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Is an i3 all a gamer needs

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November 20, 2012 2:23:38 PM

hello

can any one on here please settle a row i have been having with my friends.
they all say i need to upgrade my cpu too get more performance in games but i dont think they are right i currently have a i3 2120 with a gtx 680 planing on getting a gtx690 very soon and if people think i need to upgrade please dont just simply say so with out showing me some actual proof because i experience no lag what so ever corresponding to the cpu in my opinion

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a b à CPUs
November 20, 2012 2:31:04 PM

It depends on what game you are playing. You would get very playable frame rates in most single player games like that, but multiplayer games often reward having 4 or more cores.

If you wanted to do some 64 person multiplayer maps in BF3, for instance, the experience using the i3 might suffer.

In the last year or two, the average gamer's hardware profile switched from a dual core to a quad core, as in 51% of gamers now have quad cores. That number is only rising.

- Edit - Typod

Video game makers know this too. They still design a lot of games for dual core processors because they don't want to cut out 49% of their possible sales, but the code is getting in place now to let games scale up to more cores if they are available.

Some games like the above mentioned BF3 multiplayer are so processing power intensive that they almost require more than 2 cores even now. This trend will only get worse over time.

I can only speak for myself on this, but I think I would rather have a 3570k + 680 rather than a 2120 + 690. That being said, you are probably fine to keep going with the 2120 for a couple more years at least, especially if you stick with the single player games mostly.
a c 104 à CPUs
November 20, 2012 2:33:24 PM

The CPU is fine for gaming but the i5 is recommend as the i5 has real cores instead of the extra threads the i3 has, it has the ability to 'turbo boost' or overclock when performance is needed, and the 2500K and 3570K can be overclocked and non of the i3s can overclock, all these factors can improve gaming performance quite a bii.

The i3 is still a good budget gaming CPU.
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a c 188 à CPUs
November 20, 2012 2:46:49 PM

As the others have said the 2nd and 3rd generation Intel® Core™ i3 processors will work in a gaming system. However there is an advantage to running an Intel Core i5 processor to give you better performance.
November 20, 2012 4:53:50 PM

I can't talk about BF3 with first hand experience (never played it) but my Video Card gets taxed quicker than my CPU does. Take for instance Black Ops 2. It only utilizes 2 cores and is harder on the video card. I can run it at 1920x1080 on max settings EXCEPT AA & FXAA off and Field of View on Low because my frames will drop.

If I were to start playing BF3, like everyone else already said, I would feel my CPU start to be my weak point.

Edit: I also play Skyrim, Diablo 3, Torchlight 2, World of Warcraft (used to) & Starcraft and my CPU has never been the bottleneck, it's been my Radeon 6850.
November 20, 2012 5:09:58 PM

As a suggestion, adding another 680 is the same as replacing your 680 with a 690, and should save you some cash (however the 2x680 will run a little hotter/louder), a 690 is just two 680 GPUs and 2x680GDDR5 chips slapped on one PCB (and the extra vram is split between the GPUs, so you really have the same amount as a 680).

CPU utilization depends very much on the game. It's very unlikely that your GPU is the bottleneck in your system (unless you are running a large resolution, multi-monitor gaming, or 120hz), so if you have performance trouble I would start with the CPU.

An i3 is not garbage by any means, for many games its enough to get smooth framerates; however in more CPU taxing games (which does not mean better graphics, it means more game logic), especially those that scale well with additional cores, your CPU is probably the weak point of your system.
It may be worth disabling hyperthreading in bios to see if it improves performance at all, if a game is treating your CPU like a quad core, threads maybe battling for CPU time, and tripping each other up (I wouldn't really expect it to improve performance, but it's free and not difficult)
a b à CPUs
November 20, 2012 5:58:01 PM

Bring up Windows performance monitor on another display or just run it in the background. You'll be looking at the usage of your CPU cores. Play each of your games for a few minutes and watch usage. If you are pegged at 100% most or all of the time your CPU is holding *something* back. Maybe some dropped frames, maybe some logic, maybe something else.

