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Are High-End CPUs Worth The Money?

timothy posted more than 12 years ago | from the film-at-11 dept.

News 289

Rampaging Goatbert (aka Jeff Feld) has posted a story at Newsforge about something you may want to argue about with your boss or significant other. Specifically, whether high-end CPUs are worth their high prices. Personally, I look even lower on the processor food chain, but watching those price-curve inflection points makes the runner-up chips pretty tempting. Your mileage will almost certainly vary.

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289 comments

Gentlemen (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2163721)

Hello!

Re:Gentlemen (-1)

asbestos_diaper (456125) | more than 12 years ago | (#2163728)

Now that was an entertaining first post! Great job!

Re:Gentlemen (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2163802)

Nietzsche is dead !

Re:Gentlemen (-1)

mackga (990) | more than 12 years ago | (#2163809)

stupid shit-eating cum slurping moron.

Re:Gentlemen (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2163845)

hi

Re:Gentlemen (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2163964)

"hi" gets past all the filters? what the fuck?

I r0X0r!! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2163725)

so suck it!!

NO (1)

jackb_guppy (204733) | more than 12 years ago | (#2163727)

I prefer to use multiple CPU of a lower priced CPU to handle my high end needs.

Re:NO (3, Insightful)

Agent Green (231202) | more than 12 years ago | (#2163766)

I have to agree with you on this one.

But to stay on-topic, when I bought my A-Bit BP6 a couple years ago (jurassic computing, I know), I got it with two 366s, considering their value was good and the price was more or less middle-of-the road. It didn't take all that long of a period, maybe 6 months or so before I was able to get a couple of 550s to replace them...all without breaking the bank.

So getting the faster chip isn't worth it initially, but the motherboard that handles it is worth every cent. After all, prices will fall as the newer, better, faster hardware items come out.

Re:NO (1)

NecroPuppy (222648) | more than 12 years ago | (#2163868)

Right with you... I have the Abit VP6.

When I got that guy, the 1GHz-1.2GHz chips were the best around, so I got 667s...

Of course, one of them has since burned out...

there is always a price break in the curve (1)

CrudPuppy (33870) | more than 12 years ago | (#2163830)

I look to buy the one just below the major increase
in slope. there is ALWAYS this trend.

For example, the following is a highly viable price breakdown:

MHz - - - - price
------------------

900 - - - - -$65
1000 - - - - $85
1200 - - - - $100
1333 - - - - $130
1400 - - - - $175

It only makes sense that if you dont have unlimited
budget or a legitimate need for raw cpu performance
to buy the 1333 in the above graph.

just my $0.02

YOU FSCKING CHEAP BASTARD! ALL CPUs ARE CH33P NOW! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2163983)

900 - - - - -$65
1000 - - - - $85
1200 - - - - $100
1333 - - - - $130
1400 - - - - $175

Shit, but the 1.4GHz man. That's cheap! I recall my Pentium 200 MMX costing $600 back in 96. CPUs have never been cheaper than they are now. And thank god for competition. Even Intel is about to slash CPU prices thanks to AMD. Admit it, without AMD, Intel would still be selling "top of the line" 700 MHz CPUs for $600.

Depends on what you use it for (1, Insightful)

Blue Aardvark House (452974) | more than 12 years ago | (#2163738)

If you're into high-end graphics or internet gaming, then the fast chips may be a good buy. But if you're doing spreadsheets or simply sending e-mail, than a slower chip will serve you well for years to come.

It's almost analogous to buying a car.

Re:Depends on what you use it for (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2164036)

There's a few articles out there [emulators.com] that say a P3 is faster than a P4 (in some aspects) just because most software hasn't been written in favor of the newer chips."In terms of speed and running existing Windows code, the Pentium 4 is as slow or slower than existing Pentium III and AMD Athlon processors."

google (5, Insightful)

fjordboy (169716) | more than 12 years ago | (#2163743)

I think that google's massive (over 10000 units) server farm (all x86) proves that the high end cpu's aren't worth it. Multiple low end CPU's do the same (if not better) job of one high end CPU. I think Google proves this point.

Re:google (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2163754)

Not every program scales well to multiple processors, though. In some cases it makes sense to have a single blazing fast cpu.

Re:google (4, Insightful)

JWhitlock (201845) | more than 12 years ago | (#2163832)

I think that google's massive (over 10000 units) server farm (all x86) proves that the high end cpu's aren't worth it. Multiple low end CPU's do the same (if not better) job of one high end CPU. I think Google proves this point.

How many fps does Google get?

The article is in the context of buying a PC for personal use, and benchmarks using FPS, ray-tracing, kernel-compiles, etc. The idea is to pay attention to incremental performance (1.33 Mhz to 1.4 Mhz, .07 Mhz) versus incremental cost ($33? $100), and make sure it's worth it. Bottom line, buy cutting edge, get screwed on price.

Well.... (1)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 12 years ago | (#2163749)

...right now I'm wishing my boss had went for the high end workstations. Waiting 2 minutes for a dwg to regen is a BAD thing.

Jaysyn

Nope. (1)

Goldberg's Pants (139800) | more than 12 years ago | (#2163752)

They only charge high prices because they know certain people will buy them. If nobody bought them, they'd have to lower the price.

