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Thread: Only £12 difference between a i3 and AMD 2 555 computer build.

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    Only £12 difference between a i3 and AMD 2 555 computer build.

    I've been looking through the scan website and notice that the i3 is £92 and phenom 2 555 is £80 and the motherboards are about the same price and of course they use the same ram if you are buying new . I've been wondering for ages about which one I would go for. I've been doing huge amount of reading about the various CPUs available. and it seems like the new i3 is about 15 to 20% faster than the e8400. And the E8400 was in itself a bit faster than the AMD 550be at standard clock speed. And of course the AMD costs a lot less and if you're lucky has the possibility to unlock cores. Etc etc.

    Anyway, am I missing something because depending on your use the i3 seems quite good value, particularly as I'm going to use it for voice recognition which requires zero graphics ability but a lot of processor power.
    I'm not even considering the i5 or i7 well beyond my budget.

    I be quite interested in knowing some accurate data about power consumption, because my computer is basically never off. I worked out once that my stereo which was old, used 28watts on standby and I worked out that equated to about £28 of electricity in the course of the year, so it does add up.

    This anyone know of any really reliable power consumption tests of these CPUs, because there seems to be a huge variance in the tests one sees posted up on the web.

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    Re: Only £12 difference between a i3 and AMD 2 555 computer build.

    Apparently the Mac Mini doesn't consume much at all. The i3 is supposed to quite energy efficient too.

    Check this out:

    http://www.anandtech.com/cpuchipsets...oc.aspx?i=3663

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    Re: Only £12 difference between a i3 and AMD 2 555 computer build.

    Yeah, the i3's are very efficient little processors .

    But if you're looking for power efficiency, you need to get an efficient PSU. No point in having something draw 400w from the wall when you're only using 300w (75% efficiency)

    Also, the integrated graphics chip in the i3s will also help with power consumption, it'll use a lot less power than a dedicated graphics card but you'll notice no difference at all if you don't play games.

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    Re: Only £12 difference between a i3 and AMD 2 555 computer build.

    Plenty of efficient PSU's around too.

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    Re: Only £12 difference between a i3 and AMD 2 555 computer build.

    Quote Originally Posted by Anteries View Post
    ... the motherboards are about the same price ...
    I wouldn't quite say that. The cheapest H55 motherboard on Scan is this Gigabyte @ £69, whereas the cheapest AM3 motherboard is also a Gigabyte @ £52. That makes the i3 combination £29 more all together. (It's the same story @ ebuyer: they have the Gigabyte H55 @ £68, and an ASUS AM3 board for ~ £51).

    TBH, the i3 / H55 combination will probably give you slightly better performance and a slightly better featureset, but the real question is whether you'll see the 10% improvement in real world performance it would need to justify the extra cost.

    The other question is whether any of the software you're running is heavily multithreaded, as £80 - £90 brings the Athlon II X3 and X4 into play...

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    Re: Only £12 difference between a i3 and AMD 2 555 computer build.

    SPCR is the best forum for quiet and energy efficient computing and I would recommend you also ask a few questions there as the people are very knowledgeable in these areas:

    http://www.silentpcreview.com/forums/

    Quote Originally Posted by Anteries View Post
    I've been looking through the scan website and notice that the i3 is £92 and phenom 2 555 is £80 and the motherboards are about the same price the motherboards are about the same price and of course they use the same ram if you are buying new .
    The Core i3 530 is very efficient but the motherboards are not similar in price at all.

    The Gigabyte GA-MA78LMT-S2. MSI 785GM-E51 and Gigabyte GA-MA785GM-UD2H are £52, £55 and £57 respectively:

    http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/Gigab...-RAID-MATX-VGA

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

    http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/Gigab...-Micro-ATX-VGA

    The cheapest H55 motherboard is around £70:

    http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/Gigab...-3Gb-s-ATX-VGA

    Of course all Athlon II and Phenom II processors can use DDR2 RAM too.

