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Less Might Be More

CowboyNeal posted more than 10 years ago | from the grossly-overpowered dept.

Upgrades 714

Quantum Skyline writes "Most of us are running on a newer Pentium 4/Athlon 64 box with lots of RAM and a 7200 RPM drive and a uber-sweet graphics card that pushes 100 FPS in Doom 3. Our parents are probably running an old Athlon 700 with half the RAM and a Rage128 videocard, and some think that's overkill while the parents think its not enough. Why debate this? DevHardware has an opinion piece on 'leaner computing' and the author thinks that less might be more." This reminds me of a modern desktop system I saw sitting in a store, running Windows XP just so that it could connect via a terminal to another server and run the store's application. It would seem that even an old VT100 would have sufficed, but someone was able to sell the store a full blown PC.

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The United Goats Mourn the Death of a Marine (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10335417)

Lance Corporal Dominic Christopher Brown, age 19, was splattered to death during patrol in the name of the Bush family's oil war on Iraq. He graduated from high school one year ago and immediately joined the Marine Corps. He's now dead. All of that learning down the drain in order to tote around guns and fire them at Iraqis, keeping gasoline cheap for you. We mourn his death and the resulting loss to the nation.

- The United Goats
Goats United for Freedom

About The United States

The United States is located primarily on the North American continent between Canada and Mexico. Founded by extremist Christians, the country has adopted numerous laws that invade the private lives of its citizens. These laws have lead to problems such as sexual disfunctionality and racially-motivated selective enforcement. Despite the current administration's mantra against the dangers of WMDs, the United States is the only country to have ever dropped nuclear weaponry on an enemy. The United States gave Saddam Hussein chemical weapons and has funded Osama Bin Laden. Saddam Hussein has used chemical weapons against extremist Shi'ite muslims in Northern Iraq known as Ansar al-Islam. These extremists have an ideology similar to that of the corrupt Taliban of Afghanistan. The United States frequently uses chemicals such as tear gas against protestors who oppose the policies of its government and corporate leaders. The United States supports Israel, a government with extreme Jewish religious fundamentalist regulations. For example, it is illegal to flip a light switch on or off during one day of every week known as the Sabbath. The United States also supports Saudi Arabia, an evil kingdom founded on strict fundamentalist Muslim law known as Sharia. Its leaders do not allow non-Muslims to enter the country, and the empire is a known breeding ground for terrorism. The United States is perpetually ensnared in a tangle between the three axes of evil: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

About The United Goats

The United Goats is a loosely knit organization of ruminants. We see through the lies of religious leaders and Washington politicians and hope to expose the truth. We support the pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness. We do not believe those goals have anything to do with the price of gasoline. We also support the work of the GNAA and Anti-Slash in exposing the failings of Slashdot's editorial staff.

Article Summary in case of Recursive Slashdotting (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10335421)

Quantum Skyline writes "Most of us are running on a newer Pentium 4/Athlon 64 box with lots of RAM and a 7200 RPM drive and a uber-sweet graphics card that pushes 100 FPS in Doom 3. Our parents are probably running an old Athlon 700 with half the RAM and a Rage128 videocard, and some think that's overkill while the parents think its not enough. Why debate this? DevHardware has an opinion piece on 'leaner computing' and the author thinks that less might be more." This reminds me of a modern desktop system I saw sitting in a store, running Windows XP just so that it could connect via a terminal to another server and run the store's application. It would seem that even an old VT100 would have sufficed, but someone was able to sell the store a full blown PC.

OFFTOPIC? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10335498)

How do ya figure that?

Re:OFFTOPIC? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10335679)

Yeah, I mean, troll sure, or even funny...but off topic? That's pushing it...considering the fact that it's a direct quote of the topic!

inevitable (3, Insightful)

wattersa (629338) | more than 10 years ago | (#10335424)

Companies make the most money when you buy as much new hardware as possible rather than keeping your existing stuff that is sufficient. Car manufacturers are the same way. It's inefficient but like everything else we can chalk it up to capitalism.

Re:inevitable (5, Funny)

wattersa (629338) | more than 10 years ago | (#10335471)

FYI, I still have my first-gen Power Mac G4 from 1999, which has outlasted three of its hard drives, two displays (a sony CRT and an Apple Studio display), the original video card, keyboard and mouse, and hp deskjet printer. This is the least problematic Mac I've owned yet.

um... I'd have a different perspective (5, Insightful)

dark404 (714846) | more than 10 years ago | (#10335586)

I would say it had three drives and a video card fail.... And being from 1999 you're averaging a drive failure every 1.6 years. If that's the LEAST problematic Mac you've owned, I'd hate to see the MOST problematic one.

Your chip and motherboard may still be working, but your system as a whole doesn't seem to be anything to brag about.

Re:inevitable (1)

christopherfinke (608750) | more than 10 years ago | (#10335611)

So what you're saying is that you still have the motherboard from a five year old Mac? Is that supposed to be impressive?

Re:inevitable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10335612)

Consider the "outdo-me" list started:

I still have a 200MHz Pentium Pro system in service that is now around eight years old serving as DSL/NAT router, database server, and web server.

I also have a system that I assembled in 1998 that has been pressed into service as a fileserver. 600MHz P3 with an Adaptec 1210SA running RAID 1 on a pair of 160GB SATA disks.

Both systems use Linux, of course; it's far less resource intensive than Windows, especially when X11 is not installed on either.

Incorrect analogy (5, Insightful)

TWX (665546) | more than 10 years ago | (#10335551)

Car manufacturers do not operate under the same mentality as computer manufacturers. Theoretically computers offer significantly more potential every year as hardware development increases power exponentially. Car manufacturers are in the business of taking a core technology and repackaging it until they are forced to concede to a partial redesign or new implementation to satisfy consumers or federal regulators. Sheet metal on most vehicles remains 90% similar for more than five years, uni-frame designs may last twenty years before a redesign, usually for crash safety modernization. Engine castings are used, with different bore, stroke, and cam choices, until the engines no longer meet federal emissions or fuel economy reqirements.

