Dual or Quad Cores?

ss3251

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For use on a home computer for web surfing and word processing, will a dual core processor (such as the i-3 or i-5) be good to buy now, or would I be foolish for not choosing a quad core (such as an i-5 or i-7)?

Would it be more important to get more RAM than another two cores on the processor, for my use?

What should good RAM be? 4GB?

I don't need a top line gaming machine, but don't want to have an outdated machine right away either...
 
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For basic web surfing/word processing, the i3 will be just fine. There is no need for anything more than 2 cores for those kind of things. Also, the i3 is actually a decent CPU for gaming, it's not the best out there, but will still work. The i3 benchmarks that i have seen are equivalent to higher-end Core 2 Duo's and there are still PLENTY of people using Core 2 Duo's for gaming.

As for RAM, that all depends on what operating system you have. If you are using a 32-bit OS, then the PC will not be able to utilize more than 4GB (keeping in mind that on-board system memory is used first), so if you have 4GB of RAM in a 32-bit operating system, the operating system will count video card memory, any on-board controller memory first, then it...

jonpaul37

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For basic web surfing/word processing, the i3 will be just fine. There is no need for anything more than 2 cores for those kind of things. Also, the i3 is actually a decent CPU for gaming, it's not the best out there, but will still work. The i3 benchmarks that i have seen are equivalent to higher-end Core 2 Duo's and there are still PLENTY of people using Core 2 Duo's for gaming.

As for RAM, that all depends on what operating system you have. If you are using a 32-bit OS, then the PC will not be able to utilize more than 4GB (keeping in mind that on-board system memory is used first), so if you have 4GB of RAM in a 32-bit operating system, the operating system will count video card memory, any on-board controller memory first, then it will allocate the rest of the RAM up to 4GB.

Example:

32-bit OS only supports 4GB of RAM, start with 4GB and keep deducting...

-video card has 1GB of RAM on it, this leaves you with 3GB or RAM that the OS can use

-on-board controllers for various resources like controllers and other things take up 512meg of RAM, this leaves you with 2.5GB of RAM that the OS can use.

out of the 4GB that you install, only 2.5GB is allocated for use, the rest is dormant thus wasting 1.5GB of RAM.

So, if using a 32-bit operating system, only use 2GB of RAM

If using 64-bit operating system, you can use 4GB or more if you desire, but you should really need no more than 4GB of RAM for basic computing.

Now, if you decide to get an i5 or i7 PC, it'll perform better in many things, but you will really not see the difference in basic stuff like web surfing/Word Processing, but, if you decide you want to play games or do video encoding, it will benefit you. Also, the i5/i7 PC will be more future-proof and likely last much longer than the i3 PC.
 
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ss3251

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Thanks!
I currently have an ancient prebuilt Compaq Presario with a 2.4GHz Intel Celeron and 512MB RAM, so I am sure anything new will provide a noticeable difference. I am planning to build my own machine soon and have been trying to pick the right components for what I need. I want to build a good machine, but don't want to go overboard with a machine that I don't really need. I have enjoyed reading everybody's opinions of the different processors, but seem to get caught up thinking I need to buy the best when I don't use the computer for anything more than web surfing and word processing.
 

Foxer57

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Personally, I would go with a Phemon II X2 550. You can get a great dual core with equally good performance for cheaper that an i3. PLUS, since it is a black edition, as long as you have a motherboard that has the ACC option, you can unlock those extra cores and have a quad-core. But if not, you still save around 30 bucks.
 

masterjaw

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^ Not all motherboards that have ACC could unlock cores. If so, then everyone would be happy but that isn't the case.

For casual use, a dual core (i.e. Athlon II X2 240) and a minimum of 2gb ram would do. But if a 4gb is in your budget, then go for it. Anyway, that would still be much better than your previous system.
 

Foxer57

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I was hoping that that was implied, but yes. Plus, for dinking around on the internet or word processing, you really don't need more that 2GB. I just built a new Phenom II X4 system with 2GB and it takes everything I throw at it (i.e Crysis, Supreme Commander, etc.).
 

ss3251

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Thanks!
My thought was that with the i3 I wouldn't buy a video card. Is the Phenom II better performance or the same? Would I still be better with the Phenom II and buying a video card? Price/ performance wise

How can I tell what motherboards can unlock the cores? What spec would I look at?