    If go onto the AM2+ motherboards there are many available from around £40:

    http://www.scan.co.uk/Shop/Computer-...18/652/391/559

    1066MHZ DDR2 has virtually no performance hit when compared to DDR3 1333MHZ with the Phenom II:

    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/...55,2278-3.html

    4GB of 1066MHZ DDR2 is also much cheaper than 4GB of DDR3:

    http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/4GB-%...S-5-6-6-18-EPP

    http://www.scan.co.uk/Shop/Computer-...ory/225/32/302

    Also for any multi-threaded tasks the C3 stepping X4 635 is usually faster than the Core i3 530:

    http://www.anandtech.com/bench/defau...118&p2=122&c=1

    The Athlon II and Phenom II processors can be also undervolted quite a bit and you can save around 30 watts off the peak power consumption of an Athlon II X4 C2 stepping according to SPCR and TechPowerUp.

    Also you have to consider the power consumption of other parts of your system too such as the monitor.

    Going for an LCD display with an LED backlight will also save a lot of power and you may want to consider the efficiency of the PSU you are using. According to SPCR the Pico PSU is quite efficient:

    http://www.silentpcreview.com/article601-page1.html

    Saving power in a system is not just about looking at the processor and the motherboard but also considering everything else in the computer.

    Ultimately I think that going for a decent notebook is the best way forward. The fact is that most notebooks only have 65W to 90W power adaptors too. Consider that this includes the screen too!
    Last edited by CAT-THE-FIFTH; 11-02-2010 at 11:51 AM.


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    Re: Only £12 difference between a i3 and AMD 2 555 computer build.

    Quote Originally Posted by matty-hodgson View Post
    Yeah, the i3's are very efficient little processors .

    But if you're looking for power efficiency, you need to get an efficient PSU. No point in having something draw 400w from the wall when you're only using 300w (75% efficiency)

    Also, the integrated graphics chip in the i3s will also help with power consumption, it'll use a lot less power than a dedicated graphics card but you'll notice no difference at all if you don't play games.
    I couldn't agree with you more about the power supply, I bought a new Seasonic 80% for my current computer in my power consumption went from 120W to 75w , amazing difference.

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    Re: Only £12 difference between a i3 and AMD 2 555 computer build.

    What spec are you upgrading from? CATs advice about a laptop might be very good, as a decent mobile Core 2 can easily surpass the performance of an older desktop platform, and laptops are significantly more power efficient that desktops...

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    Re: Only £12 difference between a i3 and AMD 2 555 computer build.

    Quote Originally Posted by CAT-THE-FIFTH View Post
    SPCR is the best forum for quiet and energy efficient computing and I would recommend you also ask a few questions there as the people are very knowledgeable in these areas:

    http://www.silentpcreview.com/forums/



    The Core i3 530 is very efficient but the motherboards are not similar in price at all.

    The Gigabyte GA-MA78LMT-S2. MSI 785GM-E51 and Gigabyte GA-MA785GM-UD2H are £52, £55 and £57 respectively:

    http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/Gigab...-RAID-MATX-VGA

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

    http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/Gigab...-Micro-ATX-VGA

    The cheapest H55 motherboard is around £70:

    http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/Gigab...-3Gb-s-ATX-VGA

    Of course all Athlon II and Phenom II processors can use DDR2 RAM too.

    If go onto the AM2+ motherboards there are many available from around £40:

    http://www.scan.co.uk/Shop/Computer-...18/652/391/559

    1066MHZ DDR2 has virtually no performance hit when compared to DDR3 1333MHZ with the Phenom II:

    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/...55,2278-3.html

    4GB of 1066MHZ DDR2 is also much cheaper than 4GB of DDR3:

    http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/4GB-%...S-5-6-6-18-EPP

    http://www.scan.co.uk/Shop/Computer-...ory/225/32/302

    Also for any multi-threaded tasks the C3 stepping X4 635 is usually faster than the Core i3 530:

    http://www.anandtech.com/bench/defau...118&p2=122&c=1

    The Athlon II and Phenom II processors can be also undervolted quite a bit and you can save around 30 watts off the peak power consumption of an Athlon II X4 C2 stepping according to SPCR and TechPowerUp.

