CPU Which low power CPU to pair with a GTX 1050 Ti: i3 4170 (54w), i5 4690T (45w) or i7 4785T (35w)?

fitduarte

Efficiency Noob
Original poster
Nov 3, 2017
6
6
Hey guys,

A full kit upgrade is not a choice right now because I'll repurpose the following parts from another build:
  • Motherboard: MSI H81I
  • RAM: Kingston 2 x 8GB DDR3 1600
  • GPU: Gigabyte GTX 1050 Ti 4GB OC Low Profile
  • Boot drive: 250 GB Samsung 850 EVO
  • Game drive: 1 TB Seagate Laptop Thin SSHD
  • PSU: 300w Silverstone SFX ST30SF v2.0 (non modular, unfortunately)
  • Cooler: Arctic Freezer LP11
  • Monitor: LG 23MB35VQ (IPS, 1080p, 60hz)
The idea is to put the parts inside a Silverstone Milo ML09 and be reasonably quiet.

Some games I'll be playing:
  • The Witcher 3
  • Street Fighter V
  • Doom (2016)
Some recap on the CPUs:
  • i3 4170: 54w, 2C 4T, 3.7 Ghz base clock, no turbo
  • i5 4690T: 45w, 4C 4T, 2.5 Ghz base clock, turbo: 3.1 Ghz (4C), 3.2 Ghz (3C), 3.4 Ghz (2C), 3.5 Ghz (1C)
  • i7 4785T: 35W, 4C 8T, 2.2 Ghz base clock, turbo: 2.8 Ghz (4C), 2.9 Ghz (3C), 3.1 Ghz (2C), 3.2 Ghz (1C)
Which one of those 3 CPUs will perform better for gaming? My guess is the i5 4690T, but I could use some advice.

Thanks!
 
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IntoxicatedPuma

Customizer of Titles
SFFn Staff
Feb 26, 2016
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Depends on the game, if not optimized to use many CPU threads the i3 has the highest clocks and thus would have the best performance. I'd checkout performance benchmarks for those games and see what gains an i7 gives you over an i3.
 
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Runamok81

Runner of Moks
Jul 27, 2015
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@IntoxicatedPuma makes some good points. Good rule of thumb.

I did some research, and this is actually a challeging/interesting comparison! Not so clear cut. Is it fair to state that your requirement is the best Haswell gaming processor near or under 50W? Is that accurate?

This Anadtech article doesn't cover all of your exact models, but it walks up and down the stack of low-wattage Haswells in the i3 / i5 / i7 variety. If we skip to the gaming section, set the charts to Single GPU Avg FPS, and scan them from top to bottom, paying attention to CPU wattage



The i7 4765T seem to jump to the top in most games!

As far as the i3 4170... it's not really in the article.. but processors in the same category are. From your list of games, you probably want four physical cores. So, I'd remove it from contention. Using the charts from the article, you might be able to make a case for the i5? Just need to know how your i5 4690T scales in comparison to the i5 4690 which IS in the charts. Hope this helps you make your decision! My vote is i7. Even at lower clocks, it seems to be doing surprisingly well and having hyperthreading might pay out it in non-gaming scenarios.

Good luck on your choice!
 
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zovc

King of Cable Management
Jan 5, 2017
852
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For whatever it's worth, you can take just about any modern Intel CPU and tune its performance and wattage DOWN to whatever parameters you would like. AMD probably allows for the same sort of thing, but I haven't used a computer on their platform in a long time and only recently started looking into tuning computers. Inetl's Xtreme Tuning Utility (Intel XTU) is free and lets you change clock speeds and voltage on pretty much any intel CPU I've tried to use it on. Particularly laptops, where I've gained a fair amount of battery life out of pretty generous under-volting. It can be scary to not be sure of what you're getting out of the silicon lottery (which does apply here), but if I had to guess, Intel's T-series chips are probably binned poor performers.* (Speculation, no facts to back that up.)

If you have a computer and a wattage meter you can test with (software can be unreliable, but using both is a great idea), you can see what kind of mileage you can get out of your current computer and see if that makes it worth getting a non-T chip and tuning it yourself. I'd be fairly surprised to find that any off the shelf Intel CPU couldn't be down-clocked and under-volted to match its sister T-series chip. From there, you can play around with bumping up the clock speed and bumping down the voltage until you've got performance you're happy with, power draw you're happy with, and probably stability under just about any load. (As with any tuning, only time can really tell exactly how stable it is.)

I totally get if you prefer the confidence that buying a T-series chip will afford you, but I remember them often coming with a premium for their binning. Especially used, for some reason.
 
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Kmpkt

Innovation through Miniaturization
KMPKT
Feb 1, 2016
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Just gonna let you know that I have a 4590T I need to get rid of if you're interested (yes I know this isn't buy/sell). You'd lose hyper threading with it being an i5 instead of an i7, but with your primary use appearing to be gaming I can imagine this wouldn't affect your performance. Clocks are the same as the 4785T as is the 35W TDP. SmartCache is 6MB instead of 8MB, again not something that should influence gaming in the least. Considering these are typically quite difficult and expensive chips to obtain (this may have changed since I last looked), maybe we could work something out. PM if you're interested or just post here if you're not ;)
 
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fitduarte

Efficiency Noob
Original poster
Nov 3, 2017
6
6
Thanks for all the responses, guys. Really helpful!

@Runamok81 That's the idea. I'd like to find the best performance per watt Haswell (non K) chip to keep the fans quiet. I tried my 84w (i5 4570) chip in there and it was not pretty. The fans got louder than I'd like. Tried disabling turbo boost and changing the fan curve on the bios, but it wasn't enough. The idle temps are high, like between 45-60 C :( Ambient where I live is like 25-30 C.

@Kmpkt I'll PM you :)
 
Mar 6, 2017
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I'd go for the i5. Even if the games can't take advantage of 4 cores, you'll have to remember there will be other stuff running in the background. Though the i3 does have hyperthreading so that may be enough. Personally, I'd see if undervolting is possible though.
 

fitduarte

Efficiency Noob
Original poster
Nov 3, 2017
6
6
I checked the bios and it doesn't have the option to change voltage, unfortunately. It's a very basic board and chipset.
 

fitduarte

Efficiency Noob
Original poster
Nov 3, 2017
6
6
How accurate is the Package TDP measure in Intel XTU (and other monitoring softwares)? It shows 45w when my cpu is in full load (doing a render in Blender). Droping the clock to 2.8 Ghz lowered it to 35w.
 
Mar 6, 2017
501
454
@SeñorDonut Never did an alternative bios flash before. How risky is it?

Meither, but it should be just as risky as a BIOS update. Unless the flash goes really wrong, you should be able to go back to a genuine BIOS without problems should something not work. I've no experience in this though so take it with a grain of salt.
 

zovc

King of Cable Management
Jan 5, 2017
852
603
How accurate is the Package TDP measure in Intel XTU (and other monitoring softwares)? It shows 45w when my cpu is in full load (doing a render in Blender). Droping the clock to 2.8 Ghz lowered it to 35w.

It's hard to know how accurate your sensors are, and how accurate the calculations are based on those sensors' info. That's why I recommended an external monitor. Either way, chances are that if you're feeding less voltage and reporting less Watts used, you're probably using less power. Chips normally ship pretty generously (read: excessively) provisioned for voltage to ensure stability.
 
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