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 Post subject: Home computing upgrade path (Life after Sandy Bridge)
PostPosted: Mon Oct 24, 2011 1:50 am 
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Joined: Wed Jun 13, 2007 10:12 am
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Location: ITALY
While upgrading some productions machines, I was facing a more personal dilemma.

From a performance standpoint (excluding energy efficiency, I mean), there's any compelling reason to upgrade some two-three years old home computers? Currently I have (among the others: OMG! I have too many peecee at home!) three DDR2 Wolfdale-based Pentium desktops at home, mostly used for HTPC tasks, Internet browsing, file storage and light office usage.
If Anandtech Bench is anything meaningful, does it make any sense to upgrade those actually undervolted and oc'ed machines (3,2-3,5GHz) with some low end, crippled Sandy Bridge systems (yes, I know they are far more efficient)?
These are the figures I was referring to, clock by clock:

Sandy Bridge vs Clarkdale
Clarkdale vs Wolfdale
Sandy Bridge vs Wolfdale

Currently I would be more oriented toward waiting a bit more, at least up to the next CPU generation, but I would like to read some serene, general considerations about, if any.

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 Post subject: Re: Home computing upgrade path (Life after Sandy Bridge)
PostPosted: Mon Oct 24, 2011 2:07 am 
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Joined: Thu Jul 03, 2008 4:27 am
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Location: Switzerland
Generally, you should upgrade a Pentium 4 but Wolfdales are much better so general considerations are not very useful.
What are you trying to optimize? You need to know the factors to do the math. Otherwise you're only rationalizing irrational choices.
The problem is the same at home or at work except that the fewer computers you're talking about, the less time it's worth spending on such considerations.

There's something general I can say however since you have so many computers: laptops can sometimes replace several computers and that makes them particularly efficient. They're also more efficient than regular computer in many ways (they don't take much room for instance). Browsing and light office stuff can be done on a cheap laptop unless you work with quality photographs or something requiring better displays.


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 Post subject: Re: Home computing upgrade path (Life after Sandy Bridge)
PostPosted: Mon Oct 24, 2011 2:42 am 
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HFat wrote:
Otherwise you're only rationalizing irrational choices.

Yes, I guess that it has more to do with irrationality than other.
By ding of reading "how fast is Sandy Bridge", I was wondering: "how useful is that Sandy Bridge speed"?

The 2500K which I'am currently insanely oc'ing (5.1GHz and counting) in my bench room surely is fast, but when I stop stress testing and just play around with it, I'm a bit disappointed, exactly as when I swapped my laptop 120GB drive with a blazing 160GB SSD: is that all?
Up to now, for any not specific/demanding task, I'm quite convinced that it's all here, and that what there's already here, it's quite enough.

HFat wrote:
Browsing and light office stuff can be done on a cheap laptop unless you work with quality photographs or something requiring better displays.

Or unless you want silence. The Vaio I am typing on right now is very faintly sounding: but it has never been silent (some boxes lying around at home would look like dead, if there were not the activity leds). However, I see the point.

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Last edited by quest_for_silence on Mon Oct 24, 2011 4:15 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Home computing upgrade path (Life after Sandy Bridge)
PostPosted: Mon Oct 24, 2011 4:08 am 
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How useful speed is depends on what you want to do with the computer obviously.
For most people, the only point of higher per-clock efficency is to allow them to do the same work with cheaper CPUs the next time they get a new computer or perhaps to underclock. Of course there's little point in upgrading if you're satisfied with what you have.
Developments in low-power CPUs such as Atoms are more important for a lot of uses than whatever happens with Sandy Bridge and the like. Developments in mainstream CPUs are not very interesting if you're browsing the web and doing basic office-type stuff. It's easier and cheaper to buy something like a low-power Zotac or Shuttle barebone than to build and tweak a mainstream PC.

There are fairly cheap laptops which are very quiet or even silent if you're not picky about the display. As usual, it depends on what you want to do (your laptop may be more powerful than the less noisy ones)...


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 Post subject: Re: Home computing upgrade path (Life after Sandy Bridge)
PostPosted: Mon Oct 24, 2011 4:31 am 
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Joined: Tue Jul 10, 2007 10:35 pm
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Location: Israel
SNB is fast but how a people perceive the speed increase is all depending on what they do.

For office and HTPC tasks, speed increase that you may see in benchmarks (if you read some of the test details) is time accumulated by automatically performing many task - not your typical human work flow. eg. if for every web page browsed you save 0.2 of a second then browsing 100 pages will show as a 20 second advantage in a benchmark. But a person working with this machine will probably not notice the 0.2 seconds it takes to load the single page.