As an example, I had to go to 3.9GHz on a quad core cpu to get BF3 utilization under 100% (still has very short spikes tho). That, to me, is what it takes to reduce CPU bottlenecking as much as possible. Just my opinion.
a b à CPUs
November 20, 2012 6:05:38 PM

Actually, if you don't have pci-e 3.0, the 680 GTX will be bottle necked...IIRC.
November 20, 2012 6:40:12 PM

Raiddinn said:

In the last year or two, the average gamer's hardware profile switched from a dual core to a quad core, as in 51% of gamers now have dual cores. That number is only rising.

Video game makers know this too. They still design a lot of games for dual core processors because they don't want to cut out 49% of their possible sales, but the code is getting in place now to let games scale up to more cores if they are available.




Huh? Writing a program that uses two cores would involve writing two threads at minimum. This would run fine on both a single core and a quad + core CPU. I'm struggling to see how they are wiping out 49% of their possible sales.

My laptop is currently running ~965 threads on 74 processes and that only has 8 cores
a b à CPUs
November 20, 2012 6:48:25 PM

MajinCry said:
Actually, if you don't have pci-e 3.0, the 680 GTX will be bottle necked...IIRC.


http://www.hardocp.com/article/2012/07/18/pci_express_2...

Where do you see a bottleneck with 2.0 vs 3.0? even with 3-way sli the fps difference is next to nothing and in some cases 2.0 is higher...
November 20, 2012 6:49:58 PM

I think he meant "51% of gamers now have quad cores".

Computers juggle many more threads than the CPU can handle at once. That's part of the OS's job to manage that. Without going to deep into OS and scheduler details, I'll try to explain it. As long as not all of the threads are doing serious computation at the same time, everything runs without a hitch. But once more threads start to do work than the OS can schedule on the CPU, it has to start rationing time by switching out threads while they're working to let others have a turn (the priority is what determines when and for how long the thread will be switched out). With more cores, that basically allows the OS to have more threads doing serious work at the same time.
a b à CPUs
November 20, 2012 6:52:40 PM

Skyrim is CPU dependent, depending on the settings you choose. If you want non-jagged, sexy shadows, a good CPU is needed as it uses the CPU to do shadow rendering. Another thing to note is that skyrim utilizes the CPU in a funky way. Your CPU could be at 40% use and it will still be a bottleneck if you don't have a single core to a higher enough frequency.
November 20, 2012 6:54:44 PM

I know, but he quite clearly wrote that games aren't using more cores because it would wipe out a huge percentage of sales, strongly hinting a non existant compatability issue between how many threads a program uses and the CPU it runs on.

Sure games will adjust their thread strategies based on the available hardware, but the main reason uptake has been slow is likely the fact that it is hard to do multi-threaded programming reliably
November 20, 2012 7:04:47 PM

It depends on the amount of work done on each thread. Most game engines today do use many threads, however the CPU utilization is still primarily on 2 cores because there are only 2 threads doing intense computation. If game developers want to have 4 threads doing intense computation, they're going to start hurting the dual core users.

It's definitely not hard if you know how to properly synchronize between the threads. The main limitation is that there's a fundamental limit as to how much work can be split up.

Basically the two ways you can split things up are at the data-level and at the instruction-level.

At the data-level means, say thread 0 does some calculation on the dataset from 0 to 100, simultaneously thread 1 does the same calculation on the dataset from 101 to 200. Think of it like 2 lanes on a road vs 1.

At the instruction-level means, thread 0 does some calculation on an element of the data set, then passes it to thread 1 for a second operation to be completed. This is sort of like an assembly line of sorts.

Unfortunately, certain operations aren't easily parallelized and thus require large strong cores to execute fast. That's why we've got GPUs for highly parallel code and CPUs for serial code.
a b à CPUs
November 20, 2012 7:44:59 PM

Obviously, the point is that if you make a game that will heavily tax 4 cores then it will absolutely crush 2 cores.

This problem is easy to see with games in existence now.

