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Is the price vs power curve fairly linear?

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June 19, 2002 10:26:13 PM

In your experience does money spent vs capability received seem to follow a fairly straight tragectory or are there certain price points where spending an extra hundred or two makes an extraordinary difference?

I need to build a machine that can deal with large database (up to 2 BG) queries and 3d display of results, video editing/conversion (touch up work and analog to digital but not professional full length movie projects), and automated formating of multiple (up to 1000) text documents through VBA all on a daily basis. While these big jobs are going on in the background I'd like to be able to do less tasking things in the foreground (spreadsheet, word, internet). Background jobs can finish when they want so long as I can stay productive up front. The only games might be things a flight sim or age of empires but no quake (I grew up with pinball machines).

Any machine from a Tualatin to some smp monster could do what I'm asking but I'm just wondering where I need to start positioning myself price wise so as to have a system that will let me continue on with my general work while chugging away at its other duties in the background. Perhaps this is a case for smp which people generally regard as overkill but the one area it does seem to shine is in multitasking even if specific apps aren't optimized for it. I will have a dual boot Windows 2000 Advanced Server, XP Pro OS set-up.

Excluding monitor my feeling is that for about $800 I can put together a machine that will do the above but will be just hanging in there if I have analog to digital conversion going on while running a VBA macro across multiple documents and surfing in the foreground. In the $1200 range I could probably get what I want but may not be able to buy premium equipment (Asus, PC Power & Cooling, Seagate Cheetah, etc) and the added stability as a result, and for $1600 pretty much get the works (P4 533 FSB).

Since the FSB and disks seem to be bottlenecks a system using some Intel CPU for a 400 MHz FSB and an IDE RAID (0, 5 or 1+0) would be a place to start but this is only newbie guesswork. It would be nice to be able to upgrade once but this isn't too likely given the pace of innovation although an Intel roadmap I saw recently showed a 3.x GHz chip for the 400 MHz motherboards in '03. Another scenario is a dual 1.2 Athlons smp which is a great value but has the extra heat, care and noise that come with it (more experienced builders put together relatively cool quite systems but I'm not sure I could do this as a first time build).

This is as far as my knowledge takes me at present. If any of you feel you can fill in a gap or two I'd appreciate it.

Thanks for all the help.
June 19, 2002 11:12:54 PM

I don't have much experience trying to put together a system for "pros", so I'll leave that to someone with more experience in that field.

As for the price/performance curve, no it does not follow a staright line more something like this.

Starting off, the curve stays about straight, but going to the high end stuff, it really goes vertical, therefore for more money, you get not nearly as much performance increase. The difference in price between a P4 2.53GHz and a 2.4Ghz is about $250 and the performance difference is negligable.

What's the deal with lampshades, I mean it's a lamp, why would you want a shade? :smile:
June 19, 2002 11:48:19 PM

the price curve really differs when u compare intel to amd. amd gives more bang for the buck while intel just gives u megahertz (my opinon). when are people going to realize that the speed of the cpu isnt the only thing that matters. personaly i would go for dual amd mp's so ull have more money to buy other better equipment.
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June 20, 2002 12:10:11 AM

the price/performance curve varies a lot, generally it is not linear, mostly it is virtually exponential, but when i bought my computer last august/september i worked out that the best bang for buck was actually the most expensive amd around (athlon 1400)

I need a 1.5 Ghz Athlon + 512mb ddr ram to write emails......honestly
a b à CPUs
June 20, 2002 3:02:48 AM

Would you suggest that dule AMD's would be less expensive and faster for the average user/hardcore gamer? LOL, the P4 is AT MOST 30% slower than the AMD clock for clock, and comes with up to 50% higher clock speed, so yes, you can build a faster system with Intel. And dual CPU's don't help AT ALL for 99% of the software available.

What's the frequency, Kenneth?
June 20, 2002 4:00:02 AM

The bangs for bucks curve is linear if you compare CPUs from the same manufacturer, with the exception of the newest models.

Most THGF users will confirm that AMD means more computing power for the same price IF YOU DON'T OVERCLOCK, if you overclock, the P4As with the Northwood core have a better value.

A dual P3 solution with a LOT of SDRAM might be the cheap way to go. If you want to go cheaper and feel adventurous you could try to find two Durons with a Morgan SMP enabled core ( there is a rumour that some Duron Morgan with "MP" in their model number MIGHT work in a SMP system )

Anyway, AMD socket A is a good platform with a lot of headroom for future upgrades, on the other hand, Intel is discontinuing sockets 370 and 423 in favor of socket 478.

