I built my current rig in the summer of 2009 with a GPU and memory upgrade last year. This year I'm beginning my first "real" job after graduating last May and am looking to upgrade my CPU. At the time in 2009 AMD gave me the best bang for my buck. Sure I could've spent another $200 and gone with the Intel i7, but with my budget at the time the best all around system was an AMD. With the prospect of being able to upgrade to an AM3 processor with my AM2+ motherboard was a juicier deal all the same. I had originally planned to pop in a new AMD FX processor and save me the cost of replacing the mobo as well. However, from what I've read AMD FX has been a major disappointing, especially for gaming, so I'm considering replacing the core of my system with an Intel i5 solution.
Here is my current rig:
AMD Phenom II x4 955 OC'ed to 3.6ghz
8 gigs of DDR3 1333 ram
ATI 6950 unlocked to 6970
MSI 790FX-GD70 mobo
Corsair 750w PSU
All in all I've been happy with my system, but I have been getting into some more CPU intensive games (Civ 5, Arma 2 [Arma 3 is coming out this fall]). I also have been getting into Photoshop and 3dsMax lately so that about rounds up what I'll be using this rig for. According to bit-tech.net's review of the i5 3570k the i5 blows the FX 8150 out of the water. However, I'll have to buy a new mobo (~$200) in addition to a new processor for this upgrade so the cost of sticking with AMD is significantly less.
I'm pretty sure this is well worth the performance upgrades, but I wanted the community's opinion. Not to mention as the title suggests I've been out of the loop lately and have no clue which Northbridge chip is the best for the i5 (I have my eye on the Asus Maximum V Z77 mobo)? when the next iteration of Intel or AMD chips are set to be released? Are they worth the wait?
I'd hate to dump a bunch of cash on a major system upgrade and then have to do the same again in a year because the next gen PCI-E or DDR4 is coming out soon.
I don't start my new job until next month so it will be around September/November before I make the purchase.
The 955 is still a good gaming CPU and overclocked it would be better than any of the Bulldozer CPU's out there. So to me your choices are keep the 955 and see what happens with Piledriver or switch to Intel.
The thing about waitng for the next release id that by the time it's released they are already pumping up the next release so if you wait for that one then you will be in a perpetual waiting loop.
The Intel Haswell cpu is the next release and the AMD piledriver is thier next release. We just went through all the hype and promises of Buldozer and what AMD fail to menton in all thier hype was that Bulldeozer was a complete flop when it comes to gaming and that to just compete with Intel you had to overclock the hell oput of it. The good thing was that you could get a serious overclock out of the Bulldozer cpu and do well in games but by doing that much of an overclock what is the price to be paid for longjevity down the road.
With AMD backing down from the top end of making cpus that compete with Intel the future is not good for an AMD platform and now would be a good time to switch. Because if you waited for Piledriver then there could be nothing after that and you would be forced to switch and with AMD's track record of failing against Intel it may be a good time to switch.
Pci-e 3.0 is just starting to be seen in a lot of boards and they have yet to saturate the Pci-e 2.1 archatecture so it will be a long time before the need for Pci-e ? to be needed.
DDR4 is just being talked about currently and still may be some time from being seen in the retail market and in the meantime high speed DDR3 will be a good choice.
So if your looking to do a major upgrade then the 3570K and the Z77 chipset motherboard with 1866 or higher ram will be a good way to go.
If you are just fiddling with those programs, then stick with the i5. If you are going to earn your living with those programs, then you best get your grimy fingers on an i7 ASAP.
It's unknown what the performance improvement of PileDriver will be. My guess is at most 10% since it seems to be a reasonable assumption. However, that would mean that PileDriver will be on the same performance level as the 1st gen Core i3/i5/i7 series. That means PileDriver will be about 20% slower than the current Ivy Bridge CPU family.
The FX processors are only slightly faster than Phenom II( to be faster they require more cores and higher clock speeds), there is essentially no gain in gaming, and your current motherboard is AM3 and does not support the AM3+ FX processors.
Since you need a new motherboard for the upgrade, go with an Intel build, it's the only real upgrade that exists for Phenom II owners.