How important is i7 processor for gaming?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Silvereel, Dec 3, 2012.

  1. Silvereel macrumors 6502

    Jan 19, 2010
    So I'm in the process of buying my very first iMac (and very first Mac!), and luckily I've got plenty of time to think about specs because it appears that someone has stolen my identity and ran my credit into the ground.

    While I'm sorting this out, I've been wondering how important the processor is going to be to someone who does a air amount of gaming. It's far from my only use for a computer, but every other day or so I like to put in a couple of ours of Skyrim or something. I like to play at the highest settings possible (on the other hand, I might be emulating an Apple II and playing Ultima the next day). I'm wondering which processor I should get on 27' iMac. Is the Core i7 worth the extra $180? I don't do any video editing, although I do spend a fair amount of time in GIMP, but rarely am I doing anything over the top there. Both chips are better than what I have now, and while I am starting to feel a strain with some tasks, I think that's mainly due to my GPU.

    I'm definitely going top of the line with GPU, but do you think I'll regret it down the road if I go with the i7 and 8 GB RAM, or will it bite me down the road? I'm looking for a 4-5 year lifespan with this purchase, hopefully, but my purchases rarely live up to their intended lifespan ;)
  2. Sue De Nimes macrumors 6502a

    Sue De Nimes

    Apr 10, 2012
    The only thing that will benefit gaming is the increased clock speed.

    Same speed i7 will perform as well as an i5 in gaming.
  3. Siderz macrumors 6502a

    Nov 10, 2012
    An i7 probably isn't going to be that useful for you right now.

    But it will certainly make the machine last longer, and you might end up finding something soon that needs better performance.

    I'd say get the i7 if you can afford it.

    Do remember to choose 8GB RAM and no higher; on the 27", RAM is upgradable, so you'll be able to bump it up a bit afterwards for much less than Apple charge.
  4. rhoydotp macrumors 6502


    Sep 28, 2006
    exactly what I was thinking.
  5. forty2j macrumors 68030


    Jul 11, 2008
    Max the GPU, get the Fusion drive (or the $1300 SSD if you have a money tree in your back yard), leave the CPU alone.
  6. bmcgrath macrumors 65816


    Oct 5, 2006
    London, United Kingdom
  7. Incindium macrumors member

    Apr 3, 2009
    An i7 is overkill for gaming. Heck even an i3 is overkill for most gaming. That said I have an 3770k i7 in my gaming PC I built in May but I do admit its sits there idle 99% of the time and even when in use rarely goes much over 15% utilization.

    Heck I just checked and with Diablo 3 playing in the background CPU utilization is only 10%... And that was while remoted into it via Splashtop.
  8. FuriousGreg macrumors member

    Nov 11, 2011
    I may be wrong but I think the only game out there that is really CPU intensive is Civ V because it uses the CPU to process the AI moves. If someone can confirm this?
  9. Mac32, Dec 3, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2012

    Mac32 Suspended

    Nov 20, 2010
    There are reported issues with hyperthreading (i7) in certain games (stuttering), though I don't know if this is also the case with the iMac. However, there is no way to turn hyperthreading off with an iMac. Also, the i7 CPU will run hotter during gaming.

    I've tried to research this myself, but there's little info to be found in terms of i7 vs i5 in iMacs, I guess because you can't turn off HT (unlike a PC with bios). I've decided to get the i5. I've looked at A LOT of benchmarks, and there is hardly any difference at all between these CPUs (3750k and 3770k?). There are a couple of occations where i7 might have some small effect (in games that DOES support HT, which are very few):
    Online playing (shooters etc.) with huge maps and many participants (like 60+), and playing on lower settings/resolutions. Otherwise the GPU will be the bottleneck. Very few games support HT, but Battlefield 3 is one. However, seeing games like BF3 optimized for HT are unable to use it to any real effect during gameplay (no difference in single playing), I'm pretty comfortable with buying an i5.

    Hyperthreading on dual core i3 CPUs does help in gaming, so maybe i7 will make a difference in games a couple of years from now? If you want to run heavy tasks in the background simultaniously while gaming, an i7 will help. PS: The added 2mb cache and 200mhz also have very little effect on framerates from looking at various benchmarks.
    By the time games can properly use HT in an i7 (w/four cores), you'll probably want a new computer anyway..

    I don't have any firsthand experience, just relaying the information I've found myself. FWIW.. :)
  10. forty2j macrumors 68030


    Jul 11, 2008
    There is truth to this, though I don't know if it's written to take advantage of hyper threading. In truth, a good enough i5 will work perfectly fine.
  11. smoge macrumors regular


    Jun 14, 2011
    With gaming, the less cores the better. i5 slower clock speed but i7 has Hyper-Threading which would (in real-life) make a game 'slower'.
  12. mystara macrumors newbie

    Dec 3, 2012
    Good post. I have reached the same conclusion through my research and cancelled my i7 order for an i5.
  13. N33t macrumors member

    Sep 28, 2011

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