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Old 07-07-10, 07:08 AM   #1
ragejg
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Default Tom's asks "Gamers: Do You Need More Than An Athlon II X3?"

This is a pretty dang good article.

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/...ance,2619.html

Quote:
AMD's Athlon II X3 440 is such a capable little chip, and and it costs so little. Is there any real point in spending more money on your gaming machine’s CPU? We explore this question with a head-to-head challenge against Intel's venerable Core i7-920.
Quote:
Since its release, the Athlon II X3 440 has had a strong impact on our recommended gaming CPU list. When you combine its high 3 GHz clock speed, trio of processor cores, and sub-$90 price tag, you end up with a real force in the gaming arena. On top of that, the third processing core allows the Athlon II X3 to be an especially great processor compared to dual-core models because that extra core can smooth out desktop performance when multitasking.

When it comes to gaming, though, the CPU can only do so much; the graphics subsystem is key. We've received some feedback on the forums suggesting that our recommendation of any processor more expensive than the Athlon II X3 440 is frivolous. The argument is that, while game performance may increase with a costlier CPU, the money is wasted because the Athlon II X3 440 is supplying all the performance that games require to achieve smooth frame rates, and that upgrading the graphics cards is the only way to remove a meaningful game performance bottleneck.

We decided to run a series of tests to really explore whether or not there's any point in investing in a CPU more powerful than the Athlon II X3 440 for gaming duty. First, we need to examine how we measure game performance and get a better understanding of how meaningful the numbers are.
I hope AMD now understands that its Athlon chips have become very, very viable options for gaming. It seems to me that when they kept the name after introducing the Phenoms that they only wanted Athlons to be office/general use CPUs. But jeez, for the price, despite the lack of L3 cache, these chips are fantastic overall.

Reading the comments (this is Tom's, mind you) I noticed quite a bit of love for the x3 configuration... however, one commenter to me represented an antithesis to the worthwhile-ness of bang-for-the-buck PC gaming. Killerclick posted the following, and it really made me cringe:

Quote:
I'm sick of these hardware articles for poor people. I want to see more benchmarks for triple SLI, CrossFireX and i7 980x. There's no reason to review a piece of hardware that costs less than $500, there's Newegg reviews for that cheap junk.
It's that kind of attitude that keeps things like an Athlon II x4 @ 3.0 ghz being called an "entry-level" chip (lik ein a recent TechPowerUp review). People like this seem to think that a gaming PC is a POS if the case costs below $250, a motherboard costs, below $200, a CPU costs below $300, etc. etc... As great as it is that there are those of us out there that can truly afford the highest-end stuff, it really doesn't help anything/anyone to spread a mantra of "expensive is the only way to go".

... I had kind of thought that by now, x3 chips would be phased out, and wouldn't be a very good option for gaming. But this appears to not be the case. Having that extra core there to help run background processes while the game is being handled by the other two cores is IMO an inexpensive and worth-it luxury.

And yes, I understand that some RTS/MMO titles like Supreme commander make use of more than 3 cores, so 4 and 6 core based systems are at an advantage in titles like this, but not everyone's an MMO/RTS junkie. Many of us play mostly FPS and racing games.

And also, if you're a multi-GPU gamer (in other words: if you have money to throw around), a more expensive CPU will help that Crossfire/SLI setup to realize its full potential... I have no qualms with that, and it makes me wonder how the new x6 CPUs perform in Crossfire/SLI vs i7. ALTHOUGH... it was interesting to see the little Athlon beat the i7 @ Stalker COP @ 25x16 with two 5870s.

Anyway, good article.
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Old 07-07-10, 07:15 AM   #2
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Default Re: Tom's asks "Gamers: Do You Need More Than An Athlon II X3?"

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It's that kind of attitude that keeps things like an Athlon II x4 @ 2.0 ghz (EDIT: ragejg typo'ed, meant 3.0) being called an "entry-level" chip.
so what excactly is a Athlon II x4 @ 2.0? of course its an entry-level.

haha, what kind of stupid review is this?

comparing low end CPU with crossfire to i7 with single card.

