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Intel or AMD for budget CPU?

Imy

Imy

Soldato
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Hi all,

It's been a while since I last looked into CPUs and the choices have got quite complicated now.

I'm speccing something up for my nephew. He's 11 and this will be his 2nd pc. He's currently using a 2.2GHz opteron - can't remember if it's dual core. He'll mainly be using it for browsing, gaming and some work in MS Office apps.

When I buy for myself I don't mind paying a bit more for better stuff but as I'm speccing for someone else, value for money is a high priority.

I personally use a Q6600 @ 3.2GHz which I find is quick enough for today's applications. Anything quicker than that would be a bit overkill for him. I'll be overclocking (nothing excessive) whichever processor my nephew ends up with too.

With that in mind can someone recommend a budget CPU?

The AMD Phenom II X3 Tri Core 720 looks like it might fit the brief or is it worthwhile to get an i5 750 instead? Bare in the mind the cost of Intel motherboards seems to be quite a bit higher.

Any suggestions/comments are appreciated
 
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x3 bang for buck as amazing and no contest and no offence but for 11yr old is more then acceptable. Plus the fact in 2-3 years he will be able to just get a new cpu to upgrade with AMDs history
 
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I suppose it depends on what level of gaming he is into. If its very basic stuff, then an Athlon X2 with an AM3 785G (integrated graphics) board would be perfectly fine. But if he is wanting to play current games then the X3 you suggest is the best bet (with a discrete graphics card).

An i5 is does sound cool, but when you consider a P55 board (£100) and 4GB DDR3 (£67) and the CPU (£160 retail boxed) then its a clearly a completely different kettle of fish. As the performance difference between an X3 and an i5 will be small as most games will be GPU bound, then I think the extra cost of the i5 is difficult to justify in this case.
 
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A Phenom II 550 Black Edition. Overclockable, fast anyway, cheap and has cheap motherboards, dual channel ddr3 and can be unlocked to a quad. Spend the bulk of the budget on a decent graphics card
 

Imy

Imy

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What do you mean by unlocked to a quad?

With regards to gaming he has a PS3 and Wii but the odd game he does play on the PC will be stuff that's better on the PC like FPS games so the GPU will still need to be reasonably powerful. I was thinking ATI 5850 for that.

Thanks for all the responses so far.
 
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id go an am3 550 or 720 if its just for gaming on a budget however the i5 750s are on offer at the moment and prove to be great for gaming and overclock very well.
 

Imy

Imy

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Both the AM3 720 and i5 750 are on offer at the moment and there's a £47 difference before taking into account the more expensive Intel boards.

I do a lot of video encoding / multi-tasking so can always justify the extra cost - bit hard to do for a 11 year old.

If someone says however that paying the extra is deffinately worth it for the considerable performance boost (I don't know if that's true) then it might still be worth considering.
 
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I think it would be very foolish at this stage to get a 550 over 720 were talking £10/£15 diff between the 2 cpus (remember ocuk is not the only online store) :p
 

Imy

Imy

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Thank you everyone for your replies. I've decided to go with the AM3 Phenom II X3 Tri Core 720 Black Edition 2.80GHz (Socket AM3) - Retail

The cost of a decent motherboard and appropriate memory have been a big an influence as anything. I can't believe how expensive Intel boards have got.
 
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The tri-core looks to be a good choice

What do you mean by unlocked to a quad?

The Phenom II X2s are just X4s with two cores disabled. This leads to 2 advantages:-

1. Same massive 7MB cache shared between the cores
2. 'Some' of the disabled cores are just perfectly good cores, disabled to meet quotas. Some are disabled because the cores don't work. Pot luck which you get.

Even if you stick to just 2 cores (as with a build I did a while ago), they are clocked nicely to start with and overclock well, to 3.5GHz and beyond, on air.
 

Imy

Imy

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Oh I get you now. I read up quickly about it and heard it's only possible to unlock the extra cores on certain motherboards. Is that true?
 
