Possible switch from i7 to AM3 AMD build $1500

touchdowntexas13

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Alright, so i have spent many hours in these forums planning a core i7 build. I have a very solid build, but i am having second thoughts on whether or not i need this much computing power(and whether or not i should spend that much money). Here is the link if you want to see the build:

http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/forum2.php?config=tomshardwareus.inc&cat=31&post=263955&page=1&p=1&sondage=0&owntopic=1&trash=0&trash_post=0&print=0&numreponse=0&quote_only=0&new=0&nojs=0
I have changed a few of those parts since then, but most of it is the same and the total will come out right around $1500

I am considering changing because of the fact that there are some pretty good prices on processors out there, and i still haven't seen a decrease on price in i7 processors/mobos. So before i tell you guys a little more about what i plan on using this computer for, I will ask my question.

Should i stick with my i7 setup, or should i step down to a socket AM3 AMD processor? I know there are other quad cores from intel, but i would like to get the new ddr3 memory technology. Also, i think if anything i want a quad core solution just for future proofing sake. I am tempted to get a cheap triple core AM3 from AMD, but i feel that the market is moving towards more cores.

Ok so now a little more about what this computer will be used for...
I am a student that will use all of the Microsoft Office programs as well as a LITTLE bit of MatLab. I do a lot of internet surfing of course, and i really want something that will give me great gaming performance (yes i know most of that comes from the GPU).

I had previously justified my buying an i7 with the reason that it would make audio/video encoding faster. However, after thinking about it, i really don't do much of that at all.

So will I see any real performance increases in daily computing tasks/gaming by getting the i7 over the latest cpu from AMD? My maximum budget is still $1500, but if i can end up saving a good amount of money then that would make me happy.

If the consensus here is that i should switch to AMD, then could you guys tell me some good cpu/motherboard combinations (also what RAM and cpu cooler to buy)? I would like to do some moderate overclocks (probably nothing reaching 4 GHz).

Keep in mind that i have spent a lot of time researching the i7, and that because of that i feel like i almost have to get the i7. If someone could knock some sense into me then i would greatly appreciate it :)

Also if people in here end up telling me that i should go with AMD, I am going to make another thread with a build list so that i can get advice there on all of the other parts to buy. Therefore, spend more time giving me advice on which processor to buy and then if you guys wish to help me further you can post in my next thread :)
 

xthekidx

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If you don't do any of the tasks that the i7 excels at; video encoding, 3d rendering, CS4, media file conversion, ect, and you don't already own an Nvidia GPU that you want to SLI with, then I see no compelling argument for the i7. I also don't really see a compelling argument for AM3 either to be honest. You will get a lot more for your money with an AM2+ MB and processor and DDR2 ram. DDR3 doesn't really offer any tangible performance gains, and costs a heck of a lot more. I would go for a 790GX MB and a Phenom II 940, at $190 its a steal. The 955 is overpriced IMO and not worth it, the 940 is $80-100 less and has the same performance. Spend the money on a couple fast GPU's or a nice big monitor, or both.
 

touchdowntexas13

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No i don't already own an Nvidia GPU. That was something I would have to buy. I read the article here on Tom's when the Phenom II X4 955 came out. On the second or third page it talked about ddr2 vs. ddr3. the article shows tangible performance like you said, but it also mentions that as time progresses we will see greater benefit of this memory.

So you think that the current and near future benefits of ddr3 are negligible?

As you can see i am having some trouble with this stepping down bit lol. I don't have a problem spending less, it's just that i set the bar so high with my first build that it is kind of hard for me to imagine myself "lowering" the components so much.

Btw, after looking at your sig, it's cool to know that you are not taking a biased approach with your response. Are you happy with your i7?
 

touchdowntexas13

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Did you mean that the 940 w/ motherboard would be $80-100 less than an AM3 cpu/mobo?

Because on newegg, the 940 is shown to be $190, and the AM3 945 is only $225. I wasn't considering the 955($245) as much because i thought that the 945 was the same just clocked slower (hence i could oc to the same performance).
 

xthekidx

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The 945 is a locked multiplier CPU, not a black edition, so overclocking that CPU is more complicated. I haven't seen any reviews of it so can't really comment on it. I was referring to the price difference of MB+CPU+Ram between a 940 an a 955 build.

I think that the "future benefits" that we will see from DDR3 is purely speculation at this point. I think that the performance gains will not really be that great even when things become more optimized for DDR3. And yes the Phenom II choice isn't exactly a step up from the i7, but I wouldn't call it a step down necessarily either. Phenom II CPU's perform very well in games and the tasks that you described that you would be doing, they even beat the i7 in a fair few gaming titles. I would call Phenom II a side-step instead of a step backwards. I think if you consider the money saved that can be spent on say two 4890's instead of a single GPU a big step forward for gaming (which is probably what you care most about anyways, right?).

