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General Chat Thread, Processors for consumers in General; This problem keeps coming up at my school, people in the school look to buy a PC or laptop, then ...
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    localzuk's Avatar
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    Processors for consumers

    This problem keeps coming up at my school, people in the school look to buy a PC or laptop, then see 300 with 3GB RAM and 250GB HDD and think 'wow, amazing deal' but it has an AMD Sempron or a low end Intel Celeron in it.

    How can consumers be expected to choose a computer when there are so many different processors to choose from now?

    They've got

    Intel Celeron, Intel Pentium Dual Core, Intel Core 2 Duo, Intel Core 2 Quad, Intel i3/i5/i7, (not to mention the various 'extreme' branded ones), AMD Turion X2 (Neo, Ultra), AMD Athlon (Neo and normal), AMD Sempron, AMD Phenom II, 64, Athlon II, etc... not to mention netbook processors

    How on Earth is a consumer supposed to understand that lot?? It used to be a case of looking at processing speed (1Ghz was faster than 900Mhz etc...).

    Now, they're also confusing matters with DDR2 and DDR3 memory, in single, dual and triple channel configurations, solid state disks and a plethora of other indecipherable nonsense to the average consumer.

    So, when they appear in school with their 'fancy' laptop which will last them about 3 months before being slower than their old one, we are left to mop up the pieces.

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    Batman's Avatar
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    I agree it's very annoying.

    At the moment I have a policy of recommending Core2 duo processor as a minimum. It seems our suppliers will usually make a suggestion if they have an equivalent AMD that's a good deal anyway.

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    dhicks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by localzuk View Post
    So, when they appear in school with their 'fancy' laptop which will last them about 3 months before being slower than their old one, we are left to mop up the pieces.
    But these days the processor inside a machine is pretty much irrelevant, it's the disk, RAM and OS that actually make the difference. Our 5-plus-years-old Dell machines still boot in under 10 seconds if you stick 1GB of RAM in them and do a fresh install of Windows.

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    David Hicks

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    It's very annoying.

    My mum is looking to buy a laptop and keeps showing me various deals on laptops. I get shown the ad and most of them are celerons with the rest of the machine having an ok spec.

    Another thing that annoys me is the amount of crap software & trials that get pre loaded with new PCs.

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    Batman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dhicks View Post
    But these days the processor inside a machine is pretty much irrelevant, it's the disk, RAM and OS that actually make the difference. Our 5-plus-years-old Dell machines still boot in under 10 seconds if you stick 1GB of RAM in them and do a fresh install of Windows.

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    David Hicks
    I think I can see what you're saying but I don't quite agree.

    You can get a useable level of performance out of a lower spec PC with a memory upgrade and a reasonably light OS, and I personally would be happy with a P4 machine for general use...
    ... but the core 2 duo is a vast improvement performance wise over a P4, and if that's not noticeable then someone's doing something wrong!

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    tmcd35's Avatar
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    I'd disagree, the processor inside the machine is not irrelevant. It's speed is. To a lesser extent the number of cores is (although I'd recommend more cores to more speed). But the amount of cache is vital.

    Waste money on a processor with next to no cache and it doesn't matter how much RAM you put in the machine you've created yourself a nice little bottleneck.

    The problem is how to explain these concepts to consumers who just see a list of numbers they don't understand.

    I mean - 1Mb or 2Mb Cache, 1Gb or 2Gb Ram, 100Gb or 200Gb Hard drive. All this numbers seem very similar to joe average who gets home happy because he has "200 memory in his new machine" - Running Windows 7 on a single core celeron with 1Gb Ram, ouch!

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    synaesthesia's Avatar
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    It's the same for everything though - a computer is not a toaster, for example. It's more akin to a car - without someone there to point you in the right direction, a Toyota Yaris is no different to a Volvo C70 (except the latter might not suddenly stop/accelerate without your say so ) until the salesperson points out the differences.

