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Which CPU is right for me?

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April 26, 2009 4:25:35 PM

I'm need a new PC to replace a 6-yr old Dell Dimension 4400 (P4 1.6). The system is my wife's system. My system is always a notebook, currently a Core2 T7200 2.0Ghz with 2GB ram. My wife only uses her computer for e-mail, web browsing, and word processing. Nothing else. I do everything on my notebook except play games which includes video editing.

I want to keep the costs as low as possible, preferably under $600. It seems for my wife I could easily get buy with a $300 Inspiron 530, BUT, I'm thinking why not spend an extra couple hundred bucks and get something that:

1) I can rip all my old non-BD Disney DVD's to the hard drive and them play them through my PS3 using some sort of Media Server set.

2) I can do my video editing a lot faster on then my notebook. (All I edit is home movies ocasionally)

#2 is really the key. Occasional video editing. In the past I just went and did something else while the computer rendered the video or if it was a very long movie, I just let it render overnight.

The Inspiron 530 doesn't get very good reviews. Dell's support is lackluster (but being a PC Guy, I never need their support anyway) and it seems the 530's components is going to be bottom of the line. I priced out a PC with 3GB memory, E5200 CPU, 500GB Drive, Vista Premium SP1 for $369. But it appears their Studio line is a much better framework to build off of as it has the G45 chipset with GMAX4500HD video processor and gigabit Ethernet (which is what my network is) so I don't have to transfer my gigabit Ethernet card. I priced the Studio with same CPU, memory and HD for $439. Seems for extra $70 it is worth getting the Studio instead of the Inspiron.

But of course, better deals are to be had on E-bay. There's two predominant Studio setup's on Ebay under $650.

1) Intel Quad Code Q8200 (4MB L2, 2.33GHz, 1333FSB) CPU, 640GB HD, 6GB RAM, Vista Premium SP1 64bit, 16X DVD/RW - $550

2) Intel Dual Core E7200 (3MBL2, 2.54 GHz, 1066FSB), 640GB HD, 4GB Ram, Combo Blu-Ray+16X DVD/RW, Vista Premium SP1, 22" WIDE LCD WITH WEBCAM AND MIC - $630

I've read up on the advantages of Quad Core and really since the computer will only be used for email, web, word processor, and ocassional session of video editing (maybe 2-3 days a month), system #2 really seems like the much better deal considering you get a Blu-Ray player (which I don't need) and a 22" WIDE LCD - which I'd actually use with my notebook and plug the old 17" lcd into the new computer for my wife.

But I would expect the Q8200 will render video almost twice as fast as the E7200. I was thinking of getting the Q8200 for $550 and then if I really wanted a new monitor you can pick up the same monitor for about $170, so price difference is $40 for a quad core with 22". There's currently no solution to rip Blu-Ray's to an HD and play them via a media server ala PS3 (I researched it) so the Blu-Ray player would be worthless to me and by the time there is a solution to do that, it will either be a stand alone device, or, there will be Blu-Ray drives that will rip Blu-Rays (and burn Blu-Rays) a lot faster than the drive they are putting in the PC's today for cheaper.

Any input is greatly appreciated. For the $500-$600 range I have not been able to find anything for a lower price with as good or better specs than the Dell Studio.




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April 26, 2009 6:18:24 PM

well three question come to my mind.
1) what software package do you use to edit and encode?
2) how do you feel about the encoding times that your laptop posts?
3) how do you feel about a build your own approach?

*explanation
1) your software suite might not be able to efficiently (or at all) use a quad
2) your e7200 system will in all likelihood post similar, but slightly faster, encoding times to the laptop
3) best bang for the buck

Now I'll let the guru's have at it
April 26, 2009 6:33:17 PM

1) I will upgrade my VideoStudio to the latest version which supports quad CPU

2) I've lived with the encoding time of my laptop just fine, but I'm not editing HD video, just 640x480. There's a good chance I will start shooting in HD within the next 18 months. My wife's PC has lasted us 6 years. I don't want to have to upgrade for at least another 4 years because I got sick of waiting. Another really important point is that since it is my wife's PC, I need to minimize the time I need to use it, or at least be able to render a movie in the background while the PC is still usable for her to check her e-mail and browse the web.

