[budget] AMD System VS. Intel System--GAMING


Apr 25, 2012
ok so after hours of searching for good builds for a $500-$700 budget i have struck gold on a really nice intel build. i have also come across an AMD build that i have heard about time and time again. the AMD build is cheaper by about $100. i am asking everybody here which is the better buy as far as quality and value. dont forget this is strictly for gaming.

first up. the AMD build.
Case: Corsair Carbide 400R
MoBo: ASUS M5A78L-M LX AM3+ Socket
GPU: Sapphire Radeon HD 6850 1GB GDDR5
PSU: Corsair CX500 v2 80+ Certified
CPU: AMD FX Zambezi 3.6GHz Quad Core
RAM: 8GB DDR3 G.skil Ripjaws Series
HDD: 500 GB Seagate 7200 RPM Drive
Extra: AOC PCI High Performace Exhaust Fan
Cost: $540

now for the intel build.
Case: Cooler Master Storm Scout
MoBo: ASRock LGA 1155 Intel H61 ATX Intel Motherboard
GPU: Sapphire Radeon HD 6870 1GB GDDR5
PSU: Antec EarthWatts GREEN 650W ATX12V v2.3 SLI Ready CrossFire Certified 80 PLUS BRONZE
CPU: Intel i3-2120 Sandy Bridge 3.3GHz Dual Core
RAM: 8GB DDR3 G.skill Value Series
HDD: 500GB Seagate 7200 RPM Drive
Cost: $666


Feb 14, 2011
^ this. I have the i3-2100 and was surprised by its performance. The 2120 should perform even better. Plus you have a better upgrade path. From what I have read, the FX-4100 performs better or on par with the 8-core version in gaming, so you essentially have no upgrade path (unless you count piledriver, whose performance is still unknown).


Nov 17, 2011
Why do you have a different case, PSU, GPU and ram for each build? You really need to have the same components before you start comparing prices between intel and AMD. With that said, I'd change the mobo and cpu on the AMD build to an AM3 board and a Deneb core based CPU. Screw Bulldozer core processors.


Sep 20, 2009
If you went AMD you would be better off with a 965BE and overclock it. $119 New egg, and I would spend the $100 difference between builds upgrading to a HD7850...


The 965BE plus an HD7850 is far better for gaming than an i3 with a 6870....


Feb 18, 2012
Tom's did several articles on this (sry im too lazy to search for the links, but there not hard to find if you look) The last one that I remember reading though compared the performance, the price, then the price to performance ratio of one of those AMD APU chips (proc and video "card" is on the same chip) and Tom's findings that Intel's entry level i3 spanked AMD. If i remember correctly the amd chip lost badly in performance, even lost slightly on the performance to price ratio.... but for its performance intel could not come close to its low power usage. This is really cool for stuff like ultrabooks and tablets and stuff... but still imo, AMD has no business inside gaming machines and "power systems" for like graphix editing and stuff.

1. No the 965 did not lose "badly" to the i3. They're almost identical in gaming performance. Meanwhile the 965 eats the i3 for lunch on multi-threaded applications.

2. The Phenom II black edition can be overclocked. i3 lacks this feature. Turn up the multiplier on a 965 model to 18.5x and you have yourself a 980 model for the price of a 965, no aftermarket cooler needed.

3. The article you're referring to is this one, and the price of Phenom IIs have been dropped since the time of article writing, so the conclusion page is not accurate. It also doesn't mention the fact that the 965 and 980 are identical chips with exception to the multiplier settings, and as mentioned in point number 2 is a very simple trick to do. http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/gaming-fx-pentium-apu-benchmark,3120.html

4. The difference in power consumption translates to about 15 bucks a year if you were to run your computer 24/7/365

5. You have no business making claims that aren't backed up by fact. The OP came to this forum to seek advice on a financial investment, you are doing a disservice to him/her by dispensing inaccurate advice.

6. The Llano APUs without a video card, destroy Sandy Bridges onboard graphics. If you aren't planning on building a system with a discrete graphics card, you're foolish to buy a Sandy Bridge over a llano. Now, yes, with a discrete graphics card the SB is a better choice. However, considering the most expensive i3 is 130 bucks or so, and the most expensive llano is 140. You'd have to buy the 130 dollar i3 plus whatever the cost of the graphics card, probably 200 bucks paired with a cheap card. You tell me what makes more sense. Obviously, the OP is looking for a gaming rig, not an HTPC or a daily browser, so lets stay on topic.

