Tag Archives: processor

How Often Do You Upgrade Your Computer?

Your computer is slowing down. Things don’t run the way they should anymore. You baby it along by defragging, uninstalling programs, deleting files and cleaning things up as much as possible. Perhaps you go as far as cursing at your poor machine or even threatening it with a hammer. At what point, though, do you throw in the towel and upgrade that sucker? When do you know it’s just TIME to spend a few bucks to add a new stick of RAM or upgrade your processor?

The general consensus over on Lockergnome seems to be that geeks upgrade on an as-needed basis. Only one person was brave enough to admit that they upgrade any time something new comes along. One other person stated that they NEVER upgrade – they simply start fresh with a new machine.

Where do you fall in the computer-upgrade spectrum?

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Are Two Cores as Good as Four Cores?


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Michael from CMPLive decided to do a special episode of “Real or Hoax” for our channels. He is a brave soul, and decided to take on the age-old question of whether or not two cores really are as good as four. In order to do this test properly, he made sure that the machines used were truly alike, apart from the cores themselves.

To run this test, Michael performed tests on four different popular games. He also did tests on several different types of software. You can see from the graph shown in the video, there’s a significant difference in the performance, but could easily be a bottleneck in the graphics. The difference is most definitely NOT double, though, as you might expect.

During a different test, Michael set his graphics to the highest possible settings. Low and behold, there was NO difference between two cores and four cores as far as performance. This is because his graphics card experienced a bottleneck long before the CPU would have.

When testing playing Assassins’ Creed, you can see by the charts that both low and high graphics usage produced nearly the exact same results – no matter how many cores were being used.

Flight Simulator X has been long believed to be CPU intensive… again, though, there was no difference. How can this be so?

Overall, Michael proved that there truly is not much difference when you use four cores instead of two. The biggest difference was in rendering and processing videos… the quad-core machine definitely performed faster. In every other case, though, it didn’t matter how many cores were installed in the computer. When it came to the games, the graphics card mattered far more than the CPU itself.

Thanks, Michael, for producing a fantastic video for us.

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Are There Things You Shouldn't DO on a Laptop?


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Over on Lockergnome, PhidiasBob asked the community if there are things you can do on a desktop machine that you should NOT do on a laptop. This is a fair question to ask. I think the only thing I wouldn’t do with a notebook or laptop vs a desktop is to do something that is very memory or processor intensive. They to tend to underpowered compared to your desktop system… and some machines will even end up having an overheating problem if you push them too hard.

There are times you need to use a portable machine, such as when you’re on a self-imposed vacation. I prefer my desktop, of course. I have more power, more memory and more OOMPH on my home system. My Macbook Pro is great, but it just doesn’t have the capability to multi-task with processor-intensive applications as my Mac Pro does.

There really isn’t anything else I can think of to answer this question, y’all. What things can you guys think of that you likely shouldn’t do with a laptop that you can do on your desktop?

Keep in mind that you can join Lockergnome yourself for free and ask questions of your own. The community loves to answer things, and are telling me that it’s quite addictive. I hope you’ll join us!

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Processor Speed Vs CPU Cores


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If you had to choose between a 2.2 hz quad-core or a 2.5ghz dual-core one, how do you know which is right? In my mind, you’re better off with as many cores as you can possibly get. Even if software is not optimized for maximum cores at this point, it certainly will be in the future.

If an app is designed with multiple cores in mind, you’ll be happier having more cores no matter what the processor speed is. It depends on opimizational code, honestly. Check your benchmarks, and see how the two processors compare.

Dollar for dollar, though, I’d go for more cores rather than the raw speed of the processors.

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VMWare CPU Usage in XP


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Some people have trouble gaming inside of VMWare. It tends to throttle their CPU. However, in the newest version of VMWare Fusion one of the toggles have been removed. You can change quite a bit of settings to optimize your virtual machine explicitly for gaming purposes.

