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Thread: Mid-Range Quad Core - Intel or AMD?

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    Mid-Range Quad Core - Intel or AMD?

    Hi All,

    It's time to upgrade my Mobo/CPU/RAM for mostly desktop use (programming, probably on win7). Basically what I want is a mid range Quad Core, as much ram as I can afford (6 or 8 for preference, 4 as a last resort) and a motherboard to hold it all together. I'm going to get a low end pci-express GPU for now, with a view to upgrading it in a few months time. I don't play many new games anyway. I also want onboard sound (does anyone bother with discrete sound any more?)

    So: I've been out of the loop for a couple of years, and don't know weather AMD or Intel are offering the best bang for buck at the moment?

    Whats this like: Seems suspiciously (and temptingly) cheap at £78 AMD Athlon II X4 620 like? Most quad core CPUs seem to start at about £150 (phenom II, core i5, core2). Is there much difference in mobo costs between the sockets?

    DDR2 vs DDR3? Is it worth it?

    Bonus question:
    Also, what are triple channel memory controllers (and 3 core CPUS) all about?

    Many thanks and apologies for yet another "help me spec" thread! I've deliberately not quoted a budget as it's flexible, I'm happy that you get what you pay for, but I don't want a rocket ship.

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    Re: Mid-Range Quad Core - Intel or AMD?

    The thing with the AMD Athlon II X4 620 is that it has the L3 cache part of the core disabled and thus, in my opinion, is the equivalent of a quad core E5300. (Same clock speed and L2 cache)

    It seems it's not bad either when I search up for reviews of it. I'm not sure how much of a help L3 cache is but if you don't need it then you might as well go for the AMD to save some money. Now obviously CPUs such as i5 are better, however but the question is do you really need that sort of power. Maybe you should list out what you usually do.

    I can't really comment on the DDR2 vs DDR3 thing as I haven't used them myself, sorry.

    Hope this at least helped a lil bit.

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    Re: Mid-Range Quad Core - Intel or AMD?

    You could wait for the X4 630, higher clocked and outperforms the Q8200 by about 20% I believe. £90.

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    Re: Mid-Range Quad Core - Intel or AMD?

    Quad cores range from sub-£100 to more than £700 so when you say mid-range I'm not certain what you're after.
    To me a mid-range quad would be approx £150 so AMD's Phenom X4 955/965 Black vs Intel's i5 750.

    Both are best specced with pair's of DDR3 so 2/4/8/16Gb are my suggested options.
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    Re: Mid-Range Quad Core - Intel or AMD?

    Thanks for all your help guys.

    WRT use, I'm a software developer for my day job, which basically means I multitask a bunch of pretty resource hungry desktop apps (visual studio), and run a test instance of IIS (web server) and SQL server at the same time, hence all the memory requirements. The multicore requirement is partly because it will improve multitasking performance, and partly because you can't really test multi-threaded apps unless you've got the cores to run them on.

    Quote Originally Posted by Vimeous View Post
    To me a mid-range quad would be approx £150 so AMD's Phenom X4 955/965 Black vs Intel's i5 750.
    Yup, that's roughly what I was thinking too.

    I'd only managed to find that one processor which was cheaper and I was wondering if it was a bargain or just a bit rubbish. Alternatively some people might have considered that the £150 quads were budget, not mid-range at all. I'm afraid I'm trying to test the water a bit here, as the Hexus collective gut feeling has usually proved good in the past.
    They told me I was gullible ... and I believed them.

