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CPU or Video Card Upgrade?

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June 9, 2012 8:58:25 PM

So, I'm trying to decently run and have my computer live up well to today's game standards. I can practically run anything - just not-so-smoothly.

My CPU: AMD Athlon Dual-Core 4450B
My Video card: GeForce GT 220

I found some triple core AMD Athlon II series ( http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/ite... ), I believe it was for about $70.
I also did some searching and found some decent Video cards with 2 gigs of memory as opposed to my 1. (Also, what exactly, besides the actual memory size, should I look for in video cards?

If I had to only choose one to upgrade, which should I go for? I'm only going with one for now (I know I should do both) because I just don't have the money required for both right now.

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June 9, 2012 9:02:35 PM

gpu for sure
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June 9, 2012 9:10:27 PM

i'd say GPU as well, but with only 1meg of L2 cache on that cpu, you are going to be bottlenecking any video card you purchase.
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June 9, 2012 9:11:49 PM

gt 220 is not a bad card a friend of mine running GT 210 with pentium4 cpu he run's all the latest game's with low setting, i'd recommend to upgrade your cpu.
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June 9, 2012 9:24:22 PM

How much are you willing to spend? I would say get something better. That GT430 will barely be an improvement over what you have.
June 9, 2012 9:39:58 PM

Ironslice said:
How much are you willing to spend? I would say get something better. That GT430 will barely be an improvement over what you have.


Right now I only have about $80 to spend after blowing all my money on guitar equipment. Should I just go with the triple core CPU that I listed in the original post? 'Cus as is, things just don't really run smoothly, even on lower settings, and there's often crashing. I notice that at times, my CPU's core temperatures are at, or somewhat above 80%.
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June 9, 2012 9:44:50 PM

daswilhelm said:
i'd say GPU as well, but with only 1meg of L2 cache on that cpu, you are going to be bottlenecking any video card you purchase.


BS. The Sandy Bridge i7s have 256KB of L2 per core. How much L2 you have is not as important as how fast that L2 is. Heck, the Athlon IIs can have 512KB per core and no L3 to make up for it, yet they're much better than this CPU for gaming. Bulldozer CPUs have 2MB of L2 per two core module, yet they don't come close to SB in per core performance even if you disable one core from each module, giving each core a huge 2MB slab of L2, despite Sandy having 8 times less L2 capacity per core. Heck, even with 8 times less, SB is still somewhere between 25% and 40% faster per Hz per core than BD even if you disable one core per module, improving the performance of the still active cores.
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June 9, 2012 9:46:15 PM

DarkHart07 said:
Right now I only have about $80 to spend after blowing all my money on guitar equipment. Should I just go with the triple core CPU that I listed in the original post? 'Cus as is, things just don't really run smoothly, even on lower settings, and there's often crashing. I notice that at times, my CPU's core temperatures are at, or somewhat above 80%.


The CPU should help a lot more than a video card upgrade can right now. Also, 2GB of VRAM does not make a difference unless both the GPU and CPU can make use of it. For example, a Radoen 6950 1GB is exponentially faster than a GTX 430 4GB. Don't worry about a video card's memory capacity being more than 1GB unless you have a 1080p display or better.
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June 9, 2012 9:49:28 PM

blazorthon said:
BS. The Sandy Bridge i7s have 256KB of L2 per core. How much L2 you have is not as important as how fast that L2 is. Heck, the Athlon IIs can have 512KB per core and no L3 to make up for it, yet they're much better than this CPU for gaming.



So, does that chip have a "fast L2"? what current card would it not be hurting?
June 9, 2012 9:50:13 PM

blazorthon said:
For example, a Radoen 6950 1GB is exponentially faster than a GTX 430 4GB.


Just to better educate myself, what does make the Raedon better than the GTX, then?
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June 9, 2012 9:50:41 PM

daswilhelm said:
So, does that chip have a "fast L2"? what current card would it not be hurting?