Supply and demand. They charge that because they know they'll get it.

Latest tech minus one is the best to buy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2163881)

That's where the most bang for the buck is. Second best tech is where the big 20%-40% price cuts happen when the latest bleeding edge CPU comes out. But the stuff is still new enough that it'll last you a few years before becoming obsolete.

Besides, who wants to buy a barely tested top of the line CPU only to learn later that the thing has thermal problems?

Re:Nope. (1)

Cheeko (165493) | more than 12 years ago | (#2163903)

Thats not neccesarily true. The high end machines often have extremely cutting edge technology, which even if nobody is buying it, still will cost more to break even than the cheaper model. Often times the very top of the line machines push the envelope causing costs to increase by several factors while only squeazing out a few points of performance increase. An analogy, would be how there is a ten fold increase in cost for every 1% more reliable a space vehicle is between 95% and 100%. I'm assuming the increase from a 1.33 GHz chip to a 1.4 GHz isn't that extreme, but there is probably some greater than linear increase in cost.

Re:Nope. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2163948)

yes, the newer model usually does cost more than the cheaper model...

Performance (2, Redundant)

Phroggy (441) | more than 12 years ago | (#2163756)

I've always been a large fan of using an army of small, low-powered boxes instead of one big expensive box. For one thing, if something breaks, everything else still works. For another thing, it's generally cheaper this way.

Re:Performance (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2163852)

I've always been a large fan of using an army of small, low-powered boxes instead of one big expensive box. For one thing, if something breaks, everything else still works. For another thing, it's generally cheaper this way.

How many fps do you get on distributed Quake?

Oh, that's right - there is no distributed Quake. Sometimes, you have to put all your processing power in one computer - which is what the article was talking about.

Re:Performance (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2163907)

you play quake? get a life, loser. quake II is way better.

High-end CPU's (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2163761)

Yes they are worthwile. Just imagine a Beowolf Cluster of THEM!!!

More to it (1, Insightful)

Uttles (324447) | more than 12 years ago | (#2163763)

It is not fair to compare a number, like clock speed and then say "oh well only 70 mhz more costs 25% more money." These processors have extremely complicated designs and the newer ones are much more efficient in every way. You might see a 70 mhz gain in speed on a piece of paper, but the reliability, speed, and robustness of the new processors far outweigh the price increase.

Re:More to it (2)

gmhowell (26755) | more than 12 years ago | (#2163827)

But in this case, clock speed is a valid comparison. The article specifically compares products within a family (top two PIII's to each other, top two PIV's to each other, etc)

We are not talking about a difference between PI and PI-mmx. Heck, it's not even as different as the two types of PI's.

The reliability, speed, etc. of the higher clock speed chips is actually more suspect. Remember that the 1.33 and the 1.4 chips are coming out of the same fab. But one is a little faster than the other, so they call it a PIV.

Re:More to it (1)

spudnic (32107) | more than 12 years ago | (#2163855)

Bah, no way. So you're saying that a P-III 1.13Ghz is somehow more stable than a P-III 1Ghz?

And you're also saying that you could sit down at your box and tell the speed difference between these two chips without some sort of benchmark?

And we're led to believe that you wouldn't mind paying the extra 75% to get the extra 130Mhz?

Unless you've got money to burn or have a huge ego problem that you have to compensate for by buying the biggest and the best available, I doubt it.

Re:More to it (1)

Uttles (324447) | more than 12 years ago | (#2163885)

I was speaking of going from P3 to P4. Actually, we don't know exactly how Pentium puts their chips together. There could be a huge difference between a P3 1.13 ghz and a P3 1ghz. Things like pipeline algorithms, stall prediction, exception handling/prediction... the way these issues are tackled continues to evolve and when the new methods are implemented, they usually are better. Hardware is actually good about that, it usually improves, as opposed to software, which does get more "buggy" with each upgrade.

Re:More to it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2163859)

Are you on crack? New products are notoriously less reliable than old products.

Re:More to it (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2163914)

Are you on crack? New products are notoriously less reliable than old products.

For instance, cocaine was pretty bad, but nowhere as low quality as cocaine II, AKA crack. And don't get me started on meth!

Re:More to it (2)

erroneus (253617) | more than 12 years ago | (#2163920)

Are you on crack? New products are notoriously less reliable than old products.

Hahaha... I know what you're TRYING to say, but I was just imagining that my old AMD processors will suddenly become more reliable as a benefit of its age. In a sense, they are... because they are no longer in use... they sit there...reliably.

Re:More to it (2)

erroneus (253617) | more than 12 years ago | (#2163895)

It is not fair to compare a number, like clock speed and then say "oh well only 70 mhz more costs 25% more money." These processors have extremely complicated designs and the newer ones are much more efficient in every way. You might see a 70 mhz gain in speed on a piece of paper, but the reliability, speed, and robustness of the new processors far outweigh the price increase.

Spoken like a true salesman! :) hahaha.

Seriously though, for the bulk of us, the P2-450's are *still* awesome machines. Plays all the games, displays all the graphics and all that. Lately, I simply don't crave more power. Everything works fine for me. (Is this a sign of age?)