Look at this build you could do for less than that i7 which will absolutely wipe the floor with it:

Haf 932
2x HIS 4890's Crossfire'd
WD1001FALS
LG DVD SATA Drive
Corsair 850tx
G Skill DDR2-1066 4gb
Noctua NH-U12P CPU Cooler
Phenom II 940 BE and GA-MA790x-UD4P Motherboard
Vista

All for less than $1400 shipped, and before you get $50 back in rebates. Even going with a Full on AM3 and PII 955 setup would be cheaper than the i7 build and still stronger, even if its not quite as good a value, but would give you DDR3 if you really wanted it.

Yes I own an i7, and I am quite happy with it. But I would also be just as happy with a Phenom II 940 build if I did not use my PC for Video editing. That was enough to justify the i7 for me. Honestly though, the i7 gets you the least for your money unless you do a lot of the kinds of tasks that the i7 really excels at. I don't think you will be using the i7 to its full potential and it would be a waste of money for you. You wouldn't notice a difference between the Phenom II and an i7 in gaming, surfing the web, Microsoft Office, or listening to music.
 

touchdowntexas13

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Ok, so that is a very nice build. I would hold off on a second GPU for a while though just to make sure that i wanted that kind of gaming performance.

A few questions though...

Could i get away with the corsair 750tx when doing sli/cf? I would be using two hd4890's, 2 gtx 285's, or 2 gtx 260's.

With the motherboard, it shows that the second PCI-E slot is only x8 bandwith. I am not very knowledgeable of mobos yet and their bandwiths. However I do know that i want a motherboard with full CF/SLI ability. Does this motherboard have that?

Any particular reason you chose the haf 932? It was my first choice with my i7 build, and i think that it's an awesome case. I just wanted to make sure that wasn't a waste of money too. I opened up my little brother's Hp Pavillion today, and let me tell you it was cramped in that case. I know i want more room than that.

I was going with the Western Digital as well, but is it better to get a 1 TB HDD or two 500 GB HDD's? I ask because I am considering dual booting with Win7.

I will put up a more final build list tomorrow, but it would help me a lot if you could answer some of those questions. I think i will be very happy with having the option to pocket the saved cash or spend it on a better GPU setup/monitor :)

Thanks a lot!
 
Check this build out. This case is new to the market, and it's a great case for someone on the move....like moving to school, etc...

http://www.tomshardware.com/news/gigabyte-nvidia-sli-motherboard,7463.html <--- Gigabyte: Enable SLI On X58 Boards :sol:

http://www.coolermaster-usa.com/product.php?category_id=1665&product_id=2912 <--- more pics and specs of the case used in this build

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811119196 $109.99
COOLER MASTER Storm Scout SGC-2000-KKN1-GP Black Steel / Plastic ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail
New Arrival

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817139006 $119.99 ($99.99 after $20.00 Mail-In Rebate) Free Shipping*
CORSAIR CMPSU-750TX 750W ATX12V / EPS12V SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Compatible with Core i7 Power Supply - Retail

http://www.ewiz.com/detail.php?name=MB-EX58U3R $179.99 | $164.99 after rebate
GIGABYTE GA-EX58-UD3R Core i7/ Intel X58/ DDR3/ CrossFireX/ A&GbE/ ATX Motherboard

http://www.ewiz.com/detail.php?name=I7-920 $265.99 Free Ground Shipping
Intel Core i7 Processor i7-920 2.66GHz 8MB LGA1366 CPU, OEM

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814161276 $224.99 ($199.99 after $25.00 Mail-In Rebate)
HIS Hightech H489F1GP Radeon HD 4890 1GB 256-bit PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card - Retail

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814161276 $224.99 ($199.99 after $25.00 Mail-In Rebate)
HIS Hightech H489F1GP Radeon HD 4890 1GB 256-bit PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card - Retail

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?ItemList=Combo.193834 Combo Discount: -$5.00 Combo Price: $189.98 $20.00 Mail-In Rebate
OCZ Platinum 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Triple Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model OCZ3P1600LV6GK - Retail
Western Digital Caviar Black WD1001FALS 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drives - OEM

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835233029 $39.99 Free Shipping*
XIGMATEK Dark Knight-S1283V 120mm Long Life Bearing CPU Cooler - Retail

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835154003 $4.99
Tuniq TX-2 Cooling Thermal Compound - Retail

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827151171 $24.99 Free Shipping*
SAMSUNG Black 22X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 16X DVD+R DL 22X DVD-R 6X DVD-RW 12X DVD-RAM 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-R 32X CD-RW 48X CD-ROM 2MB Cache SATA 22X DVD Burner - OEM

Total: $1,385.89 | $1,295.89 w/mail in rebates

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/evalcenter/dd353205.aspx?ITPID=mscomsc <--- Save yourself some money and dl the 64 bit version of Windows 7
 
The corsair 750TX is more than suffice for the above mentioned card configs(SLI/Crossfire)

If you want a mobo with full x16x16 on the 2 pcie slots, you would have to spend more...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?ItemList=Combo.190729

But you wont notice any real world performance difference at all when running in x8 config vs x16 during crossfire...