It’s going to hit your CPU no matter what. You’re running software. Make sure that you’ve allocated the most RAM that you can to the VM. Maxing out your CPU won’t kill anything, no. I run my live stream on the Mac Mini every day. It’s run for the past three years, even though the Mac Mini’s CPU is throttled almost constantly.

Yes, the games are going to throttle your CPU. It could happen with XP outright, let alone when it’s running inside of the virtual machine. That will have more overhead.

In terms of mitigating that, it’s not really possible honestly. The latest version of VMWare will take care of most of it for you. Play around in your settings. Check your hard-disk buffering status. Optimize what you can – wherever you can.

It’s not going to kill your computer, no. You’re safe to keep on gaming.

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Should You Build Your Own PC?


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I had a caller from Australia the other night whose older computer has served him well for a number of years. He’s trying to decide whether he should build a new one, buy a new one off the shelf or simply upgrade his current system. He asked my opinion as part of his research. What are your thoughts? Which would be a better option for him?

I feel that if he can do it, he would be best off building a computer for himself. Always spend as much as you can afford, and buy quality components. Do your research on each part prior to choosing, and pick what you feel will work best for you.

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AMD Eyefinity Multi-Monitor for Gaming


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Playing games is fun, but sometimes one screen is just not enough. Wouldn’t you have a much better experience if you were using three screens? With AMD’s Eyefinity, you can easily run three screens off of one graphics card. I spent a little bit of time with Casey while I was at AMDs campus in Texas recently. Casey is the Director of Product Marketing for the graphics side of their company. He wanted to share with us the advances made with Eyefinity, and how it can improve your gaming experience, along with your productivity.

The Eyefinity project allows you to expand your gaming experience from one monitor to three. Many of you are now trying to point out we’ve had multi-monitor capability for awhile now. That may be true, but there were drawbacks. We were pretty limited to two monitors. Also, the dual-monitor setup didn’t always work for gaming. Sure, it would work to extend your desktop. However, as soon as you fired up that favorite game you’d be stuck on only one screen again.

What AMD has done is to re-architect their video card to where they can treat the entire three-screen resolution as one single large surface. Instead of seeing it as three separate panels, the operating system will now see it as only one. It’s difficult to explain, because you honestly have to see it in action for yourself. It’s very fluid, with an amazing performance.

Casey also showed me the Eyefinity 6 Edition. This single graphics card can effectively run SIX monitors. Yes, I typed that correctly. SIX. MONITORS. It was insane to see that in action up close and personal, let me tell you. There were six 24″ displays, each running with 1900×1200 resolution.

Some people may wonder why they would want three – or six! – monitors. Why can’t you just use one huge 50″ television, instead? It’s all about resolution, my friends. With one large TV, you’re going to have this huge picture, but it’s not going to be very clear. With multiple smaller screens, such as those Eyefinity runs on, you’re going to have an amazing picture, and it will be seamless… not stretched out beyond recognition.

Eyefinity is an amazing advancement in both gaming and productivity technology. Until you see it for yourself, you’re honestly not going to be able to understand it. Seeing it in this video gives you an idea. But having it running right in front of you is on another level entirely.

I have to thank the folks at AMD for bringing me to Texas for the SXSW conference, as well as for all the time they spent with me to answers questions from our community.

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Acer Ferrari One 200


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If you’ve been watching my live stream this past week, you’ve likely seen the red laptop sitting on my desk. It is an Acer Ferrari One – part of the 200 series. It was sent to me to review by my friends at AMD, and I have to thank them for it. This notebook is part of the new Vision program set forth by AMD. Vision tries to make it easier for consumers to understand if the computer they are about to buy will do the things they want to do… gaming, email, Internet browsing and productivity apps. I’m all about productivity, so I am looking forward to really putting this machine through its paces.

The notebook is running Windows 7 on top of AMD M780G chipset, and is running an AMD Athlon X2 Dual Core processor. This is a beefy notebook. It’s not a netbook. Netbooks are typically cheap and slow, and don’t have enough power. The Ferrari is powerful and portable, weighing in at only about 3.3 pounds.

