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Getting new PC -- questions about processor and their affect on performance

By Tron55555
Oct 22, 2009
  1. Hello -- I'm about to be getting a new PC (notebook), as soon as I decide what I want. I cannot get a new computer very often, so it's important to me to spend a lot of time learning about the different specs before I choose what I want. I've done a good deal of reseach, but I find forums are generally the only the place I can find answers that are really relevant to the information that I'm looking for, so I greatly appreciate any advice/information/suggestions/ect that anyone has to offer.

    I've got my choices narrowed down to a Dell Studio 15, a Dell Studio XPS 16, an HP HDX16t, an HP dv8t Quad Edition, a Sony Vaio VGN-FW590, and a Sony Vaio VGN-AW390. I have some questions about the options that I'm given for the processor:

    1.) First, I'd like to know how much the processor really affects performance. I'm going to be doing a lot of developing/programming and graphics design, as well as a decent amount of gaming, as well as watching a lot of movies (it will be 1080p and have a drive capable of reading/writing Blu-rays). Of course, I'll also be doing a lot of the standard internet surfing, e-mail, and word processing. I'm pretty sure I want a dual processor, and not a quad, and I've been looking over the Core 2 Duo options that come with some of these computers, and I'm curious -- the least expensive option that most of the computers I listed above give me is the Core 2 Duo T6600 with 2.2GHz, 800MHz FSB, and 2MB cache, and the most expensive one offered is the Core 2 Duo T9900 with 3.06GHz, 1066MHz FSB, and 6MB cache. I don't really know what each of these specs mean or how much they affect performance, and I'd be glad to learn about that if anyone has the time, but I'm more concerned with the overall difference in performance between the two processors. In comparing a processor like the T6600 with one like the T9900, how much of a difference would I really notice in the way my computer operates? Also, would I only notice this difference when gaming or working with graphics or other heavy applications, or would the difference in performance be apparent with even simple tasks, like internet browsing or just browsing around the computer in general? I know this is a general question, but I'm only looking for a general answer -- I just want some idea of how much of a difference there is between these two processors, and if it's significant enough that it's worth the extra four to six hundred dollars that it costs. Price is not a particularly huge concern for me, but it is definitely something to be considered for me nonetheless.

    2.) I know there is an E model (I forget the exact number) of Core 2 Duo that has 3.16GHz or something like that (even more than the T9900 in other words), but none of the computers that I've narrowed my decision down to have that processor as an option. So, how difficult is it to upgrade to a better processor later on? For example, if I bought the cheapest one (the T6600) with the PC, would it be difficult for me to switch it out for the E model processor (the 3.16GHz one) later on? I'm not sure if I'd want to do this or not, but I'd like to know if it is a reasonable option.

    3.) Is there any reason I should consider a quad processor over a dual one. Right now I am inclined to just go with a good dual processor, but are there any reasons that I might want to go with a quad instead? I've done some research on this, and from what I read there seem to be split opinions on which is better, but I'm comfortable with the Core 2 Duo, since I have it on this MacBook and it has been great as far as I know, so I've been leaning towards that, but I just wanted to check.

    Thank you very much for any help anyone can offer me with this -- it is very much appreciated.
     
  2. Ritwik7

    Ritwik7 TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,288   +7

    The CPU speed / no. of cores greatly affect performance in case of heavy content creation. Most new games are being optimized to use processors having 2 or more cores.

    The processor you're talking about is the E8500. However, that is not available for laptops as far as my knowledge goes. The E series Wolfdales are all desktop processors.
    The T9900 is Intel's top Core 2 Duo offering for laptops. Next is the Core 2 Extreme series which features the QX9300 quad core. Fianlly come the Core i7 and Core i7 Extreme Edition.

    As I mentioned earlier the quad core will have advantages in areas pertaining to content creation and applications that can make use of the multiple cores. But if there's a great price difference I'd stick with dual.
     
  3. Rage_3K_Moiz

    Rage_3K_Moiz Sith Lord Posts: 7,291   +25

    For everything you want to do, a notebook is not the way to go IMO; get a desktop instead. You will get far more power to do what you want, but will have to sacrifice mobility for it.

    You could also go DIY and build your own desktop, saving a lot of cash in the process, and learning something new. It's not that difficult, and the money you save makes it worth it IMO.

    It's your call though.

    As for your questions, the CPU is a critical component when it comes to content creation apps like Photoshop. Next up is the RAM, and for video content, you'd ideally need a workstation graphics card as well. Desktops have a plethora of options for these; laptops with these are not available IIRC.
     
  4. Tron55555

    Tron55555 TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Thanks for your replies. I'm really set on getting a notebook, although I appreciate the advice about getting a desktop. You're probably right, but a notebook is what I'm going for.

    That clears a lot up for me, but I still have a few more questions if anyone gets the time.

    1.) I would still like to understand a little more about the capabilities of quad-core processors versus dual-core. From what I understand, the quad-core can offer some things that the dual-core can't, particularly with heavier applications that are made to take advantage of quad-core processors. However, I would like to know if the opposite is true. If I got a quad-processor, would I be missing out on anything? Would there be anything that the dual-core would have offered or that would have worked better with the dual-core? In other words, are there any significant advantages to the dual-core offers over the quad-core?

    2.) Since the processor is so crucial to performance, I'm curious about comparing the 3.06 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T9900 processor (the best dual processor the site I'm looking at has available) with the 1.73 GHz Intel Core i7-820QM processor (the best quad processor the site I'm looking at has available). Which of these two processors is likely to offer the better performance.

    3.) Finally, on a separate issue, I'm also curious about the graphics processors for notebooks. The 1GB Nvidia GeForce GT 230M is the best one most sites seem to hav available, but I'm curious if this or the 1GB ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4650 is the better graphics card?

    4.) Also, on the subject of graphics cards, are the ones mentioned above the best ones that can be used in a notebook, or are there better graphics cards that could be purchased separately and installed on the laptop? What is the best graphics card out there that could be used in a laptop? The reason I ask is that, if I am going to take this path and buy one separately, then obviously I wouldn't want to waste money upgrading to the better graphics cards that comes with the notebook when customizing it.

    Thank you very much for your time and help.
     
  5. pjamme

    pjamme TS Enthusiast Posts: 285

    IMHE a Quad core processor is a waste as most process intent apps don't access that many processors yet. some don't even access two.
    As to video card i would go with the nVidia. ATI Mobility isn't much for intense use. We use a 3D modeling program called Solidworks. They have a page on their web site to verify what video cards are certified and I don't see any mobility cards there at all only nVidia.
    You didn't mention what vendor you were looking at but this site might give you an idea what nvidia you want. If you are going with Windows 7 use the Vista 64 bit for checking as W7 isn't tested yet. Check it out at: http://www.solidworks.com/sw/support/videocardtesting.html
     
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