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Upgrading i3 -> i5, profit ?

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April 14, 2012 9:46:56 PM

Hey guys,

so I got a micro ATX tower with an ASRock H67M mainboard and Intel's i3 2100T, 4GB ram. I'm currently on a 250W power supply and thus using the onboard GPU of the i3. I was thinking whether I could gain some performance by upgrading to a i5 2500K, especially regarding Starcraft II. Obviously I play on low settings and effects on medium which results in a kinda okay-ish fps, but I'm really looking to boost it - especially in bigger encounters it tends to drop towards uneffective niveaus.

So my question is: Is it worth it getting an i5 2500K (or maybe even an i7) ?

Note that I got a pretty standard micro ATX case, which doesn't have the space for a dedicated graphics card and also the system is designed for running 24/7 so I need to keep the power consumption as low as possible.

Thank you very much :) 

More about : upgrading profit

a b B Homebuilt system
April 15, 2012 4:28:39 AM

If you wait for IB (April 29th), you will have VERY strong integrated graphics. Don't get the i5-2500k because it's for overclocking. Get the i5-2400 Ivy Bridge equivalent... just Google it. Also, make sure it's compatible with your motherboard. Ivy Bridge is designed to consume MUCH less power.

Basically, Ivy Bridge is everything you need.
a b B Homebuilt system
April 15, 2012 5:05:18 AM

if you want GAMING performance you need a GAMING card theres no way around it
Related resources
a b B Homebuilt system
April 15, 2012 5:05:38 AM

just to clarify above post, the Ivy bridge counterpart to the sandy i5-2400 is the i5-3450

but if you want to game. you NEED a dedicated card and a good power supply. APU/Intel Chip graphics arent going to cut much.
a b B Homebuilt system
April 15, 2012 5:15:15 AM

^Both are true. But I don't think he's going for a GAMING machine... if it's on 24/7, it's probably for something else. In that case, playing games on low is fine, since it's not a gaming rig.

IB will still help, though. Seriously. Wait for IB.
a b B Homebuilt system
April 15, 2012 6:21:05 AM

ddan49 said:
^Both are true. But I don't think he's going for a GAMING machine... if it's on 24/7, it's probably for something else. In that case, playing games on low is fine, since it's not a gaming rig.

IB will still help, though. Seriously. Wait for IB.


He specifically mentions Starcraft 2 as most important.

It depends on his budget, however the best upgrade IMO is to add an HD6870 (as little as $150 after MIR at NCIX) although that may require a new Power Supply (as little as $60 on sale).

That would give a HUGE boost to his performance for roughly the same cost as a new CPU which would only add a small boost.
April 15, 2012 7:56:58 AM

Thanks for replying ! :) 

Well - ddan49's right - the only game I'm even considering playing is Starcraft II on low settings (low is the standard setting that everyone uses, fyi), so I'm gonna look into Ivy Bridge.

Sure - for gaming in general I'd be best off getting a dedicated graphics card, but I'm mostly using the system for programming and kinda as a HTPC - so IMO it's kinda ridiculous to go from 250W up to 650W on the PSU (also I'd need a new case >_>).

Are there any estimates on the performance of the new Ivy Bridges yet ? I see it's a HD2500 GPU and the i3's got a HD2000 - so ... is there any opinions on the difference between those two ?
April 15, 2012 8:31:07 AM

And is there no benefit in getting a i5-3570K over the i5-3450, as it has HD4000 ? In general it'd be obviously dumb to pay like 200€ for a new CPU giving only a couple of extra FPS ...
If it wouldn't boost Starcraft noticeably, I'll have to look into getting a dedicated graphics card - so can you recommend me some of Nvidias' ? (I really got only bad experiences with ATI and support for Nvidia on Linux is quite decent).
a b B Homebuilt system
April 15, 2012 1:06:20 PM

I'm not sure what you are attempting to accomplish here...

"performance of new Ivy Bridges":
Ivy Bridge requires a new Ivy Bridge motherboard to support the newer CPU's so you'd be replacing your motherboard, CPU, power supply (better CPU) not to mention Windows is tied to the motherboard as well (there's a chance, but no guarantee that you could like and tell them your motherboard failed so they'll transfer it).

