Jump to content
Mr. Green Gaming

got a offer on a cpu at a pc store for 170 pounds should i get it

Recommended Posts

  • 3 weeks later...

I'm not sure which programs you wish to run, but for games I'd recommend nothing less than the AMD Phenom II x4. This range offers excellent value, performance scaling and backwards compatibility. The savings you would make (especially compared to Intel), can then be passed onto the all-important GPU. So those are my reasons for recommending this CPU and they are explained below in more detail.

A Well-Balanced Gaming Rig

Overall 3D game performance is heavily influenced by the total performance of two crucial components: the CPU and GPU. This does vary however depending on the game; some are very kind to weaker CPU’s.

On the CPU side most current games don't scale well - if at all - beyond two cores; rather, they benefit more from core efficiency, clock speed and in some cases (AMD) L3 cache. A growing number of titles do scale well however (GTA IV benefits greatly from using 3 or 4 cores).

Your GPU will also influence overall performance especially if you wish to run 3D games at high resolutions with maximum detail.

For storage as long as you have a half-decent SATA drive and 4GB of value RAM then you should be fine. Just keep in mind that you might need a new PSU (never ever skimp on this part) as well as some case cooling.

So as you can see it’s important to strike a balance. Don't blow your cash on a Phenom II x6 and deny yourself a decent GPU; not only will most games not use the extra cores, they'll also be held back waiting for the (slow) GPU to render the scene.

The AMD Phenom II

The Phenom II is a Socket AM3 (938-pin) CPU that is also backwards-compatible will some AM2+ (940-pin) motherboards. Socket AM2+ CPU's will not work in AM3 boards.

The budget version of Phenom II is named Athlon II. Phenom II is more powerful for the following reasons:

- 6 MB L3 cache vs. none: upto +16% more performance.

- Upto 6 cores vs. 4.

- Hex-core versions have 'Turbo CORE', a dynamic over-clocking feature for speeding up lightly-threaded apps.

- Hex-core versions have improved power characteristics: the same power draw as quad-core Phenom II or even less with some versions! (95 watts vs 125).

Phenom II is recommended because the price increase is fairly small and because of the performance increase on account of the L3 cache. But Athlon II is still a powerful processor for the money: the performance drop isn't massive, and in a lot of cases can easily be compensated for through moderate over-clocking.

The highly-rated Phenom II x4 955 BE (3.2GHz) is an excellent gaming CPU. The 'BE' denotes 'Black Edition', meaning unlocked multiplier for easier over-clocking should the need ever arise. Most Phenom II's are excellent over-clockers, including the regular versions with their locked multipliers. The 955's should be able to reach 975 speeds (3.6GHz) or beyond with ease.

How does the x4 955 BE compare to Intel? At stock speeds it’s generally as powerful as first-generation i5. But this difference varies depending on the game. For example, under GTA IV the 955 competes well with Intel’s expensive flagship, the i7. Not only that, but once you factor in the price/performance ratio and backwards compatibility.. AMD wins hands-down.

Phenom II x4 Benchmarks

AMD Phenom II x4 vs Athlon II x4

Impact of Phenom II's 6MB L3 Cache


Phenom II's 6MB L3 cache offers upto 16% extra performance over Athlon II.

AMD Phenom II vs. Intel i5 & i7

All systems using the same GPU


The above benchmark illustrates the importance of getting the CPU/GPU balance right.

Most current games don't scale well beyond two cores - they benefit more from per-core efficiency, clock speed and in some cases L3 cache. This explains why AMD's 3.4GHz quad-core Phenom II CPU is slightly faster than their 3.2GHz hex-core variant. It also explains why despite a low clock speed of 2.66GHz, the Intel i7 beats the both of them.. the i7 is simply more efficient.

The GPU also plays an important role. Note the FPS drop when enabling 8x anti-aliasing, which is due to increased demands on the GPU's memory bandwidth and capacity. This performance drop becomes more noticeable the higher the resolution and quality, until the point where the GPU becomes the limiting factor (look how close the green bars are as each system is held back by the GPU however overall performance remains excellent).

What matters most in this benchmark is the fact that despite the variations in CPU hardware and associated costs, even the cheaper AMD Phenom II x4 is capable of producing silk-smooth game-play..as long as you don't skimp on the GPU.


GTA IV is one of the few games able to upto 4 cores (3 cores minimum is recommended and is a huge improvement over dual-core). Instead of buying a hex-core CPU your money would be better spent on a quad-core along with a professional gaming GPU, i.e. one that can provide maximum image quality at higher resolutions.


Phenom II x4 performs well compared to the competition.


Thanks to AMD's engineering expertise, heat won't a big issue unless you're into serious over-clocking. All current AMD processors include thermal overload protection as standard.

Max. TDP Comparison (starting with oldest part):

. Athlon X2 6400+ (3.4GHz) .. 90nm.. 2 cores .. 125w

. Phenom II x4 965 (3.4GHz) .. 45nm.. 4 cores .. 125w

. Phenom II x6 1090T (3.2GHz) .. 45nm.. 6 cores .. 125w*

Despite more cores and cache, the maximum power draw remains the same. This is due to the internal components being smaller and in some cases* further refined.

Your board can 'officially' accommodate CPU’s upto 140W.


Gigabyte GA-MA74GM-S2 (rev. 1.x) - CPU Support

AMD Phenom II x 6 1090T (3.2GHz) Review & AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition (3.2GHz) Review

Building a Balanced Gaming PC (July, 2010) & (August, 2010)

Best Gaming CPU's (January, 2011)

Best Gaming Graphics Cards (February, 2011)

GTA IV - CPU Benchmarks

PSU Capacity Calculator

Edited by Quad_Tube
Link to comment

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...