Quote:
And yes, I understand that some RTS/MMO titles like Supreme commander make use of more than 3 cores, so 4 and 6 core based systems are at an advantage in titles like this, but not everyone's an MMO/RTS junkie. Many of us play mostly FPS and racing games.
almost every unreal based game will need quad to run well, don't forget GTA4
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Old 07-07-10, 07:20 AM   #3
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Default Re: Tom's asks "Gamers: Do You Need More Than An Athlon II X3?"

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Originally Posted by nekrosoft13 View Post
so what excactly is a Athlon II x4 @ 2.0? of course its an entry-level.

haha, what kind of stupid review is this?

comparing low end CPU with crossfire to i7 with single card.



almost every unreal based game will need quad to run well, don't forget GTA4
That was a typo on my part. I meant 3.0, sorry.

And regarding your Unreal engine comment, sorry to say but that's not entirely true. Have you used an x3? I think you'd be pleasantly surprised.

I think instead of just giving this review a knee-jerk reaction you should think about the points they're trying to make here. There's plenty of hardware enthusiasts out there who wonder if they should have an $80 CPU and a $300 GPU, or a $300 CPU and an $80 GPU. ... and these guys/gals aren't dumbasses for it, they just might not have a lot of money to play with. This article explores that theme quite well.
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Old 07-07-10, 07:42 AM   #4
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Default Re: Tom's asks "Gamers: Do You Need More Than An Athlon II X3?"

Not everyone who games is a 20 year old college kid with Mom and Dad paying for everything. I'm doing well for myself and can finally ACTUALLY afford the top end stuff, whereas just a few years ago I had to really make sacrifices to buy the biggest and fastest. But now I find myself not needing that last 10% at the top. I upgraded from a GTX 8800 to a 5850 in December of last year. And, aside from some drivers issues, I'm very happy with my upgrade and for the first time in my life I didn't buy a $500+ card. I'm still using a Q6600 which is more than adequate for anything I throw at it.

Would I rather spend another $300 to get another 5-10% performance? Hell no! It just doesn't make any sense. My wife and I both love technology and performance hardware and we both make really good money. But it just doesn't make sense to throw the extra money at it when we've got a house, cars, etc. We can afford to, but just think the money could be spent better elsewhere.

I think it makes the MOST sense to review mid-tier hardware. People who want the best are going to buy the best - and typically it just takes a few reviews to figure that out. However, people who buy middle of the road hardware really need to know if they are getting the best bang for their buck.

Fantastic post and point, rage.
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Old 07-07-10, 07:52 AM   #5
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Default Re: Tom's asks "Gamers: Do You Need More Than An Athlon II X3?"

Awesome thread and article.

Q - Some good points as well.

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Old 07-07-10, 08:09 AM   #6
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Default Re: Tom's asks "Gamers: Do You Need More Than An Athlon II X3?"

Good article. Personally I like the budget hardware as I set a very strict budget for myself and want the best price/perf. I can get, so AMD's whole lineup is win-win for me.

Good stuff.
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Old 07-07-10, 08:16 AM   #7
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Default Re: Tom's asks "Gamers: Do You Need More Than An Athlon II X3?"

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Originally Posted by Q View Post
I think it makes the MOST sense to review mid-tier hardware. People who want the best are going to buy the best - and typically it just takes a few reviews to figure that out. However, people who buy middle of the road hardware really need to know if they are getting the best bang for their buck.
+ One Million.

If only there was a way to make this sector as publicity-grabbing... because most of the time it's only the newest, shiniest and fastest stuff that attracts readers and viewers... while the hardware a tier or two down from that is what is truly selling lucratively.
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Old 07-07-10, 08:17 AM   #8
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Default Re: Tom's asks "Gamers: Do You Need More Than An Athlon II X3?"

This is why my last review was done on an x3 system, and is also why I will publish one more review with that rig as well.
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Old 07-07-10, 08:23 AM   #9
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Default Re: Tom's asks "Gamers: Do You Need More Than An Athlon II X3?"