Is this a good motherboard to use with the Phenom II, it has onboard grahics... Can it unlock cores?
GIGABYTE GA-MA785G-UD3H AM3/AM2+/AM2 AMD 785G HDMI ATX http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128395&cm_re=AM3_motherboards-_-13-128-395-_-Product
 


You are on the right track.

Any of the new 32nm clarkdale cpu's are very good for your usage.
I would look at the i3-530 or the i5-650. The integrated graphics worked well on a recent i5-660 build.
Only if you use a heavy cpu bound program that can take advantage of 3 or more cores should you look at a more expensive quad.

Ram is cheap, about $100 for a 4gb kit. I would not go less. Windows-7 does a good job of keeping your most useful stuff in ram.

If you want to splurge a bit on performance, consider using a SSD. They start at about $130 for a good 40gb drive. Research carefully, they are getting better and cheaper.

 

loneninja

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It has the 710 south bridge so it should have ACC and the ability to unlock cores. However I warn you that even if you have a board capable of unlocking an X2 into an X4, some X2 processors are physically defective. Possible problems include: inability to load windows, stability problems within windows, or unreasonably high voltages required for stability/overclocking.

Also the integrated graphics in both the 785G chipset and 790GX chipset out perform the integrated graphics of the I3, no reason to purchase a video card for the AMD system if you don't intend to for the Intel system.
 

steadfast1984

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i'll tell you one thing, once you have a nice machine and your like "oh i dont need that or this for that or this" your gonna have a machine that is able to do all the new things that are going on out there. once you get into stuff your old computer could never dream of doing your gonna wish you spent the extra 30 or 40 bucks on the better part. If i were you, Get a sweet motherboard. and a sweet CPU then the rest of the parts you can get can be lesser, but then you got room to upgrade because of that nice solid foundation.
Im telling you this because its exactly what happened to me. I ended up spending more then i had to on upgrades for things I suddenly started enjoying because of my new rig. and WISH i got better parts to begin with. i was all the same thinking as you "ohh all i do is mess on the net and stuff"
 

ss3251

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Awesome!
Thanks!

Would I use the 40GB SSD just for the OS (Windows 7) and then need to add a larger HDD?
I am intrigued... If I go with an i3 instead of an i5/i7, I could afford to splurge on the SSD...
 

Foxer57

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My thought was that with the i3 I wouldn't buy a video card.

Intel's chips have some sort of video accelerator onboard, but it would not completely replace a dedicated video card.

How can I tell what motherboards can unlock the cores? What spec would I look at?

The motherboards that allows unlocking of the extra core is the southbridge, specifically the SB750 and SB710 models. Another thing that you could search for is ACC (Advanced Clock Calibration), which is the feature that is included in with the southbridge. One thing to note is that the unlocking doesn't for for every chip. Here is a great article that should tell you everything you need to know about unlocking : http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/amd-cpu-overclock,2396.html

Is this a good motherboard to use with the Phenom II, it has onboard grahics... Can it unlock cores?
GIGABYTE GA-MA790GPT-UD3H AM3 AMD 790GX HDMI ATX AMD Motherboard
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] -_-Product

This motherboard is a great choice! It has good onboard video, along with the correct southbridge that will enable the core unlock.
I recently bought its cousin (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128392), which works great for me, but I did buy a dedicated video card.
 

runswindows95

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The biggest problem with the system you got now is the 512MB of RAM. For XP SP 3, you really need at least 1GB of RAM. Anyway, considering I spend most of my nights writing nonstop in Open Office, this would be my suggestion:

Athlon X4 620 - a GUARANTEE quad for less than $100. A Phenom would be better for graphical applications such as gaming, Photoshop, etc. This is what I'm looking at when I rebuild my system. When I went from a single to a dual-core, the system is more responsive. Far as the unlocking of cores with other AMD's, it's a gamble. It does not always work hence the X4 620. Main reason I'm also going AMD is the motherboards are generally cheaper.
4GB of DDR3 RAM - it's the ideal amount in my opinion. Going with DDR3 since it's slightly more futureproof.
HDD - Rather spend the money towards dual SATA hard drives than a single SSD. I would run my OS/programs on one, and use the other for strictly data. Far as which one, whatever is the best one I can get for around $50 a piece.
Video card - I run a 9500GT myself, which would probably carry over to the new system. Then again, I'm running dual DVI monitors. Onboard is just fine for Word.

