I70 920 vs. i7 860...fight?

So I’m thinking about going to the i7 line of processors, and wanted some input on this. The 920 can be had for $200, while the 860 is $230 at MicroCenter, so price-wise we’re comparable.

What I think I know:

The 860 is a faster CPU and the motherboard hardware is less expensive…but if I ever plan to run CrossfireX or SLI, the inherent P55/860 architecture gimps that performance. The 1156/P55 MoBos also seem to have less of an expansion horizon.

The 920 runs slower and a little less efficiently and the MoBos are more expensive…but it doesn’t tie Crossfire or SLI through the CPU, so the bandwidth there isn’t gimped. The 1366 MoBos will also handle the i9 CPUs coming eventually, so it has a longer expansion horizon.

Is there a consensus then on which I’m better off with in a new build here?

I use a 920 and don’t plan to SLI, but even if it’s a “slower” chip than the 860 (which is a year newer, which is why it’s “faster”), both are ridiculously faster than anything that you’ve used before. You really can’t go wrong, and I believe the performance delta between the two is negligible compared to the performance increase you get from upgrading to either.

Games aren’t CPU limited these days. It’ll only matter if you do video editing or big Photoshop work.

Heh. You’re both telling me to “buy one!” I’ve already decided that.

Loyd’s blog to the rescue again with some advice and answers. Short summary: go 860 if you’ve no interest in dual GPU’s and want the best bang-for-buck today, go 920 if you’re crazy enough to want to put a second video card in, and if you really see any utility in upgrading to the Gulftown CPU’s.

I haven’t read much on the newest/future CPUs, but . . . when thinking about future upgrade paths, consider the fact that by the time you really feel the need for a new CPU (i9 or other), you’re probably also going to want a new MB/RAM/etc.

Loyd’s advice sounds reasonable to me.

I expand on the blog article with performance numbers in my column at Hot Hardware, if you want more detail.

Yeah, I saw you reference that in your blog, and just finished reading it. Very informative, and thank you!

Consider the i5 750 as well, especially if you’re not afraid of overclocking. Microcenter has the i5 for only $150.

This comparison had me briefly worried in the October '09 build thread, but it seems like after 18 months even the chipsets that have upgrade paths are worthless by then. Maybe I’m timing it wrong.

I just went core i7 860 and have no regrets. I figure I’ll be gpu bound way before cpu bound. I might see a video card upgrade in my near 1-2yr future but probably not a cpu upgrade for a while. Also, I have no plans to run sli/cf. The turbo mode is really quite helpful and negates a lot of the need for me to overclock. When running single threaded games like Wow I can see that single core jump to 3.46ghz (133x26) which helps.

I went with an 860 too. Having already gone down both the SLI and Crossfire roads I am not terribly interested in either. I like playing the latest and greatest at full speed on day one, not having to wait for a driver update or exe rename trick to pop up.

Maybe that new Hydra chipset will make it worthwhile, but then you need a new motherboard anyways, and I can’t be anything but extremely skeptical at this point either.

Appreciate the input. With my 5870 on the UPS truck, I’m off to MicroCenter to pick up an 860, an Asus P7P55 Pro Mobo, and 4 sticks of RAM.