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Buying a new computer

What is more important?  Faster processor or faster bus?

Processor:
P4 3.06 GHz w/533 Mhz Front Side Bus  -OR-
P4 2.8 GHz w/800 FSB (w/Hyper Threading technology)

Activities:
Visual Studio .NET dev
DVD authoring (home movies, recitals, weddings)
Live Music (DAT) mastering -> lossless conversion (shn/flac)

both configurations are the same price

apw
Wednesday, October 01, 2003


make sure that ram supports the correct speed as well.
you can have a 800mhz fsb, and your memory will be 133mhz, which will slow down the whole.

try to minimize the divident ratio

eg 800/200 is better than 800/133 or 533/133

na
Wednesday, October 01, 2003

and hyperthreading is cool, i have 2.6ghz hyperthreading, 800/400 setup

na
Wednesday, October 01, 2003

it will have 2 512MB PC2700 DDR 333MHz SDRAM modules

apw
Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Is SCSI a factor? I'd take that and the "slower" CPU, esp considering the encoding.

Philo

Philo
Wednesday, October 01, 2003

consider SATA as well. however I heard and also see in my computer that every 2nd SATA HDD fails. maybe it was just a coincidence, but ...

na
Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Places such as Tom's Harware (www.tomshardware.com) are gonna be your friend in cases like this. They have some good articles, benchmarks and studies on all things hardware.

A few things to keep in mind if your spec'ing a system...

Don't skimp on RAM. Get the good stuff. Many folks get a great processor, then burden their system with slooooow memory. Consider something like 3200 RAM.

Pay attention to the motherboard and the chipset that is installed on it. Once again, skimping here can negate any performance boost your processor might give ya. Read some reviews and see how the Mobo's stack up. (I love my new ASUS P4C800-E Deluxe! It has the Intel 875 chipset, which is slighter faster than the 865.)

Consider getting SATA hard drives. If you can afford it, get two and set them up in a RAID 0 (striping) config. You effectively get twice the throughput. I just built a system with two Western Digital Raptor 10K RPM drives and the speed is amazing!

Mark Hoffman
Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Oh..Something else..If you are interested in running a SATA RAID setup or using the faster memory, make certain the motherboard supports it. Some motherboards only support 2700 RAM and have no support for SATA or RAID.

Mark Hoffman
Wednesday, October 01, 2003

thanks

apw
Wednesday, October 01, 2003

"Every second SATA hard drive fails"
"Buy two SATA drives and set them up with striping"

Cool - a clearer recipe for data loss I've never seen in my life. :-D

Philo

Philo
Wednesday, October 01, 2003

tomshardware ... 3500 ram ... Gee!

1. Don't go for SCSI. It's not faster or more reliable than S-ATA or P-ATA. Unless you go for LVD-UW320-SCSI, which is just too expensive.
2. Go for S-ATA. Smaller connectors and cables, lower voltage than P-ATA.
3. Don't read or believe anything which is published at "pro/consumer/expert" sites like Tom's Hardware. Anyone knows you can buy your review stars there.
4. Don't go for Dual Channel. It gives you a 3-5% performance advantage over Single Channel in real world applications, but mainboard prizes for Dual Channel chipsets cannot be justified by that gain. (Remember: an application needs to be at least 30% quicker to be perceived as being really quicker).
5. DDRAM-333/400, 1x 512MB or 2x 512 MB.
6. If both configurations are the same prize: go for the smaller CPU = lower power consumption, less heat, less fan noise. 2.8 vs. 3.06 is just a performance difference of 5-10% in real world applications, you won't notice the difference.
7. Both CPU's ARE NOT the same prize. The 3.06 one is 100 bucks more. So either your vendor is trying to rip you off, or there is a trade-off with the 3.06 one like a smaller hard-driver or cheaper graphics card.

Johnny Bravo
Wednesday, October 01, 2003

"3. Don't read or believe anything which is published at "pro/consumer/expert" sites like Tom's Hardware. Anyone knows you can buy your review stars there."

Pfffft. So you're basically saying that someone looking to learn more about hardware should just ignore major sites like Tom's? So what do you recommend?

And who says an application has to be 30% faster to be percieved as faster? Even a 10% decrease in compilation time is quite noticeable on projects that take longer than 30-40 seconds to compile.

Mark Hoffman
Wednesday, October 01, 2003

SCSI used to have advantages.  Now, the last gasp of SCSI is going to be some features added to the SerialATA standard to give it everything that SCSI had.

Motherboards with RAID are at a minimum premium, since it's generally a software driver anyway.  Don't store anything that's worth anything on a RAID 0 array, store it on a regular disk or RAID 1 array.  A RAID 1 array doesn't exempt you from backups.

