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Torn between AMD and Intel....

TheScarecrow97

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Apr 19, 2012
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Please read all of this before spitting out an inevitable "GET INTEL ITS BETTER" :)

I'm looking to build my first gaming pc and I realize that this is generally one of the biggest decisions to be made. At first I intended to go intel but now I'm starting to swing towards AMD, in particular the Phenom ii x4 965 BE.

Before I get a bunch of intel fanboys, let me explain my reasoning. I do intend to upgrade whatever my current build is to intel's latest and greatest at some point. This basically voids any upgrade potential for an intel build, as Haswell and everything after it will require a new socket, and therefore a new motherboard. This being the case, its all a matter of how much money I throw out the door before upgrading. True, a 3570k, or 2500k would get me a solid 3 years (or more) or so of good gaming performance before I need to upgrade whereas the 965, probably not so much. But the upgrade will come at some point.

This is why I want to go AMD. The 965 is literally half price of the i5, and is a true quad core unlike similarly priced i3s. It will be able to handle some good multitasking like fraps and whatever game I'm playing smoother than say, a 2120. True, it in no way compares to an i5. Whatever the 965 can do, an ivy/sandy i5 will do it much better, but overclocked, it can easily surpass the sandybridge i3s (or so I've heard). Generally, it provides all around bang for my buck. And like I said, its way cheaper than any i5, so in the big scheme of things, I am wasting less money when I finally upgrade. Furthermore, its socket, AM3+ actually has an immediate upgrade path in the form of Piledriver when it comes out. So that provides me with some opportunity for instant gratification if I find myself strapped for cash (as I'm sure I will be, considering I'm going to college in about a year).

Additionally, because the 965 costs so much less than an i5, I can fit a much beefier graphics card into my 900 dollar budget. As opposed to the 6870 I'd be stuck with using a 3570k, a 965 allows me to bump up my gpu budget into the 660ti/7950 range. (I have researched potential bottlenecks. It shouldn't be a problem. Worst case scenario, I lose a couple fps, but nothing noticeable)

Nevertheless, the popularity, quality, performance, and all around gaming appeal of intel cannot be denied, even at the expense of a graphics card (although I'd probably upgrade that at some point within the next year or two)

Anyhow, if you made it this far, thanks for sticking with me and hearing me out. It may sort of sound like I've already made up my mind in favor of AMD. That isn't completely true, however, as I am still open to opinions favoring intel, as well as welcoming confirmation for my partiality towards AMD. So what do you guys think I should do?
 

Pinhedd

Polypheme
Moderator
Some objective advice here

First, you should never base your purchase decisions on something that is uncertain, such as overclocking. Chips from Global Foundries are known to occasionally die a very fiery death even when overclocked by a small amount. Yes, some people may be able to get a 965 to beat an i3 in some benchmarks when heavily overclocked but this is never a sure thing. You should only ever act on what you know.

Second, games are generally weakly multi-threaded, they are almost never multi-processed. Multi-threading is loads harder to do than multi-processing and modern games generally use only between 2 and 4 hardware threads at a time. It doesn't care how good those cores are, only about how many states are tracked simultaneously. This is why an 8 core Bulldozer processor gets crushed by even an old i7-920 in most gaming benchmarks. Each Bulldozer core is about half as powerful as a Nehalem core, but there are twice as many of them.

Third, AMD is stuck in socket hell. Allowing a single socket to span more than a few generations caused loads of problems for Intel and it's causing the same problems for AMD. Their refusal to abandon socket compatibility means that they have to engineer their next series CPUs around the previous series' constraints. It's also preventing them from including any features that Intel has had for years now, no on-board graphics, limited to 2 DDR3 channels, no on-board PCIe, etc... It also creates a royal mess as far as firmware goes

Fourth, this will not be the first or last time that you will go through the "but x is coming out in y months" syndrome. If Haswell has you bothered, then wait for Haswell. If Piledriver has you bothered, then wait for Piledriver. Both companies have roadmaps, so something will always be coming out and will [almost] always be better than what's on the market right now.
 

TheScarecrow97

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Alright thanks, that was very informative :)
 

afrobacon

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It seems to me that your main focus is on gaming. With that in mind; go with the option that allows for the best graphics card. Also, as with what Pinhedd said, it is not wise to base your decision on overclocking potential.

If it was me I'd combine the i3 with an 7950.
 
Depending on what games you're primarily playing, I would consider an i3 with a 7950 to be getting into the realm of being unbalanced. While I don't necessarily subscribe to the crash and burn analogy used when overclocking AMD CPUs (mainly because I've never heard anyone experience such disastrous effects from minor overclocking), if you want the peace of mind an entry level (non-K) i5 with a 7870 would be a better balance IMHO.
 

