What CPU speed is good enough for typical use?

Discussion in 'General Hardware' started by jrichrds, Nov 26, 2002.

  1. jrichrds

    jrichrds Platinum Member

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    For a computer that will primarily be used for Internet applications and word processing (no games or anything considered CPU intensive), at what CPU speed will you no longer be able to notice the difference with faster CPUs? (ballpark figure of course).

    I remember moving from a K6-2 333Mhz to a Celeron 550Mhz felt like a huge speed increase.
     
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  3. Tbirdkid

    Tbirdkid Diamond Member

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    um, the most inexpensive setup is the xp 1600 and a cheap mobo using pc133. best idea is probably to get a board that will do both ddr and sdram. k7s5a i believe does that. check it out...
     
  4. Sunner

    Sunner Elite Member

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    My guess is most people wouldn't notice much of a difference between a VIA C3-800 MHz and a P4-3.06 GHz.
     
  5. Viper96720

    Viper96720 Diamond Member

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    I say memory would make more of a difference.
     
  6. Jeff7

    Jeff7 Lifer

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    What kind of budget?
    As for noticing differences, it depends on the user. Some people can't tell the difference between a 400MHz K6-3 and a 1GHz T-bird. Others are so finely attuned to their PC's behavior that they can sense the minor variations in each CPU clock tick.;)
    A 1600 XP should be just fine as Tbirdkid said; make sure to have at least 256MB of RAM.
    You might also want to check out nForce or nForce2 boards; they are supposed to be pretty good, and the onboard video should negate the need for a standalone card, unless the user of the system intends to play anything more intensive than Half Life or Quake III, especially at higher resolutions. Then a Geforce3 or 4 (the Ti lines are best) would be better.
     
  7. Mardeth

    Mardeth Platinum Member

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    I would go for a Nforce becouse I heard it has a bad 2d quality. A Duron should be more than enough for your needs.
     
  8. Guest

    I see no difference in those particular applications between the two boxes in my home.

    (1)Celery 566

    (2)PIII 1.1
     
  9. Whitedog

    Whitedog Diamond Member

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    IF you were building it...

    Typical use (no gaming) would be:
    Cheap Mobo with KT133A chipset (shuttle AK12A is a good one... $50), AMD CPU, 256MB SDRAM, $30 Video card, 40-60GB HD.

    Anyone would be happy using that.
    You'll always be able to notice a faster CPU. Even with typical use.

    There's no reason to use anything less than 1.4GHz with the prices of CPU's now a days.

    Basically, if you buy all new parts... the Cheapest setup is going to be fast enough, given what's available today.
     
  10. Whitedog

    Whitedog Diamond Member

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    Actually, the biggest thing overlooked in "typical" setups is this...

    You can build a cheap system and use an OLD hard drive.... Put a faster CPU in it and not notice much...

    Put a NEW hard drive in it and notice a huge difference... in just typical use.

    There's THAT much of a difference between the older "slow" hard drives and the newer ones. Hard drives speeds have improved dramatically over the last 3 or 4 years.
     
  11. hdeck

    hdeck Lifer

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    yes, it supports both. i have one =/
     
  12. MasterHoss

    MasterHoss Platinum Member

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    If you're running WinXP, I'd say something like
    1.) 800MHz processor (doesn't matter which)
    2.) 256MB RAM
    3.) 40GB HD (or something smaller if you can find it)
     
  13. CotswoldCS

    CotswoldCS Senior member

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    Fair point well made Whitedog. Modern hard disks make a huge difference to performance. I have an Athlon XP1600 and rarely notice my CPU load go over 90% in general Word Processing, email, internet, etc. However, I am always waiting for the hard disk to load apps, etc. A large hard disk for office use is not necessary - most (normal) people do not utilise more than 10Gb in Windows 9x and 20Gb in WinXP. A good 7,200rpm drive is well worth paying for.

    Would your average user notice the difference between 256 and 512mb RAM? I doubt it. Most people use programs one at a time and rarely have more than one window open at any one time. In fact some people don't even know that you can run 2 or more apps at once!!!

    Consider a basic P4-1.7Ghz system. That way you can always upgrade to a 2.6-3.0+ when they move from Solitaire to Unreal Tournament 2003 at a later date.



    What's the point of a 3.0Ghz P4 if people just install AOL on it?
     
  14. Dug

    Dug Diamond Member

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    That is so true. You would be amazed at how well an old P2 266 performes with a fast hd.
     