If however you render 3D or transcode video or do other time consuming tasks this speed increase may add up to minutes - even hours - maybe even days. The extra Cores/Threads help too. If you are working with audio the speed increase has real time implications more along the lines of how much CPU% can you get away with. Many new games are CPU demanding and just love the extra CPU threads and speed.

I think you know all this Quest, I'm just sayin'...

To be specific with what you asked, I wouldn't go and upgrade any Core/Core2 CPU that is doing office, Internet, HTPC playback, file management or any of these kind of tasks. The xxxxDales are maybe not as efficient as SNB but they aren't power hogs either. They are fairly efficient and their performance is well above what these type of tasks require. They are also easy to cool, so the silent excuse is out the window. If you do have the odd convert or power app just run that on your OCed 2500K.

Then again, irrationality has no logic! :mrgreen:

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 Post subject: Re: Home computing upgrade path (Life after Sandy Bridge)
PostPosted: Mon Oct 24, 2011 5:12 am 
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Joined: Wed Jun 13, 2007 10:12 am
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Location: ITALY
ame wrote:
I think you know all this Quest, I'm just sayin'

You're welcome.

Probably, as I don't transcode at home, here there's no need for (more) raw speed, not for the typical home jobs: I use dedicated boxes for net video, I use to fold but on GPUs, while gaming is no more time consuming here since a long while. There's nothing requiring more juice.

Broadly speaking, probably our future belongs to small appliances, and in the next few years there will be no place for all that funny metal that I use to have around.
As a matter of facts lots of us are quite happy with their own Android/iOS running on top a gigahertz dual core Cortex (ARM), even if it isn't nearly as fast as an old single core Athlon, surfing, listening music, or playing games. Up to now these things don't edit documents, but they will come I mean.

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Luca


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 Post subject: Re: Home computing upgrade path (Life after Sandy Bridge)
PostPosted: Mon Oct 24, 2011 11:47 am 
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I guess there are two basic paths:
- upgrading because you like to upgrade/tinker/etc.
- upgrading because some application isn't performing the way you'd like it to

I've been accused of the former, but mostly stick with the latter. I haven't had a need to upgrade past my e8400. No apps are driving me there. That said, I did move over to an SSD for OS/Apps. Partly to tinker, partly for silence, partly for speed bump.

Sounds like you don't neeeed to replace the cpu/mobo, you just want to.

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 Post subject: Re: Home computing upgrade path (Life after Sandy Bridge)
PostPosted: Sat Nov 05, 2011 7:14 am 
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The general rule is simple: don't fix, what ain't broken. The time that you will spend on building / reinstall / tweaking all those systems will easily outweigh all the benefits that come with modern hardware. Unless of course, new software requires a significantly faster machine. Best upgrades for all those machines would be a simple hard-drive replacement. And even that, needs a bit of testing. Your new SSD might stop working after a week or simply have performance problems.

As for the so-called energy-efficiency, you can simply buy a kill-o-watt device or similar and measure each one of your systems, then calculate how much does it actually cost you. For one or two computers, I wouldn't even bother.

I have one such system:

Pentium 3 1.4 Ghz w/ bells and whistles. Idles around 50W. Quite a lot if you ask me, but it's good for mail and file printing and occasional flash-free web browsing.

In the end, common sense should prevail. There is no point to upgrade for the sake of upgrading. That is an addiction and waste of *your* time.

Either way, I would wait till Spring 2012. ARM giving Intel/AMD a good run. We should be seeing some really nice products in the near future!


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 Post subject: Re: Home computing upgrade path (Life after Sandy Bridge)
PostPosted: Sat Nov 05, 2011 11:45 am 
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Location: UK/Eire
Problem is it's so cheap to buy a board, processor and DDR 3 ram (dirt cheap) you could easily replace all those for under £100 and get far better performance and lower power consumption.
I'm all for using stuf if it's still decent and does the job. But when my old X2 4200 board died I junked it and sold the CPU, kept the ram for upgrades etc..used the HDD's and case/new PSU and replaced it with a dual core AMD Athlon II. Runs at least twice as fast as the older one, uses a lot less power (undervolted it as well) probably fast enough for most non super demanding folks and it would pull apart a Pentium 4 and older CPU's no problem

No point keeping older stuff if it's so cheap to upgrade


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