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tech help requested

It is time to get a new computer. My old reliable laptop, nearly five years old, is dying by inches.

So, question: what processor do I need to be able to stream in HD comfortably? The internet is not being very helpful in answering this. And does the kind of processor matter much? The price seems to vary by processor, even when the processing speed is the same, which confuses me.

Please note I'm not gaming or anything. The most taxing thing I am going to ask of this computer is let me watch hockey games and use ghcat at the same time. :)

Crossposted from Dreamwidth. Comment here or there. (comment count unavailable DW replies)


( 20 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 15th, 2014 02:54 am (UTC)
I can only speak from my experience of my one computer, but yes, there IS a difference between the kinds of processors. My 2009 Macbook is currently running a 2.26GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, but a 2013 Macbook Air's processor, which runs fewer GHz than that, is actually a faster, newer, more powerful type of processor. I don't know what kind it is, but I figure if it's in an Air, it's not exactly trying for power, so it probably has even more powerful brethren in full-size laptops. As far as PCs go, I'm afraid I know absolutely nothing, alas.

This is my personal preference, but I'd also go with whichever model offers the most RAM/can have the most RAM installed. I'm not sure if this is just some traumatic holdover from using computers of the 90s, but it's the one spec I always customize and max out. I have absolutely no computer science-sound proof of this, but I am convinced that lots of RAM will keep a computer trucking/will keep it from flipping its shit whenever you update your OS to newer, snazzier OSes.
Jun. 15th, 2014 02:59 am (UTC)
Ha ha, yes, I know exactly what you mean about RAM. At this point the RAM I have on this computer is becoming a major issue; just Firefox and background applications come close to maxing it out. (This may more about my background applications than anything? But I'm not that concerned about cleaning the computer out, since it has a lot of other problems as well.)

Basically I am trying to decide if I want to pay $50 more for an Intel i3 over an Intel Pentium. I suspect the answer is probably yes. The next question is if I want to pay another $100 Intel i5, which also runs faster.
Jun. 15th, 2014 03:09 am (UTC)
The i5 is what the Airs are running! And I think like, 1.3 GHz of whatever the hell an i5 is more powerful than 2.26 GHz of whatever mine is, so I'm convinced they must be magical. XD

Again, speaking with no actual knowledge of computer hardware, but I'd imagine that if a hertz still means what I think it means, the processor will be able to function at a higher capability, but a lower temperature? Which could be nice; I prefer it when my computer's fan is not running, because it's sort of noisy and makes me nervous. XD And then there's the longevity thing--if you're looking to keep this new computer rode hard and put away wet for another five good years, it might be worth the extra $100 now!
Jun. 15th, 2014 03:13 am (UTC)
Yeah, I am strongly suspecting that an extra $100 or so now is more than worth it. This is the object I will spend probably half of my waking hours on for the next five years (hopefully); there's no point in being stingy. It'll be just about the best money I could possibly spend.
Jun. 15th, 2014 04:01 am (UTC)
A bunch of years ago processor folks switched from ratcheting up GHz to focusing on multi-core processors, so now the price is likely to vary more by the number of cores (the more the better) than by speed, and performance ditto. I don't actually do much with video, so can't say specifically what's good, but handling video is supposedly one of the things the multi-core processors handle best relative to their lesser-cored predecessors.

(I... actually didn't realize you could still *buy* a Pentium even. I think for any video-intensive application going with one of the multi-core chips will definitely be worth it.)

Do you have a particular laptop brand in mind? I'm a big fan of Lenovos (and if you're looking at ultrabooks, I hear their Yoga is really nice, although I've only used ThinkPads myself)

Edited at 2014-06-15 04:02 am (UTC)
Jun. 15th, 2014 04:04 am (UTC)
The ones I'm looking at are Lenovos. I specifically wanted something I could get Windows 7 on, and the Lenovo 590b was the one that seemed most like what I was looking for. (I also looked at a ThinkPad, but reviews said the the touchpad was weird? And I am super picky about my touchpad.)

Thank you for the input!
Jun. 15th, 2014 04:42 am (UTC)
From everything I've heard, Win8 is to be avoided like the plague, so that's probably very wise of you!

I never use the touchpad on my ThinkPads -- I find Lenovo's pointer thingy very comfortable, so I use that whenever I'm not hooked up to an external mouse -- so no input there unfortunately.

