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Thread: CPU / GPU Combinations

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    Sprouts are not food Attila the Bun's Avatar
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    CPU / GPU Combinations

    My investigations into computer builds have made me review what components I'm likely to use a tad.

    But there is a question that I can find no real help on and that is whether it is better to have a great CPU with a good GPU or a good CPU with a great GPU.

    If money is no object then the question is immaterial but as I'm on a budget I want the best "bang for buck" (hmmm...would the English version be "poke for pound" I wonder?).

    My original setup was to be a i7 920 with a HD 5770, but if you consider that the amount of visual media that is being pumped through a desktop these days and that this is only going to increase as more and more TV, films and games go 3D then I am wondering if a i5 750 with a HD 5850 or GTX460 might be a better initial setup.

    I have discounted the AMD CPU option for this build simply because I don't see them catching INTEL for at least the next 5 years (probably more) in terms of processing power.

    If I go the 1366 route I get a lower spec GPU but the option of the 980x CPU some time in the future.
    If I go 1156 then have a lower spec CPU upgrade to look forward to (I doubt, but I could be wrong, that Intel will release a v.high spec 1156 CPU if they are releasing new architecture any time soon) but could opt for a better GPU immediately.

    Your thoughts and any advise on this would be most welcome.

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    Re: CPU / GPU Combinations

    Well it really depends what games you play, or what you use your PC for. If you were playing flight sims, RTS games and doing alot of video encoding, you would want to invest more in the CPU than you would if your focus was FPS gaming etc.

    My old rule of thumb when building a PC myself was to spend double on the GPU what I did on the CPU. Although if I was building a PC for myself today I might relax that because I would probably end up doing something like £200 CPU, £300 GPU.

    I would definitely at this point suggest getting the 5850 or GTX460. Although whether I would recommend getting that with the i5 is another matter. The i5's socket is end of life which means limited upgrade potential down the road (although if your anything like me by the time you get round to upgrading any socket out atm will be end of life.

    I wouldn't discount AMD so easily. I dont think they have anything thats truly competitive with the i7 but with uncompetitiveness in speed come price slashes, and some of their chips really perform well in the bang4buck arena.

    Regardless I think that an i7 920 and a 5770 is a very imbalanced system, with the CPU far more comparatively powerful than the GPU.
    Last edited by Champman99; 18-07-2010 at 11:59 AM.

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    Re: CPU / GPU Combinations

    Quote Originally Posted by Champman99 View Post
    I wouldn't discount AMD so easily. I dont think they have anything thats truly competitive with the i7 but with uncompetitiveness in speed come price slashes, and some of their chips really perform well in the bang4buck arena.
    I agree with that. They produce some great mid range stuff at sensible prices.

    When people talk about upgrading in the future, Unless that future is in the following 10 weeks or so you might as well not think about it. When the time comes in the future for upgrading you'll want to change everything by then.

    The only advice I give anyone is, Build a system that is just a little more powerful than you need. You can put aside any money left over for a complete new build in a couple of years. There really is not much point spending £1000's on a system that you won't run at 90% or more.

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    Re: CPU / GPU Combinations

    Quote Originally Posted by Attila the Bun View Post
    My investigations into computer builds have made me review what components I'm likely to use a tad.

    But there is a question that I can find no real help on and that is whether it is better to have a great CPU with a good GPU or a good CPU with a great GPU.
    Depends on usage.

    My original setup was to be a i7 920 with a HD 5770, but if you consider that the amount of visual media that is being pumped through a desktop these days and that this is only going to increase as more and more TV, films and games go 3D then I am wondering if a i5 750 with a HD 5850 or GTX460 might be a better initial setup.
    Prerendered visual media requires almost no graphical power to display/decode etc. Even intel's GPUs are up to the task these days. Games are the only things that require GPU power out of the above, so the question is whether the kind of games you play are likely to take advantage of additional GPU power.

    I have discounted the AMD CPU option for this build simply because I don't see them catching INTEL for at least the next 5 years (probably more) in terms of processing power.
    For the same money, AMD already offer more processing power for several types of tasks. That's now, let alone 5 years time. Say you are interested in speeding up encoding videos using h.264...

    If I go the 1366 route I get a lower spec GPU but the option of the 980x CPU some time in the future.
    If I go 1156 then have a lower spec CPU upgrade to look forward to (I doubt, but I could be wrong, that Intel will release a v.high spec 1156 CPU if they are releasing new architecture any time soon) but could opt for a better GPU immediately.
    You're right about the 1156 lack of future - 1366 is better in that respect, but the top end chip of a series always commands a premium, even in the second hand market.

