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Huge difference between i3 and i5?

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September 22, 2012 7:42:17 PM

I plan to use it mostly for:

old console emulation (PSx, N64, PS2)
Valve Games (Portal 2, Dota 2, Team Fortress 2)


The most demanding games I'll buy in a nearby future are Bioshock Infinite and Batman Arkham City. I also want to play at 1900x1080 (Mostly for Dota 2 because it does give you a slight advantage).

I might end up upgrading to GTX 660 ti or a 7850 next year, so I was mostly wondering if the i3 2100 would be a bottleneck for them. Right now I'm using a GTX 550 ti.

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a b à CPUs
September 22, 2012 8:07:46 PM

It's not a bottleneck, but some of the more intensive games benefit from a quad core. I'd wait to see how Piledriver does (comes out Oct. 20-22), and if it's good, the FX 4350 will be a $130 quad-core. If you live near a Microcenter, the i3 3225 is $130 and comes with $50 off the mobo.
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a c 307 à CPUs
September 23, 2012 2:52:13 AM

The i3-2100 is a surprisingly powerfull gaming CPU. Its hyper threading allows it to execute 2 instructions per core per cycle, effectively turning it into a quad core when it comes to gaming. While I would always recommend a quad core SB/IB over a dual core, if cost is an issue... almost any card you can buy will have no issues with the i3.
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a b à CPUs
September 23, 2012 4:49:47 AM

HT makes the i3 a quad as much as Ht makes the i7 octo-core. Won't disagree that it's powerful, but I'd recommend a quad core. But, if you want to save some cash, no problem with getting an i3. And I hope the fx 4350 turns out good. A $130 quad will be awesome if it turns out to perform well.
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September 23, 2012 7:14:58 AM

As far as I'm aware, gaming doesn't benefit massively from having HT enabled. So, if you want to max out your performance, an i5 would be the route to go, but nonetheless i3's are still good processors and will enable smooth gaming (just not quite at the same scope as an i5 will)
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a c 103 à CPUs
September 23, 2012 7:29:30 AM

i3 for general work and light gaming, i5 for general gaming an di7 for extreeme gaming.
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a b à CPUs
September 23, 2012 8:52:55 AM

Valve games love more cores but they aren't too demanding, the i5s are still a significant increase in performance. Hyperthreading is not nearly as powerful as full cores, its like having 1 guy do work and just sending stuff at him 2x as frequently, he will do it slightly faster but not as well as 2 people.

AMD quadcore cpus actually work really well for valve games so you might want to check them out if you are on a budget. They may not be as fast as the i5 but they are generally faster than the i3 since the source engine is well threaded.

@Das_stig i7s are not better for gaming than an i5. In my opinion they are actually worse since there are sometimes bugs when you have hyperthreading that decreases performance.
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a c 471 à CPUs
September 23, 2012 9:35:39 AM

When it comes to games there is no difference between a Core i5 and Core i7 since games do not take advantage of Hyper Threading (HT). The only thing "extreme" about the core i5 and i7 is the price difference.

Benchmarks have shown that HT decreases gaming performance by about 1% - 2% on average.
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a c 471 à CPUs
September 23, 2012 10:57:22 AM

bambinobomber said:
I plan to use it mostly for:

old console emulation (PSx, N64, PS2)
Valve Games (Portal 2, Dota 2, Team Fortress 2)


The most demanding games I'll buy in a nearby future are Bioshock Infinite and Batman Arkham City. I also want to play at 1900x1080 (Mostly for Dota 2 because it does give you a slight advantage).



None of those games uses more than 2 cores so a Core i3 would be more or less fine. The only problem is when you install a game that can take advantage of a quad core CPU. Those games will run fine on a dual core CPU, but would run better on a quad core CPU. In general, the vast majority of games only use 2 cores. There are only a small number of games that can make use of quad core CPUs.
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September 23, 2012 2:27:54 PM

esrever said:

AMD quadcore cpus actually work really well for valve games so you might want to check them out if you are on a budget. They may not be as fast as the i5 but they are generally faster than the i3 since the source engine is well threaded.


Are there any benchmarks proving this?
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a c 116 à CPUs
September 23, 2012 2:52:22 PM

clutchc said:
The i3-2100 is a surprisingly powerfull gaming CPU. Its hyper threading allows it to execute 2 instructions per core per cycle, effectively turning it into a quad core when it comes to gaming.

Hyperthreading allows a single core to execute two instruction streams concurrently to keep execution units more busy than they would be with a single instruction stream that may have too many dependencies to allow good superscalar execution.

Superscalar execution is the CPU's ability to issue multiple instructions from a single stream to execution units for parallel and pipelined execution. The 60MHz Pentium was Intel's first superscalar x86 chip, averaging roughly two instructions per cycle. Today's Core i3/5/7 average between 3 and 3.5 instructions per cycle while AMD's average somewhere between 2.5 and 3. The exact numbers vary depending on instruction mix, ordering, architecture-specific compiler optimizations and many other parameters.