However, even if all you needed was the Motherboard and CPU. Why? You expressed no use of CPU-intensive programs.

*So you basically appear to have no need for a better CPU. The only thing that would make a difference to you is the graphics card for games.

An HD6870 + PSU could be purchased for as little as $200 + tax.

PSU won't fit?
I'd have to see the case, but you said it was micro-ATX. Are you SURE it won't fit?

SUMMARY:
Please clear up the confusion. Why are you considering a better CPU or CPU+motherboard?
a b B Homebuilt system
April 15, 2012 1:21:27 PM

Okay, first of all, that Antec PSU is nice, but IT DOESN'T HAVE A POWER CORD! I almost bought this, and noticed it at the last second:
“GREEN” WITH NO POWER CORD INCLUDED
The Antec EarthWatts EA-650 Green meets 2010 EuP requirement (5Vsb < 1W) for ultra-low standby power consumption. By reusing your existing cord, you can reduce waste and help protect the environment.

Anyway, going on, he wants a new CPU for the IGP. He said that he doesn't have room on his mobo for a dedicated GPU, and he's not gaming (HTPC) all that much, so he wants a new CPU. The IB is a great CPU, and they've really upgraded the IGP... it's supposed to be a massive increase. Now, IB doesn't require one of the IB chipsets (like Z77)... it can run on older ones like Z68. As long as the socket is the same (LGA 1155), it can go in... which it is the same. So he doesn't need to buy a new motherboard, and he has no room for a GPU. If he wanted it to be for gaming, he would need to replace almost every elements... and this is an HTPC. So it's pointless to replace that many elements just for a relatively power-hungry GPU.

a b B Homebuilt system
April 15, 2012 1:25:38 PM

*UPDATE*:
I finally found a useful link for comparing the i3-2100's GPU vs addon graphics.
http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/printpage/A8-3850-vs-Cor...

I could NOT find the i3-2100 + HD6870, however I did find it with a LOWER-END graphics card, the GT430.

This cheaper card achieved DOUBLE the frame rates than the i3-2100 alone with its graphics.

And this one:
http://ixbtlabs.com/articles3/i3dspeed/1011/itogi-video...

*The HD6870 is 4x better than the GT430, which in itself is 2x faster than i3-2100's integrated graphics...

Now the HD6870 won't achieve 8X the performance due to the CPU however it should easily achieve at least 4x the performance and this will vary considerably from game to game.

(Oddly the HD6870 which can be found for as little as $130 after MIR at Newegg and the cheapest GT430 I've found is $60).

SUMMARY:
I see no point in upgrading anything aside from your graphics. The last chart shows relative performance of graphics cards vs the GT430 and you can easily find the prices of said cards at NCIX/Newegg etc.

The HD6670 in particular is only $65 and might come close to TRIPLING your score, although any upgrade likely requires a better graphics card.

My advice is to upgrade to an HD6870 + suitable PSU for roughly $200 or ignore upgrading completely. The HD6870 will still be significantly faster than an HD6670 even with the i3-2100.
April 15, 2012 1:32:02 PM

Well, I was actually thinking I could use my motherboard for Ivy Bridge - because of the same socket >_>
Why would I need a different PSU for Ivy Bridge ? If I got it right it doesn't require more power than Sandy Bridge. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

And the problem with the case is not the size of the PSU, but rather the graphics card - my case is simply not designed to hold one.

You're right - I'd buy a new CPU just to improve my graphics performance - that's the whole purpose of this thread: is there any more or less major difference between HD2500/3000/4000 ? I'm quite aware of the fact that I won't get even near a dedicated graphics card's capabilities with an onboard GPU. But keeping the system as simple as possible, while getting playable FPS in Starcraft II, is pretty much my motive to cut the dedicated card.