Good luck with the decision! But my experience is that pretty much any new laptop is going to feel super-sleek and lighting-fast compared to a 5-year-old one, so you can't lose :)
Jun. 15th, 2014 04:45 am (UTC)
Yeah, I have heard absolutely nothing good about Windows 8. I am going to cling to a menu-based interface as long as they will let me!

But my experience is that pretty much any new laptop is going to feel super-sleek and lighting-fast compared to a 5-year-old one, so you can't lose

So true. :D
Jun. 15th, 2014 10:55 am (UTC)
Windows 8 is actually pretty good....as soon as you add the thing someone created that gives you back your start menu and makes the annoying start screen go away. (It's super easy to do so by the way. http://www.classicshell.net/ is where you get it.)

I got a Lenovo G500s last summer for about $400, it's not bad. Not the fastest of the fast (I did so I want an i7 processor)

One of the things you should look at in the processor is the cache size. This will make a huge difference in how fast the processor seems. For example, on the face of it my new laptop and my old laptop seem to have fairly similar processors:
2.6ghz vs 2.4 ghz, both dual core. But the old one had a cache of 512 kb, and the new one has a cache of 3mb. (and I'd expect now to see all decent laptops on sale now to have upwards of that), and holy shit, it is a completely different experience using the new laptop.
Jun. 15th, 2014 03:18 pm (UTC)
Thank you for the tips! The one I'm looking at has a cache of 3mb, so that bodes well. :)
Jun. 15th, 2014 12:33 pm (UTC)
I'm a mac girl, so PC answers with a grain of salt. But get something that has user-replaceable RAM. You can upgrade yourself as you need; it makes a HUGE difference to how fast it will feel. Some of the newer, lighter laptops are saving space by making it un-upgradable. And much, much cheaper to upgrade it yourself!

I also recommend a solid-state drive. Again, that's something you can easily do yourself. without moving parts it doesn't heat up like a HDD does, and it's just so much snappier! If you don't need a ton of space you can get one cheap. And ever bigger volumes are a whole lot less than they used to be; I bought a 500gb SSD for ~250 on amazon. A year ago it was twice that!
Jun. 15th, 2014 03:21 pm (UTC)
Is it possible to put a solid state drive on a laptop? I mean, since they're already pretty tight, space-wise. (I've never done any customization myself, so I am a complete ignoramus at this.)

Jun. 15th, 2014 03:27 pm (UTC)
Since I've done it a couple of time, including last night, yes. SSDs are actually often smaller than HDDs-- and by that I mean "shorter", or maybe "less thick". Remember, no moving parts!

RAM and hard drive upgrades are actually super easy. Honest! If I can do it anyone can!
Jun. 15th, 2014 03:29 pm (UTC)
I will keep this in mind, then, for the future. Thank you!
Jun. 15th, 2014 03:31 pm (UTC)
This is what I just put in! I always buy the computer for the processor, and take the cheapest RAM/HDD option and just plan to upgrade.
Jun. 15th, 2014 09:07 pm (UTC)
Like people said, we're moving into multiple core processors now, which makes a lot of difference speed-wise. I will explain why.

Processors are really dumb and can only do one thing at once. When you have several processes open, it keeps constantly switching between them behind the scenes. The number of time it switches per second is given in Hz. the more programms you have open, the longer it takes to get back to any single one.

If you have a single-core processor that works at 2GHz and 16 programms opened, it will open any single program 125 000 000 times per second. Those same 16 programms on a quadruple-core processor at 1GHz will be operated as 4 programm per core and opened 250 000 000 times per second, making the computer twice as fast.
Jun. 22nd, 2014 12:02 am (UTC)
Thank you for the explanation! I ended up getting a dual-core processor, but with a lot of other upgrades on other aspects of the machine, so I expect it will do just what I want it to do. :)
Jun. 16th, 2014 03:05 am (UTC)
Personally I prefer AMD and suggest a quad core processor

The whole process depends on how much you are willing to spend and if you want windows 8.1 or windows 7?

What kind of programs do you like to run?

is there anything that you really wanted from your laptop? touch screen or non touch?

Hope to see you get the best deal!

Edited at 2014-06-16 03:06 am (UTC)
Jun. 22nd, 2014 12:04 am (UTC)
I got something with Windows 7. Why, does Windows 8 use a lot more or less power? And I wanted a non-touch screen and enough speed and power to a) run Firefox comfortably, even with a lot of tabs open, and b) stream in HD. So I think I have managed to get something that will do both of those things. :)

Jun. 25th, 2014 02:43 am (UTC)
Have fun learning the new system and enjoy.

Hopefully it's everything you wanted and need for years to come....
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