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Gustavo Narea 07-29-2006 04:18 PM

Processor upgrade: Pentium 4 vs Pentium D vs AMD
 
Hello.

I'm about to buy a brand new PC, but I can't decide on what processor to choose.

This is what I'm currently using:
  • Hardware: Pentium 4 @ 2.26Ghz and 256MB of RAM. The next PC will have 512MB or 1GB of RAM.
  • Software: openSUSE 10.1 + KDE 3.5.4. But, maybe I make the switch to Debian.

The main reason for which I'd like to upgrade is that this computer gets extremely slow when I'm un/installing a package (I can't do anything else during this time), for example. And this makes me waste a lot of time.

I often use this computer to...
  • do my web-development stuff (always).
  • run a webserver (apache2) to test my web sites.
  • read/write email and web-surfing.
  • use OpenOffice/KOffice programs.
  • compile beta software.
  • listen to music and seldom to watch videos.
  • use skype (not that often, though).
  • use a torrent client (not that often, though).
  • among other things.

Any suggestion?

Thanks in advance!

PS: I'd like something that I won't have to change in 2 years and that it's being well-supported (at least in the open source world).

jens 07-29-2006 04:31 PM

Your system is already very powerful.

Options would be using 64bit and/or dual processors.
I doubt this will make many difference though(unless you really want to use a 64 OS).
IMO the dual core stuff does not provide that much extra. Simply adding more ram might give you the same result.
At this point I would wait anyway, since those new systems will become a lot cheaper very soon.

Installing software should not give that much problems(unless you're using Gentoo or BSD). What package manager are you using(if you're still using Yast, try SMART)? At this point I con only advice you to use a more slim system(like debian) and wait for all prices to drop(should be soon).

Gustavo Narea 07-29-2006 06:17 PM

Hi, Jens, and thanks for your answer!

Quote:

Originally Posted by jens
Your system is already very powerful.

Options would be using 64bit and/or dual processors.
I doubt this will make many difference though(unless you really want to use a 64 OS).
IMO the dual core stuff does not provide that much extra. Simply adding more ram might give you the same result.
At this point I would wait anyway, since those new systems will become a lot cheaper very soon.

I'm just fine with my 32-bit processor and if you say that by upgrading it I won't find a big difference, I think the best I can do is just expand my RAM. What do you suggest me to do? Are 512MB enough or should I use 1GB?

Quote:

Originally Posted by jens
Installing software should not give that much problems(unless you're using Gentoo or BSD). What package manager are you using(if you're still using Yast, try SMART)? At this point I con only advice you to use a more slim system(like debian) and wait for all prices to drop(should be soon).

Yes, I'm still using yast. I'm definitely going to give a try to smart.

Thanks, jens, once again!

johnson_steve 07-29-2006 10:55 PM

I'm using a 2.4Ghz P4 with 1Gb ram you should just upgrade the ram. I don't think you would see a noticeable improvement with a newer P4 (and if you do it's probably the ram.) The pentium D (dual core) and AMD64 (64 bit) will give you a noticeable increase but this depends on what you use the computer for and what os you use. This being said (And I am willing to say maybe I got a bum chip or damaged it somehow) comparing my 2.4Ghz 1Gb P4 machine to the 800Mhz 512Mb AMD Durron Machine I built for my brother. It is way less stable and not 3 times as fast at all (In fact he can play almost all the same games I can. So this will be my last intel box (unless I get one of those intel macs.) I would probably use an AMD chip next time. I am using gentoo on my p4 so installing something involves compiling it a much more intensive and longer process then you would have with yast, but I set portage niceness to 6 and I can still play my games while compiling (but compiling takes longer.) you can set the niceness of aything in linux and probably get your package manager to behave the same way.

IsaacKuo 07-29-2006 11:52 PM

I agree with the above that you probably won't get much of a performance boost, but if your main complaint is sluggishness while multi-tasking, then dual core could be quite a boon for you.

Just don't get a Pentium 4 or a Pentium D. These Prescott core chips run really hot and aren't as fast as their clock speed suggest. Your current P4 is almost certainly one of the older Northwood core chips--more efficient than Prescott core chips.

Instead, the Socket 754, 939, and AM2 AMD processors are more efficient and cooler running. The new Core 2 Duo from Intel looks even more efficient still (Intel basically gave up on the Netburst technology which was making Prescott so much worse than AMD chips and restarted from the Pentium 3/Pentium M designs).

Basically, if you're willing to spend the money on the latest and greatest, Core 2 Duo looks the best. If you want to save money for a good value, Socket 754 or 939 is probably the way to go. But in all cases, you're likely not going to get a big boost in performance over what you've got right now.

lazlow 07-30-2006 12:13 AM

You will be much happier investing in 1gb of memory. After that I would bye a good raid card (harware not fakeraid) and the drives to match up with it. A lot of a "normal" users daily task are now become choked by hd speed. I have a AMD3800+X2(2gb of ram) and a 1ghz PIII( with 1gb ram and raid0). For a lot of tasks the PIII is actually faster due to the short drive access times. If you do a lot of video or audio encoding then the faster cpu will help. The X2 section usually only helps if the specific application is written for it. The newer versions of Avidemux (video encoder) cuts the encoding time by about 40% when I use the multiprocessor mode. In most other situation the second core is only being used minimumly. Yes, if you have a lot of cpu intensive process running you will see a pickup.