Re:More to it (1)

Uttles (324447) | more than 12 years ago | (#2163969)

I'm not a salesman, just a computer engineer who recently had a class on processor design. There is a lot more to these chips than the speed metric.

Re:More to it (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2163917)

I am smarter than you.

Re:More to it - He's right (1)

linuxophen (448456) | more than 12 years ago | (#2164097)

Just check the PIII, at around 750-800mhz they started using a different die size. This reduced power/heat and increased electical reliability. True, there may be logic/design problems when the circuitry gets changed around but mechanically newer chips are generally better.

Please (-1, Offtopic)

dlittled (187714) | more than 12 years ago | (#2163765)

This article deserves a -1 Redundant

Apparently you haven't been bitchslapped lately... (1)

Robber Baron (112304) | more than 12 years ago | (#2163842)

see above

Re:Apparently you haven't been bitchslapped lately (1)

Robber Baron (112304) | more than 12 years ago | (#2163865)

This was a reply to another post!!! Don't tell me I stumbled onto Taco's banjo site (hope for his sake "banjo" isn't code for beta testing IIS on XP) by mistake!

Who's paying the bills? (2)

s20451 (410424) | more than 12 years ago | (#2163767)

It depends on who's paying the bills. If you're an individual looking for a PC, even to play the hottest and newest games, you probably don't need and can't afford the newest processors. If you're a government or well-funded university lab, writing your own software, where the fastest results are critical, then you probably can't afford not to stay ahead of the processor curve.

One crucial point (3, Interesting)

RainbowSix (105550) | more than 12 years ago | (#2163769)

Sure, for most of us, save for games, a 166mhz processor is enough. I use that example because I run my laptop's AMD K6-2 333@166 (vcore 2.2@1.8, I/O 3.3@2.5) and it runs Enlightenment as well as I need, and at that usually at 0% load. For games, there isn't much of a gain from 1.33ghz to 1.4, as stated in the article. However, they don't make mention of people who NEED the full 1.4ghz. People who do rendering and other CPU intensive applications are the people who need to pay the premium. If you were rendring a scene or movie for money, the difference between the 66mhz and $25 could potentially be hours, days, or profits. Nobody buys a 66mhz faster CPU for $25 more thinking how much faster they can compile a kernel, but leading edge has its purposes.

Of course, some people just like to brag, and ego can be worth $25

Re:One crucial point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2163821)

Hey, I think about how much faster I can compile a kernel with that extra 66mhz, but that's just because I have nothing better to do.

Re:One crucial point (2)

gmhowell (26755) | more than 12 years ago | (#2163843)

I'll ditto this. My wife runs a K5 (or is it a K6?) at 150 mHz. Runs all the web browser and Quicken she needs/wants.

To answer your other point, why market the 1.4 to everyone if only a small market needs it? To encourage conspicous consumption (another in my series of references to Econ 101), the motivation of almost every American consumer.

bleeding edge CPUs are useless... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2163770)

they don't help you achieve the fame and fortune of from getting the faboulous first post.

I prefer (1, Offtopic)

briggsb (217215) | more than 12 years ago | (#2163772)

chips from AMD like the Athlon Extreme OC [bbspot.com] and the Moron [bbspot.com] They hit the best price point for me.

And the winner is ... (0, Troll)

dickDragon (227357) | more than 12 years ago | (#2163773)

Tivo gives the best bang for the buck in video/sound recording and playback.

They can be (3, Informative)

chennes (263526) | more than 12 years ago | (#2163774)

In computational fluid dynamics, where simulations run days or weeks, non-stop, maxing out the CPU the whole time, 5% faster is a lot. The price tag is actually relatively small when compared to the time savings that you can achieve. They certainly don't make sense for the average consumer, but for some simulations, they're worth every cent.

Still going on my P2-233 (2)

JoeShmoe (90109) | more than 12 years ago | (#2163779)

Hey, Win2k and Word2K aren't exactly flying but a few seconds wait is hardly intolerable.

I think you can divide the world into two categories...people who play 3D games on their computers and people who don't. If you play mostly RTS games like I do (I still enjoy StarCraft) then I think you tend to fall to the bottom of the upgrade cycle.

If you play mostly 3D games...it seems like you get sucked into ever increasing spiral of hardware needs. A new game comes out with a whole new bag of tricks (bump-mapped poly-textured fuzzy-logic nosehair) and you either need a good CPU to enable them or toss out your nVidia GollyGeeWhizForce and get whatever is the latest version.

- JoeShmoe

Re:Still going on my P2-233 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2163924)

Not necessarily. The difference between Alpha Centauri's speed on a 233MHz vs my 500MHz is very noticeable. Actually, I'm sure I would notice the differences between a 500 and a 600. And this game is most decidedly NOT relying on any 3D graphics engine, it's really computationally intense however when moving the computer players. Depends on the generation of computing power the game was designed for I guess...

Re:Still going on my P2-233 (2)

gmhowell (26755) | more than 12 years ago | (#2163934)

I only found RTS games after playing the free version of Red Alert a few months before the sequel came out. What the hell was I missing? Just as I was about to dump Windows entirely, I found this lovely game. (And then shortly after, found Baldur's Gate).

