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mathisst

New Core-i5 661's

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Hi All,I have been using FS9 on an overclocked E6600 for a couple of years and was just about to pull the trigger on a new CPU and MOBO that would handle FSX too. Price-wise, an ASUS P7P55D coupled with an i7-860 seemed to be a smart choice, especially when I can pick up the i7-860 for $199 at MicroCenter.However, after reading about the latest i5 series processors at Toms Hardware,http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/intel-...5-661,2514.htmlI am rethinking this strategy. If (since) FS9 & FSX don

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a 4.5GHz i5 661 is about the same performance as a 4GHz i7 920, though. Also I wouldn't expect 4.5GHz as an average case.

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Hmmmm. What would make the 4 GHz 920 roughly equal to the 4.5 661? And is that 920 on air or water? (Also, right out of the gate the 661 is $90.00 cheaper).Stock that 661 is 3.6 GHz, while the 920 is 2.93 GHz in turbo mode, and according to quite a few folks (not only Tom's but Anatech and others) you can overclock the sheet out of the Clarkdales - the Anatech reviewers have them on air higher than that, and ridiculously so with their exotic rigs. For a primarily FS only setup, why spend the money and effort on more cores and such for an application that doesn't take advantage of those features? Mind you, I'm not arguing one way or the other, I'm just trying to understand the differences to make the best choice possible (like almost everyone else here).On a single threaded application (or poorly threaded?) like FS, I keep on reading that clock speed is paramount. Fine. But then, what about the memory architecture, cache and such? Do they really make that much of a difference? If not, then I wouldn't mind giving more of my money to PMDG and the like who could use the support as opposed to Intel, who, well, aren't as bad in their near monopoly as, say, Microsoft . . but still.ThanksStephen

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The 9xx series has twice the L3 cache and an additional 64-bit channel to DDR3 memory. Also the i5 chips which feature on-package graphics move the memory controller over to the GPU, which has a detrimental impact on memory latency. Finally, these same i5s (CPU + GPU) do have higher L3 cache latency than the i7s, 39 vs. 34 clock cycles. These do have an impact on the amount of instructions the processor can complete per clock cycle, thus making an i7 comparable to a higher-clocked i5 in single-threaded workloads. In multi-threaded workloads this disparity would grow even further, as memory and cache bandwidth and latency come into play even more. Keep in mind that while FSX has only one "heavyweight" thread, it still spawns off multiple worker threads to handle A.I., autogen, and pre-load distant textures. This has an impact on the overall fluidity of flight. It can't be measured in numbers as much as it can be discerned by actually using both PCs and comparing side-by-side.Don't get me wrong, the i5s are great chips and I certainly won't dissuade you or anyone else from getting one, but I also wouldn't encourage getting an i5 over an i7 if performance is paramount.

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This is a very interesting thread. I was having very similar thoughts to mathisst, and it's still not clear to me what the best approach is. I'm not planning to overclock (I'm clueless about a lot of stuff and fear melting a new machine so I will end up buying a factory built machine, which probably wouldn't allow me to overclock anyway). So I was trying to decide between an i5 660 at 3.33ghz and and i7 860 at 2.8ghz. The i5 is a bit cheaper and, with the higher clock speed, seems the better choice based on the reasons mathisst has already set out. But then again, TechguyMaxC seems to know what he's talking about and it sounds like he would take an i7 over an i5 in any event. So, I'm not sure what I'll do. Maybe we need to wait for some people to actually test these things out as it seems so hard to compare on paper. Ultimately I'd like to play FSX with reasonable frame rates and detail levels, but I am happy to stick with FS9 (which I play now on my crappy old machine) if I have to.If anyone has any more thoughts (particularly on i5 660 vs i7 860, again assuming no overclock) i'd be very interested to hear them.Thanks again for the posts so far.

