Choosing A Processor

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ChevySSbowtie Posted: Mon, Feb 15 2010 5:29 PM

Hello All, I'm a noobie to this site and to building computers.

I'm getting ready to build my first computer and have been researching different parts etc.

I'm confused on buying a processor, if anyone could help me understand more clearly it would be greatly appreciated.

What I dont understand is why I would want to buy an i7 960 with 3.20 GHz up to 3.46 with turbo boost, instead of an i5 670 with 3.46 GHz up to 3.73 with turbo boost? ( I'm using these 2 processors for an example) I mean wouldn't I want to buy the processor with the highest core clock speed??

How is more cores gonna benefit if the core clock speed is lower?

Sorry if this is too elementary

Thanks

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Inspector replied on Mon, Feb 15 2010 6:29 PM

I got a simple and free solution to your answer :D

Stick around HH and post like crazy (no spam... lol) so you can win the contest and not have this issue any more xD

any ways im not sure about the 17 and i5 either but i think it was to do with multi tasking with more cores.

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It depends on what you are doing... the i7 will be much faster in media applications and gaming to a point... yes the higher clock speed is better how ever it does not tell the entire story... for example if you has an i7 and an i5 at say 3.2ghz the i7 would be faster because all the cores can help one another... now it wouldn't be twice as fast as the i5 it would be about an 1.4x improvement or so... however the more cpu intense things you do the more noticeable the increase will be

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Super Dave replied on Mon, Feb 15 2010 10:58 PM

ChevySSbowtie:
I mean wouldn't I want to buy the processor with the highest core clock speed?

"Clock rates should not be used when comparing different CPUs families. Rather, software benchmarks should be used." - Ripped from Wikipedia. The whole article is available HERE. Also, the amount of cache a CPU has plays a big role (think of it as onboard memory). Welcome to HotHardware, Chevy!

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Super Dave:

ChevySSbowtie:
I mean wouldn't I want to buy the processor with the highest core clock speed?

"Clock rates should not be used when comparing different CPUs families. Rather, software benchmarks should be used." - Ripped from Wikipedia. The whole article is available HERE. Also, the amount of cache a CPU has plays a big role (think of it as onboard memory). Welcome to HotHardware, Chevy!

If I'm not mistaken, the core i5 and core i7 lines have the same amount of cache...8mb.  The primary difference is that the core i7 line has hyper threading which creates 4 virtual cores in addition to the 4 physical cores.  Thus you end up with 8 virtual cores which divide up the work being done, as opposed to just 4.  Like Der said, you won't get double the performance because those additional 4 cores don't exist, hence being virtual. 

From what I'm seeing, like Der had also mentioned, the core i7 is best suited for cpu intensive tasks.  If you're looking for a nice step up from the old days and don't use as much horsepower in the realm of cpu's then the i5 is your best option.  They perfom very well and don't fall that far behind the i7's. 

Also, one more mention on the Turbo boost feature, it works with playing around with the multiplier, so you won't see a huge performance difference anyway, unless they have now started changing the fsb along with it, but they haven't.

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Super Dave replied on Thu, Feb 18 2010 12:35 AM

mentaldisorder:
The primary difference is that the core i7 line has hyper threading which creates 4 virtual cores in addition to the 4 physical cores.

Core i7 also offers triple-channel memory support - Core i5 doesn't.

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only some of the I7's have triple channel...

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Der Meister:

only some of the I7's have triple channel...

Agreed, I think the 720 or one of those has only dual.

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Soupstyle replied on Thu, Feb 18 2010 9:28 PM

mentaldisorder:

If I'm not mistaken, the core i5 and core i7 lines have the same amount of cache...8mb.  The primary difference is that the core i7 line has hyper threading which creates 4 virtual cores in addition to the 4 physical cores.  Thus you end up with 8 virtual cores which divide up the work being done, as opposed to just 4.  Like Der said, you won't get double the performance because those additional 4 cores don't exist, hence being virtual. 

From what I'm seeing, like Der had also mentioned, the core i7 is best suited for cpu intensive tasks.  If you're looking for a nice step up from the old days and don't use as much horsepower in the realm of cpu's then the i5 is your best option.  They perfom very well and don't fall that far behind the i7's. 

Also, one more mention on the Turbo boost feature, it works with playing around with the multiplier, so you won't see a huge performance difference anyway, unless they have now started changing the fsb along with it, but they haven't.

HyperThreading is the main difference between those chips, and why the i7 is better (and more expensive) than the i5.

Also if you can choose whether you want a 1366 (most i7s) or 1156 (i3, i5, etc) socket board. If you aren't doing too many cpu intensive tasks (like if you only use the computer for video, internet and most games), then you probably could go for a 2 core CPU to save cash.

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i have an old dell xps pentium 4 with hyper threading  3.4 GHz and never could tell if the hyper threading was helping anything. whenever i would rip a cd it would rip one track and try to encode another track at the same time and it was agonzingly slow, of course it could be because it only had 512MB ram.  i edit alot of music files, so i'm not sure if hyper threading is something i'll need for that, also i'm wanting to record live so would hyper threading be something to consider for that or no?

Thanx for all the input so far it has helped me a great deal

Tom

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The core i7 is more oriented towards professionals, people who use more threads.  The i5 is more for gamers who won't benefit from the threads.  Same deal with the Core 2 Duo and the Core 2 Quad.

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realneil replied on Mon, Feb 22 2010 9:11 PM

Core i7 exists in socket 1366 and in socket 1156 flavors. Mine is a socket 1156 core i7- 870. The Intel 'Turbo Boost' function on the 1156 sockets is more dynamic than on the 1366 socket CPU's. In some cases, with some programs, the 1156 CPU's outperform the 1366 CPU's.