Anyway, one of the reasons I was going to drop Windows games is that it would be much cheaper to get a console, and ignore the buy, upgrade, repeat cycle of 3d cards.

Things worked well. Until I bought Black and White. My poor SLI Voodoo2 setup was no longer sufficient. (of course, the 600mHz proc. might have had something to do with that as well:) So, out went the Voodoo, in went a GeForce MX (or whatever the bottom of the line, cheap shit GeForce is) and it works. Quite well for B&W. But that won't be for long.

Which is also okay. Turns out that I can use some of that ancient 3dfx crap in a Mame box. And if that doesn't work... Hell, for as much as the GeForce3 costs, I could at least one actual arcade game. Throw in a new motherboard, processor, etc. and I can get one of the pins that I've been wanting.

And the people in the neighborhood (okay, the kids) much prefer the arcade games when they drop by. (No, I'm not a molester. I'm just immature. Arcade games are in the garage, and the door is open if any neighborhood kids are playing. And I have their parents' numbers.)

Worry about more important things... (5, Informative)

supabeast! (84658) | more than 12 years ago | (#2163787)

Unless a CPU is going to be used for high-end gaming with pure performance in mind, buying the high-end monsters is a waste. The money is much better spent on RAM (Especially in a Windows machine.), or faster hard disks.

Even if the machine is to be used for gaming, the money is still better spent on a nice video card with a boatload of RAM, to compensate for the extreme sluggishness of a PC's system bus.

Re:Worry about more important things... (2)

GoofyBoy (44399) | more than 12 years ago | (#2163918)


Even with games its not worth it.

Most games are targetted to a certain level of machine expected to be the norm when released.

The higher the requirements the smaller the size of buyers. This is bad in the eyes of publishers.

Internet connection and video cards are more important than cpu in almost any game.

Its not the size that matters.... (2)

CMiYC (6473) | more than 12 years ago | (#2163792)

... nice article. I like the $5.50/sec breakdown on the kernel complie. I guess this also relates back to the "its not the size that matters" argument. Sure sure 1.33GHz is probably a better buy. Usually your friends will go "whoa that's fast" with a 1.4GHz instead of "damn boy, you saved $33???? You're the man!" with a 1.33GHz =)

Of course if you buy intel they should say "ahaha you are stupid." The advantage of this scenerio, however, is that they know you broke the bank with an intel proc so they won't hit you up for a 20 spot.

$33 to be the best? Hell yeah (you 1.33Ghz losers) (5, Funny)

IvyMike (178408) | more than 12 years ago | (#2163793)

If your decision is between a 1.33Ghz athlon and and 1.4Ghz athlon, and the price difference is only $33, then of course it's worth it to get the 1.4Ghz! Otherwise, every time your friends use the system and say, "Wow, that's really fast! What is it, a 1.4Ghz?" you have to bow your head in shame and say, "No...it's a 1.33Ghz." You might as well throw Windows ME on it! When you're getting the hot rod of systems, it's not about bean-counting, it's about style.

Worth it to me? No! To the industry? Yes! (1)

koancomputers (319632) | more than 12 years ago | (#2163801)

High priced top end CPUs are never worth it performance wise - the only extra value they usually offer are bragging rights. However, if it weren't for the early adopters who spend huge gobs of cash on these badboys, chipmakers wouldn't be able to re-coup their R&D dollars as quickly. It helps keep Moore's Law on the books...

Well Duh! (5, Insightful)

gmhowell (26755) | more than 12 years ago | (#2163803)

What hard hitting journalism. An amazing display of analytical prowess. I've had better stories rejected.

Of course the top of the line stuff is too expensive. What the hell is there even to discuss with this article?

(At home, I have a Celeron 466 or so on my Linux box. a PIII 600 or so on my 'doze box for games. Big frickin' deal, right? For the price of a processor upgrade, I can be running 1GB of ram in both systems. Through in another 100 bucks, and I've got more disk space than on the file server here at work (which is no slouch for what we do)).

Guess what? Processors don't really matter anymore. Neither does any of that hardware. What in the hell is anybody doing with computers that requires all of this horsepower? Yeah, something will come out. But what, and from whom? Don't we have enough cycles to have incredible voice interfaces? No, because everybody (and by that, I mean Joe Six Pack, aka, my mom) needs M$ bloatware to do anything. It's because Quicken wants to do so much that it takes many megs of RAM to load. Why???

Slashdot latest headline:

Top of the line stuff gives marginal improvements for mega price increase.

Christ, we knew that back when it was a 486-20 mHz vs a 486-25 mHz (and probably earlier). Christ on a crutch, how is this news?

I think I know how stories are picked: each one is printed out. One of the editors grabs a stack and wipes. Whatever story isn't covered in it gets posted.

Excuse me, I must go beat my head against the wall.

(And please, anybody who wants to mod this down, I would much prefer it if you answer my question: why the fuck does this matter?)

Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2163844)

I've had better stories rejected.


Most people have... like, say, the title [starwars.com] of the new Star Wars film. Even if people didn't like Phantom Menace, there's nothing more "News for Nerds" than that. Not that I'm bitter.


