#1 Posted by Ioan-Alexandru (28 posts) -

I am in college and have very little money, but I want to upgrade my machine to keep it somewhat decent. Right now I have a core2quad cpu which served me well for most of last gen, but in the past 2 years it started struggling quite a bit and I think I need an upgrade. My video card is still decent (GTX 660 TI).

I will also have to buy a motherboard and RAM, so the money for the CPU will be limited.

As you probably know the i3 is much newer and running on the latest Hasswell arhitecture while the i5 is much older but has 2 extra cores. The i3 I think is more powerful per core though.

I am asking because even though my current core2quad CPU has 4 cores it's way slower in benchmarks the the latest i3s.

So should I go for the i3 or i5?

#2 Edited by mikey87144 (1987 posts) -

I would go with the i3 if I were in your situation. Games, for the most part, only really use 2 cores. That being said, with the new consoles both having 8 cores games may start using the other cores which may hamper the newer games for you. Again I would go with the i3 and upgrade to an i5 or i7 when I got the money.

#3 Edited by Bollard (6320 posts) -

Could split the difference and get a 3rd generation i5 instead? See i5 3330.

Looking them up on PassMark they get the following scores:

i5 3330 - 5906
i3 4130 - 4849
i5 750 - 3747

Basically the i5 750 is a bit old now, so not worth it. Obviously benchmarks aren't 100% accurate but the i5 3330 is about £10-20 more expensive here in the UK than the i3 4130 and a not so insignificant chunk better. Just some food for thought.

Unfortunately it still is a different socket to the 4th generation chips, so you won't be able to go from that to a newer CPU without a mobo change again. If you think you might come into more money for a CPU upgrade in the future, maybe get the i3, cause then you can buy a nice i5 when you have the cash without swapping the motherboard.

#4 Edited by GaspoweR (4094 posts) -

@ioan-alexandru: What's your budget? It'll help with the suggestions we can give. Also what kind of socket does your MOBO support?

#5 Posted by ch3burashka (5493 posts) -

Go with the bigger number.

But wait, an i5 is bigger than an i3, but a 4130 is bigger than 750... I'm so confused!

#6 Edited by bellmont42 (332 posts) -

I would go for the i3-4330 but not the 4130. In most(not all) current games it performs better than the fx-8350 and on par with current i5 and i7. It's a beast for the price and I almost got it over my i5-4570 because of that price. Also you're more current on that socket.

Alternatively if you are ok with overclocking, the fx-6300 is the go to budget cpu right now.

#7 Edited by Sooty (8195 posts) -


I have an i5 750 and I can still run recent games on ultra fine, but that's not a shock because it's mostly GPU dependant.

It's a great CPU and will probably beat out the i3 in games like Total War, for most games there's probably a minuscule difference because you will be GPU limited.

My 750 has been running at 4Ghz for over 4 years at this point. It's a beast, best PC investment ever.

I wouldn't buy one in 2014. Nor would I buy a dual core, save some money and get an entry level Haswell or Ivy-Bridge quad core. I'd consider a Sandy Bridge or Ivy Bridge quad for sure, going all the way back to the first generation of i5 quads is over the top though and doesn't even save that much money over Sandy/Ivy/Haswell chips. After Sandy Bridge, the CPU improvements to Ivy and Haswell weren't that large, first gen to Sandy Bridge was the biggest leap.

As always, buy a cheap motherboard, buy cheap RAM (at least 8GB), don't buy a cheap CPU, because CPUs actually matter to gaming performance whereas the other two can be cheap as anything and not really matter. And don't bother with AMD, they still get wrecked by Intel.

#8 Edited by bellmont42 (332 posts) -
@sooty said:

As always, buy a cheap motherboard

Never this :). I avoid ECS and Biostar like the plague now. Do however look for cheaper prices on good brands like MSI, Gigabyte, Asus, and ASrock.

Your video card is still excellent so if you want to upgrade you really should look at the i3-4330+ as you could get an i5 later on and still be good for a few years just like he said his 750 is still fine even though its pretty old now.

