Choosing a CPU


I am posting this on a 3GHz P4 with 2GB RAM and a GeForce 7700. I'm running XP Pro with 1.5TB of combined storage and things are starting to suck. In the past I re-installed Windows every year or so whether it needed it or not; right now this system has been "alive" for a few years with no major changes other than a little new hardware here and there along the way.

The system stays on 24/7 and gets a reboot five or six times a year.

I am not a gamer.

I usually have 40 or so apps running at a time. I'm a huge multitasker and am extremely lazy about closing windows; most of the stuff I use just gets minimized until I need it again so the system sits at extremely high CPU and memory usage most of the time.

Its gotten to the point now (2GB Outlook PST file and several 15+GB map sets) where the system slows to a crawl if I put any kind of load on it at all. To the point where system interactivity becomes non-existant. Paging down a web-page with my mouse wheel, for example, may be instant, may take a few seconds, or may simply not respond at all, depending the what the system is doing at the time.

Most recently it seems like the system changes window focus on its own and completely randomly. I'll be typing at a command prompt or ssh window and focus will suddenly shift (I have no idea where it goes, it simply is no longer on my active window).

Anyway, all of this bad behaviour might be fixed with an OS reload, but frankly, the system is 5 years old and I'm looking at building a new system.

I've been lamenting over a quad-core Core2 and the new i7. I'd like to build a system that can handle a huge amount of active processes without grinding to a halt, or at least a system with enough horsepower to keep GUI interactivity fluid and fast while processes are running wild in the background. As I said I don't play games, but I am planning on two 23" Samsung displays doing 2048x1152, so I would like suggestions on a graphics card that will drive these monitors to their limits and keep the interface fast. Also debating on the OS. I've played with Vista -- and I hate it, and I don't mean kinda, I mean I really, really hate it. I run XP with the "old" Win2k interface and it works; if Vista has a way to "revert" back to an older style interface, that looks like what I'm used to, and doesn't hide important system stuff on me, then I might consider it. Having said that, will XP be a waste on an i7 or quad Core2? Is Vista required in order to make use of all the new instruction sets and performance-enhancing features? If I do end up with Vista, is 64-bit Vista mature enough to consider?

I should point out that my highest priority is system stability. I am working with a factory Dell right now with an upgraded video card, aside from that and some extra storage, its stock. I have literally had 2 BSODs in four years, and would like the new system to be just as stable (ie, I don't overclock, etc). If I have a zillion tasks open at once, I can't afford to have the system go down or BSOD or need a reboot or something, so speed and performance would be secondary to absolute system stability.

Looking for any suggestions you all might have. Thanks.
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  1. with the money ud spend getting a core 2 quad, just add a little more to it and u get the much better performing core i7. just get a 920 and oc it a bit. it comes 2.66 stock, and goes to 4Ghz.
    the core 2 quads have 4 cores and process 4 threads, but the i7s come with Hyper Threading, makes each physical core processes 2 threads, so u have a 4 core and 8 threaded behemoth.
    its FSB is also a lot faster, and the core 2 line is coming to its end while the core i7 is only a couple of months old, u future-proof more with it.
    it also runs on DDR3, not DDR2.

    since u run so many applications, definitely get more than 2 GB, go for at least 4, and max of 8. 8 itself is excessive, but its cheap, there is a small improvement, and ure ensuring top-class performance.
    u will need a 64-bit OS to recognize more than 4; with vista and windows 7, 32-bit systems are becoming a thing of the past, u need to update if ure getting a new system, my friend. i definitely recommend the 64-bit.
    and dont worry about buying vista; if u but it now, it comes with a free coupon to upgrade to windows 7.

    as for graphics cards, use this as a reference for performance tiers/levels:-,2323-6.html
    all decent graphics cards have come with dual inputs for years now, so dont worry bout that. also have a look at this article for the product they advise:-,2343.html

    alot of this depends on ure budget, of course. if u tell us what that is, we'd b able to advise u better.
    gd luck, bro.
  2. tucansam said:
    Having said that, will XP be a waste on an i7 or quad Core2? Is Vista required in order to make use of all the new instruction sets and performance-enhancing features? If I do end up with Vista, is 64-bit Vista mature enough to consider?
    You didn't really say what apps you're running and whether you really do have multiple active things going on or if you just don't bother closing the other windows when you're done with them. So whether you need a quad processor is a little tough to tell. But one thing is for sure - if you buy dual-processor machine and it runs out of steam over the lifetime of your system then you'll regret your decision. If you buy a quad-core machine you may not utilize it fully, but you're unlikely to be sorry about it.

    Being able to take advantage of the instruction set is more an application issue than an OS issue. For example Adobe Photoshop can take advantage of the new SIMD instructions regardless of what OS you use.

    That being said, I believe that anyone buying a new computer today should choose a 64-bit operating system - the growing memory needs of applications mean that within the next 5 or 6 years a lot of people with 32-bit systems are going to start feeling the pinch.

    Vista had its moments in the early days, particularly with driver support - but my reading of people's experiences is that it's very stable now. Windows 7 is essentially a Vista upgrade, much like XP was of Windows 2000. Since it uses the same device driver model as Vista it will benefit from the maturity of Vista drivers.

    I'm a long-time XP user myself, and I've decided that the time has come to upgrade my very stable 2GB / 2.4GHz Pentium 4 system. I've been tinkering with the Windows 7 release candidate and I've decided that I'll buy a new Core i7 system within the next few weeks, put the Release Candidate on it so that I can comfortable with it and experiment with the best way to configure it, then reinstall and migrate from my existing machine after the final version is released in October. My impressions of Windows 7 Release Candidate are very positive so far.

    XP is getting long in the tooth and while I really like it, the 64-bit version of it is not well supported in the industry. Windows 7 is a learning curve, but I'm already starting to like it and I know that once I'm over the hump XP will probably seem rather quaint...
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