Another notable difference is that  the 1156 only has dual channel memory, and the 1366 has the capability to run triple channel too. Many memory intensive programs benefit from the third channel being there. IE: 6GB trumps 4GB, 12GB trumps 8GB, and 24GB trumps16GB.

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So that seems like a reason as to why some cpus are dual channel and others are triple, nice find.

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gotta love the 1366... lol

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Super Dave replied on Mon, Feb 22 2010 11:06 PM

ChevySSbowtie:
I'm confused on buying a processor, if anyone could help me understand more clearly it would be greatly appreciated.

THIS just in, Chevy.

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Yea  SSbowtie that 512MB of ram you had on that Pentium 4 will no doubt bottleneck your multitasking.  System ram and cores kinda go hand in hand, one is useless without the other IMO. You have to feed those cores and you feed them with ram hope that makes since. 

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Hey Chevy, if you're still around and paying attention to this topic, here's my two cents.

"How is more cores gonna benefit if the core clock speed is lower?"

Now, first off let me just say that I am by no means an expert on this. I mean, I'm still running a single-core Athlon 64-FX. However, I have read a lot about the new processors, looked at benchmarks and all that, and to directly answer your question: More cores gives you a benefit in parallel processing, like you mentioned I believe with ripping two tracks simultaneously (which is a bad example since that's bottlenecked by drive speeds). Not many games or programs are optimized to use more than one core: Windows 7 lets you assign different processes to different cores, and some games do REQUIRE a dual-core processor, but you will not need any more than 4 cores for the next few years. That said, hyper-threading in the i7 series will be useless for you. It does depend a bit on what kind of games you will be playing: RTS are very CPU-intensive, FPS rely more on the graphics card, but in general you're only buying a quad-core processor for when games and programs DO need more cores.

I personally am a huge fan of AMD processors, one of the reasons being they use a socket architecture instead of LGA. I upgrade/play around with my computers A LOT, and I prefer the pins to be on the CPU, not on the motherboard (especially since LGA pins seem weaker than CPU pins by a huge amount). But that's just me: if you're a beginning builder and will probably leave your PC alone once it's done, I would recommend either a Core i5 or one of AMD's Phenom II processors, 4 GB DDR3 RAM (all you will ever need), and maybe two Radeons in CrossFire mode (but if you buy a 58xx series, just one should be enough).

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Hey all,

Thanks for the help, all the posts have helped me understand things much better, although i still have far to go to get where all of you are!  i haven't replied much but i do read all the posts and alot of reviews here. This site is great!

Chevy

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This place taught everything I know. Your in the right place to learn!

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Devhux replied on Mon, Mar 22 2010 12:09 AM

Don't worry, we were all in the same boat as you at some point Chevy.  HotHardware is definitely a great resource as well (I've been visiting the site for years, even though I haven't been on the forums much.  :)

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I would most definitely benefit from the LGA 1366 chipsets. I do a lot of heavy video editing and rendering. And trust me, moving those files around in 3D space in real time takes up a lot of power, and sometimes I have to be patient on this crappy system that I have. 

Of course I'm referring to using Adobe After Effects to edit HiDef movies and pictures. 

But that of course is geared more towards GPU, at least until the render part comes into play, then its all about the beautiful connection between GPU and CPU. 

The same goes with Sony Vegas. Whenever I save my massive project file, and decide to click render, I am always agonized about how much time it's going to take a full capacity. 

If I could have an i7 in my system...Boom!...problem solved. 

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barmmer replied on Wed, Mar 24 2010 7:21 PM

Now what exactly is the use of the 8 MB of cache memory?

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In order to understand what Cache Memory is, it's important to understand what types of memory there are: 

Primary Storage - this is the main source of storage that your computer will identify with the most. In a nutshell, primary storage is simply your RAM. 

Secondary Storage - This is storage like hard drives, or Solid State Drives. Other example are like flash drives. 

Basically, whenever you chose to perform a process on your computer, your processor consults with your Cache Memory first. It does this because the most recently used data is likely stored inside the cache memory. If it's not, the CPU then has to consult with the Secondary Drives, and so on. 

If the file that your processor is looking in is immediately located inside the cache data, then your processor will simply load that data instantly without a hitch. This is much, much faster than the processor having to read the data off of secondary memory sources. 

Basically, the larger amount of data storage that you have on your mobo, the more recent data you can store before the processor has to redirect it's request to the secondary memory source. 

I hope I said all that right haha. 

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I'd say that you hit the nail right on the head.

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barmmer replied on Thu, Mar 25 2010 11:42 PM

Ahh yes it's all coming back to me now. But 8 or even 12 MB of cache doesn't sound like much at all as primary ram! And how does it factor in with the 6-8 gigs of additional ram?

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dlim783 replied on Thu, Jul 1 2010 8:58 PM

Consider i7 950 since that price is going down from $500 to $294 USD this August; however, they're going to replace i7 930 since the price looks almost identical with i7 950.

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barmmer:

Ahh yes it's all coming back to me now. But 8 or even 12 MB of cache doesn't sound like much at all as primary ram! And how does it factor in with the 6-8 gigs of additional ram?

Well, we're dealing with CPU instructions -- reading and writing of registers -- which generally have between 16, 32, or 64 bit word sizes (depending on the architecture) so that's hundreds of thousands of instructions that would fit in the cache.

The "6-8 gb additional ram" is referred to as the Main Memory.  The CPU intends to go there for the data, but it checks first to see if it's in it's lower level cache. The principle of storage hierarchy is always the same: faster storage is more expensive so you have less of it but you reference it firs, i.e.  CPU cache -> RAM -> Conventional Hard Disk -> Mass storage 

Hope that helps!

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