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I3 plus Z77 or i5 plus H77?

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February 10, 2013 1:28:31 PM

Hi all,

I'm in the final stages of speccing up a m-itx build, which is going to be used primarily for gaming. I have all my other components bar the motherboard and CPU.

Games I want to play: BF3, Assassins creed 3, Dishonored, Simcity 5, Bioshock Infinite, Anno 2070, Crysis 3

I already have an HD7970 as well as a 2560x1440 monitor. I'd like to play with the settings on high.

The problem is I'm a bit budget constrained, I have enough to get either a decent Z77 motherboard and an i3, or a cheaper H77 motherboard and an i5. What I'd like advise for is weather to go the Z77+i3 route with the view to upgrade and overclock in the future, or take the hit and get a non-K series i5 and a H77 motherboard.

Will an i3 manage with games at 2560x1440 on high for long enough until I can get an i5? (~6 months), or is even a non-overclocked i5 (like the 3470) enough for decent frame-rates on demanding games?

Really grateful for any advice!

More about : z77 h77

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February 10, 2013 2:07:47 PM

I use an itx system for my main machine right now. There is one important consideration when looking towards the "obvious" 3570K, which is that any non-reference cooler might have issues, both in terms of your selection of case and motherboard.
If these are going to dramatically limit the cooling potential, then the benefit from a 3570K isn't going to be as good as it would in a bigger case with better cooling.

In general, the resolution will have a much bigger effect on the GPU than the CPU, as most of the "game" is run on the CPU, while the visuals are on the GPU. There are exceptions to this, but generally the CPU won't be resolution dependant.

My system is a kind of "worst of both worlds" scenario. I chose to grab a Z77 motherboard as I wanted to maximise the feature-set for any future HTPC etc, but really I could have gone with a B75/H77 without any issues.

At the resolution you want to play at, you are more likely to run into graphics card limitations (even with a HD7970) than CPU ones.
EDIT - Just to give you an idea, at 2560*1440 with everything maxxed out, you can expect sub 40fps in BF3 with that card. Of course you can easily scale the detail or change resolution to fix that.
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February 10, 2013 2:19:27 PM

The i5-3470 and a h77 motherboard will be the best choice, you'll have a i5 quad core, it's recommended going with that cpu with a 7970, the h77 will not limit the cpu, the h77 motherboard has all the features of the z77 minus the overclocking capabilities, since it's a locked i5, you don't need the z77, you can still reach 3.6 ghz with the turbo boost.
Instead of spending twice on a cpu, get the i5 now, at stock there's no difference between the i5-3470 and i5-3570k.
Also there's no more cpus coming for that lga, another reason to get the i5 now.
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February 10, 2013 2:32:48 PM

Hi Rammy, thanks for such a detailed reply.

Can I ask what specs your m-itx build has? Do you use it for gaming? From the gist of your post I'm getting that you think an H77 motherboard with a non-K series i5 (I was looking at the 3470) would be the best bet. I understand the cooling won't be stellar in such a small, fan-limited case, so I was looking at the possibility of using a closed loop water cooling system such as the Corsair H90 if I were to go the 3570k route in the future. But again, it's all money.

The cases I'm looking at are the Lian Li PC-Q18 or the TU-200, fairly expensive cases, but I'm sold on their looks.

I have another rig at home that has a 4.0Ghz watercooled i7 920 with which I use my 7970 @ 1150Mhz, and I get 50-60fps on BF3 maxed out at 2560x1440.

I suppose the biggest problem is my new-found hatred for Intel and their non-K chips. I hate to think I'm spending ~£150 on a CPU that could easily hit 4.5ghz but is locked from doing so, as well as having to pay a premium for a motherboard that'll let me do it.

We need more competition.
February 10, 2013 2:36:04 PM

djangoringo said:
The i5-3470 and a h77 motherboard will be the best choice, you'll have a i5 quad core, it's recommended going with that cpu with a 7970, the h77 will not limit the cpu, the h77 motherboard has all the features of the z77 minus the overclocking capabilities, since it's a locked i5, you don't need the z77, you can still reach 3.6 ghz with the turbo boost.
Instead of spending twice on a cpu, get the i5 now, at stock there's no difference between the i5-3470 and i5-3570k.
Also there's no more cpus coming for that lga, another reason to get the i5 now.



Thanks, good to know.