My main problem is that I'd raise the power consumption of a 24/7 running system by a huge chunk by getting a dedicated card + powerful PSU. But if I have to, I'd rather get a Nvidia card - so I'd be looking for one (obviously cheap + low powered). And I'd need a cheap case capable of holding my motherboard and a graphics card.

Also I really like i3's performance to power consumption ratio (for desktop purposes) and it has got a very decent support on Linux - which is mandatory for me.

Thank you for replying :) 
a b B Homebuilt system
April 15, 2012 1:32:34 PM

ddan49 said:
Okay, first of all, that Antec PSU is nice, but IT DOESN'T HAVE A POWER CORD! I almost bought this, and noticed it at the last second:
“GREEN” WITH NO POWER CORD INCLUDED
The Antec EarthWatts EA-650 Green meets 2010 EuP requirement (5Vsb < 1W) for ultra-low standby power consumption. By reusing your existing cord, you can reduce waste and help protect the environment.

Anyway, going on, he wants a new CPU for the IGP. He said that he doesn't have room on his mobo for a dedicated GPU, and he's not gaming (HTPC) all that much, so he wants a new CPU. The IB is a great CPU, and they've really upgraded the IGP... it's supposed to be a massive increase. Now, IB doesn't require one of the IB chipsets (like Z77)... it can run on older ones like Z68. As long as the socket is the same (LGA 1155), it can go in... which it is the same. So he doesn't need to buy a new motherboard, and he has no room for a GPU. If he wanted it to be for gaming, he would need to replace almost every elements... and this is an HTPC. So it's pointless to replace that many elements just for a relatively power-hungry GPU.


You may have a point, but his "upgrading" doesn't make much sense. If it's just a CPU then he does NOT need the upgrade:

"I'm mostly using the system for programming and kinda as a HTPC"

Those needs are the LEAST demanding you can ask for, even less than most web pages demand.

As for GAMING, he later expresses a significant interest:
"Obviously I play on low settings and effects on medium which results in a kinda okay-ish fps, but I'm really looking to boost it - especially in bigger encounters it tends to drop towards uneffective niveaus."

*So upgrading his CPU alone is basically pointless for his non-gaming applications and the CPU would cost as much as upgrading his graphics+PSU to achieve probably 5X better gaming performance on average.
a b B Homebuilt system
April 15, 2012 1:36:32 PM

He said he didn't have enough room for a GPU. The newer CPU has BETTER IGP... that's the only reason I'm suggesting it. Because NO OTHER SOLUTION WILL WORK. He said he didn't have enough room for a GPU, so he NEEDS IGP.

If he were to upgrade to a dedicated, then he would need to upgrade, case, motherboard, and power supply... at which point, he may as well build a completely separate rig for gaming.

By the way, tomshardware did an article on $140 APU vs Intel CPU with dedicated graphics. It was really recent. Basically, Intel won with dedicated GPU (again) for the same price. So if he has room, I would totally get a dedicated GPU. But he doesn't... it would involve switching out so many parts, he could just build another computer.
April 15, 2012 1:36:34 PM

Photonboy - I don't think you get my motivation in this whole thing - I need the graphic performance just for playing Starcraft II on low settings - anything that has more potential (like ... idk - for playing recent shooters or stuff) is a complete waste for me.

ddan49 - my motherboard can hold a dedicated graphics card - but I'd really like to not get one as long as I don't really have to.
a b B Homebuilt system
April 15, 2012 1:52:11 PM

Oh. You can get a really cheap yet okay one for like $70, and it won't really bog down your PSU all that much. Just check tomshardware's best gaming GPUs for the money article they did recently (April edition), and look at one of the lower end GPUs there: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/gaming-graphics-car...

Trust me... any dedicated is a HUGE bump vs IGP. It won't be running BF3, but it will run Starcraft at medium with no lag, no problem. If you got the $110 6770, it would be great... I'm pretty sure it wouldn't have the least problem with Starcraft.
April 15, 2012 2:04:42 PM

Thanks, ddan49.

So - if I haven't missed something - there are no graphics related comparisons between Sandy and Ivy Bridge yet ? I mean ... if I'd get .. let's just say 30% more potential from an i5 Ivy Bridge, I'd be rather satisfied - considering I could still cut out a dedicated graphics card.

