Thread: Pentium 4 versus i7

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    Pentium 4 versus i7

    One of my systems has a Pentium 4 processor in it which I believe to be dying. It will run for 50 - 60 minutes then freeze. It had run with a, very mild, overclock in the past, but recently, at rated speed. Both Ubuntu and Windows 8 do the same thing, I'm sure it is hardware.

    I can get a new P4 fairly cheaply. Alternatively, I can gut the machine and do an expensive rebuild with an i7 and supporting cast of components. Apart from the hyper threading, which frankly did not impress me when it first came out, what are the advantages of the i7 option?

    I'm not a gamer, apart from a bit of office type work, the system is mainly a BOINC machine.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fossaw View Post
    I'm not a gamer, apart from a bit of office type work, the system is mainly a BOINC machine.
    Considering most games will make less use of the processor than whatever BOINC client or server you may be using, I'd say BOINC alone and not games should make you consider the i7 or an i5.

    The differences between a P4 and a modern i5 or i7 (Sandy Bridge and upwards) are abysmal. Nothing you can't take a look for yourself with just a little research. The only thing I remember of the P4 is that it was a processor once, which means I would have to research your answer myself. So there's no point in taking away that fun from you.

    Just two notes though:

    Moving to a i5 or i7 processor will necessarily mean upgrading also your motherboard, memory and PSU at the very least. So the cost may be a factor.
    You should look at power consumption. It's very possible that the P4 being comparatively much older and weaker will by now have fallen outside the normal power savings/performance curve and it offers more savings than the i5 or i7. If your BOINC client/server isn't tasked with being a top performer and you care about power savings on a machine that essentially stays on 365/year, this is of utmost importance to your wallet.
    Originally Posted by brewbuck:
    Reimplementing a large system in another language to get a 25% performance boost is nonsense. It would be cheaper to just get a computer which is 25% faster.

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    Well, the current-generation i7 is about 6 generations newer than your P4, so it will be better in literally every way. Faster, cooler, cheaper to operate, etc. It is also a 64-bit chip, so it's capable of running the best versions of all the newest operating systems, and can support a nearly unlimited (practically speaking) amount of RAM.
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    Plus the price for an i5 has really fallen off a cliff, so if you can't afford an i7, you should at least be able to afford that, and it would still be an upgrade.

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    There is also an i3, which is cheaper still. I wouldn't recommend it for desktop work, but for a budget system, it's nice.

    Also, any core processor will eat your P4 alive.
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    Assuming you have the latest Pentium 4 (Prescott), one core in the latest i5/i7 would be about 3.5x faster at the same clock speed.

    Prescott to Conroe (Core 2 architecture) is where the big jump in instructions-per-clock happened. A 1.8GHz Core 2 is about as fast as a close to 4GHz Pentium 4. It has been a few more generations since then, each one improving instructions-per-clock by about 10-15%.

    So if you have a 3 GHz P4, a 3 GHz Haswell will be about 3.5x faster in single threaded applications, and 14x faster in multi-threaded applications, all while drawing about 25% less power. You also get 64-bit goodness.

    But you do need to upgrade everything else as well. Most other devices have also gone through a few generations and aren't backward-compatible anymore.

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    Looks like the up-graders have it then. I always enjoy the specification comparisons of motherboards etc. finding the right one, ie. one that has the small set of features one needs and are light on the marketing departments "extra valuable features" which are invariably useless.

    Cheers folks.

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