3) I used to be a PC tech in the old days, then a Network Admin and have been inside my fair share of PC's. I'm 40 now with two kids and self-employed running two businesses. I have changed from a tinkerer to a someone who greatly values their free time and puts a high value on my time (in other words, it's cheaper for someone else to mow my lawn than me unless I only consider my time worth $15/hr.) If I were a young college student or technogeek with no family, I'd have the time (and the desire still) to want to build my own machine and get more bang for the buck. Instead, if something isn't working with the PC I want to have the option to tell my wife to call (Dell/HP, etc.) technical support. I already put in my 5000 hours of technical support to my family and friends the past 25 years. Done with that. Not that I wouldn't help with a quick fix but I want plug and play solution with in-home service warranty.

I just realized the 22" monitor is worth more like $140 not $170 on that non-quad unit. My gut is I'll be happier in the long-run with the quad processor, especially if I start editing HD video.
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April 26, 2009 6:37:27 PM

You can get an AMD system with a Phenom X3 720 for under $600 easily.



With this youll be able to do whatever it is you want, decode....HTPC....game...

I put that system together a few weeks ago so the prices are probably off a little bit. Just use that as a good reference point.
April 26, 2009 6:46:01 PM

spathotan said:
You can get an AMD system with a Phenom X3 720 for under $600 easily.

http://i38.photobucket.com/albums/e137/spathotan/600wowsystem.jpg

With this youll be able to do whatever it is you want, decode....HTPC....game...

I put that system together a few weeks ago so the prices are probably off a little bit. Just use that as a good reference point.


Ya maybe it is under $600 if you valued the cost of time to source and order the parts, build the machine, install all the software, at $5/hr or something. And if the PC is for a non-PC person, like your Wife or Grandma, and you're not always going to be available to support it, I don't think the build option would be a wise choice, for me.

Plus the Phenom II X3 720's benchmark is lower than the Q8200

http://www.cpubenchmark.net/cpu_lookup.php?cpu=AMD+Phen...

April 26, 2009 6:55:04 PM

Cant recommend anybody buy a Q8200, sorry.
April 26, 2009 7:00:08 PM

Hmm, well Im an avid hater of the Q8200, but as you wont be gaming, it wouldn't be terrible. If you can find something with the Q6600, it would certainly be preferred.
April 26, 2009 7:14:44 PM

Well there's two Q8200 haters it looks like but no specifics on what's so bad with it?

I suppose it all depends on your use. I would guess these forums are mostly full of DIY techies that built their own PC's primarily with the intention of gaming.

Q6600 still got a lower benchmark then the Q8200 but benchmarks, well are just benchmarks and don't necessarily reflect real-world performance. I'm no expert, I'm guessing 6600 is easier to overclock or just performs better in real world gaming applications??? Interestingly NewEgg sells the Q8200 for $165 and the 6600 for $215.

This review of the Q6600 cracked me up (I'm so over the hill with this stuff :) 

Ordered on 1/7, had it shipped by FedEx. Received a G0 SLACR from CA warehouse. Dropped it into a Gigabyte GA-P35-DS3L, Put a Tuniq Tower on top, 2 sticks of G.Skill DDR2 800 RAM with the red spreaders and it booted right up. Installed Vista, went in the BIOS changed CPU frequency to 333, left multiplier at 9 and left the voltage on auto and my computer is SMOKING FAST!!!!!!!!!!!!

Bottom line for my use, since I'll never use the PC for gaming, I think the Dell Studio with a Q8200 is the way to go so I can take advantage of the Quad Core when editing video, don't have to source parts and spend time building, can refer the wife to Dell tech support if I'm out of town or just too lazy.

I think I'm going to pull the trigger as I can get this setup for $444 shipped using 14% Live Search Cashback and an 8% Ebay Coupon. That's a screamin deal if you ask me.

Q8200
6GB RAM
640GB HD
Gigabit Ethernet
Intel G45 chipset with HDMI out
2-year warranty
April 26, 2009 7:17:58 PM

Our dislike of the Q8200 stems from the fact that its composed of 2 Pentium Dual-core E5200 dies, which have much less cache then their Core2 brethern. Yet somehow, the Q8xxx earn a free promotion to Core2.

