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How many cores do i need?

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January 1, 2013 4:48:29 PM

Hi I am building a computer for 500 and I am wondering how many cores do I need realistically for moderate (med graphics) gaming (planetside 2 would be my most demanding game). I might go for an i3 3220 dual core, or should I get a quad. If so, do I get an older intel quad or a newer amd quad.

FYI: I am taking into consideration the upgrade path (ex i3 lga1155 socket to an i5 lga1155 socket etc)

I do not know my specs of my comp as it is not built yet. It would look something like this though:
500-550w psu
either a 7770 ghz ed or gtx 650 gpu
case for about $50 with a fan or more if can get more
8 gig of ram
500 gb hdd or 1 tb if it is cheap enough
a dvd reader writer
cpu of choice
mobo to match

Any input is great thanks.

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January 1, 2013 5:07:45 PM

Best case scenario is save up for the i5 now rather than buying an i3 then an i5.

I think you'll notice the difference between them, but a new i3 certainly won't be terrible.
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January 1, 2013 5:21:10 PM

Would the number of cores matter though
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January 1, 2013 5:23:33 PM

compnewb_12 said:
Would the number of cores matter though


For the most part no but it will depend on the game. The vast majority of the games only use two or three cores anyway however is some games like BF3 having the two extra's cores can help.
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January 1, 2013 6:21:40 PM

Number of cores matters for the games like GTA 4 (which is badly ported).
go for 4 cores it will be future proof. :-)
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January 1, 2013 6:24:18 PM

when you are choosing the hd 7770 as you gpu...you can just about get away with an i3 i believe(K series though could b preferred).

and if i am not wrong,the games you intend to run will become gpu bound earlier than they become cpu bound.
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January 1, 2013 6:43:04 PM

If you seriously intend to get an i5 later, I would go with ashia's recommendation of saving until you can get an i5 off-the-bat. At my local shop, there is only $60 between the i3-3220 and i5-3470 so getting the i3 as a temporary CPU would feel a lot like throwing $125 out the window. You "lose" half as much money by going straight for i5.

(I was originally considering the i3 for my new PC but then decided that for only $60 extra, it was well worth making sure I wouldn't have an itch to upgrade the CPU and feel like I wasted $125 on the i3 so I got the i5-3470 instead.)
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January 1, 2013 7:37:50 PM

rohn_avni said:
Number of cores matters for the games like GTA 4 (which is badly ported).
go for 4 cores it will be future proof. :-)



GTA IV actually played pretty well on my dual core i5-2410m laptop. Then again the resolution is 1366x768. The GPU is a nVidia GT 550m.
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January 1, 2013 7:56:40 PM

I don't know about Planetside, but the vast majority of games only use 2 cores. I do recommend a quad core CPU to most gamers though if they can fit it into their budget. Just in case you play one of those small number of games that can actually make use of more than 2 cores.

Intel's Core i3 CPUs does pretty well in games despite being just a dual core CPU. Click the below link for some benchmarks. The only dual core CPUs are the Pentium G2120 and the Core i3-3240. The graphics card used in the benchmarks is a nVidia GTX 680.

http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/cpu/display/fx-8350-83...
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January 1, 2013 8:04:05 PM

I will go with an i5 3570k and wait until I have more money to buy everything else. based on everything you guys said it will save me money in the future. Thanks a lot.
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January 1, 2013 8:59:07 PM

jaguarskx said:
Intel's Core i3 CPUs does pretty well in games despite being just a dual core CPU.

It does inherit IB's leading-edge single-thread performance (most important thing for most PC games and applications) and have HT that gives it a 20-30% extra throughput potential over non-HT cores, which does make it perform somewhat like a triple-core CPU might in situations that make only moderate/occasional/accidental use of more than two cores, which is the majority of typical use cases out there today.

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January 1, 2013 9:12:07 PM

I would go with a quad core or six core, as either way you will be future proof.
Although games do not support more than 4 cores that i know of, you must understand that your OS will be, therefore giving you extra power on the four cores your using, etc.