TheScarecrow97

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I'm looking to record BF3 at ultra settings 1080p. That's quite a bit to expect, I realize, but I was looking around at some performance tests on youtube and someone managed ultra settings in multiplayer while recording at 1920x1200 with a phenom 965 and gtx 570. I found that encouraging (particularly since the 660ti i had selected beats out the 570 by quite a bit according to an anandtech bench) and it inspired me to take another look at the 965.....Still, I will definitely consider your suggestion of an entry i5 and 7870.
 

jdw_swb

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Feb 11, 2008
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PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i5-2300 2.8GHz Quad-Core Processor ($176.49 @ SuperBiiz)
Motherboard: ASRock P67 Extreme4 Gen3 ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($139.99 @ Newegg)
Memory: Kingston HyperX 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($39.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($94.99 @ NCIX US)
Video Card: Sapphire Radeon HD 7950 3GB Video Card ($279.99 @ Newegg)
Case: BitFenix Merc Alpha ATX Mid Tower Case ($39.98 @ NCIX US)
Power Supply: Corsair Professional 650W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($94.99 @ NCIX US)
Optical Drive: Asus DVDE818A7T/BLK/B/GEN CD Reader, DVD Writer ($25.97 @ Newegg)
Total: $892.39
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2012-09-15 03:16 EDT-0400)
 

jd101

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Feb 15, 2012
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I played with this idea about a year and a bit ago... AMD vs Intel is a really tough one especially seeing as your gonna be forking out way more for the Intel solution.

That being said though I would agree with Afrobacon that looking at getting a low end 1155 socket processor until you can afford to get the Intel I5/I7 would minimize the later upgrade cost significantly as you could use the same motherboard and RAM without having to worry about compatibility issues.

So at the end of the day you have to consider the following...Do I spend a little more now and get the I3/Pentium and drop in another CPU later? Or do I buy AMD, wait for the new Intel and buy a new Motherboard, CPU and possibly memory later (Memory compatibility is a real pain!)
Definitely get the better graphics card though! You won't regret it.
 

4745454b

Titan
Moderator
Objective advice is AMD chips burn up? Wow...

I can semi see the logic here. Buy a good 990 board and PhII CPU now. If PD is good then you can upgrade to that and not worry about haswell at all. If PD sucks, then you can sell your "current" setup for something and move over. (GPU, DDR3, etc should all work in a haswell setup.) Doing it this way allows you to move to PD on the cheap if its good, or move over to Intel if it doesn't. Or even stay on the PhII if it works well enough. I vote go for it.
 


Yea, I didn't agree with that as being objective advice either, but I didn't want to be the first person to say it. For once lol. But now that its been said... Watch me go.... :sarcastic:


@ Pinhead
First, you should never base your purchase decisions on something that is uncertain, such as overclocking. Chips from Global Foundries are known to occasionally die a very fiery death even when overclocked by a small amount.
Show me.. ONE person on these forums who has had their AMD chip die a "fiery death" from a small overclock. Since there is always a risk in overclocking (albeit very small nowadays), show me evidence that if and when this does occur that Global Foundries made AMD chips have any more likelihood of this occurring than Intel.

It's also preventing them from including any features that Intel has had for years now, no on-board graphics, limited to 2 DDR3 channels, no on-board PCIe, etc...
Unless you buy a high end Intel, (LGA2011) you're only getting 2 DDR3 channels as well. LGA1155 is Intels current mainstream socket, it does not support more than 2 channels, and this socket is only used for 2 generations, its not that old. Whether Haswell's new LGA1150 socket will support more than 2 channels, certainly remains to be seen, but its largely unnecessary as benchmarks have proven in previous generations. So I wouldn't count on it. But if you have a source that shows Haswell is confirmed to support it, I'll stand corrected.

Moving on-



I should have specified more clearly when I said entry level i5. I would spend the extra couple bucks and get at bare minimum i5-2400. Why? Because, yes, possibly to the chagrin of anti-overclockers, Phenom IIs @4.0GHZ (moderate overclock) slightly outperform i5-2300s (2.8GHZ clock speed) in 4 threaded performance. Yes, my ex had a system with an i5-2300, so I know what I'm talking about. The i5-23xx series have lousy clock speeds, the i5-2400 is clocked at 3.1GHZ, thats where the Sandy Bridge architecture really pulls away from AMD's older K10 architecture (Phenom IIs).