For your use, the only real detractor is the very low clock speed. In terms of something that will last along time, Id want Core2 at 2.66Ghz or higher.
April 26, 2009 7:21:39 PM

rosenberg1979 said:
^ FTW?


i am terrible at chat shorthand....what is ftw?
April 26, 2009 7:22:44 PM

For The Win
April 26, 2009 7:24:59 PM

I have had personal issues with dell after someone brought my theirs for an upgrade. After cracking her open i saw that the agp slot (yes this was back in the p4 days) was not on the motherboard, only row upon row of soldered over holes. I'm sure this was intentional so that if you needed more computer you had to go buy a new one rather than upgrade it. That has always rubbed me the wrong way, and I've never recommended them after that.
April 26, 2009 7:47:14 PM

I think those days are over, and most of the large computer makers now are upgradeable...but overall they use pretty weak MB designs (think sub $100 aftermarket boards), and lock out the bios so you cannot overclock or tweak.
April 26, 2009 7:56:10 PM

well it doesn't sound like he wants to overclock or tinker at all so I guess that is a non issue for him. I know that to keep costs down the big builders usually cut corners on the mobo and psu, (not as sexy in the adds saying 80+ corsair 650 watt psu as saying QUAD POWER!!!!!) as long as they stay stable I guess he's fine with dell (smell).

And yes ^ ftw? meant "the post above for the win?" I thought it was a nice quad system at a nice price. Within his budget and sporting everyone favorite quad.
April 26, 2009 8:20:46 PM

If hes not overclocking then he should be looking at stuff with high stock clocks, like a Q9550 or higher, E8400 or higher, X3 720, X4 940 or higher.
April 26, 2009 8:44:34 PM

those will be harder to find in a prebuilt system for under $500. And I have nothing at all against AMD, but remember not all clocks are the same, and clock for clock most intels outperform most AMDs...meaning at stock his 8200 or a Q6600 will probably outperform the 720 and phenom II 940 (in fact that was shown in some articles on this site). ...the 9550 is much more expensive, and the e8400 would be good for gaming, but not so much for multitasking and video editing.
April 26, 2009 8:53:41 PM

Not to drag this out... but this discussion has peaked my CPU curiosity. I did some reading of CPU reviews. I do see that many people had a hard time deciding between the Q6600 and the Q8200. I found another test which tested the real-world ProShow Gold performance and they are nearly identical performance with the AMD Phenom II 940 right behind. The fact the Q8200 is $55 less (if you were to buy just the CPU) seems to compensate for any small advantage the 6600 may have. I think for a stock system that you aren't going to tinker with, the Q8200 is a good choice. If I was really focused on CPU performance I'd go with a Q9550 for about $125 more. But that would be overkill for what the machine will be used for 95% of the time.
April 26, 2009 9:11:52 PM

There is very little stock difference between the system I linked and the one you are looking at buying off ebay...I prefer the Q6600 because it overclocks like a dream...but that is not an issue for you, so they are basically the same. So what you really need to look at is buying off ebay and buying from compusa.com . Just be sure the seller has a good feedback rating, you are getting some type of warranty, ect. To me the advantage of compusa.com is that there is a no questions asked 90 day return policy, and they refund everything, including shipping. And they do have good customer support. But if the ebay seller is trustworthy you could get the same service. Good luck either way you go.
April 26, 2009 11:57:57 PM

i7
April 27, 2009 3:12:30 AM

sharken said:
i7


Yes, because that's what he needs for browsing the net and checking email. Posting privileges have been revoked.
a b à CPUs
April 27, 2009 2:57:04 PM

sharken, this is an upgrade, not a new system, so unless you had something to add, don't post anywhere

i would go q8200 since your not overclocking, though, if you can spend it, get the q9550, it would be faster at the video encoding
a c 83 à CPUs
April 27, 2009 10:03:39 PM

Personally I would grab the computer with the Q8200. Although you probably do not need a quad, I'm sure it will last longer than a duel core performance wise. We've already got Intel's I7 with 8 logical cores, and with all the talk of both AMD and Intel increasing the number of processing cores, the software needs to start catching up.
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