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Thread: i7 vs i5 processor advice

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    i7 vs i5 processor advice

    I'm about to buy a new desktop for the home study that will be used as a general PC for mum to do the odd word document, send emails, my son to play his various ultra violeent online games and I'd also like it to be the main PC I use for lightroom and photoshop edits.

    I'm looking at getting a i5 with 8gb ram and 1GB graphics card ?

    Is this grunty enough do you think ? It's only about $1200, to go to an i7 is up another $500 or so from what I can see
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    Morning Darren, I am no IT guru but if you can stretch for the i7 that is what I would suggest.

    I have an i5, which I use for my drafting work (AutoCAD) and it runs fine, I don't use it for lightroom or PS as that is what my mac is for, but you definately can run both with it. I would imagine it would get bogged down quicker than the i7 though.
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    Not sure who the PC is through, off the shelf by the price i'm assuming. The i7 is definitely the way to go, but should be had with 8Gb RAM and a random 1Gb GPU for somewhat less than $1700...
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    Yes, long story, but I have a credit with Hardley Normal that I can use for this.

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    i7..... or better yet, a 6core AMD(which is better value for money).

    More importantly, you want quick hard drive(s) and fast memory anyhow.

    That is, a lot of vendors of PCs use slower 5400RPM drives, which are noticeably more sluggish, and you'll notice this over time as the PC boots up.
    As more drivers are installed as you add various software and other hardware, the time taken to read the required files on a 5400RPM disk when compared to a faster 7200RPM disk makes a difference.

    As your son's games are online, the speed of the machine isn't going to make all that much of a difference in the end, as the connection speed(cable max'es out at approx 1Mb/s) so to have a PC system spec that allows data throughput of 6Gb/s ultimately is a wasted effort.

    Wife's documents will all work as quickly and smoothly on any machine from an i5 -> AMD x4 -> AMDx6 -> i7.
    Where you will see a difference in speeds(of the PC, and CPU type) is in a long convoluted conversion process, raw images to JPG, raw video to MPEG, WAV to MP3 conversions, and suchlike.

    I always tell folksies that if they can afford it now, get the more expensive option(to a degree), that is i7 over i5, or AMD x6 over x4 .. and so on.
    The machine ends up lasting a bit longer until the inevitable happens and it's time to upgrade again in a few years time!
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    Look for a new PC with a sandy bridge with applicable sandy bridge motherboard. They are starting to appear in stores etc now. For gaming, you are best off getting the latest.
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    Do you know which i5 and which i7 you're looking at? The latest i5s and i7s are the sandybridge models. Just checked local store here, the cheapest i5 is listed at $178 and most expensive i7 is $316.
    The top i5 is only $214, and is very similar in performance to the i7 that's $100 more in pretty much all circumstances. Perhaps a couple processes in Photoshop might be a fraction of a second faster for quick operations, and a couple seconds for operations that take half a minute...

    I'm pretty sure the only change needed to go from a sandybridge i5 to a sandybridge i7 is the processor itself, so I'm not sure why you've been given the figure of $500?? It makes me wonder if you're looking at either older models of the i7, which would require RAM in sets of 3 instead of 2, and a different motherboard.

    Have you got a link to the specs of the systems you're looking at?

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    There's a compaq desktop I'm looking at, it's a generation 1 i5 chip rather than the latest one I believe , it's $909 at the moment for 4gb

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    Personally, if I could afford it, I'd go for a machine with a quad-core, hyperthreading Xeon chip in it, but whatever you get, make sure it has a good video card in it.
    A 1 gig card shoud be fine.

    HP are doing some very good deals on Xeon workstations right now, and while they may be a few hundred $$$ dearer, they will last for many years without requiring updating.

    A fast hard drive is a definite, and you could also think about getting an SSD in it, so it will boot up and be ready to work from cold in about 15 seconds.
    If the SSD is big enough, put your editing programs on it too, and you will have instant response.
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    Here is what I am looking at but with a list price of $909 and I will add another 4th ram

    http://www.harveynorman.com.au/produ...-desktop-tower

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    Another thing is the OS, 32 bit will only recognize 4g of ram anything more and you will need 64 bit.
    Keith.