To the OP,

If you want the AMD system, my advice would be to get a Phenom II 965, it costs 120 dollars, and is a stronger CPU than the Zambezi. Also I would suggest getting the 6870 video card with it, as you had picked in your i3 build. For strictly gaming, both will suit your need, however, a true quad core is a better investment for future use. I try to discourage people from using the word "future proof", but a quad core is something worth considering. Right now most games don't use more than 2 cores, so the i3 is fine. This could change anytime without warning.

I was running Metro 2033 at fully maxed settings just fine yesterday with my AMD chip. Skyrim, Mass Effect 3, also have no problem. Stick to facts and leave opinions where they belong.

I also own an i5-2400 system, guess what, both of our systems play the same games with no difference. Actually, on OpenGL Cinebench, my system benches 3 FPS higher than my boyfriends 2400 w/GTX 460 card. Odd considering the 460 is a stronger card than the 550 TI despite being prior generation.

GTX 460 was over 200 bucks when Max bought it, and the i5 was 190 bucks.

My 550 TI was 160 and my 975 x4 was 140.......

No argument here, I just wish knuckleheads would give it a rest and defer to the people who actually own the products they're opining on.

Wheres malmental when you need him? He owns both too, he'll tell you the 965 is a better choice than the i3.


Dec 10, 2011
Look, I've got nothing against AMD, but there are a few things that should be considered here.

First, the AM3 socket is dead. I couldn't ever justify recommending a CPU to someone that ran on a dead socket. You would be looking at getting what is more or less the top of what the AM3 socket had to offer. There is no place to go from there but an entirely new build. On the 1155 socket you could move up to a Sandy Bridge or Ivy Bridge quad core with some more muscle if a person so desired without having to spring for a new motherboard as well.

Second, in terms of game performance alone, this graph speaks volumes. http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/gaming-fx-pentium-apu-benchmark,3120-10.html
The Intel i3 2100 does beat the AMD 980 and 1090T and ties them when the latter two are overclocked (plus, we're talking about the 2120, which has a .2 Ghz higher frequency). And if we wanted to recommend the OP a bargain bin CPU for gaming, I'd have to point him to one of the Pentiums. We can even look at Tom's recommendations for this month, http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/gaming-cpu-review-overclock,3106.html . Not a single AMD CPU, except one honorable mention for the FX-4100.

You made some excellent points nekulturny, and I agree that there's DEFINITELY no reason for someone with a Phenom II to upgrade, but it's past time to stop recommending them in a gaming rig when the new Intel Pentiums can do just as well and an i3 even better.
First, the AM3 socket is dead. I couldn't ever justify recommending a CPU to someone that ran on a dead socket.
Why? By the time you need to upgrade your CPU, your motherboard will be a dinosaur. How long do you really think Intel will keep using the 1155 socket? 1156 anyone? How about 775? Nope.... Chipsets? USB? In 2 years DDR4 will be taking the stage. SATA IV perhaps? Its always something coming down the pipe. Unless you plan on upgrading your CPU every 6 months (which is silly in the first place), theres no reason not to buy a new motherboard with a CPU.

I've learned the hard way, it usually costs less money and you get better performance in the long run to buy a cheaper system and rebuild it in a couple years than try to go balls to the wall buying more expensive stuff than you need and try to make it last you 6 or 7 years.

Second, in terms of game performance alone, this graph speaks volumes. http://www.tomshardware.com/review [...] 20-10.html
Yea, it shows a 980 (or a 965 clocked to 980 settings) on par at the price point for gaming. 965 costs 119 bucks, i3-2100 costs 130.

Lets look at the actual game results, since minimum FPS is what actually matters, not max, thats what I'm going by. Again, as of today, most games still only use 2 cores. So i3 will do just fine.

Skryim: 1 FPS difference. 1 FPS means absolutely NOTHING.

Battlefiled3: 1 FPS

Just Cause 2: 6 FPS, now here you might be talking a real difference, but not really

Starcraft 2: 2 FPS

Dirt3: 4FPS

Metro 2033: no difference, and BTW. I don't know how tomshardware got that result, I was running FRAPS yesterday while playing it, I never dropped lower than 30FPS in 3 hours. I question the legitimacy of Tom's benchmarks, but they're there to look at.

