Phenom ll x4 955BE vs. i3-2100 for Budget Game Build


Aug 26, 2011
Hello, this is my first post here. Because my question involves both CPU and MOBO (and chipset), I decided that I would first try here as this board should accommodate all of them. I know this question has been asked before, but I do not feel that other threads will help me (I really don't want to screw this up and when I think about it, there's so many choices). In short, I want to build a budget gaming computer (between 500-700 dollars I suppose) but I cannot decide what to go with. I know that fully future proofing is impossible but I want to start with what can hopefully be upgraded when the time comes. I don't know much, but let me try and put down the things that are preventing me from choosing one or the other.

-In the system builder marathon, the June $500 gaming pc with the i3-2100 beat the overclocked 925 from Match. However, the 955BE is now on par with the i3-2100 in prices and I haven't found any benchmarks here comparing them really (although anandtech went mostly in favor to the i3-2100 compared to what I think is a stock 955BE). The faster at gaming i3-2100 beat the 925 oc'ed at games which I care more about but I am really unsure as to how it can stand against an oc'ed 955BE (especially since it has a better fan). The 925 oc'ed was able to beat the i3-2100 at non gaming stuff with it's 4 physical cores so the 955 will surely beat the i3-2100 more but will it be on par with gaming? Comments in the articles I read give such conflicting advice, for instance, one of the editors said that the 925 oc'ed was so close in performance to the 955BE but that doesn't really make sense since I've heard so much about how much further you can push the 955. Also, the i3-2100 takes less power than the 955BE meaning cheaper to run, can power more with same/less PSU, most likely cooler due to being a newer chip. (although I could definitely be wrong)

- If I go with the phenom, I get a much better feature packed mobo (at least with AM3, I am not too sure about AM3+ for the same price although I will want this for upgrading) with much better I/O and the works compared to what I get with LGA 1155 for the same price. If I go with the Intel, I get much less features although I would probably not be using them. The LGA 1155 chipsets also confuse me. The cheap ones they used for the i3-2100 in the SBM was the H61 and I think I read that you can just put a i5 or i7 in it but all the crazy differences between p67 and whichever the other few are (with regards to gpu/mobo overclocking) make it unclear if I will be able to use the same mobo for upgrading the intel when the time comes. Would it be better to spend more on a p67 for later? If I go with the AM3+, I can upgrade to bulldozer and it sounds like the motherboard would be able to stay no matter what. However, I have no idea really about bulldozer, how much it is going to cost and how powerful it will be. I should probably research that.

It looks like I've already made quite a wall of text but I think I summed up the dilemma I face. Do I get an i3 and either a low end or high end mobo and upgrade later? (by the way, will sandy bridge mobos support ivy bridge?) or do I get a Phenom and upgrade later? Most of what I've read is that the i3 has better speed in what I intend to use it for but I don't know about the motherboard being all that good. BTW, I will most likely be pairing these with a 6850 and maybe a 6870 if I have the budget but that is doubtful. I do not really plan on getting a 2nd one although it would be a plus to have that option. I would not really want to overclock the cpu/gpu ideally but apparently it's easy as cake and safe/encouraged. They both sound like they have their advantages and disadvantages and I can't choose. PLEASE HELP ME :'( I know this has been probably a very long read so I sincerely thank you if you took the time to read it and I will be ever so grateful if you decide to bless me with an answer. Thanks again.


Dec 29, 2007
The 925 OC'ed, is equal to the 955 non-OC'ed, any OC on the 955 and it'll spank the i3 2100 handily. If you are getting an AMD board get an AM3+. As for the Bulldozer, who knows (it MAY beat SB, but I doubt it). If you plan on SLi, or X-Fire pick up a 990 series AM3+ board, if not the 970 series will do fine. If you can wait till after the 19th of September, expect a fire sale on older AM3 procs (just like the AM2+, and first run Phenoms), and a better selection of AM3+ boards shortly thereafter. Whatever one you choose, don't skimp on the PSU.


Dec 25, 2007
While i do not disagree with anything you said, IH8U, he is on a budget of 500-700$ which is not feasible for 990 or other CFX mobos. overthinkingidiot, if you gonna play heavily blizzard games like SC2 and Diablo3, i think Intel i3 2100 is far far better choice. But, if you do not mind fewer fps in these games, the 955 will actually give you overall more FPS in shooters and other games or atleast match the i3 when overclocked. Also, the AM3 motherboard will be cheaper and more featured.
The phenom , definitely , but only with the 970 series chip set board

and the best of those is the Asrock mentioned by IH8U , because of the 8x/8x pci-e slots . The Asus M5A97 Evo is probably the best of the rest , and if you never plan on running two graphics cards its a better choice

Using the system builder marathon you can pretty much scale the performance of the phenom by clock speed . If its clocked 10% faster it will complete a task around 10% faster


Aug 1, 2011
The X4 955BE performs better in heavy multitasking, HD video transcoding or similar tasks.
The i3 2100 performs better in Gaming, File Compression and most real word apps.