And instead of spending that extra money on the mobo, I would suggest you stick with xthekid's suggestion of the AM3...

For the question about the HAF, it is a very high quality case, with very good air flow and I think you cannot compare that case with the HP Pavillion as the HP is a mid tower and the HAF is a full tower and you would have a lot of room to work with...

And as for the HDDs, you can have a dual boot on a single HDD...still having 2 HDDs would be a good option...but it would increase the cost...If the cost increase is OK with you , then get 2 WD Black 640GB instead of the 500GB...
 

touchdowntexas13

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ahhh i hope you didn't put too much time into that. I think i am gonna go with AMD. I am working on the build right now. the price is at $880 before the mobo and cpu fan. That is before shipping, but also before MIR.

I guess i have been thinking about AMD for a while now, and i decided that i don't need to spoil myself yet with the i7 :)

I hope to have a more complete build up tomorrow for people to give me help with.

Thanks anyways though.
 

touchdowntexas13

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About the case, when i said that the pavillion case was cramped, i meant that it made me more inclined for a full tower :) I was just giving another reason on why i liked full tower over mid tower.

But wait you think i should go AM3????

xthekid suggested going with an AM2+

I'm a little confused here. sorry.
 
Hmm...I meant his alternate suggestion
"Even going with a Full on AM3 and PII 955 setup would be cheaper than the i7 build and still stronger, even if its not quite as good a value, but would give you DDR3 if you really wanted it."
The reason why I gave the AM3 - Instead of that x16x16 mobo...
Else you could stick with AM2+...
 
But if you just drop down certain parts here and there(Not changing the main components like the graphics card), you can get a P II 955...

CPU + RAM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?ItemList=Combo.192694

Mobo
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128378

HDD + OS - WD Black 640GB(Well the 640GB should be suffice now and you can always add one more when you can spare some cash)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?ItemList=Combo.186064

Graphics - Same(2x4890)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814161276

Case - Same

DVD - same

CPU Cooler -
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835233003

PSU - Corsair 750TX
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817139006

Total - $1368 before shipping and you have about $100 Mail-In-Rebate all together...
 

Well no one here would say that i7 is a weak CPU...
It is just that the overall cost of the system is not worth for just a few FPS increase in games...
So if the PC is mainly for gaming, I still would say either a P II or C2Q or even the C2D is the way to go...
 
How good do you need to be?
There are diminishing returns on your dollar as you increase your capability.

xthekidx had some good points for you.
Only if you can use more than two cores is a quad the right way to go.

Read this article which puts "good gameplay" into perspective:
http://www.guru3d.com/category/vga_charts/

Note that all the tests were done with a E8400 duo at stock 3.0 ghz.
My conclusion is that you can get very good gameplay at 1920x1200 resolution using a single vga card like the GTX260-216 or better. Probably at most a GTX275.

As a student, I would suggest that you conserve cash, and go with a modest system. Invest the rest, and upgrade sometime in the future when parts will be faster and cheaper.
If you want to spend extra now, get a very good 24" monitor, or even splurge on a 30" monitor. That is a purchase that you will appreciate for a longer time.

I would install windows7 release candidate now, and plan to buy the retail release when it becomes available. There is little sense in getting XP or vista now, and replacing it in a year. Also, you may be able to get an academic license for vista or windows-7 for less.
 

touchdowntexas13

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In response to Why_me
I totally agree that the i7 is faster, but the difference won't be that noticeable in games when the settings are actually cranked up. The link you posted was to show cpu bottlenecking, so the differences are much greater. If anything, my gpu will be the bottleneck.


@Gkay
so that mobo will handle sli/crossfire no problem? even though it is x16 x8? I know i could get the Asus board with x16 x16, but if you are telling me that there is no difference... i don't know.

@geofelt
I do think that dual cores are offering very close performance right now in games. But i think we will see that a year or two from now there will be more optimization for more cores/threads. I am concerned about my budget, but back in January I was telling myself that I would spend a max of $2k. I then lowered it to $1500 with a different i7, and now i'm around $1200 or $1300. So i have made progress in that regard :) How much do you think a dual core setup from Intel would cost?

