Gamers: Do You Need More Than An Athlon II X3?

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nerrawg

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[citation][nom]cobot[/nom]Good idea for an article, but I'm missing for example a comparison between an i5 750 with a 5770 and an phenom x3 with a 5850.Those two would more eflect the choices a gamer on a budget would have to make.[/citation]

Exactly - this would be a very meaningful comparison - spend $100 more on the cpu or gpu - however for those of us in the know I think we would all get the answer to that question right and know which system to choose for FPS gaming and which for productivity and possibly RTS games.

Great article for the general populous and most gamers, with good attention to details. The framerate clarification segment was a great read. One aspect already mentioned is overclocking and if you do (and why wouldn't you?) you will know that the X3 athlon/phenom II deneb is a very different animal when overclocked to 3.6-3.8 ghz. That is not an overtly high OC either (they can go to 4ghz+), but one that can be maintained 24/7 on most of these cpus with $25 aftermarket cooler. Overclocking and/or core unlocking taken into consideration and you really have to take into question the need for an i7 920 if what you really want is to max out crysis or play crysis 2 and the choice is between a AMD 440 + a 5970 or a Core i7 and a 5870.
 

konjiki7

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Other sites have had different results with similar test. From checking different benchmarks even the 980x oced is irrelevant @ 1920 x 1080.

Its been shown that the amds bus system is simply faster. At resolutions like 1920 x 1080 the machine simply becomes more reliant on the gpu then the processor.
 

terr281

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One point not brought up in this entire article is the upgradability of the machines. If you buy a Athlon X3, you are only capable of upgrading to AM3 CPUs. With this said, you could upgrade all the way up to the Phenom X6. However, the Phenom X6 is not a gaming processor. As a result, the Phenom X4 would be the best option.

If you buy a new machine with a i7-930 today (or have a i7-920 before the 930), you have "top of the line" gaming CPU performance. Further, as new graphics subsystems are released, you can upgrade to them (including the ability to 2 card crossfire or SLI on almost all boards.) Case in point: I built a machine for a friend last year with an i7-920 and 2 4870 1GB cards in crossfire. (750w PSU) The machine, if the friend wished it, could now be upgraded to 2 Fermi 470 in SLI... or 2 5850s. (2 5870s would probably be pushing the PSU, but that is only a $200 upgrade)

If the machine would have been built with an AMD CPU, it would have been an AM2+/3 early Phenom X4... and it may could have had 4890s instead of 4870s. (They were not released yet, but the point should be obvious.) Graphics cards are more easily upgraded (with a greater gain in gaming performance) than upgrading a CPU.
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Before anyone thinks I am allocating the Intel i7's, I personally despise Intel's multiple socket strategy. This is why I, for computers in my own household, build "mainstream" computers in the ~1k USD range. I recently upgraded my partner's PC from a Core 2 Duo e6750 to a Phenom x3 720 BE and moved the 9800 GT 512 MB card from the old computer to the new one. (This, of course, allowed for faster DDR3 ram, upgrade from 4 1 GB sticks of ram to 2 2 GB sticks (with room for 2 more in the future), an OS SSD boot drive, a larger data storage drive...)

And, when the prices of the ATI 58x0 series and Nvidia 4x0 series graphics cards have dropped early next year, the machine will get a new card.
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In the end, the decision comes down to 4 things:
1. Initial budget. (1k or 1.5k USD)
2. User's use of the machine. (Only gaming, or multitasking as well?)
3. User (or someone in household)'s ability to upgrade the machine in the future. (Knowledge and time)
4. Budget for later upgrades.

There are cases for every builder where the i7-920/930 is the best CPU for the gaming computer. In other cases, AMD currently has the best offerings. And, as for the i5-750... I personally will never use one due to the system board's limitations from PCI and PCI-E pathways AND the socket, for all purposes, being dead.
 
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I really wish you guys will do a second articles that shows a comparison when the two chips are overclocked.
 

blacksins

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Great Review, thanks a lot!! i didn't know what v-sync in about and i was wondering why all my games never go higher than 60 FPS.. when i turned v-sync off in call of duty 4 the FPS jumped to 95 FPS but it started tearing as the article said.. turned back on :)
 

Onus

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Since this article was, by title, an analysis of the X3 440, I agree that it would have been both useful and relevant to have seen it overclocked; after all that's what Paul did to good effect in the last SBM series.
 

El_Capitan

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When you're going budget for gaming, you're comparing whether you're going to save $50 on a CPU and instead get a better GPU. Having both an i7 920 (@ 4.1GHz with Hyperthreading) and a Phenom II x3 720 BE (@ 3.6GHz), I find gaming more dependent on the GPU used (1920 x 1200 resolution).
 

bildo123

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[citation][nom]Jarmo[/nom]I'd guess at least 90% of users never overclock anything.To be fair though, probably 90% of Tom's readers do.[/citation]

And realistically, the OC's never usually offer "wow" type impressions. Usually it's like 5 FPS at best, and that's usually with moderate to bigger OC's where you have to push the cpu.
 