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    Hey Kiwi, for what it's worth.....

    I went for the i5, couldn't justify the expense for the i7 and from what I read the better performance gains are in HDD, and to a lesser extent RAM quantity and speed, graphics cards, and motherboard bus speeds.

    Have you considered building it yourself? I got some good advice here and also over at Whirlpool and built myself a much higher spec machine that the Compaq you have listed for a cheaper price. I also have something that I can upgrade easily, ie a case and power supply that will last 2-3 builds, plenty of space for extra HDDs, external eSata and USB3 ports etc. Plenty of reasons to build it yourself I reckon, and it was fun. I'm very happy with mine, has been a brilliant machine and runs LR and CS5 easily (don't know how I lived without it!!)
    Last edited by etherial; 18-07-2011 at 8:30pm. Reason: link
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    Thanks Mic, good advice, but I probably still need to use my store credit

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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    Even if you don't actually do the build yourself, you can still do a D-I-Y type of PC purchase where you specify the parts you want.. ie. which processor, mainboard, ram(type brand and speed.. etc) what brand of hard drives(and how many!!).

    Get a generic Harvey Norman build and you get all that 'power' and (almost certainly) there will be a compromised parts somewhere in the pipeline that will not allow the full potential of the PC to be used.

    That is, say you buy all these uber fast basic components, such as i7, fast ram fastest graphic card, and so on, but you skimp on a slower hard drive(eg a 5400rpm 'green' hard drive), all the processing power is wasted, because the bits and bytes cant' come off the hard drive fast enough to use the full potential of the entire PC.. You may as well have saved all the money on the uber fast parts and invested in an array of SSD's instead!

    There are plenty of vendors willing to build you a PC to spec(your spec!). You just need to A: find them(easy enough question to pose for your area), and B: tell them the parts specs(easy enough question to pose on many forums(AP, Whirlpool, etc)
    But be specific about total price, coz the speed demon freak show crew, will spend over $15K of your money on 15 CPU Opteron system with 15 x 15K Seagate drive arrays .. and so on and so forth ....

    $1200 should easily get you a very fast (image editing-gaming-household) PC with a decent screen to boot if you go with a custom build.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kiwi View Post
    Thanks Mic, good advice, but I probably still need to use my store credit
    That'yll teach me to read all the posts!!

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    Ausphotography Addict Richard Hall's Avatar
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    Yep, I'd definitely buy from a store and get something built to order if you're not comfortable doing so yourself. That Compaq you've listed is really very average for the money (as all named branded PCs are). It's a first generation i5 not a sandy bridge model and the ATI 5450 video card is really low end card, fine for photo editing but not at all for any gaming. The amount of VRAM on board a video card is not really a representation of a cards performance either. Most low end cards will have 1GB of VRAM and even some mid-higher end models.

    A good mid-high end PC build for me would be built around an i5 2500 and a GTX 560Ti video card and 8GB ram. The price vs performance at this level is fantastic. Unless you're doing something extremely processor intensive, such as heavy video processing you won't notice the difference between an i5 2500 and an i7 2600. Don't bother with the extra $ on the K-models of the i5 or i7, these are essentially just multiplier unlocked versions and are for the enthusiast who likes to overclock.... like me.
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    Thaks guys

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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    You could probably use the store credit for other peripheral devices. Dunno what exactly, but surely there is something else you want/need/must have?

    Maybe the screen? a nice huuge 27" screen?.. printers, routers.. whatever other devices make the household a cohesive and serene environment

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    A Solid State Drive is what I would think and get first before everything else - like Arthur said your HDD will be a bottleneck to all those power if its a slow one.

    even an SSD RAID array is affordable these days for either more speed/processing power or data redundancy

    13 months of using an SSD, I can never go back to any HDD anymore

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    Depends who your friends are, but the i5 can be overclocked to 4.5ghz, the i7 is locked. I frequently process 100mb image files in cs5, and went the i5. I've not yet overclocked it as i've not needed to. Point is, based on your requirements, buy the i5 and spoil yourself with a night at a nice restaurant with the money you save.

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