To my knowledge, no dual socket 478 motherboards exist. Intel's SMP Xeon and Itanium solution cost waaaay too much to be considered.

Dual Athlon MPs and dual P3 would both be good setups if you provide them with a LOT of RAM. But rember that the P3 socket 370 is a dying breed.

Fok Speling Misstake
June 20, 2002 6:29:45 AM

To anserwer you title

AMD yes and no the price grow a little faster that performance 2000+ 2100+ 2200+ cost a bit too much for want they give.I say little

Intel yes for low-end over 2.0GHZ the price skyrocket, They have a policy you want the fastest pay sucker.Us we overclock so the speed of the chip announce is a Fiction number.Over 2.2 GHZ with RDRAM it beat anything except faster P4.

cheap, cheap. Think cheap, and you'll always be cheap.AMD version of semi conducteur industrie
June 20, 2002 3:59:28 PM

Quote:
Anyway, AMD socket A is a good platform with a lot of headroom for future upgrades, on the other hand, Intel is discontinuing sockets 370 and 423 in favor of socket 478.


Socket A will die out before Socket 478. I don't know why you threw 423 in there, since it's not really being sold and nobody has a reason to buy it.

Quote:
To my knowledge, no dual socket 478 motherboards exist. Intel's SMP Xeon and Itanium solution cost waaaay too much to be considered.


This is true. Intel recently released a low-end server board for a single P4, but there are no dual 478 boards and I don't think there will be until the Pentium 5 is out (or later). Unless Via decides to make one, but I don't think that would be a smart move.

<font color=blue>Hi mom!</font color=blue>
June 20, 2002 4:32:46 PM

Assamble two sistems for that.
It will give you a base of tranquility
June 20, 2002 4:42:52 PM

What could an ill behaved front application
do to your five hours on the background application?

My choice with a DB of this class was to leave
it alone, deactivate all services not needed;
and assamble a good taste workstation
for joy and smaller every day tasks.
June 20, 2002 5:36:18 PM

You have to go dual athlon or xeon. And common sense will tell you that athlon is the better buy. If you go xeon, your processors and you mobo alone will be at least $800. Well that is if you go for the 2 2.2 Xeons. And I would strongly suggest the SuperMicro mobo for the Xeons and Tyan for the Athlons. The curve is not linear, it's more like an asymptote.

HULK SMASH!!!
June 20, 2002 6:12:07 PM

You can actualy, for under $1200, put togeather a nice Athlon system.

Here's what I came up with from Newegg.com

Case: Chieftec DA-01W $49.00
(Any of the chieftec cases are nice, this is the full tower 5 5+1/4" external bay model, they have 3 5+1/4 external with a cover available for about the same price.)
It's nice, and has great airflow. Comes with 2 case fans and clipins for up to 5 that can be installed with no screws.

Power Supply: Antec True380 PSU. $62.00
Great consistant power, and a temp controled fan power plug for up to 3 fans to help reduce noise when computer is at a safe temp.

Burner: Lite On 32x12x40 Model LTR-32123S $60
Great burner, nice price.

DVD: Pioneer 16X 106S or 500M $46 or $47
The 106S is slot load, the 500M is a tray DVD.

Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-7VRX Retail $86
RAID onboard.
Interestingly, the OEM version is more.

Memory: 2 x CMX512-2700C2 Corsair PC2700 CAS2 Ram $320
Great brand, low latency. 1 GB should be enough, if not, ad an extra $160.

Note, if you want to save money, you can go with PC2100 CAS 2 Mem for a $64 per chip savings.

NIC: 3Com 905CX-TXNM $35
The best NIC you can get.
You could save up to $30 and get an off brand though.

HD: 2 x IBM EIDE HARD DRIVE 60GB 7200RPM MODEL # IC35L060AVVA07, PART# 07N9209 -120GXP $162
Good price for 2 good drives. 120 GB should be enough.

Sound: Onboard should be good enough.

CPU: 2200+ for $260 + fan (TT Volcano 6CU is only $11), or 2100+ Retail for $192. The best price point on a CPU is around the 1700+ and 1800+ running at $96 and $106 for the retail package respectively.

Video Card: ATI 7500 OEM 64MB Bulk $68
Good Video output, acceptable 3D. You can go to the 8500 64MB 275/275 bulk at $128 or 128MB 8500 LE for $135 if you need better 3D output.

