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i5 or i7? Do I need to overclock?

Tue Feb 14, 2012 9:59 am

I'm thinking about upgrading my gaming rig since it's been a few years and I need some advice on which CPU to get. I've never overclocked my machines before. After spending so much money on them I didn't want to run the risk of frying anything and I've never been terribly disappointed with the performance of stock settings. I'm coming from a ~4 year old rig with an amd phenom ii x3 720 and a geforce gtx 260.

That being said, should I get the i7 2600k which seems to be the typical high-end recommendation or should I drop to i5 or drop the k? This would cut some budget free for a higher end graphics card (gtx 570?). As a gamer, what's the trade off of a choice like this? Is overclocking a high end processor necessary? Do you actually see an improvement? Or is that just for bragging rights?

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Re: i5 or i7? Do I need to overclock?

Tue Feb 14, 2012 10:13 am

I would just get the 2500K. As this article shows, there is no appreciable improvement in gaming between that and the 2600/K. And the $100+ savings is substantial.

As far as overclocking...that's really up to you. The 2500K can overclock from its max 3.7 turbo boost to 4.4GHz pretty easily. If you are worried about shortening the life of the CPU, I would recommend not increasing the voltage. Leaving the voltage at stock value will limit your overclock, but it GREATLY reduces/elminates the negative side effects of overclocking. Also, remember that just because you overclock this CPU to 4.4 GHz doesnt mean it will run at that frequency constantly. It will likely spend a great deal of its time at the standard 3.3 GHz.
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Re: i5 or i7? Do I need to overclock?

Tue Feb 14, 2012 10:16 am

If you have a Microcenter nearby, or know anyone who does you can get a 2500k + $50 off any mobo. IMO it's the best deal out there. Overclocking will get you better results for sure, but there is still plenty of power in those chips if you run stock. Grab a Cooler Master Hyper 212+/EVO and you will be able to OC to 4Ghz+ easy. Even the stock cooler will give you a decent overclock.

Don't get the 2600k unless your workload will benefit from HyperThreading. If it's just for gaming go with the 2500k. Save your dough and get a 7950 or wait until the new Nvidia cards come out. Also, make sure to grab a Gen3 mobo so you can take advantage of PCI-E 3.0 when/if you want to upgrade to Ivy Bridge.
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Re: i5 or i7? Do I need to overclock?

Tue Feb 14, 2012 10:38 am

Welcome to the forums. The Core i5-2500K is really all you need. Go pick up a 7970 or a 7950 instead, just like the other posts mentioned. Core i7 is not really worth it in your case.
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Re: i5 or i7? Do I need to overclock?

Tue Feb 14, 2012 10:47 am

I too agree to get the i5 2500k. It's so easy to overclock, just set it to 100/101 x 43/44 or thereabouts and be done with it. Most likely you'll be stable without having to change anything else. That's all the processor you'll need for most gaming anyway and spending more on the graphics card will have more of an effect on framerates. You could also put the savings toward a nice monitor or speakers too.
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Re: i5 or i7? Do I need to overclock?

Tue Feb 14, 2012 8:19 pm

If you're buying a processor for a gaming system today, Intel's Core i5-2500K (Sandy Bridge) CPU provides the best bang for your buck. If you're willing to wait another two months, you might consider a Core i5-3570K (Ivy Bridge) CPU, instead.

Previous-generation graphics cards like Radeon HD6950 and GeForce GTX570 provide good gaming performance, but the current-generation Radeon HD7950 is appealing because it is fabricated on a newer 28nm node, allowing it to use less power than similarly-performing GPUs of the previous two generations that were fabricated on TSMC's 40nm process. Radeon HD7870 should appear by the time that Ivy Bridge CPUs are available, filling the Radeon HD6950's performance niche.
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