The World Thru My Eyes - I speak my mind and man does it like to talk.


OK, so I look forward, hopefully, to build a new PC next year. But as I did some research on what I would like to buy as hardware I find myself confused about the processors I am considering.

My goal is to build a decent rig good enough to play most of todays games (except maybe Crysis) with decent frames per second that does not cost an arm and a leg. Hopefully under $900. However I've been stumped at the CPU point of the build as I find myself looking at 2 CPUs of different models but somehow seem the same and that's where it gets confusing.

Here are the CPUs and their similarities and differences:

CPU Intel Core i7-860 Intel Core 2
Socket Type LGA 1156 LGA 775
Core Lynnfield Yorkfield
Multi-Core Quad-Core Quad-Core
Frequency 2.8GHz 2.83GHz
Cache 8MB 12MB
64 bit Support Yes Yes
Manufacturing Tech 45 nm 45 nm
Thermal Design Power 95W 95W
Hyper-Threading Yes ?
Current Price $289.99 $279.99

Besides the .03 difference in the Frequency and the 4MB difference in the Cache, the only real difference is i7 has Hyper-Threading. But what has me confused is that the i7 is the new kid in town, supposely the best CPU from Intel and the Core 2 has been out for quite some time now so why are these 2 CPUs almost the same price? I would have expected an i7 like this one to be more expensive that a Core 2 with similar specs.

Can someone help me understand why these 2 processor prices are so similar? Are they not that much different after all? Would a Core 2 be just fine for my rig or should I just pay the extra $10 for the i7? Please help. Thanks.

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Comments (Page 1)
on Dec 29, 2009

well im building a system in January with the i7 920 which is supposed to be bad ass...i think im gonna go with the 1366 mobo and the 920 to prepare for the future and whatever it holds....to each his own though...the 1366 is a bit more expensive depending on what board you buy but the i7-920 is just as cheap as those other processors....if i were you id go with the i7 simply cause its new and it does handles some apps better im sure GOOD LUCK BUDDY

 

Model
Brand Intel
Series Core i7
Model BX80601920
CPU Socket Type
CPU Socket Type LGA 1366
Tech Spec
Core Bloomfield
Multi-Core Quad-Core
Name Core i7-920
Operating Frequency 2.66GHz
QPI 4.8GT/s
L2 Cache 4 x 256KB
L3 Cache 8MB
Manufacturing Tech 45 nm
64 bit Support Yes
Hyper-Threading Support Yes
Virtualization Technology Support Yes
Voltage 0.80V-1.375V
Thermal Design Power 130W
Cooling Device Heatsink and Fan included
Manufacturer Warranty
Parts 3 years limited
Labor 3 years limited
on Dec 29, 2009

Can someone help me understand why these 2 processor prices are so similar?

Does the price of the Core 2 include a processor fan, where as the i7 does not.

 

on Dec 29, 2009

It's because of the age.  The processor itself is actually fairly new, although in no way does it compare to the 860 due to the older architecture.  It will be more expensive due to that, production volume will have a lot to do with it, but there's a fair bit of desperation involved as well.  That's an upgrade line, for people too poor to buy a new Nehalem based system and need more life out of an older 775 board.

on Dec 29, 2009

this might be a dumb question but what is hyperthreading?

on Dec 29, 2009

It's some old school tech from the Xeon line.  The processors have faster switching capabilities, they're more efficient at running multiple threads on the same core than a standard processor is.

 

Unfortunately, due to inadequate utilization by the software, this can actually be a performance loss, so I recommend disabling it in the bios for a quad core.  If you were doing serious work with multi-threaded applications that could tax the cpu, it would be a very nice bonus though.  Most of the enterprise development software is set up very nicely for it, the typical game gains absolutely zip.

on Dec 29, 2009

The older LGA775 socket has more aftermarket parts and is a cheaper option for those who just want to upgrade rather than purchase an entirely new motherboard. Keep in mind, that the LGA775 motherboards are generally cheaper than the newer LGA1156 ones, and the LGA1156 compatible processor heatsink/fans etc. are rarer since they are fairly  new.

on Dec 29, 2009

http://www.anandtech.com/cpuchipsets/showdoc.aspx?i=3641&p=2

 

These benchmarks should tell you pretty much all you need to know.  In the absolute best case for the Core 2 possible, the 3 GHZ version of the quad runs about even with the i7 860.  In the worst situation (basically anything involving floating point calculations, like 3D effects) the Core 2 falls behind by up to 25%, which will be more since the one you're looking at is 2.83 instead of 3.0

