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 Post subject: Radeon HD 4650 - Should I bother upgrading?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 06, 2011 11:09 pm 
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Okay, so my mom wants a new desktop for the office. She currently has an old pentium D (that's right, TWO Prescott dies on one chip :shock: ). I currently have an athlon 64 x2 7750BE (2.7ghz) with 4gb ddr2 ram and a radeon hd 4650, and until lately it's been doing me just fine (I mostly just use my laptop out of laziness).

However, I've started doing some pretty intense research in bionformatics now that I'm in grad school, and the programs I write to process data (despite achieving the best possible efficiency and time complexity) are very very CPU intensive. We're talking average run times of WEEKS here. So, as you can imagine anything that can speed up the process is very much appreciated (the university servers are hopelessly overloaded, or I would use them instead).

To that end, I suggested to my mom that for around $700 I can put together a brand new rig with a phenom II X6 1090T black edition and 4gb of ddr3 1333, and then just give her my old one and have the business reimburse me the $700.

The thing is, though, that she won't be needing anything more than integrated graphics, so I'm trying to decide whether or not to just keep the radeon hd 4650 for myself or upgrade it. As I said, the things I'm doing on it are intensely CPU-bound, and unfortunately it's an inherently linear problem (you don't see too many of those outside research, but they're more common than you think in academia), meaning that there really isn't any benefit from multithreading or GPU computing (besides, I would probably shoot myself before I'd rewrite all my code in C to run it on a GPU :lol: ), aside from running several instances of the program in parallel.

I will probably eventually be gaming on it, but I've kinda grown out of it at this point (no time these days :( ), and besides, it's going to be tied up for the next year and a half just crunching numbers.

So do you think it's worth it to upgrade the video card? I've taken a look at the hd 6450, for example, and it actually seems LESS powerful than the 4650 (less SPUs, less shaders, etc.).


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 Post subject: Re: Radeon HD 4650 - Should I bother upgrading?
PostPosted: Tue Jun 07, 2011 10:26 am 
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Hi and Welcome to SPCR!

The first thing you'll find out is we seldom answer only the question you ask :D

Have you taken a look at the i5-2500K benchmarks compared to the 1090T? It meets/beats the 1100T at stock speeds, and you can OC the 2500K easily to 4GHz and beat the pants off of the AMD part. Probably for similar build price, use a lot less power, and you get decent integrated graphics for your 2D apps. Then, you can give your mom the hand-me-down PC with the HD4650.

I found a couple of scientific computing benchmarks at The Tech Report. Both are multi-threaded.

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 Post subject: Re: Radeon HD 4650 - Should I bother upgrading?
PostPosted: Tue Jun 07, 2011 2:35 pm 
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Well, I'm not totally new, I just couldn't remember my old login from like 5 years ago haha.

Thanks for your suggestion, but I'm strictly an AMD user (well, in the CPU arena anyway). I probably should have specified that, but I didn't think it was relevant at the time. I'm sure Intel is better for pure performance, but I just can't support them as a company. Ideological differences, I guess.

Also, I would need a discrete graphics card eventually, as I can't rule out gaming altogether at this point. Do you think the 4650 would be fine for a while yet? It plays WoW and the like easily.


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 Post subject: Re: Radeon HD 4650 - Should I bother upgrading?
PostPosted: Wed Jun 08, 2011 5:54 am 
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The only reasons to upgrade the video card:
- if you need DX11 support
- you are a videophile and use it for an HTPC (better decoding/format support on newer cards)

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 Post subject: Re: Radeon HD 4650 - Should I bother upgrading?
PostPosted: Wed Jun 08, 2011 6:23 am 
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hall1k wrote:
Also, I would need a discrete graphics card eventually, as I can't rule out gaming altogether at this point. Do you think the 4650 would be fine for a while yet?


It does fine until you end up playing games that require more GPU power. Why not just upgrade when that happens? :)
new generations of video cards will probably be out then.

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 Post subject: Re: Radeon HD 4650 - Should I bother upgrading?
PostPosted: Wed Jun 08, 2011 7:00 am 
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So, does your old computer (the athlon) have integrated graphics aside from the hd4650? I would presume it has to, otherwise, you wouldn't consider switching out the 4650. But just thought I'd ask in case

As far as your new build is concerned, I would just keep the 4650 if at all possible. This is mostly as a money-saving feature. No need for an extra GPU up front and 880G motherboards are generally more expensive than 870 motherboards. Like you said, you can always upgrade later.

Also, if your applications aren't highly threaded, why not get a cheaper phenom II X4 BE? They're dirt cheap nowadays, with the release of the sandy bridge cpus. A phenom ii x4 955 for example really hits a sweet spot in terms of money. And easily overclockable.