If you just browse the web with Mozilla or Chrome with nothing else opened on the background, the i3 2100 will perform a lot better than the 955BE.
If you browse the web keeping a Video Transcoder app minimized then the 955BE will perform better.
So, it depends on what you do.
i3 2100's physical cores are so powerful. I managed to run and play FIFA11 and Virtua Tennis 4 lag-freely after disabling one core from BIOS settings. One friend of mine having PII X4 975BE was unable to do the same, his machine hanged once, and other times it was pulling really low FPSs from both the games.

If you need a quad core, spend 65$ more and get an i5 2400. That'll work on the same board as the i3.


Aug 26, 2011
Thanks for the replies. Unfortunately, I'm still very confused and fustrated. I did some more research and now the motherboards are complicating this matter further. I figure that whichever CPU I choose, I should get the mobo that would allow me to follow it's upgrade path in the future. However, after looking at the recommended mobos, they're crazy expensive! The AM3+ 970 or 1155 P6/7/H67/z68 (still not too sure about the differences between these, some allow GPU OC, some allow CPU OC? Why not both? Since when do you need a specific mobo to OC your GPU???) cost the same if not more than the CPUS! They're double the price of the budget AM3 or H61 used in the SBM. Building computers is MUCH more complicated than everyone makes it out to be. There are FAR too many choices. What should I choose?


It's not complicated once you know what to look for, much like buying a car. People who knows about cars will know what to look for as this is the same with computers.
First, instead of letting all of these technical babble confuse the hell out of you, you have to know how much you
are willing to spend.

Then decided on which platform you would like to get, either the blue team which is Intel or the Green team and that's AMD. Intel is currently king as they offer the best performance, but parts are more expensive. The other is AMD which gives you the best bang for the buck.

After you know how much you want to spend and the which side you want to go with, then you start looking at the parts. The best way to do it is, go with latest and most feature rich components that falls within your budget.

Don't expect a cheap sub $100 board to offer tons of features for overclocking, you have to look at boards near the mid $100 range.

AM3+ with AMD 900 series chipset are future proof for their upcoming AMD FX (Bulldozer) processors

Intel H61/H67 are for basic use or multimedia, you can only overclock the internal graphics
Intel P67: for performance, most don't offer internal graphics, can overclock CPU
Intel Z68: A combination of both H67 and P67 and with its own feature Intel SRT (SSD caching)
All of these chipset are socket 1155 and Intel said they're compatible with their upcoming Ivy Bridge so it's future proof as well.

Multiple Graphics:
Either SLI or CrossFire X, it's taking 2 cards, running together to increase performance in supported games.
Look at the board you want and it should tell you if it supports any of these features.
For the best setup, look at boards that will offer 2 video cards to run in x8/x8


Apr 11, 2011
Personally speaking, I have a Phenom II X4 955 clocked to 4.0GHz along with Gigabyte GA-990FXA-UD3 and 6950 1GB. I haven't see something that it's not playable with this setup. So I can recommend them.
Follow IH8U's advise. $100 for a gaming motherboard is a good deal. No reason not to go for an AM3+ motherboard at this time-it assures an upgrade path. Also the price of the X4 955 or 965 is very good for the performance. Stop overthinking! :)


There's no such thing as future proof computers, however an AMD box will likely last you longer than an INTEL box since INTEL is infamous for obsoleting their own platforms without notice or mercy. You will not notice the difference in performance between the CPUs you mention. Almost anything you can build today will perform well with almost any game you can buy today because the games are dummed down to play well on 5 year old consoles. Good luck.


Aug 26, 2011
Yeah, I will definitely be using deals and everything to help lower the price. The AM3+ 970 board ASUS M5A97 goes for $100 MSI P67A-G45 and GIGABYTE GA-Z68AD3H (I still need to research more on the differences, but I would want these so I could overclock after upgrading CPUs which I can't do on h61/h67 right? Did they say if ivy bridge would overclock and what not on any of these chipsets?) for $120 and $130 respectively. It would seem AMD has an upper hand on the mobos although I would prefer the Intel for the CPU. Right now, they seem pretty balanced to me. Intel for CPU but have to pay more for future proofing, or AMD for the CPU I don't prefer but a cheaper futureproof motherboard. I guess now it's all u to the better future path. They both don't seem to have much information available, but one thing making me not want the 955BE is it's power usage. It's power usage at a TDP of 125 is almost double that of the 2100's TDP of 65. If anything, I'd be hoping for the to maybe not even be so much on bulldozer but again, I need to check everything. Thanks for the added comments, I'm getting slightly closer to a choice.

EDIT: Just found out the lower end bulldozers will be at a TDP of 95 for the lower end and 125 for the higher end. I just don't want to have 125 now so I can save a bit of power off my systems total. I haven't given too much though about the PSU but I will check to see if what I choose will be enough for the next generation.
you cant OC on an h61/ or H67
and you cant OC much at all with any of the intel cpu's on P67 or Z68 ,unless they have K

On TDP . Intel and AMD dont even have the same definition of what a TDP is . And then , even though the chip is rated at a particular wattage doesnt mean it will hit that .
Yes the phenom uses more power , but its not a deal breaker , and its less of a deal breaker if you are building for Bulldozer since BD will be a 32nm cpu too .