A SB i7 would cost you $280 to $300. Way out of budget and they're not really good price/performance for gaming.
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June 9, 2012 9:51:49 PM

i understand that. was referencing the amd chip he's using.
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June 9, 2012 9:52:07 PM

DarkHart07 said:
Just to better educate myself, what does make the Raedon better than the GTX, then?


The Radeon 6950 is a much newer and higher end card than the GT 220 and even the GT 430 4GB. The Radeon's GPU is far faster and it has much faster memory, even though it has less memory. This isn't because it is a Radeon card, simply because it is a newer model and is also a higher end model.
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June 9, 2012 9:54:02 PM

daswilhelm said:
i understand that. was referencing the amd chip he's using.


It's limits would depend greatly on each game, settings, resolutions, etc. etc. This stuff varies widely because games can behave ver differently from other games and simply changing the settings and resolution makes the variance even greater.

I wouldn't pair it with anything faster than OP's current card at this time because a CPU upgrade is more important.

Honestly, the best thing to do here would be to hold on to that computer until OP can replace it completely with a new $400 or so computer.
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June 9, 2012 9:54:11 PM

Core count. HD 6950 has 1408 cores while GT 430 has 96. Although core count doesn't tell the whole story, but you get the idea.

It's always wise to check benchmarks for accuracy, as it's impossible to tell exactly how the graphics card behaves just from the specifications.

For $80 you can get HD 6670. It's way better than GT 430.
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June 9, 2012 9:55:07 PM

blazorthon said:
It's limits would depend greatly on the game, settings, resolutions, etc. etc.

I wouldn't pair it with anything faster than OP's current card at this time because a CPU upgrade is more important.

Honestly, the best thing to do here would be to hold on to that computer until OP can replace it completely with a new $400 or so computer.



agreed
June 9, 2012 10:09:19 PM

blazorthon said:
Honestly, the best thing to do here would be to hold on to that computer until OP can replace it completely with a new $400 or so computer.


But would a new computer at around $400 even be worth getting? I'd doubt it has that great of equipment in it - stock.

Wouldn't I just be better off saving up some money and getting quality hardware for my current one?
June 9, 2012 10:09:55 PM

Both Ideally, what is your budget? For $200 dollars I would suggest a you buy both a cpu and gpu. You can get a HD 7750 and a Athlon II x2. I wouldn't buy a $200+ gpu because you won't be able to enjoy it with your old cpu. Athlon II x2 trade blows with intels low end celeron dual cores but can overclock at $50, though they trade energy effiency for overclocking. If your motherboard doesn't support the athlon II for about $50 you can get one. I'd suggest you get an 970 board since they will probably support AMD next gen FX processors when an upgrade is needed.
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June 9, 2012 10:13:16 PM

DarkHart07 said:
But would a new computer at around $400 even be worth getting? I'd doubt it has that great of equipment in it - stock.

Wouldn't I just be better off saving up some money and getting quality hardware for my current one?


I meant a home-built $400 computer. You can get very high quality builds even at this price.
June 9, 2012 10:14:51 PM

DarkHart07 said:
But would a new computer at around $400 even be worth getting? I'd doubt it has that great of equipment in it - stock.

Wouldn't I just be better off saving up some money and getting quality hardware for my current one?


For $400 dollars you get get a lot if your recycle your hardware that you already have. If all you need is a cpu, motherboard, gpu and memory then you can get decent parts. You can get an HD 6870 for $160, phenom ii x4/i3 for $120, 4GB of DDR3 for $20, and a decent single gpu motherboard for about $90.
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June 9, 2012 10:14:57 PM

Phyrexiancure said:
Both Ideally, what is your budget? For $200 dollars I would suggest a you buy both a cpu and gpu. You can get a HD 7750 and a Athlon II x2. I wouldn't buy a $200+ gpu because you won't be able to enjoy it with your old cpu. Athlon II x2 trade blows with intels low end celeron dual cores but can overclock at $50, though they trade energy effiency for overclocking. If your motherboard doesn't support the athlon II for about $50 you can get one. I'd suggest you get an 970 board since they will probably support AMD next gen FX processors when an upgrade is needed.


The 2.4GHz Celeron G530 beats the Athlon II x2s with ease until you give them a large overclock. It only costs $50 at newegg.