Get name brand, quality parts.  I learned this lately when a system that I literally picked off the roadside with a no-name motherboard, a Cyrix CPU, and a no-name PSU  is far less stable than the ASUS motherboard + Intel processor + good PSU system that it replaced.  Cheap memory doesn't work right all of the time.  Quality costs and quality matters.

Most likely you won't notice anything more than a few percent difference between the two of them, so I'd say get the 2.8, with a "newer" generation core.  VS.NET is extremely disk-speed-dependent more than anything else.  I seem to think that MPEG/flac/etc. is bandwidth dependent, not CPU dependent (i.e. doesn't fit so well on the cache, so bus and RAM speed matters) but I could be wrong on that.

Flamebait Sr.
Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Serial ATA allows hard drives to talk to each other without talking to the CPU?

That's one of the best benefits of SCSI. BTW, no point in doing SCSI if you don't do multiple drives, but if you do, your machine will definitely be faster.

Once again, I'm on a 3 year old box with 7200 rpm SCSI drives, and I'll tell you that a brand new box with IDE has serious "lag" issues when the disk is being accessed (this is most noticeable on bootup)

Philo

Philo
Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Philo,

Actually, SCSI's biggest performance advantage is queued/tagged requests. This allows the drive to reorder reads and writes for better performance (elevator seek).

The ability of SCSI devices to talk to each other without the intervention of the host is essentially never used in practice.

Tagged requests are an optional ATA extension that more devices are starting to implement.

-Mark

Mark Bessey
Wednesday, October 01, 2003

With all due respect to Mr. Bravo, this article from Tom's Hardware benchmarks some newer SCSI and SATA drives.

http://www17.tomshardware.com/storage/20030501/index.html

Mark Hoffman
Wednesday, October 01, 2003

If you have any machine now (I do belive so :)) just look what happens in TaskManager (or whatever performace meter your OS has) when you do your usual work.
If CPU is at 100% all the time, then go for it. But I bet most of the time is spent on disk I/O.

IMHO: I would get as much good RAM as I can instead of trying to get faster CPU/hard drive. If all files you are working with can fit into RAM (not only sources, but obj, AVI, mp3 - whatever) then OS can optimize disk I/O for you and you can use slower/large HD.

WildTiger
Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Kinda biased here, but I have found that a badly tuned operating system or core software wastes much more than anything else. If the most important 10 program on your system is behaving badly or misused or running on a badly tuned or cluttered system, it will really waste all the money you've shelled out. A clean install kept clean helps a lot. I would highly recommend the following tools:

* VMWare (leave your host OS clean)

* Terminal Services or VNC (never clutter a server with lots of junk, and access it only to start jobs and monitor jobs, because it's probably not tuned to your liking, but that keeps it clean)

* Hardening and cleaning script or step-by-step guide/log.
Know what's wasteful, keep a critical eye as to what you really need. If you don't need 3 P2P clients, cut it down to 1, etc etc. Don't need desktop background/active desktop? Things like that.

Li-fan Chen
Thursday, October 02, 2003

Mark,
THG does some "objective" benchmarks, but almost never gives you a detailed conclusion based on real world aspects. The same applies for the review you posted. The contender has 36GB storage capacity, which is a joke for a new hard-drive. You would not want to recommend it for a desktop system, would you?
Sorry, but THG's reviews are almost always that silly. Just take a look at another fresh review at THG: the Pioneer DVR-A06. They write "Write performances were impressive", while they only tested the speed of the write process, no matter if the drives produced coasters only. [One would expect a detailed analysis of the recorded media, especially PI-8-Sums.] Basically, THG is just a bunch of kiddies who conduct their "reviews" based on attributes like "Can we keep the sample after the review? How does the case look like? Does it taste good when I lick it?", lacking professional equipment and expert knowledge to do real reviews.

Johnny Bravo
Thursday, October 02, 2003

Johnny,

As I asked before; what do you recommend? This isn't a snide remark. Tom's is the only regularly updated site that has decent info that I've found. I tend to agree with you on some of their reviews, but I haven't found a better site.

As far as the 36GB hard drive goes...The review did discuss why WD would put out such a small hard drive. They target that drive at folks like me who put them in RAID  configurations. I just bought two of them for my SATA RAID. (Smokin' performance)
It isn't expected that someone will buy just one....

Mark Hoffman
Thursday, October 02, 2003

http://www.maximumpc.com/

Real-world benchmarks, smart and funny writers.

Philo

Philo
Thursday, October 02, 2003

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