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    Re: Mid-Range Quad Core - Intel or AMD?

    ok here's some stuff for you to mull over

    ddr2 vs ddr3
    On socket 775 core2quad, none, well so little as to be utterly pointless and motherboard manufactors soon dropped 775 ddr3 motherboards
    On socket 1156 (i5 & i7 8xx ) ddr3 only
    Amd, am3 = ddr3 only, am2+ = ddr2 only, this is where it gets harder, the cpu's work with ether motherboard, ddr3 is better but still more expensive than ddr2

    double channel memory is where the cpu can talk to two sticks of memory as if it was one single stick, there by increaseing the performance
    triple channel is basically the same but with 3 sticks, this means it's slightly faster still and the big advantage is that because memory has to be used in 3's, motherboards come with 6 slots instead on 4
    The only thing that currently uses triple channel is socket 1366 and i7 9xx cpu's,

    don't discount the 775 quad cores, they are not that far behind the AMD in terms of speed and are still slightly cheaper, mainly due to lower ddr2 prices.
    Although that athlonII x4 mixes things up a lot, for a budget quad core it's looking very good.

    the PhenonII x3 are basically a quad core that has had one core disabled for some reason, basically amd are binning chips, but always as these things go they set quotas and if they don't have enough chips with a single failed core and more than chips with all 4 cores working, then they'll just software lock a core on a working chip to make up the quota of x3 chips
    if you're lucky to a quota filler then you can unlock the last core.

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    Re: Mid-Range Quad Core - Intel or AMD?

    Personally, for your usage I would consider a DDR3 board as DDR2 is only going to rise in price and there is very little between them in cost atm.

    Slap 8GB+ in if you need to run IIS/SQL and virtualise them into seperate servers, leaving your development workstation OS much cleaner.

    I'd personally go with Intel (Core i5) but the AMD options are also worth considering....there really isn't much between them. At least with the Core i5 system you are coming in at the begining of a new platform, potentially increasing your future upgradability plans.
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    Re: Mid-Range Quad Core - Intel or AMD?

    for £150 the i5 750 offers best bang4buck, less power hungry too.

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    Re: Mid-Range Quad Core - Intel or AMD?

    Quote Originally Posted by shaithis View Post
    Slap 8GB+ in if you need to run IIS/SQL and virtualise them into seperate servers, leaving your development workstation OS much cleaner.
    I've no idea why I didn't suggest virtualisation - it's spot on advice. The only problem is Windows licensing that will require a license for each VM. Either a Win7 family pack or Technet Subscription would sort you out there though.
    An example would be to install the free ESX server on the hardware, then build your VM's individually ontop.

    Maybe you do this already?

    In my experience SQL will allocate around 80% of your RAM regardless of if it is using it. Sticking in a VM will allow your dev environment free run at whatever resources you want to give it

    I've not yet tried games through a VM using VMware Tools. If that's important you may have to install a Windows host environment insted using VMware Server or the MS equivalent ontop for the IIS and SQL machines. It's less efficient for the dev environment sadly.


    You mentioned you've not yet set a budget.
    If you do think using VM's sounds suitable I would seriously consider skipping the mid-range altogether and go straight to a socket 1366 i7 920. It's better value (if a little slower) than the 1156 i7's and offers hyperthreading which could really help get the most from a machine running VM's (http://communities.vmware.com/docs/DOC-5101).
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    Re: Mid-Range Quad Core - Intel or AMD?

    if you are prepared to pay around £150 for a CPU then I would go i5 as well.
    Less than £100 then AMD, I cant decide though between a propus quad or the phenom II
    BE dual and unlocking the cores

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    Re: Mid-Range Quad Core - Intel or AMD?

    The Athlon II X4 620 is around the same speed as a Q8200 so it should be fast enough for most things. The OP can get a DDR2 or DDR3 based 785G motherboard for around £50 to £60. The 785G is basically an integrated version of the HD3450 graphics card.

    Here are some AM3 based 785G motherboards:

    http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/MSI-7...Board-Graphics

    http://www.ebuyer.com/product/173978

    http://www.ebuyer.com/product/170281

    Here are some AM2 based 785G motherboards:

    http://www.scan.co.uk/Index.aspx?NT=1-0-31-652-0

    http://www.ebuyer.com/product/171803

    The Biostar TA785GE 128M has 128mb of DDR3 RAM on the motherboard for the integrated graphics.


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    Re: Mid-Range Quad Core - Intel or AMD?

    Personally think that if buying now onwards (like you can buy in the past ) then DDR3 is the sensible choice. DDR2 is still good stuff, for sure, but most current tech is DDR3 now and this will only gather pace.....prices for DDR3 are now sensible, too
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    Re: Mid-Range Quad Core - Intel or AMD?