  15. Ben50

    Ben50 Senior member

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    I'm on the internet right now with a celeron 400 on win98. It has 128MB of ram and a 5400rpm hard drive but it still works great for surfing the net. The only real difference is the time it takes to load IE which is still less than 1 second so not that big of deal. You will notice much more difference if you spend money on a faster internet connection because practically anything over 300 Mhz will work fine for the internet if you don't try to overload it with other crap. If you want to use win 2000 or XP you'll need a much faster computer to see the same performance as with win98. Also be sure to get at least 256 MB of ram for windows 2000 or XP.
     
  16. jrichrds

    jrichrds Platinum Member

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    Let's say your parents are light computer users who do the typical Internet and Office things, along with occassional image editing. They're on a 500Mhz Celeron with already plenty of RAM and a fast 7200rpm hard drive. You're lazy like me and the only upgrade you're willing to do is to swap in a faster 900Mhz retail-boxed Celeron. Is it worth doing, or would they not even know I swapped the CPU unless I told them?
     
  17. CotswoldCS

    CotswoldCS Senior member

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    Jrichrds

    I don't expect they'd even notice. Instead clean up the system startup items (MSCONFIG), remove temporary files, scandisk and defrag and they'll think you've upgraded them to a 2.6Ghz P4!!! Add a few points to 3DMark and they probably won't care but make Windows load in less than a minute and they'll love you forever, and buy you a new car (possibly).
     
  18. arcenite

    arcenite Lifer

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    my system is fine for typical use >:|
     
  19. Bovinicus

    Bovinicus Diamond Member

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    Once you break past 1GHz, the performance difference isn't that great anymore. I would suggest a Duron 1.3GHz. You will notice plenty of pep with that CPU. A lot of memory will be more helpful than you think. 512MB is a good amount to go with. As well, fast harddrives make a big difference. RAID 0 would improve performance a lot.
     
  20. Texun

    Texun Platinum Member

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    WHITEDOG is dead on the money! I replaced a drive in an emachines 400 Celeron with a 7200RPM Maxtor 20g and was very surprised! It was a nice wake-up call that made me think again about the hit taken by bottlenecks. Whatever you get, do not cut corners by getting a slow drive... unless you plan to use it in a personal file server box some day.

    I would also suggest a fairly decent but inexpensive video card (no generic 8 meg wonders). Faster cards will improve the "snappiness" of your windows and web pages, even on a slow system. I've got a 32meg GF2MX in my file server, and for web surfing it does as well as my GF4Ti and cost $130 less.
     
  21. majewski9

    majewski9 Platinum Member

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    Id say a XP 1700 thouroughbred and a good cheap KT333 board is the best bang for your buck. SDRAM is deader than daead and is also just a bit cheaper than DDR.
     
  22. tapir

    tapir Senior member

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    get:
    Duron 1300.
    cheapest CPU out there at $40 a pop
    runs roughly equal to a 1400MHz T-Bird due to core improvements

    couple it with 256mb sdram on a mobo like the ECS K7SEM (int. vid/audio/lan) and the fastest HD you can afford
     
  23. ProviaFan

    ProviaFan Lifer

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    What is worthwhile saying has already been said. I will simply concur with what these fine folks have already stated. :)

    IOW, my experience with hard disk upgrades has been perfectly in line with what WhiteDog said. For casual users, or older systems, a HD upgrade will be what's noticed the most. Heck, even if you already have the fastest processor in the world, but you're running it with a mediocre 7200RPM WD "Special Edition" drive, you'd notice a big difference if you upgraded to a SCSI 15K RPM drive. :p
     
  24. Barnaby W. Füi

    Barnaby W. Füi Elite Member

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    a duron 1.3 is 37 bucks shipped, no reason to go cheaper than that. you could get a low end xp for ~50 dollars. it just depends on your budget. any of them are fast enough for surfing/word processing/etc. get a 7200rpm hard drive too, you will definitely notice the diff. between that and a 5400rpm. also make sure you have enough ram for what os/software you will be running. follow those little rules and speed should be no problem.
     
  25. Davegod

    Davegod Platinum Member

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    my 1600+ isnt remotely taxed until i start gaming.

    Definately worth getting a ATA100 (or133) HDD imo. Anybody will notice the jump from a ATA66.

    Can be worth getting a new-ish motherboard rather than skimping, for reliability aswell as features you might want. Worth going DDR memory aswell imo, a 256mb stick do you fine.
     
  26. ProviaFan

    ProviaFan Lifer

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    ATA/100 or ATA/133 won't make a bit of difference. It's the RPM of the hard disk that matters.