Before we get too into this, this is a "repost" from my Steemit account. I'll periodically post content both here and there, some will only be here, some there. 9/10 times however if I post content on both, there will be a more fleshed out or detailed version here rather than Steemit, since the community here seems more open to that. I'll include a break between the Steemit content and the extra bits, whatever that may be, or include a note about edits in the main body. I'll aslo include a link to the Steemit post, if you guys want you can check it out, it would really mean a lot! So without further delay, the article, as well as the expansion:
Everyone remembers the first PC that they built themselves. If not the specific parts, at the very least the gist and of course the experience. I know that I remember every bit of it, the suspense of waiting on the parts, how nervous i was seating the CPU, all of it. Specifically, the choice to go with a 8350 over a 2500k stands out to me, for a whole lot of reasons. The 2500k is infamous for being an incredible value and providing amazing performance long past its prime, whereas the 8350 gets a bad rap for all kinds of reasons, especially the single core performance. Obviously, if I knew what I knew now I would have made a different choice, but I don't regret picking the 8350. Rather, I think it was in the grand scheme of things one of the best decisions I’ve ever made with computer hardware.
Let's back things up a bit. Choosing the 8350 over a 2500k was a good choice? How in the hell? That's right! My 8350 has lived a long and hard life, and has been put through just about every punishment possible excepting sub zero cooling. The poor bastard has run overclocked nearly its whole life, and spent more than a small portion of that time right below or slightly above the official temperature threshold. This is the CPU that I learned to overclock on, so of course it’s taken some punishment over the years. Beyond that, there was a long period of time in my earlier days that I spent chasing numbers in benchmarks with the one somewhat competitive piece of hardware I had at the time, my poor 8350. And it took it like a champ. What it lacked in performance and what I lacked in money was compensated for with voltage and heat, and the 8350 never broke down on me, never quit, never gave out.
Beyond the consistent punishment in benchmarks, the chip has run many different configurations, some of which far beyond the reasonable demands for a chip of it’s caliber. I’ve benched with 3 290x in one go with this chip, run a 295x2 overclocked for a number of months, currently the system sports an overclocked Fury X. I’ve run virtual machines with RAM usage at near 100% with nearly 100% network utilization as well at near 100% system load for days, I’ve streamed video while playing games, as far as capable goes the 8350 has more than proved its worth.
So what inclined me to buy this “wonderful” chip at the time? Well, at the time I bought my parts, the 8350 was on sale, and effectively 40-50 bucks cheaper than ole 2500k. Beyond that, the platform cost was lower, and my high school self was strapped for cash. Beyond that, I knew that Intel had better gaming performance, but I knew i would never just be gaming. And, true to that thought, this has almost always been the case. Typically, I’ll have 3-5 crypto clients running in the background, firefox with 50+tabs, music and/or a video playing in the background, as well as a service like skype, discord, or others going in the background, and even then I’ll stream sometimes on top of all that. Despite my older chip barely keeping up with newer processors, once all that multitasking is thrown into the mix the 8350 holds its ground pretty damn well. Again, not bad for a chip that’s going on 5 years old.
As for the CPU itself, as stated above this is where I cut my teeth learning to overclock. The 8350 is a great overclocking chip, and when I purchased mine it was still very common to get a 4.8ghz chip. Overclocking on AMD was a very different beast from Intel, and in many ways still is today. The ability to tweak not only the multiplier but the FSB allowed for all kinds of variations. I found that certain FSB+multi combinations were far more stable than others, allowing me to drop either my LLC settings or even voltage sometimes, and shift some of that load to the motherboard. One of the biggest obstacles and problems I’ve faced with this chip is the heat, oh my god does this chip love to get hot. Because of the constant struggle with heat though, I’ve learned far more than I would have with any other chip about cooling.
I’ve gone through a number of cases since I built this computer, and in each one cooling has been a struggle, until very recently (with a switch to a Silverstone FT05). I was constantly looking for ways to bring my temperatures down. Better fans, optimizing airflow, static pressure vs. airflow fans, better coolers, thermal pastes, you name it. I’ve tried all different kinds of thermal paste and more than 5 coolers on my 8350, and after finding the paste that worked the best for me, and slapping an NH-D14 on there, I still wasn’t satisfied. I upgraded to a Cryorig R1 Ultimate (Sold the NH-D14 to a friend that was building his first computer so he could overclock as well), and my temps did in fact drop. But I still wanted more. I kept digging through forums until I found a promising lead.
I lapped my 8350! The performance gain was about as predictable as others had suggested, roughly 3-5c. But that was huge for me. On an Intel system with a temperature limit near 90c, that really isn't too great for all the work entailed, but on my 8350, that added nearly 10% more overhead for overclocking! I was over the moon. I had the best cooler, the best thermal paste, the best heat transfer, and the most optimized settings I could manage between my motherboard and CPU. Again, bear in mind this poor CPU made it through hours and hours of wet sandpaper.