The auto industry made its money convincing consumers that they had to have a new car, never mind that it was mechanically almost identical to the last three they had. Computers actually do develop new technologies, more power, and new end-user features at a fairly brisk pace.

Re:inevitable (2, Insightful)

Moderation abuser (184013) | more than 10 years ago | (#10335610)

Thing is, with a car you can still go out and buy a 600cc 25hp SmartCar for running about the city. You can't really do that with a computer, your minimum config just keeps growing.

Re:inevitable (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10335655)

It's inefficient but like everything else we can chalk it up to capitalism.

Well that and more bloated code. Seriously people, what has changed so damn much since my 486sx clocked at 25 mhz could compile the kernel in a couple minutes. Now I try to set up a k6-2 clocked at 450 mhz as a media player, whoops it turns out i can compile in half an hours. Sweet, progress.

Re:inevitable (5, Insightful)

epine (68316) | more than 10 years ago | (#10335660)


That's not what the theory of capitalism says. Capitalism says that capital follows need, and corporations had better keep their feet moving if they don't want their bottom line to look like DeCaprio's private parts after he plunged.

It's corporatism not capitalism that says "try to keep the dull consumer buying what they don't need anyway".

A modest Pentium-M with silent cooling would serve the needs of most people far better than any Pentium-IV, complete with miniature nuclear cooling tower.

From where we are right now, a mad rush to 10GHz computing is not the most efficient use of available capital, a no amount of duping the average consumer can change that fact.

SICK OF IT (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10335426)

im not talking about the ugly it colors . . . although those are ugly. . .
im sick of these stupid "Nothing for you to see here, please move along."
please fix yourself slashdot

Why are they buying it? (4, Insightful)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 10 years ago | (#10335429)

Why are they buying these fast systems? Easy, it is what is being sold and it is not worth the hassle to buy a used system to save money.

Re:Why are they buying it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10335588)

Exactly. The minimum I can buy in this town now is an athlon 2400+, some kind of geforce 4 or higher, all the RAM is 400mhz and hell if I could find a CRT smaller than 17". The smallest HD is 40GB

I could buy lower spec online but why bother when the prices aren't much different to the local store 2 blocks away. They may have a more limited range but its no pricier when postage is considered.

Thats one reason people have fast machines. Here it would take extra effort, cost and time to build anything lower spec.

Joe Sixpack is looking for "useful life" (5, Insightful)

winkydink (650484) | more than 10 years ago | (#10335430)

Unlike a hobbyist, Joe isn't going to run out and change his PC every 6 months. Joe's going to use that sucker until it dies. So, what's horribly overpowered these days will be ho-hum, run-of-the-mill in 2-3 years. That's why Joe buys a machine that overpowered for what he's doing today.

Midrange is the best value (5, Insightful)

MacFury (659201) | more than 10 years ago | (#10335484)

The problem is, Joe thinks he needs the biggest and the best today, just so his computer will work next year. He pays a premium for his brand new computer, and it still becomes outdated. Midrange systems are by far the best value. You save enough buying midrange, that you can afford another midrange system in a year or two. Then you have the benefit of two computers.

With the crappy quality in most PC parts...the thing won't even last two or three years.

Re:Midrange is the best value (2, Interesting)

MouseR (3264) | more than 10 years ago | (#10335656)

I have a NeXT Cube, along with it's N2000 laser printer running just fine. It's serving the printer on my network. Not only is it running just fine, it's only replaced part was a 2 gig drive to replace it's dead 400 meg one.

My 3rd Gen iMac (slot-loading DV/SE 400Mghz) not only runs all but one of the applications my kids use, it also runs software I regularly use as well. So dooes the dual 450Mghz G4 tower wich handles all photoshop QuarkXPress and accounting for my wife's businesses. That machine, too, is close to 5 years old.

My near-top dual 2ghz G5 tower is more than my current software development needs require. But I expect to hold up for a number of years as well.

Sometimes, paying a premium pays off. But you must pay a premium only if it's for premium components. Dont get ripped off paying for crapy expensive hardware.

(Oh... and my Apple //c is still connected and functional, and so is my Lisa 2... but only for amusement...)

Re:Joe Sixpack is looking for "useful life" (4, Interesting)

garcia (6573) | more than 10 years ago | (#10335523)

I am a geek and I am looking for a useful life. Hell, I was running my machines with 128MB of RAM until I found some on the side of the road (no joke) and my father gave me some of his slower RAM when he upgraded MBs on my mother's machine.

I have been using a Abit BP6 2x400 Celeron w/128 (and now 384MB) since the boards were released (sometime in 1999?)

I don't want to upgrade. This machine runs XP just fine and it is only feeling slower now that I use a 2.66ghz w/1024MB at work. I wouldn't have noticed the slightest difference if I was only using a P3-700.

I am all for using a machine until it's dead. My machines aren't for games or graphics. They're for work and they do that well :)

Re:Joe Sixpack is looking for "useful life" (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10335627)

>> I am a geek and I am looking for a useful life

Thank you for admitting it. Most are.

Re:Joe Sixpack is looking for "useful life" (5, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 10 years ago | (#10335573)

Joe isn't going to run out and change his PC every 6 months. Joe's going to use that sucker until it dies.

I saw a poll in a USENET group about a year ago. Most posters (residents of the USA) were still on Pentium I and Pentium II PC's. $1,000 for a new PC may not sound like much to most slashdotters, but most slashdotters probably don't have kids, a mortgage and a car payment or two. Once you're in that situation $1,000 expense requires it's priority rising past a lot of other items.