    I'm not too sure on AMD boards but I'll tell you that it's not worth getting a socket 775 upgrade because they're pretty much EOL. I mean it would last you a few years if you're not the type that jumps at every new thing or get cravings for upgrades but you'll end up buying a new socket whereas AMD I reckon will change their socket less.

    But then again AMD did change their socket a lot in the past lol...

    Also, I just reread the OP post and it said you wanted a cheap PCI-E card that you would upgrade in the future. You could go for something like 4670 as it's relatively cheap but GFX card prices have dropped a lot recently so you have quite a big range from £50-£80. E.g. 4670 for around £50, 4850 or 4770 for around £70-80. The Nvidia 9800/GTS 250 for around the same price too as the 4850/4770. As you said you'd upgrade in the future for GPU I don't think you'd like to spend more than that.

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    Re: Mid-Range Quad Core - Intel or AMD?

    DDR3 prices are still a little high but far better than they were.

    A couple of things I will say
    i5 is low voltage ddr3 only, this seriously limits the range of memory you can use.
    If you want lots of memory then a 1366 i7 system starts looking very good, triple channel + 6 slots gives you a far greater range of options & later upgradeability than 4 slots.

    4x2gb of DDR3 PC3-10666 (1.6v) will cost £155
    4x2gb of DDR2 pc2-6800 will cost £100
    3x2gb of DDR3 PC3-10666 will cost £95

    Quote Originally Posted by Ulti View Post
    I'm not too sure on AMD boards but I'll tell you that it's not worth getting a socket 775 upgrade because they're pretty much EOL. I mean it would last you a few years if you're not the type that jumps at every new thing or get cravings for upgrades but you'll end up buying a new socket whereas AMD I reckon will change their socket less.

    But then again AMD did change their socket a lot in the past lol...
    Socket 775 is coming to an end, however it's been around for a long time now (5years?) what intel has done is release new cpu's and chipsets, with newer cpu's supported by newer chipsets but kept the socket the same.
    Although some of the slightly older chipsets have been able to keep up with the newer cpu's with BIOS updates.
    Where as AMD have brought out 3 sockets am2 am2+ and am3 however they've kept a great level of both backwards and forwards compatability. However again they've released a lot of chipsets as well.
    One good point about buying a 775 now is it's a know quantity, the chipsets are very well matured and very good without major longterm issues (may of the eairly 775 chipsets/motherboards had issues over the long term)
    The AMD ones are simular now, as the latest chipsets are the resault of constant improvemnets & revisions to the base chipset, the question here would be long term support of newer cpu's
    The socket1156 p55 chiset is still very new, long term reliability and changes are still open to question. (there's 2 new 1156 chipsets already planned for release later)
    All this is in many ways moot, if this computer is being setup for long term use anyway then it's just going to be set up and run not upgraded everytime the newest cpu comes out, ie if 2 years down the line a new superduper 1156 cpu comes out this pc wouldn't be upgraded with the new cpu anyway so you'd not lose out that much by sticking to 775 anyway.

    Although for good cpu & memory grunt I do think i5 or a 1156 i7 is the way to go or maybe am3
    For lots and lots of memory 1136 i7 is probably better but is going to cost more.

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    Re: Mid-Range Quad Core - Intel or AMD?

    Still more big thanks guys. I'm thinking almost certainly Corei5 at this point, so now Ihave a memory question.

    DDR3 - how critical are speeds and cas-latencies in this day and age? And what speeds does the i5 support?

    Finally, I'm probably not going to overclock, so what are the disadvantages (if any) of buying ordinary (quality brand) memory, as opposed to the enthusiast, hesk-sinked sticks?
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    Re: Mid-Range Quad Core - Intel or AMD?

    Memory speed and latency really doesn't effect things very much in real-world performance for most things.

    If your not overclocking, then just buy quality RAM, you do not need the enthusiast RAM at all.

    Pretty sure i5 boards support memory in the 1066MHz to 1600MHz range.
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