I actually have really bad experience with ATI's, especially on Linux they used to cause trouble, but there seem to be only cheap ATI's available.
Also - what would I need, regarding a PSU, for my motherboard + i3 + cheap graphics card (like the 6770 that you mentioned) ?
a b B Homebuilt system
April 15, 2012 2:05:25 PM

DOCvanROCK said:
Well, I was actually thinking I could use my motherboard for Ivy Bridge - because of the same socket >_>
Why would I need a different PSU for Ivy Bridge ? If I got it right it doesn't require more power than Sandy Bridge. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

You are WRONG. The new Ivy Bridge motherboards support the new Ivy Bridge 22nm CPU's and are backwards compatible with current 1155 CPU's. Your motherboard only supports current 1155 CPU's.

And the problem with the case is not the size of the PSU, but rather the graphics card - my case is simply not designed to hold one.

I thought you had a micro-ATX case? Is it the MOTHERBOARD or the CASE that is the issue?
Also, the Antec ONE is only $50. It has two fans, cable management system and front USB3 if needed.

You're right - I'd buy a new CPU just to improve my graphics performance - that's the whole purpose of this thread: is there any more or less major difference between HD2500/3000/4000 ? I'm quite aware of the fact that I won't get even near a dedicated graphics card's capabilities with an onboard GPU. But keeping the system as simple as possible, while getting playable FPS in Starcraft II, is pretty much my motive to cut the dedicated card.

For $200:
The i5-2500k is the cheapest upgrade. It will provide, on average, a 1.33x boost in gaming graphics which is not very enjoyable for Starcraft 2.

For $200:
The HD6670 + PSU + CASE can provide roughly 3X the boost in gaming graphics which I consider a minimum to enjoy Starcraft 2.

For $250:
The HD6870 + PSU + CASE willl provide, on average a 5x boost in graphics vs the i3-2100 by itself which should make playing Starcraft 2 very enjoyable.


My main problem is that I'd raise the power consumption of a 24/7 running system by a huge chunk by getting a dedicated card + powerful PSU. But if I have to, I'd rather get a Nvidia card - so I'd be looking for one (obviously cheap + low powered). And I'd need a cheap case capable of holding my motherboard and a graphics card.

Idle power of even the HD6870 won't affect power consumption much. The HD6670 has a fanless version so noise isn't an issue.

Also I really like i3's performance to power consumption ratio (for desktop purposes) and it has got a very decent support on Linux - which is mandatory for me.

Uh, then why are we discussing upgrading?
Also, there is no issue with AMD driver support for the HD6000 series.

Thank you for replying :) 


Sure.

SUMMARY:
- It will cost you $200 +tax to upgrade to an i5-2500K. That will boost gaming performance by an additional 33%.
- I see nothing you do that actually benefits from a CPU upgrade (except for the graphics).
- $200 spent differently can get you a 3x boost and $250 can easily get a 5x boost.
- Starcraft 2 will not be enjoyable IMO on the i5-2500K alone, whereas it can be run close to maximum specs on the HD6870.
-*I have not tested yet, but RadeonPro may even be able to force SC2 to 30FPS VSYNC. This should allow full settings while eliminating Screen Tearing, and 30FPS is fine for this type of game. (RadeonPro->Tweaks->Always ON (Double VSync)
- IMO it's more of a pain to remove and reapply thermal paste to the CPU than to swap the motherboard (just screws).

**Benchmark final:
http://ixbtlabs.com/articles3/i3dspeed/1011/itogi-video...
Again, note that for this game and these settings (results will vary only slightly) that the HD6870 gets about 46FPS. With the i3-2100 +HD6870 it gets in the high 30's likely allowing VSYNC @30FPS or even 60FPS at lower quality settings.

