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I'm building a new PC but I'm stuck at one thing.

What CPU should I choose if what I do mostly is programming & gaming?

I saw opinions here and there saying Intel's CPUs would be good, others saying AMDs, but none seemed to give me a clear answer.

The 2 options I would have are Intel Skylake, Core i5 6400 2.70GHz & AMD Vishera, FX-8350 4.0GHz.

I'm open to any other recommendations, preferably good price/value ratio.

  • I agree that the FX-8320 is the best processor in the short run, but If you need this computer to have a strong upgrade path, you may want to choose intel, as the new chipset and DDR4 memory means that you can reuse many of your components at a later date. – Firepower0701 Nov 24 '15 at 3:33
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I'd recommend Intel, they're really reliable, have low power consumption and future-proof if you're into keeping your rig for more than 3-4 years.

AMD has a good performance/price ratio, but are more risky, heat issues and useless cores for marketing.

Pros/Cons

Half the power consumption

For gaming just rely on a good GPU, the CPU bottle neck is pretty much a myth if you have an i5 2500 or better.

You'd get better performance with a 4th gen Intel CPU and a better GPU. Keep that in mind.

  • AMD cores aren't really useless. In case you didn't know, Intel has better IPC. AMD CPUs also are 2 cores per FPU. Intel CPUs are 1 core per FPU, which is the reason Intel has better "single core" performance, along with IPC of course. – Rubyjunk Nov 20 '15 at 12:13
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    They are kinda useless due to the lack of mulicore (more that 4) applications. The huge part of windows apps are stil single core, even most of the games. and the performance in games is in favor of Intel. also: ddr4, usb3.1 and other stuff that'll be handy in the future. – Rudra Matroja Nov 20 '15 at 12:21
  • You can get USB 3.1 with a PCIe extender. DDR4 is kinda useless to be perfectly honest. Of course AM3+ is a dead chipset, so that's one point towards the skylake. – Rubyjunk Nov 20 '15 at 12:22
  • well you get a boot of about 10% with ddr4 so not that useless, PCI extender meaning more power draw and another component that could potentially breakdown... it's way too risky on amd side – Rudra Matroja Nov 20 '15 at 12:28
  • Continue in chat – Rubyjunk Nov 20 '15 at 12:30
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I know that everybody will recommend Intel, except me. However, sometimes Intel is not the best. The price/performance of an i5 6400 vs AMD FX-8350 (I'd recommend looking into the FX-8320E as well, because it is just as well binned as the 8350, but $40 cheaper) is that the FX-8350 is winning, in my opinion

FX-8350

  • Overclockable
  • Nearly double performance, double cores
  • Higher base clock speed
  • ~$20 cheaper

i5-6400

  • Higher IPC
  • Slightly higher single-core strength
  • Colder temperature
  • Not based on a dead chipset

Game debate benchmarks

Passmark

Witcher 3 (8350 on the left, i5 4460 on the right)

Keep in mind that this is the 4460, not the 6400 (800Mhz clock difference), and you can also OC the 8350, and match it up with the 4460 quite nicely, meanwhile having 4 threads on deck for whatever, while with the i5, CPU is probably utilized all the time (all four threads)

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    A benchmark in NEVER a equivalent of real life performance. – Rudra Matroja Nov 20 '15 at 12:13
  • If he's gona game more on it then program(which probebly is the case) defently get the amd. but if hes is planning to realy go in to programming(with testing) he should get the i5 becaus amd is not the best with virualisation. overall good pick @RubyJunk i agree with you. – Thomcdrom Nov 20 '15 at 13:43
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    Can you explain what the numbers mean in the "Game debate" benchmarks please? It looks like higher is better, but there is a green 0% on Assassins Creed. – Cfinley Nov 20 '15 at 17:37
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    @Rubyjunk Thanks for the answer. I'm going to go for the AMD and get a decent water cooling on it, because let's be honest... I'll game more than program on it. Even when I program it won't be large projects, and mostly testing everything on a dedicated server that I got access to. What might actually be stressful is the VMs for Android and iOS. – Adrian Pop Nov 20 '15 at 21:33
  • @Cfinley I'm assuming they have a base "performance" and they base the percentages off of that. – Rubyjunk Nov 20 '15 at 22:43
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I would say it would mainly depend on the type of programming you intend on doing. Gaming as a whole isn't CPU intensive so I would disregard that as an issue for the CPU as that will mainly depend on the GPU.

Programming wise, if you plan to work on small self made projects again this wouldn't be an issue as you wouldn't be utilizing the full CPU. If however you were working on a large scale enterprise solution that you had to build and deploy on your local machine that is when a better CPU might come into play.

As an example, a large project ( 100+ projects) written in C# that relies on multiple instances of MSBuild to compile I would recommend an i7, simply for the fact that is has hyper-threading to allow more threads to be run in parallel. If however you were working on less large scale solutions I would go with an i5 as it has more than enough performance to handle most programming and gaming needs.

TLDR: For moderate gaming and programming there would be no noticeable difference performance wise between either CPU.

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My opinion is to buy the Intel if you don't care too much about the money.

I had an FX-8150, and I can tell you that the 4 additional cores are not worth it. I did a lot of programming and gaming, and the 8 core were indeed useless, 4 would have sufficed.

In addition, the AMD 8 cores are REALLY hot. The stock fan was noisy as hell, and I frequently hit 80°C (175°F), with only 1 core at full load (~15% overall). You will need an above average fan.


Now, if you want to buy something cheaper that the Intel, I think it would be better to buy an FX-4350, and not an FX-8350.

  • Much cheaper
  • Less useless cores
  • A tiny bit higher stock frequency => Very slightly better single core performance.
  • Cooler => easier to overclock

It has the same per-core cache, and the same 8MB L3 cache than the FX-8350. All the other features are the same.

I think it will perform better than the FX-8350 in a real situation, unless you really need 8 cores. The fact that it doesn't have an integrated GPU and use an older technology make it much cheaper than the Intel.

You can also compromise with an FX-6350. With an FX-4350 or 6350, you can spend the extra money on a water-cooling, this will enable higher overclocking and certainly better performance than a 8350.

  • Actually the FX-4350 is a rather bad processor, containing only 2 FPUs, which makes it really bad. The FX-6350 only has 3 FPUs, which still makes it worse. The FX-8350 is more powerful than the FX-4350, even if only 4 threads are being used, because of more FPUs. – Rubyjunk Nov 21 '15 at 14:27
  • @RubyJunk Not really. Did you try it ? I did, and as I said, 8 cores, or 4 FPUs, are useless. Even with 4 threads at 100%, you will rarely use 2 FPUs at 100%. It was true for various gaming and programming in my case. Obviously some computation intensive applications will make use of more FPUs, but I've never encountered one for my use cases. – ElderBug Nov 21 '15 at 15:28
  • The Intel one has 4FPUs as well, and is also more expensive... And yet you recommend that or an FX-4350.... A better Intel to recommend that is closer to the same price is AMD is a Pentium G3258 – Rubyjunk Nov 21 '15 at 15:31
  • @RubyJunk You miss my point. From my experience, the Intel will perform better than all the FX-x350, but if you aim for cheaper, the AMDs will be better, because they have no GPU and are more balanced for general use cases (dual module arch, like Intel HT). – ElderBug Nov 21 '15 at 15:47

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