Is my 8350 the best chip for the money? Hell no. Is it the fastest? It never was! Do i regret buying it? Absolutely not. Call it nostalgia, or a sick form of Stockholm Syndrome, but this chip has taken everything I’ve thrown at it, even 1.6v trying to hit 5.6 on air (I was a younger, much more stupid man then). This chip has survived lapping, running over spec, running over temp, running 4 sticks of RAM (which is harder than hell on the weak IMC on the 8350), virtualization, gaming, streaming, multitasking, number crunching, every form of punishment you can imagine. I don't regret the purchase one bit. And now, with Ryzen out, it’s looking more and more like upgrade season for me. With that thought, I’m almost sad to let go of such a hardy and faithful chip. One of the great parts of upgrading though means that I can pass my parts on, specifically to my younger brother. He’s really getting into computers and we built his first computer together 2 years ago, but it was weak when we built it. Now, he has a chance to play with an amazing CPU, motherboard, and system altogether, and learn the same way i did. Make the same mistakes, and expect the same forgiveness from the CPU. I wouldn’t pick any other CPU or system for him to learn and experience this on, and I’m glad my trusty old, “moar cores” 8350 will live on, helping another get involved and excited about computers, as well as overclocking and tweaking systems.
Thanks for the ride 8350, it’s been a hell of a good one.
Link to Steemit
With all that, there are some other points that I'd like to make, and some thoughts going forward.
Since writing this I've been doing a lot of thinking and considering, and realistically I'm now not too sure that I'll be upgrading as soon as I had thought. For my use case and my interests right now, it doesn't really make sense to me to put a few hundred into an upgrade. Sure, m.2 and all the new goodies, as well as a huge bump in performance all sound great, but I dont really need any of the extra performance or I/O. I'd much rather take the money I would spend on that upgrade and use it to work on upgrading my NAS, building towards more GPU mining, building a router, or even take that money and put it towards a homelab. Realistically, any of those scenarios will result in a much greater gain in my end user experience than simply upgrading my platform.
There's been a lot of comparing of recent CPUs lately, between the new R5 and R7 chips as well as the i7 and i5 counterparts, how everything stacks up and what represents the best value and for what uses. Especially in regards to which is better, it's often easy to get caught up in the excitement of a new launch and forget about the "good enough" principle. A saying comes to mine "perfect is the enemy of good". Trying to find the "perfect" CPU for a build or an upgrade is often blinding, in that the user fails to recognize good performance. I'm not trying to suggest we all just run out and buy CPU s that are "good enough", but rather that people take a minute and evaluate what they're getting, what they have, what they need, and what they want. Those 4 factors will say more about your current situation and upgrade path than anything else. Applying that here, what I have is a CPU that is aging, not perfectly but good enough. I would be getting a CPU that vastly outperforms it in productivity as well as gaming, draws less power and makes less heat. What I need is a CPU capable of running any game I throw at it at 1080p60fps, at the highest settings possible, as well as delivering a solid computing experience in multitasking, browsing, some light video editing/encoding, and is fairly decent for light virtualization. What I want is a system that handles the light gaming I do well in whatever situation it has thrown at it, can stream well, can handle productivity well, and wont crumble under multitasking situations. So where does that leave me? Since my 8350 handles everything above in at least the "good enough" department, is it really worth the extra ~$500 for the upgrade? To my thinking, as of now, no.
I use my computer for a whole slew of tasks, and realistically there isn't a single one the 8350 doesn't handle. Even if I wanted a more modern I/O setup, that can all be achieved through PCI-e expansion cards, m.2-PCI-e, USB 3.1 card, etc. One of the growing issues I do happen to have though is the number of running tasks on my desktop. One of the downsides to my growing interest in cryptocurrencies is all of the damn wallets and clients that have to be run, especially for POS coins. At any given point, I have a minimum of 5 wallets running on my desktop. That $500 would go a long way to building a nice server for running a few virtual machines on, one of which could run all of those clients instead, and with the leftover CPU power, throw in a capture card and I'll have better streaming performance than upgrading to Ryzen as well. Not to mention the other tasks i could offload and utility I would gain from that kind of system. Again, for my particular needs it just doesn't make sense to upgrade now.
Even in the performance department, where I'm arguably looking at the biggest difference in an upgrade, I'm not too concerned. Speaking strictly in terms of CPU performance, while the 8350 has never really been the top dog, there is still a lot of untapped potential in this chip. I've been running it overclocked for years, but realistically looking at my settings as well as now far lower temperatures (no thanks to the case upgrade mentioned in my previous post) I really think there is still some performance left in the tank. I'm extremely familiar with this platform and overclocking now, and moving to a new platform would require learning all of that all over again. I would love that, but sadly I just don't have the time that I used to, and optimizing performance to the degree that I've been able to enjoy on this system would take far longer, probably even beyond learning the platform and the tips and tricks of this generation, due to the rapid updates and changing BIOS/performance.
What I'm getting at here is that while I'm not thrilled or happy with my performance, I am satisfied. And for me, and my interests, it makes more sense to put the money that would go towards an upgrade somewhere else. That's not to say that others shouldn't upgrade. Obviously the use case scenario of a heavy gamer or a user working with video footage daily would be way different than what I'm dealing with. And hell, even guys with newer CPU like the 4790k, 7600k, etc. could get a benefit from Ryzen, and if you've got the money and dont mind spending it to get great performance then go for it! All I'm really trying to say is that my 4 year old, slow as can be, space heater of a CPU is good enough for me, and that's all I can ask. Compared to the beastly R7-1700 or i7-7700k obviously it doesn't even begin to hold up in competition, but in daily life she does fine, and that's good enough for me.