The same game, on the i3-2100 gets 6FPS, and on the i5-2500K probably gets no more than 10FPS.
a b B Homebuilt system
April 15, 2012 2:25:57 PM

6870 may be overkill... remember, he doesn't need gaming performance. I'd recommend the 6770, but if you want NVidia, check the article I linked to above... there's a GTX tied with the 6770.
April 15, 2012 2:46:26 PM

Hmmz - I actually mixed it up (sorry) - it's mini-ITX. But it has a PCI Express 2.0 x16 slot (blue @ x16 mode) - which means it can hold a standard graphics card, right ?
So I actually would need a mini-ITX case with room for a dedicated graphics card.

Let's say I'd find one - newegg's power supply calculator says I'd need a 243W PSU - is that a feasible solution or absolutely underpowered ?

Thanks for your help guys :) 
a b B Homebuilt system
April 15, 2012 2:58:29 PM

Newegg's power supply calculator is terrible. I'd go on the Power Supplies section of tomshardware and post your build, asking what you need. Possibly someone on this thread could judge what PSU you need.
a b B Homebuilt system
April 16, 2012 10:58:50 PM

I build systems and I'd love to help, I just can't until you figure out where you're going with this.

There's NO point on spending $200 on a better CPU. It would improve your games by ONLY roughly 33% and you won't benefit for programming or videos. SC2 won't game well on just the i3-2100's graphics.

Again, upgrading ONLY makes sense for improving your video games.

So basically you need go concentrate on gaming or not bother at all. If you did go gaming the best bang for the buck is to spend $250 on a case, PSU, and HD6870.
a b B Homebuilt system
April 16, 2012 11:14:55 PM

^What are you talking about? ONLY 33%? 33% is a huge increase... from 30fps to 40fps! Or, from 60fps on low to 80fps on low (and into medium).

A better CPU helps on videos, too! It renders video faster!
a b B Homebuilt system
April 17, 2012 4:07:31 PM

ddan49 said:
^What are you talking about? ONLY 33%? 33% is a huge increase... from 30fps to 40fps! Or, from 60fps on low to 80fps on low (and into medium).

A better CPU helps on videos, too! It renders video faster!


First of all he doesn't say anything about rendering video, which is partially why I just said he needs to spell out EXACTLY what the purpose of the upgrade is.

He ONLY mentioned that he did programming and watched videos, NEITHER of which would benefit from a CPU upgrade in the slightest.

So the ONLY thing he mentions which would benefit from an upgrade is Starcraft 2 which is limited by his graphics.

The HD6870 is EIGHT TIMES more powerful than the i3-2100's integrated. 8X!! You'd have a bit of a bottleneck/slowdown with the i3-2100 instead of a more powerful CPU but we'd still likely be talking at least FIVE TIMES better.

Whatever.

I've done my best to educate. In the end it's not my choice so good luck.
a b B Homebuilt system
April 17, 2012 6:48:24 PM

Ah... I misread/forgot he said he WATCHED video, not EDITED video. Sorry about that. You're right, though... I would recommend for him to get a 6870 (or at least a 6850), but he said he only wants integrated graphics... so I'm doing my best to satisfy him. I may not agree, but once he's heard me, he's the buyer, so he gets the final decision.

You're right, photonboy, though.... it would be better to have a dedicated GPU... even a weak one, like the 6850. It would cost less than an upgrade, too (for the CPU).
a b B Homebuilt system
April 25, 2012 5:56:05 AM

FYI, the case he said is MINI-ITX (not ATX).

I did find out that you can install a mini-ITX motherboard in an ATX case:

"The four mounting holes in a Mini-ITX board line up with four of the holes in ATX-specification motherboards, and the locations of the backplate and expansion slot are the same (though one of the holes used was optional in earlier versions of the ATX spec). Mini-ITX boards can therefore often be used in cases designed for ATX, micro-ATX and other ATX variants if desired."

I've got a feeling that he might be giving up on this upgrade.

*To be clear, if you add a graphics card to his mini-ITX system you'd have to replace with an ATX case (preferably a micro-ATX since a full ATX case is pointless).
a b B Homebuilt system
April 25, 2012 12:19:05 PM

^That's all true (if you wanted a verification of a Veteran)
!