I'm leaning towards your suggestion then, it sounds like the most logical solution. My knowledge is pretty limited but am I right in thinking that you can semi overclock non-K chips? Something along the lines of forcing the turbo to be always on, or boosting it by a couple of multiplier ratios? I could very well be wrong.
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February 10, 2013 2:39:24 PM

The i5 locked is a good cpu, if you don't have the pounds for a z77 and the the i5-3570k, get the i5 locked, you won't regret it, also you don't need additional cooler, the stock is fine for it, unless you want a quieter cooler and it will be always with the maximum speed turbo when the app in question requires it, when it's not demanding, it will have lower speeds(speedstep), for gaming it will be on the maximum.
Or see if you can fit the i5-3570k plus this board : http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B009GB87N6/

It's a really good mini itx z77 board.
February 10, 2013 2:41:40 PM

Mate I suggest you get a B75 board and an i5 3470. I have it and I just love it!
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February 10, 2013 2:54:35 PM

No problem, happy to help.

I use an i5 3450, ASRock Z77E-ITX and a GTX660 in a Bitfenix Prodigy case.
I like my case looks, but in terms of practicality it's way too big for an itx build.
I went with the 3450 because at the time it was the cheapest "good" i5. These days I'd probably get a 3470 as its around the same price and a little better.
Z77 was as mentioned, to cover as many bases as possible, I can see me reusing the motherboard later and I'm not 100% sure in what capacity.
GTX660 is because it's basically the best graphics card you can buy that is a similar length to an ITX board, meaning it'll fit inside any future case. It's also fine for 1080P gaming and doesn't draw much power.
I use a cheap closed loop cooler for acoustic/access reasons. You can't fit a big heatsink on most itx boards and because mine sits on the desk beside me I can noticeably hear the differences in fan noises. Antec Kuhler 620 with a couple of low speed fans fixed the issue.

The Lian Li cases are really nice, definitely quite expensive though. I always try to avoid cheaping out on cases these days, I've had bad experiences working on crappy cases after raiding the case budget for extra toys.

@ BF3, it'll depend a lot on settings, but most high end games will start to struggle on a 7970 at 2560*1440 if you max out everything. The most recent "big" game for graphics was probably Far Cry 3, and at 1080P even the expensive cards struggle http://media.bestofmicro.com/Z/B/364151/original/High-1...
My point was that it doesn't really matter which of the CPUs you pick, any "wall" you hit will probably be graphics based anyway.

@ Intel, it kinda makes sense from their perspective. 90%+ of users won't even consider overclocking so they might as well sell it as an enthusiast feature. AM3+ is probably too big a socket for ITX boards, so it's just their APUs that can compete. What annoys me on these forums is everyone forcing the 3570K as the "only" option, when you need to allow the difference in price of CPU, motherboard and cooling. Those three together make a big pile of cash to spend on graphics.

Back to the original point, I think an H77+3470 is perfectly sufficient for gaming. If I had to build my system today that's the way I'd go.
February 10, 2013 2:56:27 PM

djangoringo said:
The i5 locked is a good cpu, if you don't have the pounds for a z77 and the the i5-3570k, get the i5 locked, you won't regret it, also you don't need additional cooler, the stock is fine for it, unless you want a quieter cooler and it will be always with the maximum speed turbo when the app in question requires it, when it's not demanding, it will have lower speeds(speedstep), for gaming it will be on the maximum.
Or see if you can fit the i5-3570k plus this board : http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B009GB87N6/

It's a really good mini itx z77 board.


Thanks for the link, Amazon seems a bit cheaper than OcUk so I'm going to have a good browse there. I was reading reviews of the Gigabyte Z77 board and it didn't score too well for overclocking, from what I gathered it was advised to go to the asrock or asus z77 boards.

I like the idea of not having to get extra coolers or spend more money. That way I can enjoy my purchase rather than constantly thinking about upgrade paths or 'what if' scenarios.
February 10, 2013 2:57:36 PM

hotshot2797 said:
Mate I suggest you get a B75 board and an i5 3470. I have it and I just love it!