I have an 11.6 inch screen with this gorgeous little monster, with a 16×9 aspect ratio widescreen. The Ferrari packs 3 GB of RAM inside the case, with Wireless-N networking capabilities built in. You’ll also find a 2.5″ hard drive inside, along with hi-def audio functionality. Thankfully, the built-in card reader will read almost any type of removable media you might have lying around.

The reason why AMD has sent this particular unit is to show off part of their Eyefinity project. This port will let me connect to up to three different screens. Yes, it will run all three of them. How many notebooks can do that? When you’re at school or work, you want to be portable and save space. But at home, you want to hook up to larger monitors. Hook up the Ferrari to them, and you’re good to go. They will be treated as one screen by the machine, and will work flawlessly for you. There’s no need for a separate desktop to use with all those home monitors – the Ferrari has more than enough power and speed to handle nearly anything you would need it to do.

I don’t have to configure anything in software to make three screens work. It’s seamless, making it appear as though it is one giant screen. This is an important technology, fellow Geeks. You really NEED multiple screens these days.

I’ll be testing the Ferrari itself in the coming weeks, along with checking out just how well Eyefinity works. Stay tuned to see video reviews.

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AMD Questions and Answers


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Thanks to AMD for allowing our community to ask them questions. Yes, we have an open line of communication with them – so don’t think it begins and ends with this video. If it weren’t for AMD, I wouldn’t have been able to attend SXSW (and, of course, visit AMD’s campus in Austin, TX).

Does ATI have any plans to counter Nvidia’s Fermi? Most people actually say that Fermi are trying to counter what ATI is doing. If you look, ATI has launched several DX-11 based graphics cards over the past several months, whereas Fermi has not launched a single one. The question should be thrown to Fermi, instead.

What is the best ATI video card out there? – If you’re looking for a single GPU solution, it would be the 5870. If you’re looking for the best overall (and fastest) graphics card, you’ll want to check out the HD 5970.

What is your favorite technology in the new series of graphics cards? – It’s going to depend on the person, and their usage of their graphics card. There are two technologies that make the ATI line the best there is. DirectX 11 is the one that is the most useful, as well as the most widely-demanded. DirectX 11 was introduced with Windows 7, and is now available on Vista. It brings additional performance and quality capabilities. For power users, the best feature is the Eyefinity technology. It’s a game changer.

What is the difference between the 4800 series cards, and the 5800 series cards? – Both cards are fantastic for DirectX 9 and DirectX 10 games. The 4800 is still a good value, but with the 5800 series you will have just a bit more performance.

If you were building an extreme gaming PC (no matter the cost), which GPU would you choose? – One of the employees answering questions recently did this exact thing. He chose the Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition Quad Core processor. He wanted this both for the ease of use with Eyefinity, as well as the sheer power of the hardware. This processor incorporates 6MB of unified high-speed L3 cache and a high-speed DDR2/DDR3 memory controller.

Thanks again to everyone at AMD – not only for helping me with my SXSW trip, but for being so fantastic to work with during the event.

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What Happens When Your Laptop’s Motherboard Goes Bad?


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There is this thing sitting inside your computer that is the one thing every other thing is connected to! It’s called a motherboard. I have no idea why there’s no fatherboard… but yeah. The motherboard is crucial. If it’s not working – good luck using your computer at all. Ian from the PCPitStop community is sad because his Sony Vaio died. His motherboard is now dead, and wonders where he can find an affordable replacement.

Virut won’t corrupt your motherboard – but it will usually lead to having to reformat your system. With that said, if your motherboard is hosed for any reason, you might want to run a few diagnostics if you can. It’s possible it could be a bad power supply, you know? Check everything you possibly can, to determine for sure that it’s a motherboard.

I feel your pain. I’ve heard some not-so-happy things about Sony support in the past. Unfortunately, if it is a motherboard problem – it’s going to cost you. My recommendation is to find a local Geek. Pay them in pizza and cola. They’ll take a look at the computer to assess the problem. Sometimes it’s something small that trips us up, and I certainly hope that’s what is going on with you!

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