#9 Edited by Sooty (8195 posts) -

@bellmont42 said:
@sooty said:

As always, buy a cheap motherboard

Never this :). I avoid ECS and Biostar like the plague now. Do however look for cheaper prices on good brands like MSI, Gigabyte, Asus, and ASrock.

I meant cheap as in terms of features, not an actual cheap motherboard manufacturer, I've never even heard of the two you mentioned O_O

I think the cheapest I have looked at were Foxconn ones but as I understand it those are actually pretty decent, just more of a generic brand

#10 Edited by bellmont42 (332 posts) -

Ah ok some people would get it confused though and just go straight up for the cheapest motherboards and those usually boil down to ecs and biostar(both of which I have owned). They kind of sucked.

#11 Posted by Ioan-Alexandru (28 posts) -


Ah ok some people would get it confused though and just go straight up for the cheapest motherboards and those usually boil down to ecs and biostar(both of which I have owned). They kind of sucked.

I found a really cheap gigabyte. It has Pcie 2.0 x16 not 3.0, but I heard its not much difference. My current motherboard has 2.0 also. The price would be about 50 usd (196 RON).

Not in english but this is the board: http://www.pcgarage.ro/placi-de-baza/gigabyte/ga-h81m-s1/

(links dont seem to always work on this website for some reason)

#12 Posted by bellmont42 (332 posts) -

@ioan-alexandru: It's close to the one I have and I'm happy with mine. Get whatever you can afford it's a good manufacturer. I have also heard there's not much difference between pcie 2 and 3.

#13 Edited by Sooty (8195 posts) -

I think if you are buying a new motherboard, always get a CPU you don't think you will have to change any time soon, CPU upgrading is such a hassle because sockets.

If you really can't afford a Haswell quad, I would buy a second hand Ivy (or maybe Sandy). Generally when I have looked, the price difference between an i3 and i5 quad is not too big.

Now that the new consoles have 8 cores, we will see games taxing CPUs more (whether they are good or bad ports) and the shortcomings of 2 cores will probably come into play quite early in this new generation.

Then again, who the hell knows. I just think it's a safer bet to buy a quad core. I never would have thought I would have the same CPU for 5 years and still be able to play games maxed out, but here I am!

#14 Edited by Ioan-Alexandru (28 posts) -


Hey guys, what about the core2quad q9550. It seems to be amongst the most powerful from the core2quad line and after a quick search it rivals the (very) old i7 920 when it comes to games, even slightly surpassing it. Although it does lose to photoshop and stuff.

Its obviously old and wont match the newer i5s but I did find one cheap and it would work on my motherboard. I dont know if I should start buying new ram and mobo now. I could save a decent amount of money like that and maybe buy some more games.

The thing is I plan to build a powerful PC in a year and a half when Ill get more money and I want something to keep me until then since my current q6600 cpu seems quite weak. Do you think the q9550 will be enough to fill the gap until then?

#15 Posted by bellmont42 (332 posts) -

@ioan-alexandru: Hard for me to say since you plan on a big upgrade next year. Videos like this help http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NKBdaLTxjIo

If you can afford an i3 right now I would say its the better choice because then next year you can just upgrade to an i5 and have extra money for a video card too.

#16 Posted by Sooty (8195 posts) -

@ioan-alexandru: It's too much of a sidegrade, you are buying really old tech by getting a Core2Series, even more so than the original i5 lineup.

If you buy a Sandy/Ivy/Haswell quad i5 that will last for quite some years yet, I really recommend that option (with preference given to Ivy or Haswell)

#17 Posted by TheHBK (5658 posts) -

@bollard: I agree with this. Getting a 3rd gen Ivy Bridge i5 might be the way to go, though finding the motherboards at this point would be harder, same for the old i5. But the i3 has hyperthreading so I wouldn't worry so much about the extra cores though they would be better.

#18 Posted by gaminghooligan (1667 posts) -

I have an i5 650 in my rig right now and it can handle most games. So I could see going with the i5 750 like others have said (that is if you can spare the $$).