    If you're going to be playing games that might require lots of graphical power (I can't think of many to be honest, but if say 1st person shooters are your think then that's probably the most likely genre for it) then definitely weight your budget towards spending on the GPU - a fix unit of money will create more improvement when spent on GPU upgrades than CPU upgrades. If you're also dealing with a lot of video content and do encoding type operations then consider a six core AMD chip. As a bonus the saving will allow you to upgrade the GPU.

    So my recommendation would be to consider an AMD 1055t along with a 1gb GTX 460 or HD5850.

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    Re: CPU / GPU Combinations

    Quote Originally Posted by Attila the Bun View Post
    If I go the 1366 route I get a lower spec GPU but the option of the 980x CPU some time in the future.
    True, but that's probably your *only* processor upgrade option: it looks very much like Intel will be abandoning s1366 for the next generation of processors. If they do, the 980X is never going to drop in price, even second hand, because everyone who went s1366 will be trying to grab them as the only available upgrade. AMD appear to be planning on releasing their next generation on a revision of AM3, and based on their recent tendency to ensure a certain level of compatibility between generations (remember that AM3 processors drop into *any* AM2 motherboard) I'd put a small amount of money on them working in current AM3 mobos with no more than a BIOS update. Plus whether you're better with AMD or Intel depends on the workload you're pushing through the computer (AMD hex-cores are competitive with i7 in heavily threaded workloads, for instance).

    So, what exactly is this computer going to be doing?

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    Re: CPU / GPU Combinations

    Thanks for all your advice guys, I'm really pleased that I asked this question before going ahead and buying these items. I would have replied yesterday but we had visitors and I wasn't able to get back online until now.

    Quote Originally Posted by scaryjim View Post
    So, what exactly is this computer going to be doing?
    Games. Mostly the kids play and sometimes 1st person shooters. Although I find that I play more stuff than previously did.

    I run some pretty resource hungry applications like dreamweaver, photoshop and paintshop pro but no video editing as yet.
    And I want to run HD TV through it as well.

    Add to this I tend to leave lots of windows open at the same time if I'm working and / or surfing.

    I guess what I'm after is a good all rounder that can handle the kid's games relatively well and allow me to run all my necessary apps without being hopeless out of date 12 months down the line.

    Quote Originally Posted by kalniel View Post
    So my recommendation would be to consider an AMD 1055t along with a 1gb GTX 460 or HD5850.
    I did consider this sort of set up at the start as my current rig is AMD based and has been superb, but I was seduced by the i7's obvious superiority. I did think the AMD 1090 would be a good option as it seemed to offer a fairly safe opportunity to dabble in overclocking...does the 1055 overclock easily? What mobo would you guys recommend for a 1055? My budget for the mobo is up to £150 and I would like it to have 6gb sata and USB3 if possible but this isn't essential.

    Again thanks for your help on this.

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    Re: CPU / GPU Combinations

    Quote Originally Posted by Attila the Bun View Post
    I did consider this sort of set up at the start as my current rig is AMD based and has been superb, but I was seduced by the i7's obvious superiority. I did think the AMD 1090 would be a good option as it seemed to offer a fairly safe opportunity to dabble in overclocking...does the 1055 overclock easily? What mobo would you guys recommend for a 1055? My budget for the mobo is up to £150 and I would like it to have 6gb sata and USB3 if possible but this isn't essential.

    Again thanks for your help on this.
    1055t overclocks just like most previous AMD chips - 3.6 would be easy, 3.8 probable, though not a lot more without some effort. Look up the guides

    1090t is easier to overclock, without a doubt, but it doesn't go much higher than the 1055. The primary difference is with the 1090t you just change a multiplier, with the 1055t you change the CPU clock (the thing that gets multiplied by the multiplier) - that then entails having to change a couple of other things to keep other parts of the system running within spec. But both methods will start to require more and more things (like voltage tweaks) as you get towards higher clocks.

    I'm not 100% up on my motherboards, but I think there's a great selection of sata 6 and USB3.0 ones at SCAN and you probably won't go wrong with any of them. Someone can hopefully point out the key difference between the 880g and 890gx because I'm failing to see anything relevant (the 880g is meant to only have 1x graphics expansion lane, but most partners are ignoring that and providing two).

    If 880G suits, this one looks okay:
    http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/Asus-...-SATA-RAID-ATX

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    Re: CPU / GPU Combinations

    Thanks kalniel,

    You and the others have got me thinking again so I'm going to cost out an AMD package right now as it does seem to offer what I need at a lower price.

    Oh! I presume I will need to get a better cooler for the CPU if I try overclocking.

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    Re: CPU / GPU Combinations

    May I ask what setup you are upgrading from?

    For just having lots of windows open, I would have thought just about any quad core would do coupled with plenty of ram.