And if we wanted to recommend the OP a bargain bin CPU for gaming, I'd have to point him to one of the Pentiums. We can even look at Tom's recommendations for this month, http://www.tomshardware.com/review [...] ,3106.html . Not a single AMD CPU, except one honorable mention for the FX-4100.
All the more reason to question some of Tom's reviews. How many articles did they point out trashing the FX-4100? And they made a big stink of pointing out (and they're preaching to the converted) that the Phenom IIs are stronger CPUs.

You made some excellent points nekulturny, and I agree that there's DEFINITELY no reason for someone with a Phenom II to upgrade, but it's past time to stop recommending them in a gaming rig when the new Intel Pentiums can do just as well and an i3 even better.
Well, thats better than some of the people on these forums I've encountered. I guess we have to agree to disagree. But like I said, its the OP who has to be happy with his system.


Mar 22, 2010
I have to agree with a lot of what nekulturny is saying. he and I just debated this on another thread. these to processors are about even for gaming, the differences are really in the margins of error or not noticeable to the average person. where the AMD CPU shines is when the game uses more than 2 cores.

BF3 multiplayer for example, is playable on some (not all) 64 player map on a i3 2120, but does "frame" in the mid 20's at times. (my son doesn't really even notice the slow down, but I did after nekulturny mentioned that a dual core gets its butt handed to it in BF3 Multiplayer. It is playable, but noticeable to me when I watch him play on the i3 2120/HD 6850 HTPC system. I haven't verified that this is not GPU related, but given the good FPS in the single player and the apparent reduced FPS in multiplayer, it does seem like it points that way. I notice no framing when he plays on his 2600K/GXT570 system in Multiplayer BF3.

in light of all that I would go with then Intel system, but advise the OP to go with a i5 2400/2310 instead of the i3. he still has $34 left in the budget. going with a less expensive case like a Zalman Z9+ save about $20 = $54 and will cover most of the cost of the CPU upgrade ($65/55). if he needs to trim more, there are some quality less expense PSU's or there even less expense good Cases rosewill challenger, NZXT Source 210, CM 430 elite etc..



Dec 31, 2011
lol if your minimum fps is 30, with a good old 6870, doesn't matter what chips you get whether its 5-15% or something increase in FPS it won't matter unless your running gtx680 or 7970. imo the amd chip is a wiser choice as it has potential with OC, using a 965, even a 4100 can be oc, as for 1155 it's supposed to be dead on ivy as new ones would require a new socket. well need more info about that part.

imo number wise on different occasions i3 wins and on multi thread, 965wins same thing with 4100, if you can overclock it to 5.5ghz or something until it melts.

imo if you look at it in real eyes perception, 1-6 fps increase above 30/35fps MINIMUM won't change much from your gameplay, as I believe everyone is more happy fragging a poor soul more than his FPS if he has minimum of 30 at least.


Jun 15, 2008

Wait, wait, wait.
You telling us that you were running Metro 2033 FULLY MAXED with a GTX 550 Ti? Is that correct?
If yes, whadda hell of a card you have there.. I can't even do this with my i7-2600k with 2x GTX 460 in SLI


from TH's GTX 550 Ti Review

Others reviews:
Guru 3D Review
Guru 3D Review 2
Anandtech Review
Hardwarecanucks Review


Yes I am telling you that. And I have no clue why all those websites show such low results. Cus didn't happen on my end. I stayed between 30 and 60FPS. The version of Metro is downloaded from Steam, if that has any implication. And I'm not counting dips in the frame rates when new scenes are loading, as I'd consider that irrelevant. During actual gameplay and loaded cutscenes, the frame rate is stable.

If you want to attempt to duplicate my results, be my guest. My 550 TI is a Zotac AMP edition (100mhz over on the core clock I think)

Resolution is 1280x1024 for my monitor, I just ran through the Dead City mission. My apologies I had the settings on High not very High, nevertheless during the game play it was still holding over 25FPS with the Very High. With DirectX 11, AAA, AF 16x were what I set it to. No I don't have a 1080p monitor. This is the monitor I have:

Since you have some level of disbelief at my results, I have screenshots of gameplay with FRAPs overlay at the settings I mentioned. DX11, AAA, AF16x in Very High on Metro 2033. These are taken at the opening fight scene, screenies taken at 10 second intervals.


Here is my CPU-Z Validation file:


Again, perhaps at the time all of those websites ran their benches, they were using an older version. Maybe for the Steam release the game code was cleaned up. I confess that I don't know what they did, if they did anything at all. But, the proof is there for you to look at, the shots are not scaled down so they may be slow to load.

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