CPU Round-up: $100 - $200 Intel and AMD Processors Tested

By Julio Franco ยท 31 replies
Apr 19, 2010
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  1. 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.

    Read the full review at:

    Please leave your feedback here.
  2. LightHeart

    LightHeart TS Rookie Posts: 155


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

    JMMD TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 854

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

    Zilliak TS Booster Posts: 164

    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.
  5. http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml?product_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.
  6. 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?
  7. Kibaruk

    Kibaruk TechSpot Paladin Posts: 3,286   +903

    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?
  8. tipstir

    tipstir TS Ambassador Posts: 2,477   +126

    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.
  9. miguel11

    miguel11 TS Rookie

  10. 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.
  11. Relic

    Relic TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,379   +16

  12. Julio Franco

    Julio Franco TechSpot Editor Topic Starter Posts: 7,674   +990

    @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 :)
  13. Kibaruk

    Kibaruk TechSpot Paladin Posts: 3,286   +903

    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.
  14. kazarm

    kazarm TS Rookie Posts: 29

    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.
  15. 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.
  16. Timonius

    Timonius TS Evangelist Posts: 647   +58

    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.
  17. perhaps including this would make things more interesting

  18. slh28

    slh28 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,706   +172

    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.
  19. 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.

  20. jgvmx

    jgvmx TS Rookie Posts: 45

    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.
  21. Steve

    Steve TechSpot Editor Posts: 2,869   +2,039

    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.

    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.
  22. 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...
  23. Steve

    Steve TechSpot Editor Posts: 2,869   +2,039

    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.
  24. CMH

    CMH TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,039   +9

    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?
  25. miguel11

    miguel11 TS Rookie

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

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