Re:Joe Sixpack is looking for "useful life" (2, Interesting)

winkydink (650484) | more than 10 years ago | (#10335632)

Hear, hear! I just replaced my wife's P2/233 box. It was coming up on it's 7th birthday, I believe. All she uses it for is browsing and email and the very occasional Word doc. Iicked up an Optiplex off eBay for a couple hundred that's got a lower end P4, with 256Mb RAM & a 5400 rpm disk. I'll bet this one lasts her almost as long. Me? The Linux box is 2xP3/600 with 1Gb of RAM and 7200 rpm scsi disks. The Windows box is a P3/1500. Neither are going anywhere any time soon.

Re:Joe Sixpack is looking for "useful life" (5, Insightful)

FlipmodePlaya (719010) | more than 10 years ago | (#10335625)

One thing I was surprised to find recently is that those in the know and those in the not seem to have radically different interpretations of 'dead'. I say this after hearing someing I had met comment that they're buying a new computer. She was very upset because the one that had just 'died' was only a few months old. The way she described the 'deadness' reminded me of whatever the Windows virus was that rebooted your PC right after you started up (not certain that was the problem). She was probably ready to go out and buy a horredously overpowered and overpriced PC without reason, just months after doing that same thing. That brings up another point, maybe Joe User needs tons of power just to run all of his malware :)

In either case, educating these consumers could save them a LOT of money. This conversation was held on college campus, on that note...

What Intel giveth... (5, Funny)

supertbone (624441) | more than 10 years ago | (#10335431)

...Microsoft taketh away!

It all depends on your needs... (4, Insightful)

ajiva (156759) | more than 10 years ago | (#10335444)

In my opinion, what most people want is a responsive desktop, not necassiarly a fast one. Most people would be perfectly happy with a ~1GHZ processor, but the 128mb of memory and slow 5400rpm disk destroy the usability of the machine. That's why I adovcate to all my non techy friends, to buy a resonable speed CPU (mid 2Ghz Celeron/Athlon) but grab a fast 7200RPM disk, and 1gb of memory. The cost of the machine is similar to a decked out 3Ghz with 256mb (what Dell seems to sell these days), but the machine is much more responsive. Opening multiple programs doesn't cause the machine to slow to a crawl swapping. And loading apps are fast, because the disk is nice and speedy.

Re:It all depends on your needs... (3, Funny)

Compholio (770966) | more than 10 years ago | (#10335503)

Personally I'm a fan of the AMD FX-53 with a 10,000 RPM SATA-150 drive GeForce 6800 and 2GB of DDR400* running a 2.6.8 Linux kernel and utilitizing 6+ desktops with at least 1 memory-hog running on each one. But that's me, I just like to leave all my programs running and switch to the desktop that has the one I need.

*the only part I don't have yet

Your sig (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10335644)

Ok, I want to know how you can have Mod points already with a UID of 770966. Or are you just saying that to be cool?

Re:It all depends on your needs... (3, Informative)

hawkbug (94280) | more than 10 years ago | (#10335582)

Ok, putting a Celeron and Athlon on the same level is just stupid. I know what you're trying to say, but a Celeron has nowhere near the cache an Athlon has. For example, I have an Athlon XP processor in my work machine, the 2500+ and it has 512 K of L2 cache. It also runs at 1.83 GHZ, but because of it's shorter pipeline vs the current generation of Celerons, it absolutely smokes a celeron, they aren't even in the same class in my opinion. Just because a processor is cheaper it doesn't mean it's on the same performance level. It would perform equal to or better than a Pentium 4 @ 2.4 GHZ if you pair the Athlon XP with dual channel DDR @ 333 or 400. Like I said, I realize what you're trying to say, and I think you're on the right track - but I would never compare a celeron to an Athlon in terms of performance. Price - ofcourse, but not performance - an Athlon is a much better buy if you're not stuck on Intel and will evaluate all your x86 options.

Re:It all depends on your needs... (1)

positroniumman (806254) | more than 10 years ago | (#10335597)

ya, i mean with windows running, you can't access most of the processor anyway. Have you checked the difference in flops btw say a pentium 120 with win98 and a p4 with XP? you might be suprised by how little you can actually use.

Re:It all depends on your needs... (1)

bob beta (778094) | more than 10 years ago | (#10335673)

Most people would be perfectly happy on a 550MHz P3 system. Decked out with at least 500 MB of memory, of course.

I don't run anything faster than that.

Less is more... (1, Funny)

CrackedButter (646746) | more than 10 years ago | (#10335445)

We are talking about Apple macs here right? ;)

Re:Less is more... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10335554)

But yet, the smiley was ignored, because mods don't want to notice things like a joke, does it matter that i'm a mac user myself and a very happy one? Nope, didn't think so.

what? (5, Funny)

seringen (670743) | more than 10 years ago | (#10335446)

yeah maybe a dumb terminal would suffice, but how would the clerk play doom3 while ignoring the customers?! It'd be unfair

Re:what? (1)

Colonel Cholling (715787) | more than 10 years ago | (#10335480)

yeah maybe a dumb terminal would suffice, but how would the clerk play doom3 while ignoring the customers?!

Like this. [dumbentia.com]

100 fps?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10335448)

That sucks! I'm stuck at 60 fps. Damn id and their frame limiting. Who'd you have to sweet talk to get the extra kick?

For those of you under the age of 30... (5, Informative)

PHPgawd (744675) | more than 10 years ago | (#10335452)

This [vt100.net] is a VT100.

Re:For those of you under the age of 30... (5, Funny)

Linker3000 (626634) | more than 10 years ago | (#10335481)

Youngster! [franken.de]

Re:For those of you under the age of 30... (1)

red floyd (220712) | more than 10 years ago | (#10335560)

We used to use those at UCSantaCruz back in the '82-'84 era.

The 3a was OK, but the adm12 was a very nice terminal.

Re:For those of you under the age of 30... (1)

Kehvarl (812337) | more than 10 years ago | (#10335496)

I have one of those. and I've used two of them (but not the one I have). I also happen to be under 30.