Oh, well... -1 Offtopic, here I come... ;)

Re:Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2163970)

Attack of the Clones? WTF? I'm picturing an army of sheeping chasing JarJar over a fence....

Re:Well Duh! (1)

EvilMagnus (32878) | more than 12 years ago | (#2163848)

I agree. An Educated Computer user (and we all like to think ourselves of as such, even those who read Newsforge :-) ) would find this article self-evident.

While such discourse is appropriate in some forums (say, perhaps, zdnet's Newbie Corner), it's perhaps a little below the bar for both /. and Newsforge.

Maybe there's some secret 'You post to my channel, I'll post to yours' backscratching going on amongst the VA Linux partners to drive up traffic. Hell, now they don't have a hardware business, the cash has to come from somewhere, right? ;-)

And we all know Taco astroturfs. ;-)

Re:Well Duh! (1)

Goatbert (22577) | more than 12 years ago | (#2163981)

Hey,
I tend to aim my NewsForge articles at different crowds depending on the article - they aren't all for the experienced computer user, and this one in particular wasn't because more experienced users are split into two crowds on this topic, the ones who realize it, and the ones who think it's a silly idea because why spend less on something when it would let someone else have more? :)

As for backscratching, well, I didn't even submit the story to Slashdot, and I didn't imagine it would get on Slashdot - I'm not complaining, just a bit surprised! :)

-Jeff

Re:Well Duh! (2)

Keith Russell (4440) | more than 12 years ago | (#2163873)

(And please, anybody who wants to mod this down, I would much prefer it if you answer my question: why the fuck does this matter?)
Those who do not learn from history* are doomed to repeat it.

* history = The marginal cost of a 386DX-33 over a 386DX-25.

Re:Well Duh! (4, Interesting)

cdlu (65838) | more than 12 years ago | (#2163959)

Well, yeah. For people who actually do their research, this article doesn't much matter.

The point is, though, a lot of people simply don't. A lot of my housemates, for example, have been having an informal rivalry of who can get the fastest system, and one of my housemates decided he'd win in a hurry by buying two >1GHz systems and 2 19" monitors at a cost of well over CAD4000 (about US$2600). Was it a smart move? No. He claims he needs the faster computers for his genetic algorithm work, but the 450MHz system he had before did the job fine. It still takes most of the night for his programs to run, the only difference now is he's a long way from waking up when they're finished instead of just about to wake up.

Think about it this way, if this article didn't need writing, the hardware companies would not get away with the high prices they charge for their newest goods because everyone would be smart enough to see through the thin veil of little blue men dancing around a giant '4'.

For the record, I am typing this on a 233MHz P-MMX which does everything I need it to do and then some, and continues to thrive as my primary system, allowing my money to go to more important things like eating lobster. :)

Re:Well Duh! (2)

gmhowell (26755) | more than 12 years ago | (#2164012)

>>Well, yeah. For people who actually do their research, this article doesn't much matter.

Good point. But is the slashdot audience the type for whom this is news?

Nope. Says it on the masthead "news for nerds".

(But yes, for the average manager/consumer, it is news. But why post on /.)

A Chain Is As Strong As Its Weakest Link (2, Insightful)

Steve B (42864) | more than 12 years ago | (#2163806)

Most systems with high-end CPUs have the real bottleneck somewhere else (memory, motherboard, graphics). A lot of systems out there would benefit more from another 128 MB RAM than another 0.2 GHz of CPU speed.

Nature abhors a vacuum (1)

ergo98 (9391) | more than 12 years ago | (#2163811)

What a silly article. I think everyone in the computer business (the target of slashdot) already knows that increasing Mhz is for diminishing gains, so a 20% Mhz increase (for a given family of chips) naturally will be =20% price increase can be seen as a price gouge. However such is the cost of being on the bleeding edge: When looking at the cost of the CPU alone the differentials may seem outrageous, however when you're talking about a $2000 computer that 80% more expensive CPU that gives you 20% more performance might represent only 10% more for the cost of the computer.

Bleeble.

Oh, really. Isn't this obvious? (1)

EvilMagnus (32878) | more than 12 years ago | (#2163812)

Of course, those rational beings amongst us are capable of comparing the relative pricing of CPUs and making our own decision on where our own 'sweet spot' is.

The early adopters, who want the absolute best, regardless of cost, will pay a premium.

Those who want to wait a while will get a price break as newer processors come to market.

Those who are on a budget buy the really cheap units that are flooding the channel.

It's called economics. Specifically, a little thing called 'supply and demand'. ;-)

One thing has changed, though : AMD has driven prices down across the board by having a credible alternative to Celeron/PIII. That's called competition. That's also simple Economics.

So, what was the point of this article again? :-)

In other news [cnet.com] , Intel just got slapped by analysts for preparing another price war with AMD : this time over P4 market share. Looks like 50% reductions in the P4 1.8Ghz are on the cards for September....they wouldn't be doing that if AMD wasn't around.

Well, duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2163814)

The price/performance curve for everything, from cars to planes to tvs to sound systems to cd players to clothes to anything else, follows about the same curve... the more high-end you get, the more what you get vs. what you pay follows the law of diminishing returns. This is especially true for computer hardware, where this year's high end piece of hardware is next year's bottom rung of the ladder. Anyone who thinks that this is worth researching (never mind being a lead story) needs a serious whack with the clue stick.