Phyrexiancure said:
For $400 dollars you get get a lot if your recycle your hardware that you already have. If all you need is a cpu, motherboard, gpu and memory then you can get decent parts. You can get an HD 6870 for $160, phenom ii x4/i3 for $120, 4GB of DDR3 for $20, and a decent single gpu motherboard for about $90.



+1 to this one, although I'd rather buy a Radeon 7770 2GB for $160 rather than a 6870. It can overclock about as well as the 6870 can and would be far superior if CF is doen later on, in addition to using far less power, meaning a cheaper, lower wattage PSU can be had if the budget gets too high for other reasons. For AMD, dual graphics card capable motherboards are available at and below $90. Even Intel has a few cheaper boards that support two graphics cards and that are still good quality. I'd be weary of reusing the same PSU because PSUs degrade over time much more than most other components. I've yet to have a PSU explode, but I've had them die when pushed too far and they can take the rest of the computer with them.
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June 9, 2012 11:24:41 PM

If you are not planning to upgrade any parts. I suggest getting a GT 440 2GB it's a great little value with enough VRAM to play higher resolutions and some extra graphics settings.

Zotac GT 440 2GB ($64.99)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Also you don't need a power cord for this card and is compatible with any PCI-E x16 slot.
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June 9, 2012 11:49:24 PM

The CPU upgrade looks more important than graphics if OP doesn't want a new computer. Also, the GT 440 doesn't have the performance to even max out 1GB in any game, let alone go past 1GB, so having 2GB of VRAM would not help at all.

Even more important is the fact that this is the cheapest GT 440 on newegg, yet the first six Radeon 6670s are better cards for about the same price. Four of these first six 6670s are cheaper than that GT 440 and the other two are the same price, one of which has 2GB of RAM (not that it matters). AMD's cards also come with a free copy of Dirt 3, a $50 game that if OP doesn't want to play, OP can just sell to further decrease the 6670's price.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=E...

The GT 440 GDDR5 trades blows with the Radeon 6670 DDR3, but the GT 440 DDR3 is beaten by the 6670 DDR3, despite the 6670 often being cheaper (much cheaper if you consider the free game).

A video card replacement would be better than a CPU replacement if the CPU can be overclcoked instead of replaced, so upgrading the video card can be the better idea in this case, but only if OP doesn't mind overclocking, OPs motherboard and CPU support it, and if the CPU cooler gets replaced. Otherwise, the OP would probably be better off with a CPU upgrade. The graphics upgrade could help in some games at some settings, but in others, the CPU could limit it to hardly any better than it is now.
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June 10, 2012 12:11:40 AM

Get this card: http://www.compusa.com/applications/SearchTools/item-de...

Believe it or not, my cousin has this card on his computer and it outperforms/is on par with an HD 6670 GDDR5. It's a card not many people have heard of because it was an OEM card that was barely put into production, but it's at a great price.

It's better than the GT 440 and is at least on par with the GDDR5 version of the Radeon 6670.
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June 10, 2012 12:19:00 AM

Ironslice said:
Get this card: http://www.compusa.com/applications/SearchTools/item-de...

Believe it or not, my cousin has this card on his computer and it outperforms/is on par with an HD 6670 GDDR5. It's a card not many people have heard of because it was an OEM card that was barely put into production, but it's at a great price.

It's better than the GT 440 and is at least on par with the GDDR5 version of the Radeon 6670.


That's a good idea, but my CPU versus video card for upgrading/replacement point still stands too, although now the 6670 can be replaced by the GT 545 for that argument.
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June 10, 2012 12:51:21 AM

blazorthon said:
That's a good idea, but my CPU versus video card for upgrading/replacement point still stands too, although now the 6670 can be replaced by the GT 545 for that argument.