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January 1, 2013 10:18:43 PM

I was browsing tiger direct and newegg and I can get and amd fx-8350 with more ghz, and 4 more cores, or I can get an amd fx4300 with more ghz and the same amount of cores, both for less money. Should I consider them, or stick with the i5?
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January 1, 2013 10:59:09 PM

For games, the i5's higher single-threaded throughput makes it take the lead in almost every CPU-bound games and things will likely remain this way for the foreseeable future. Current games favor single-threaded performance so much that even the i3 manages to give most of AMD's higher-end CPUs a run for their money.

For content creation and other well-threaded CPU-intensive stuff, the FX83xx can give the i5/i7 a run for their money.
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January 1, 2013 11:17:43 PM

I play bf3 regularly and the extra cores do help. Yes AMD isn't as fast a Intel but the 63xx and 83xx are way cheaper and over clock very well. Bf3 uses all my cores but not very much of each of them. If you do go Intel go 3570k. Decently cheap and you can overclock it. I would not get an i3 tho or the 43xx series for gaming
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January 1, 2013 11:33:43 PM

compnewb_12 said:
I was browsing tiger direct and newegg and I can get and amd fx-8350 with more ghz, and 4 more cores, or I can get an amd fx4300 with more ghz and the same amount of cores, both for less money. Should I consider them, or stick with the i5?

If all you are doing is gaming go with the I5. It is faster and more effecient than the Bulldozer and Piledriver. The I5 can execute more instructions per cycle than the Piledriver. This allows it to out perform the Piledriver even at lower clock speeds.
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January 2, 2013 12:12:25 AM

just save up and go with an i5, if you're willing. updated to an i5-2310 in the middle of 2012, from an i3-2100. not having a load of luck finding a buyer for a used CPU, so i more or less kinda overspent on the CPU there, far more than what i spent on the GPU altogether.

but if you don't mind AMD, there's always the Phenom II x4 955/965/960T BE. as much as i want to recommend the 4300 over the PII X4's, the prices makes it a hard sell as the older cpu more or less performs close to it in most cases in gaming in most of the reviews i read. other than, the most you should spend on for gaming is an FX-6300. an 8350/8320 offers too little a performance gain in gaming over the 6300 for the price.
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January 2, 2013 12:36:32 AM

That's everything I wanted to know. You guys helped a lot, thanks.
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January 2, 2013 1:57:20 PM

06yfz450ridr said:
Bf3 uses all my cores but not very much of each of them.

Even single-threaded applications will "use all the cores not very much" simply from context switches bumping the single-threaded application between cores unless the user, OS or application sets up CPU affinity restrictions.

Seeing an application cause usage across all cores does not necessarily mean that it makes any significant use of threading.

If you want to determine exactly how effectively threaded a game is, drop one thread/core affinity at a time until FPS starts dropping. Most games will behave pretty much the same down to 1 core. BF3 is one of few exceptions that manage to show an improvement beyond 4 cores/threads under its most stressful scenarios.
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January 2, 2013 4:49:56 PM

InvalidError said:
It does inherit IB's leading-edge single-thread performance (most important thing for most PC games and applications) and have HT that gives it a 20-30% extra throughput potential over non-HT cores, which does make it perform somewhat like a triple-core CPU might in situations that make only moderate/occasional/accidental use of more than two cores, which is the majority of typical use cases out there today.


But games do not make use of HT.

In fact many benchmarks over the years have shown that HT reduces game performance by an average of 2%.
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January 2, 2013 4:57:41 PM

Yes but there are still people who insist that hyperthreading helps gaming performance. A few days ago someone tried to convince me that hyperthreading hurts quad core performance in games but it some how miraculously helps dual core CPU's like the I3 in games. :pfff: 
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January 3, 2013 11:36:17 AM

jaguarskx said:
But games do not make use of HT.

Games that "do not use HT" also do not use any cores beyond two either.

However, background processes and the API/COM calls games/drivers rely on still do even if you set CPU affinity. If you start three instances of FurMark and set CPU affinity to a different core for each, you are going to see ~15% system use on the 4th core/thread even though it has "nothing" running on it.
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January 3, 2013 2:27:56 PM

^^^

That is true, the vast majority of games only use 2 cores. There are not that many games that can make use of more than 2 cores. Perhaps at most 20 games? Which is why I stated in my previous post that Intel's Core i3 CPUs does pretty well in games despite being just a dual core CPU.

