I ordered a amd 965 earlier today for $82 from superbiiz. I also already ordered a motherboard from newegg with their $10 off deal for June 16th only. Now I am considering canceling both of those orders while I still can and maybe go for a i3 2120. The less power consumption and upgradability sounds appealing. But the 4 cores is still good on the 965 and feel like it will last a long time to the point I might just make a brand new build all together. I calculated and the difference in price would be $25 with the lost coupons and everything. Should I go for it or is the amd 965 still good?
I plan on playing games like BF3, Skyrim, Withcer 2, etc.
BF3 uses more than 2 cores in multiplayer. Two cores will be fine for single player.
In the long run going with the Core i3 will probably give you a better upgrade path than going with the Phenom II. CPUs for socket 1155 will cease production next year when Haswell is released. Life for socket AM3+ may or may not continue after 2013. Steamroller will likely be released in 2014, but whether it will use AM3+ remains to be seen.
As of right now the most power socket 1155 CPU you can upgrade to in the future is the i5-3570k; excluding the i7 series since Hyper Threading does not improve gaming performance. The Phenom II / FX series is more or less equivalent to the Core 2 Duo / Quad CPU (with a couple of benchmark exceptions). If an AM3+ Piledriver CPU can achieve a 10% performance increase over the FX series, then Piledriver will more or less be equivalent to the 1st generation Core i3/i5/i7 CPUs.
Assuming Steamroller comes out in 2014 for socket AM3+ and it can achieve a 10% improvement over Piledriver then it should be equivalent to the Sandy Bridge CPUs. If it's a 15% improvement, then it should be equivalent to Ivy Bridge. This is also assuming Steamroller does not require a new chipset.
If you buy PC now and expect to upgrade in 2014, then....
1. With socket 1155, you should still be able to find Ivy Bridge CPUs available for sale. Production of those CPUs will probably end around spring 2013 if Haswell is going to be released around summer 2013.
2. With socket AM3+ you may or may not be able to upgrade to Steamroller. It may require a new chipset. It may require a new socket. It may not even be release as a traditional CPU and only be released in AMD's APU series. Actual performance is also in question. The chances of Steamroller being equivalent to Ivy Bridge is fair / decent. The chances of Steamroller being faster than Ivy Bridge is poor at this early point in time.
The PII X4 965 can be overclocked. A Sandy Bridge Core i3 CPU cannot be overclocked. In the short term the X4 965 can give you better performance if you OC. However, if you plan on upgrading in the somewhat near future, then going with Core i3 will ultimately be the better choice.