Onus

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Another thing; the article text says "The RAM timings and speed are identical between both systems," but that is NOT what the table shows. Which is it?
If the table is right, how much difference could be attributed to the CAS9 RAM used on the Athlon II, vs. CAS8 used on the i7? That's a 12.5% difference.
 

LaloFG

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[citation][nom]retrac1324[/nom]I like how Opera web browser was mistyped: Oprah[/citation]

Indeed, anyway, I've check the gifts with opera (my default super browser :D) and then I've install firefox to compare... both show the same (then inmediatly uninstalled firesucks). So, don't mix "oprah" with the stupid internet explorer hehehe.
 

bpdski

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If you're on a budget then you really shouldn't even consider an Intel CPU. You also really shouldn't buy this particular Athlon. I really think that you should spend another $15 and get the Phenom II 720 BE. If you're savvy enough to be reading this website and/or building your own PC, then you're savvy enough to overclock your CPU a little. That being the case, get the 720 BE and for an extra $15 you get 6MB of L3 cache plus an unlocked multiplier. You should easily get 3.5Ghz and you can use AMD's overclocking utility to only turn it up when you're gaming. Spend whatever else your budget will allow on a good graphics card.
 

Assmar

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[citation][nom]Jarmo[/nom]I'd guess at least 90% of users never overclock anything.To be fair though, probably 90% of Tom's readers do.[/citation]
precisely! I bet a fair amount of enthusiast PC gaming hardware news readers are less affluent people looking to get every inch of performance out of their existing hardware. Considering the 440 isn't OCed, and the linked article at the conclusion of this one DOESN'T YET HAVE THE AMD OC SECTION. CAN YOU PLEASE FINISH THE ARTICLE!?
 
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Failed review. You should have tested, let say, a $80 CPU paired to a $250 video card, versus a $250 CPU and a $80 video card. And why not also a $165 CPU and a $165 video card?
You would see that the first one wins all the way for gaming. Second is the worse. For a better review, you should also consider the price of the motherboard (LGA1366 motherboards are very expansive). We already knew that two radeon 5870 in crossfire were not the best bang for the buck, so of course the i7+5850 appears good in comparison.
 

mattmock

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I think it is a little unfair to just dismiss the possibility of readers with high refresh rate monitors. A good 120Hz LCD costs about the same as a single 5850 and way less than a eyefinity setup or GTX480 SLI. If you read enthusiast forums you will find plenty of people hanging on to old CRTs or getting the new 120Hz LCDs.
The difference between 120 and 60 fps is not as great as the difference between 60 and 30 fps, but it is still noticeable. I have done blind testing in first person shooters and can always tell the difference. The overall feel is smoother and at 120 busy textures (grass, bricks, etc.) remain sharp when turning or strafing, whereas at 60 they blur. Although I wasn't deliberately looking for this, I notice that when I update my Graphics driver, the monitor defaults back to 60Hz mode. After updating , the next time I played tf2 or the like, I would immediately notice that something was wrong.
 

cleeve

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[citation][nom]zodiacfml[/nom]unbelievable..the point here should still base on the 60 FPS cap when using ordinary displays. the FPS difference between the systems is only around 10 FPS including minimum frame rates. it does not justify the cost of a higher end machine.[/citation]

What is unbelievable is that you missed the point.

A 10 FPS difference--between, say 10 FPS and 20 FPS on a minimum frame rate--is a huge deal.

60 fps vs 100 fps for an average is irrelevant, but this is mentioned in the article. You need to read it before commenting how unbelievable it is. :)
 

cleeve

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[citation][nom]dfsdf[/nom]Failed review. You should have tested, let say, a $80 CPU paired to a $250 video card, versus a $250 CPU and a $80 video card. [/citation]

Failed suggestion. To do so would add variables to the results. What we're looking for here is the CPU limitations, not budgetary limitations. What you're suggesting would tell us almost nothing about that.
 

RazberyBandit

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I enjoyed the article, but there's nothing really new here...

Almost a year ago, the same thing was said about the Phenom II X3 720, which sold for ~$120. The Phenom II X4 955 was brand new then, and cost $255, making the 720 a real bargain performer. Considering 720's can OC to a stock 955's clock-rate with little to no voltage adjustment, as well as sometimes unlock the 4th core, it was a real gem at it's price - just like the Athlon X3 440.
 

loneninja

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Seems to me that if your only buying a 5770 or lower for your gaming rig, there is no reason to purchase such a high end procesor like the I7. Yet I still see people pairing 9800GT and less with an I7 for gaming because they would rather have Intel than AMD.
 
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