Yep ")
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June 10, 2012 1:13:49 AM

look around on ebay theres plenty of parts on there that can be had at a decent discount albiet used just yesterday i saw a 6870 listed for 100 bucks..
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June 10, 2012 1:21:50 AM

Yeah, used parts are cheap... Ebay generally has inferior prices to newegg for new parts.
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June 10, 2012 1:29:31 AM

What is your resolution? Lower resolutions put more stress on the CPU.
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June 10, 2012 1:31:12 AM

what are you using the system for? if its just htpc. get a Triple core athlon.

if your a low end gamer (Mine craft, or other low source game) Get a GT 430 or GT 630 or 640
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June 10, 2012 1:40:02 AM

Rockdpm said:
what are you using the system for? if its just htpc. get a Triple core athlon.

if your a low end gamer (Mine craft, or other low source game) Get a GT 430 or GT 630 or 640


The GT 640s are all extremely overpriced, the 430 can't touch the GT 545 at the same price point, and neither can the GT 630. Besides, each GT 640 is slower than the GT 545, except maybe the GT 640 GDDR5, which would be about on-par with the GT 545 at best.
June 10, 2012 4:41:44 PM

Vettedude said:
What is your resolution? Lower resolutions put more stress on the CPU.


Lower resolution doesn't add more stress to your cpu, the gpu having more room to pump out frames does. A low resolution would put less stress on the gpu thus more frames, which would in tern put more stress on the cpu. In my opinion low res performance benchmarks shouldn't be taken seriously since they don't represen people's resolution. Also if the cpu can run a game smoothly at a high res it'll do it at low, absolute performance doesn't make a game run smoother. Going off topic but this puts a bias against AMD cpu's since they rely on future multithreaded programming. Even if they are slower in absolute performance now, they still perform good enough in medium budget builds.
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June 10, 2012 4:52:57 PM

Phyrexiancure said:
Lower resolution doesn't add more stress to your cpu, the gpu having more room to pump out frames does. A low resolution would put less stress on the gpu thus more frames, which would in tern put more stress on the cpu. In my opinion low res performance benchmarks shouldn't be taken seriously since they don't represen people's resolution. Also if the cpu can run a game smoothly at a high res it'll do it at low, absolute performance doesn't make a game run smoother. Going off topic but this puts a bias against AMD cpu's since they rely on future multithreaded programming. Even if they are slower in absolute performance now, they still perform good enough in medium budget builds.


AMD's CPUs don't rely on some future technology... They are slow per core because AMD screwed them up and in fact, AMD screwed them up so badly in so many different ways that I'm sometimes wondering if they did it intentionally. Would you like me to explain what they did and why Bulldozer based CPUs don't run nearly as fast as they should and use far too much power?

Also, this is an old AMD CPU that OP has. IDC if it was AMD or Intel, it would be too slow and need replacement. Me saying that an old CPU is slow doesn't matter if it's Intel of AMD. It needs replacement either way. Even one of AMD's modern processors would do the job (such as the suggested Athlon II x3), but this old CPU obviously can't do it.

Otherwise, +1.
June 10, 2012 5:06:36 PM

blazorthon said:
AMD's CPUs don't rely on some future technology... They are slow per core because AMD screwed them up and in fact, AMD screwed them up so badly in so many different ways that I'm sometimes wondering if they did it intentionally. Would you like me to explain what they did and why Bulldozer based CPUs don't run nearly as fast as they should and use far too much power?

Also, this is an OLD AMD CPU. IDC if it was AMD or Intel, it would be too slow and need replacement. Me saying that an old CPU is slow doesn't matter if it's Intel of AMD. It needs replacement either way. Even one of AMD's modern processors would do the job (such as the suggested Athlon II x3), but this old CPU obviously can't do it.

Otherwise, +1.

Future technology, do you mean software? I practically said they are slower per core but rely on the expectation that multcore programming will becoming the norm. Technical engineering screwups and performance per watt aside, I think people basing opinion on low resolution benchmarks are misleading against AMD's offerings.

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June 10, 2012 5:11:52 PM

Phyrexiancure said:
Future technology, do you mean software? I practically said they are slower per core but rely on the expectation that multcore programming will becoming the norm. Technical engineering screwups and performance per watt aside, I think people basing opinion on low resolution benchmarks are misleading against AMD's offerings.