Subjective (1)

bigbigbison (104532) | more than 12 years ago | (#2163816)

Of course this is subjective. What is it worth, to whom and why? It is worth an extra $33 dollars to have bragging rights? Perhaps. Is it worth and extra $33 to browse the web? Almost certainly not, an bottom of the line emachine is more than enough.
It is nice to see that the old philosopy of buying the second fastest processor does have its merits in relationship to the cost/performance ratio though.

Obviously, this is OLD news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2163825)

First frag!

Re:Obviously, this is OLD news (-1)

chissad (265916) | more than 12 years ago | (#2164075)

what? first fag? yeah true....

Is hardware growing faster than software? (2)

FortKnox (169099) | more than 12 years ago | (#2163834)

I have an Athlon 800 (had it for quite a while now), play all the newest high-end games, and I have to tell you, for an industry that's about to pump out 2GHz processors, I haven't found even the slightest need to upgrade.

If I was to buy a new machine now, I wouldn't touch anything above 1GHz... I'd go, preferably, for slower with multiprocessors....

Even games, which are always bleeding edge (although that ruins the gameplay, but I digress) aren't running with the top processors. I say buy what you can afford - 1 level.

Re:Is hardware growing faster than software? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2163990)

Thats amazing, that people are now saying how they really see no need to upgrade thier 800mhz processors, that they have been running "for quite a while now". I remember saying how I was going to wait for the 450's to come down, then the 600's. I'm still using a P166 (for quite a while now), and I really have had no reason to upgrade.

Re:Is hardware growing faster than software? (2)

Robotech_Master (14247) | more than 12 years ago | (#2164068)

"Buy what you can afford"--that's what I'm going to do this fall, when I upgrade from a BH-6/overclocked 300A combo to something a little faster--an NForce motherboard and a zippy new Athlon.

Of course, when what I can afford is in the vicinity of an Athlon 1.2...well, I'd be a fool not to take that. The way I figure, 1.2 gigahertz will run any game from now until they come up with holographic projectors for virtual reality. Or perhaps even now until the singularity, whichever comes first. :)

Depends, but usually not (2)

jht (5006) | more than 12 years ago | (#2163835)

Once upon a time, the CPU was a hell of a lot more expensive than it is today. Before Intel had competition (and for a little while after AMD joined the party), their highest-end chip would cost about $800 and change, the next one down would cost around $600, and then the prices would drop off quickly. Back then, it made a lot of sense to buy a chip a rev or two behind the top of the line - the performance wasn't much different and you saved huge bucks.

Nowadays it really doesn't matter that much. Intel chips are still more expensive, but nowhere near what they used to be, and there's only a tiny difference between the top-end Athlon and the next one down - and even the fastest AMD chip is less than $200. It's just so cheap now as to not make a difference anymore on the desktop.

Intel still gets a premium for the Xeon processors, since AMD isn't really competing fully in the MP apace yet, but those will fall, too, over the next year or so as AMD competes in the server market.

So if I'm building a system today, I'd buy the top-end AMD processor and build a nice system around it. But by the time all the parts arrive, there'll be a newer, faster, and cheaper processor out anyway, and I'll just have to cry over it. Such is the way of Moore's Law.

fucking idiots (-1)

mackga (990) | more than 12 years ago | (#2163837)

anything faster than a p166 is a total waste of money and resources. all the rest is just a pissing contest. show me one average consumer computer luser that needs more than a 90 and i'll have cmdr taco suck your miniscule cock.

Are they worth the money? (1)

DA_MAN_DA_MYTH (182037) | more than 12 years ago | (#2163839)

Of course they are!

Well in 3-6 months anyways...

buy top of the line seldom versus buying cheap oft (1)

Osram (185373) | more than 12 years ago | (#2163869)

One thing to consider is the time it takes to change computers. First of all, there is the time to install all the apps and tools you need, you have to transfer your files, etc. Maybe its just my luck but the last computers I had all had teething problems, costing huge amounts of time.

The last one was not working reliably, so we shipped it to the dealer. He couldn't reproduce the fault (not surprisingly, it had hardware related crashes only about every week / 2 weeks). So, we got it back. It took ages to stumble on something where the fault was reproducable and the dealer could find out what part of the coputer was defective and replace it.

IMHO, using a computer for a long time, even when it starts getting slow (compared to up-to-date machines) saves time. I had a PPro 200 for maybe 4 years. Even if it costs a few seconds here and 10 seconds there, that is not much compared against the days or even weeks to get a new machine. Of course, this may look a bit different in large companies where you have someone order and test the computer, install stuff etc.
For a buisiness, these times are much more important than a few hundred dollars.

Easy... (0)

c_g_hills (110430) | more than 12 years ago | (#2163874)

Here is an easy to understand comparison to show cheaper is better.

Say I had $10,000 to spend on cpus; a 1.3ghz athlon costs $133 and a 1.4ghz athlon costs $166.

With $10,000 i could buy 75 1.3ghz cpus, or 60 1.4ghz cpus. That's a total of 97.5ghz @ 1.3ghz, or 84ghz @ 1.4 ghz. This proves that it would be better value to build a cluster out of slightly slower cpus.