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I'm sick of these hardware articles for poor people. I want to see more benchmarks for triple SLI, CrossFireX and i7 980x. There's no reason to review a piece of hardware that costs less than $500, there's Newegg reviews for that cheap junk.
Even though he really phrased it badly and insultingly, he does have a point though. More people buy cheaper budget-to-midrange hardware, so it is easier to get a general idea of how good a product is from aggregate consumer reviews to help you with your purchase. Its also more likely that other people you know have bought the same product and you can ask questions. But for really high end hardware and setups, one really needs to do their research before plunking down all that dough to see if they would really find it worth it, and thats what these review sites are for. Back when I got 3D Vision, I found hardware sites that reviewed it, seeing as I knew nobody who had such a setup already, and made my purchasing decision from those professional reviews. But for something like a hard drive or a DVD drive, I just used Newegg's review system and found a product that had a good rating from a large number of buyers and purchased those.
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Old 07-07-10, 08:29 AM   #10
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Default Re: Tom's asks "Gamers: Do You Need More Than An Athlon II X3?"

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Originally Posted by Q View Post

I think it makes the MOST sense to review mid-tier hardware. People who want the best are going to buy the best - and typically it just takes a few reviews to figure that out. However, people who buy middle of the road hardware really need to know if they are getting the best bang for their buck.
I also buy budget hardware

while my main rig is i7+480GTX, i also have two 3 budget systems, 2 of them being AMD.

1) server/renderbox = Athlonx4 on 890GX platform
2) HTPC = Phenomx4 on 780G with GT240 (because ATI still didn't fix hardware acceleration )
3) family pc : i5 with ondie video

Rage, you said "Have you used an x3? I think you'd be pleasantly surprised." Why would I bother with x3? when low end (yet faster) X4 cost 10-30 bucks more.

And "There's plenty of hardware enthusiasts out there who wonder if they should have an $80 CPU and a $300 GPU, or a $300 CPU and an $80 GPU"

Thats quite obvious, if you want to play games, you will be better off with faster GPU.
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Old 07-07-10, 08:42 AM   #11
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Default Re: Tom's asks "Gamers: Do You Need More Than An Athlon II X3?"

Quote:
Originally Posted by nekrosoft13
Rage, you said "Have you used an x3? I think you'd be pleasantly surprised." Why would I bother with x3? when low end (yet faster) X4 cost 10-30 bucks more.
That $30 could go toward something else, like towards a Blu-Ray drive, a better PSU or another stick of DDR2/DDR3. Some people figure out their performance to a T, to the dollar. I ended up finding out that I wasn't really going to be that much better off with something too much faster, so I've stuck with Athlon x3 425s and Phenom x3 720BEs wince July of last year. I've since upgraded the Athlon to another x3 720BE, but I'm sure if I overclocked it, it would have more than gotten me by. The extra core or three of an x4/x6 is nice, but it's fairly apparent that in a lot of cases, it's just not needed yet, although at the same time, three cores does give a system a valueable amount of relief vs a dual-core.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nekrosoft13
And "There's plenty of hardware enthusiasts out there who wonder if they should have an $80 CPU and a $300 GPU, or a $300 CPU and an $80 GPU"

Thats quite obvious, if you want to play games, you will be better off with faster GPU.
It's obvious, but try telling that to the kids at WOW, BC2 and MW2 forums gaming on their Christmas computers, some of whom are budding hardware enthusiasts who migrate in waves to sites like Tom's, Anand, [h], then here and r3d if they're super-GPU cool.
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Old 07-07-10, 08:54 AM   #12
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Default Re: Tom's asks "Gamers: Do You Need More Than An Athlon II X3?"

There might be the few who will spend $1000+ on two cards just to run a few games better than anyone else.

I like articles like this because to get in the game, you don't need that kinda horsepower.

It's the constant upgrade game that people feel they need to do which has turned off the potential PC gamer. I have a bunch of friends who just dropped out of PC gaming all together because of the hardware upgrade game, drm and other issues. They have a laptop or mac laptop and a console now.
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