More Pondering Between i7 and AM3

sjdean

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Im still trying to decide between an i7 and AMD Phenom. I've been looking around some benchmarking websites which shows the i7 excelling in several areas, but falling down in some gaming scenarios compared with the AMD Phenom.

I must admit, Im not a heavy gamer. The Sims 2, soon the Sims 3, Sim City Societies etc, and that's about my lot. But my graphics cards did come with Assisins Creed. Wonder what that is like.

I must also admit though, that I don't do too much "productivity" kind of stuff. I do transcode MPEG2s and do video capture etc, and then the rest of the stuff is basically low intensity applications such as OpenOffice, but I have a lot of programs open and many programs in my system tray.

I suppose which direction I go, depends on what my ultimate goal is.

Do I want the best system I can get, or do I just want to do better?

I can afford an i7 system - on my credit card mind you, but in terms of gaming, am I likely to see a major difference compared to say, an AMD Phenom II 720 BE (or 810). Im aware the 955 is out soon, but it seems it doesn't matter which Benchmark I read, they all tell different stories and shows each platform at different levels.

So do I risk an additional £900 in a kick ass i7 only to figure that for what I do, I could have saved £200 and gone with AMD, or do I spend less on an AM3 and then end up realising I've got what I paid for?

AM3 for me seems to win in terms of its upgradability. I can swap my current AM2 motherboard temporarily for an AM2+ to support my SLI setup, add in an AM3 CPU a little later, then swap out the motherboard for a 980a AM3 setup and hopefully see gradual improvements. The AM3 prices are really pretty easy to work with.

Intel seems more difficult as the equipment is a bit expensive. But it does have VIIV if Im not mistaken. X58 gives best of both worlds in terms of SLI and CrossFire. Reviews are mainly favourable. Also the technology is there. How long have we been waiting for something decent out of AM3 camp? Still nothing new from nVidia despite two month old announcements.

Cya
Simon
 

Helloworld_98

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actually you'll find the i7 may work out less than the am3 setup as nvidia chipsets pump prices up 50% so that might be £210 for the mobo vs £165 for an i7 mobo.

you also have to factor in current am2+ 750a mobo prices @ £165 and £35 for ddr2 ram so although if you went the direct 980a route it would save £45 but be considerably worse but factor in the extra mobo and ram it'll put the price £155 over the i7 build. And be less reliable.
 

sjdean

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I wish you'd keep out of my posts, you never answer the questions I ask and just waffle on and clutter with useless information that I never actually asked for.

In retaliation to your points, I proposed in a previous thread that I was going to go with a 780a motherboard, which I can pick up for £150 not £165. Additionally, AMD vs nVidia chipset AM2+ mobos are roughly same price. I have no idea why you're blurting on about RAM for either. I never asked for a cost analysis, merely a performance analysis. However Im sure you will remember from my previous thread (unless you're just a WUM - Wind Up Merchant), I told you I was going to upgrade an existing system and I gave the spec of material I would be buying, DDR2 excluded because that is already in the system Im currently building.

Let me guess, "Yes, but I would still upgrade the memory to have more than what you've already got"....

Unless the 980a motherboards are that overpriced (which on first glance, comparative AM3/AMD Chipset boards show they aren't, and the 980a is merely a rebadged 780a supporting AM3), then I can't see how the 980a will be any more expensive than the current crop of 780a, give or take a few quid.

So, shut up, it seems you really don't know what you're talking about.

Anyhow, none of this was what I asked.

Again, Helloworld, please stay out.

Cya
Simon
 

fullmetall

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Anyways, if you have the money for i7, i'd pick the i7, AM3 and AM2+ is more of the alternate way for a rig if the budget exceeds on a i7 and performance wise, can be close, either way, there performances are worth it.

As to i7 vs 720be in major difference, i'd say only in a OC, but, otherwise, i7 would still be a better pick.

 

sjdean

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I have no intention to overclock. Don't like to overclock, unless necessary. Do you think prices of i7 Processors will be reduced any time in the future? There's only about, what, three or four isn't there. Apart from the 920, the others are reasonably pricey.

Bit nervous about the idea of wanting to upgrade in a couple of years and having to spend £400 on a new CPU to repalce the 920.
 

fullmetall

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Yea but, you'll never catch up with technology, no one will have the "best" out there, there's always something new. i7 will drop and is, builds that were 1500-1600+ can be bought for around 1200-1400 usa dollars. 920 will be the way to go. I dont know whatsup with the intel side about always switching sockets but, i guess it's to make them smaller and smaller but, not realizing that will effect the motherboard and other parts as to, the am2+ was able to to with am3 cpu's.