Re:For those of you under the age of 30... (1)

nordicfrost (118437) | more than 10 years ago | (#10335532)

Not to flame, but why do you think us (me; 26) under 30 do not know what a VT100 is? We have two of them at work, to set up servers. I never use them, but I know how to if I were to set one up, and I have used them in the past. VT100 is truly a ideal end for most store setups. Why the hell do stores use mouse driven computers any way? A half-skilled clerk will learn to do things way faster on a keyboard. Just have a look at your friendly local video clerk the next time. One store here uses an old system, and push f1 for rent, f2 for return, f3 for info etc. while another store has a gui based system where they click return, scan, move the mous to rent, click, enter name (if not scanned), select it, click etc...

Re:For those of you under the age of 30... (2, Informative)

red floyd (220712) | more than 10 years ago | (#10335591)

No, that's a VT320.

THIS is a VT100 [vt100.net] .

Re:For those of you under the age of 30... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10335665)

Hey, I am at a customer site right now. They have about a dozen old terminals. It makes me swear a lot but they work (most of the time). I'm 26 BTW.

VT100==Good ol' Days (1, Interesting)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 10 years ago | (#10335458)

It would seem that even an old VT100 would have sufficed, but someone was able to sell the store a full blown PC.

Reminds me of the mad rush to get computers on everyones desk, back in the late 80's. What did they run? An ADDS Viewpoint 60 emulator.

ADDS Viewpoint 60: ~$200
PC and Monitor: ~$1,500

One of the first things I recommend to people who've bought a new PC is to go through and uninstall all the crap they don't use/need. Many storebought boats are half sunk by the amount of crap which comes pre-installed, without, I might add, any damn instruction on how to get rid of it if you don't need it. A friend had a top o' the line PC and was having serious problems with video editing. I dropped by and uninstalled a massive amount of sh!t and his video editing took about half as long. It don't be amazin', neither.

Those of us who build our own rigs usually have a pretty clear idea what we want and what we don't, thus our smokin' Athlon with Gig o' RAM and Video Card el Luxo can smoke through apps. I've got a PC at work with a faster clock, but it does SETI sets ssssllllooowwww, while my de-clocked home system zips right through them (declocked for stability, never nailed it down, but don't really care since it's plenty fast enough.)

I have wondered what kind of terrible timing conflicts happen on a PC when all the devices are extremely fast, but on their own clocks. Seems having more things in sync would improve even more, but the last hardware I saw work like that was over a decade ago. I can't seem to get straight answers on tuning, either, as most people can't seem to be bothered with it. i.e. which clock and CAS is best for your machine? Storebought usually are whatever's cheapest (though may actually be faster since some engineer at Dell knows what they're doing.)

level 2? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10335459)

http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=04/09/23/192243 &tid=109&tid=1

Could someone put this in terms of .... (2, Funny)

3seas (184403) | more than 10 years ago | (#10335462)

... MS Levels of computer terminology?

I'm having hard time understanding this article... ;)

Well, (2, Interesting)

Neil Blender (555885) | more than 10 years ago | (#10335465)

I have a brand new high end box that I play doom 3 on. Windows 2000, gig of ram, radeon 9600, etc. I also have a 5 year old viao that's about the thickness of 2 magazines stacked on top of each other. It's running a pared down redhat 7.2. If I only needed mail and web the vaio would be all I need. It's what you do that dictates what you need.

Re:Well, (1)

the MaD HuNGaRIaN (311517) | more than 10 years ago | (#10335652)

I code java all day long on a 5 year old Apple Powerbook with a 500 MHz G3 and 640 MB of ram.

Let's nip this in the bud right now (1)

cuberat (549657) | more than 10 years ago | (#10335477)

If word gets out that we all may have more machine than we need to do our jobs, then it's all over. INTC, CSCO, and the Nasdaq in general will crash, the economy will crumble, and the sky will fall.

Seriously, though...a big part of what keeps IT rocking and the money flowing in high tech is upgrades. If this ever comes to an end...(shudder)

We need more hi-res video, not less! Bigger memory footprints, not smaller!

Re:Let's nip this in the bud right now (1)

positroniumman (806254) | more than 10 years ago | (#10335521)

this is absolutely true, i mean look how good it worked for the opt-com community...

remember them...

remember when we were all going to have an 80gbit/s line to our toasters...

those were the days...

Re:Let's nip this in the bud right now (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 10 years ago | (#10335527)

Seriously, though...a big part of what keeps IT rocking and the money flowing in high tech is upgrades. If this ever comes to an end...(shudder)

Same with automobiles. I've got a puny 2.5L four banger in my pickup and I get to work and home as effectively as someone with 7.0+L and monster mudder tires. Common sense is not the forte of car buyers and the way advertising appeals to emotion over practicality should tell you something.

probably goes a way toward explaining that Acer Ferrari laptop...

Most of us? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10335478)

Huh? Gamers with plenty of cash to pour into $400 video cards and processors every few months, maybe. I'm sure they don't account for the majority of Slashdotters, though.

Here's a good example of 'lean and mean' (5, Interesting)

octaene (171858) | more than 10 years ago | (#10335487)

Recently, during a home improvement trip to Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse [lowes.com] , I noted that the terminals their employees use are running some version of Linux with WindowMaker as the X11 interface. They of course mainly use an IBM TN3270 application to access inventory and supply data, but I'll bet that their version of Linux is not a full-blown distro.

In any case, they definitely subscribe to the less is more principle... Have you seen the crappy PCs they have there?

Re:Here's a good example of 'lean and mean' (1)

finkployd (12902) | more than 10 years ago | (#10335636)

I sincerely hope they are using x3270 for their mainframe terminal emulation. I haven't found a better terminal app EVERY (for any platform, at any price)

Finkployd

Doom3 100FPS? (1)

aconbere (802137) | more than 10 years ago | (#10335490)

doesn't doom3 limit the fps to a max of 60 so that system resources can be used for better purposes than rendering frames we can't see? That's what I read a while back in an interview with john carmak. Anders

Re:Doom3 100FPS? (1)

swimmar132 (302744) | more than 10 years ago | (#10335544)

If you have vsync enabled, yes.