It will only get easier to see as more developers write code with the idea of taxing 4 cores in order to improve the play experience through realism or whatever.
a c 141 à CPUs
November 20, 2012 8:25:01 PM

An I3 will play games just fine. Right now most still only use two cores. The games like BF3 that actually make use of four cores is the exception not the norm. With that said the I3 can still game fine even on ames like BF3 you just have to adjust the settings from Ultra high to high. The point is these exception games still will not completely smother any recent intel dual core in any meaningful way as long as you tone the settings down a bit.
a b à CPUs
November 20, 2012 8:37:21 PM

If you have a 680, get a i5...

cpu doesn't play too much of a roll in gaming but if you spend $500 on a gpu, it gets to a point where you are just not getting the performance you can.
a b à CPUs
November 20, 2012 8:38:18 PM

double post
a b à CPUs
November 20, 2012 8:45:53 PM

@markuk1

You seem to underestimate the importance of a CPU in a gaming rig. Sure an i3 gets the job done, but an i5 is even better for gaming it will increase your FPS in some titles if not most. i3 are dual-cores and i5 are quad-cores and most modern games prefer quad-cores, especially first person shooters. And in the future it's not likely to go the other way so an i5 would be more "futureproof" if such a term exists. Even as we speak today more and more games support at least 3-cores or more.

Since you have a killer card 680 and now you even want to get a 690, the i3 is likely to hold these cards back and prevent them from unleashing their full potential. Because yes the GPU is also depending on the CPU. Not that you won't be able to play because these cards are very powerful, but why taking a chance to hold your cards back in some games? You want the full power don't you? Some titles are more CPU dependent than others.

I just don't understand, if you have money to buy a 1000$ video card why are you getting cheap on the CPU? I just don't get it. This is probably what your friends are trying to tell you, it's not that the i3 is a bad CPU but it's just that this is an entry level processor for "gamers on a budget" and then you match it with one of the most powerful card on the market right now, it's just weird. It's like building a car with a very powerful engine, but match it with a poor 4-speed automatic transmission. The car will still be powerful because of the engine, but the transmission will be holding it back from achieving its full potential. Building a car is all about balance, same story with a gaming computer. For instance, I'd rather have an i5 paired with a 670, rather than have an i3 paired with a 680. And I'm sure the i5 would achieve better FPS in most games even though it has the slower card.

I always figured out that guys buying a 690 or 7990 had killer rigs with highly overclocked i7 on water cooling with 3 monitors or something like that. If you get a 690 with an i3, you'll probably be the only guy on the planet with such a combo, but if you want to be different just go ahead.
a b à CPUs
November 20, 2012 8:49:28 PM

What MC_K7 said!
November 21, 2012 9:40:00 PM

okey so i have done some of my own research using HWINFO witch is a program that monitors gpu and cpu usage i played

mafia 2

crysis 2

crysis

rage

skyrim

all supposed to be very cpu intensive and i guess most of them are but that is not the point i am trying to make. when i played the games the only one that got 100% cpu usage was crysis 2 but i also got 99%gpu-core usage and this example is the same for the rest of the games.

like rage i think was only 75% cpu usage but 98/99% gpu-core usage so i think that this proves both arguments in my opinion for people who are only ever going to use one card even the single most powerful card ie gtx 680/7970 they will only ever need the power of an i3.
not even an overclocked one but those like myself who may be thinking of buying a dual gpu like a 690 or sli/crossfireing two or more high end cards would definitely need a quad core cpu of the same generation ie i5 although i am not sure if any overclocking would really be needed

the reason i am so hung up on this is that i think gamers miss the point of a gaming rig and forget that the gpu is what gives you the best experience not cpu and they wast alot of there budget on needless parts.
ie expensive motherboards-cpus-endless amounts of ram cooling for there highly overclocked cpus but then buy something like a gtx 660 or a 7870 which is a very mid range card and end up moaning about how they are getting low fps in this game and that game and always ask is my cpu bottlenecking my gpu http://img.tomshardware.com/forum/uk/icones/smilies/fou...
a b à CPUs
November 21, 2012 9:59:16 PM

It's multiplayer games like bf3 and almost all mmos with people are you that you need the quad core overclocked cpus for.
a c 448 à CPUs
November 21, 2012 10:02:24 PM

Crysis 2 is not a CPU intensive game. In fact, it doesn't really how fast your CPU is as long as it does not bottleneck the GPU. The performance between a Phenom II X4 965 BE, Core i5-2500k (stock speed) and Core i5-2500k @ 4.7GHz would be 1 or 2 FPS.