If you must know, this is my rig:

2.2Ghz E2200
4GB of RAM
9500GT
120GB IDE drive for Windows
200GB IDE for data

At work, I run the following applications at one time with a E7500, integrated graphics, and 4GB of RAM: Two Firefox windows with 3 tabs a piece, Excel 2007, Word 2007, Adobe Reader, two notepads, a remote desktop connection, and a VIOP program. I do the same at home, and can't tell the difference between the two.
 

Foxer57

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Roll Roll Roll!
 

liquidsnake718

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You do know that a 32bit OS such as XP or Vista uses only 3.5GB's of RAM MAX. The PC may read 4gigs on the Vista specs but the actual computer if you look at the BIOs will read 3.50 or maybe 3.70gigs of RAM if you have 4gigs installed
 

liquidsnake718

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Well if you truly want my opinion, i would spend just slightly more for a core 17 920 and an x58.... but in your case have you considered an LGA775 maxed out, you can get the best boards like the EVGA classified or ASUS ROG LGA775boards and get two good GPUs and a great core2quad instead of a measly core i3 and a dismal P55....... it all depends on your wants and needs. Of course MOSt ppl will opt foir the newer tech and specs... but it doesnt nessarily mean the best preformance and benches.... BTW also getthe 5850(pricewise its good and a beast as well) or if if you are patient the gf100.... just wait a bit
 

Foxer57

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Guys, look at the what ss3251's needs are. Word processing, and online surfing. You do not dedicated graphics to check your email. This also goes for the RAM. Odds are that he won't be doing a lot of memory intensive applications.

Get the Athlon X4 620, 2GB RAM, plain hdd, and the GIGABYTE GA-MA790GPT-UD3H mobo. This is a perfect set of parts to get the job done and then some.
 

masterjaw

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Actually, he clearly stated what he needs and suddenly it turned into something with i7s and high-end GPUs.

@OP: State your budget first so that people won't randomly come up with their own builds.
 

Foxer57

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The only reason he is saying SSD's and i7's is that what people are throwing at him.

ss3251, getting the quad core with an friends, this will give you a great combination for building a strong computer.

but don't want to have an outdated machine right away either...
This is why they sell computer parts online! If you feel after awhile that you need a better video card, or more ram, you will still have open slots on your motherboard.
 

jonpaul37

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Actually, this is true, BUT there is a tweak you can do to have the OS recognize all 4GB
 

jonpaul37

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for web browsing & word processing?!? that's not beating a dead horse, that's raping a dead horse with a tommy-gun!
 
SS3251 I personally think you should go with a core 2 quad they are great for multitasking internet word processing and maybe watching a video all at the same time. As for your ram 2 gigs would be fine i have a Q8200 with only 2 gigs of ram i built for my parents awhile back and that thing does not miss a beat i built this for them about a year and a half ago and put a cheap ATI HD3850 in it and for the average internet, word processing and whatever else you basically want to do all at the same time it will shine. I know everyone says dont go with the 775 socket its dead bla bla bla. All the higher end core 2s are very powerful ships and if you really want something with some balls you can go with a QX9650 its a great chip that will smash any game you throw at no problem.

So I really think for your "needs" a Q8200 or Q8400 on a mid range ASUS or Gigabyte board is perfect for you. And as for SSD you dont need it get a nice Wester Digital with 32MB cache and for your gfx card a ATI HD 4850 will be perfect for you. Dont listen to all these nuts on here trying to push all the latest and greatest stuff, unless your pockets are deep and you dont mind shelling out cash for something you dont need then go for it but IMO you dont need it.
 

Foxer57

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So is the X4 620! Not to mention that the X4 620 is WAY cheeper!
 


If your storage needs are modest, a 40gb SSD may well suffice. Windows-7 will take up about 15gb of it.
I currrently use 46gb. I have a couple of games, a ton of photos(no video) and windows.
If you will store lots of programs or video files, then you can add a storage device. This is easily done later.

For typical web usage, I think a fast OS drive and 4gb of ram will give you a better experience than extra cores.