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 Post subject: Re: Radeon HD 4650 - Should I bother upgrading?
PostPosted: Wed Jun 08, 2011 7:40 am 
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hall1k wrote:
I currently have an athlon 64 x2 7750BE (2.7ghz) [...] build a brand new rig with a phenom II X6 1090T black edition and 4gb of ddr3 1333, and


That A64 x2 7750BE is a fine CPU, but you might be disappointed with the performance of the PII x6 1090T.
Your single threaded performance is only 30% faster on the new processor.

hall1k wrote:
[...]then just give her my old one and have the business reimburse me the $700.


That is a risky move if she is not the boss. I also can't imagine a business buying a $700 PC with no support.

hall1k wrote:
So do you think it's worth it to upgrade the video card? I've taken a look at the hd 6450, for example, and it actually seems LESS powerful than the 4650 (less SPUs, less shaders, etc.).


Yes, the first letter is the "Generation" while the second number is the class of the graphics chip. The 4650 is a larger chip, even if it is an older design then the 6450.

hall1k wrote:
The thing is, though, that she won't be needing anything more than integrated graphics, so I'm trying to decide whether or not to just keep the radeon hd 4650 for myself or upgrade it.


The AMD HD4650 is a fine card. It has about five times the performance of the Intel3000 graphics and about three times the performance of the integrated Radeons.

hall1k wrote:
[T]he things I'm doing on it are intensely CPU-bound, and unfortunately it's an inherently linear problem [...] meaning that there really isn't any benefit from multithreading or GPU computing (besides, I would probably shoot myself before I'd rewrite all my code in C to run it on a GPU :lol: ), aside from running several instances of the program in parallel.


If your task is single-threaded then you want to buy an Intel CPU. If you are going to run more then 4 instances in parrallel, you may want an AMD CPU.

Look at the single-threaded performance of the $189.99 CPUs. For the same price as the Phenom II X6 1090T you can buy an Intel Core i5 2400. Your single-threaded performance on the Intel i5-2400 will be 140% of the AMD's.

This means that a task with a 7-day run time on the AMD will be done in 5 days and 2 hours on the Intel. (It would take 9 days and 10 hours on your current A64 x2 7750BE.)


Last edited by Dr. Jim Pomatter on Wed Jun 08, 2011 8:00 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Radeon HD 4650 - Should I bother upgrading?
PostPosted: Wed Jun 08, 2011 7:58 am 
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hall1k wrote:
Thanks for your suggestion, but I'm strictly an AMD user (well, in the CPU arena anyway).


I think that AMD makes a lot of sense for netbooks and full-sized notebooks. AMD is making the best graphics cards for mobile and desktops. For CPUs AMD DOES NOT win the single-threaded race. It would be foolish to slow down your work over a grudge.

hall1k wrote:
Also, I would need a discrete graphics card eventually, as I can't rule out gaming altogether at this point. Do you think the 4650 would be fine for a while yet? It plays WoW and the like easily.


A friend uses a HD4650 on Wow, with an Athlon x2. He gets 25-35 FPS at 1280x800 as long as he turns down a few effects. (I get about 50 FPS on my HD5770 at 1920x1080 with my Q9300.)

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 Post subject: Re: Radeon HD 4650 - Should I bother upgrading?
PostPosted: Wed Jun 08, 2011 9:51 am 
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Yeah, if you're insisting on going AMD, and are only interested in single-threaded performance, you'd probably be better going for a 3.7ghz quad-core Phenom over the 3.3ghz hex-core. I'm with the others here though - neither chip will come close to a stock Intel i5 or i7, let alone an overclocked one.

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 Post subject: Re: Radeon HD 4650 - Should I bother upgrading?
PostPosted: Wed Jun 08, 2011 1:57 pm 
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Dr. Jim Pomatter wrote:
hall1k wrote:
I currently have an athlon 64 x2 7750BE (2.7ghz) [...] build a brand new rig with a phenom II X6 1090T black edition and 4gb of ddr3 1333, and


That A64 x2 7750BE is a fine CPU, but you might be disappointed with the performance of the PII x6 1090T.
Your single threaded performance is only 30% faster on the new processor.

hall1k wrote:
[...]then just give her my old one and have the business reimburse me the $700.


That is a risky move if she is not the boss. I also can't imagine a business buying a $700 PC with no support.



My mother and father do indeed own the business. It's a family business. So really it's just for tax savings. also, technically I am the support since they're paying me like $25,000 a year for school :)

Thank you everyone for your help. I know the numbers say to go Intel, but I just can't stand the way they do things. I'll probably just go for the Phenom II X4 and overclock the crap out of it (I have a radiator available that my Dad pulled out of a 1974 Dodge Charger he's restoring, I think if it can cool a big-block V8 it can handle a computer with little or no pumping).

That said, along the same lines, would it be worth it to step down again to the dual-core version in hopes of even better single-thread performance?