Re:Doom3 100FPS? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10335615)

you're wrong, you fuckup:

LINK [ign.com]

Re:Doom3 100FPS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10335618)

Here, This [m-w.com] might help.

Passive cooling == silence (4, Insightful)

MBAFK (769131) | more than 10 years ago | (#10335491)

I use a VIA EPIA 5000 Fanless Motherboard with a 533mhz CPU as a silent X terminal with a more powerful workstation in another room doing all the work.

I couldn't do this with a desktop P4 or Athlon XP processor etc since they get too hot to passively cool. So for this computer at least, less definitely is more.

Re:Passive cooling == silence (1)

Kenja (541830) | more than 10 years ago | (#10335654)

"I couldn't do this with a desktop P4 or Athlon XP processor etc since they get too hot to passively cool"

Not true, you CAN passively cool a high end P4 or AMD system. However its not worth it. I use the same VIA motherboard as you do for my web server for much the same reason. I dont bother with fanless for my main systems because the RAID makes more noise then the fans.

Finally a voice of reason (3, Insightful)

NetDanzr (619387) | more than 10 years ago | (#10335501)

Ever since my Pentium II 400MHz, 128MB RAM and a 5400RPM HDD, I haven't noticed any difference in the speed and reliability of basic office computing. That computer is still my primary machine, and if I wasn't required to get a laptop with wireless connectivity for my grad school, it would still be my only computer.

Let's face it: unless you feel the need to play games, there was no reason to upgrade your computer for the past six years.

Where did this guy come from? (1)

LurkerXXX (667952) | more than 10 years ago | (#10335505)

The author says "why the hell is Joe Sixpack buying an Alienware or Dell XPS?"

I don't know about Joe Sixpack's near where ever he lives, but around here, they all ask me what the cheapest machine is that will do basic stuff for themselves, or their kids at school. The only ones I see running out for Alienware or Dell XPS machines are serious gamers who are either 1) too uneducated, or 2) don't want to put forth the effort, to build their own machine.

Indeed. (1)

rainer_d (115765) | more than 10 years ago | (#10335510)

My parents run P2-366 class hardware and it's more-or-less enough.
But I will need a faster PC just to build FreeBSD-packages for them, and re-build world.
Because that's taking ages on these slow machines...
When I migrated them from SuSE to FreeBSD, the idea was to be able to upgrade the machines step by step - but I didn't take into account that it takes almost a weekend to build KDE....

Rainer

What a lame discussion. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10335513)

And how many of us need cars that seat more than one and push more than 30hp to get to work? Wouldn't a hybrid four-seater be overkill too?

vt100s are not that cheap. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10335529)

In my recent experience, decent vt100 terminals cost so much the PC with XP license is probably cheaper. No, it doesn't make sense to me either.

Terminal Emulation (1)

foobar01 (675266) | more than 10 years ago | (#10335536)

I have found that, under the right conditions (i.e. lynx or links, vim or emacs, and a decent shell installed on the system), I can actually get a lot of work done. In fact, now that I think about it, I would have less distractions (no instant messaging, games, etc. to distract me). So I guess this is another way less really might be more.

Get a free iPod! [freeipods.com]

Re:Terminal Emulation (2, Funny)

maskedbishounen (772174) | more than 10 years ago | (#10335558)

Always a great idea to take productivity tips from guys posting on /.

*cough*

No, really.

Better Software (5, Interesting)

mikeleemm (462460) | more than 10 years ago | (#10335545)

glad to see someone bring thing topic up. For the "normal" computer user, think about it, you play MP3s, use some type of IM, web browse, check email... All things that work fine on anything higher than lets say a 500MHz... As far as I've noticed, the average user's complaints of a slow computer is actually the disk access, and not the actual processor.

It just seems lately they just have been coding software to be so bloated you need a faster computer to run it.

here's the deal (5, Insightful)

mo (2873) | more than 10 years ago | (#10335548)

It's probably cheaper for computer manufacturers to make (only) the latest and greatest and sell it to everybody than to try to specialize and sell one guy a 486 with DOS, somebody else a 4ghz p4, third guy gets a vt100 terminal, etc...

That's why new vt100 terminals retail for $250 while a new dell retails for $300. I'm sure the EE's on slashdot can testify about slapping a overpowered PIC microcontroller into a design instead of a cusom circuit because it simplified the design, and only bumped the product cost up from 30 cents to 40 cents.

It just makes sense from a manufacturing standpoint to mass produce one general-purpose product then try to shave a few pennies off making custom solutions for all kinds of tasks.

Less Might Be More... (4, Funny)

mobby_6kl (668092) | more than 10 years ago | (#10335553)

Less is More!

Now who wants to trade my 486 and PII boxes for P4EE and AthlonFX??

less is more (4, Funny)

theantix (466036) | more than 10 years ago | (#10335559)

Jebus, you'd think they could apply the "less is more" concept to their advertising on that site. I could barely find the article through all the blinky and flashy ads, and the textads, and the banner ads, etc. I realize they need to make money off ads but that is plain overkill... an argument that parallels the one the article tries to make.

(yes, I know how to block them)

XP Versus Previous Things (4, Insightful)

Monkelectric (546685) | more than 10 years ago | (#10335561)

running Windows XP just so that it could connect via a terminal to another server and run the store's application

Um? Have you tried to deal with 95/98/ME before? They make me cry, seriously. XP, while not perfect is a 100 fold improvement over ME. I've been trying to start a business consulting company -- and I've started to notice something -- every time I'm out ona job and there's a 9x machine involved, the job will be invariably hindered by hte 9x machine. I have hundreds of war stories if you want to hear them ... Its gotten to the point where I am considering saying we simply refues to support 9x (95/98/Me).