With everything here and the 2200+, it totals $11139 before shipping. You can probably get it down to under $1000 with shipping if you cut a few corners as I listed, like memory and CPU. You won't see a big performance drop off either. (Memory to PC2100 saves $128, CPU to 1800+ saves $165, Net card saves $30, so you're under $800 with perhaps a 15% performance drop, if that)

This machine should do everything you're looking for, be reasonably quiet, and perform well on a good budget.

If you don't plan on overclocking, the Athlon is the way to go unless you are willing to spend the "Big Bucks" and go with a P4B on the 533 bus with RDRAM. If you do plan on Overclocking, simply swap out the memory, motherboard, and CPU and get a P4A (1.6 or 1.8 are nice, 1.8 is probably a bit better as you'll get even more out of your OC.)

It can be said that smoking is one of the leading cause of statistics.
June 20, 2002 7:37:21 PM

I agree with everyone that the line is far from linear. (Thus a curve.) However, it also gets even more bizzare depending on which specific CPU family you look at. In the end, research and advice (a form of research) are a lot better than just basing performance on price.

If you're going to have multiple important processes running simultaniously (such as you described) then getting a dual-CPU system will be highly worth it. Despite the fact that most applications don't run any better <i>by themselves</i> on a dual-CPU system, they <i>will</i> run better when you are multi-tasking and/or have intensive background tasks so long as you are running an operating system smart enough to split the processes onto seperate CPUs. (Which, if you use Win2K AS or XP Pro will be no problem.) So definately go dualie if you can afford it.

More importantly though if this machine will be heavily used for database administration is the memory and the hard drive(s). You mention an IDE RAID setup. I'd avoid it. I suggest that you consider a SCSI setup instead. Throw in a Seagate Cheetah X15, 18GB, 15000RPM hard drive for the database. It is very expensive, but highly worth it for databases according to my friends. Then put in a nice high-quality IDE drive, such as a Western Digital 1000JB, 7200RPM (with 8MB cache) for your OS and more mundane uses. (Such as video editing and surfing.) Really, the IDE drive can be as robust or skimpy as price dictates, but I always liked the 1000JB. I wish my home system could run one.

Anywho, using RAID to improve disk access speeds has a tendancy to increase the possability of read and write errors, and if you're doing database administration on the machine, errors = really bad. RAID arrays are the only way that IDE drives can keep up in speed with SCSI, but I've heard that it can be a risky affair that often isn't worth the effort for database adminitrators trying to save a buck.

RAID is useful for data integrity though if used for mirroring, and can be highly important for 24/7 databases.

If you can afford it, I'd suggest getting two of the Cheetahs just to run a mirroring RAID array so that if one hard drive ever crashed, the other would still have the data fully in-tact. But, this is a very expensive solution. So if you don't want to spend that kind of cash, then just be sure to have software to periodically backup the contents of the Cheetah onto the IDE drive. A backup once a day at midnight generally isn't too bad. Some people like to run tape backups for that, and then they wind up with a store room full of backup tapes that they never use. Go fig. Generally, backup onto a second hard drive is good enough. (And often much faster than a tape backup.)

So, in conclusion, a dual-CPU system will help you greatly if you do have constant background tasks. However, it doesn't have to be a super-powered dualie. More so though, two hard drives will help you even more, especially if one of them is a high RPM SCSI. Even if you just go with two IDE hard drives instead of a SCSI route, I would suggest one hard drive be kept seperate just for the database and that kind of stuff, and the other be used for the OS and your personal stuff. Hard drives though are where I would be more likely to put my money into for quality than CPUs with the tasks that you describe.

My suggestion for a system would be something like an MSI K7D motherboard, two retail Athlon MP 1600+ CPUs (retail for the warantee and heat sink), an IWILL 64-bit PCI Ultra 160 SCSI card, a Seagate Cheetah X15 18GB Ultra 160 SCSI hard drive, and a Western Digital 1000JB 100GB hard drive. It'll get expensive, especially with a good case (preferably with a hard drive fan for the Cheetah) and a rock-solid high watt power supply. It'll be kind of expensive, but it could also be a lot worse. Heh heh.

And the video card I wouldn't even begin to make suggestions on because it doesn't sound like you would need much power there, but I could be wrong. And the RAM, hell, the more the merrier. Just be sure to get quality PC2100 from Micron, Samsung, Corsair, etc.


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