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 Post subject: Re: Radeon HD 4650 - Should I bother upgrading?
PostPosted: Wed Jun 08, 2011 2:39 pm 
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the savings from a 4-core BE to a 2-core BE are pretty slim. I would keep the extra 2 cores! games are already starting to take advatnage of 3 cores. a 4th will be helpful down the road

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 Post subject: Re: Radeon HD 4650 - Should I bother upgrading?
PostPosted: Wed Jun 08, 2011 4:32 pm 
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matchu wrote:
the savings from a 4-core BE to a 2-core BE are pretty slim. I would keep the extra 2 cores! games are already starting to take advatnage of 3 cores. a 4th will be helpful down the road


Yes, but can you get better single-thread performance going from 4 cores to 2 cores, as you apparently can going from 6 to 4? I'm not overly concerned about multithreaded performance at this point, because by the time this machine finishes what I need it to process for my research (worst-case a year and a half from now, needless to say it will be on a battery backup), there will be much much better hardware out there. If I want to play games I'm probably going to have to invest in yet another box, but hopefully I can harangue some funds from my department for it.


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 Post subject: Re: Radeon HD 4650 - Should I bother upgrading?
PostPosted: Wed Jun 08, 2011 6:52 pm 
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hall1k wrote:
Yes, but can you get better single-thread performance going from 4 cores to 2 cores, as you apparently can going from 6 to 4?


that's a good question!

I'm not familiar with it, but if you check what people have been able to achieve with let's say the Phenom II X4 955BE versus the Phenom II X2 550 BE, you'd be able to answer that question. A google for "overclock" plus those two processors might shed some light. I should ask... are you considering overclocking?

http://www.overclock.net/amd-cpus/49952 ... x5-oc.html for what people have achieved on the x4 processors, for example
http://www.overclock.net/amd-cpus/52577 ... -club.html for the x2 processors, in a less-than-easy to compare format

You do get a much larger L3 cache with the X4 processors.

BTW, if you're from Canada, NCIX has a good deal for mobo/cpu:
http://www.ncix.com/products/index.php? ... omoid=1339

Just comparing prices
Phenom II x2 555 ~ 95 on NCIX.com canada
x4 955 ~ 115 on NCIX.com canada
x6 1100T ~ 200 on NCIX.com canada

The price differnetial is huge. That's what i meant that going x6 to x4 is a good change. But x4 to x2 is a very small savings. and whatever x1 threaded benefit you get will probably be small.

EDIT

Another way to look at it, if you are NOT planning on overclocking

Phenom II X2 565 @ $120 is clocked at 3.3GHz
Phenom II x4 980 @ $200 is clocked at 3.7GHz
Phenom ii x6 1100T @ $200 is clocked at 3.3GHz

The X4 will give you the fastest x1 threaded performance at its price point, compared to the X6. The stock X2's do not quite go that fast, but they can be overclocked.

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 Post subject: Re: Radeon HD 4650 - Should I bother upgrading?
PostPosted: Wed Jun 08, 2011 7:27 pm 
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matchu wrote:
hall1k wrote:
Yes, but can you get better single-thread performance going from 4 cores to 2 cores, as you apparently can going from 6 to 4?


that's a good question!

I'm not familiar with it, but if you check what people have been able to achieve with let's say the Phenom II X4 955BE versus the Phenom II X2 550 BE, you'd be able to answer that question. A google for "overclock" plus those two processors might shed some light. I should ask... are you considering overclocking?

http://www.overclock.net/amd-cpus/49952 ... x5-oc.html for what people have achieved on the x4 processors, for example
http://www.overclock.net/amd-cpus/52577 ... -club.html for the x2 processors, in a less-than-easy to compare format

You do get a much larger L3 cache with the X4 processors.

BTW, if you're from Canada, NCIX has a good deal for mobo/cpu:
http://www.ncix.com/products/index.php? ... omoid=1339

Just comparing prices
Phenom II x2 555 ~ 95 on NCIX.com canada
x4 955 ~ 115 on NCIX.com canada
x6 1100T ~ 200 on NCIX.com canada

The price differnetial is huge. That's what i meant that going x6 to x4 is a good change. But x4 to x2 is a very small savings. and whatever x1 threaded benefit you get will probably be small.

EDIT

Another way to look at it, if you are NOT planning on overclocking

Phenom II X2 565 @ $120 is clocked at 3.3GHz
Phenom II x4 980 @ $200 is clocked at 3.7GHz
Phenom ii x6 1100T @ $200 is clocked at 3.3GHz

The X4 will give you the fastest x1 threaded performance at its price point, compared to the X6. The stock X2's do not quite go that fast, but they can be overclocked.


Ahh, I hadn't looked into it very deeply. I've always trusted newegg (never taken more than 2 days to arrive). Yes, I will probably overclock as much as I can. Every little bit of extra performance reduces the time it'll take me to get my master's degree. If it really comes down to it I'll bite the bullet and go Intel, but I'd really rather not.


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