Just my $.02 worth
Lazlow

jschiwal 07-30-2006 12:37 AM

I agree about the memory. Going from 256MB to 1GB should make a bit difference.

Penguin of Wonder 07-30-2006 01:38 AM

AMD is the only way to go. They run cooler, they run faster, and every body likes an underdog ;-).

Gustavo Narea 07-30-2006 12:52 PM

Thank you all for your answers!

I've changed my mind and now I think that I should use a new type of processor, instead of just expanding my RAM. I'm aware of I won't find a huge difference if I compare it with my current P4, but I think it's going to be a medium-term investment switching to a 64-bit processor (according to some research I already did on the www).

I'm willing to purchase a 64-bit AMD processor, but, which one? Taking into account what I use my PC for and that I want it to perform fine for (at least) 2 years or so, if possible.

TIA.

drkdick 07-30-2006 05:45 PM

I always seem to get the feeling that it's best to wait just a short while before buying new hardware but I've been researching for a month now and it is most certainly not an easy time for the linux-enthusiast. I'm looking for a new platform myself but I expect it to last for 5 years minimum, be as linux-friendly as humanly possible, of latest technology but still economical.

I'd hoped that AMD's price cuts would have propagated more quickly, but now they are discontinuing new product lines of AM2s and the future seems uncertain. Behind the corner lies more cores and new technology, and maybe even a positive turn for the graphics driver scenario on linux with AMD/ATI. Would this happen we might finally get a proper driver for a modern 3d-card under linux (I so miss the days when matrox millennium II ruled, the linux driver was faster/more stable than the ms windows counterpart on my machine). One thing is for certain and that is that I would never buy so much as a mousepad without having read of several reports of successfull linux-compability.

Anyone having anything to say about real-world experience running linux on either conroes or any AM2 X2-setup would be greatly appreciated.

BTW, Gustavo.
If you are going for an AMD AM2, I've read that you shouldn't opt for anything except the multiple-of-four speeds (2.0, 2.4GHz) on account of being able to run DDR2 memory at a speed of 800.

Penguin of Wonder 07-30-2006 06:44 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by drkdick
If you are going for an AMD AM2, I've read that you shouldn't opt for anything except the multiple-of-four speeds (2.0, 2.4GHz) on account of being able to run DDR2 memory at a speed of 800.

Where did you read that? That sounds a bit off.

Electro 07-31-2006 02:21 AM

Of course your computer will be slow because you are using KDE. I have a Pentium 4 2 GHz (Northwood core) that is using 1 GB of ECC memory (RAMBUS). It is fast but it has trouble taking the load. I use XFce4 as my window manager. My AMD 700 MHz (Slot A) system has no trouble handling the load. It can handle a running VMware virtual machine and video capture at the same time.

A dual processor system will always help anybody that is running two or more programs at a time. The only problem is you have to use ECC memory. People try to save money by not buying ECC memory, but they get a lot of crashes compared to their single processor system. The only speed that DDR2 ECC memory comes in is 533 MHz. I am waiting until there is 800 MHz ECC DDR2 memory.

AMD has different versions for the AM2 socket. One is for efficient SFC computing which costs a lot because there are limited quanities. The others are semprons for economy and Athlon64 X2 for ethusiasts.

Penguin of Wonder, read http://www.anandtech.com/cpuchipsets...px?i=2762&p=10.

SD-user 07-31-2006 02:41 AM

Built my own system w/ an AMD x64 Athlon w/ FC5 x64. Two words: awesome performance. Far better than any Intel box rated at 1.8-2.0 GHz faster. Plenty more perks if you go with an nForce motherboard kit.

drkdick 07-31-2006 04:43 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SD-user
Built my own system w/ an AMD x64 Athlon w/ FC5 x64. Two words: awesome performance. Far better than any Intel box rated at 1.8-2.0 GHz faster. Plenty more perks if you go with an nForce motherboard kit.

What processor/socket/memory-combination do you have? Is the desktop just more responsive or is it some specific area in which you've noticed speed-ups?


Penguin, here's "Tom's hardware" on the odd multiplier issue:
***.tomshardware.com/2006/05/23/amd_reinvents_itself/page46.html

cs-cam 07-31-2006 05:28 AM

My opinion is that right now is the worst time possible to upgrade. If you want, grab a high-end Core 2 Duo chip and it'll last a couple of years but with AMD buying out ATI (think major CPU design overhaul) and Intel having solid designs on their next-gen microchip already (next-gen after the Conroe) I'm going to be sticking with my system for a while. Admittedly I went all out when I did this like 6 months ago so I'm starting well ahead of the curve but there is just too much stuff happening to be able to pick a solid technology as a if you're planning on building a system that will be able to keep up with the latest and greatest for a few years.

Quote:

After that I would bye a good raid card (harware not fakeraid) and the drives to match up with it. A lot of a "normal" users daily task are now become choked by hd speed.
Fantastic advice and definitely true.


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