As for the monitor, I am on a 17 inch laptop right now, so i thought getting a 21.5 in-23 in monitor would be big enough for me. I just want the 1920x1080 resolution

I actually am running a dual boot with Win7 right now, so i would install that on my new machine and then upgrade to the real deal when it came out.
 


The price premium for an i7-920 vs. a E8500 based system is about $200. Only the cpu, mobo, and ram are different.
I think the longevity of a i7 will be much longer. The new 32nm parts look like they will be introduced in either the mid-range value area, or the 6 core server area. Neither is of that much interest to the enthusiast or gamer. I do not think that multicore enabled games will be quick in coming. If a game requires multi cores to perform adequately, they will not sell that many copies. Multi tasking programs are very hard to design and implement. The expense of doing so will not be undertaken lightly.

A 1920x1080 monitor is usually a TV. I think you are better off with a 1920x1200 PC monitor for the increased pixel real estate. They will be 24" to 27" in size.
There have been some good reviews of the 24" and 26" Soyo monitors. They were selling at a good discountat office max for a while.

Don't pay extra for sli/crossfire unless you think you will exceed the performance of a GTX295 right away. When you need to upgrade the vga card, the 40nm vga cards will be out.
 

touchdowntexas13

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I will have to look into the monitor stuff. I know there are many 1920x1080 monitors on Newegg, but maybe i should reconsider what resolution to get.

After thinking about it, the likelihood of me wanting to CF/sli is probably very small. That would make me sold on that cheaper motherboard. Thanks alot.
 

knotknut

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For the budget and 1-2 years performance.

Antec Sonata III ATX Mid Tower 500W Power Supply $109.99....Free Shipping
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811129024

GIGABYTE GA-EP45-UD3P/Core 2 Quad Q9550 Combo $359.99 after rebate ....Free Shipping.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?ItemList=Combo.190807

MSI R4890-T2D1G OC Radeon HD 4890 $219.99 after rebate....Free Shipping
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814127427

G.SKILL PI Black 4GB (2 x 2GB) $54.99....Free Shipping
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231209

LG Black 22X CD/DVD Burner with LightScribe $23.99....Free Shipping
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827136153

3.5" Internal Card Reader $12.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820223073

Total $781.94

Edit..add CPU HSF
XIGMATEK Dark Knight-S1283V $39.99....Free Shipping
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835233029




 

touchdowntexas13

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how does that intel cpu compare with say an PII X4 955? You are also missing a HDD, but that's just another $60. I am probably going to stick with a full tower because i think i will enjoy having the extra room when putting this together. This is my first build.
 

knotknut

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My bias toward Intel is showing.

I havent paid much attention to the new PII X4 955 vs. the Q9550.
I know that compaired to the PII X4 940 the Q9550 are pretty much neck and neck.
With that said you could get you cost down even further with the PII X4 940 and still have a real nice machine!! and have money left over to buy that HDD I left out..LOL.
I dont see throwing alot of money at something you are going to up-grade in a year or two. Sell the whole set up when you are ready to up-grade, case and all.
In a year you should get close to half of your money back, maybe more if you find the right buyer.
 

touchdowntexas13

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haha well i know it's hard not to be biased sometimes...

See when i make a quad core intel build (similar to the one you posted), it is the same price as the new ddr3 amd PII X4 955. I think i would rather go ahead and get the new ddr3 technology. I really don't want to upgrade anything in the next year except the graphics card. I hope to keep the processor, case, mobo blah blah blah.

The truth is, i have already cut my initial budget almost in half, so I think i am rather satisfied getting the newer AM3 amd over the older am2+ amd. when i make those two builds, there is actually only a $100 difference between them, and i think i am willing to pay that if i thought the computer would last me longer.

Thanks for your input though! I'm on like my 5th build now, which is kind of frustrating seeing as i put hours upon hours researching the first one, but i am using most of the same parts. Oh well, it's better to make a wiser decision especially when spending so much money :)
 

xthekidx

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The Intel Q9550 is a better chip than the PII 955 IMO. At stock speeds, they are pretty much equal in performance, but The Q9550 overclocks better than the PII 955, which counts for a lot for me. If you really wanted DDR3, you can do that with the Intel build, the P45 chipset comes with a DDR3 memory controller. You could do something like this:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128369
+
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115041
+
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231189
 

xthekidx

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I think that all the options you are considering right now are decent ones to be honest. But the Phenom II 940 is the best value in a quad core IMO, and I think that would be what I would do.
 

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