Advice on CPU (amd or intel, dual or quad core?)

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Hi all,

I am about to choose a new desktop computer (budget: 550 - 600
max, excluding monitor) and would like some advice on the processor:
1)    AMD or Intel? I struggle to understand to what extent there are
different schools of thought, and to what extent there are constant
and actual changes going on, so that one month AMD is better and the
month after it no longer is
2)    Dual core or quad core? I could get a dual core 3.4 Ghz AMD or a
2.4 quad core AMD for roughly the same price. I wonder if with 4
processors you hit the point of diminishing returns. The most CPU-
intensive tasks I'll ran are dvd ripping, video encoding and photo
editing (at an amateur level, nothing professional). With a quad core
system, can I encode 3 movies at a time, assigning each encoding job
to one processor only, and leave the other processor free for other
stuff (i.e. watch a movie, surf the web, etc)?
3)    I will be using both Windows (probably XP 32bit) and Linux,
probably Kubuntu 64bit. Is there any specific difference in the way
the operating systems manage dual or quad cores?

Thanks for your help!

Re: Advice on CPU (amd or intel, dual or quad core?)

On Wed, 27 Feb 2008 03:57:59 -0800 (PST),

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First, your primary choices should consider your total
budget including allocation of funds per each part, and what
your most demanding jobs are - not focusing yet on who made
the CPU but rather which seems the better choice given the
prior  criteria.

Will you be overclocking?  The typical Intel CPU overclocks
further, and if overclocking more than a moderate amount,
nothing AMD makes will have as high a performance level
(with both overclocked to an equivalent capability each
series has) as same price tier Intel alternative.  At stock
speeds AMD is competitive below about $110 USD, you'll have
to see how that equates to your market prices.

No matter which brand you buy, in 12 months the difference
in performance will seem slight compared to the increase in
performance from new processors.  Many people like to
declare one significantly better than the other for, perhaps
20% performance difference but if 20% really matters
everyone would replace their system every year and we do see
most consumers don't do it.

Even so it starts with a budget and determining which parts
of the PC are best improved, in some cases like gaming,
spending less on the CPU and more on the video card will
yield the best results.

Yes you hit the point of diminishing returns with quad
cores for most uses, but instead of playing odds you need to
consider your actual uses.  You list types of activities but
that is not what I meant, you need to consider specific
software titles and versions, seeking benchmarks of
performance changes with multiple cores.  Very few titles
are optimized for more than   two cores.

You are incorrect that you could//should encode 3 movies at
a time with quad core.  Movie encoding is typically using
more than one thread, and even if it weren't you don't have
more system memory bandwidth or hard drive performance
increases just adding another processor core.  With a quad
core system you might consider encoding two videos but one
would be better.  If you really need to encode multiple
videos at once, get a second system and devote it to some of
that work.

Re: Advice on CPU (amd or intel, dual or quad core?)

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Why stop there - Google for Dunnington (6 cores)

Re: Advice on CPU (amd or intel, dual or quad core?) wrote:
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You can look at benchmarks, but benchmarks don't always equate to how
a system will work with your mix of applications running at the same

I picked Tomshardware benchmarks for a particular reason, and for
a particular contrast. Tomshardware has put 100's of hours into testing,
so they've spent a lot of money paying staff to do the tests. What is
wrong with their tests ? We cannot tell exactly what they've done while

The first result I'd present, is the one for Photoshop. The red bars I
put in this chart, compare two processors that have roughly equal prices.
The dual 3GHz Intel versus the quad 2.4GHz Intel.

It would seem, that the quad is not using all cores when the Photoshop
test is running. Does Photoshop use quad cores ? My suspicion is yes,
it can. But to really benchmark Photoshop, a person should run PSBench,
which tests the filters in Photoshop individually. Some filters in
Photoshop run on a single core (favoring the usage of a processor
with highest clock speed). Other filters are multicore.

I've seen one posting, where a person suggested that Tomshardware did
not install some patch, to support proper operation of Photoshop. Because
Tomshardware does not elaborate on how they tested, we cannot be sure.

Next test, 3D Studio Max. At least in this benchmark, it appears the
quad core is getting used better. If all cores can be loaded
equally, you'd expect 4 * 2.4Ghz would beat 2 * 3.0GHz, and
that appears to be the case here.

Lots of programs still use only one core, and for those, the higher
clock rate processor is a better choice.

You can use the benchmarks on the Tomshardware site, to compare AMD to
Intel, but keep in mind, that for at least some of the benchmarks, the
results may not be right, and they may be misleading if you don't analyse
them more fully.

The ITunes benchmark, seems to be running on one core, whereas a lot
of the other benchmarks were selected for their multicore operation.
So this will "flatten" the performance differences a bit, for comparison


Re: Advice on CPU (amd or intel, dual or quad core?)

"" wrote:
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Intel has had the performance edge since the introduction of the Core2
processor. They were at first much more expensive than AMD but are now much more

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Most consumer applications are not multithreaded and will use only one core, so
the speed will depend on the clock speed and not the number of cores. The big
exception to this are the applications that you will be running, i.e. some video
encoding and photo editing (Photoshop) applications are multithreaded.

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With some OSs you can assign programs to a specific processor. This may or may
not increase overall performance. You might want to let the OS assign programs
on its own and run processor intensive applications, e.g. video encoding, at a
lower priority (they will probably do this by default) so they don't slow down
other programs e.g. web surfing or playing movies.

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                   Mike Walsh

Re: Advice on CPU (amd or intel, dual or quad core?) wrote:

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example i built a amd x2 5600 64 bit pc £400
a friend built a intel 6400 duo2 64 bit pc £1000
yes his is faster in some areas but the question is do you need all that
speed then i would consider heat and make sure you have a good heat sink
fan and a decent case.

So the first question you should ask your self is what do you intend to use
the pc for and work from there if i went up to amd x2 6000 64 bit mine
would equal and out perform his in some areas and would be cheaper.

my pc does dvd ripping without slowing up and i can do video editing running
four instances of avidemux2 at the same time and still use other

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