Most people do not run 3 instances of FurMark. They simply turn on their PC, load up the game and start playing. Having a quad core to play games does not hurt though since background process can use the 3rd/4th core if necessary.
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January 3, 2013 3:05:22 PM

thee are two ways of looking into this scenario. do note that OP says that he plans to get an i3 but could save up for an i5 if its helps his save money in the long run. that is certainly a very good idea. am totally with you guys on him saving up ang getting an i5.
however he also mentions that he is planning either a gtx 650 or a 7770 which are just lower end cards. so he could get an i3 and save up that extra money for a better gpu like a 7850 or gtx 660 which will have much more impact on performance than switching from i3 to i5.
this is because even if he does get i5 and 3570 the 7770 will reach its bottleneck much before the advantage from going from i3 to i5 shows up so he ends up getting the same performance with both i3 and i5 as the gpu still would be a bottleneck.
this is why i suggest OP get an i3-3220 and save up money for a much better gpu like 660 or 7850 and dont worry i3 will not bottleneck these cards at all
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January 3, 2013 3:54:19 PM

mohit9206 said:
thee are two ways of looking into this scenario. do note that OP says that he plans to get an i3 but could save up for an i5 if its helps his save money in the long run. that is certainly a very good idea. am totally with you guys on him saving up ang getting an i5.
however he also mentions that he is planning either a gtx 650 or a 7770 which are just lower end cards. so he could get an i3 and save up that extra money for a better gpu like a 7850 or gtx 660 which will have much more impact on performance than switching from i3 to i5.
this is because even if he does get i5 and 3570 the 7770 will reach its bottleneck much before the advantage from going from i3 to i5 shows up so he ends up getting the same performance with both i3 and i5 as the gpu still would be a bottleneck.
this is why i suggest OP get an i3-3220 and save up money for a much better gpu like 660 or 7850 and dont worry i3 will not bottleneck these cards at all

Ive been reading some threads and doing research, and I am still going with an i5 but if I stretch my gpu budget about $10-$20 (which I can now afford, and could not before I started this thread) I can still get a 7850 which will give me much better performance compared to a gtx650 ti or 7770. Also now that I think about, 4 cores should help me as I usually have other programs running as well as a game. Nonetheless, I never thought about saving up for a better gpu and then getting an i3.
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January 3, 2013 4:13:05 PM

jaguarskx said:
Having a quad core to play games does not hurt though since background process can use the 3rd/4th core if necessary.

For the software I am looking at, background stuff accounts for about 15% of CPU usage which should be well within what HT could cover. When software starts giving a Pentium's two cores a workout, the i3 pulls away because the two extra hardware threads take care of background stuff by keeping otherwise under-used execution resources busy. Much fewer preemptive context swaps also enables everything to get done more efficiently.

HT's negative impact on i7 gaming is more about the i7 having too many grossly under-used resources in typical modern games to forgive overstepping or shoulder-bumping between any two threads on a given core... it is simply too powerful to handle (relatively) lightly threaded code as efficiently as the i5 does.

If we could ditch the x86 legacy (lots of logic and power is spent maintaining backward compatibility and messy original instruction set) and finely thread software efficiently to leverage SMT (tons of logic and power spent on single-threaded ILP), we could cram more than 3X the performance in the same power and die area budget as current desktop x86 CPUs. (Ex.: Xeon Phi.)

It would be interesting if Intel decided to make a desktop version of Xeon Phi with 8C32T@3GHz... but I'm guessing Phi cores lack much of the stuff required to boot standard desktop OSes and run standard applications to conserve die space and power.
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January 3, 2013 4:23:11 PM

compnewb_12 said:
Ive been reading some threads and doing research, and I am still going with an i5 but if I stretch my gpu budget about $10-$20 (which I can now afford, and could not before I started this thread) I can still get a 7850 which will give me much better performance compared to a gtx650 ti or 7770.

Worst case, another possibility would be to initially forgo the GPU and use the i5's IGP (all except the i5-3330P have it) until you can afford whichever GPU you want. I would personally much prefer this option over buying a CPU I might regret just due to being a little short on change.

This way, you get a CPU you won't second-guess and plenty of time to make up your mind about the GPU with a working system under your desk in the meantime.

There are many ways to stretch a budget.
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