CPU for 3D apps, Gaming and Programming


Feb 22, 2010
Hello everyone,

Im a student starting my undergraduate studies in CS and im looking for a desktop configuration that in addition to handling basic university needs will be able to handle 3D Modeling/Editing/Rendering applications (such as 3dsmax, Photoshop etc.), Gaming (latest games on medium-high settings) and Programming.

I would like to hear your professional opinion in regards to which CPU will be most suitable for my needs? im torn between the Core i7-920, i7-860 and i5-750 and i can't decide if the difference in cpu price and the overall difference in system cost justifies the i7-920 or i7-860 over the the i5-750? i know the i5-750 is better in terms of price per performance for gaming (the difference in performance is said to be negligible) but what about 3D Rendering/Editing/Modeling applications (or programming)? any suggestion of any other CPU that might better suit my needs (upto this price range) is welcomed...

I would also like to hear your opinion about whether i should get ATI's HD 5850 video card (or any other GPU from the 5xxx series) right now, or wait till Fermi arrives and prices will be cut down steeply or a better solution from nvidia's side will arrive. Im not sure when nvidia decides to launch its new cards and im starting to get short on time so maybe waiting is not an option anyway...

Any advice and suggestion would be greatly appreciated!
Thanks a lot :)


well for " Modeling/Editing/Rendering", the core i7 920 fits the bill already. The triple channel memory the X58 chipset offers will benefit you the most

As for gpus, thats your choice to wait for the GT(X) 400's (fermi) cards (whether for it or a 5xxx price reduction). although the 5850 is a good card to get. It will play just about any game at reasonable fps.


May 29, 2008
i'm not so sure that the release of Fermi will prompt the price of the 5xxx cards to go down.

If 5870/5850 are $400.00/$300.00 respectively and they are performing great thus far (as they are) and Fermi is expensive ($500.00 - $699.00) but is better than the 5870 & 5850, then what exactly would be the justification of lowering the prices of 5870/5850?


May 22, 2009
The triple channel memory of the i7 920 won't make a very big real-world difference in speed. As far as 3D work goes, the i7 920 and 860 are very similar, with the 860 winning at stock speeds (2.66 vs 2.80) and the 920 slightly besting the 860 clock for clock. However, I feel that the power savings (~40W) of the 860 vs the 920 are worth it for 3D graphics work, as you will burn through power during overnight batch renders.

The i5 750 will essentially match the 860 in all areas except rendering, due to the 860's hyperthreading technology.

It doesn't make sense to say a processor is better "for 3D work" as there are so many different tasks within that umbrella which demand different resources. Pretty much all modeling/texturing work inside Max will be single-thread, with the exception of fluid dynamics and a few other isolated functions. Rendering is really the only area that multi-core will show a huge benefit.

If you aren't an animator or compositor, and won't be constantly rendering multiple frames, I would just go with the i5 750 to keep your costs down.

Then again, if budget isn't an issue, then go with the 860 or 920.

For "rendering:, the reason why the 920 is the better choice is due the X58 motherboard platform triple channel memory compared to the P55/H55/H57 dual channel memory. Most rendering programs that im aware of are memory bandwidth limited. So the more bandwidth you have, the faster the rendering can run.

The other benefit of the X58 platform is that with having more dimm slots, you can add more ram in the future when you need it than you can on the P55/H55/H57 platforms. Max memory the X58 can hold is 24GB while the P55/H55/H57 can only hold 16GB.