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Pentium D upgrade

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November 21, 2009 8:34:35 PM

I wanted to get some advice regarding an upgrade i'm considering for my current system.
I currently have a pentium D on a mobo with no ability to upgrade to core2 duo/quad. I was considering an upgrade to a core i5 on a 11156 mobo. Running windows 7, and I know there will be huge improvements in gaming, but how much of an improvement in day to day application use would I see? (web surfing, music, videos, multitasking and office applications)
Thanks in advanced

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a b à CPUs
November 21, 2009 9:06:24 PM

Astronomical diferences, the Pentium D is RUBBISH
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November 21, 2009 9:39:34 PM

I have an i5-750 and Windows 7 feels VERY fast in general usage.
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November 21, 2009 10:53:03 PM

glycoaxyl said:
I wanted to get some advice regarding an upgrade i'm considering for my current system.
I currently have a pentium D on a mobo with no ability to upgrade to core2 duo/quad. I was considering an upgrade to a core i5 on a 11156 mobo. Running windows 7, and I know there will be huge improvements in gaming, but how much of an improvement in day to day application use would I see? (web surfing, music, videos, multitasking and office applications)
Thanks in advanced


Modern games do hit the CPU pretty hard. A Pentium D, particularly one of the original 8xx Smithfields, is probably a bit marginal in many newer titles. Your "day to day" applications probably won't benefit much from a faster CPU:

1. Running Windows 7. Windows 7 will run fine on a Pentium D and you won't see a tremendous improvement in performance by getting a new CPU as the CPU isn't really stressed by just running the OS. The things you'd want to do to make the OS feel snappier is to give the machine plenty of RAM (4-8 GB) and to put the OS on an SSD instead of a mechanical hard drive.

2. Web surfing. This is generally a pretty undemanding task as smartphones with CPUs roughly as fast as Pentium IIs do fine with most Web surfing. The only things that a faster-than-a-smartphone CPU would help is if you like to surf horribly-coded "Web 2.0" sites full of a boatload of Flash applets and other garbage. But even that stuff generally runs fine on any CPU made in the past half-dozen years or so. You'd do better to get a faster Internet connection than to upgrade your CPU if your Web browsing is too slow.

3. Music. My old 500 MHz AMD K6-2 didn't have trouble playing back music, so neither should your much faster Pentium D. Your Pentium D shouldn't have much trouble encoding it, either.

4. Videos. Video playback should be no issue on a Pentium D, as long as you have a remotely modern GPU that offloads the codec decoding from the CPU. The video codec decoding is generally the hardest part of playing back video, and the stuff that remains after that doesn't take up a whole lot of CPU. The only things that may give your Pentium D trouble would be VC-1/H.264/MPEG-4, but that's only because most of the GPUs available in 2005-2006 when the Pentium Ds were sold don't offload processing for those codecs. A new $25-30 low-end GPU would fix that problem nicely, though.

5. Multitasking. This is a very nebulous term as it may involve anything from simply having a lot of programs open that take up very little CPU but with one in the foreground taking CPU time (like having 10 spreadsheets open at once, but only running calculations in one of them) to doing a lot of very CPU-intensive tasks at once (like encoding four videos at once.) The first example will run equally well on a dual-core as a quad-core CPU, while the latter could easily put the hurt on a dual-CPU quad or six-core server. I'd need to know more about what you are doing with the machine to tell you if going from a Pentium D to a new quad-core CPU would really help you all that much.

6. Office applications. These generally take very little CPU unless you are doing something goofy like try to use a spreadsheet program to do the work of an actual statistical program or are opening a ridiculous 200-slide 100+ MB slide show.
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November 21, 2009 10:55:50 PM

In the Build Your Own area for articles, read Part 1: Building A Balanced Gaming PC. An I5 level of CPU is what I would consider as minimum for gaming when teamed up with a good video card. For everyday use though with the other tasks you speak of, you will not see that much of an improvement in speed due to those tasks are not CPU / GPU intensive.
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November 21, 2009 11:41:03 PM

Thanks for all the advice.

My current GPU is an ati 4850 512MB and I have 2 gigs of 667Mhz DDR2
The pentium D in question is the 940 oc'd to 3.74 Ghz

In terms of multi tasking, I often run office 07 and a 720p video and get some choppiness and lag. Additionally I meant using office apps, web surfing watching videos all at once, which causes windows 7 function slower than my XP use to when going between folders and looking for files on the harddrive (although this may be related to my RAM being at 667mhz).
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a c 100 à CPUs
November 21, 2009 11:56:30 PM

glycoaxyl said:
Thanks for all the advice.