The sign of a TRUE geek (4, Interesting)

DogDude (805747) | more than 10 years ago | (#10335563)

A REAL geek is running a web server on a 386SX. Personally, I don't understand all of this dick waving about fast computers. Any moron with a few hundred bucks can buy a fast computer. Big fucking deal. I'm always impressed by somebody using ancient, ancient hardware, held together with duct tape. Geekiness is all about resourcefulness, not running out to Best Buy every week like a fucking lemming.

Leaner is more. Leaner is cooler. If you can get done what you want to get done by being smart as opposed to throwing soon-to-be-overpriced hardware at the problem, all the better.

Re:The sign of a TRUE geek (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10335629)

Of course there is a limit to that.

Don't be like that dell "geek" who ducttapes adapter boards to your monitor, doesn't use screws and has no idea what a luggable is.

Re:The sign of a TRUE geek (1)

finkployd (12902) | more than 10 years ago | (#10335671)

Right on brother! :)

(posted from a $30 Sun Ultra1)

Finkployd

Its true! less is more! (2, Funny)

DrStrangeLoop (567076) | more than 10 years ago | (#10335570)

on os x, anyway:

$ ll -n $(which less; which more;)
-rwxr-xr-x 1 0 0 123204 27 May 16:13 /usr/bin/less
-rwxr-xr-x 1 0 0 123204 27 May 16:13 /usr/bin/more


so you see kids, sometimes less(1) is more(1)!

My windows box. (2, Funny)

rel4x (783238) | more than 10 years ago | (#10335572)

My windows box is compelte overkill (in theory), but I use every bit of it! Whenever a program freezes up, on a normal computer it would take a fraction of a second for that program to eat up all the available resources, but not on mine! On mine, it takes at least 5 seconds to max out.

Thin clients (1)

carniz (739091) | more than 10 years ago | (#10335574)

Hell, the average desktop (gaming) machine today is sufficient for hosting an http://www.ltsp.org/ [ltsp.org] server capable of serving 20 concurrent users - assuming it has enough RAM. That's a *lot* of wasted resources, if you ask me...

I can relate (4, Interesting)

Rinikusu (28164) | more than 10 years ago | (#10335578)

My desktop is a dual processor PIII 750 that I built a few years ago (upgraded from a dual Celeron 400). For all practical purposes, it's not really all that much different than the dual Celeron box, except that I've added more RAM and a faster drive. All my apps run smoothly, my games (albeit limited) run well, and it's a super Web-browsing machine. I even run a small website from it, simultaneously.

Now, I did have a mini-ITX machine awhile back. P4 2.4ghz, 1 gig of RAM, 7200 RPM HD. I did not notice a single bit of difference between the two machines except my framerate was a bit highter on the P4 (better graphics card installed). So I sold it. I'm still using the dual PIII.

Earlier this year, I picked up a used iBook G4 800mhz. Ancient CPU technology, by most PC standards. And yet, it is also 100% sufficient (enough to say it's not DEFICIENT) for anything that do. A Voodoo or Alienware laptop would be more than enough machine for me, at a higher price tag. Performance I don't need. Performance I suspect others don't need, as well.

I also agree with the author of the article. CPU's are growing faster and faster, and are consuming more and more power. I'd really like to see more "Power consumption" aware options (like a desktop based on the P-M), because frankly I don't like my computer to be a space heater (actually, the 2 21" CRT's in front of me are probably more to blame than anything). It really has gotten to the point that buying a new machine today is not really all that "special" as it was a few years ago. (With the exception of the G5 in the Apple lineup, or maybe the Opterons or Athlon64 machines, but the general public doesn't seem too enamored with the latter 2).

overpowered means noisy, too! (1)

ahs (813630) | more than 10 years ago | (#10335581)

As the essay points out, another advantage of running an 'underpowored' box is that it's quieter, too. I built a cheap machine with a Via C3 a couple of years ago, passively cooled so that the only moving parts were the disk and the power supply fan. Unlike most quiet PCs sold nowadays, it really was very quiet. I stuck it in a closet next to my desk and I couldn't tell if it was on.

woot! (1)

zenneth (767572) | more than 10 years ago | (#10335589)

Does this mean I can find some sucker to unload a bunch of Pentiums and K6's on?

Terminal Emulation the way to go (1)

desertfool (21262) | more than 10 years ago | (#10335590)

For factories (for example) or retail, a small machine running XP embedded that only connect to terminal servers would be the best way to go. Why spend $$$$ on a machine sitting on a factory floor with all the software they'll never use? If I had the talent I would create a dumb windows terminal that could do this.

Go ahead. Take the idea. I won't sue and use this post as prior art.

multi-use (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10335598)

I tried the minimistic path once. I setup a music store (now out-of-business) with hardware it only needed to run an old foxpro app. I used cheap components and no cd-rom or sound-card.

The first issue I had was someone wanted to play a cd.

There are other uses of computers than just the standard business app and you should adjust your hardware in accordance.

Light use versus heavy calculating (1)

Platinum Dragon (34829) | more than 10 years ago | (#10335600)

Right now, I'm doing a heck of a lot with an ancient Pentium II--browsing, playing da muzik, typing up copy and papers, serving a website and maintaining a DNS, that kinda stuff.

Now, if I wanted to play Doom 3, or run ProTools (or Nuendo:-), I would want to get my hands on something up-to-date, with a stupid-fast CPU and gobs of RAM and storage. Really, though, whenever friends need to use this machine, they don't miss anything. I have a web browser. I have an IM client. I have an IRC client. I have a word processor. It all Just Works. Aside from games or media production, what would I need a P4 3.6GHz or dual G5 for? ...and now that I've typed that, the hard drive will finally die after years of abuse...