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With i5, you could get a nicely priced Intel system which isn't far off the AMD's price range. When i saw a PC on OCuk with the i5, i fiddled with a few things and found it was £5 more than my AMD system, so i reckon Intel may have reached the budget market.
 

Imy

Imy

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Lets have a look at the price difference in more detail....


AMD System
  • Asus M4A785TD-V Evo AMD 785G (Socket AM3) PCI-Express DDR3 Motherboard - £70.99
  • AMD Phenom II X3 Tri Core 720 Black Edition 2.80GHz (Socket AM3) - Retail - £92.99
Total: £163.98



Intel System
  • Gigabyte GA-P55-UD3 Intel P55 (Socket 1156) DDR3 Motherboard - £106.98
  • Intel Core i5 750 2.66Ghz (Lynnfield) (Socket LGA1156) - OEM + Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising Game - £139.99
Total: £246.97


Difference in Price
£82.99


The chosen motherboards aren't the cheapest in each range but are the cheapest I'd consider. Spending £83 extra on a graphics card can make the difference between an average graphics card and a good one.

Would my nephew notice the same difference in real life usage by spending more on the CPU instead? Maybe if he used it in the same way as me - but for his uses - very unlikely. As a bonus the AMD motherboard has onboard graphics which can come in handy even if you go discrete.
 
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ATM its mobo prices that are keeping the LGA1156 platform too high. Budget wise AMD is the way to go. The 550 and 720 are excellent chips for gaming and the price especially with the chance of unlocking extra cores. MSI AM3 boards (think its the C45 inparticular) are fantastic boards. Cheap as chips too lol. If you don't game then the athlon II 620/640 are the cheapest quads out there. Excellent value for under £100.
 
Soldato
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Ta for that ;) I believe I was clear in my second post that only some will have 4 working cores. With a SouthBridge 710 on the motherboard (I think that is correct), they can all be unlocked, whether all those cores will be functional is another matter.
well my 720 can't be unlocked, just won't post when acc + hybrid on.
 
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Lets have a look at the price difference in more detail....


AMD System
  • Asus M4A785TD-V Evo AMD 785G (Socket AM3) PCI-Express DDR3 Motherboard - £70.99
  • AMD Phenom II X3 Tri Core 720 Black Edition 2.80GHz (Socket AM3) - Retail - £92.99
Total: £163.98



Intel System
  • Gigabyte GA-P55-UD3 Intel P55 (Socket 1156) DDR3 Motherboard - £106.98
  • Intel Core i5 750 2.66Ghz (Lynnfield) (Socket LGA1156) - OEM + Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising Game - £139.99
Total: £246.97


Difference in Price
£82.99


The chosen motherboards aren't the cheapest in each range but are the cheapest I'd consider. Spending £83 extra on a graphics card can make the difference between an average graphics card and a good one.

Would my nephew notice the same difference in real life usage by spending more on the CPU instead? Maybe if he used it in the same way as me - but for his uses - very unlikely. As a bonus the AMD motherboard has onboard graphics which can come in handy even if you go discrete.



Hi ,

A i5 system would be a great all round addition. Its very powerful and will clock well with the correct cooling. However you already mentioned a Q6600 being over kill , well this would destroy a Q6600 in most areas. So if this sounds overkill save the money.
The 720 sounds like a good option for him. I also would like to point out to you the new Athlon X4 quad range. They are budget quad cores. With only 2MB catch. Its not quite as quick as a Q6600 but will certainly snap around a computer in a decent fashion. The 620 @ 2.8ghz is only £79.99 retail. Giving the best of both worlds right out of the box. Just another idea to play with.
The 720 is the more enthusiast CPU. Many unlock them to be full quad cores and to excellent effect. But this is hit and miss and very motherboard dependant. Its still a snappy CPU in 3 core mode , with good OC ability. Its a decent option for you and this system in my book as well as the already mentioned X4 Athlons.

As you mentioned any money saved should go towards a decent graphics card , which would handle most of the game aspect anyway.

Best of luck

McT
 
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