My current GPU is an ati 4850 512MB and I have 2 gigs of 667Mhz DDR2
The pentium D in question is the 940 oc'd to 3.74 Ghz

In terms of multi tasking, I often run office 07 and a 720p video and get some choppiness and lag. Additionally I meant using office apps, web surfing watching videos all at once, which causes windows 7 function slower than my XP use to when going between folders and looking for files on the harddrive (although this may be related to my RAM being at 667mhz).


Okay, you have a bit better of a machine than I thought. That 3.74 GHz Presler and a Radeon 4850 is more than powerful enough to play 720p video and use Office 2007 at the same time. I'd agree that your RAM is probably an issue, but it's because you only have 2 GB of it and you are swapping to disk when you are running out of RAM. The swapping to disk is most likely what makes the system stutter. If you want to test this hypothesis, either spend $40 and get 4 GB of DDR2 and put it in the Pentium D system or go build your new system and only install one 2 GB stick of RAM at first.
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November 22, 2009 4:13:09 AM

I see you have changed your sig MU_Engineer. Open to different configurations now?
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November 22, 2009 3:08:20 PM

I agree that more memory will likely help you out, but it is not going to make a huge difference. But what you are doing does not really require a shiny new i5 processor, but everyones persective of what is "fast enough" is different. Let me relate my findings from my latest upgrading experience, and exaclty how I "felt" about my system.

I used to have a socket 939 4600+ overclocked to to 2.8ghz 4 gig of DDR RAM, 8800GTS 512 OC.
I now have Phenom 2 quad core at 3ghz 4 gig of DDR2, and the same 8800GTS 512 OC. I do not do a lot of gaming, some, but not a lot. Everyday use there is a big difference from my old Athlon X2. Gaming, well there simply is no comparison, my new rigs performance is simply double what my old one was. Double, and I am using the the same GPU mind you, I carried it over from the old build. While your Pentium D may have been clocked at 3.7ghz, it will not perform any better than my old Athlon X2 at 2.8ghz did. And the new i5's will outperform my new Phenom 2 build.
So, to make a long story short, I think you would see a big, big difference.
That Pentium D truely is a slug by todays standards, but as I said, fast enough to one person is not fast enough to another. Will you see a difference with your intended upgrade? Yes, you will see quite a difference, and if I was running a Pentium D, I would seriously be thinking along the same lines you are.
PS, it is pretty easy for someone who is still running a socket 939 system to play down the advantage of upgrading to more modern parts...........

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a c 100 à CPUs
November 22, 2009 4:56:43 PM

BadTrip said:
I see you have changed your sig MU_Engineer. Open to different configurations now?


I haven't changed my signature for quite a while. The last time I changed it was because it was changed for me. I had put a picture of Our Dear Leader smoking a cigarette as the avatar picture and "President of Flavor Country!" in the signature. Somebody didn't like that and it went away, so I put the picture of the PIII that was until very recently in my file server as the picture and then the sig line to match. I should probably update it as I got a dual 2.67 GHz "Prestonia" Xeon server from eBay for $20 and I'm using that instead of the old PIII.

As far as my next build goes, I'll have to see. Intel has a nasty habit of pretty noticeably crippling lower-end parts and I don't know if I have the budget to pony up the extra dough for the fully-functional parts. A case in point is the current Xeon 5500 series. The bottom three CPUs in the lineup are pretty crippled. The E5502 is only a dual-core CPU, which leaves me scratching my head as a dual-core CPU for multi-socket systems makes no sense- why not just get a single-CPU, quad-core Xeon, get a single-socket server board, and save yourself a bunch of money? The E5504 and E5506 are at least quad-core units, but they have their L3 caches cut in half, can only take DDR3-800 memory, QPI speeds are capped at 2/3 of the speed as the top units, their idle power is about twice that of the X- and W-series units (despite their lower clock rate), and they also lack Turbo Boost and HyperThreading. You have to pay just a fuzz under $400 each for the E5520 to get the full 8 MB of cache, Turbo Boost, HyperThreading, and support for faster bus and RAM speeds, although even the E5520 still has a higher idle power and lower RAM/QPI speeds than the X- and W-series units. Compare that to the Opterons, which almost always vary only in clock speed and TDP as the price goes up.