    And with laptops - there's still circa 15 models of said Yaris available - what's under the hood makes all the difference and it still takes someone to explain it. "What are your plans for the laptop? What do you want to do - what would you *like* to do that perhaps you can't at the moment. Do you drive in cities or do a lot of long distance? Would you like to cart around dressers in your boot or just your handbag and the occasional body?"

    Computers are no different. Anyone who marches off on their own accord to PC World, points at a laptop and shouts I WANT at the nearest salesperson without asking advice (OK bad example, perhaps a shop where the staff are knowledgeable would be better) will almost always walk out with something unfit for purpose unless they're otherwise clued up. Until they ask for the correct advise, be it from the store, from a knowledgeable friend or from their school's techy, they won't know that a Celeron or Semperon won't meet their needs of high end design programs, or that the I7 laptop with dual hard drives and dual graphics cards will be slight overkill for the odd facebook'n'email session. Or indeed that the pretty looking Mac in the corner won't actually do any of what they want because it doesn't actually run the library of software they already have.

    So I don't think anything should be changed other than people's ideas - just like buying a car, you need advise from ideally impartial people first. Plenty of those around

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    Galway's Avatar
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    I like confusing .... makes them come to me for advice which is what im paid to do.

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    maniac's Avatar
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    What's more annoying is when they've spoken to an 'expert' at 'Insert name of high street retailer here' and they were recommended that machine, which they then subsequently bring to you because it won't run 'Insert name of latest game that teenage son wants loaded on it here' then they get all agitated when you tell them they need a better machine. People assume just because it's new, it must be better which is not necessarily the case as we know.

    My 3yr old core 2 duo machine still boots windows faster than a majority of new machines because all the componants were hand picked to work perfectally with each other, I've no intention of changing it soon either.

  10. #10
    theeldergeek
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    Quote Originally Posted by localzuk View Post
    ...and a plethora of other indecipherable nonsense to the average consumer.
    It's not just confusing for the consumer! I've been in IT for over 15 years now, and I'm just as confused. It used to be Pentium II or III, then IV when I was buying processors!

    I wouldn't have a clue if I was stood in Comet and was looking to buy. I'd have to do a lot of research first.

    I suppose, at the very least, being a tech I've got half a chance of understanding the 'lingo', but I see where you are coming from in respect of consumers.

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    synaesthesia's Avatar
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    I will agree on one thing though - model numbers - starting with the AMD XP range where consumers were faced with a model number instead of processor speed, and then again with the modern nonsense of I5, I7, Pentium D, Pentium E4300, Core2Solo, Core2Duo etc. At least in the old days the bigger the number the faster the computer, and all the above leads to some complete marketing rubbish like "Core2Duo e6600 - 4.8GHZ!"

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    localzuk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by synaesthesia View Post
    "Core2Duo e6600 - 4.8GHZ!"
    That drives me insane. Ebay is full of people claiming to be selling 10Ghz computers...

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    witch's Avatar
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    I'm confused too - I know what to look for but currently I need a good laptop for my son to take to Uni in the autumn (it will be his main machine - not for taking to lectures) and the chioice is huge.
    Then you get the manufacturer issue - I lean towards Dell, Lenovo, HP and Tosh, but I know there are others - and I have two VERY experienced NM friends who have COMPLETELY opposite views about Acers!
    arrrrrgggghhhhhhhhhhh

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    Quote Originally Posted by theeldergeek View Post
    It's not just confusing for the consumer! I've been in IT for over 15 years now, and I'm just as confused. It used to be Pentium II or III, then IV when I was buying processors!

    I wouldn't have a clue if I was stood in Comet and was looking to buy. I'd have to do a lot of research first.

    I suppose, at the very least, being a tech I've got half a chance of understanding the 'lingo', but I see where you are coming from in respect of consumers.
    Exactly how I feel - except I'm about 10 years in IT! The most difficult thing when I first started was checking whether the processor was MMX or non MMX!

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    synaesthesia's Avatar
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    Trouble is, going back to my car example, people rarely know who to trust - they'll have the PC World/Currys bunch vs the likes of us guys typically. People who want to sell them a product vs people who actually know what's likely to be best for them, just like some car dealers. As a result it generally brings the whole profession into disrepute.

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