    Also note that the Asus AMD board linked above can perform its own turbo-boost like feature on any unlocked (black edition) CPU.

    I would go further towards the GPU, and get a cheap AMD quad core Phenom II to drive it.

    Edit to add linkey:

    http://www.asus.com/FeatureList.aspx...Su5m&F_ID=8236

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    Re: CPU / GPU Combinations

    Quote Originally Posted by DanceswithUnix View Post
    For just having lots of windows open, I would have thought just about any quad core would do coupled with plenty of ram.
    Got to agree with this - you can save yourself at least £20 - £30 by going for a Phenom II X4 instead of the X6. Get at least 4GB RAM. I understand (although I don't use it myself) that Photoshop can be accelerated by having a second hard drive and telling photoshop to use that for temp files etc. Given current pricing, however, I wouldn't bother going as low as an Athlon II X4 - the extra cache on a Phenom II is well worth the money...

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    Re: CPU / GPU Combinations

    Quote Originally Posted by DanceswithUnix View Post
    May I ask what setup you are upgrading from?
    My home rig is about 5 years old now and up until recently was adequate for what it was used for.
    An AMD 3500+ with a 9250 GPU on a K8 mobo running XP SP3. The whole set up cost the same as I've budgeted this time around £800

    Now that my partner's kids are living with us more often and use the computer regularly and as I am doing more development work at home I find that it creaks abit under the additional strain.

    My philosophy is to get the very best I can within budget so it has a longer life cycle, although because the speed of development in computer hardware is so fast I may have to revise this and go for a "little and often approach". The trouble with this approach is that I don't always have the time to spend on this sort of thing.

    I had wondered whether a 955 or 965 Black Edition would be suitable but discounted them as I thought they were a little too far down the food chain.

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    Re: CPU / GPU Combinations

    Quote Originally Posted by Attila the Bun View Post
    I had wondered whether a 955 or 965 Black Edition would be suitable but discounted them as I thought they were a little too far down the food chain.
    It's still not clear what do you intend to use the computer for, though the 965 and 955 has a great potential (performance for the price, easy oc, etc).

    btw, if you use an i7 and a phenom 2 system, you cannot tell the difference.

    Furthermore, if you go the amd route, then you can save enough money to buy an SSD (intelG2) which would make a noticeable difference.

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    Re: CPU / GPU Combinations

    It sounds like you're aiming for gaming + web development as main uses?

    I currently (effectively) use a Phenom II X4 @ 2.5GHz for Visual Studio 2005 / SQL Server 2008 web development on a daily basis, with no issues at all. A similar processor at > 3GHz (i.e. a 945 / 955 / 965) would be more than adequate, coupled with a HD5850 or 1GB GTX460

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    Re: CPU / GPU Combinations

    Just got the latest edition of CPC through my door and they got the 1055T to 4ghz in an Asus Crosshair IV.

    If you looking for a MB for an AMD setup they also have a test of the Asus M4A88TD-VEVO/USB3 which looks realy nice for a high quality AM3 bored under £100 (listed as £93.99). Although they were testing it with a phenom X3. I'll quote the conclusion.

    Quote Originally Posted by Custom PC Mag, Issue 84 p49
    The Asus M4A.... is a cracking board in most cases, one that gives far more expensive boards a run for their money at both stock speeds and whn overclocked. The Core Unlocker technology works well and the USB3 and SATA 6Gbps sockets mean that this motherboard won't age quickly.
    They seem to suggest the board isnt as good as its slightly more expensive sibiling the M4A89GTD Pro, but from reading their review it seems that was due to their overclock being on the edge of instability.


    As it sounds like you arent doing anything thats going to be heavily threaded I'd be tempted to go for a quad or even a tri core Phenom II (try and get that fourth core unlocked), possibly in the sub £100 Acer board listed above, that would save you say £50 on the board, and another say £40-50 on the CPU compared to hex cores. If you were looking at a 5770 then that money saved is the jump to a 5850 or GTX 460, if you were looking at a 5850 before, then thats the jump to a nice 5870!

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    Re: CPU / GPU Combinations

    Quote Originally Posted by Champman99 View Post
    If you looking for a MB for an AMD setup they also have a test of the Asus M4A88TD-VEVO/USB3 which looks realy nice for a high quality AM3 bored under £100 (listed as £93.99).
    £90 actually - see my link a few posts up

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    Re: CPU / GPU Combinations

    Quote Originally Posted by scaryjim View Post
    It sounds like you're aiming for gaming + web development as main uses?
    I think that is a pretty accurate assessment of what it's main uses will be. I think I will be revising my component list yet again. Not that I mind it's been really helpful for getting me to understand what is important in this build and what is not.

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