None of those games listed use more than 2 cores. Therefore, all you need is a fast dual core CPU. Then again, you can't overclock a Core i3 CPU.
a b à CPUs
November 21, 2012 10:05:08 PM

Hmm won't let me edit my last post... Had a typo... Meant to type with mmos with lots of people around.
a c 448 à CPUs
November 21, 2012 11:04:11 PM

^^^

That's assuming he wants to record while gaming. Not every gamer wants to record.
November 22, 2012 1:54:30 AM

markuk1 said:
hello

can any one on here please settle a row i have been having with my friends.
they all say i need to upgrade my cpu too get more performance in games but i dont think they are right i currently have a i3 2120 with a gtx 680 planing on getting a gtx690 very soon and if people think i need to upgrade please dont just simply say so with out showing me some actual proof because i experience no lag what so ever corresponding to the cpu in my opinion


If you always plan to play the latest and greatest games, get a good 4C/4T processor. Like i5-2500k.
I don't have time to explain all the benchmarks to you, go look them up yourself.
Read this: http://techreport.com/review/23246/inside-the-second-ga...

if you really want in-depth info.

i3 is 2C/4T. If it works for you keep it. Its a crippled processor, not optimal for future games, or some current DX11 games.

Also don't waste money on a 690...
November 22, 2012 3:26:15 AM

You want a quad. More games now scale well across multiple cores and with next gen consoles finally coming next year (hopefully, otherwise games will be set back once again) you'll need a quad. Crysis and GTA 5 will certainly choke on that i3 matched to a 680. So will Metro Last Light. It simply makes no sense to get an i3 for a gaming or rendering box. For an office system and maybe a HTPC, yes, but anything else, you need the grunt.
a c 141 à CPUs
November 22, 2012 3:39:56 AM

NV88 said:
You want a quad. More games now scale well across multiple cores and with next gen consoles finally coming next year (hopefully, otherwise games will be set back once again) you'll need a quad. Crysis and GTA 5 will certainly choke on that i3 matched to a 680. So will Metro Last Light. It simply makes no sense to get an i3 for a gaming or rendering box. For an office system and maybe a HTPC, yes, but anything else, you need the grunt.


That is compleatly wrong. Most games still use only two cores and that isn't going to change overnight. Games that actually make use of four or six cores like BF3 and Skyrim are the exception to the norm not the norm. Also you are underestimating the power of the I3 just because it is a dual core. An I3 can handle any game just fine even CPU demanding games like BF3. You just have to change the settings from ultra high to high (big woop.) The point is these games will not completely smother any recent Intel dual core CPU in any meaningful way as long as you tone the settings down a bit. It will also not botteneck a high-end video card like a GTX 670 or 680 and this has been proven in benchmarks.
November 22, 2012 4:05:48 AM

rds1220 said:
That is compleatly wrong. Most games still use only two cores and that isn't going to change overnight. Games that actually make use of four or six cores like BF3 and Skyrim are the exception to the norm not the norm. Also you are underestimating the power of the I3 just because it is a dual core. An I3 can handle any game just fine even CPU demanding games like BF3. You just have to change the settings from ultra high to high (big woop.) The point is these games will not completely smother any recent Intel dual core CPU in any meaningful way as long as you tone the settings down a bit. It will also not botteneck a high-end video card like a GTX 670 or 680 and this has been proven in benchmarks.


Rubbish. Next gen consoles will change all that, You have an i3 now you WILL need to upgrade later on. And why would I change from ultra to high? What is the OP buying that 670 for? If you have to turn down settings its time to upgrade. An i3 for a gaming setup isn't worth it.
a c 141 à CPUs
November 22, 2012 4:21:57 AM

NV88 said:
Rubbish. Next gen consoles will change all that, You have an i3 now you WILL need to upgrade later on. And why would I change from ultra to high? What is the OP buying that 670 for? If you have to turn down settings its time to upgrade. An i3 for a gaming setup isn't worth it.


First off all you are wrong. More cores is not better and and PC games will not become so CPU demanding that in the next two to three years that it will cripple a dual core CPU like the I3. If you are so sure that games will be so demanding that they will cripple a dual core CPU lets see some articles proving it. Secondly you need to o back and re-read what I wrote:

Quote:
Games that actually make use of four or six cores like BF3 and Skyrim are the exception to the norm not the norm.


