CPU Roundup: $100-200 Intel and AMD CPUs Tested

By on April 19, 2010, 7:01 AM
Building your own computer can be very time consuming and rewarding at the same time. While piecing the new hardware together is usually a relatively easy task, picking out the right components in the first place is what can make it more troublesome. The first component that must be decided upon before any build takes place is the processor, as this will dictate which motherboard can be used and often the memory type. With so many choices at your disposal, we understand it's hard not to become overwhelmed. Therefore we have taken a dozen processors priced within the $100 - $200 price range and pitted them against each other, so you can draw clear conclusions on what will suit you the best. We have also added a segment that compares all 12 processors on a clock-for-clock basis. This comparison of architectures aims to remove the operating frequency impact on performance and allows us to show you exactly how these CPUs perform side-by-side.
Besides the processors themselves, we will be also taking under consideration the value and performance differences between the platforms used, so motherboards and chipsets will be factored into the whole equation. And now, let's meet the contenders both from the green and blue camps... Read the complete article.




User Comments: 31

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LightHeart said:

Thanks

Thanks for taking the time to test the processors and write up a great article.

JMMD JMMD, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Nice article. I emailed it to a friend who's looking for a new CPU.

Zilliak said:

I agree thanks for the time. But i will always go for amd unless intel slaps a graphic card that is powerful as god in there 1000$ i7 i will be buying from amd.

Guest said:

http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml?pro
uct_id=0317378

You can find an i7 860 for the price of a retail i5 750, it fits in the same socket as the i5, but you get a tiny bit better clock speed and hyper-threading.

Guest said:

Why did you use an ATI Radeon HD 5870 (1GB) for the

- Intel Core i5 750 (2.66GHz)

- Intel Core i5 650 (3.20GHz)

- Intel Core i3 540 (3.06GHz)

and a ATI Radeon HD 5850 (1GB) for all the rest of the processors?

Kibaruk Kibaruk, TechSpot Paladin, said:

My question is... with nowadays graphic accelerator cards, does the processor really impact gaming?

Would it REALLY matter to have an i7 or an athlon II 450 paired with a 5870? Ok please now read it again I emphatized the REALLY because of course you can see an improvement, but is it REALLY that big a deal?

tipstir tipstir, TS Ambassador, said:

Best testing I've seen so far in CPUs. My money is on the AMD Quad 4C/4T, though the 6 core would be nice to see how that goes up against the new INTEL i7 core. AMD Quad and the ATI HD chipsets are pretty fast. Unless you need to go PCI-E x16 or better on adapter card thus you don't have to share memory, but the newer systems VRAM is integrated so no need to share you still have the option to share main RAM into VRAM. Hard-core Gamings would go the adapter card route with 1-up GB of VRAM.

miguel11 said:

I bought my i7 860 for $199.99 at MicroCenter on store pickup. From all the choices out there (from $100-$200) I believe a i7 860 wins.

[link]

Cheers

BMfan BMfan said:

Thanx for the test.

I'm going to wait and see how much one of the new Phenoms II 940T cost before i think of replacing my phenom II X4 B50.

Relic Relic, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

miguel11 said:

I bought my i7 860 for $199.99 at MicroCenter on store pickup. From all the choices out there (from $100-$200) I believe a i7 860 wins.

[link]

Cheers

I wish I lived close to a MicroCenter /cry. And there prices are sadly not always the norm .

Staff
Julio Franco Julio Franco, TechSpot Editor, said:

@Guest, Kibaruk - All processors were tested with the same graphics card (Radeon HD 5850), there was a glaring typo in our test system specs that you noticed. Obviously, all processors/platforms had to be tested under the most similar circumstances, otherwise what would be the point? Thanks everyone for the positive feedback so far

Kibaruk Kibaruk, TechSpot Paladin, said:

No no I know but I meant... in processing for gaming, there was with no doubt a lot of FPS in difference, but even in the lowest it was above 60, and for the eye I read above 30 FPS it is not noticeable, so I aim that way.

kazarm said:

Very nice review and with just the rigth focus on value.

