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Thread: Haswell vs Skylake, i5 vs i7 for home lab / gaming rig

  1. #1
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    Haswell vs Skylake, i5 vs i7 for home lab / gaming rig

    I'm getting a relatively fat tax return this year for various reasons, and so I figured I'd blow it all on finally getting an actual desktop PC for the first time in what must be over 7 years. The purpose is to have a computer I can use as a home lab, hosting VMs and potentially virtualized networks, as well as allowing me to play around with whatever games are on the market. But it's difficult to determine what's going overboard vs. what's too conservative.

    I know that for virtualization in general, an i7 is unquestionably better than an i5. But if I get a high-performing i5, how much virtualization would I really need to be doing before I bottleneck myself? Let's assume that RAM isn't an issue here. I'd most likely be running no more than 5 - 6 VMs side by side at a time at the most, say 3 Win 2012 servers and 3 desktop OSs. Could I expect an i5-6600K to perform as well as an i7-6700 under those circumstances? And the follow-up question, would I be better off getting an i7 Haswell or an i5 Skylake? It seems like it's generally a better idea to get the newer generation CPU, but I'm not sure if the performance difference offered by hyperthreading would be greater than the greater efficiency and speed offered by the later generation processors.

    This thread would probably be more at home at tomshardware.com, but I don't know those guys.

  2. #2
    Member Aurast's Avatar
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    It depends on what the VMs are doing, the OS itself doesn't take up all that much CPU time, I bet you could easily have a couple dozen Windows 7 VMs running idle on an i5 Haswell if you had the RAM. CPU isn't often a bottleneck for virtualization itself.

    For general computing the i5-6600K and i7-4790K will be fairly close, but the i7-4790k has the edge. For gaming, I would say get whichever you can find cheaper, neither one is likely to bottleneck any games in the next five years. The i7 may squeeze out an extra 2 or 3 fps. (This is assuming that you are overclocking by the way)

    The average guy on tom's knows more than I do so ask there too.

  3. #3
    singularity precursor Limey's Avatar
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    I don't think it makes a huge difference, otherwise just throw more CPUs at it, e.g. XEONs.
    Why even run so many VMs on one machine? It seems counter intuitive. At some point you might as well just get an AWS (or wherever) account up and running.

    I think that the bigger issue isn't going to be your CPUs, but your storage. There's been huge quality issues lately with all the big producers and especially Seagate and Western Digital with failure rates of around 15% (I had a DOA 3TB drive)
    If possible, try to go with an all SSD setup. with a backup NAS, I may well do this myself this year with an all 850 pro Samsung setup.

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