BF3 and Skyrim are just TWO games and are the only two games that you would have to lower setting on and at that not that much. Again CPU demanding games are the exception not the norm and the I3 can handle just about all games fine and will not bottle neck a high-end GPU.
November 22, 2012 4:48:56 AM

I have to agree with rds1220

i3 still has the potential to handle any game with a decent GPU.

November 22, 2012 5:09:03 AM

I agree with RDS too. While I agree that games will become more CPU demanding in the future I don't believe it will happen as fast as you think. The dual core I3 is not obsolete and will not be obsolete anytime soon. The I3 can still be a great CPU for a gaming build.
a c 141 à CPUs
November 22, 2012 5:48:36 AM

I never said anywhere that games won't become more demanding but it's not going to happen overnight. As of right now games won't compleatly smother an I3,.
November 23, 2012 12:00:32 AM

rds1220 said:
I never said anywhere that games won't become more demanding but it's not going to happen overnight. As of right now games won't compleatly smother an I3,.


Why buy i3 now and upgrade to i5 in a few months? Makes no sense.
a c 141 à CPUs
November 23, 2012 12:14:32 AM

NV88 said:
Why buy i3 now and upgrade to i5 in a few months? Makes no sense.


Where are you getting that from? No where did I say to get an I3 and upgrade to an I5 later.
November 23, 2012 4:43:13 PM

hello every one i was wrong lol!! i bit the bullet and bought an i5 2500k and z77 mobo currently got it on the stock cooler and i am at 4.5ghz stock voltage and all my games are now running smooth as hell and i am defiantly getting more fps.
the i3 deficiently was holding the gpu back i used to get alot spikes in performance and lagging witch i just put down to having a 1400p monitor and liking lots off aa and every thing maxed out but evidently i was wrong.
it wasnt the gpu but the cpu so i have now realized that for a great gaming experience you need to buy the best cpu you can afford at the time as well as the best gpu you can afford i am cery happy with my purchase and take it all back :) 
November 23, 2012 4:44:58 PM

ps i am also not going to bother wasting my money on a gtx 690 as the 680 seems to be all i need now:) 
November 23, 2012 5:50:44 PM

At 1400p, I'd strongly consider a 690 if you want every single setting maxed out at around 50-60+ frames, the 680 will need to be adjusted. Also, wasn't surprised your FPS jumped, you really do need a quad gaming in 2012, even at that res.
November 23, 2012 8:43:37 PM

what do you mean opposite
a b à CPUs
November 23, 2012 11:30:48 PM

markuk1 said:
like rage i think was only 75% cpu usage


Lol! I was going to say "only" 75% is too damn high for me! You're only 25% away from bottlenecking when you think about it and Rage isn't the most demanding game. But good thing you finally got an i5.

markuk1 said:
ps i am also not going to bother wasting my money on a gtx 690 as the 680 seems to be all i need now:) 


Yep, good plan. Because a GTX-680 is one hell of a card that probably only 1% of the gamers currently have a chance to own (most people are getting the 670 or 660-Ti because the 680 is too expensive). With the 1000$ you just saved go buy yourself something else nice or a vacation lol. But seriously if you don't already own a SSD it would be a better investment than a 690.
a b à CPUs
November 24, 2012 1:31:52 PM

In general, I would say its not a bad idea to go maybe 1/4 CPU and 3/4 GPU in most people's setups.

Skewing one way or the other may be good for one game, but definitely not for all games.

Look above about how the OP got a huge performance jump going from dual to quad cores, even in single player games which lean heavily towards GPUs for performance.
a b à CPUs
November 24, 2012 1:58:00 PM

Thought I'd chime in again.

Someone was saying that Skyrim used 4 threads...Or 4 cores.
Not true. It only uses 2. You actually get a performance boost when you set the game to use only two cores.
November 24, 2012 5:58:29 PM

MajinCry said:
Thought I'd chime in again.

Someone was saying that Skyrim used 4 threads...Or 4 cores.
Not true. It only uses 2. You actually get a performance boost when you set the game to use only two cores.


Partially true:

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/skyrim-performance-...

More cores helps.
!