But the i5-2300 from there is $177, you could have a Phenom II 965 + a CPU cooler like a 212+ for about $40 less and overclock it and save yourself some money. And to reiterate, yes there is always a risk of frying a chip when you overclock, the risk is so ridiculously minimal its like a bottle of lycol that says it kills 99.9% of germs. They just don't say kills 100% because it creates potential liability. You may not make it to 4.0GHZ, you're certainly only guaranteed the speed you pay for, but unless you do something stupid like crank up the voltage, you're not going to fry the chip.
 

4745454b

Titan
Moderator
I'm waiting for that video on youtube to be posted showing the AMD CPU frying itself when they take the HSF off while the Intel one doesn't because it throttles its speed done. That was what, a 1700+ from like 15 years ago?
 

Yea, lol, I've seen that one. They're really oldschool chips. I go by what my PC hardware professor said last semester. For years, colleges weren't even allowed to discuss overclocking in class, but now technology has improved so much it just isn't nearly as risky as it used to be, so they're permitted to discuss it. I'll never say that theres no risk to overclocking of course there is always a risk when you take a system or a car for matter beyond its factory settings, but anything worth doing in life has a risk really.
 

Thats the one lol. You can tell they're old CPUs that back when Intel was still using Pin Grid Arrays. :lol:

Just for the sake of nostalgia, that Pentium 4/2000 was back when Intel was playing with their Netburst, and AMD as a result had a brief moment of superiority to Intel CPUs, in the form of those "terrible" Athlon chips that burned themselves up because the heatsink was taken off. :kaola:
 

jay_nar2012

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It's not because Intel was better than AMD back then, in fact the AMD Athlon knocked the Intel Pentiums out of the water, even their extreme editions. Intel was really dragging behind back then, the reason why AMD's CPU's are burning because the Pentium's have a feature called thermal throttle, where it reduced the performance to a point where the heat was manageable, AMD didn't put this lock on their CPU's because they didn't think morons would remove a CPU cooler and let it run.
 
:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: I really did laugh out loud for real btw.
 

TheScarecrow97

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Thanks for all the responses! So what I've gathered is that I should go with a cheaper processor and better gpu rather than intels latest i5 while skimping on the gpu (as long as theres no bottleneck of course). I realize the i3 is stronger than the phenom x4 by quite a bit, but what about when recording games, especially ones like BF3? I don't see the i3 handling that kind of cpu intensive activity as well as the 965, since the 965 is a true quad core while the i3 isn't. Also having the option open for Piledriver OR Haswell, depending on which one I can afford at the time I need to upgrade is nice.

Alternatively, I could just grab a 2400 and a 7870. How much of a performance boost would that give me over an OC'd (to 4.0ghz) 965 and 660ti?
 

Smeg45

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A 965 is pointless in 2012. Its no wonder they are EOL. I chucked my 965 2 weeks ago, massive difference compared to an i5. I couldn't care less if my budget blew out by $200, do you build a new PC every day? That 965 will not last. I'd get a 3470 + H77 mATX board. Even if it is a true quad core, its individual cores are old and creaky compared to Ivy Bridge. Minimum FPS in particular rose by at least 10%-15%. Personally I won't touch AMD anymore for a gaming system until they become competitive.
 

TheScarecrow97

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Okay, thanks for your very flat out, honest answer! Out of curiosity, how does a 2400 compare to a 3470? In general, how does ivybridge compare to sandybridge?
 

Smeg unfortunately doesn't entirely know what hes talking about. He does that quite frequently. Phenom IIs are still perfectly viable CPUs in 2012. yes i5-2500K/3570Ks have more power than the Phenom II 965s, they also cost twice as much, it damn sure better outperform it. Phenom IIs perform about the same as i3s for gaming, so to say that nobody should even consider a Phenom II is to say that they shouldn't consider an i3 under my logic.

Gaming performance between Ivy Bridge and Sandy is almost nothing (1%), productivity achieves about a 6% increase over Sandy, with the exception of Quick Sync, this is a feature that allows media encoding to be about 30% faster than equivalent Sandy Bridge chips.
 

TheScarecrow97

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Ah, okay. So which do you think I'd be happier with in the long run? A phenom ii 965 and a 660ti or an i5 3470 and a 7870?
 


Well the 7870 GHZ editions are cheaper than the 660 TIs and perform roughly the same. If you can afford the i5 though in the budget and still get a decent motherboard (keep in mind selecting a quality motherboard is important), then go ahead and get the i5. Don't get me wrong, it is a better CPU, but if you're faced with a choice between crunching the budget on the CPU or the video card, the CPU is 99% of the time the better place to cut the budget down for a gaming system.

 

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