It looks like I have a bit of money to spend on my computer and about the only thing reasonable that I can do with it is get a new CPU. The problem is that my motherboard (Intel 845WNL) will only do 400MHz FSB so my options are limited. I don't feel like changing the MB right now (current one has been stable, and that is more important to me than speed), so my options are a bit limited.
Basically, it's down to either a Celeron 2.8 (Northwood) or P4 2.4A (Northwood). The P4 is more expensive than the Cel, but that isn't really a deciding factor here. I want whichever one will work better for my needs. Most of what I do is things like video / audio encoding, hard drive recording, and music production. I also spend some time in VMWare. I don't play games often so I'm not too worried about framerates or whatever. From the reasearch I've done, it looks like the extra cache on the P4 won't make much difference for my uses but I'm wondering if the hyperthreading (which the Cel doesn't do) would. I'll be upgrading from a Cel 2.0A.
Here are my relevant stats:
Intel 845WNL motherboard
1024MB PC133 SDRAM (yes, it's really SDRAM)
120GB Hitachi HDD
240GB RAID5 on a Promise SX4000 (256MB cache) w/ Hitachi drives
GeForceFX 5600 Ultra (128MB)
Windows XP Pro
Linux Slackware (latest, run in VMWare)
Which one of these CPUs do you think will work better for this rig, keeping in mind what I do with it?
I'd appreciate any information, links, opinions, whatever.
There is a thread by coop on page 3 called "Intel the king of video encoding..." There is a good review there, though not the clicky in the original post. Different software is affected differently by different processors. As far as HT goes, it does not work on your mobo. If it did, it would not work with either of the chips you mentioned. For general purpose, the P4a 2.4 is twice the chip of the celeron 2.8. If on the other hand, your software can not use the extra cache, the difference would only show in load times. No doubt there is a lot of other stuff that the P4a would do better for you.
Since price isn't a deciding factor, the Pentium 4 2.4A is your best option. Its four times bigger cache gives it a much bigger benifit compared to the Celeron's marginally higher clockspeed. For multimedia processing the cache size is very important because it works with large data sets.
You always have to look at the biggest bottleneck (or should I say smallest). The Celeron 2.8 isn't going to be much faster than the Celeron 2.0 because it is starved by the small cache. A cache miss costs up to a dozen clock cycles so that high clock speed is just a waste without sufficient cache.
The Celeron 2.8 is about the speed of a P4 1.6A at best. So yes the 2.4A is better. With PC133 SDRAM, expect a 2.4A to perform just a bit better than a PIII-S 1.4GHz.
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The more I consider it, the more I agree with you. Putting much more money into the existing platform would probably be a waste. I'm probably going to wait for the tax return to come in and go with a board, P4 2.6C and a gig of DDR400.