    Also you have to consider the power consumption of other parts of your system too such as the monitor.

    Going for an LCD display with an LED backlight will also save a lot of power and you may want to consider the efficiency of the PSU you are using. According to SPCR the Pico PSU is quite efficient:

    http://www.silentpcreview.com/article601-page1.html

    Saving power in a system is not just about looking at the processor and the motherboard but also considering everything else in the computer.

    Ultimately I think that going for a decent notebook is the best way forward. The fact is that most notebooks only have 65W to 90W power adaptors too. Consider that this includes the screen too!
    Thank you very much for the helpful information, great set of links there. Personally I still don't know which one to get. It is quite eye opening to see what can be done through the budget route. It's only splitting hairs but the £52 board does not have an hdmi output so the minimum would be £57 but it looks like a great board which is why it's probably out of stock.

    the cheapest AMD board with ddr3 support is £67. which is about the same price as Intel.

    But let's rule out some of the cheaper boards with the all the older on board graphics chips, of course this doesn't apply to gamers who want to put in their red graphic cards.

    let's say we are sticking with on board graphics, makes sense to get 780 or 785 just for the flexibility of making a media centre in the future.

    If you don't already have DDR 2, surely you would want to upgrade to DDR three, or is that marketing BS I would really like to know . I didn't fully understand that article about do we need DDR three.

    The advantage of going to DDR three is that if you want to switch to Intel in the future you will already have the memory. And just general future proofing, remember how suddenly you just can't get old products. you try buying a new AM2 CPU these days.

    I have not ruled out the AMD 555 at all, of the 6 MB of L3 cache, is supposed to be particularly good for voice recognition software. I would really like to know what magic could be pulled with the power consumption. It's never clear in the tests whether cooler and quiet is enabled or any sort of under vaulting is possible.
    Last edited by Anteries; 11-02-2010 at 01:08 PM.

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    Re: Only £12 difference between a i3 and AMD 2 555 computer build.

    So many points to make...

    ... the cheapest AMD board with ddr3 support is £67 ...
    The £52 gigbyte board I linked to has DDR3 support, as does the £54 MSI board CAT linked to. The MSI also uses the more powerful / newer 785G chipset, *and* has HDMI, so it ticks all of those boxes.

    ... If you don't already have DDR 2, surely you would want to upgrade to DDR three ... ...The advantage of going to DDR three is that if you want to switch to Intel in the future you will already have the memory ...
    As CAT pointed out, the benefit of DDR3 in real world performance is minimal. Virtually no part of your machine will be bottlenecked by the bandwidth provided by dual channel DDR2-1066. Also, how soon are you planning on upgrading *again*? If you're still running original DDR now you obviously don't upgrade very often: by the time you get round to upgrading again there's no reason to think that computers won't be running DDR4 / DDR5 or even some new QDR technology that isn't available yet! That said, and as I've already pointed out above, if you want DDR3 support you can still choose a < £55 motherboard for an AM3 platform.


    If you're still running a desktop system with DDR RAM in it and energy efficiency is important to you, then I would seriously consider getting a laptop. Mobile i3 based laptops should be coming through to retail, and they will draw far less power than a desktop + monitor, while being *considerably* faster than whatever you're running at the minute. You could try selling off your old kit to help fund the purchase.


    EDIT: Sorry, another thought just occurred. Why are you particularly going after the X2 555? The 545 is 19% cheaper, at the cost of only 6% of the clock speed: something you could easily make up with a tiny overclock...

    EDIT 2: It's always worth checking Scan's today only section. Today, they have a DFI's AM2+ Lanparty Jr for £52.86...
    Last edited by scaryjim; 11-02-2010 at 02:12 PM.