I would buy the Phenom II X2 555, try to unlock the cores and overclock it.

It should go with one of the new 890FX chipsets and in a year or two replace it with an eight core Zambezi CPU.

Guest said:

I love this article. The best part: A proper conclusion that makes sense, regarding what processor to buy in each price bracket.

However, i am a little disturbed about one of the other comments that suggested that the high end Intel chips were using a different graphics card for gaming (HD 5870 not HD 5850 like the rest.). Further more looking at the benchmarks this seems to be the case, where all the CPUs fall within a narrow margin, and one or two intel chips perform much faster.

Timonius Timonius said:

Wow, thanks for the information! I can see why you included the core 2 processors for comparison, but I would not even bother with them unless Intel decides to deep discount them. But then again if they did that, they would lose their focus and sales on their newer cpus.

Guest said:

perhaps including this would make things more interesting

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819103
92

slh28 slh28, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Nice review, it's a shame AMD doesn't have a processor to compete with anything faster than the i5 750 because noboby wants to pay Intel tax on the high end processors.

Guest said:

You guys never seem to stop giving us the best even if we dont know if we wanted it. I say hands down this is a life saver.....Please do a test with the CS5 preferebly PS, AfterE, and Premiere Pro.

Thanks

jgvmx said:

Nice and useful test, in my country almost all the action on the market happens in this price range. For most non-professional or high end gaming tasks, these "cheap" cpu are more than enough to do the job.

Bought an X4 620 last year and so far im very happy with it, specially with its encoding power. And yes, the Core2 line needs a good price drop to compete with AMD on the lower end, they are good cpu, but way too expensive compared to current offerings.

Staff
Steve Steve said:

Why did you use an ATI Radeon HD 5870 (1GB) for the

- Intel Core i5 750 (2.66GHz)

- Intel Core i5 650 (3.20GHz)

- Intel Core i3 540 (3.06GHz)

and a ATI Radeon HD 5850 (1GB) for all the rest of the processors?

I love this article. The best part: A proper conclusion that makes sense, regarding what processor to buy in each price bracket.

However, i am a little disturbed about one of the other comments that suggested that the high end Intel chips were using a different graphics card for gaming (HD 5870 not HD 5850 like the rest.). Further more looking at the benchmarks this seems to be the case, where all the CPUs fall within a narrow margin, and one or two intel chips perform much faster.

I love this article. The best part: A proper conclusion that makes sense, regarding what processor to buy in each price bracket.

However, i am a little disturbed about one of the other comments that suggested that the high end Intel chips were using a different graphics card for gaming (HD 5870 not HD 5850 like the rest.). Further more looking at the benchmarks this seems to be the case, where all the CPUs fall within a narrow margin, and one or two intel chips perform much faster.

As Julio said this was a simply typo, nothing to get excited about and has now been corrected. There is simply no way we would use a different graphics card for one of the test systems.

No no I know but I meant... in processing for gaming, there was with no doubt a lot of FPS in difference, but even in the lowest it was above 60, and for the eye I read above 30 FPS it is not noticeable, so I aim that way.

Serious First Person Shooter gamers will consider an average of 60 fps as an absolute minimum. You can certainly very easily detect the difference between 30 and 60 fps while there is a noticeable difference in how the game feels between 60fps and 100fps. This is why most hardcore gamers aim for 100fps for the smoothest possible game play.

Guest said:

hmmn. i wonder if "turbo" was disabled for any intel contenders who have it, and furthermore wonder if said "turbo" frequencies were attained with "open bench" tests, as opposed to "real world" closed cases where only the HSF and accompaning case fans were available to keep the temps in check...

no tin-foil hat here...just bringing up a constant variable that is often overlooked when benching the "turbo" capable intel proc's. especially considering its long been proven that they barely engage in "real world" situations (meaning, closed cases with stock or even better-than-stock HSF and >3x120mm case fans).

just sayin'....my image verification words wouldn't've been "spontaneous dummies" for nothing...