I can't find a B75 m-itx board! Glad you like the 3470 though, I'm sure it's a great chip, I just need to get over the fact that I can't overclock it. It's something I've always done!
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February 10, 2013 3:06:22 PM

Also, while I remember, those Lian Li cases look great but have next to zero clearance above the CPU. Solid low-profile coolers do exist, but I'd say if you are 100% sold on those cases then you should definitely skip the 3570K. If you can't cool it, you can't overclock it (much), and if you can't overclock it then it's just a waste of cash.
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February 10, 2013 3:09:10 PM

emyyhh said:
Thanks for the link, Amazon seems a bit cheaper than OcUk so I'm going to have a good browse there. I was reading reviews of the Gigabyte Z77 board and it didn't score too well for overclocking, from what I gathered it was advised to go to the asrock or asus z77 boards.

I like the idea of not having to get extra coolers or spend more money. That way I can enjoy my purchase rather than constantly thinking about upgrade paths or 'what if' scenarios.


Well then get the h77 board and the i5-3470, i'd get the h77, because the b75 has less features, the h77 is rich in features, with ssd caching, more sata III ports and usb 3.0, overall it got the same features as the z77 minus the overclock.
February 10, 2013 3:15:57 PM

Ok, what I'm pretty sure I'm going to do is this:

Get the i5 3470 Rammy suggested. Get the Gigabyte Z77N-wifi motherboard as it's only £10 more than a decent H77 board, and allows to to 'overclock' the 3470 by upto 400Mhz depending on core usage. I'm going to save the £30 needed to jump to an i5 3570k and spend it on extra storage, or a quiet cooler for the 3470. Due to the case being so small, large overclocks won't be available without modding extra cooling capability into the case, something I don't really want to do.

I've been sold on high-end cases ever since I bought my Corsair 650D. Nothing worse than having an awesome-spec PC inside a naff case. The Lian Li cases begin to make me think my Corsair windowed case is a bit garish, but that's for another day.

Big thank you to everyone for helping me out here, especially Rammy - you've made a difficult decision much easier. I'm looking forward to crippling my 7970 with some new games!
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February 10, 2013 3:16:02 PM

djangoringo said:
Well then get the h77 board and the i5-3470, i'd get the h77, because the b75 has less features, the h77 is rich in features, with ssd caching, more sata III ports and usb 3.0, overall it got the same features as the z77 minus the overclock.

+1 This.
Z77 has a grand total of two features over H77 as far as I remember, which are overclocking and SLI support. In a motherboard with 1 PCIe slot, that is a very disappointing featureset.
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February 10, 2013 3:24:55 PM

emyyhh said:
Ok, what I'm pretty sure I'm going to do is this:

Get the i5 3470 Rammy suggested. Get the Gigabyte Z77N-wifi motherboard as it's only £10 more than a decent H77 board, and allows to to 'overclock' the 3470 by upto 400Mhz depending on core usage. I'm going to save the £30 needed to jump to an i5 3570k and spend it on extra storage, or a quiet cooler for the 3470. Due to the case being so small, large overclocks won't be available without modding extra cooling capability into the case, something I don't really want to do.

I've been sold on high-end cases ever since I bought my Corsair 650D. Nothing worse than having an awesome-spec PC inside a naff case. The Lian Li cases begin to make me think my Corsair windowed case is a bit garish, but that's for another day.

Big thank you to everyone for helping me out here, especially Rammy - you've made a difficult decision much easier. I'm looking forward to crippling my 7970 with some new games!


Have you thought in the bitfenix prodigy ? it's a good mini atx case, it's not a high end case, but it's a stylish one, and it's usually not that expensive, you can fit an hyper 212 evo in the case : http://i1060.photobucket.com/albums/t451/rjv85/4.jpg
Here's the case if you want to take a look at it : http://www.aria.co.uk/Products/Components/Cases/Mini+IT...

Also, if you can get the z77 for just 10£ more it's not a bad option, though, it's not needed.
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February 10, 2013 3:46:05 PM

emyyhh said:
Thanks for the link, Amazon seems a bit cheaper than OcUk so I'm going to have a good browse there. I was reading reviews of the Gigabyte Z77 board and it didn't score too well for overclocking, from what I gathered it was advised to go to the asrock or asus z77 boards.

I like the idea of not having to get extra coolers or spend more money. That way I can enjoy my purchase rather than constantly thinking about upgrade paths or 'what if' scenarios.


have a look at scan.co.uk (offers section)

and dabs.co.uk

ive bought parts for my pc for years from them (waiting for haswell before i upgrade cpu and and getting new gpu soon)
!