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    Re: Only £12 difference between a i3 and AMD 2 555 computer build.

    Quote Originally Posted by scaryjim View Post
    So many points to make...


    The £52 gigbyte board I linked to has DDR3 support, as does the £54 MSI board CAT linked to. The MSI also uses the more powerful / newer 785G chipset, *and* has HDMI, so it ticks all of those boxes.

    As CAT pointed out, the benefit of DDR3 in real world performance is minimal. Virtually no part of your machine will be bottlenecked by the bandwidth provided by dual channel DDR2-1066. Also, how soon are you planning on upgrading *again*? If you're still running original DDR now you obviously don't upgrade very often: by the time you get round to upgrading again there's no reason to think that computers won't be running DDR4 / DDR5 or even some new QDR technology that isn't available yet! That said, and as I've already pointed out above, if you want DDR3 support you can still choose a < £55 motherboard for an AM3 platform.


    If you're still running a desktop system with DDR RAM in it and energy efficiency is important to you, then I would seriously consider getting a laptop. Mobile i3 based laptops should be coming through to retail, and they will draw far less power than a desktop + monitor, while being *considerably* faster than whatever you're running at the minute. You could try selling off your old kit to help fund the purchase.


    EDIT: Sorry, another thought just occurred. Why are you particularly going after the X2 555? The 545 is 19% cheaper, at the cost of only 6% of the clock speed: something you could easily make up with a tiny overclock...
    I don't know about upgrading, I'm already using AMD 3200+ 754 single core, and don't want to rush into the new technology.

    Yes you are quite right about those motherboards, actually I've cobbled together all the parts for a dual core AMD 4200 with two gig of PC2- 5200 ram.

    I've bought a 1.5 TB hard drive and a really good cooler as preparation when I can afford to upgrade to one of the previously mentioned processors and motherboards. But I'm rather tempted to just go for it and splashed out. one of the things that is holding me back is I'm curious how well the dual core will perform. so I will have that experience before upgrading.

    Don't get me wrong I love laptops, they seem like an absolute dream, particularly the new i3 . But once you have the lump under the desk it's not too much bother.

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    Re: Only £12 difference between a i3 and AMD 2 555 computer build.

    From what I can tell the Athlon X2 4200+ runs at about the same speed as an Athlon 64 3200+, so you'll only see an advantage if the software you use can make good use of multiple cores. Of course, that would give you a good indication of whether or not it'd be worth investing in an Athlon II X3 / X4.

    What motherboard have you got hold of for your 4200+? If the BIOS is still being updated you might be able to drop an Athlon II straight into it!

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    Re: Only £12 difference between a i3 and AMD 2 555 computer build.

    Quote Originally Posted by scaryjim View Post
    From what I can tell the Athlon X2 4200+ runs at about the same speed as an Athlon 64 3200+, so you'll only see an advantage if the software you use can make good use of multiple cores. Of course, that would give you a good indication of whether or not it'd be worth investing in an Athlon II X3 / X4.

    What motherboard have you got hold of for your 4200+? If the BIOS is still being updated you might be able to drop an Athlon II straight into it!
    Yes you are right about the clock speed, it will be the same. For what it's worth I've overclocked it to a maximum to 2.55 ghz from 2.2ghz Though I don't expect much difference. I'm interested if the more modern motherboard architecture of the amd690gm-m2, does make a difference.

    I checked the BIOS and there is no official support above the older CPUs although I've heard mention that some of the first generation phenom do work. I think would be a question of plug and pray slightly with the new bunch and unless I found it confirmed I would not take the risk.

    I'm using a 754 socket board at the moment, which is quite old. but it's amazing what can still do with it.

    I'm still using Windows Xp and keep the resource load as light as possible. I'm trying to use voice recognition more and more to stave off RSI. generally quite good, but with about 50 Firefox tabs open I start grinding to a halt. my new 1.5 TB just arrived so I will be having some fun later on today.

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