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Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Optimum configuration for your next desktop/laptop

With the current plethora of Dual core and Triple and quad core processors in the market. Typical system builders always query on what is really enough? I myself have been confronted with this question, since I have been trying to assemble a blazing desktop myself.

With money being premium in today’s world with economy in doldrums, spending wisely on your computing investment can not only free up crucial money for some extras which you could gain productive advantage with. It also gives you a uncommon satisfaction of deriving the “maximum bang” for your buck and going “green” with lesser power consumption, all in one go.

Here’s a quick breakdown of how much would be sufficient for your next desktop / laptop :

    1. Video Encoders with hardcore gaming : Quad Core CPU with single/dual GPUs, 4 GB RAM and 7200 rpm HDDs. Go 64-bit for future proof, else 32 bit is the best bet with the 3.5GB accessible memory constraint for Vista 32 bit.
    2. Audio enthusiasts with gaming – Dual Core CPU with single/dual GPUs, 4 GB RAM and high-end soundcard ( for desktop ). Today’s laptops with the HD Audio provide decent enough power for decent audio listening experience.
    3. Average movie watching and gaming – Dual core CPU, Integrated / single GPU preferably with hybrid switching, 2-4 GB RAM with decent set of 5.1 Channel surround speakers.

The current disadvantage of memory access as noted for Vista 32 bit is still a high enough threshold for programs to use. There aren’t many programs which do multi threading, apart from some Video encoding and CAD packages which truly take advantage of the multi core processor scenario.

Unless software arrives in the market to truly take advantage of the multi core processors and the increased RAM bandwidth, which is starting to build up momentum, you are rest assured of breaking even on your investment by the time multi threading applications are a norm.

Even the OSes of today don't seem to take much advantage of a Quad core with 12 GB RAM vs. Dual Core with 3 GB RAM difference.

Facts about “size does matter”.

  1. Increase in RAM modules increase idle power consumption by at least 10 W.
  2. Performance difference between single core and dual core is the maximum in today’s world. above that, it is a marginal difference which doesn't bring the bang for the extra buck.
  3. There is very negligible difference in performance between 3 GB to 12 GB RAM usage for any kind of applications.
  4. Less energy = Longer battery life in laptops & lower power consumption in desktops.

For more helpful tidbits and interesting tech knowledge on anything related to technology, Tom’s Hardware forums are one of the most exhaustive and informative resources.

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