As part of this, LGA 1366 should be around for a while, if upgrading along the lines comes in handy, then, do it but, you never know, they could make a whole new socket by that time and make it 3x better than the 920 lga 1366 which puts everyone building a full new computer once again.

as to playing games and doing what you do, for the price, the AM3 is good enough. If your only talking sims kid games then, i'd go am3 even though you have the money for a i7, i7 would be more of the cod5 + games + nice multitasking and a good OC or if your just wanting a hell of a computer. AM3 will be better for the £900 range you showed earlier.
 

mlcloud

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The i7 truly shines when you begin overclocking. It's a processor MADE to overclock, and you're paying a premium through the high cost of the CPU itself, high cost of the x58 motherboards, and the high cost of the DDR3 RAM, which currently is only useful for i7 rigs. You want to upgrade? Hey, overclock ;).

Seeing that you have little intent to overclock and that your usage is on the rather low side, you can save a considerable bit of money through a phenom build. I was deciding between builds myself, and I saw differences of ~$400 (£270?) between an an i7 build and phenom with similar components. Even a drop to the Core 2 series will save you about ~$200 (£130?).

By the way, what type of computer are you using now? Sometimes people underestimate the performance differences between architectures and between multiple cores, and to me it sounds like you *might* be overshooting here.
 
When you check out productivity benchmarks i7 is clear leader , but the OP's usage suggests that hes never going to need that level of performance so paying for it is crazy .
As far as I can see i7 is a commercial flop for intel . Not many people do need that performance, and its not economical when you compare bang for buck

Today , if this was me making this choice I would look at a 720 be , AM3 motherboard and DDR3 memory . [depends on pricing where you live but I think this is now better option than AM2+/DDR2 ]

A system like that will give you future upgrade path thats longer and more fully featured than AM2.


Im a little confused why the OP wants SLI when he plays the sims ? This is a lot of trouble when a single gfx card can easily do the job
 

sassan

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Go with the i7 if your like me and like to have a million things open all the time.

For example I got folders open, music running.

Then I got my word documents running and offcourse firefox with like 10+ tabs.

And the processor usage never gets above 10% or so
This is all without overclocking

But if it's money your trying to save go for the Phenom II 940 or the 720, should save you some money and get a nicer video card.
 

sjdean

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Hi guys. Wow. Gulf of responses. Much appreciated.

Yeah, that's me. I don't do an awful lot. But I have millions of things open all the time. Already I have about 20 tabs open in Firefox, email, Gimp, 10 notepads, TMPGenc whirring away and twenty odd icons in the taskbar.

My current system is:

AMD Athlon 64 X2 4800+
Gigabyte GA-M59-S5 SLI (nVidia 590 mobo)
4 Gig DDR2 Memory
Windows Vista Business 32 bit
1 x 250 Gig HDD
1 x 500 Gig HDD
1 x LG BluRay Player
1 x LG Multi DVD Writer

I like to seek upgrades every once in a while. My system is pushing on I believe now to being 2 and a half years old. In that time, it's had an upgrade from 2 Gig to 4 Gig memory. Then the intiial 2 Gig was replaced to match the other 2 gig of memory for Dual Channel DDR2. It's obviously had the LG Blu Ray player fitted. Started off with 1 nVidia 7600GS. Added a second off eBay a year later. That was then upgraded to an ATI 4670 which I didn't get on with so swapped out for an nVidia 9800GT. That was great, so added another one. At which point I needed a new PSU.

Oh, I also upgraded the CPU from an older one, think a 2500 I think to my current one.

Trouble is, I think I've taken this PC as far as it can go. 32 bit Vista, progressively slow loading times, increased frustration, even Sims 2 taking an age to load, stability is a little up and down and Im running out of disk space.

So Im going to build a new PC.

So once I've swapped the relative new bits over (PSU, Graphics), I'll end up turning this into a Linux server with another 500 Gig HDD for RAID. 250 Gig can go into my USB caddy.

Obviously I want best bang for my buck. I want to build the best system I can. I also want to be able to get upgrades. Now if all I can get is just simply "better" but not necessarily the best, then so be it.

I hear great things about th i7 and lots of people recommend it. But the prices of the i7 scare me a little, even though I like the support for CrossFire and SLI, but I'm concerned about future upgradability. There are very few processors available for the i7, and the cheapest one is £250.

My heart says i7. But my head says AM3 and do it thus....

Swap my 590 AM2 board for a 780a AM2+ board. DDR2, CPU etc can be swapped over. 2 x 1 TB HDDs and Vista Ultimate 64 to take advantage of 4 Gig RAM.

Eventually buy a Phenom 2 AM3 processor, probably the 955 and place in the 780a board. Once the 980a boards are released, buy that with some DDR3 and that'll be system complete.

This would give me a chance to upgrade about 3 times over the next 6 months with hopefully some sort of noticable speed improvements. Additionally a year or so down the line, I could grab another AM3 processor relatively cheaply (depending on Price). Then of course there will also be the spare 780a board to swap into a "server"!

But then I think, no, that will never do, I'll never be as happy with the AM3 as I am with the i7 because the i7 will be more powerful. Except when you look at some of the benchmarking results in some games.