Sorry, I misread. Even then, AMD's Bulldozer CPUs are serious power hogs for their multi-threaded performance. The problems with relying on highly multi-threaded programming include the fact that it is often more difficult to program in this way, not all software can be multi-threaded or simply maxes out at two to three threads do to other limitations, and more.

True, some people are most certainly giving them a much harder time than they should and low-resolution benchmarks only prove that AMD isn't good at getting hundreds of FPS.
June 10, 2012 5:21:57 PM

Just to put it in perspective for everyone, there are Pentium D's that benchmark higher than OP's Athlon 2.3GHz dual-core. That CPU is his immediate limiting factor for his system. Plus, I've heard it's not the greatest for overclocking; I'm pretty sure that it was meant to be part of an energy-efficient line of processors, hence it's poor headroom for overclocking.

In perfect situation, both the GPU and CPU could use an upgrade. In an $80 budget, not much room for overclocking a several-generations-old CPU situation, you best get a new processor.

For $72 after promo, which will be good for a few days, and free shipping in most states is the Rana 455 Triple Core:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
It's still a great CPU despite its age, and will certainly be good enough for a for a newer build if you drop into an AM3 or AM3+ board. Plus, if you get one from a good batch, it will unlock to a quad- free performance upgrade! You won't be able to do that on any motherboard you're using now though, that will have to wait until you do a more complete face-lift of your computer.

EDIT: took too long to post, I missed the AMD Bulldozer convo. It's a shame how that single launch forced AMD to excuse themselves from the world of desktop performance. I doubt it will be years until we find cheap processors as good as AMD's Rana or Intel's G620; Intel doesn't need to compete against themselves for low prices..
June 11, 2012 1:05:38 AM

Well, I decided to just replace the whole damn thing basically.
Getting a new motherboard to support the new Radeon 7750 card I'm getting, plus a Phenom II x6 1045T CPU, and a new PSU to support it all.
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June 11, 2012 1:26:53 AM

I'd recommend going Intel for an i3 or if you must go AMD, getting a Phenom II x4 960T instead of a Phenom II x6 1045T. Most games don't make much use of more than two or three cores and going beyond 4 cores is generally no help at all. The only game that I know can make any use at all of more than four cores/threads is BF3 MP (max 6 threads, 2 for game engine and 4 for MP) and even then, Intel's quad core i5s beat AMD's six core Phenom IIs and FX CPUs by large margins. The 1045T's low clock frequency would make it worse than even a Phenom II x3 or Phenom II x4 at a slightly higher clock frequency, let alone one of Intel's i3s (which are mere dual core CPUs with HTT, yet are the best sub $150 gaming CPUs for the money at stock frequencies and are stil among the fastest even when overclocking is considered at their price point).

Point is, the Phenom II x4 960T would be the best AMD option and an i3-2100 would be the best similarly priced Intel option. Also, the Radeon 7750 should be supported on pretty much all motherboards with a PCIe slot, even if they're old PCIe 1.x boards. PCIe is backwards compatible. I recommend getting a new motherboard, but I'm just saying that a new motherboard isn't needed specifically to support the 7750, just to support newer CPUs, RAM, and such. PCIe video cards are generally one of the most backwards and forwards compatible components.
June 11, 2012 2:23:43 AM

blazorthon said:
I'd recommend going Intel for an i3 or if you must go AMD, getting a Phenom II x4 960T instead of a Phenom II x6 1045T. Most games don't make much use of more than two or three cores and going beyond 4 cores is generally no help at all. The only game that I know can make any use at all of more than four cores/threads is BF3 MP (max 6 threads, 2 for game engine and 4 for MP) and even then, Intel's quad core i5s beat AMD's six core Phenom IIs and FX CPUs by large margins. The 1045T's low clock frequency would make it worse than even a Phenom II x3 or Phenom II x4 at a slightly higher clock frequency, let alone one of Intel's i3s (which are mere dual core CPUs with HTT, yet are the best sub $150 gaming CPUs for the money at stock frequencies and are stil among the fastest even when overclocking is considered at their price point).