We had to deal with this... (2, Interesting)

adrew (468320) | more than 10 years ago | (#10335601)

My mom was using a 1998-vintage Quantex (remember them?) PII/266 with 128 MB of RAM quite happily until last month when her DSL modem died. BellSouth sent out a new modem, but the software accompanying it decided that her computer was too slow. After a couple weeks of back and forth with them we just gave up. (I'm a Mac guy and 1000 miles away, so I couldn't help her with XP that much over the phone.)

So I started shopping and found some pretty good deals on Dell's refurb site. I ended up getting her a 2.6 GHz machine with 512 MB of RAM, 40 GB HDD and a 48x CD-RW for $490 shipped. Yeah, it's a Celeron with integrated graphics...but it doesn't matter. She just surfs the web, prints out house plans and stuff and plays solitaire. The 266 MHz machine was more than capable of doing all of this, but the "industry" forced her to upgrade.

I really wanted to get her a Mac so she wouldn't have to deal with viruses and spyware, but couldn't justify spending twice as much for an eMac. I wish Apple made a cheap "pizza box" G4/G5 machine for people who already have decent monitors. (Try telling a mom that she should get rid of a perfectly good 17" monitor....) ;)

Spyware & other junk... (2, Insightful)

chrispyman (710460) | more than 10 years ago | (#10335602)

Frankly, from what I've found, most people either get new computers so that they can have more than one in the house, or they do it because their old one gets a virus, lots of spyware, Windows crashes, etc.

Getting a new computer to increase the number of them in the house seems perfectly fine, since afterall, they get used more and more, especially with the advent of easy home networking. Now as for those who get new ones to "fix" the old ones, you have to consider that these days, with computer repairs still being relatively expensive, it can often be cheaper to just buy a new computer than to have to deal with an old one that's warranty has run out.

It's been this way for a long time. (1)

Clothist (815659) | more than 10 years ago | (#10335603)

For a lot of stuff, you don't even need much of any power at all.

Now, let's take into account the OS for a nice user friendly interface, multitasking, etc., you're going to need at least a 68000 @ 33 Mhz. Let's add in all the skins and so on that Joe User seems to love today, internet applications... I think a 486DX2 @ 80 Mhz should suffice. Maybe a 586 @ 60 or a 6811 @ 70 if you want java, and so on.

Pair one of those processors with about 32 Mb of memory, and a 20 gig disk, and you have enough to do anything but gaming, and even do it in a really flashy way. :)

Less Might Be More... of the same old crap (1)

hampton (209113) | more than 10 years ago | (#10335614)

I don't know how many times I've heard that all modern PCs are overkill. A long time ago I read an article where the author was running a dual P6-200 running Windows NT. He talked about what overkill it was and how a Pentium 133 should be just fine for most people.

Yep, we sure should have listened to that guy. Everyone should have hailed the Pentium 133 for being modern computing's crowning achievement, and we could have closed the books on making new hardware, because what would be the point in building anything faster than that?

Then it was "nobody really needs > 300MHz for home PCs". Then it was 500MHz. Now I guess the bar has been raised to 700MHz.

My benchmark: if I still have to wait, then it's not fast enough.

Things have somewhat changed. (1)

antoy (665494) | more than 10 years ago | (#10335622)

Sure, people will always buy the best and newest, but I think that less people share this attitude now. I'm not talking about maturing and realising that you don't need the best that's out there; But I noticed something my geek friends and I shared: Our love for Pentium 200's. We have all agreed, without someone convincing us, that the 166-300mhz age was the golden era of desktop pcs. Sufficiently tweaked, they will still perform well for most tasks one needs to do, and still have some room for fun.

My 16-year old brother recently 'catched' the P200 love flu, and will only use the P4 for UT2k4; for all other purposes, the MMX with 192MB of RAM and the 8gb harddisk is what he uses, but kept absolutely clean, defragmented, updated and optimized for optimum Pentium 1 Power ;-) It performs extremely well for its age, and comfortably runs Windows 2000.

Maybe computers will become like cars in the end, and we will change them as often as we change cars. Probably not, but I'm sure more and more people will eventually learn to prefer obsessing on tweaking old hardware than buying new, just like cars.

School Lab's (5, Insightful)

JimmyG13 (530501) | more than 10 years ago | (#10335637)

This reminds me of the lab computers at my University. They are: Pentium 4 3.0GHz Radeon 8500 1GB of RAM Sound Blaster Audigy (No Speakers) DVD Burner Mind you that the most people use them for is Microsoft Office. A total waste of my tutition money...

Smaller OS & apps to go with lower spec compu (2, Funny)

stanwirth (621074) | more than 10 years ago | (#10335640)

Bloatware -- it's not just for Microsoft anymore. Your typical latest SuSE and RedHats require 64MB of main memory or more, and god forbid you try running OOo on the thing. Still too much!

What to do for your granma's system? You want something with up-to-date kernel, a low-profile windowing system and a nice combination of office apps that don't chew up memory and disk like they were going out of style.

Run Uptodate Linux Everywhere [rule-project.org] is one place to look.

Vector Linux [vectorlinux.com] is another.

sorta on topic... (-1, Offtopic)

gTsiros (205624) | more than 10 years ago | (#10335646)

I have a KT880 chipset mobo, with 512MB of 400MHz ram at CL2, with an athlon xp mobile cpu running at 8.5x200 = 1.7GHz ( stock 14x100 geez). A Geforce fx5700le 128MB (stock 225/400) oc'ed to 475/475 (yes, that is more than twice the core clock. rock stable. at 500/500 doom3 crashes.)