The breakeven point (where you get the same ghz for the same price) is at $670, where you could buy 5 1.3ghz cpus for a total of 6.5ghz, or 4 1.4ghz cpus for a total of 5.6 ghz.

Area = Width x Height (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2163876)

"A 22-inch monitor with 20-inch viewable costs $685, while a 21-inch with a 19.9-inch viewable screen costs $415. In that case, you are paying a company 65% more money, for 0.5% more screen. Somehow, that doesn't seem "cost effective" to me."

You are paying for screen area.

Apples to Oranges (1)

addbo (165128) | more than 12 years ago | (#2163877)

Granted a 25% increase in price for a 5% increase in speed sounds ridiculous... and yes a whole farm of 1.33Ghz will be better than one lonely 1.4Ghz... but you're making up 6 seconds on a 4 minute compile so a minute and a half in an hour... now think of a whole farm of 1.4Ghz rendering Toy story and how much time you save. The other thing I wanted to get into was the monitor debate... granted it may not be worth it to you to have a screen that has one inch more viewable area... but an inch is quite noticeable(hold the smirks)... and it is altogether different from the processor debate... monitors take quite a lot longer to go obsolete... heck I'm still using my good ol' 17" monitor from 5 years ago, meanwhile processors are obsolete within 18 months.

Not on Intel boxes (2)

NineNine (235196) | more than 12 years ago | (#2163880)

About the only use for high-end processors on Intel boxes (other than games) are high-end databases (like Oracle). And, consqeuently, most people would never run something like Oracle on an Intel box. It's usually on an HP box (HP-UX) or Sun. Ever web servers (even heavily hit ones) are NOT CPU intensive at all. I've got 20,000 pageviews a day going just fine a PII 233. It's the databases that are fat, and nobody in their right mind would run an enterprise-class database on a PC that you can buy at Wal-Mart.

F*cked up benchmarking (1)

Shinobi (19308) | more than 12 years ago | (#2163887)

The PoV-ray benchmark is kinda f*cked up... Of course they aren't gonna notice a large difference with such a simple scene with such simple settings and such a low resolution. For a better measurement of difference, choose several different scenes of varying complexity(Some with lots of surfaces, some with lots of textures, some with complicated lights... You get the picture), run them at a high resolution. Oh, and define a baseline for the benchmark also. One test that is pretty decent is the dresser.rib scene that is included with BMRT. Simple geometry, but highly complex radiosity solution. Takes a while to render, and gives more sense of the difference between chips.

Treadmilling (3, Funny)

r_j_prahad (309298) | more than 12 years ago | (#2163894)

Almost as quickly as Intel or AMD can release a faster CPU, Microsoft releases an OS that runs like shit on anything less. If the CPU designers don't keep pounding relentlessly away at Moore's law, we could theoritically have an OS from Redmond that won't run on anything.

Wouldn't that be nice.

Is "top of the line" worth the price (1)

r1_97 (462992) | more than 12 years ago | (#2163912)

Of course not. The tests prove the obvious, but this is not the point. People pay for the ego lift in have the biggest, baddest etc. These are people for which price is not an issue.

I said the same thing in a stupid tech comm report (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 12 years ago | (#2163922)

I had to do a presentation in tech comm, and I did it on upgrading computers. I pointed out how there is a price/performance curve, and the curve has a sweet spot after which you pay exhorbinant amounts for the extra performance. Anyway, I'm mentioning this for two reasons:

1) My presentation was pretty crappy, actually.
2) It had a lot more information and useful advice than this article.

Oh, and I had better visual aids. :)

Bang for the Buck (1)

zulux (112259) | more than 12 years ago | (#2163944)

Assume that you have a finite ammount of money and that you need to do typical "office type" stuff:

Adding memory gets you more bang for the buck than havving a processesor that's maginally better than it's overpiced cousin. Additionally, having an IDE hard-drive that has a spindle speed of 7200 Rpm adds a vast improvment in responsivness than a slower 5400 Rpm drive - considering the usuall $30 differance.

Just Computer Hardware (4, Flamebait)

isa-kuruption (317695) | more than 12 years ago | (#2163946)

You think this doesn't happen in other industries as well? For instance, you think a Lexus ES 300 is any better than a Camry XLE as far as performance? Okay the ES300 is 210hp and the Camry is 194hp... that's a 8% increase in performance yet it has a 20% markup for your wood trim and extra 2 choices in exterior colors! The same can be said about ANY higher end car compared to the lower end model.

This is what happens when you have a capitalist government. The thing is, the companies know they can get a high price for the latest and greatest because there will be a certain percentage of us who will pay that price. Then, when prices "slump" a little, they will release a new chip that's faster and lower the price of the other chip. So now the "general public" gets those older processors at cheaper prices and that same group of gurus/morons will go out and buy the newest and greatest again. And the cycle of life continues...

One reason a company makes the premium product higher is because they need to recover R&D on that product, however I don't see why this is in the chip market. I honestly feel that Intel and AMD "milk" the market for these gurus/morons knowing they will always buy the greatest. So they release a 1.0ghz and these people get that, then they release 1.1ghz and they get this one, etc etc. Although AMD has the 1.0 and 1.1 developed at the same time, they strategically release the products to the general pulic to maximize their profits. Of course, again, this isn't anything new... but it's painfully obvious.