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HiI am very new to this sim thing, I am just getting to grips with FSX since last playing a sim on the C64. I am using my FSX to practice my flying as I am renewing my expired PPL soon. I have been reading forums for ages now, and have saved up enough to buy what I have found to be a reasonable running PC. I settled on the i5 750 in the end as the i7 set up was going to cost me just a little more than I had. I must say I am very impressed with the i5.HOWEVER, I am astounded to constantly read how people are desperatly trying to get the best performance for FSX and work out which kit to buy, and yet they start from the very outset with NO INTENTION TO OVERCLOCK!!!I am in NO way a capable IT pro, I work in Healthcare. I have never built a PC before, and was very worried that I would not be able to put it together , would fry it as soon as I turned it up, and end up with a brick. Well I must say that these worries are just plain silly! Things I discovered :1. It is easy to build a PC2. Buying all the kit from Microcentre/newegg saved me hundreds over a factory built rig, and I got to pick and choose all the parts to optimise FSX...3. Modern MOBO's and Bios are geared towards OC'ing, and are easy to go from zero knowledge to a decent OC in about a day of google hunting..4. Its almost idiot proof and safe if you are careful5. With an aftermarket cooler, a laptop running google and a bit of experimentation, I took my i5 to 4.3 GHZ by changing ONLY a few things!Now I dont pretend to know anything about the software or technical aspects of FSX, but I can tell you without doubt that at stock 2.6 GHZ the i5 is crap. My frame rates were barely playable. Once at 4.3 GHZ the sim runs smooth and fluid and I can turn most sliders up to about 80 % of max, even with 5 monitors off one PC I get a LOW frame rate of 21 when flying through the trees with add on scenery.In order to achieve my OC, I googled and just followed an online guide. http://www.legionhardware.com/document.php?id=863&p=1- on my ASUS p7p55D pro, I changed the AI overclock tuner to manual, the BCLK to 206 , the multiply setting to 21.0, and the CPU voltage control to OFFSET. I left pretty much everthing else on AUTO , and the thing runs great. I did disable speedstep and turboboost as I wanted to run my CPU at a constant setting , but I may experiment with these enabled as if there is no FPS loss then the longevity of having these enabled will be an advantage. If you want to play FSX, jump in and build your own PC, overclock it as much as it will take, and you wont be disappointed. If you buy a factory system, it will cost you 30 % more, and drive you mad when the FPS are crap.Google is your friend