WHY can't i run the timedemo demo1 usecache "benchmark" with:
projectile lights, shadows, turboshadows, ultrashadow, optimized shadows all set to 1
usecache, 128MB cache, etcetcetc
but without AF without AA without vsync (just to see what the card can do), 640x480
also i set the NV20 renderer path (because D3 autoselects ARB2 which looks like SHIT and is VARY SLOWAR) at over 26fps?!?! the hell? i always get 26 and it's not just that, it's that in action (imp throws fireball. i use projectile lights but even with that disabled i gain *1* fps more. and even that is debatable.) i can't get higher than 12!! this is ridiculous! i can play any other game i can remember off the top of my head at 1024x768 with 8xAF at 30fps *STEADY* with FULL FSCKING DETAIL (nfs:u, max payne2, painkiller, etc)

my friend has an 2800+ barton core (Stock)
on nF2U chipset
1GB of 333MHz CL2.5 mem dual channeled
Ti4200 64MB stock
and he gets 36fps with the same game settings as me?!?

oh and setting 4xAF on the timedemo benchmark lost me *2* fps (went from something like 25 to 23.3)

can the limit REALLY be the CPU?!?!
Can it be that doom3 detects my card as a 64M one? (wtf? even windows, which i don't trust to tell me the free space i have on my hard drive reports the vidmem correctly, and doom3 detects it wrong?) and WTF is with the 60Hz *monitor* refresh lock?!?! FUCK YOU carmack! my fucking eyes hurt! what does your physics engine tic (WTF?!? hardcoded timesteps!?!) have ANYTHING to do with the monitor refresh?! in EVERY SINGLE OTHER GAME i have played in my life on my pc i have either 100Hz (SVGA) or 120Hz (VGA) refresh rate! (IRRELEVANT what the fps are. i want a steady image.)

(p.s. latest drivers, blah blah win XP home DX9b no progs running )

less might be more? (1)

bob beta (778094) | more than 10 years ago | (#10335649)

I suppose so, if the admin is an imbecile, deletes the less binary and puts in a symbolic link to more .

But the reverse makes much more sense. less rulez, baybee.

Terminals are not cheap (4, Informative)

JacobO (41895) | more than 10 years ago | (#10335657)

This reminds me of a modern desktop system I saw sitting in a store, running Windows XP just so that it could connect via a terminal to another server and run the store's application. It would seem that even an old VT100 would have sufficed, but someone was able to sell the store a full blown PC

PCs are cheap enough now that they are competitive with terminals, consider the production volumes. I'm not talking about things you pick up from the dumpster around the back of the bank, but something that someone would pay for and get support for.

You also get some pretty good host integration features such as using the PC's local receipt printer without additional networking, not to mention the ability to change your POS software to something PC-based later on if you so choose.

It's the User Interface (1)

rqqrtnb (753156) | more than 10 years ago | (#10335667)

While a Rage 128 is enough for non-gaming usage on a PC, it doesn't fly on the Mac. Even my early Radeon is a bit creaky. Why? Because Apple's using the GPU a lot more than Microsoft is (at least until Longhorn hits)... with Windows, unless an application uses OpenGL or DirectX the video card's not doing all that much more than the Amiga Blitter did in 1985. With OS X (and with Longhorn, remember) the whole GUI is getting fed through OpenGL (or in the case of Longhorn, DirectX).

There's already some experiments with 3D GUIs. Mac OS X is taking the first stumbling steps with Expose. Sun's demonstrated a much more 3d Java desktop, and I've seen a 3D collaborative environment that lets you "look around" and see other people's workstations as avatars standing in front of floating windows and you can look "over their shoulder" (hopefully only at windows they've explicitly made public). I can imagine an environment where windows don't iconify or hide, they just fade into the background (using the GPU's fog effect, of course), and where skinned interfaces are really texture-mapped 3D objects you can move and rotate.

When this really starts taking off, so will the graphics cards, complete with realistic turbojet sounds from their fans.

Maybe there's bloat today... (1)

trudyscousin (258684) | more than 10 years ago | (#10335672)

...but I think it's only a matter of time before software catches up with the hardware.

After all, everyone remembers the infamous "640k should be enough for anyone" line with a chuckle, but at the time, it seeemd reasonable enough. Who knows what application is going to come along that will push today's hardware to the limit?

at my last job (1)

LennyDotCom (26658) | more than 10 years ago | (#10335674)

We had 50 dell P133's and 486's they connected to the unix server by digiboard (serial) and they were over kill I could have used 386's but you can't find any at least we only paid 20 bucks each for the dell's but when they originally put in the 486's (3 years earlier) they cost almost $200 each

450MHz K6II (1)

theolein (316044) | more than 10 years ago | (#10335680)

I have a 4 year old AMD K6II @ 450MHz, with a Voodoo 3 in it, and it serves my purposes well as a Windows box to check websites in over VNC from my Mac and for troubleshooting friends virus/spyware/printing etc problems.

I also have a 5 year old G3 Mac Powerbook @ 333MHz, which I still occaisionally use for some applications and retro games that never got ported to OSX (I'm now considering installing Linux on it with the WMI [berlios.de] lightweight keyboard oriented WM on it).

These computers still have very good use to them, and I sometimes think it's a shame that people throw away old computers when they have a lot of potential for a good few people.

Dells for DOS? (1)

tmillard (757681) | more than 10 years ago | (#10335682)

It would seem that even an old VT100 would have sufficed,

A thrift store near me has their POS running a dos program in window mode on some very nice hardware (but a pretty bad OS :).

Ok, so I don't shop there very much, but I keep thinking those people are wasting their money. Why, they could just go on ebay [ebay.com] and get a few '386s and load freedos [freedos.org] on them.

Laptop Battery Life (2, Insightful)

JUSTONEMORELATTE (584508) | more than 10 years ago | (#10335685)

My laptop is slower than the article's example of "old" -- it's a P3-650 Dell. It keeps up for everything except compiles, but the benefit of using older stuff (with recent batteries) is that I get 8 to 9 hours of battery life, even while using the wifi card.
Show me a P4-3Ghz laptop that can do that!

--
Gmail invites for completed referrals [slashdot.org] It's working.

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