For applications/cames that do not really use more than two cores, the i3 is indeed a strong performer and the logical cores do enable background processes to run off under-used execution units instead of forcing extra context switches onto dual-core no-HT CPUs, which makes i3 feel more responsive than a Pentium G6xx/8xx despite having fundamentally the same amount of raw processing power.
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September 23, 2012 3:25:13 PM

I already knew that HT barely did anything for games (sometimes it actually decreased in-game performance in some cases) but, wouldn't it come in handy if I have other stuff running on the background? Stuff like running a stream/video or listening to music while playing.

Sometimes I get stutter (more like the voice is cut-off midway before someone finishes talking) when a lot of people use voice chat in games like TF2, and a friend told me that it's because my CPU is too weak to handle all of the signals coming at once. Is that really true?
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a b à CPUs
September 23, 2012 6:39:39 PM

bambinobomber said:
I already knew that HT barely did anything for games (sometimes it actually decreased in-game performance in some cases) but, wouldn't it come in handy if I have other stuff running on the background? Stuff like running a stream/video or listening to music while playing.

Sometimes I get stutter (more like the voice is cut-off midway before someone finishes talking) when a lot of people use voice chat in games like TF2, and a friend told me that it's because my CPU is too weak to handle all of the signals coming at once. Is that really true?

no. Thats not true. Thats the fault of w/e program you use or your internet connection to those people.
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a b à CPUs
September 23, 2012 6:40:56 PM

bambinobomber said:
Are there any benchmarks proving this?

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a c 116 à CPUs
September 24, 2012 5:22:24 AM

bambinobomber said:
I already knew that HT barely did anything for games but, wouldn't it come in handy if I have other stuff running on the background? Stuff like running a stream/video or listening to music while playing.

Viewing video on a second monitor while gaming or doing some other interactive thing that taxes the CPU might see a noticeable improvement with HT since video decoding should run comfortably on execution slots that would have otherwise gone to waste.

bambinobomber said:
Sometimes I get stutter (more like the voice is cut-off midway before someone finishes talking) when a lot of people use voice chat in games like TF2, and a friend told me that it's because my CPU is too weak to handle all of the signals coming at once. Is that really true?

Voice CODECs use almost no processing power. I would blame glitches in the silence detection algorithm if using threshold-based automatic voice-chat, people not pressing or accidentally releasing their push-to-talk button before/while they are talking and network lag/jitter before I would consider computer performance.
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a c 185 à CPUs
September 24, 2012 5:35:30 AM

Valve games run fine on Core 2's....
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September 24, 2012 6:46:30 AM

Is there a noticeable gap in gaming performance between the i5 2310 and the i5 2400?

I don't really want to spend more on the MOBO and RAM for fully taking advantage of something like OCing when I have no problems upgrading every 2-3 years. I'd like to think that the cheap non-k i5s will be enough to satisfy my needs as long as I stay away from stuff like Battlefield 3 and Crysis.
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a b à CPUs
September 24, 2012 6:54:49 AM

shouldn't be a problem with a 2310.
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September 24, 2012 7:07:47 AM

Best answer selected by bambinobomber.
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September 24, 2012 7:08:15 AM

Well, thanks to everyone for the help.

I'll pick Invalid's post as the best answer since the stuttering caused by lots of people trying to talk at once is something that has been bothering me forever while playing TF2.

Strangely enough it doesn't happen in other games like COD.
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September 24, 2012 7:42:48 AM

There's a lot of improper information on the internet that ends up in people spending wayyyy too much money on a gaming rig. Many people, for whatever reason, think of CPUs like this:

i3 - light gaming, browsing, word processing, basic tasks

i5 - moderate gaming, photoshop, great basic task performance

i7 - EXTREME GAMING, VIDEO RENDERING, BASIC TASKS DO THEMSELVES

When, in reality, it's something like this:

i3 - 15% less frames than i5

i5 - 5% less frames than i7

i7 - 3% less frames than i7 hexa-core.

An i3 paired with a good gpu will yield fantastic results in the most demanding games. With an EVGA SuperClocked GTX 660 (non-Ti) and an i3-3220, I run BF3 on the highest settings (4xMSAA, Ultra Everything, 16xAF), and it runs at about 45-50 average, and lowest of 35, which is buttery smooth. Battlefield 3 is a game that truly utilizes four cores, and I still get great results. Unless you're buying something like a 670/7950 or better, a more powerful GPU is smarter than a better CPU. Like, if you could get a 660 and an i5, I would recommend a 660 Ti and an i3 instead. But if, you're getting a 670/7950, don't get an i3 and a 680, get a 670 and an i5. Do not get an i7 if your focus is gaming. i7s are excellent CPUs, but for gaming only, an i5 is so slightly worse.
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a b à CPUs
September 24, 2012 8:34:09 AM

Or you could, like, buy an actual quad core like the 965 BE, which performs at the same level as the 2100 in dual-core games, but eats it in multi-threaded applications and games that support 3+ cores.

Costs £40 less too.
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