Point is, the Phenom II x4 960T would be the best AMD option and an i3-2100 would be the best similarly priced Intel option. Also, the Radeon 7750 should be supported on pretty much all motherboards with a PCIe slot, even if they're old PCIe 1.x boards. PCIe is backwards compatible. I recommend getting a new motherboard, but I'm just saying that a new motherboard isn't needed specifically to support the 7750, just to support newer CPUs, RAM, and such. PCIe video cards are generally one of the most backwards and forwards compatible components.


Well I chose the Phenom II x6 I'd originally picked because of it's price of $99, but I was looking at an AMD Athlon x3-4 Processor beforehand, I really don't need something extremely high end. But what would be the more viable option for most applications - 3 cores or 4?

Also, my current motherboard only supports Nvidia video cards, and it's pretty dated, it can only hold up to 4 gigs of ram, so I'm gonna replace it, as well.
June 11, 2012 2:40:18 AM

illegalrugalah said:
the MSI 7770 on tigerdirect is on sale for 95 bucks right now. pretty good deal if you ask me

and its OCed : http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/ite...


Pretty good deal, but I found a 7750 card that I'm satisfied with for $55 on some different site, so I'm gonna stick with that to be cost effective.

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June 11, 2012 2:55:17 AM
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DarkHart07 said:
Well I chose the Phenom II x6 I'd originally picked because of it's price of $99, but I was looking at an AMD Athlon x3-4 Processor beforehand, I really don't need something extremely high end. But what would be the more viable option for most applications - 3 cores or 4?

Also, my current motherboard only supports Nvidia video cards, and it's pretty dated, it can only hold up to 4 gigs of ram, so I'm gonna replace it, as well.


Athlon II has inferior per-core performance to Phenom II because Athlon II has no L3 cache and Phenom II has a 6MB L3 cache. A quad core Phenom II is the best AMD option at your price point and the Phenom II x4 960T is my recommendation. It also went for about $100 last I checked. The Phenom II 1045T is not as good as a quad core Phenom II for gaming and is more oriented towards highly threaded work. For example, I have a Phenom II x6 1090T in a computer that I use as a server and a host machine for multiple virtual machines.
June 11, 2012 3:08:08 AM

Best answer selected by DarkHart07.
June 11, 2012 3:08:50 AM

blazorthon said:
Athlon II has inferior per-core performance to Phenom II because Athlon II has no L3 cache and Phenom II has a 6MB L3 cache. A quad core Phenom II is the best AMD option at your price point and the Phenom II x4 960T is my recommendation. It also went for about $100 last I checked. The Phenom II 1045T is not as good as a quad core Phenom II for gaming and is more oriented towards highly threaded work. For example, I have a Phenom II x6 1090T in a computer that I use as a server and a host machine for multiple virtual machines.


Alright, thanks. That probably helped me the most in deciding what CPU to get.
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June 11, 2012 3:13:20 AM

DarkHart07 said:
Alright, thanks. That probably helped me the most in deciding what CPU to get.


Any time :) 
June 11, 2012 6:26:52 AM

blazorthon said:
Athlon II has inferior per-core performance to Phenom II because Athlon II has no L3 cache and Phenom II has a 6MB L3 cache. A quad core Phenom II is the best AMD option at your price point and the Phenom II x4 960T is my recommendation. It also went for about $100 last I checked. The Phenom II 1045T is not as good as a quad core Phenom II for gaming and is more oriented towards highly threaded work. For example, I have a Phenom II x6 1090T in a computer that I use as a server and a host machine for multiple virtual machines.


Phenom II's also overclock better than athlon II's.
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June 11, 2012 6:27:54 AM

Phyrexiancure said:
Phenoms also overclock better than athlons.


Nit-picking, I know, but there is a large difference between a Phenom and a Phenom II and an even greater difference between an Athlon and an Athlon II.
June 11, 2012 6:31:20 AM

blazorthon said:
Nit-picking, I know, but there is a large difference between a Phenom and a Phenom II and an even greater difference between an Athlon and an Athlon II.


I meant to say phenom II and athlon II.
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