So basically, I'm looking to build a gaming rig, and I have two processors picked out that I can't decide between.
The first is an AMD FX-8350. It's eight-core and runs at 4 Ghz (4.2 turbo)
The second is an Intel Core i5-2500k quad-core at 3.3 Ghz (3.7 turbo)
My friends are all split on this decision, and I just want to know, even if Intel generally has better overclocking, is 8 cores worth it compared to 4? It seems like the AMD is just a little more next-gen and will still be ahead of the game for a long time to come, and I don't think that I'll ever need to overclock either a past 4.5 Ghz (which I've been told both should be able to handle).
In short, it really comes down to, does the number of cores make a big difference?
The Intel quad-core will be faster in any situation where 4 or fewer cores are used (assuming both choices will be clocked at 4.5GHz). The AMD chip will perform more like a Core i7 in heavily threaded programs, but will be slower than the i5 otherwise. The AMD chip will also use much more power, and if you overclock, it will use much much much more power. Games will also generally show a frame rate advantage for the Intel cpu (though it depends on the game, and is not always a large advantage). I think that for gaming either cpu is sufficient provided you pair it with a strong enough graphics card.
In my opinion, the choice should be made based on whether you expect to be using heavily threaded programs or not, and also with consideration towards your electricity bill (if you don't care about how much you pay for electricity, then of course this can be ignored). Keep in mind that for general usage, even though many programs are not heavily threaded, they are also not taxing on any modern CPU.
So in terms of looking ahead, say three or four years in the future, will there probably be more heavily threaded programs that will make those 8 cores outlast the four cores? Because at this point I'm really leading towards the AMD, i just need one more point to drive it home. Thanks.
Also power consumption really isn't an issue for me.
So in terms of looking ahead, say three or four years in the future, will there probably be more heavily threaded programs that will make those 8 cores outlast the four cores?
Assuming that actually happens, sure. I don't think we'll be there in 3-4 years, though. More like 4+ years. We're not even to the point of most programs using more than one core (or two, at the most) effectively yet, much less 4. It'll happen, but I think you'll want a better CPU than the 8350 when it does.
Purely my opinion, but I don't think you should base your decision on that. It just won't matter for any CPU you buy now. Raw speed will, though.
The best thing AMD has going for it right now is that Steamroller should be on AM3+ and Excavator might be. If you choose to go with AMD, that would be why you should. Not the "more cores will dominate" theory. Steamroller (and almost certainly Excavator) should actually be a CPU that will be fast and have the advantage of more cores, if that's ever a "thing" in their useful lifetime. Piledriver just isn't quite there yet on the raw speed front.
I think steamroller on AM3+ is already confirmed...LGA 1155 is dead.
If power consumption is not an issue, the i'd definitely recommend the FX
Most of the heavy duty workloads are already multi-core optimized, and scale quite decently on all 8 cores, as you've probably seen in the benchmarks. Video encoding, after effects, file compression, most antivirus scans (I use AVG, uses all cores available), hosting multiple VM's, and the list goes on. Most modern software, if not fully using the other cores, will try to offload a small part of the computational requirements away from the main thread, to the other cores whenever possible.
And finally, even if some software can't use all the cores its not an issue, coz a person who multitasks will be running more than one program at a time. More cores will definitely mean a more responsive and snappy system when dealing with multiple heavy loads