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School me on CPU's

Bionic MonkeyBionic Monkey Registered User, ClubPA regular
Alright, my current computer was supposed to be a temp holdover until I could build a beast. Said holdover is looking to be a bit longer than I expected, so I want to upgrade my CPU along with the 3 gigs of RAM I just put in.

Here's the thing though: The last time I was current on CPU's was about four years ago when they were just breaking 3 ghz. As I scour Newegg, I see they haven't really strayed much beyond that. I know there are CPU's that are dual-core and quad-core, but what that actually means for performance is a mystery to me. So I come to you people. Help me catch up.

Additionally, any help picking a CPU would be welcome. I'm running an MSI K9MM-V mobo with an AM2 cpu socket. I use the machine for some light gaming, and video conversion for my iPod. What's the best CPU I can get for $50-100?

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Posts

  • 1ddqd1ddqd Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    God, probably a single core 3ghz or something, you'll need $150 to be your limit for a decent upgrade.

    As for multi-core performance, think of it this way. A system with 2 processors is just that. A dual-core system is the same thing, but instead of buying and installing 2 processors you have them all on one chip.

    The Intel Core2Duo series is currently king of multi-core processing, but AMD's multi-core processors don't really suck by comparison; they're just slower in different aspects. If you want a decent benchmark comparison, go to www.tomshardware.com and on the right are "CPU charts" - select the 2 you want to compare and you'll see how it stacks up

    1ddqd on
  • RookRook Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    You're probably looking for something like this
    AMD 5400+ X2. Dual core, decent performance and pretty cheap. Your AGP card will be letting you down severely in gaming, but apart from that you should get some decent mileage out of that chip.

    Rook on
  • Bionic MonkeyBionic Monkey Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited April 2008
    Rook wrote: »
    You're probably looking for something like this
    AMD 5400+ X2. Dual core, decent performance and pretty cheap. Your AGP card will be letting you down severely in gaming, but apart from that you should get some decent mileage out of that chip.

    That's actually the one I was eying, but wanted to update myself before making the purchase.

    And 1ddqd, I know $100 is kinda cheap for a CPU, but like I said, this is an interim computer that hopefully won't be around a year from now, so I don't want to sink too much money into it.

    Bionic Monkey on
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  • 1ddqd1ddqd Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    Ah, gotcha; I figured the upgrade was supposed to be more substantial. It should be a worthy upgrade value, though, and if you wanted to, you could probably get a decent overclock out of it. Many apps are still heavily processor speed dependant.

    1ddqd on
  • GophermasterGophermaster Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    You should also be aware that though cpu clock speed hasn't moved past the P4 era much, the per clock efficiency has changed quite a bit. 1mhz on a modern cpu is worth much more than 1mhz on a cpu from the p4/athlon era.

    Gophermaster on
  • Bionic MonkeyBionic Monkey Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited April 2008
    You should also be aware that though cpu clock speed hasn't moved past the P4 era much, the per clock efficiency has changed quite a bit. 1mhz on a modern cpu is worth much more than 1mhz on a cpu from the p4/athlon era.

    I figured as much. Even last time I was up to date on this stuff, I knew flops were more indicative of CPU speed. Since mhz are apparently useless now in determing speed, I was just curious what I should be looking for in CPU's now.

    Bionic Monkey on
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  • BubbaTBubbaT Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    Normally at sub-$100 I'd say go with the Intel e21x0 family, because they have a great rep for overclocking. They're essentially C2Ds, but with just 1MB L2 cache instead of 2+. But since it's only going to be around for a year, it seems silly to invest in a new Intel mobo as well.

    BubbaT on
  • tsmvengytsmvengy Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    What processor do you have right now? If it's a single-core you'll definitely see an improvement by upgrading to a dual-core AMD. If you're just looking for a holdout for a year or so, that's the way I would go (don't bother with a new motherboard, because you won't be able to use your AGP graphics card, and you'll be building your entirely new system at that point.)

    tsmvengy on
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  • Bionic MonkeyBionic Monkey Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited April 2008
    tsmvengy wrote: »
    What processor do you have right now? If it's a single-core you'll definitely see an improvement by upgrading to a dual-core AMD. If you're just looking for a holdout for a year or so, that's the way I would go (don't bother with a new motherboard, because you won't be able to use your AGP graphics card, and you'll be building your entirely new system at that point.)

    Right now, I have an AMD Sempron 3400+ 1.8 GHz single core.

    My last computer was so old, the motherboard was corrupting my hard drives, so I built this thing as cheaply as I could until I could afford a real computer. All told, I think I spent about $150 for the mobo, cpu and ram. As I said in the OP, plans have changed, and I'm going to be stuck with it for a while, so I want to make it a bit more manageable until I can really sink some money into the next one.

    And yeah, it's annoying as hell realizing you have to upgrade your computer, and finding all your architecture has been discontinued. My CPU on the last machine was a Socket A.

    Bionic Monkey on
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  • tsmvengytsmvengy Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    tsmvengy wrote: »
    What processor do you have right now? If it's a single-core you'll definitely see an improvement by upgrading to a dual-core AMD. If you're just looking for a holdout for a year or so, that's the way I would go (don't bother with a new motherboard, because you won't be able to use your AGP graphics card, and you'll be building your entirely new system at that point.)

    Right now, I have an AMD Sempron 3400+ 1.8 GHz single core.

    My last computer was so old, the motherboard was corrupting my hard drives, so I built this thing as cheaply as I could until I could afford a real computer. All told, I think I spent about $150 for the mobo, cpu and ram. As I said in the OP, plans have changed, and I'm going to be stuck with it for a while, so I want to make it a bit more manageable until I can really sink some money into the next one.

    And yeah, it's annoying as hell realizing you have to upgrade your computer, and finding all your architecture has been discontinued. My CPU on the last machine was a Socket A.

    If you're running socket AM2 I would go with something like an Athlon X2 4200+ or 4400+. That's where you're gonna get your best bang for your buck bump. $60 (cheap enough to tide you over for a year or more) and you'll definitely see a performance increase over your current processor. Check out your motherboard's manufacturer's page though, you may need a BIOS upgrade.

    tsmvengy on
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