Then my hard starts spinning and I pass out.

Obviously I can't afford the best. But I need to make sure I can get the best of what I can between an i7 and AM3 for the money and I guess my needs. I need to kill frustration, Windows and Sims 2 loading times. I use everything in the background as previously discussed. Options I think on the cards are the i7 920 and AM3 955 (when it's eventually released). My budget stretches to £900ish to include

Windows Vista Ultimate 64 - £150
4 Gig DDR3 - £80
2 x 1 TB Seagate HDDs (yeah, I like Seagate) - £160
1 x Mobo (planned for Gigabyte GA-X58 Extreme) - £250
1 x CPU (planned for i7 920) - £250

Any AM3 systems would obviously be a little cheaper and would be built in stages while waiting for the 955 and 980a chipset release).

What I don't want to do, is spend £900 and find out to upgrade in two years, I'll need to spend £500 on a CPU compared to something like £150 on AMDs latest model.



 

mlcloud

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When you say upgrade the CPU.... you're going to upgrade the i7 920 in two years? Maybe there will be a reasonable cpu to stand between the i7 920 and the next, but That's where I say "overclock." Frankly, the cheapest and best way you're going to "upgrade" your cpu in a few years would be to purchase a killer heatsink (which'll be at most ~£70) and then cranking the i7 to an easy 3.6ghz or something.
 

fullmetall

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As he has already said, he is not comfortable with OC'ing and wouldn't like to do such a thing. Now, One thing, Vista Ultimate is not worth the price, trust me. Get the Home Premium 64-bit OS.

Now, on to the Ram

Motherboard is a Triple channel ram kit. So saying that, you'll need to look at the DDR3 1333-1600 3x2gb = 6gb.

Gigabyte has always made good motherboards, that one is fine but, also the ASUS P6T deluxe v2, hopefully thats in the budget, if not, the gigabyte is fine.

Seagates TB HDD is included in the Firmware problem but, there is a bios update for it. You'll take a 50% chance either bricking your HDD's or them working just fine. WDC Black's have been ok so far. Now, either take the chance( i have a seagate Barracuda 500gb right now) or go with a wdc 1tb x 2.

Now for this build, use a Stock cooler on the i7.

Optical drive. LG x22/Samsung.

Case, RC-690/Antec 900/Antec 1200.

Graphics - 4850/4830 will be just fine for Sims games. Whats the monitor and its resolution?

PSU. 650tx - 750tx - 750 pc power cooling(red).
 

sjdean

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I already have an 850W PSU. Monitor is currently 1440x900, but I intend to use my 2 nVidia 9800GT cards in SLI mode as already stated. It's not that I necesarily intend to use them, but if I need them, I have them. Case I already have, as a Gigabyte Aureus 2, and I'll stick with my optical drives. Again all this is either new or less than a couple of months old.

Good info on the hard drives, I'll have a look into that.

I was thinking about how I like to maximise the life by transferring existing kit into a server.

From that regard, an AM3/AMD system would be cheaper. As I generally have the motherboards, and one can be picked up for about £50 and could utilise all existing HW - PSUs, Gfx, RAM etc), while an i7 would have me shelling out £200 for DDR Ram and Mobo.

Plus then you got the cost to upgrade the chip if you don't want to do over clocking, ie £150ish for AMD, or £250ish for i7.

I can't deny though, that Extreme X58 Mobo from Gigabyte looks sweet. I am thinking of water cooling in the future to limit noise.




Right now, primary concerns...


i7 - Raw cost to upgrade CPU in the future if I don't want to Overclock. Very few i7 chips on the market, and the 950 seems rather weak. No doubt it'll be brilliant in Vista, but some say things like the AMD 720 BE is comparable in games for much less money.

AMD/AM3 - Is the money I save worth it in terms of performance lost? Any Benchmarks for the 955? Where are the nVidia based AM3 motherboards? I see that ASUS have a potential 980a based mobo to be released soon, but that seems to be AM2+ socketed with DDR2. Distinct lack of hardware. No attractive hardware with great big heatsinks all over the shop either!

 

fullmetall

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Seems as if you got yourself into a pickle, Having either setup will be great. There both very good quality. To fit a £900, probably would go the am3 route. I know the i7 is great but, it would be a low end i7 vs. a mid/high end AM3.
 

sjdean

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Again, bear in mind that this £900 is purely for Windows Vista, Motherboard, HDDs, RAM and Processor.

Bearing in mind I already have the PSU, SLI Graphics Cards and Optical drives.... so add the total base unit cost alone with everything connected together to, oh, what, £1350.

I think that's quite respectable.

Im getting a bit frumpy that there's no 980a based AM3 motherboards either in the shops, or announced. I don't know where they all are.

Im still leaning towards i7 purely because it's out.

Still want someone to tell me that the benchmarks seen for i7 in gaming are a load of waffle and that it out performs the AMDs at the moment.

Cya
Simon