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  1. #1
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    Is 4-Core CPU likely to be Beneficial for General Work

    I'm contemplating replacing my 7-year-old tower containing an AMD Phenom II X3 720 and an SSD as C: drive with a new machine. I find myself caught between competing desires and would appreciate advice.

    My competing desires are:
    • Quiet
    • Low power usage - it's on 24/7
    • Rapid Response


    The first two pull me towards the new NUC i7 due in May with a pair of SSD's. It's a 2-core i7 CPU
    The last pulls me towards a tower or mini-tower with a 4-core i7 (e.g. 4790) plus SSDs.

    My simultaneous environment for computing is:
    • 3 1920x1080 monitors
    • Several browsers open - each with 6-10 tabs
    • Excel with multiple tabs - but not vast data arrays or macros
    • Personal database with multiple-thousand records (Filemaker)
    • Evernote with multiple-thousand records
    • Outlook
    • Acrobat
    • One or two other work applications
    • NOT gaming or heavy video/audio processing


    My question: Would I notice the difference between a 2-core and a 4-core i7 for the typical work environment described above.

  2. #2
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    With so many things going on, yes, I think you would benefit from having a 4 core CPU vs. a 2 core CPU. It can potentially use more power than a 2 core one, although, switching to a more balanced energy profile when "leaving" work can probably mean the energy increase won't be that much noticeable.

    Of course, this is an impression not based on a similar experience. How does your current computer fare with that task load?
    Rui
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  3. #3
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    Thanks.

    My computer does OK currently. It seems to me that loading multiple web pages and database displays are slower than they might be.

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    Super Moderator satrow's Avatar
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    Sounds like you might benefit from an E3 Xeon with a quiet 3rd party cooler and quality SSDs.

    http://ark.intel.com/products/codena...aswell#@Server

    Outside of gaming, I notice just a very small difference between my i3 and Xeon, both are Ivy and 3.3GHZ stock, the i3 is dual core +HT, the Xeon is quad +HT. At idle, both mini-itx -based computers draw less than 50W (~35-45) with mid range graphics cards.

    Stock Intel coolers aren't quiet but quality 3rd party coolers are readily available, even for very small form factors. I use this Noctua on the i3 with the low noise adapter on PWM and it's rare that I notice an increase in fan speed as 'noise', the opposite of the nuisance of the stock Intel fan spinning up and down almost constantly on PWM.

    Xeon's are Workstation/Server CPUs and suitable B-series chipset motherboards are available at reasonable cost. Xeon prices start just above the i5 level, the cheapest easily undercuts the least expensive Desktop i7.

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    Quote Originally Posted by aengineer View Post
    Thanks.

    My computer does OK currently. It seems to me that loading multiple web pages and database displays are slower than they might be.
    Yeah, I get that. My current laptop is a dual core i5 and I feel it sometimes gets a little bit too busy. Although probably not a huge necessity, I repeat my initial assessment - I think you can benefit from a 4 core CPU.
    Rui
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    I have an I5-4590 4 core chip using the built-in graphics. It's always fast, screen updates happen in half a blink and the few games I play are smooooth - and I have a background task that consumes 50% of the CPU all the time. I love modern hardware. Also start up / shut down take no time.

    cheers, Paul

    p.s. the stock fans are not silent, but I can't here then over the radio stream anyway.

  7. #7
    jwoods
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    There are subgroups of i7 chips that perform differently (see the chart included in this article), so consider that when you shop...

    http://www.pcpro.co.uk/features/3896...well-processor

    You also have to determine your memory requirements.

    It's cost vs. benefit.

    Buy what you can afford.

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    Super Moderator CLiNT's Avatar
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    I'd also choose the 4 core over a duo easily anyday.
    It's definately a step up in terms of being able to multitask smoothly.
    Just make sure you compliment it with a solid state drive and the appropriate amount of memory.
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    WS Lounge VIP Calimanco's Avatar
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    One thing that no one has mentioned :- how the software you are running is written determines how many cores can be used simultaneously. Most mainstream programs don't need to use four or more cores - so they don't.

    Modern programs for video editing and rendering will use as many cores as there are available. Just to complicate matters however; while some programs may be capable of using multiple cores, they will not always do so and some apps can use multiple cores, but only one for the main part of the application. Its a minefield out there.
    Last edited by Calimanco; 2015-04-20 at 07:10.

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    Super Moderator jwitalka's Avatar
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    Even if you don't have software that makes use of multiple cores, a multicore CPU is still useful for running multiple programs simultaneously - word, an AV Virus scan, Windows exec tasks, Email, etc. The minimum useful PC nowadays has at least a dual core CPU. Pull up Resource Monitor and you can see how busy each CPU Core is.

    Jerry

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    Quote Originally Posted by aengineer View Post
    ... an AMD Phenom II X3 720 ....

    Would I notice the difference between a 2-core and a 4-core i7 for the typical work environment described above.
    I'm guess not now and not in the future. But you can check that out right now. You have a triple core CPU. With your apps all open and going how much are you utilizing the second core? The third?

    Resource Monitor>CPU tab
    Performance Monitor with user defined processor monitoring with log. Then start log, work your normal work. Stop log say half an hour later. Examine log.

    If you are using the 3rd core then go i5 or i7 (if desktop CPUs; if mobile CPUs in those platforms make sure they are 4 core...some i5/i7's are not).
    Last edited by Fascist Nation; 2015-04-20 at 16:54.

  12. #12
    Super Moderator CLiNT's Avatar
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    My question: Would I notice the difference between a 2-core and a 4-core i7 for the typical work environment described above.
    Bottom line: YES.

    And that difference would be a much smoother multitasking environment.
    DRIVE IMAGING
    Invest a little time and energy in a well thought out BACKUP regimen and you will have minimal down time, and headache.

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    Why not downlload and run Passmark 8; which is a benchmarking utility.
    That will tell you your current relative cpu speed, as well as all other system components.
    If you find youi cpu is under about 3000, you could definitely benefit from a newer faster one, and you may find a faster cpu that will fit your current mobo. Simple plug and play.
    Opinions vary wildly, but mine is you should stlrive for a cpu speed of 5000 or better for a multi-tasking environment. 6000 to 8000 is better for sure. Just for reference an i7-4790K is rated at 11,000 or better. Gamers need this kind of computing power; most of the rest of us do not.
    rstew

  14. #14
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    I'd say yes, but it's not likely to "knock your socks off" either. Here are my impressions of the computer market today:

    - 4 core systems are essentially standard equipment for most desktop-class systems;
    - in the premium segment, 6 - 8 core systems are common;
    - only in the very low end do you still see a lot of single and dual core systems;
    - a Hyperthreading core isn't as good as a real core, but still improves performance under nearly all conditions (you probably know this already);

    In terms of subjective feel, a 4 core system won't improve system responsiveness as much as the transition from single to 2 core systems did. This relates to the effectiveness and availability of multi-threaded software.

    The thing is, the OS already has very good support for multiple cores, and multi-core is ubiquitous at the hardware level. This means that application support for the parallel capability will only grow stronger over time.

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