The reason why I changed my signature is that it is noticeably harder to put together a decent Opteron system than it is a dual Xeon system. There are at least four manufacturers of dual LGA1366 boards (ASUS, Intel, TYAN, Supermicro) and the boards are very widely available at good prices. Ditto with the CPUs- literally everybody and their dog has most of the lineup of DP Xeons in stock and the markup over MSRP is pretty minimal. New Opterons are much harder to get in build-one-machine quantities and some vendors take advantage of that fact by marking them up pretty considerably. Plus there are only two manufacturers that sell up-to-date Opteron boards (TYAN and Supermicro) and those vendors only have a few models available. I do like AMD for generally giving the better bang for the buck in the lower-end of the price spectrum that I shop in, so I tend to lean their way. And an Opteron system would probably give me a better bang for my buck if I could actually get the parts and get them at anywhere near MSRP. But that bang for the buck actually has to be there, otherwise I'd be perfectly fine in getting a pair of Xeons or any other CPU that would give me the best value for my money. An Opteron system with an extra $100 tacked onto the MSRP of the CPUs using a not-really-ideal board marked up by $50 probably won't give me a better bang for the buck than Xeons at MSRP running in the right motherboard also sold at MSRP. So I'll just wait and see what I can get when I build. That's what I did when I went looking for a replacement for my old PIII file server. I wanted an actual server setup for reliability and I/O capability, and the Intel units were significantly less expensive than Athlon MP or Opteron-powered units of roughly the same capabilities.
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April 7, 2010 5:50:23 PM

I'm in a same boat as glycoaxl. I have a HP pavillion 1530n with the Pentium D processor, 3G of ram and ATI 4350 video card. I do a lot of burnning bluray or DVD movie and sometime it took day to fisnish the job. If I upgrade to the pentium i5 do you think it will help my burning task faster?
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a b à CPUs
April 7, 2010 6:09:36 PM

with the right i5 configuration you'll be burning dvd's in less then 10 minutes
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April 7, 2010 9:24:28 PM

ycnibrc said:
I'm in a same boat as glycoaxl. I have a HP pavillion 1530n with the Pentium D processor, 3G of ram and ATI 4350 video card. I do a lot of burnning bluray or DVD movie and sometime it took day to fisnish the job. If I upgrade to the pentium i5 do you think it will help my burning task faster?


obsidian86 said:
with the right i5 configuration you'll be burning dvd's in less then 10 minutes


Usually it's the speed of the drive and burnable media that makes DVD burning slow, not the CPU. If you're burning a big DVD-DL at 1x, it's going to take forever because the drive is slow, not because the CPU is slow. It doesn't take a whole lot of CPU to keep a DVD burner fed with data.
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April 8, 2010 4:49:52 PM

The burning part is not the problem but the decoding part is the problem. It took my current PC 26 hours to decode a bluray movie. My processor right now is a pentium D which is a dual core, my question is, do I gain more speed if I upgrade to a pentium i5 with a quad core.
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April 8, 2010 7:48:45 PM

ycnibrc said:
The burning part is not the problem but the decoding part is the problem. It took my current PC 26 hours to decode a bluray movie. My processor right now is a pentium D which is a dual core, my question is, do I gain more speed if I upgrade to a pentium i5 with a quad core.


I assume by "decode" you mean "rip" or "transcode into another format?" Decoding is simply turning the video on the Blu-Ray disc into uncompressed video pixel information and is generally only done when you play back a movie. If your Pentium D stinks at playing back Blu-Ray video, I'd suggest getting a low-end modern GPU that can offload that process rather than a new CPU since it's a lot cheaper and will give you the same result.

If you are ripping or transcoding Blu-Ray video, just about any modern CPU would be better than a Pentium D and you would do very well to upgrade. The Pentium Ds only have two cores and have considerably less performance per GHz than current CPUs. Ripping/transcoding responds very well to more cores, so I would recommend that you get as many cores as you can get. A Core i5 750 with its four cores would not be a bad choice. Neither would a quad-core Phenom II X4. The Core i7 920 would probably be the best choice for maximum performance in a single-CPU desktop as the i7 920 has four cores as well as HyperThreading, which makes the CPU look like it has 8 cores to the ripping/transcoding program (although the CPU really only performs about 10-20% better than a similar quad-core CPU and not 100% better.) There are faster i7s such as the six-core i7 980X, but they are seriously expensive and don't make much sense from a price-to-performance standpoint. If you're willing to drop a thousand bucks on an i7 980X, you'll get much more performance from $1000 worth of two workstation CPUs rather than one i7 980X.
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April 13, 2010 12:12:50 AM

I'm thinking toward either the i5 or i7 upgrade and I agree that the quad core will be faster than the dual core pentium D. The i5 is about $300 cheaper than the i7 so I'm leaning toward the i5 upgrade. Thanks for your input
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April 13, 2010 2:18:32 AM

For Blu ray work, I would recommend the new Phenom X6 which is just a few days away from release. A 6 core chip would be perfect for the task. But you would be happy with anything quad after working with your current setup.
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