Staff
Steve Steve said:

Turbo Mode was enabled as it is enabled on all motherboards by default. It is a processor feature and should not be disabled for such a test. Your arguments about heat are irrelevant as these processors run very cool even with the standard heatsink. Furthermore Turbo Mode has nothing to do with temperatures as the temperature does not dictate the frequency.

Turbo Mode works according to processor utilization. If a program is using a single core then you get the full overclock though the configuration will differ depending on the processor.

If you find that they barely use it this is because multiple cores are being utilized.

CMH, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

No no I know but I meant... in processing for gaming, there was with no doubt a lot of FPS in difference, but even in the lowest it was above 60, and for the eye I read above 30 FPS it is not noticeable, so I aim that way.

Do notice that (although not mentioned) its probably average fps mentioned. Min fps would be heaps lower, especially if there's alot going on in the scenes.

Personally I'm surprised that Battlefield Bad Company 2 wasn't part of the testing, as its been commented that it utilizes all 4 cores of a CPU (I think). In the forums its also been said that CPU may be bottlenecking the performance in this game. Possible update maybe?

miguel11 said:

Relic said:

miguel11 said:

I bought my i7 860 for $199.99 at MicroCenter on store pickup. From all the choices out there (from $100-$200) I believe a i7 860 wins.

[link]

Cheers

I wish I lived close to a MicroCenter /cry. And there prices are sadly not always the norm .

Ask a family or friend to buy it for you at a store near them. That is how I got mine.

Guest said:

if turbo is enabled, then you're not really getting an honest clock-for-clock comparison, are you? 2.4ghz AMD is not the same as 2.4ghz + turbo for intel.

as for whether or not turbo or speedstep have anything to do with temps, perhaps you should check out scientia's blog on the matter. turbo is great, unless it introduces thermal throttling...and i'm sorry, but thermal throttling DOES happen all too often with the 750. maybe 77-80c is "running cool" to some, but it sounds more like "kool-aid" to me...

at the least, whatever your opinions of my thoughts on this matter, you have to admit that there is no actual "clock for clock" comparison if turbo is enabled. yes, it is enabled by default...but then why do so many intel enthusiasts disable it immediately?

regardless, it will really get interesting when thuban is released, so we can see a real "turbo enabled" comparison between intel and amd will be like. until then, i cry foul...

Staff
Steve Steve said:

if turbo is enabled, then you're not really getting an honest clock-for-clock comparison, are you? 2.4ghz AMD is not the same as 2.4ghz + turbo for intel.

Come on please! Of course Turbo Mode was disabled for the clock to clock testing. Turbo Mode was enabled for all the standard benchmarks. When measuring clock for clock performance the frequency has to be locked at 2.40GHz or what is the point.

Also enthusiasts disable it for one simple reason, they want to overclock. Its that simple...

Guest said:

i purchased a amd x3 435 for $59 with a msi motherboard thats way sub $200

Staff
Steve Steve said:

i purchased a amd x3 435 for $59 with a msi motherboard thats way sub $200

haha yes its also less than $100. Funny about that being that this was a $100 to $200 comparison.

Guest said:

Tests carried out on very practical and accurate. But, why several concurrent processes on software they do not use the same processing power cpu and cores they may be specified.

For example, to work with multiple operating systems on Vmware or software rendering several chart to be executed simultaneously or several files are compressed in Winrar.

g4mer said:

Look all those CPUs. I want oneee !!! xD

Nice article...

Guest said:

I doubt if core i3 540 with LGA 1156 would provide good upgrade pathway, as intel seems to decieded to go with new socket LGA 1155 on 2011Q1...

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