sure you pair it up with a half decent GPU, 560ti/6950 upwards.
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May 23, 2012 4:42:47 PM

Can't really say anything that hasn't been said, (but will anyway :p ) I'd go with the phenom, or maybe an FX6100 (but I'm not completely sure on that one), Obviously the i5 would be better but then so would an i7 extreme be better than that and before you know it you gone completely OTT.
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May 29, 2012 1:11:14 PM

With the z77 boards at roughly the same price as z68 boards it would be perfectly reasonable to put a SB i3 on a entry/mid level z77 board and upgrade to an IB i5/i7 in a years time. Makes for a very strong starter with a very good upgrade path. Saying that the i3 has no upgrade path is just plain ignorant. Don't be swayed by the more cores is better idea, if you look at most any gaming benchmark the i3 outperforms the 965. The 965 also consumes much more power than the i3, and tends to run hotter. The 965 does have its merits, overclocks well, good value, and can outperform the i3 in some multi tasking situations. Still if you look at the whole package, I would take the i3.
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May 29, 2012 6:26:14 PM

X4 965 is better.
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May 30, 2012 3:33:45 AM

+1 i3 simply due to upgrade path, performance per watt, and core performance.

Most games don't benefit from more than 2 cores and few of those significantly benefit (enough to make the 965 take the performance lead). 965 is faster in very few games, and that's with it overclocked.
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