 

Pretty much a no-brainer when the cost is identical.

on Dec 29, 2009

Kaltes
this might be a dumb question but what is hyperthreading?

http://www.osdcom.info/content/view/30/39/

on Dec 29, 2009

I don't know how Intel does their hyperthreading, but I did read AMD's patent for how they do it.  In the Phenom II and Bulldozer series, basically what they do is mirror all the registers in the CPU and multiplex them depending on which thread you're running.  That basically means at 2 threads-per-CPU, you're basically incurring ZERO cost for switching between threads.   It's actually pretty obvious, now that they mention it.   But since AMD holds the patent, I have to assume that is not what Intel's doing.   But when you're talking AMD vs. Intel, you never know.   I can tell you that patent is worth MILLIONS.

However Intel recognizes threads in their microarchitecture, the point is that they're handling threads in the microarchitecture--not making the OS handle it.  When you run a program at 2.8 GHz, the program is stalling all the time; be it for a missed branch assembly instruction, or waiting on the L2 cache to return a value--let alone waiting on main memory or disk I/O.  If you wait just 25 milliseconds for a disk I/O at 2.8 GHz--you do the math.   25ms is forever.  You want to run the other thread that is NOT stalled when that happens.  The problem is, you're incurring a penalty when you context-switch; and if the OS is doing it, guess how it does it:  by reading in all the old register values from the L2.  Defeats the purpose.  The other thread is going to end up stalled out anyway just trying to context switch.  Hyperthreading (however they do it) is getting the CPU to handle the context switches directly, so that you can take advantage of that free CPU time when the other thread is stalled out waiting on a memory access.  It's going to be faster.   But to take advantage of it, you have to have more than 4 threads running (1 per core).

on Dec 29, 2009

Just out of curiosity why Intel?

on Dec 29, 2009

I guess that he (as many other non-computer literate people) believe them to be the best because of how it was in the old days of the AMD K.6-2 when AMD were crap. I know people I gamed with not wanting AMD simply because they have had bad experiences with their previous cpu generations.

 

That has lived on until today though some (can't even guess how many) understand that AMD is just as good if not better then Intel today.

on Dec 29, 2009

I guess that he (as many other non-computer literate people) believe them to be the best because of how it was in the old days

Or he (and some of the rest of us) had a bad deal with AMD.  You only have to be burned once to be twice shy.

on Dec 30, 2009

Does the price of the Core 2 include a processor fan, where as the i7 does not.

Good question, didn't think of that. I checked and both have heatsinks and fans. Didn't seem to be that much different.

on Dec 30, 2009

These benchmarks should tell you pretty much all you need to know. In the absolute best case for the Core 2 possible, the 3 GHZ version of the quad runs about even with the i7 860. In the worst situation (basically anything involving floating point calculations, like 3D effects) the Core 2 falls behind by up to 25%, which will be more since the one you're looking at is 2.83 instead of 3.0

That is great info. Considering the price difference, even at $20 or $30 higher the i7 is still worth the extra money.

Just out of curiosity why Intel?

To be honest, probably because I have followed AMD for so long that I decided to give Intel a chance this time. I wanted to give it a try myself to see if Intel might be better. Odds are I may not notice much but I want to try it myself.

But, since it's gonna be a few months before I actually get to build it, AMD is not out of the question a this point.

I guess that he (as many other non-computer literate people) believe them to be the best because of how it was in the old days of the AMD K.6-2 when AMD were crap.

Well, I consider myself pretty computer literate. I am not very knowledgeable about the specifics on how every piece of hardware in a PC works but these questions help me learn from hands-on people I can actually talk to as oppose to people who write articles and blogs but never really respond back to their audience.

From what I have read AMD and Intel are pretty much at par if we were to take into account that most people (regardless of knowledge) would probably not really notice the differences if put to use 2 PCs to do the same tasks, one with an Intel CPU and one with an AMD CPU. Pros will do all these benchmark test and find that one CPU will do better than the others on certain task but the differences would really not be noticed by the average PC user (again regardless of knowledge) probably even with all these benchmark details. Unless you play a game like Crysis that is. From what I read, it's hard to build a system around that game. LOL.

on Dec 30, 2009

Or he (and some of the rest of us) had a bad deal with AMD. You only have to be burned once to be twice shy.

I currently have an AMD Athlon X2 (I think) and so far works great.

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