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AMD vs. Intel CPU

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June 18, 2012 4:31:09 PM

I am trying to decide whether to purchase an AMD or an Intel CPU for my gaming computer (first time building).
From what I understand about it, which is admittedly not very much, Intel offers generally higher quality CPU's for a higher price.
However, I have heard that Intel CPU's turn cores on and off depending on what is needed at the time, so that can lead to stuttering gameplay and lag (or something, I'm not sure). AMD processors are better for gaming because all of the cores in the processor are running all of the time which leads to smoother game play.

So what I'm asking is could someone enlighten me on this?

EDIT: Looking into this more, I am finding that the main difference between AMD and Intel CPU's is that AMD focuses on having a greater number of cores, while Intel has begun to focus on having better threading software. So maybe that affects it as well?

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June 18, 2012 4:57:39 PM

Intel makes better CPUs in general, the question which gets called into play is.. how much better?

I don't know about cores turning off and on, but MOST games on the market currently use only 2 cores. Battlefield 3 in multiplayer is the only exception at this point in time. Due to the fact that Intel has stronger individual core performance than Intel as a rule you're going to have better results in benchmarks with Intel chips.

Despite the fact that most games use 2 cores. I still advise for a modern system getting at least a quad core CPU, as this gives you better capabilities for things beyond gaming, such as multitasking, or any type of productivity software you might get into, such as video/photoshopping, media encoding, etc. It also keeps your options open should a game maker decide to "get cute" and do another deal like BF3 multiplayer.

The "problem" with Intel is that they have a fairly large price gap between their dual core (i3 CPUs) and their quads (i5s). The most expensive dual core being around $130, and the cheapest quad core being around $180.

In my opinion the best gaming CPU on the market right now is the i5-2500K, but it comes with a hefty $220 price tag.

If you can foot the bill, this is going to be the better option. However there are AMD offerings that can get the job done as well that fall in between that price gap, as the vast majority of games are limited by the video card and not quite as much the CPU (there are a few exceptions to this), the video card is where you want to go heavy on.

I operate under the following CPU Hierarchy for systems (yes mine differs from Tom's, for the reasons I mentioned)
From highest to lowest:


i5-2500K ($220)

i5-3570K ($240)- I don't consider Ivy Bridge to be a better CPU as it barely manages a 6% stock improvement over the 2500K, costs more and gets much hotter under overclocking conditions, which ultimately limits its potential.

i5-2400 ($190) This CPU cannot be overclocked, but its probably the best i5 to consider if on a tight budget.

AMD Bulldozer FX-8120 ($170)- While not very impressive at stock speeds it overclocks high and can perform fairly well against the 2500k in most games, and in productivity software (non-gaming) it chomps the 2500K for a light snack.

Phenom II 965- ($105-130), AMD's older generation, they're overclockable, but they tend to top out at only 4.0-4.4GHZ, they're actually a very decent deal currently, despite being older generation, they perform pretty well in 2012.

i3-21xx- ($125-130). Like I said, they're dual cores, yes their individual cores are slightly stronger than say Phenom IIs, but ultimately they're still half the CPU a Phenom II is.

Anything below that, I wouldn't seriously consider for a computer to be called a "gaming system".
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June 18, 2012 6:21:52 PM

elsamu said:
I am trying to decide whether to purchase an AMD or an Intel CPU for my gaming computer (first time building).
From what I understand about it, which is admittedly not very much, Intel offers generally higher quality CPU's for a higher price.
However, I have heard that Intel CPU's turn cores on and off depending on what is needed at the time, so that can lead to stuttering gameplay and lag (or something, I'm not sure). AMD processors are better for gaming because all of the cores in the processor are running all of the time which leads to smoother game play.

So what I'm asking is could someone enlighten me on this?

EDIT: Looking into this more, I am finding that the main difference between AMD and Intel CPU's is that AMD focuses on having a greater number of cores, while Intel has begun to focus on having better threading software. So maybe that affects it as well?


You can easily stop the system from turning off/down the CPU. If that is all that is holding you back from an Intel processor that is very small. I have an i7 currently and have no issues with this problem running the i7 overclocked about 50%.
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a c 118 B Homebuilt system
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June 18, 2012 6:24:20 PM

Honestly though, the core shutdown, if it does exist is not going to impact performance in games. They "shut down", so they can put more power to the cores that are actually being used. This actually makes sense, though I admit I'm not as thoroughly read up on it as I ought to be. I can say that if anything, it would HELP performance in games, not hurt it.
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