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Hey Jetbootz,I agree with your comments about overclocking. Even a couple of years ago, for the average user it was kind of hit or miss and a time consuming pain (which, I guess is why some people overclocked as a hobby, as opposed to actually doing anything with their computer once they had it overclocked), but these days, especially with a motherboard designed for overclocking, like a decent Asus, it is pretty easy to do.So, mcl82, go for it. Jetbootz is right, you will save a ton of money, learn some things along the way, and have a much better sim experience is you build it yourself and overclock. An added benfit of rolling your own machine is that you will also save even more money over the long haul. Upgrading a store bought off the shelf system is often hard or impossible, because the cases and components are cheap as possible and designed for only that particular machine. Sure, you can swap a drive or cpu, but upgrading to a decent air cooler or adding a card or two and you're SOL. (Not to mention the rescue software CD, which means you will never be able to use that software anywhere else.) If you build your own with a long term upgrade plan in mind, then you can over time upgrade slowly as the technology evolves, and, if your patient, gets cheaper (which is why I am intrigued by the Core-i5 661). I've been simming since my apple II and sublogixc slide show, and haven't shelled out a ton of cash at any one point.Over the last 5? years or so, for FS I've used 2 Antec Sonatas. I started with one Sonata, an EVGA NF4 SLI EDI|133-K8-NF41 that was bundled with an EVGA 7800? graphics card and an AMD 4000+ and a Zalman cooler (my first overclock). Later, I picked up a Sonata II case even cheaper (always looking out for those rebates), then two years later I picked up an Abit mobo with a core 2 E6600 and a graphics card, waiting until slightly faster processors came out that dropped the early adopter premium on the Core 2 duos. (I kept the older machine as my work from home machine (I work a lot on my computer from home, but nothing I do is as compute intensive as FS) and still use it today as a house music machine and file server - again, waiting until black Friday and some great deals on 1.5 TB drives.) If something were to go wrong (not that is has), I can fix it and not have to rely on some microsoft wannabe driving a geek VW beetle show up at my house to fix a driver issue. So.The reason I brought up the i5-661 is because we're at the point now where the icore's are maturing and prices are in flux. (I may have waited a bit too long to upgrade my E6600 to a faster Quad, because a lot of folks seem to be waiting for that one last socket 775 upgrade themselves; there are a lot of bottom feeders out there.)TechguymaxC I think is right (thanks for the comments about this and my earlier question on my old rapter a couple of weeks ago) about the work per clock cycle of the i7's and i5's, but reading the reviews of the i5-660's really got me to thinking. The Anandtech review in particular (thanks ULf for the other links, I hadn't seen some of those before I what made me post was the one at Anandtech)http://www.anandtech.com/cpuchipsets/showdoc.aspx?i=3704really slams the 661 because, well, for most modern/current software, the 661 is probably not the way to go. But the article does clearly show that in "old" single threaded applications, especially when overclocked, the 661 screams along. Since FS is based on such an old software model, I am thinking that maybe the 661 is not such a bad choice. I did read that the p55 architecture is actually a shade faster (no pun intended) than the x58 architecture in a single PCI card setup, so that is another bonus since I plan on running only one card for one monitor. (I have a 19 month old child, so I cannot go all out anymore with most things), so I am torn between the core i5-661 and the core i7-860. mcl82, for these to work (as I am planning to), they really should be overclocked, but reading the reviews, (take a look at the overclocking comments in the Anandtech article they mention several times how easy it was to get these things to over 4Ghz with no effort on air) - with a decent air cooler you can do the same.So I think I am not going to upgrade my E6600 (if everyone else is waiting to buy a Quad775 too, then I'll buy a 200 i5 or i7 instead and bite that bullet now), and then next year, once the next round of processors come out, I'll let the early adopters sort things out for a bit and then see if we really need 6 cores for a single threaded app.If anyone is looking for a decent case at a decent price (I see these questions popping up), I did just pick up a LIAN LI Lancool PC-K58 for $69.00 with free shipping last week at the egg. (It's now at 74 plus shipping, but I assume it will be one sale again at some point)http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx...N82E16811112237I love my Sonata II's, but if I'm going to be overclocking past 4Ghz, I do need some cable mgt. which my Sonata II's don't have)I do want to thank all the AVSIM folks out there for their tireless work on FS and alike - I have actually been reading stuff on here a lot longer than 2005 (I lost my original username and password eons ago), folks like TechguymaxC and others who chime in with thoughts and wisdom really are ahuge help. (as opposed to the very few, thankfully, who seem to want to pound on their chests and say, here's what I have a and know and you little people will never be able to do this blah blah blah . . . do they ever actually play the sim?)There are many of us out there like myself, and mcl82, who really want to play too but we may not have as much time and money, so I appreciate the productive comments that so many of you contribute every day.Sorry to make this so long.Stephen

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Thanks for your comments. I've been giving this a lot of thought and I think you've convinced me that I can probably build a system myself, so I'm going to give it a try!

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I'd have to agree with building your own. As long as you do some research beforehand, building your own is really NOT hard. And it has the satisfaction afterward. Just make sure you get your parts from a reliable source like newegg. I bought a few hardware from ebay and althought they all works fine, I'd suggest against it for your 1st build until you know more of what your doing.Also if you want to play FSX at a reasonable FPS, you NEED to OC. There has YET any CPU from either Intel or AMD that can run FSX smoothly at stock. There are a few good forums that I use to OC my i5. And I just started OC like the past Nov. Mind you thought if you decided to OC, make sure you get a GOOD aftermarket cooler and a good airflow case!

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