The case for High end CPUs (2, Insightful)

3ryon (415000) | more than 12 years ago | (#2163951)

There is another reason to buy the high-end CPU that I haven't seen listed. If you are going to own the computer for 3+ years you'll get more milage out of that faster CPU....typing this on a three year old 233.

the %s are for CPU only (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2163958)

sure there were some deals that were obviously bad ($600 for extra .1" of CRT) but when you talk about $33 for a faster CPU, it's one thing if you buy just the CPU, but if you are spending $1500 on a complete system, $33 isn't such a big deal.

It's all about price (1)

Segfault 11 (201269) | more than 12 years ago | (#2163992)

Performance comparisons are dead. The difference between 1.0 and 1.4 GHz Athlons is only ~$75, and lesser speeds aren't much cheaper. With so little price difference between the high end and low end, it's hard to pass on (arguably) the fastest PC processor in the world just to save seventy five bucks. I sure has hell wouldn't.

Oh great (2, Funny)

Mr. Sketch (111112) | more than 12 years ago | (#2164014)

Newsforge about something you may want to argue about with your boss or significant other.

Like I need anything else [slashdot.org] to arge with my significant other about. We fight enough about [redhat.com] other [slackware.com] things [goatse.cx] , but she just doesn't understand. Oh well.

A lot of people seem to be thinking that now... (1)

nettdata (88196) | more than 12 years ago | (#2164016)

...and as a result are not buying the latest and greatest. Just ask Intel today. :)

fsck off! (-1)

chissad (265916) | more than 12 years ago | (#2164023)

leave the hardware reviews to the pros [hardocp.com] and STFU!!!!

Bureaucracy (3, Insightful)

Xenu (21845) | more than 12 years ago | (#2164046)

If you are working for a government or large corporation, you may be better off getting the expensive, cutting edge machine if you are going to be stuck with it for the next 5 years.

Typing this on a blazing fast P5-233, and this is the _fast_ machine in my office.

Kinda boring here today (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2164059)

Im off to freshmeat to find the latest fully extensible & scalable mp3 renaming utilities.

What about the cost of the user's time? (1)

danchan (455954) | more than 12 years ago | (#2164060)

A programmer's time, for example, is worth a lot of money and it might be possible to justify purchasing the better CPU if it saves enough of that programmer's time over the course of the lifetime of that CPU. From the standpoint of say, an employer: people are expensive, equipment is cheap! Having said that, I'm personally always buying a step or two behind the cutting edge because that's where I think the sweet spot is in terms of CPU pricing. From my standpoint: computers are expensive, I am cheap!

So What! (1)

ToasterTester (95180) | more than 12 years ago | (#2164077)

If you're just some script-kitty hacking on daddys 'puter then you don't need real performance.

If you are running a real business and performance means getting more work done, then the cost is cheap. Faster servers can handle more users or I/O requests. Also equipment goes out-of-date so quickly that, buying less than the best, means you'll just have to replace it sooner.

Another dumb article (1)

robvasquez (411139) | more than 12 years ago | (#2164089)

Tons of RAM and bigger HD/screen instead of faster chips. 800mhz gets you buy quite nicely. I have no problem using this 3 year old 450mhz box. We give our CAD guys 1.4's, but they need them.

Obvious answer: (5, Informative)

proxima (165692) | more than 12 years ago | (#2164098)

Are High-End CPUs Worth The Money?

No.

Now, for a better question. Are high-end motherboards worth the money?

Every penny.

In the many, many computers I have built and fixed (I don't know how many hundred..I never counted), one thing became crystal clear: don't skimp out with a cheap motherboard in order to buy that next higher-up processor.

Motherboards are not created equal, not even close. In fact, from my experience, they are either the cause of good reliability or they are to blame for crashes and instability (in terms of hardware). Buying a good chipset put together by a good hardware manufacturer (Abit, Asus, etc.) is key to building a reliable system that will last several years of hard use.

A good review site for motherboards will describe not only the features it has but how those features are laid out. A well designed motherboard has shorter interconnects and well placed components. Also, a motherboard should have a nice array of capacitors that keep maintain the electricity going to the processor. There should be ample room around the processor to stick the larger and better cooling cpu fans (another things never to skimp on). A heatsink and fan on some of the chipsets helps to improve reliability.

But from my experience the best part about going with a better name is a reduced likelihood of getting a dud. I ordered a cheap Soyo motherboard to fit a K6-2 450 Mhz processor I had sitting around - I wanted a cheap computer. The first one was a dud, the second one was a dud. I ended up going with a different manufacturer and getting a 750 Mhz Duron. I had previously purchased an Abit with a Duron 700 Mhz and had no problems whatsoever. You pay about $20-$30 more for the motherboard, but it's definately worth every penny.

In short, don't bother spending that extra $30 to get however many more Mhz, or even to get the difference between a PIII and Celeron or Athlon and Duron. More important than speed in most systems in reliability, and for that you should plunk your spare dollars into the motherboard and a decent heat sink/fan.

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